Thursday, May 31, 2007

Leftovers Extraordinaire

The leftover odds and ends in my refrigerator near the end of the week are dear to me. These are tools for improvisation! This week, I had some chorizo sausages and escarole left over from a meal dear R cooked for us (more on that later). By adding some spice and pantry-staples, we had a spicy, satisfying one-dish meal.

And I love the colors. So pretty! I think that the flavors did balance nicely, though I might use kale instead of escarole next time around.

I find I often turn leftovers into pasta dishes - dear reader, how do you use up the remains of your crisper drawers?

I am approximating on many of the amounts in this recipe. Taste, taste and adjust as necessary.

Spicy Sausage-Rice Bowl
(makes 4-6 servings)
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, juice drained and reserved
About 1 cup water or chicken broth (I used *gasp* boullion)
Olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/4-1/2 t. crushed red pepper
2 links chorizo sausage, cut into quarters lengthwise, then chopped
1 cup red wine (actually any dry wine or good beer you've got lying around would work)
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3-4 cups escarole or other bitter green, roughly chopped

Heat about 1 t. olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add rice to the pan and stir constantly until well-coated and shiny, about 1 minute. Pour tomato juice into a measuring cup and add broth or water to equal about 2 1/4 cups. Add to rice in saucepan, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and cook until done, 45-60 minutes.

Heat 1 T. olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, and red pepper to taste. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add chorizo chunks and saute 3-4 minutes. Add wine to pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands, and beans. Simmer until saucy and much of the liquid has evaporated, about 10-20 minutes. Add escarole, cover and cook until wilted, a couple minutes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Sorry it's been a while. I've been attempting to be more spontaneous and less fascist about my evening plans. We're moving in (ohmydearlord) about eight weeks, and I want to spend as much time as possible with our terrific friends here. Being more spontaneous means dinner isn't as formally plotted out, which means often it's not so much fun to post. (I mean, a spinach salad with strawberries, pine nuts, Israeli feta, and balsamic dressing is delicous, but I pretty much just gave you the recipe in this sentence.)

You'll have to be patient with me over these next couple of months, with the crush of relocation fast approaching and a battery of "I want to do this before we leave MyTown" activity. Trust me, I am sure the computer and I will be attached at the hip come our move. YOU will be my social life. Sigh.

Still, I am very excited for lots of reasons about our move, though the closer it gets the more anxiety I feel about finding a place to live, deciding on activities to fill my time . . . But I am sure it will all work out. And I will (at least for the first couple of months) have more time to play in the kitchen! Very much looking forward to that.

In the meantime, we are enjoying my tabletop tinkering as often as possible. I found this recipe in Eating Well magazine. It was delicious, satisfying, and good enough to make again soon! I want to shout it from the rooftops: Our Hero likes tempeh!! For those of you who have yet to try this soyish delight, tempeh is a fermented soybean loaf that sometimes includes grains. It is chewy and hearty and very high in protein.

Smothered Tempeh Sandwiches
1 8-oz. block of tempeh, cut in half longways into two thin slices, then halved again (you will have four thin sandwich-sized slices)
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup red wine
4-8 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted (you could make this openfaced or "traditional")
4 thinnish slices provolone cheese
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Saute the mushrooms, onion, salt, and pepper in olive oil (just enough) over medium-high heat until golden (about 10 minutes). Stir in wine and reduce heat to medium. Add tempeh slices to the pan, spooning the wine-y mushroom mixture on top of each piece. Simmer until the wine has evaporated, 5-15 minutes. (You can fix a salad and cut up some fruit while you're waiting.) Remove from heat. Scoop mushrooms and onions equally onto each tempeh slice. Top with provolone slices, cover pan, and wait about a minute and a half until cheese has melted. Remove each "smothered" tempeh slice and place on toast to enjoy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Exhausted Evening at Home

After a looong day at work yesterday, I schlepped over to the gym to complete my battery of physical-therapist-recommended exercises. Sweet friend LS called, wanting to know if I was in the mood for a walk in the park, an offer which I unhesitatingly accepted. The weather was gorgeous, and I headed straight to LS' house after the gym.

LS brought her three adorable daughters, and I pushed little C in her stroller. One lap around the park and a stop at the playground, plus the walk there and back, and I was knackered.

And can I just mention just one thing? I am amazed daily by the love, energy, humor, and patience of all the mothers in my life. (You too, Ma!)

