What’s going on

It’s been an interesting 10 days or so here, a stretch of time in which I managed to do almost no cooking, if you can believe it! Oh sure, there was the Greek chicken experiment of last weekend in which I discovered a deep dislike of dried oregano, which tastes a lot like aspirin to me. But once it was scraped off, the leftover chicken was pretty good in a cobbled-together chicken and broccoli casserole in cheese sauce — nothing fancy, but it warmed me during the cold days at the beginning of the week.

Last Wednesday night was for dining out in the city. I met up with Claudia of cook eat FRET at Insieme for a getting-to-know-you dinner and had an absolute ball. The food ranged from sublime (Oh, branzino, where have you been all my life?) to Why Is This Even On the Menu? (Sweetbreads, liver, etc. appetizer — I’m looking at you), but bookending the meal with a rye-based Manhattan and pear eau de vie turned out to be a really good idea, and made the late bus ride home much more enjoyable than it otherwise would have been. And Claudia? She was every bit as warm, funny, and opinionated as you’d expect from reading her blog. I don’t even remember the last time I spoke to people sitting at a table next to me, but she just radiates such a good vibe we were all chatting away by the end of the meal. It was loads of fun and I’m already looking forward to her next visit to the city. (No picture of her or the meal because my rassafrassin’ camera died just as I was snapping the first picture.)

Of course, after this holiday weekend, travel is absolutely the last thing I’ll be doing for a while. Gil and I left home bright and early Saturday morning to enjoy Survivor: Tulsa for the evening. Five years ago last week, our friend Doug was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Thanks to the skill of Doug’s doctors, his utterly positive attitude, and the support of his family, he has thrived; he and his wife Shannon (one of my great friends and former grad school roommates) have adjusted to their new reality with tremendous grace and courage and have brought two lively, smart, and happy boys into the fold. And so Saturday night, friends and family (and lots of kids) filled their new home in Tulsa to celebrate this occasion and wish them many, many more celebrations of the kind. I, for one, am already looking forward to the 10-year party. (Click on the picture below to view the full flickr set.)
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The night ended far too soon (as it would’ve even if it had lasted till dawn), and the next morning we boarded another flight to St. Louis to surprise Gil’s brother for his 40th birthday. I was standing behind Gil and didn’t get to see Bo’s face when he walked in, but I hear he was appropriately shocked to see Gil standing there. As always, it was fun to catch up with Jane and Miriam (my sister- and mother-in-law, respectively) and Jane’s parents were as inviting and funny as ever. And my nieces. Oh, my nieces! Well, you’ll just have to view the flickr set to see their shenanigans. I don’t know how Bo and Jane keep up with them, and if I’m ever sorry we won’t have kids, it’s when I’m with the girls. To say they’re silly and funny and spirited and smart is selling them short by a mile.

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Hope you all had a great Presidents’ Day weekend. If it was filled with even a fraction of the friends, family, and fun ours was, you’re lucky people!

Broadening our chorizons

Deb left too early Sunday morning to partake in one of my favorite Creole dishes — shrimp & grits. Sausage or bacon really helps this dish along, but I have no idea where I’d find chaurice up here, so we went with chorizo instead. To keep the Spanish influence going, I used Manchego cheese in the grits, which lent them a subtle depth without overpowering their delicate flavor. It’s one of my favorite non-eggy brunch dishes and cooks up in a flash, the perfect meal for those mornings when your head feels too heavy to lug around for very long.

recipe after the jump

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