Sunday, February 21, 2010


Yesterday at Central Market:
Random Lady: You and that man you're with... you look like you should be doing something in the Olympics!
Me: ha ha, thanks! How flattering!(Thinking, yeah I used to be athletic, but right now the only competition I could probably win would be the "who can reach the glasses at the back of the very top shelf of the cabinet" game)

Random Lady: you are both just so tall and athletic looking... Is he your brother?
Me: Um no, my husband (Thinking, I really hope you didn't ask me that AFTER seeing us smooch in the cheese section... We have a tendency to make the CM sample smorgasbord into a mini-date. It makes grocery shopping super fun.)

Not My Brother

For some reason, people tend to think that if you're tall, and hanging out with someone else tall, then you MUST be related. I have a friend at school who is an inch or so taller than me, and people have stopped us in the hallway to ask if we were twins. And our course directors have called us by each other's names. This would NEVER happen if we were both 5'8"

Not my Twin

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthday Cake

It's no secret that I love baking. I like combining different flavors and seeing what happens. The only thing I like better is eating something delicious after I baked it (especially if I was unsure of the outcome prior to tasting said creation). And I'm getting pretty good at it, because I have both a major sweet tooth and an aversion to store-bought baked goods.*
So of course when Ethan's birthday came around, I had to make the cake myself. Shockingly, this is the first cake I've baked since our wedding cake! Not to worry, I've made like twenty pies over the last few months, as well as Christmas cookies, quick breads, brownies, and home-made hot fudge sauce. But since I hadn't made a cake in so long, I wanted to try something new and exciting. I ended up combining a Banana cake from the Austin Junior League cookbook Necessities And Temptations with a coconut-pecan filling from The New Best Recipe Cookbook and topping it all with whipped cream frosting.

And it was the biggest cake of all time. Seriously. I baked it in 2 9" round pans, but the layers were so thick I ended up splitting them in half. The cake was about 6-7 inches tall and felt like it weighed about 15-20 lbs.

The inside:

Recipe for Banana Cake:
1 cup butter, room temp
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
6 very ripe mashed bananas
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour

preheat oven to 325; grease and flour 2 9 inch round pans or 3 8 inch round pans. (I used 9 inch)
Cream together butter and sugar.
add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition
beat in bananas
mix baking soda with sour cream; add to banana mixture
add flour and mix well.
bake 25-45 minutes (longer if using 2 nine inch pans, shorter if using 3 8 inch pans; also, may want to decrease temp slightly if using 9 inch pans)
Cook in pans on wire racks for 10 mins; then let cool solo on wire racks.

Recipe for Coconut Pecan filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
2 cups lightly packed sweetened flaked coconut

Mix egg yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. beat in butter, then gradually add cream and vanilla into mixture. pour into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is puffy and thickened (180 degrees). pour into medium bowl and allow to cool slightly. add pecans and coconut.

Recipe for whipped cream frosting:
beat heavy cream until it becomes whipped cream, then beat some more so it becomes very THICK whipped cream. add vanilla extract and powdered sugar to taste.

To assemble: split cake layers in half with a long sharp knife (two short rounds rather than one tall one). use one layer, 1/3 of filling, second layer, another 1/3 of filling, third layer, last 1/3 of filling, 4th layer, cover the whole thing with frosting.

*My exception to the no store-bought baked goods is the Berry Chantilly from Whole foods, in sheet cake form. I can eat that until it gives me a belly ache.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Random list of things I want

1. To get into a residency, hopefully somewhere within my top 5 programs (I find out in March if I matched and where)
2. A bigger kitchen that doesn't make me feel like I'm standing on a gentle slope while at the stove... It would be nice if when I tried to fry an egg, it stayed in the middle of the pan and didn't wander downhill.
3. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, in hardcover.

4. A sewing machine

5. To take a road trip through the Southwestern states after my clinical duties are finished and Ethan has graduated.

6. time and space to re-paint some of the furniture that we've inherited. I'm thinking some gray bookshelves and a cobalt blue desk.

