Thursday, August 29, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

I'm a little fuzzy today from allergies. I gave in & took an allergy pill so now all I want to do is nap.

This weekend is Labor Day, a 3-day weekend (yay!) that, in my mind, marks the end of summer (boo!). At least it'll be September which makes all the pumpkin spice overkill slightly more tolerable.

What We're Eating:

  • Grilled Lamb Chops with Rustic Tomato Tart, Corn on the Cob, Grilled Zucchini
  • Grilled Flank Steak Quesadillas
  • Dessert: Peach Pie, Peach Cobbler

What We're Watching:

  • We finished Mindhunter Season 2. I really like the show. I hope Netflix gives it a Season 3.
  • We started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. I don't know why we put off watching it for so long. We're hooked! It'll take us a while to get through the first two seasons since the episodes are 45-60 minutes each so we watch 1-2 a night. It's hilarious.
  • The Pittsburgh girl was eliminated from Worst Cook's last episode. I was surprised Bobby kept the other girl who seems to always be a hot mess but I guess being a hot mess isn't as bad as serving under-cooked fried chicken.

What I'm Reading:

  • Awakening from Sharon Bolton. I was hooked, I really wanted to know what had happened in the past and who was behind all the present day snakes, yes, snakes, but yikes was I creeped out and flashing back to this horrible day in March 2018 and now I'm back to looking around & checking for unwanted visitors and jumping at shadows. It doesn't help that a few weeks ago SP told me that the mouse trap in the garage did its job. Gross. We had mice when we first moved in, 11 years ago now, and we got rid of them (thanks cats) but we keep fresh traps just in case, especially since the cats are gone.
  • I finished a Smithsonian Magazine! Whoo! Down to six!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Pat-in-the-Pan Buttermilk Biscuits

We're been enjoying our subscription to Cook's Country. There are a lot of recipes I want to try. I don't think we'll ever find enough time. We did try a new biscuit recipe from the June/July 2019 issue: Pat-in-the-Pan Buttermilk Biscuits. They were really easy and really tasty and filling.
The recipe calls for cake flour, for extra fluffiness, but the article says you can substitute all-purpose flour. We used cake flour.
Mixed with butter, baking powder & baking soda, salt, and buttermilk, and the final result is this:
Nine delicious, fluffy, filling biscuits.
Super quick & easy, too. They might not be quite as easy as Easy Buttermilk Drop Biscuits because you do have to use your fingertips to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients whereas the drop biscuits use melted butter with the buttermilk but you have to scoop and drop the drop biscuits onto a cookie sheets while with these pan ones, the dough just gets dumped into the baking pan, patted into place, and baked. I'm not sure which is easier, but they're equally delicious. We'll definitely make these again.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Lamb Burgers with Mint & Feta

Sadly, grilling season is coming to an end. This past weekend we grilled lamb chops but several weeks ago we grilled lamb burgers and they were really tasty. We mostly followed this recipe from Saveur Magazine: Lamb Burger with Mint, Feta, and Balsamic Onions.
The parts we didn't follow: no balsamic onions, no ground ancho chile in the burgers, and we didn't crumble the feta, we cut slices from the block (we buy it at Costco). I really liked the warmth and spice from the cinnamon, cumin, and paprika against the lemon zest zing and the bits of chopped fresh mint.
We made six burgers. To re-heat, I put them in the toasted oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.
These were great burgers - tastier than beef burgers. Hopefully we'll get to make them again before it gets too cold.

Recipe here.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

The tree people are here. Again. I'm sure long time readers are wondering how we have any trees left in our yard since it must seem like I frequently write that the tree guys are here. But, we do. Backyard = woods. Today they're cutting down a walnut tree. It looks like it might be the last tree threat to our house, but I'm thinking a couple smaller ones by the deck might need to go, too, maybe next year. After 3-4 trees falling (one taking out part of the deck) we're done trying to be tree huggers and not kill off nature. Ever have to file a home insurance claim? Hope you never do because hoo boy do your rates then go up, even if you had a pretty small claim. 

One bonus of this tree going: no more walnuts dropping onto the driveway and becoming ankle rolling hazards or ugly brown-green splats from the car crunching them. And maybe fewer walnuts = less digging and burying of nuts in my yard by the squirrels. I used to think squirrels were cute and fun to watch. Not anymore. Not after seeing what they do to my front landscaped mulch areas.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished The Boys on Amazon and loved it.
  • We started Mindhunter Season 2 on Netflix. I'm glad we took the time to watch the Season 1 recap because I had forgotten a lot! We've only watched 1 episode.
  • We watched GLOW Season 3 on Netflix. At first I was kind of bored with it, but then it picked up and got more interesting. It'll be interesting to see where Season 4 goes (if there is a Season 4).

