Second-child syndrome

It was Otis’s birthday last week and I completely let it go by without mentioning it here. So…happy belated birthday, Otie!

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Yes, that’s a band-aid on his ear. He tangled with a thorn bush on an afternoon walk last week and, to hear Gil tell it, the whole thing looked like a horror show with blood everywhere, even on Rufus. At least one tiny bandage took care of everything.

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“No, really, I’ll be fine…SIGH.”

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If you haven’t heard, April is Adopt a Greyhound month. I’m clearly biased, but I think they’re just incredible animals; I don’t think we’ll ever not have one cockroached at the foot of our bed. If you think you might like to rescue a former racer (and are in NJ), I highly recommend Greyhound Friends of New Jersey — they’ve been a wonderful resource.

Napistry

The boys stayed with friends while we were away last week, and I don’t think they’ve forgiven us yet. They’ve been sulky and disinterested since Gil picked them up Friday afternoon, but at least they’re sleeping well and will deign to accept treats from our backstabbing hands.

Food post coming once this Dayquil fog lifts, but for now here are pictures of Rufus and Otis doing what they do best.

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more pictures after the jump

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Loungey

It’s been a pretty low-key weekend around here. I treated Gil to a birthday dinner at Marea Saturday night, but apart from that wonderful (fantastic! amazing! delightful!) experience, we’ve done a lot of lounging. (Which has been wonderful, etc. in itself, only in sweats, and with football.)

Ordinarily, we don’t let the guys on the furniture, but Otis adopted the fainting couch early on and really…how could we say no?

Ru, on the other hand, wouldn’t dream of setting paw to furniture (while we’re home), but prefers to use Otis as a pillow.

So…food. After such an exceptional dinner, I could barely consider cooking today and didn’t have the heart to attempt anything challenging. What would be the point? But still in need of sustenance as lunchtime rolled around, I made a vegetarian chili loosely based on Heidi’s Pierce Street Chili, adapting it to use ingredients already in my pantry. This turned out to be the perfect dish for our loungey weekend. I highly recommend the original recipe; it was probably the best vegetarian chili I’ve ever made.

Hope you all had a great weekend and managed to stay warm!

Season’s greetings from the Roths

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Hi all, and happy Hanukkah! We had slightly non-traditional latkes (fried in duck fat) for breakfast this morning as a late start to the festivities, but there’s been a distinct lack of cooking going on around here otherwise. I’ll try to do better by you, but can’t promise anything until next weekend.

Instead, you get cute holiday pictures of the dogs after the jump!

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Your Thanksgiving leftovers

This year’s Thanksgiving feast could only have been more low key if we’d gone the TV dinner route. My mother-in-law wasn’t able to visit, so I planned to simply roast a chicken and serve a few veggies for the two of us, but ended up doing even less than that when our neighbors invited us to share dinner with them. It’s a little embarrassing that I’ve lived here for four years as of this weekend (which reminds me, this blog just turned three!) and haven’t managed to get to know them yet. I blame Gil for not introducing me around when I moved.

Not wanting to go empty-handed, I pulled out the bag of almost-overripe persimmons I’d been storing for a couple of weeks and got to work on an upside-down cake that sounded like a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving meal — with two sticks of butter, it was possibly the most indulgent cake I’ve ever made.

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I did a quick google search when the idea for the cake hit me (my standard approach, since very few ideas are truly new), and found only a couple of recipes. Joanne Weir‘s parmesan flan has been one of the highlights of my summer for the past two years, so I opted for her version of the cake and came away very, very happy indeed.

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Her secret for keeping things light and airy in such a rich cake? Whipping the egg whites, then folding them into the rest of the batter. Even so, the cake was much more soufflé-like in the pan than I expected:

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Anyway, we had a wonderful time with the Edwards family and I feel like I finally have friends in the neighborhood, which is no small thing. They’re a creative family, into drawing, painting, photography, music, fashion…so you can imagine how much I enjoyed myself. Oh, AND I finally got a house tour with details of the major renovation they did last year! So we have lots of inspiration for our own house project, whenever we start.

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The next day, I roasted the Zuni chicken (with bittersweet pimenton added to the salt & pepper rub) originally intended for Thanksgiving and made a bread-based dressing with roasted acorn squash on the side. Nothing terribly exciting, but repurposed as breakfast this morning, I fell in love:

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I pan-fried some of the leftover dressing, served it atop a thin drizzle of gravy and topped it with a fried egg. “X + egg = heaven” is undefined for Gil, so I waited till he was running an errand to work it up. (How anyone can snub a runny egg yolk over just about anything is beyond me, but hey, in sickness & in [mental] health, etc…)

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For Saturday’s dinner, there wasn’t a hint of Thanksgiving left over in the leftovers, though I forced myself to use the contents of my fridge and pantry in a stab at eating down the house. We ended up with a North African-inspired couscous dish that took maybe 30 minutes to make, but had a great depth of flavor mainly because it relied so heavily on leftovers.

To start, I made a quick harissa paste and set it aside for the flavors to develop while I worked on the rest of the meal. I hit the freezer for a package of caramelized onions, which I browned in some olive oil, then added two thinly sliced cloves of garlic, and reinforced the warm spices from the harissa — ground cumin, caraway seeds and ground coriander — in the sizzling oil. When the spices were fragrant, I added a package of Israeli couscous, bite-sized pieces of dark chicken, chopped roasted acorn squash, leftover chicken stock and two tablespoons of harissa paste. Only 15 minutes later, we were sitting down to a meal I wouldn’t even mind making from scratch someday.

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I hope you add had a filling and fun-filled Thanksgiving. Now I need to figure out a way to work from home, because the last four days spent with all of my boys has been too good to miss again for 13 hours a day or more.

recipes and sweet doggy pictures after the jump

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Happy 2009

We sprang out of bed at the crack of mid-morning today, and after a strong cup of coffee, I got started on the traditional new year’s day meal of black-eyed peas and greens (turnip, this year).

Carefully sorting through the beans, I searched for rocks and discarded the misshapen beans, then chopped the other ingredients according to my all-time favorite recipe from The Prudhomme Family Cookbook.

The greens are more intuitive. I never make them the same way twice, but they always start with stemming, chopping and a vigorous washing before I even think of cooking them.

This time around, I chopped the 1/4 pound of tasso leftover from the beans and halved a small piece of salt pork, then covered the meat with water in a large pot. I brought it to a boil, then lowered the heat to simmer for about 30 minutes to create a flavorful cooking liquid for the greens. At that point, I added some chopped onions, cayenne pepper, a little bit of salt and the greens. They simmered for about 20 minutes, though you can certainly cook them longer; I just prefer greens when they have a little bit of bite to them.

I cooked the beans at a lower temperature than usual, so they were more of a soup than side dish, but still just as delicious as I remember from last year. The greens held their own when topped with cider vinegar, so I thought an extra helping couldn’t hurt, especially in these tough economic times. Call it an edible insurance policy.

Thank you for visiting last year, keeping up with my infrequent food and Rufus postings. I’ve loved hearing from everyone and wish y’all a happy and safe 2009, filled with friends and food and many, many naps.

recipe after the jump

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