7. This poster, big, and framed. but maybe not till we move... Because I laugh when I see it AND I think it's pretty.

8. A nap.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Family wall

We just recently got around to ordering a few pictures from our wedding to put out on display. I had previously designed and bought a wedding photo coffee-table book from Blurb, but we didn't have any pictures up. We are not the type of people who feel the need to cram big artfully-arranged collages of wedding pictures on every wall or flat surface of our home. Nor did we want any pictures of ourselves that were life-size or bigger (although our photographer did say that he knew of a place where we could get a 24"x36" picture of ourselves... We did enjoy your work Budi, but I don't want to see my own face that big, ever).
So we got a 5x7 of us cutting the cake (which is hung in the kitchen, next to where I baked it!)

we also got a bridal picture of me for my mom,

and a ceremony picture for each set of parents.

For ourselves we got an 8x10 of our favorite picture from the day, to put up on our family wall.

It was taken at the end of the afternoon, after we had said the vows and cut the cake and were ready to go home and nap, but we both look so happy and it perfectly captured the mood we were in.

I started this wall when the apartment was just mine, using old family photos. I added some pieces of art; the print of a yellow rose was selected because my dad always gave my mom yellow roses for their anniversary. The paper cutting of a tree that I made for our wedding announcements is there. When we were looking for some of Ethan's things in his parent's garage, we found an old photo of his mom dressed up as a majorette (it makes me smile every time I see it!) and I framed a piece of vintage lace that we picked up at a shop in Paris on our honeymoon. And when we got our wedding picture, we knew that the family wall was the obvious place to hang it. The wall now looks finished to me.

PS if you're wondering about the frames, the clip frames are all from Micheal's, and the other frames are from the Ribba line at Ikea.

Friday, February 12, 2010

snow day

This is DALLAS, from February 11. We got 12.5 inches of snow!

Monday, February 8, 2010

granny square baby blanket

Since I stared crocheting, I decided to start making baby blankets for all my relatives who had babies... that was when my cousin's wife, Andrea was pregnant with now 2-month-old Natalie. Then I found out my cousin Alex was pregnant with her first, my sister-in-law Anne was pregnant, and my sister Shannon was also pregnant... and they're all due within about a month of each other. In fact, I think Alex is now full term and just trying to keep the baby inside until the snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic are over.

I have to say that my favorite blanket of the three is the one that I did for Shannon's baby girl, Win.

It's made of 49 granny squares rimmed in two rows of white single crochet, with more single crochet around the entire blanet, and a lacy green edging that I made up.

I love the way it turned out, but while making it I was cursing myself for picking something with so many individual steps. There was much weaving in of ends (of each round) so that the blanket would look pretty much the same from both sides, and because of the several different colors of yarn I couldn't easily take in on the road with me during our interview drives. I swore that I wouldn't make another granny square blanket for a really, really long time.

So I just started a granny hexagon blanket. But it's less painful because since it's for me, I'm not as worried about making it perfect.

To recipients of my earlier works: I'm learning as I go. If you have another baby, their blanket will most likely be better :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Apple butter!

the other day we went to Sprouts to see what kind of deals they had on fruits/veggies. They had apples for 85 cents a pound, so I bought a ton of them to make apple sauce and apple butter and to try my hand at home canning.
How I did it:
-peeled, cored, and sliced enough apples to fill a giant stock pot. added about 4 inches of water, and started cooking.
-when soft, mashed apples and added sugar and cinnamon to taste. This was my apple sauce. I took out as much as we wanted and put some in the fridge and the remainder in the freezer for later.
-the remainder I kept cooking. I added more sugar (some recipes say to use an equivalent measurement of sugar and fruit, but I didn't add NEARLY that much and I'm glad I didn't). I also added allspice, more cinnamon, and cloves.
-I used my handy immersion blender to completely puree my mixture.
-I kept cooking and stirring over low heat until the mixture became thick enough to mound up on a spoon. At this point, I had apple butter.