What I'm Reading:

  • Dead Woman Walking from Sharon Bolton. It was good. I've read several of her books and enjoyed them all so I finally made a list of all the ones I have not yet read and am slowly making my way through the list.
  • Magazines! The new Bon Appetit, which had an interesting read on Gullah Geechee Culture. Also the new Food Network Magazine, which had a cereal quiz and I got enough correct to just eke out being in the well informed category (or whatever they call it) despite not eating cereal (other than Rice Krispies Treats). Speaking of cereal, for some reason, SP wanted Fruit Loops so now there's a box in the house. I used to snack on them when I was in college, like chips, no milk, just crunching away on handfuls of dried cereal. Nowadays that sounds gross. But he's been snacking on them when he needs something to boost his glucose.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Sienna on the Square

One of our favorite restaurants is Sienna on the Square. I seem to always order the same dish. But this past time, I ordered something different, as did SP. Everything we ordered was new-to-us! Exciting, right?

We ordered rosé to drink. Here's what we ate:
Appetizer Special: Breaded & Fried Eggplant with a corn-tomato salsa. Really lovely, non-greasy breading on the eggplant.
Baked Manicotti (Goat Cheese, Rainbow Chard, Roasted Broccoli, Smoked Tomato Cream, Basil, Pine Nuts). So good! But I ate only about a third because we were warned there was garlic in the cheese filling and even though I didn't smell/taste it, I didn't want to tempt fate.
SP's meal: Sea Scallops (chanterelle & fava bean risotto, prosciutto chips, pickled cauliflower relish). I had a little taste and it was excellent.
My meal: Gnocchi (English peas, green beans, prosciutto, pepperjack mousse, marjoram). Oh my gosh. So good. Wonderful gnocchi. Cooked just right green beans. And that pepperjack mousse - yum! This might be my new favorite dish there.
Dessert: I think this was a dessert special: Peach Pastry Tart with blackberry jam. Really good and just the right size for us to share and have a bit of a sweet treat but not make us way too full.

We sat right on the edge of indoor/outdoor and it was a beautiful Sunday early evening. Tasty food, very good service, relaxing, sunny, gentle breeze, able to see what was going on in Market Square. Probably my favorite dinner of the six summer show dinners.

Previous dinners at Sienna on the Square:
June 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019


This past Saturday we went to Morcilla for dinner. It had been over a year since our last time there and that really surprised us since we like Morcilla a lot. It was, as usual, tasty, with great service, and the extra adventure of losing power at the end of our time there thanks to that nasty storm/microburst that zipped through Lawrenceville that evening. Fortunately, the power outage didn't last long. It was kind of nice, actually, atmosphere-wise, to have no electric hum noise (even at home, I never notice it until the power goes out and then I notice the silence), just the guests talking, the sounds of the storm, candlelight, and the light from the front window.

Here's what we enjoyed:

  • Sangria Rosada Espumosa (rosé cava/aguardiente/fruit/herbs)
  • Gin & Tonic (with Monkey 47 Gin)
  • Trabanco Sidra Draft. 

I liked my sangria a lot, especially the floating flower. SP ordered his cider and gin & tonic at the same time. He's slowly working his way through all the gins.
Charcuteria (serrano, paleta, iberian pepper salami, morcilla, chorizo). The only two I could eat (garlic-free) were the serrano and iberian pepper salami. The ham was excellent, although I miss the serrano with marcona almonds plate that used to be offered. I liked the salami a lot, too, a really nice pepper flavor, but it had a bit too much finishing heat for me. Yes, I am a wimp! SP ate everything else and said it was all delicious.
Tomato & Peach Salad (whipped feta, harissa, smoked walnuts, za’atar). Yum! Fresh dill, too.
Oxtail Montadito (caramelized onion, mahon cheese, baguette). My favorite item on the menu. We ended up ordering a second plate of these!
Costillas de la Matanza (baby back pork ribs, pomegranate sherry caramel, scallions, coriander, crunchy black olive). The meat fell off the bone. A dark photo, but the 4 ribs were really good.
Beer Battered Summer Beans (aioli, burnt lemon). So good! I wish there had been more on the plate.
Desserts: Churros (chocolate hazelnut fondue) and a Peach Sorbet with zabaglione (I think-?). I liked the sorbet, but we all know I was all about the churros. Somehow they manage to be kind of light and not heavy fried sticks of dough that sit in my stomach all night.

We still like Morcilla. A lot. Hopefully it won't be over a year before we return.

May 2018
July 2017
March 2017
Nov 2016
Sept 2016
Jan 2016

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend we saw Hello Dolly and I loved the show. I loved "The Waiters' Gallop." That was our last summer show. I'm not sure we'll subscribe next year. If we do, not all six shows. That was a bit much.

