Monthly Archives: May 2014

admiring: 30 may 2014

It’s summertime… and I’m indoors now, studying for an exam. Boo. Here are some things that are distracting me from that task this week.

Fence designs for small, urban lots. These in particular from Groundworks, Inc.

Waverly Place from Groundworks, Gardenista

Greenwich Village Garden, Groundworks, Gardenista

Skandhas. Hyblaean. Feijoada. Augenphilologie. Sdrucciola. Holluschick. Thyemelici. Paixtle. Encaenia. Terreplein. Some of the championship words spelled correctly in an historic finish during the national spelling bee.

Be still my heart. New additions to Opencase.

Henrybuilt-Opencase Pantry

Do you have your Circus Flora tickets yet? Forgo the more expensive ones, the side mezzanine has always treated us well, and then we have enough left over for sno-cones.

Want to take the Dinner: A Love Story challenge? Sign up here, and get an advanced copy of their cookbook. Not familiar with their story? Get out of your family dinner rut with a good read of their blog.

Have you ever tasted an ice cream that completely rocked your world? I did, last summer. The recipe’s in the new book, and that new book is on my shelves now.

Maya Angelou reads “Still I Rise”.

And because it’s summertime – need some good ideas to keep the troops from getting restless? Check out this terrific idea-filled post, or better yet, follow her blog for daily inspiration.

Have a great weekend!

sunday in the garden

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Our holiday weekend was supposed to be a bit of a washout, but instead it was a lovely mix of summerlike weathers – cool and comfortable Saturday night for Henry V at Shakespeare in the Park with friends (said a sleepy F just before intermission gave her a second wind, “wake me up when the French princesses are back.”), warm and dry for an outdoor dinner party on Sunday night, and hot and steamy on the holiday (with a side of quick afternoon thunderstorms) to make it seem like summer might really, truly be here. Sunday midday was rainy and pleasant – one of my favorite times to visit the garden. We got tickets to see the current Lego exhibit in the Climatron and Temperate Garden, and even tried to recreate the tropical flowers out of Legos. No easy feat.

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…and the flowers for our Lego models:

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let’s eat: on the menu

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The very first thing I do before I sit down and plan out meals for the week is jot down various events / meetings / activities during the week. Seems like a normal thing to do, but you’d be surprised at how often I forget to do that, until I discover I’ve got 45 minutes to get dinner on the table and eaten before a meeting, and the first recipe step alone takes an hour. Last week was piled high with to-do lists, but it was also the first week in awhile where I felt organized and on top of things – so we managed to get through it, and with some pretty tasty dinners to boot. The second thing I do is check out the fridge for lingering, unused ingredients on the verge of expiring and I try to find recipes to use them up. And in this season of abundance at the market, I also look at my Saturday morning stash and make a plan to use it wisely throughout the week.

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Sunday morning I made this cookie dough to chill, and then Sunday evening we had a very easy-to-assemble dinner of Soba Noodles with Tofu and Mushrooms from Kitchen Kulture, some leftover Tomato and Mozzarella slices and I also tossed some already made fresh Pesto with Linguine for the girls – I wasn’t sure they were going to dig the soba noodle dish. Turns out I was wrong. I had a $50 gift certificate for Kitchen Kulture (they have a booth at Tower Grove Market), and so I used some of it to purchase pre-made dishes from them. They partner with some of the farmers at the same market, pick up produce earlier in the week, and then make various dishes for sale at the market. Seemed like a nice concept – and hey! I had a gift certificate, so I was in. Every single thing I bought was out.of.this.world. The girls wolfed it down, until M and I elbowed them out of the way. Later that evening I baked 300 little star cookies, plus seven big cookie pops for the fifth grade graduates.

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Monday night we used the market tomatoes to make Open Faced Smoky Tomato Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, with Green Beans and some leftover Salad Greens on the side. The recipe is from the book Ripe – a favorite of mine for finding uses for the colorful fruits of the season. We’ve made this recipe before – you briefly freeze fresh mozz before grating it and melting a whopping amount over thick sliced tomatoes and olive oil. We baked ciabatta bread first to make the sandwiches, which was really stellar. I wasn’t sure it could go anywhere but downhill from there. After dinner, E stayed up late with me to decorate those 300 tiny star cookies before we both collapsed into bed.

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Tuesday night we had the second dish I purchased from Kitchen Kulture – an Orzo Pasta with Asparagus and Glazed Breakfast Radishes. I’m looking at that menu list I made above and I wrote Lentil Salad, but I’m not sure why – there were no lentils in this dish. I got home late from work, but M had Gremolata Fingerlings in the oven when I got there – another repeat recipe from Ripe. This dinner was so good, I honestly licked my plate. I have to figure out how to make that orzo dish. It was spectacular – and it smelled just like the supper tart with the roasted grapes we like to make, those glazed radishes were just so good. I put the final touches on the graduate cookie pops after E went to bed and called it a(nother) late night.

Wednesday was the concert and graduation, so it was everyone fend for themselves in under twenty minutes. PB&J’s and apple slices for the win. And then we served 200 people cake and punch for dessert. (I purchased huge white sheet cakes, cut them and added the star cookies on top – they looked so cute, and different from your standard reception sheet cake.)

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I opted for Blue Apron meals again this week because of the crazy schedule – and so Thursday night we made the first one – Smothered Two-Cheese Grits with Caramelized Onions and Garlic Kale. I will admit to not being a huge grits fan – despite my southern roots. But as an adult, I’ve come around to polenta, and I’m almost a convert. I’ll take caramelized onions and kale on top of anything, so I thought this was pretty good. There’s always more grits than toppings at the end of the bowl – kind of like the last bite of oatmeal that didn’t find a grain of sugar or dried fruit near it. 

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Later that evening I made my favorite grownup cookie (which isn’t a fair classification, since kids love them too), Ginger Cookies with Shaved Chocolate and Dried Apricots from Super Natural Every Day. We wrapped up two packages to add to our teachers’ gifts and sent the rest of them for the other staff. These cookies are worth making for the kitchen smell alone.

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Friday night we all breathed a tremendous sigh of relief – SUMMERTIME! We celebrated with Fried Green Tomatoes w/ Cajun Remoulade Sauce and Boston Red Leaf Salad. If there’s one takeaway menu idea from this wordy post, it should be this one. Trust me. I also heated up the Kitchen Kulture Tomato Soup to round the meal out for four, and because I wasn’t sure how well the girls would like the fried green tomatoes (yeah, so-so), and we swirled Baetje Farm Goat Cheese into it. That soup was incredible – like the freshest, ripest tomatoes in a bowl. I don’t usually photograph the ‘afters’, but this night was too pretty to pass up.

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Saturday night we met up with friends for Shakespeare in the Park, and took sandwiches from Blues City Deli and sat outside on perhaps the most pleasant early summer evening this city can offer up.

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Sunday night we ate and drank wine for over six hours straight at an epic dinner party with friends and neighbors. If you live nearby, you must stop by Midwest Pasta on Cherokee and pick up some of the black bean ravioli (the owner / chef was at the dinner party). Unreal. I was asked to bring dessert with cherries – and so I made two – Cherry Clafouti, and a Cherry-Almond Gratin. I don’t make many dishes with tree nuts, so I was super crazy about cleaning the kitchen afterwards. It was so-so – tasty, but probably not a repeat. The cherry clafouti was a bigger hit, you know, if you like fresh cherries nestled into a few inches of custard. Rough night, but somebody had to do it.

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Hope you had a great week. Let me know if you made anything worth sharing – especially good cherry dishes. I need more.