Ethan's mom used to do a lot of canning, so I got all my jars and lids and rings from her. So all my jars of apple butter are housed in cute vintage jars! yay.
-Wash everything in hot, soapy water and rinse.
-boil everything for 10 minutes in a big pot to sterilize.
-ladle/pour hot apple butter into hot jar leaving 1/4 inch room at top. wipe rim of jar with clean dry paper towel, put on lid and secure with ring. I had one jar that was half full and I just stuck it in the fridge and we ate that first.
-put full jars into boiling water for 5-10 minutes to seal. When the jars are properly sealed, the lid will not make a clicking sound if you press on it.
-I didn't have any jar-holders, so I just wrapped my regular kitchen tongs with rubber bands and that worked fine.

We've been eating the apple butter on toast, over cream cheese as a spread, and as a topper for ice cream, pancakes, and oatmeal. And we haven't gotten botulism yet!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


After the glorious honeymoon in Paris, I had three and a half completely free open weeks in which to do whatever I liked. The first thing I did was try to re-create some of the delicious foods that we had on our trip. One of the big reasons why we chose Paris was because of the culinary history and opportunities, and we were probably just as excited to go to E. Dehillerin, a bare-bones cookware store stocked full of floor to ceiling mauviel copper, twenty kinds of rolling pins, and ladles as big as my head, as we were to go to some of the museums. I got two rolling pins (one for pastry and one for general use, though neither with rolling handles because I never use that feature anyways), some brioche tins (although I've never made one in my life, they were shiny and I may make mini-pies in them), and a ladle as we didn't have one. The copper was about 1/2 as expensive as it would be here, even with the dollar weak against the Euro. If only the franc were still in existence!
A highlight of our trip was dinner at the Hidden Kitchen, a private supper club run by two American expats in Paris. Apparently they were written up in the NY Times after we got our reservations, so I think it will be much harder to go to. It's run by a couple, who 1-2 times per week set up a 10 course dinner in their home in central Paris, for a not-unreasonable price (though it was a splurge for us). It was the best, and most imaginative food I've ever eaten. The menu:

Apertif: Champagne with pomegranate seeds.
Amuse: Rosemary and Bombay Sapphire Granita with a tempura sage leaf
Celery root soup with clementine, lovage and celery seed crackers
Beet and potato carpaccio with savory fennel porridge
sauteed sea bass with new england style fish chowder
palate cleanser: some kind of bourbon/mint gelee.
veal meatball with house made linguine
flank steak with wild rice, winter squash puree and caramelized onion
shaved brussels sprouts salad with buerre blanc vinaigrette
almond cake with cacao nib ice cream
petit fours

seven of the courses were paired with wine.

When we got home, I bought Volume 1 of Mastering the art of French Cooking. I tried to re-create the shaved brussels sprouts salad but couldn't quite figure out the ratios of the other stuff that went into it. I used shaved pecorino romano, toasted pine nuts, and some buerre blanc; My mistake was that I did not put anything with the buerre blanc to turn it into vinaigrette, so I was basically just eating cheese and brussels sprouts covered in butter sauce. It was good, but a little too heavy.

Ethan made french onion soup out of the cookbook, and it is without a doubt the best I've ever tasted. It takes a while to get the onions to caramelize correctly, but it's soooooooooo worth it.

Other food highlights: cheese fondue (since recreated, I will post recipe later), mussels in white wine sauce, too many nutella street crepes to count, roasted pork knuckle with sauerkraut, Paella from the Baudoyer market, Fagotini with Foie gras sauce (which I can't find a recipe for ANYWHERE), and hot spiced wine.

Actually the ONLY time I had something that was bad was when I ordered the special combination of the day and ended up with an appetizer consisting of a very large piece of pate topped with a savory meat-flavored jello. Based on some old cookbooks I've read, I gather that in the 50's, people in the US used to make fancy savory jello salads, but I really just can't get behind that. I'm glad that savory jello has fallen out of popularity, along with other mid-century offerings like head cheese and mackerel pudding. You think I'm kidding? go open up your grandma's version of The Joy of Cooking and you'll see.