When shifting to a more eco-conscious lifestyle a few years ago, we stopped purchasing paper products. At first it was really difficult – no paper towels? How am I going to clean? But now I can’t believe how much money and resources I wasted. We no longer purchase napkins, paper plates, and paper towels and normally there aren’t any issues because we use kitchen towels, rags and cloth napkins. Except, this one thing…
How do you drain bacon and sausage? Surely we can’t cut bacon out of our lives ;)
So last week when we hosted our friends for brunch, I made chicken and fennel sausage patties and instead of draining them on paper towels, I used a brown paper bag. I don’t know about you, but I always have a number of them stuffed into that unsightly kitchen cabinet. It’s a huge cost saver and a way to reduce the amount of paper products being produced and then thrown away. The source? I believe I can trace this nifty tip back to an episode of America’s Test Kitchen. Just add that show to the list of reasons why I love public television so much.
A successful neighborhood potluck (Goulash!)
Lunch with friends at Govinda’s
A pound of my favorite beans were purchased
Another batch of vanilla bean pudding was made (Hugo likes to stand between my legs)
Drinks and knitting with friends (to use the goodies from Loop)
Sleeping in until 10:30am!
A photo wall was assembled (why does it take me so long to hang pictures?)
How was your weekend?
I needed some time away from the holiday stuff to decompress, but before we move on completely I wanted to share with you some of the sweetness that went around our house last month.
A small Christmas tree was purchased at Urban Jungle and decorated with white lights, pine cones and red ornaments. Fresh cinnnamon swirl bread was made the morning of Christmas Eve for the fathers in my life. A blue cheese and mushroom frittata was made on Christmas morning with our new cast iron pan. A trip to Freedom Park was taken with Hugo before the snow storm. A chocolate hazelnut pastry from Andre’s bakery was enjoyed. One of my Christmas gifts, a Betsy Dunlap and Shanna Murray’s calendar was adored.
What are you up to this weekend, friends?
I just taught my first knitting lesson to a neighbor! It was really fun because she is an excellent student. Do you like teaching people things for the first time? Personally, I like taking the mystery out of something that seems really daunting. I think knitting is especially neat because we all remember who taught us, right? Last night I watched a movie that takes place in the 1940′s and a character was knitting, which reminded me just what a timeless skill it is.
I’ll spend the rest of the day deep cleaning my kitchen in preparation for my favorite holiday, making beef stew, pie dough, and then maybe I’ll sit down and finish this project while watching cooking shows. I’m also working on some homemade Christmas gifts that I’ll be sharing in the coming weeks.
Enjoy the day.
PS. I’ve been enjoying the [free] playlists that Jason has been putting together, check them out!
I’ve spent the past few days in Washington DC for a little pleasure and a little business. I was able to meet with up some friends this past Sunday for lunch, shopping and good beer before my meetings started on Monday. We went to a bar in the Capitol Hill area that had an extensive beer list with many helpful descriptions (I am partial to IPAs) and it even described Michelob Ultra - “a low calorie, low taste option for those who enjoy no flavor.” Gotta love a place like that!
I’ve been in meetings for the past couple days in Georgetown, which is a great little town with lots of energy, not to mention shopping!
I am heading home tomorrow night, but not until I hit up Georgetown Cupcake to purchase some treats to take back to Philadelphia. I had a taste tonight of the vanilla, and these cupcakes live up to the hype!
How beautiful are these sisters?
Remember when I mentioned I was going to try macaroon cookies for the first time? Well, I tried them, and to be honest I’m a little disappointed. Let me explain…
I tried Jose Garces’ caramel buttercream and pistachio white chocolate cookies at HeadHouse Farmer’s Market as planned. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicate and light they were – not at all dry like I was expecting. I liked the pistachio but the caramel was way too sweet and I didn’t finish either of them (Jeff was happy to, though). They just didn’t do it for me.
But the next day we went to Garces Trading Company for lunch with a couple of our friends. This was a whole different story. The restaurant is split up into a few different areas which make it feel very casual and interactive. As soon as you walk in, there is a row of balsamic vinegars and olive oils for tasting while you wait for your table. I saw some smart people taking those samples to their tables to try with bread. There is also a small wine store inside, run by the PLCB – the archaic state government agency that ensures wine, beer, and liquor stays expensive in Pennsylvania – which is convenient since the Trading Company doesn’t have it’s liquor license yet. Our friends happened to have a case of wine in their car from a recent visit to Wycombe Vineyards, so we shared a bottle of Smoke House Red which is a smooth jammy (as described by the vineyard) blend of Chambourcin and Cabernet Franc. We shared a chef’s choice charcuterie plate and enjoyed a couple sandwiches (The Moraccan and The Italian) and pizzas (the Funghi and De Prosciutto). The meal was delicious and the casual dining room was great for a relaxing afternoon, so I can’t really hold a couple macaroons against Philadelphia’s Iron Chef.
