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A new home!

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slow and low | fast and high

Working from home does have certain advantages.  One obvious advantage is that you get to wear your yoga pants to work and you get to make great lunches (like the scrambled egg tacos with avocado and tortillas pictured above) instead of eating a subway veggie delite three days a week (not that I ever did that).  

Another is that in the time it takes you to chat with colleague about last night's episode of Mad Men, you can make dinner.  For all five of you who read this here recipe journal, I want to encourage you to make the following recipe, which can be thrown together in about 10 minutes.  It's a wonderfully fragrant and tender dish, and it makes a lot of food: Chicken a la Veracruzana from Mexican Everyday.  This is definitely a recipe to pass along to friends, so here it is: a straightforward and simple recipe that even when you mess up (as I did), still tastes incredible.  I added the olives with everything else instead of adding them at the end (oops) and forgot to drain the tomatoes.  But not to worry, it's hard to do much damage here.  The most time consuming part of the recipe is skinning the chicken, which you could probably have the butcher  kid who works at your meat counter do for you.  We ate this with pinto beans that were ready in less than 20 minutes (pressure cooker!!!!) and some warm corn tortillas--David's brother John turned us on to the BEST corn tortillas, La Tortilla Factory, if they have them at your store, try them, they're really, really good.

While yesterday's dinner simmered in the crockpot for six hours, tonight's dinner, white bean and basil soup, was ready in less than 40 minutes thanks again to the pressure cooker, a great short cut tool!  Anyone who cooks night after night will appreciate this recipe because it's made in one pot (not much to clean up) and tastes like it was fussed over for hours.  And, I'd wager that you can make the whole thing with what you more or less already have on hand.   The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but since I've never found one that I think is substantial enough, I used watered down chicken broth; I also used a drained 28oz can of diced San Marzano's since I didn't want to cut up all those tomatoes.  The Parmesan, basil, and lemon juice really round out the soup and give it body, but you might find that it does need salt (none at all in the recipe).  I served the soup with rustic bread from our local bakery and a simple green salad with a zingy dressing featuring my new favorite salad dressing ingredient: a tiny sliver of preserved lemon (see previous post).  

In non-food news, I just finished Tales of the City, which one of my very kind UCLA friends gifted me upon our move North; it was a fun read and window into life in San Francisco in the seventies, one that is funny and poignant, but at the same time so sad when read through the the hindsight of knowing the AIDS epidemic is lurking just a few years around the corner.  

And today, my pre-ordered copy of Jonathan Franzen's Freedom arrived, just like Amazon said it would.  50 pages in so far....

Since David's brother (John) and his girlfriend (Mimi) live close by in the city, we're trying to institute a casual, but delicious weekly Sunday supper; preparing something a little more involved than we might choose during the week.  Last night's pick was a selection David found in Deborah Madison's vegetarian cooking for everyone, and it was delicious, not a morsel left for lunch today!  Next time we'll double the recipe.  David's friend Eric, had given us a jar of preserved lemons (homemade, of course), so we were able to make great use of them in this dish.  Served alongside a steaming plate of couscous and a simple salad, and some pan-friend lamb sausages, this was a crowd pleaser.
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It's been a looong time!  

Since pictures speak a thousand words, here are some photos to let you in on what we've been up to for the past two months:

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Milling Around

We received a food mill as a wedding gift, and this was tool that I had been wanting for some time, primarily because Marcella Hazan uses one frequently in the preparation of the base of all her tomato sauces.  So, it is the lone item I allowed myself to take out of the box before our move to Oakland.  I made Marcella's tomato sauce with garlic and basil, which has no more ingredients than those listed in the title.  She has you halve the tomatoes, then cook them (covered) in a sauce pan over medium heat for 10 minutes; then you run them through your food mill and they are ready for the sauce.  The food mill really does provide an silky, luxurious texture, that only needs some garlic, salt, pepper, and a few gluggs of olive oil to render an insanely good smell in throughout your house.  It's also a tomato sauce that is rustic and refined at the same time, and definitely not like your (olive) garden variety red sauce.  Can't wait to try the food mill for other dishes and am so excited to finally have it my arsenal.  Though  they taste like they've cooked for hours, loads of Marcella's tomato sauces are ready quickly and make for fabulous weeknight go-to meals with fresh, simply ingredients. 

take a number.

