Monday, February 28, 2011

Tegan & Sara, & Noodles & Cake & Friends.

A little more than a year ago, two out of the ordinary events occurred on one winter night in Northampton: Tegan & Sara played at the Calvin Theatre, & someone besides Owen made me dinner.
Yes, last February, Melissa, Ashley, & I had tickets to see Tegan & Sara, & Melissa made Ashley & I dinner (Penne, Red Sauce), I brought the wine (of course) & Ashley brought a chocolatey thing from Woodstar.
The first Tegan & Sara album I owned, The Con, I bought on itunes immediately after my hand surgery in late November 2008, & I have very vivid memories of listening to it in an intense sort of way, tucked in bed with the laptop, vaguely pleasantly high on oxycodone & watching the snow out the window. Staying in bed after surgery gives one plenty of alone time to think, & all the details of those memories are really clear. Made for an interesting show, I guess.
2.12.10: Noodles, Wine & Cake at Melissa's, Tegan & Sara at the Calvin.
This blog did use to be a lot more about rock music, I guess I used to go out more. Back when it was just me & the cat, before we decided (mutually) to add a boyfriend & a dog into the family. It's still about rock music in the sense that it is very difficult for me to paint or write without music, but maybe I should see go see more shows.
Owen & I saw the Corin Tucker Band at the Iron Horse back in the fall, if I can remember what we ate first I'll try to draw that one, because that show was amazing. Sleater-Kinney! Rules!
(Ashley is from Oregon, so somehow this train of thought makes sense?)
Don't worry though, Owen, Ali, Katie & I have tickets for Loretta Lynn this Saturday, & that's sure to be an art piece. Hopefully that show begins with a lovely meal with lovely people like this one did.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winter 2010, In Random Dinners.

I'm still in a similar mental place to my last post, still feeling archivey, still hiding out in our room, still digging around in the old sketchbooks & rediscovering memories through drawings. Winter is still totally kicking my ass, so my motivation for complicated projects & exciting new recipes is low.
What has been keeping me going throughout these last (hopefully) weeks of horrible snowy icy slushy winter (spring! gardens! soon!) has been just the appreciation of our everyday life here, that we make time to cook & eat dinner together even when it's complicated, even when we hate each other, that we collect objects we like & live in a space that however cluttered & messy looks like us, that we have sweet sweet animals, good kitchen stuff & a cozy home.
Last winter was our first few months of really living together, so these pages of my sketchbook are especially sweet to me.
It is really feeling right now that Winter 2011 is never ever going to end, so to give us hope, some moments from Winter 2010, which did end eventually, becoming this.
1.11.10: Black Bean Chicken Chili.

1.13.2010: Scallops & Noodles.
1.19.10: Sausages & Peppers & Spinach & Whiskey Shots.
1.12.2010: Thyme & Shallot Salmon Fillet, With Broccoli & Cheese.
3.7.10: Weird Curry Stir-Fry.
Sometimes I just want to leave the pictures here by themselves, because to me, the specific details alone mean so much.
We ate this on this date, & it looked like this. That comforts me, when life seems bizarre & overwhelming, I guess just like actually cooking food does.
Would anyone care about that? Does anyone care anyway? When I was in art school I kept a very specific food I ate journal in my sketchbook, maybe I should just start posting those.
But I love those pages, when I look back, even as I laugh at how pretentious I was. Sometimes I can feel the specific moment, smell it, taste it, just from reading those lists.
Damn this blog is getting verbal!
I'll try to dig myself out of this hole soon, the potential of this sort of meal will help, but I have a few more of these style posts planned for the next month or so, then it's garden time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Steak & Broccoli, With Cheese Or Noodles, Old School Or Spicy.