I dragged my arse home to a hungry Hero, and flipped through my mental rolodex of super-easy recipes. Picking pasta was a no-brainer. Then I recalled a simple "base" recipe from Sally Schneider's The Improvisational Cook for pasta with anchovy, garlic, and red pepper. I tossed in some fresh parsley and toasty walnuts to make this an approximation of a meal. Of course, this pasta would serve just as well as a side dish, but we ate our simple dinner happily with some juicy wedges of watermelon.

A word about anchovies: have no fear! If you "don't like" anchovies because they look/smell funny or you had them on pizza once and didn't like them, please, give them another chance! I'd be willing to bet that most people wouldn't be able to identify the flavor in these noodles as fish-based at all! I buy the small jars of oil-packed anchovy fillets in the italian foods section. this way, I can reclose the jar and use the rest later.

Spaghetti with Anchovy and Garlic
1 lb. whole-wheat spaghetti
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
7-8 anchovy fillets packed in oil, patted dry
Coarse salt
Black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Handful toasted walnuts

Set a pot to boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Grate garlic with a microplane or rasp grater onto cutting board. Sprinkle with coarse salt and mash into a paste with a knife. Add anchovy fillets and cut these into the garlic mixture with a knife. It should form a thick paste. Add anchovy-garlic mixture to a mortar (you could use a bowl and the back of a spoon) and mix in a generous grinding of black pepper. Add about 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil, a little bit at a time, working in with the pestle.

Drain pasta. In hot pan, add oil mixture and cook over medium about 30 seconds with crushed red pepper to taste (I was generous). Turn off the heat, and add pasta back to the pot. Toss until well-coated. Serve sprinkled with parsley and a scattering of walnuts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Roasted Chicken Thighs Provençal

This low-effort recipe is from April's Cooking Light. Basically, all you have to do is cut up the veggies, toss it all together, and wait 35-40 minutes while an increasingly intoxicating aroma wafts from your oven.

Our Hero is a big fan of meat-and-potatoes dinners, and I indulge him every once in a while. I found the instructions provided with the recipe rather confusing, so I will give directions detailing what I did to make this dinner. This recipe is particularly well-suited to up- and down-sizing to suit the number of people you need to feed. I imagine it would make a fragrant sit-down dinner for one. Add a green salad and you're set . . . Our Hero and I both had plentiful lunch leftovers.

Roasted Chicken Thighs Provençal
6 (6-oz) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (or, if your partner begs you to leave his on, 3 skin-on, 3 skinned)
Olive oil
Dried or fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into eighths if larger, quarters if smaller
4 plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into eighths.
30 niçoise olives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment, spray with cooking spray. Line another baking sheet or baking dish big enough to fit all the chicken thighs with foil or parchment. Place cut vegetables onto the rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with about 3/4 t. dried thyme, salt, and pepper and toss.

Arrange chicken thighs on other baking sheet or dish. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, and pepper. Scatter olives throughout.

Place both trays in hot oven and roast 35-40 minutes, until chicken is done and potatoes are tender.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Spicy Chickpea Curry

Recently, friend R shared with me the magic of mole. He described that to make a mole, he mashed up various ingredients to pastes, then browned those pastes over heat to deepen the flavors. This process immediately made me think of an Indian curry recipe I make every once in a while from Neelam Batra's 1,000 Indian Recipes. I make the spicy curry sauce and simmer any variety of veggies and meats in it. In this case, cooked chickpeas and onion. The recipe does take a bit of time to cook, but I think it's absolutely worth it. Additionally, though this recipe makes a lot, this is one of those dishes which tastes even better as leftovers, so it's good to have it kicking around the fridge for a while.

You can use 3 cans of drained chickpeas for this recipe or cook your own from dried, which offer superior texture and flavor. To cook your own, soak chickpeas for at least 8 hours with water 2 inches above beans. Cook until creamy, about 30 minutes at a low boil/simmer with 1/4 t. baking soda and 1/2 t. salt.

Classic Spicy Curry Sauce
3 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled
4-6 quarter-sized slices peeled fresh ginger
1-3 fresh green chile peppers (like serrano or jalapeno), stemmed
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped
3 T. neutral oil, like peanut or canola
1 T. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. dried fenugreek
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. turmeric
1 t. salt, or to taste
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
4 cups water
1/4 t. garam masala
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro

In a food processor, puree garlic, ginger, chiles, and onion to make a paste. Put in a bowl and set aside. Separately, puree the tomato.

Heat the oil in a large wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion mixutre, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until browned, 8-10 minutes (small beads of oil will appear on the top and sides).