This "fun" interaction happened on our way to the show:

We were walking the 2-3 blocks to the Benedum and as usual, on each corner were homeless and/or panhandlers. This has, over the years, become a larger issue in the Cultural District. I always feel pangs of guilt as we walk by, guilt that we are fortunate enough to be able to afford our show & dinner dates. But should I feel guilty? SP works long hours. He is smart, went to a good university, did well, has always had a good job with good benefits, and we adhere to a budget and have savings goals every year.

We were waiting to cross the street and a panhandler was asking for money. Then he started ranting about folks who could afford fancy clothes and to go to shows and eat out but who wouldn't give even a quarter to help someone who fought for them to be able to go to their fancy shows. There were only 2 other people waiting to cross the street so it was pretty clear he was ranting at us. I was trying to ignore the rant, plus my back was to him since SP was pushing me in the wheelchair. Then I heard SP say he was sorry but he didn't carry cash. This is not a lie. We do not usually carry cash, not unless we know we're going to need it. We charge everything. We do not even carry change in my purse/his pocket.

After SP apologized for not carrying cash, the guy screamed,"*UCK YOU!" at him and just started screaming ranting at him even more. Then the light changed and we flew across the intersection to get away. I was more than a little rattled. I was a little afraid he was going to follow us or something worse. He must've gotten more in SP's face than I realized for SP to even say something - and then to scream the F-word at him for not carrying cash to give away?

This incident goes along with the fight we saw in Eyeball Park, the overdose in Eyeball Park (that was fun, watching police and an ambulance cart off a totally non-responsive person, didn't even respond to someone dumping a cup of water in his face), a couple of screaming matches between people - all on Sundays in the afternoon. Then there were the incidents we didn't witness, like the July shooting in Eyeball Park. The Cultural District is seeming not so nice and safe these days.

This morning after my doctor appointment we went to Party Cake in Brookline for paczki, which they are making for several days this month. As we were leaving, I pointed out to SP all the police cars and ambulances with flashing lights and the blocked off roads and wondered what was going on. After we got home, I discovered that some guy barricaded himself in a house in Brookline and it was a SWAT situation.

Huh. And we drove right to it. OK, on the streets near it, but still, there we were, clueless and donut-focused, wandering near a tense situation.

It's been an exciting week.

What We're Eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished OITNB on Netflix. I'm glad there was a sense of closure.
  • We started GLOW Season 3 on Netflix and the first episode was OK. I hope it picks up a bit.
  • We also started The Boys on Amazon Prime and we got sucked into that, so GLOW has been on hold.
  • Mindhunter Season 2 starts tomorrow on Netflix.
  • Animal Kingdom (TNT). Next week is the season finale but oh my gosh! This week's episode! That huge death! I did not see it coming, not at all. That is a bold move, killing off that character. So excited to see how this season ends and then where it goes next season. Also, I have enjoyed the Smurf background story. I think this might be my favorite season.

What I'm Reading:

  • I read The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton. It was quite good even if it did stretch the bounds of believability a bit (there's some witchcraft/paranormal aspects to the mystery).
  • New magazine issues are arriving. The pile grows.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Last Sunday we had brunch at Meat & Potatoes for the first time. It was tasty, as expected, and it was fun to finally see the Bloody Mary Bar. SP's was a very conservative creation. Many people came back with elaborate garnishes atop their drink, basically blocking drinking until the garnishes were eaten. Here's what we ate:
  • Mimosa for me, Bacon Vodka Bloody Mary for SP
  • Breakfast Americano (two eggs / bacon / sausage / home fries / grilled bread)
  • Omelette of the Day (english pea / asparagus / swiss cheese / mushrooms)
Definitely some of the fluffiest eggs we've ever eaten. Excellent sausage. Wonderful potatoes, nice & creamy inside.

After brunch, we stopped to buy a hot tea then walked up to Market Square and then PPG for a while. It was a blast watching the kids run through the fountain! Oh my gosh, to be that young and carefree again. All I could think was, ugh, I'd hate for my shoes to be that wet, to sit around in wet underwear, and also, ugh, small kids please stop drinking the water! I'd be no fun mom. Good thing I don't have kids!

After that, we went to see Once at the Benedum. The last time Once was in town, I couldn't go because I had a fever, was shaking, could barely talk, and was going through a box of tissues a day. I made SP go without me so we only "wasted" one ticket. I really liked the movie, and the show did not disappoint. The music is so beautiful, and one song in particular always makes me a little teary.