We are adrift in classics over here lately. Sometimes I want this to be a cooking blog where I tell you all about fancy menus, sometimes I just get into the charm of the details of everyday life, i.e. what did I eat for dinner back on that particular day in January? Along these lines, I notice certain themes, such as steak & broccoli, for example. What better to follow up the poetry of chicken?
A thing we do here is to purchase large cheap cuts of steak, chop them up (Owen loves his meat cleaver), & keep them in the freezer. Frequently this meat is crappy, 'cause, y'know, we are bargain shoppers, so sometimes we really have to get creative with it. Which brings us to cheap steak's good grocery store cousin broccoli, my good old friend: an excellent winter vegetable, it keeps forever in the fridge, can be really inexpensive if you forgo the organic (which guess what, we do), is pretty high up there in the nutrient department, is a nice, substantial satisfying thing to eat for a vegetable, & is delicious. & it looks like little trees! Yay broccoli, you really save my life in winter when we can't grow our own vegetables & most of the stuff in the grocery store is overpriced & tasteless.
1.10.10: A Big Ol' Sunday Night Steak, Drenched in Cheese Sauce, Covered In Broccoli. 2.20.11: Noodly Steak & Broccoli With Ginger, Lemongrass, Lime & Chilis.
ItalicTwo meals, about one year apart, same kitchen, same people & cat (Only now we have a dog-stay tuned for details!). Basic cheese & meat Americana, or improvised Vietnamese-eqsue with lots of flavor & spice. Both just ordinary nights at home, no special ingredients, nothing special really except for being good meals eaten at home with love.I guess this takes me back to the beginning. Sometimes I think the pages of my sketchbook where I just drew some random unremarkable dinner we had are so pointless, & yet sometimes I look back through them & I remember.
Ah, the beauty of the details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Nod To The Humble Chicken.

It's not all duck & lamb on this blog. I have a great fondness for that humble protein, the chicken. A grocery store classic, a childhood memory, an ionic kitchen image, a barnyard pet, what's not to like? It's cheap, it's always on sale Buy 1 Get 2 Free at the Big Y, it's versatile, & if our future goes according to our long term plan, we'll be able to eat our own someday & really see where our meat comes from. Visually pleasing yard creatures who bring us eggs, have crazy feathers, & can become stew? Wow.
As we are still enjoying archive month here, I present some chicken meals we ate about a year ago, just random things we through together creatively on work nights, mostly.
1.2.10: With Hot Sauce & Blue Cheese, & Collards & Bacon.
2.24.10: Snow Day, Roasted With Rutabagas & Thyme.

2.26.10: Leftover Stir-Fry With Broccoli & Brussels Sprouts, Over Rice Or Udon Noodles.
3.10.10: With Apple Sage Stuffed Delicata Squash & Melted Gorgonzola & Olives.
3.9.10: Buffalo Style & Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce.
As Owen as says, we are well on our way to being a ceramic chicken museum at our house, well well on our way. As I type this, I can see a truly impressive selection of chicken imagery. I guess I like those delicious birds.
So thank you, chickens, the more exotic proteins are lovely, but as one of our major themes here is living well yet cheaply, we appreciate you. You bring us many dinners, & warm dinners are truly a miracle during a Massachusetts winter. The garden veggies can't start soon enough...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tarts, Or How To Be A Broke Food Diva.

More from the fabulous, fabulous EnD archives, this one from just about a year ago. An excellent no-groceries-ordinary-night dinner secret is the TART, filled with whatever random items you can find. Leftovers, frozen veggies, odd possibly expired cheap canned goods from Ocean State or Deals & Steals, whatever. Once you have mastered a decent pie crust from scratch, which is easier than you think, whip one up, clean out the weird crap from the freezer, & you have something worthy of Martha herself (I think it's the word "tart". Sounds fancy). Just keep flour & butter in the house, & enjoy the innuendos.
Carmelized Onion, Pinenut, Spinach & Goat Cheese Tart, February 2010.
So sounds impressive, right? well, Martha wouldn't be Martha if she didn't know how to work it. As I may have mentioned I get a lot of free & random groceries from work, & other than that am underpaid & broke, which certainly leads us to not grocery shop & work with what we have.
A Classic EnD theme.
Another tip along these lines are caramelized onions which only require butter & a bag of cheap onions & yet taste way more delicious than that implies. So yeah, the free pinenuts & goat's cheese are totally a work perk for me, but if it wasn't, this would have tasted awesome with cheap swiss cheese from Stop & Shop & just the onions & frozen spinach. Garlic is cool, also cheap bulk spices from the Asian Market. Thinly slice a cheap russet potato, drizzle it in olive oil (don't tell anyone but if you can't afford olive, just use whatever you can get your hands on) & throw it on there. It's all about what you can do with the simplest, cheapest, most basic things.
If you can't cook well with expensive ingredients, lord help you. If you cook well with only expensive ingredients, you are an amateur. Cook something right on while dead broke with whatever you can find that still makes your boyfriend happy & you're there, way more impressive than any Iron Chef challenge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane & More: Cape Cod, January 2010.

