Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's been so long since I last posted, you might think that I haven't been cooking much. On the contrary, despite busyness and colds, I've been determinedly cooking on just about every night of the week, armed with my shiny new stainless steel pan set that I got from my parents for Christmas.

Thanks to the Easy/Fast/Cheap Cooking tumblr, I've been discovering great new food blogs, some of my favorites being Smitten Kitchen and Love and Olive Oil. I've made several recipes from each site recently.

Smitten Kitchen
Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Mustard-Roasted Potatoes

Tequila Lime Chicken and Green Onion Slaw (the chicken was okay, but the slaw was very tasty)
Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp

Love and Olive Oil
Baked Panko Chicken Tenders with Basil Aioli
Farfalle with Chicken, Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onions (I used penne and frozen whole tomatoes from the summer instead of fresh ones, left out the chicken)
Mongolian Beef

Tips on the beef: I accidentally bought thin-sliced sirloin instead of a regular old sirloin (from the wonderful Amazing Grace farm). To say that it was an accident sounds ridiculous, because the packaging was clearly labeled "thin-sliced sirloin". What can I say? I'm a practically a virgin at purchasing steaks! Anyway, the pre-sliced steak ended up being fantastic. I just cut it into strips and it fried up beautifully. Very tender.

Another comment: I cut the brown sugar down to about 3/4 of what it called for, but I could have halved it. I don't like my "Chinese" food to taste like candy, but use your own judgment.

Finding and reading all of these great blogs has humbled me in regards to both my cooking and writing skills, but it gives me something to aspire to. Here are some other sites I've enjoyed that you might want to check out:
Not Eating Out in New York
Serious Eats (lots of variety, fun food-related content)
Closet Cooking (I'm looking forward to trying his recipe for okonomiyaki - Japanese pancake/omelet)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

the desires of my heart

photo from Little Rascal

The ladies at Little Rascal and Freelancer's Fashionblog have given me Ladderax fever. Ladderax is a British-manufactured mid-century shelving system, named for the metal or wood "ladders" that make up the sides of the shelves. Then a combination of shelves and/or desks and storage units can be attached.

photo from Freelancer's Fashionblog

photo from Little Rascal

It is gorgeous but quite difficult and expensive to find in the states. I'm afraid that obtaining the shelving for myself will remain a dream for the time being. If you happen to have a tip for where to find Ladderax in the US, I would be very much appreciative.

photo from Little Rascal

Ladderax aside, these girls have adorable homes. I'm crazy for the rug in this photo. And the curtains. Chair too. Also, I've had an eye out for a pretty vintage globe like in the Freelancer's photo. I want so much. Sigh.

Friday, January 8, 2010

our walls

Today Matt picked up my other birthday present--he bought me a Charley Harper lithograph and my mother-in-law had it framed for me. I've been leaving the area above our couch open for just the right print and I'm sure this mid-century nature illustration is it.

Vigilant Vireos by Charley Harper

While I'm posting wall hangings, I thought I'd include some pieces we've put up in the last six months around the house.

Our Living Room

It's so lovely to have our friends' artwork hanging in our home. One of the first pieces from a friend was this bright screen print by Kansas friend Justin Marable. How nice of the Marables to give us this piece before we moved north.

Our Kitchen

In May we picked up this piece from our friend Sarah's fantastic senior art show. It is a piece of handmade paper colored with Iowa soil and grass seed placed within the paper to create words. She watered and cultivated each of her pieces and luckily our grass dried with the pretty green color intact.

"dwell" from Sarah Henson

I picked up this beast of a kitchen gadget at our favorite local consignment store. It only holds plastic wrap and some ancient wax paper right now because it's proving difficult to find foil and paper towels that fit. I still think it's great.

Our Dining Room

A small collection of sketches done by comic artists at Comic Con '07.

clockwise from top: sketches by Sammy Harkham, Souther Salazar, Jordan Crane, and Anders Nilsen

Jordan Crane postcard

I did not include several other dining room hangings--it definitely has the most heavily-laden walls in the house.

Our little house is really feeling like a home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

best nachos ever

I am always excited to make it to my parents' town, especially when the trip includes a visit to the ever-delicious San Pedro Cafe (which it does nearly every time!). Their menu boasts many Caribbean dishes that I might like to try, but we rarely order anything but their chicken and duck nachos--one of each, please!

In my mind, the greatest feature of these so-called appetizers is the zesty lemon habanero aioli. It is really quite spicy, but my dad always orders an extra side of the sauce! The fresh salsas on each type of nacho are as delicious as they are different. There must be at least 3 avocados in the chicken nacho's thick guacamole-like "avocado salsa". The sweet fruity salsa on the duck nacho is a refreshing complement to the salty smoked duck strips.

smoked duck nachos with mozzerella cheese, pico de gallo, tropical-mango salsa, and lemon habanero aioli

smoked chicken nachos with cheddar, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, and lemon habanero aioli

If you're in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, check out San Pedro!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

late birthday images

Finally posting pictures from the evening we celebrated my birthday in December. We ate dinner at Lombardino's...

orecchiete with sausage and brandy cream sauce/spaghetti alla bolognese

truffle pizza

Had dessert at Monty's Blue Plate Diner...

tin roof sundae pie

eggnog malt

And Matt gave me an adorable vintage bell for my bike.

And a year ago I first posted on this blog about my last birthday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

This year, Matt and I took on the challenge of making terrariums (terraria?) as Christmas gifts.

We've been collecting small- to medium-sized jars and bottles for months. Unfortunately, this cute syrup bottle is proving to be a poor environment for a terrarium. It's not doing well.

We regularly scour the local antique store for the tiniest of figurines. This kitten is only about an inch long.

To make a terrarium, you'll need:

gravel (fishbowl style)
gardening charcoal
potting soil
small plants (we used baby's tears, any moss-like plant would do)

spray paint (if you want to cover writing on the lid)

Layer 1-2 inches of rocks then 1-1 1/2 inches of charcoal, depending on how big the jar is. Fill to about halfway with potting soil, then tear off a chunk of baby's tears with roots attached. Lay plants roots-down on soil and water lightly. You should be able to keep your terrarium closed, but if things get a bit misty, then take off the lid for awhile. If things get dry add a little sprinkle of water.

These are some helpful sites that give more details than I did:

These are some succulent plantings we made as well. Use a wide-mouthed jar and don't cover the top if you use cacti.

Here's a great tutorial on succulent terrariums:

Good luck!