Friday, June 24, 2011

TGIFF: Words to Live By

Busy week but I still plan to do a recap of The Epic Surprise Party and maybe a few garden updates, recipes, and photos from my quick work trip to Maine. 

Also, I've recently joined Pinterest which is an (addictive) online space filled to the brim with photographic or design-related visual inspiration. I'm still trying to figure out how it works, but for now I'll just share a few that spoke to me.

And I will leave you with....

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Weekend, Father's Day

Happy weekend to all, and happy father's day to those who hold the "Father" title!  I'm starting my weekend a day early. We're fortunate to be hosting my parents this weekend (its amazing -- they take out our dog, they clean up after meals, and they always bring lotion and other random items that you didn't realize you needed).  The weekend agenda is open but will involve the obligatory margaritas at Lauriol Plaza, the U.S. Open (brother, father), and hopefully a Drag Queen Brunch for sister, mom and me.  Not a bad weekend.

I stumbled across this photo via Pinterest via Apartment Therapy via some other site, and it brightened my day which, by that point, had filled to the brim with work stress. The photo reminded me of how, as kids, we used to slide down our stairs in a plastic laundry basket.  We felt each and every one of those steps, but the exhilaration of the ride was totally worth the bumps. 

So, cheers to fathers, cheers to child-like exhilaration, and cheers to indoor slides, which I now believe should be a staple of every home and workplace.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Birthday Surprises

Happy Flag Day, y'all. It is Tuesday, but I'm bringing back the TGIFF Musical Selection in honor of my sister's birthday.  It's a special song that I think Ali will appreciate - and anyone, really - unless they work at Arbys.  So, happy birthday to one bad b*tch:

I also have a few posts coming up about the Flag Day-inspired, surprise birthday party we threw for Alison this past weekend. It was epic.  See Exhibit A:

Exhibit A

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Leeks, Lemons, Linguine

Much like peanut butter and jelly, champagne and orange juice, Ice-T and Coco -- leeks and lemons are simply a God-given pairing.  They just work. The other day I wanted to make a caramelized leek and lemony ricotta flatbread, and I had all the ingredients except for ricotta and pizza dough (so I guess thats more like half the ingredients).  But I was hungry and I did have mascarpone and linguine, so I adapted the concept for a pasta dish.  The end result, as you might expect, was delicious.

Lemony Leek Linguine 

2 leeks
2 juicy lemons
1 container mascarpone cheese
extra virgin olive oil
linguine for 2 people
bread crumbs

Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the leeks, and put the rounds in a bowl of water. Push out all the little rings - the dirt will settle at the bottom.

Drain the leeks. Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, and add the leeks. Saute until browned.

While leeks are browning, cook linguine according to directions on package, but reserve some of the salted cooking water. Since none of that is too hands-on, you can also zest and juice the lemons. Multi-tasking!

Put some of the zest aside to sprinkle on top of the pasta. Combine the remaining zest, lemon juice, salted cooking water (which should be hot), and mascarpone (yeah, all of it. don't think, just do it) - whisk together into a sauce. Once combined, pour the sauce into the pan with the browned leeks - scrape up all the browned bits into the sauce, stirring. Add salt/pepper to taste.

Pour the lemon-leek sauce over the linguine, toss to combine. Separate the linguine into servings, sprinkle with bread crumbs and a little lemon zest. Enjoy.

2011 Garden Status: Strawberry Fields (for a Season)

They were first to the garden party and first to leave. Last year's small plant spread out its runners and took over the entire container garden:

And it gave me lots of beautiful, red strawberries over the past two months.  Is it weird to call them beautiful?   The texture and deep red color of homegrown strawberries are beautiful, I declare.

My strawberries are now abiding in my freezer until I can make a strawberry granita (maybe with basil simple syrup and vodka? maybe?).  I cut back all the new strawberry plants and may try to relocate them for next year.  If anyone's looking to add some strawberries to their garden next year, holler.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Wild Onion Experiment

Earlier this spring, when I was spending hours clearing our overgrown backyard by hand (Daniel's beloved weedwhacker was refusing to weedwhack), I came across these tall weeds that resembled green onions.  

So I decided to take a few inside and do some Googling. Google had the answer to my question (OF COURSE) and much more.  I found this page about wild onions which said: "Wild onion (A. validum or A. canadense) is a bulbous herb of the Amaryllis family and is a close relative of cultivated onion (Allium cepa L.). It has a distinct onion odor. It has slender grass-like leaves and reaches about 2 feet in height when flowers appear in late summer. Leaves are narrow, long, and with parallel edges arising from the small underground bulb."

Bulbous? Check.
Distinct onion odor? Check.
Slender grass-like leaves about 2 feet in height? Check.

Then the site went on to suggest that Chicago derived its name from wild onions: "Indians, mainly Potawatomi, who were the most powerful tribe around the south end of Lake Michigan, hunted, traded furs, and occasionally camped in the area they called "Checagou," evidently referring to the garlic wild onion smell which permeated the air." Some Illinois trivia, brought to you by my backyard.

I verified that these wild onions were edible (though very pungent), and I decided to make a wild onion pesto. First I had to pick all the remaining wild onions I could find - of which there were many:

Then I had to clean them...which took way too long. 

Then came the pesto making.  I chopped up the green onions, and processed them with 1 clove garlic (which was totally unnecessary because those onions had more than enough allium punch themselves), pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, salt/pepper, and lots and lots of lemon juice to cut the pungency of the wild onions. 

I divided up the pesto into four portions and froze them.  I used one for a pesto pasta salad last month, and it definitely tastes like a "wild" onion pesto. Perhaps I should've used less of the bulb? Either way, it was a fun discovery and (day-long) experimental project.