Add the tomato, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until juices evaporate and drops of oil appear on the top and sides, 8-10 minutes.

Add the spices (except for the garam masala and cilantro) and the salt. Cook, stirring 2-3 minutes. Mix the yogurt in a little bit at a time, stirring constantly to keep it from curdling.

Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer until sauce is reduced to desired consistency 15-30 minutes. Chickpeas and sliced onion can be added when there's about 10 minutes left of cooking. Serve garnished with garam masala and cilantro.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I am a European Peasant

Um, obviously not really. It's just what I imagined as I cooked up this dinner. This is basic, country food at its best. Last Sunday I bought a whole mess of mushrooms to make quesadillas during the week, however I forgot to buy tortillas. Oops. Wanting to capitalize as much as possible on what was already in my refrigerator, I picked up a loaf of "French-Italian" bread at the Italian bakery a couple of blocks from my gym and decided to serve sauteed mushrooms on cheese toasts.

I cut up the mushrooms I'd bought, about two pounds' worth of shiitake, baby bella, and portobella, tossing them in a hot skillet with garlic and olive oil until their juices released and then mostly evaporated. I debated between using rosemary and thyme, choosing the latter for its less strident flavor, and added salt and freshly ground pepper for good measure.

After a taste, I knew something was missing. I dug in the pantry, brushing past balsamic (the old standby) to my rarely-used bottle of sherry vinegar. This did the trick, though of course any vinegar would work.

This is a nice casual supper with the addition of sliced fruit and a green salad, but would also work as an appetizer.

Wild Mushroom Toasts
1 loaf Italian or French bread (long and thin is best)
Extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
About 2 lbs. mixed wild mushrooms
3/4 t. dried thyme, crushed between fingers
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 T. sherry vinegar
1 cup grated fontina cheese

Cut bread into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top rounds with grated fontina. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms to the pan, cook until they release their liquid, then let liquid mostly evaporate. Add thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Stir in sherry vinegar to taste.

Meanwhile, toast bread rounds in the oven until crisp and cheese has melted, 8-10 minutes. Serve cheese rounds with a bowl of mushrooms and spoon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Angry Pasta

I know, I know, it doesn't look so angry in the picture. This is a classic Italian pasta dish, penne arrabiata, "angry" because of its spicy, assertive flavors.

This is a busy-day dinner; while the ingredients simmer away there's plenty of time to pop in a load of laundry, pack tomorrow's gym bag, and make up a grocery list.

Penne Arrabiata
1 lb. whole-wheat penne or other short pasta
Extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 1/2 t. crushed red pepper
1 28-oz. can whole peeled italian-style (plum) tomatoes in juice
Pecorino romano cheese

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Heat 3 T. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and red pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes. Garlic should brown well, but not blacken at all. Add tomatoes, breaking them up with your hands, and their juice. Simmer 10-15 minutes, until saucy. Toss with pasta, and sprinkle with pecorino cheese. (Use pecorino if you can, its assertive saltiness will hold up well to the spicy sauce.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Understood's Saturday Dinner

My lovely, amazing, and wonderful parents came for a visit this weekend! I was inordinately excited and really, really, REALLY had a great time. My beloved Pops is on a no-salt, extremely low-sodium diet, so it presents an interesting challenge for meal plans. I think we all did quite well this weekend. Our Hero, though he was awfully busy working on his dissertation most of the time, was sure to join us for meals. Ahem.

I'm including this recipe on the site because of the crazy-easy perfection to which it cooks salmon fillet. I discovered this technique somewhere (perhaps Everyday Food?), and have been using it for several years. On the side, we tossed together whole-wheat pasta, dill, grape tomatoes, red onion, toasted pine nuts, and a bit of Parmiggiano.

Salmon Broiled with Zucchini, Lemon, and Dill
1 lb. salmon fillet
4-5 small zucchini, cut into 1-inch slices on the diagonal
1 lemon, cut into eight wedges
4-6 thin lemon round slices from a second lemon
Handful fresh dill
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt (if desired) and black pepper

Preheat broiler. Cut the salmon fillet into 4-6 pieces, as desired. Line a broiler pan or baking sheet with foil. Toss zucchini and lemon wedges with olive oil to lightly coat. Nestle salmon in with zucchini. Scatter with dill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each salmon piece with a slice of lemon. Broil 10 minutes, until fish is desired level of done. I find this cooks salmon to the most perfect melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Squeeze the juicy broiled lemon wedges over your fish.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Not Your Typical Tuna Salad

This tuna salad was nice this week when I felt I barely had the energy to pull together dinner. I found it in the "Superfast" section of last month's Cooking Light and it certainly was. I just served it up with some toast and sweet potato fries. Yum!