What We're Eating:
  • Lamb Burgers
  • Pasta & Red Sauce (from the freezer) with grilled zucchini mixed in
  • Dessert: Pizzelle
What We're Watching:
  • We watched Shazam, which was a much better movie than I expected.
  • We also watched Vice, which made me mad at our government.
  • We're continuing to watch season 7 of OITNB.
  • There are new seasons of Worst Cooks and Worst Bakers on Food Network, so we're watching those.
  • Marvel's Agents of SHIELD ended and it was a pretty good season. As in, I enjoyed it more than the last couple seasons. So we'll see how the final season is next year, I guess, is when it comes out.
  • I'm enjoying Animal Kingdom a lot. We finally found out what happened to Colin. Everything going on with Jay-Pope-Angela. Deran "handling " the Adrian situation. Craig being a dad.
What I'm Reading:
I read The Never Game by Jeffrey Deaver. It was my first time reading Deaver. I'm surprised I haven't read any of his books. I like that this book was a new character for the author. I couldn't put it down, so I guess it was a good read!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Huli Huli Chicken

Back in June, my parents mentioned a recipe for Huli Huli Chicken Wings that they saw in Food & Wine. My dad has a thing for chicken wings. He loves them. It used to be he always wanted pork chops for dinner. The last few years, it's been chicken wings. It makes my mom roll her eyes. Having them over to make these grilled wings (they do not have a grill) ended up not happening for some reason, but SP & I decided to try them anyway, just to see how the recipe worked. We made a big change: Chicken Thighs, not wings.
The marinade is pineapple juice, chicken stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, ketchup, and fresh ginger. It's a yummy marinade. These chicken thighs were tasty. We didn't grill pineapple slices. Instead, we made a fruit salad and some biscuits to eat with the chicken. We'd make these again. We prefer thighs to wings, so we'd make it again with the thighs.

Recipe here.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Pulled Pork Tacos

It's Taco Tuesday so I guess I should finally post about these tacos we made back in June. They were inspired by the Mexican Pulled Pork recipe in Cook's Illustrated's May-June 2008 issue. Yes, sometimes the magazines disappear into SP's office and reappear years later.
We didn't make ours in a Dutch oven. As seems to be the case for much of this summer, we didn't have much time to prepare for the week's dinners. So we used a slow cooker and cooked the pork overnight then divided it into containers for re-heating during the week.
I liked this recipe because it didn't involve lots of garlic nor did it call for lots of spicy ingredients like chili powder, ancho chile, cayenne, etc. Cumin, oregano, bay leaves, lime, orange, and onion are in the slow cooker with the pork and some water. We also did not use soft corn tortillas, nor cilantro, nor radishes. We did use avocado, tomato, and cheese.
These were tasty, but I prefer our slow cooker chicken tacos. The pork ended up tasting kind of salty to me, but there wasn't much salt in the dish. This was easy to make and a nice change from our usual chicken tacos.

How We Made This:

Pulled Pork Tacos

3.5-4 lbs boneless pork butt, cut into 2 inch chunks
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 small onion, cut into quarters
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp lime juice
2 c water
1 orange, juiced (save the juiced halves)

Add all ingredients, including the juiced orange halves, to slow cooker. Cover & cook on low overnight.

The next morning, remove the bay leaves, onion, and orange halves. Remove pork and using forks, pull into shreds. While shredding pork, reduce the liquid from the slow cooker in a sauce pan until it is thick & syrupy (about 1 cup liquid). Pour reduced liquid into pulled pork and mix together, seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. You might not need all the liquid, we used just enough to keep the pork moist when we re-heated it during the week.

Prepare tacos as desired. We used taco shells, avocado, tomato, cheese, sour cream, and wedges of lime (to squeeze over top the tacos). SP added baby arugula to his but I didn't like the flavor of arugula with the pulled pork taco.

Original recipe here.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

Last weekend I decided to make pizzelle cookies. Things were going great, I wasn't under or over browning them, I wasn't dolloping too much batter in the circles and having overflow. About halfway through, the pizzelle maker stopped working. I had just shut the lid on two blobs of batter and heard the light "tick" from green to red, but there wasn't a light. I waited a while, then checked the cookies. Not done. I shut the lid and waited some more. Still not done. The maker was cooling down. It was dead. Sigh.

So we tried pressing it through a cookie press. Fail. So we dropped spoonfuls on a cookie sheet, spread them out thin, and baked them. Fail.

I hope we enjoy this last half batch batch of pizzelle until we get around to buying a new pizzelle maker, if we get one.

What we're eating:

What We're Watching:

  • We finished all the episodes of Arrested Development on Netflix.
  • We started the final season of OITNB on Netflix and are about 7 episodes into the new season. 
  • We're caught up on Agents of SHIELD, which I am enjoying more than I thought I would.
  • I watch Animal Kingdom on TNT (SP doesn't) and can't wait to see how the Adrian problem is handled, if they can pull off Smurf's latest job, what happened to Colin - I've really been enjoying this season.

What I'm Reading:

  • I read the new Daniel Silva book The New Girl. I love his Gabriel Allon novels. As usual, I couldn't put it down.
  • New magazines are arriving. Not much progress on the pile.