Late winter on this blog is traditionally when I dig back through my archives from the past year or so, aka all those unfinished drawings of things I ate & cooked, just sitting in my sketchbook waiting for me. So expect very little time continuity in posting whatsoever for the next month or so. Here comes random food moments from 2010.
Tonight I bring you a little story from last January, in fact the first trip Owen took with me to my Mom's house in Brewster, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. First of oh so many. He already knew my dear sister quite well at this point, & had met my Mom & stepmom Barb briefly over Christmas, & then of course this magical trip to New Bedford, my original hometown. It turned out New Bedford was not the only place we had in common, & that Owen's family is from very close on the Cape to mine, & essentially we grew up with the same childhood summer. This trip was full of firsts: Owen sleeping in my teenaged bedroom, Owen & I on the Cape together, & me bringing someone home who knew where they were.
I believe I had previously mentioned that my mother is an excellent cook...
Dinner With Mum: Roast Pork With Pears, Red Onions, Gorgonzola & Rosemary Still Growing In The Winter Garden, Over Rice, A Green Salad, & Apple Pecan Muffins.
The next day, a sandwiches at the beach, a Cape Cod ritual, these particular sandwiches an Italian (ham, salami & peppers) for Owen & a chicken salad with cranberries & walnuts for me, from Nauset Market, with Utz Salt n' Vinegar potato chips, eaten on a bench overlooking Marconi Beach in Wellfleet. (Owen's sandwich choice was better than mine. Somehow a year later I still remember that clearly, shows where my priorities lie, I guess). But Utz chips freaking rule & so does eating a sandwich by the ocean on Cape Cod with someone you love in January.
Sandwiches & Chips At Marconi In January.
& before we left for home back in Northampton, pizza with the family, the current favorite (circa January 2010 of course) of Spinners Pizza's Chicken BLT ranch from Ring Bros. Market in Dennis, with the constant sides on Seamans Lane, Brewster, wine & a green salad.
BLT Ranch Pizza, Salad, Wine.
So there you go, a homecoming & meeting the family & road trip (&eating) story all in one. Welcome to Archive Month. Just paging through all these sketchbooks opens up so memories, whoah, I GUESS THAT'S WHY I DRAW. Go figure.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Moussaka Story: 2009-2011 aka Lamb Part Four.

I promised Moussaka (many many times) & so Moussaka you shall have. This recipe came from the original Saveur Lamb special issue that prompted the Lamb Week 2009 in the first place. This was intended to be the signature dish of the entire series, but hey late is better than never, that's our slogan on this blog, so here we are, February 2011, & I present: Moussaka.
A Moussaka is basically a Greek version of eggplant parmesan, more spicy, with lamb. You begin with a ground lamb based spiced red sauce, by sauting lamb, onions, & peppers in olive oil, adding nutmeg, ginger, & cayenne, then simmering with tomatoes. Meanwhile, fry thin slices of potato & eggplant, & create a bechamel sauce. Layer the fried potato & eggplant slices, cover in each layer in red sauce, then cover the whole thing in the bechamel sauce, bake for about an hour, then serve, anyway you like, as you will see below, Moussaka is extremely versatile (& delicious).
12.9.09. The making of a Moussaka.
I made this first as part of my lamb series back in 2009, & more recently, early January of this year, my Mum was coming to visit & as she is a fantastic cook & usually cooks totally fantastic meals for us every second when we are on the Cape, I wanted to make her something special. During a pre-visit phone call with Mum discussing Lebanese food, breads, spices, etc. (as phone calls tend to run in my family), my brain started traveling through various food & taste channels, & I remembered this recipe, rather time & labor intensive for a week night dinner, perfect for an evening of relaxed talking & cooking time with your family in your kitchen.
MOUSSAKA 2009 & 2011
(2011 featuring Mum's white huge Danish cast iron enamel pan we just inherited).
Back in 2009, I actually did make this on a whim on a weeknight, & it turned out Owen had to work super late, then like a sensible man went out for a drink after, maybe I didn't mention to him that I was making something that takes several hours for dinner? Nope, I sure didn't. Pretty good 1am post bar snack though, served over Israeli couscous, because I was into Israeli couscous & lamb back then.
Late Night Dinners: Owen Eats Moussaka At 1am.
Moussaka was good over Israeli couscous that night (I did eat myself, obviously, but it was much earlier, because who could seriously resist those smells, so I got to draw Owen eating). But it's also mindblowing over lots of things, because it's is a spicy, meaty, creamy, saucy thing, & hence the leftovers are excellent, so the next night we ate them over a green salad with avocado slices (I love love love super heavy things with salad + avocados with warm food).
Leftovers: Moussaka & Salad.
Which brings us back to the present, Moussaka 2011 version (because contrary to the above drawing, that was not the conclusion to Lamb Week, not even close. It's gonna be a really long week). Created in our kitchen in Northampton with Mum & Ali & DustyRose, eaten at our kitchen table with homemade parathas (our new thing, to be covered in it's own post), then the all important leftovers enjoyed by Mum & Ali in Turner's Falls in Ali's apartment the next day & simultaneously enjoyed by Jed & I at the kitchen table here on South Street on a snowy night, over linguine, with grated cheese & a bottle of wine.
2011 Moussaka: With Mum & Parathas, With Jed & Noodles.
There you have it, the story of one humble Moussaka. Just look at the cast of characters who eventually showed up in this simple food story, all those memories now attached to every future bite.
& We are not in fact done with lamb, I just realized that I have made a lamb curry about once a week this winter (how else to survive horrible constant snow & ice winter 2011?) & yet not drawn one. Fortunately one was served at Owen's 26th Birthday Dinner Party just the other night, so I will get right on that (in like a year or two, you know, something like that).
Stay warm & ice free & eat some lamb! xoxo Eating & Drawing

