Cheese and Honey, Sausage and Beans, and friendly Pumpkins

Well, I’m weeks and weeks behind, and we’ve had quite a few dinner parties and a couple good regular dinners. Among the things I’ve eaten:

10/25: A surprise lunch with Tom, who brought over an extra robiola cheese from his Cheese Class. Also a loaf of ciabatta, so we had the cheese and bread with honey for lunch while discussing the article about him in the Dartmouth newspaper.

10/29: Craving cassoulet but obviously lacking the time or resources to pull even a facsimile together, I cooked navy beans and then combined them with garlic sautéed in olive oil and a can of muir glen diced tomatoes, then added a couple sausages (I browned them a bit first). When the sausages were almost cooked I pulled them out and sliced them, then added them back in a few minutes before serving the stew. It worked out well and was a nice warm meal on a damp Sunday. I still need to get the cheater’s cassoulet recipe from a guy I work with at Tuck, who served it at a big french-themed party a month or so ago.

10/31: On Halloween we carved our first jack o’lantern, who Ben named Steve. Ben did the initial hollowing and I took over for the carving. (The hair was Ben’s suggestion.) We weren’t going to be home that night, so we left out candy for the trick or treaters, of whom there were very few on our quiet little street.
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Sadly Steve, after being moved outside next to the steps a week or so later, seems to have attracted a large number of very small slugs. Yikes.

Pork chops, polenta, and a baking extravaganza

Ok, it’s been a while but there have been two days with good cooking-outcomes, as well as one total mess.

The mess first–I thought quesadillas would be a fast, good dinner one night, so I laid in tortillas, refried beans, sour cream and salsa, and figured I’d use up a bag of grated jack cheese in the fridge. Sadly the bag was nearly empty, and Ben said he thought he’d eat 3 quesadillas (they weren’t big); I figured I’d eat two. We had cheese for two in the bag, so we pulled everything out of the cheese drawer and sliced it up. One had provolone and scraps from some weird thing that had come in a food basket (not gouda, but covered in red wax, yellowish inside). One was two slices of cheddar plus scraps from food basket loaf of cheddar. Another was all the weird wax-cheese. I fried two and gave them to Ben, and then fried two more for myself, at which point Ben was totally full and I realized I could only eat one. So we had one uncooked (one of the shredded cheese good ones) and one extra cooked one, and we’d used up all our sandwich cheese for nothing. I really need to work on knowing how much we can eat and what exactly we have in the fridge.

On to successes:

Thursday night I cooked wild mushrooms, polenta, and grilled pork chops. I followed Bittman’s grilling instructions and rubbed the chops with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
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And then Ben grilled them perfectly on our great little weber baby-q, a b-day present from my parents.

I sliced up all the mushrooms, then sautéed some garlic in olive oil before cooking the mushrooms.
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The polenta was only ok—I had a box of instant from a cake I’d made, so I used that. Easy, but the texture wasn’t great and it was too salty.

Everything came together nicely though. I piled the polenta high (it was stiff), laid the chop over it, spritzed that with lemon juice, and then put the mushrooms on top.

I fried the leftover polenta for lunch Friday, and sautéed a zucchini to fill out the leftover mushrooms.

Sunday my brother Tom came over for some home-style baking. We had bulla on the mind—they are a Swedish roll sort of like challah but with cardamom and a sweeter dough. We had trouble getting the dough to rise, and then overcompensated by not punching it down hard enough or rolling the strips of dough out enough before shaping the bulla. As a result the rolls’ texture is a bit off and they puffed up more than usual in the over, losing the distinctive knot shape they should have had. They taste good though! Next time I’ll up the cardamom so the flavor is stronger.

For dinner I made a Dutch Baby, or german oven pancake, which is something we had for Sunday Night Supper growing up. It’s an egg batter that puffs up in the oven, and we always eat it with maple syrup. Well, I’m not sure if it’s my oven or what, but it puffed like CRAZY around the edges, and stayed totally flat in the middle (which is typical, but this was more pronounced than usual). I think one edge must have been 8 inches tall when I first pulled it out of the over. Whee!

Tom demonstrates the massive height of our dutch baby:

Tom, by the way, is looking like a skinny lumberjack these days, especially in his new 10″ LL Bean boots:

Dinner for five

We had a friend and her two kids over for dinner last night (her husband couldn’t come at the last minute), and made a simple but great menu. I forgot to take photos of anything once it was done, though, so there’s only prep stuff!

Our dining table, built in 1790 or so, is lovely but only fits four comfortably. We could probably squeeze six if we had to, but it would be very, very tight. So we lined up the kitchen table with the dining table and diguised with placemats and things. I’d forgotten to get flowers, so I just lined up some plums and apples with the candles.

I made roasted potatoes with rosemary (Mom’s classic), steamed some green beans and dressed them with olive oil and lemon juice, and we grilled sausages from the Coop. Super-easy and I was able to do nearly everything before anyone arrived.

Potatoes—20 small new ones:
Quartered and boiled for about five minutes:
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A handful of garlic to be crushed and thrown in with the potatoes while they roast:
Tossed the potatoes with olive oil and threw on a baking sheet with the garlic and some sprigs of rosemary:
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Lots of salt and pepper, and then roasted in a 450 degree oven for about 45 minutes, tossing them once. They were perfect, crispy and creamy.
The beans:
were good too. We grilled 10 sausages and I laid everything out on a long white rectangular platter (sausages/beans/potatoes), which looked great and made clean up easier. Of course I didn’t take any photos of the finished food. We had a chocolate cream pie for dessert (Ben’s favorite), but I only have a pic of that from while it was chilling in the fridge:

Definitely a menu I’d cook again, though if the second adult had been at dinner I would have been short on potatoes.


It wasn’t a happy excuse to see people, but it really was great to visit with so much family in Detroit this weekend (for my grandfather’s memorial service).
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The cousins in attendance (Kate, Peter, Andrew, Sara) spent a long time hanging out on the lawn and chatting after we scattered the ashes and flowers in the lake. I can’t wait for the wedding, when we will all be gathered for a far happier reason…


There was a party just out of sight tonight. Maybe it was on the carriage house roof deck on the other side of the neighboring brownstone? Every so often someone played a line or two on a sax or trumpet (I kept noticing just as it stopped, so I’m not sure), and there were more people talking than usual.

Oh, a roof deck…. I was at a party on Josh’s roof on Saturday, and at some point after the hot sun had slipped behind clouds of light rain and then the rain had tapered off and we were back on the roof, chilly in the dark, I held my plastic cup of decent white wine and smelled sausages on the grill and realized that this was my idea of a perfect city party. A spacious roof on the Upper West Side, music not too loud, a dozen or so people draped around chatting. The grill going. Of course, all those things could happen much more often in the suburbs, but that’s the magic—a deck, a grill, IN the city, with the guy across the street earning hoots and hollers when he strolls by the window with his shirt off, with the next door neighbor sitting in a lawn chair on his side of the roof, separated by only a foot-high ridge, invited to come get a hot dog if he gets hungry. Who needs a lawn?

Of course, in the fantasy it isn’t 50 degrees in mid May, but I’ll take what I can get.


I’ve been “hip” to the modern ways of “bloggers” for many years now, and have in fact kept an electronic journal for a while, but as I prepare to get married, quit my job, and move to the Great White North it seems like maybe I should keep a bit of public record of goings-on. We’ll see… I’ve added content to my google pages site as well, and I’m thinking I can use the two together—blog everyday happenings, and then link to pages of photos, etc. if there’s ever anything worth photographing.

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