I apologize for the lack of posts the last several days - the Understood parents came up to MyTown for a visit, so blogging was not priority #1. More soon!

Italian-Style Tuna Salad
From Cooking Light
2 6-oz cans solid white tuna
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 medium fennel bulb, chopped
Handful fresh basil, chopped
Lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 T. capers, drained
Black pepper

Mix all the ingredients to taste and serve! Made a great work lunch the next day.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

My Thai

I've had an open jar of green curry paste knocking about in my refrigerator for a while, so I was motivated to use it this week. This is basically a veggie stir-fry without the fry (for the most part), served over whole-wheat fettucine. Rice noodles would have been more authentic, but I had to get in my whole grains.

Anyone could throw this together with whatever was begging to be used up in their crisper bins. Cabbage would have been lovely. As this was an improvisation, I'll point out where I could have improved:

Sauce was too thin! I added a whole can of chicken broth so I could be sure the veggies would have enough simmering liquid. Next time, I'll scale back on the broth (alterations made in this recipe). Also, might not hurt to stir in a bit of corn starch to thicken it up. "Lite" coconut milk does not have the body of the full-fat variety.

In spite of this, the flavor was nice, spicy and a bit creamy, with crisp peas and juicy peppers and onions. Maybe I've got warm-weather fever, but this seems like a great summer night dinner!

Green Curry Thai Stir-Fry
1 T. vegetable oil
1 block firm tofu, patted dry and cubed
1 lb. whole-wheat fettucine
2-3 T. Thai green curry paste
1/2 can "lite" coconut milk
1/2 can chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 large onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, halved
1/2-1 cup sugar snap peas
Generous handful cilantro, chopped
Fish sauce or soy sauce, for serving (optional)

Cook fettucine according to package instructions. Try to time it so the pasta is finished at approximately the same time as the sauce.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the tofu, stirring, until golden (7-10 minutes or so). Remove tofu to a plate, set aside. Add curry paste to skillet, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Stir in coconut milk and broth. Bring to a simmer. Add onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook, uncovered, until veggies are tender (5-7 minutes). Stir in peas, cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Serve over pasta, sprinkled with fish sauce (preferred) or soy sauce (for you vegetarians), if desired.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Much Nicer in Nice

This is my first crack at the Niçoise take on pizza, pissaladière. It's basically an onion tart, which can be topped with a variety of items. Traditionally, these include anchovies, little wine-y Niçoise olives, and tomato. The French never include cheese on these tarts (so says Mark Bittman), but I could not resist and scattered on a very restrained handful of chèvre. (You can take the American out of the cheese, but you can't take the cheese out of an American's pizza.)

I prepared my customary pizza dough in the food processor and let it rise slowly in the refrigerator all day, taking it out several hours before I intended to bake it. Bittman's tip about letting the dough rest every few minutes was an epiphany to me, and resulted in both uniform thickness and shape. Cooking the onions does take a good deal of time, so be sure to leave 60-90 minutes to get this done. It's a perfect weekend dinner, and authentic pissaladière is often served at room temperature, so this would be a lovely appetizer for a summer cocktail gathering, with all the work done ahead of time.

With a few changes, from Mark Bittman's How to Make Everything
1 recipe whole-wheat pizza dough
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 lbs. onions, chopped
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (one could use dried)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
2 oz. anchovies, packed in oil
2-3 plum tomatoes, sliced
20-30 tiny Niçoise olives, pitted
Palmful fresh goat cheese, crumbled (optional)

Heat 2 T. olive oil over low heat. Add onions, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally until onions have given up liquid and begin to turn golden (one to two hours). Do NOT brown onions. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

20-30 minutes before onions are finished, grease a rimmed baking sheet 1 T. olive oil. Stretch pizza dough to fit into sheet, at about a 1/4-inch thickness all the way around. The best way to do this is to stretch and press it a little at a time, then leaving it to rest for a few minutes and so on. It should cover the entire pan, into the corners.

Meanwhile, when the onions are done, remove the lid and turn up the heat a bit to cook off most of the accumulated liquid. Fish out bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onion mixture evenly onto prepared dough. Top with anchovies, tomato, olives, and cheese (if desired). Put into oven and lower heat to 350 degrees. Cook until crust is golden and toppings begin to brown, 30-45 minutes.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Quick Bread

Just before we moved, on a trip to a discount-book warehouse, I picked this up for a mere $6! Though I find Bittman's Wednesday features often less interesting than many of the others, I do find his recipes simple (duh), well-balanced, and perfect for the home cook. (As I blog this, the perfume of Bittman's pissaladiere - authenticity violated with goat cheese - fills my nostrils and, happily, my house.)