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Owen (With Lamb).

One year ago tonight, February 5th 2010, I was marinating a leg of lamb for Owen's 25th birthday dinner party the next day, February 6th 2010. My how time flies. It sure has been a long time since Lamb Week began, almost a year & a half now, so much lamb so many memories. This post from more recent times inspired me to go digging in the sketchbooks, & wow SO MUCH UNPOSTED LAMB. (Note to self: Get on that. Hint: Moussaka, finally).
Owen's Birthday Eve 2010 & A Leg Of Lamb Marinating Overnight In All The Good Stuff: Red Wine, Garlic, Balsamic Vinegar, Fresh Thyme & Olive Oil.
February 6, 2010: Owen Turns 25, over Lamb, Potatoes & Shallots, Brussels Sprouts, & Lamb Gravy, With Ali, Katie, & Melissa.
Happy Birthday Eve 2011 Baby. 26 tomorrow & more delicious food. It's my Gramma's 76th birthday today, so Happy Birthday Gramma also. Much love to you both.

More Cape Cod Summer, Now With Red Sauce.

On another night of disgusting winter weather (waahh! Ice storm!) EnD brings you another Cape Cod Summer Vacation Memory.
I believe that I have mentioned my Grampa's strong opinions on food. Never challenge him on burgers, & never, ever dispute the glory of his homemade red sauce & stuffed shells. Apparently he had an Italian friend growing up in Brockton, Massachusetts, aka The City Of Champions, in the 1930's, & his mother taught my Grampa all her red sauce secrets. Yeah, so he doesn't believe that fresh herbs from the garden could possibly work as well as a jar of dried "Italian seasoning." There's no arguing with the man: his stuffed shells & homemade red sauce are the best dish known to the food community wordwide, no exceptions. Take that, Thomas Keller. You would so lose in a throwndown with Bob Diamond.
During our family vacations, Grampa waits around with anticipation for a rainy day. Why? STUFFED SHELLS. He gets up first thing after his 7am donut & coffee on the beach & starts the sauce, & fiddles with it all day. I believe he wakes up happy that first rainy day of vacation, just thinking sauce.
Rainy Day Italian Diamond Family Dinner: Grampa's Stuffed Shells, Pesto From Mum's Back Porch Basil, Garden Salad, Tomato Basil Bread from the Underground, Extra Cheese, Extra Sauce.
& Since Ali made it down from Turner's in time for dinner, the whole family: Mum & Barb, Gramma & Grampa, Ali & Katie, Liz & Owen, & Stella & Roxie (RIP sweet dog).
Guess what else we love in this family & on this blog of course? LEFTOVERS. What does it all mean? PIZZA PARTY because you can bet Grampa made way too much red sauce. Owen whipped up a bunch of pizza crust, Mum brought out the pesto & some chicken, & there you go.
Pizzas: Red With Cheese, Pesto With Chicken & Goat's Cheese, Pesto With Carmelized Onions & Cheese, A Calzone From All The Extra Ingredients.
& Blueberry Pie, Because It Was A Cape Cod Summer.
Surprise, surprise, Grampa Diamond wouldn't go anywhere near either Pesto based pizza. & the next day, the Brockton Pizza, specifically the pizza from the Cape Cod Cafe (confusingly located in Brockton, which for those not versed in Massachusetts locations, is not on the Cape at all) vs. All Other Pizza On Earth Wars began when my Aunt Jean innocently drove down with about a million Cape Cod Cafe pizzas. Don't ever talk down very thin crust around members of the Diamond side of my family, in fact, don't say any pizza not produced in Brockton is good at all. Really. Just don't.
Any way, it was a gorgeous July day on Cape Cod, our small family had enough pizzas for an army, & we brought it to the beach & ate it inches from the shoreline. Imagine that, back when the earth wasn't buried under ice, sleet, slush, & snow.
I love my Grampa Diamond, he won't eat green food or let me cook but I love him anyway. By some standards my red sauce kicks his red sauce's ass, but really, he wins.