It's getting close...

Reunioning is a verb.

So much fun in Claremont this weekend with the alumnae of Scripps College.  The campus and its generations of amazing women are such a touchstone for me.  They are a constant reminder of what's important and how much those gorgeous courtyards, columns, fountains, and generally serene, harmonious landscape shape the young women who pass through the gates year after year.  The five ladies pictured below were incredibly fun roommates and our conversations about life, childbirth, priorities, and the hijinx of our younger days were rewarding and will be cherished.  We had the pleasure of meeting alums who were back for their 70th (!!!) reunion, hearing from ladies who raised $3,000,000 (!!!!) for the college for in honor of their reunion, and listening to Amy Drayer '99 give remarks that made us leap from our seats with applause.  (to say nothing of the countless glasses of champagne that magically appeared throughout the weekend).  To make a perfect weekend even better, Matt and Maddie joined us for brunch on Sunday, and getting to walk through the campus with little Miss M. was so MUCH fun.  An incredible weekend and a renewed desire to reconnect with some wonderful women.

 {with Matt and Maddie at graffiti wall}

{class of 2000 in the Margaret Fowler Garden}

{Maddie with her favorite person of the day, such a flirt; but what great taste!}

{exploring seal court fountain}

Showering the Baby

My best friend from College is having a wee little  one very soon and we had her baby shower today in Pasadena--this pic is approx 1 month old, but she still looks just as fabulous, if a sporting a slightly larger bump.  Given that she is such a great friend and soon to be raddest mom on the planet she deserved the best that Feast could put together.  Brunch to end all brunches is what she got; in partnership we with her sister we put on quite a spread:
-Paula Deen's Baked French Toast Casserole
-Egg, Cheese, and Broccoli Crustless Quiche
-Roasted Potatoes (toss with EVOO, sea salt, and rosemary, bake at 375 +/-45 mins)
-Ina Garten's Orange Yogurt  served alongside
-Alton Brown's Granola (so easy and delicious, not mention SO much cheaper than buying)
-Fruit Salad
-Silver Palate Zucchini Bread (subbed pecans for the walnuts as I was running low) and
-Frittata (zuchs, tomatoes, pasta, red onions, and parm)

This menu was supposed to include Martha Stewarts recipe for NY Crumb Cake, but the result was an unmitigated disaster.  Exaggeration, perhaps.  BUT, as someone who has defended the doyenne of domesticity against attacks from every known corner, and upheld the virtues of her OMNIMEDIA empire and her expertise at developing a new and upgraded market for all things domestic, and her role as a teacher of good things, AND her place as an incredible icon of a female executive prowess I was more than a little disappointed that this recipe  turned out so poorly.  (sidenote, check out Joan Didion's NYer essay about MS sometime, it's great.  As Didion argues, "The 'cultural meaning' of Martha Stewart’s success, in other words, lies deep in the success itself, which is why even her troubles and strivings are part of the message, not detrimental but integral to the brand. She has branded herself not as Superwoman but as Everywoman, a distinction that seems to remain unclear to her critics.")   That said, without someone "troubling" to clean up after you in the kitchen, having a recipe turn out so poorly is more than a little discouraging.

Anyway.  Back to Aislinn and her baby shower.
One has to be showered with more than a tableful of food however and Aislinn received all manner of baby items from the very strange (to the woman with no children and nothing in utero anytime soon anyway)--breast pump sterilizing cartiridges?--to the sublimely cute onesies and suspender bedecked overalls.  I made my selections at Paul Frank, because in the midst of all these teddy bears, a boy needs to channel his inner-rebel too:
Jammies, a onesie emblazoned with julius and "hug me," and a rock and roll long sleeve hoodie with julius smashing his guitar, oh, and this book.  This stuff is toooooo cute!  Can't wait for baby to come out! 

All Hail Kale!

The Veggie Grill is my new favorite spot for healthy fare.  I cannot get enough of the "All Hail Kale" salad with blackened tempeh.  Words cannot describe the goodness that is the combo of kale, ginger dressing, roasted corn salsa, and candied walnuts, and of course, the delectable tempeh.  And now....they serve wine too!  And, they're located next to a really BIG Trader Joes.