The book is fun to read and really does have a ton of uncomplicated and tempting recipes, many with great potential for improvisation.

In my humble opinion, nothing smells like home more than baking bread. I capitalized on both my new cookbook and our newly-unpacked kitchen to whip up some tasty bread and fill the house with homemade bread's warm scent. (So many nice smells today!)

This bread is aromatic, not very sweet, and perfect for breakfast spread with jam, yogurt cheese, or peanut butter.

Quick Whole Wheat and Molasses Bread
From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
Butter or oil to grease the pan
1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 cup molasses

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease your loaf pan. Mix together the dry ingredients. Separately, mix together the wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry, and mix only until just combined. Spoon/pour into the loaf pan and bake until firm and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about one hour. Cool on a rack 15 minutes before removing from the pan.


So, the cake seemed a hit, though I wasn't as excited with it as others purported to be. I think people were being honest, not just nice, so let's call it a success.

R, something of an expert in Mexican Cuisine, made an absolutely exquisite molé, served with chicken and shown on duffpower's stovetop, left. The recipe, he has promised, is forthcoming when I manage to guess the ingredients of the sauce. I'll keep you posted.

R also prepared a trio of delicious salsas, chipotle-marinated flank steak tacos, and lovely little stuffed zucchini-halves (both on view below with the chef extraordinaire). duffpower's enchanting margaritas made everyone super-friendly, and the evening was a bit hit!

Topping off a fantastic weekend, Mytown's home team had a wonderful win, Our Hero and I finished unpacking and situating, and I got to spend a good deal of time in the kitchen! The weather was lovely to boot.

Happy Spring!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sneak Peek

Here's the finished "Mexican Chocolate" cake . . . recipe found on epicurious.

Didn't rise as much as I would have liked (maybe add more baking soda next time?), and it sunk a bit in the middle. Looking like a brownie-texture. Hopefully, the cinnamon (I doubled the amount), the cayenne (I added a healthy pinch), and the cinnamon-sugar topping (rather than a super-sweet glaze) will make it fun and adult-ish. We'll see . . .

The fiesta's chef is making chicken molé this evening, a "sampling" of salsas, and our host is preparing a bevvy of margaritas! Aiyaiyai!

Busy Week

This week, I've been whipping up quick meals and old standbys, things that are easy to throw together. It can't get much easier than this well-balanced meal, which I spiced up with a bit of braised fennel, recipe to follow. I purchased some fresh chicken sausages from an Italian market a few blocks away, and whipped up some polenta very similar to the grits recipe here, substituting olive oil for the butter and parm for the cheddar.

Presently, I have a "Mexican Chocolate Cake" baking in the oven for a fiesta this evening. Recipe forthcoming.

Braised Fennel
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large bulb fennel, cut into thin strips
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and ground pepper
1/4 cup white wine, water, or stock
Pinch dried thyme

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and fennel and cook about 5 minutes, until softened. Season with salt and pepper, and add liquid to the pan. Cover, lower heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes - until tender. Stir in thyme and serve.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Settling In

Well, both Our Hero and I have healed up nicely from our bout(s) with the flu, and we survived the move to our new flat with the help of lots of our great MyTown friends, whom we will miss terribly. We are loving our new place, though I realize a little more acutely each day how crappy a nice apartment makes our furniture look. (Really crappy.) Still, we are making the best of it and enjoying the change.

As you can see on the left, the view from our bedroom window reveals that a bit of green is just beginning to peek from tangles of branches, and I couldn't be more excited. Just before I took this picture, I noticed a fat little chickadee perched in the branches, nest-building material clamped in his beak. At the old apartment, he would have been a pigeon. On the roof of the house next door. Probably defecating.

The new kitchen is clean and lovely, and though I've begun cooking (very simple) meals in it, I hope to be mainly unpacked and settled by this weekend. I've got a turkey defrosting in the oven that I must cook (thanks for the encouragement, JoMo, in the form of "suck it up and baste that bitch"). I'm hoping that involved Sunday dinner will break in the new digs. As you all can probably imagine, we are very busy unpacking, working, and doing all the things we normally do. I promise I will post some recipes soon; currently, I'm making a lot of old standbys that are easy and quick. Stay tuned for more soon!