Sunday Night One Pot Dinners: Lamb Stew.

Winter Survival Strategy #1: Warm cozy Sunday Night dinners, rich meaty things that can be cooked in one pot, & take hours so that the house fills up with warmth & good smells. This has definitely become a tradition around here this winter, & some of our favorite choices involved LAMB. Lamb has a long, yummy history on this blog, & on this particular dark & gloomy night,
Lamb Stew, with jed & owen, january 2011.
Lamb stew meat, a purple turnips, a carrot, a rutabaga, some potatoes, onions, & garlic, all simmered in lots of red wine & meat stock (we used duck stock this time because there was still some left in the freezer from this meal). Jed unexpectedly showed up on our doorstep with a magnum of Rex Goliath right before the stew was ready. Perfect Winter Sunday Night. Friends & food & wine & conversation around the table in winter, a classic New England winter survival tactic.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cali Part Four: George's Drive-In aka The Conclusion.

Here we are, at the end of our journey, begun just a bit more than a week previous. Pretty much losing our minds with good reason at this point. But we are DIAMONDS, goddamn-it, & so we rallied.
& Ali,
with our delicious food, aka A Giant Coke, Two Carne Asada Burritos, Fried Zucchini, & Hot Sauce & Magic Dipping Sauce, Eaten By Two Girls In A Parking Lot In Old California.
& Then Those Girls Flew Home, After Eating the Leftovers Waiting In LAX.
Behind the burritos, the day we thought we couldn't take anymore & then found George's (because the sign said "Homemade Fried Zucchini" & we said "Why Not?", & a Goodwill bringing us cowboy boots for Ali & a rainbow Wrangler shirt for Owen & Ali put our dipping sauce into the ice left in our massive Coke in the trunk of our Grampa-borrowed Mustang Convertible so we could eat it later with the leftovers (& yes we did).
It took me way too long to finish telling this story, but it took me way too long to get around to living it also.
So there you have it, the Liz & Ali California saga 2010, dedicated to my very dearest sister Ali, of course, without whom none of the good bits would have been possible. xoxo

A Snowy Night In January, Remembering Chanukah.

We are having some sort of ridiculous blizzard in Western Massachusetts, & can be considered officially snowed in here on South Street. Welcome to horrible Winter 2011, where it snows every minute. Snowed in with a glass of wine, I find myself examining my sketchbook, which has been tragically neglected lately. There I found this:
First Night Of Chanukah 2010, Liver & Latkes.
Back on the first of December, it was also a shitty night, weather-wise, although back then we didn't realize quite what we were in for. But it was rainy & chilly & blustery, & Owen unexpectedly had the night off, & it was Chanukah. You can't have a holiday without a special meal, right? (At least I can't). We were kind of broke per usual & I hadn't planned anything, so leaving work that afternoon I channeled my Gramma Bess & bought some liver, onions, & potatoes, & we stopped off on the way home for a big bottle of Manischewitz. Hence, a 133 South Chanukah celebration of homemade chopped liver, latkes, & terrible kosher wine, eaten around the kitchen table after lighting the first candle. Liver reminds me of my Gramma, although her chopped liver came from Sol's Deli in new Bedford & her latkes came from a box & she would have made a brisket, too. There is a balance to recreating a tradition, keeping some things the same as you remember but making your own memories too. I think the Liz, Owen , & DustyRose family is off to a good start, we have certainly made homemade latkes & special Chanukah meals a memorable occasion. So enjoy the snowstorm, everyone, & remember being snowed in for days = much eating & drawing.