Sorry I’ve been been MIA this week. I started a new job, and well, it’s not really leaving much time for blogging. But it’s all good and I’m sure I will find my rhythm soon.
I’m headed down the shore this weekend with my closest gals and we are supposed to have perfect beach weather. We plan on making homemade avacado and salmon rolls and other fresh farm foods like corn on the cob and tomato salads. I love cooking for others and getting in some quality time with these fun friends.
Have a great weekend!
Tonight I was able to catch up with a good friend who I haven’t spent quality time with in way too long. He is someone I have been friends with since 6th grade – one of those wholesome people who you want the best for. I made dinner for the three of us – Anne Burrell’s eggplant and ricotta crostini, Erin’s roasted tomato and carrot soup and marinated steak.
My friend brought dessert and spoiled us with Brown Betty’s cupcakes. At first, I cut one of the red velvet cupcakes in half for me and Jeff to share but it was the.best.cupcake. I’ve ever had. The cream cheese icing was silky and not too sweet and the cake was thick and chocolate that didn’t crumble. I was already out of my seat, back in the box and cutting the second one in half before we took the last bite. Yum.
After doing some research on their site, I don’t know how I missed them before now. I’ll definitely be back.
I have some cucumbers piling up so I will be making pickles tomorrow and will post the recipe and pictures. I hope you are having a good week!
I just got back from a wonderful weekend in New York and as I write this, I’m thankful for the cool breeze and beautiful sunset in Philadelphia. It has been incredibly hot lately and it’s such a nice break to have the windows open and not be rushing in and out of AC. As I was walking around the Big Apple yesterday (sweating profusely) I tried to be grateful for things like freezing cold coffee shops called Jack’s and not being the person working the pizza oven at Artichoke.
After the wedding on Friday, I made my way over to Manhattan on Saturday morning on the LIRR which was incredibly convenient – just a 40 minute train ride that dropped me off in Penn Station. I met up with my girlfriend and we walked around South Street Seaport chatting and window shopping. I picked up a couple pairs of sunglasses and a panama hat from some street vendors for a total of $32.00 – I love a good deal. Around 3:00 pm we made our way over to Union Square where we had a late lunch, shopped some more and met up with my cousin and her boyfriend at Park Bar for some hoppy beers. Around 7:30 pm we went back to my friend’s apartment to freshen up a bit before heading out to The Frying Pan in Chelsea which was a fun outdoor bar on the waterfront (a much needed cool breeze was delightful).
My boss’ brother-in-law is David Chang and she recommended we go to one of his restaurants for lunch, so on Sunday that’s exactly what we did. We went to Noodle Bar in the East Village which happened to be a short walk from my friend’s apartment. It was a bright and minimalist space with wood paneling and funky rectangle stools. We sat at the bar and started off with the pork steamed buns which were like pillows of goodness. Then we each had a bowl of the Momofuku ramen with poached egg. We were giddy with excitement over the freshness of the food and atmosphere.
Just as we were finishing up our meal, my friend pointed out the giant portrait hanging behind us of The Band taken in Woodstock circa 1968. I’m not sure what the significance is to the restaurant but it was the only decoration hanging other than the chalkboards listing the menu and the farms. For me, this was the icing on the cake for what was already a great experience. Jeff and I have seen Levon Helm, The Band’s drummer and sometimes lead singer, in concert several times and their music always seems to find a place in our home.
We left Noodle Bar and went straight to Milk Bar for a dozen cookies to bring home and share with our friends and family. Jeff and I split the peanut butter and the compost cookies for dessert tonight. Delicious!
I have slept in three different beds for the past three nights and I’m glad to finally be home in my own.
Last night I had some time to kill before meeting a friend at Tria. Of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to browse through a stationery store with beautiful paper, cards, and little gifts (Jeff’s birthday is on Friday). I got a kick out of this clever notepad by Kate Spade and ended up getting a gift for myself!
After the stationery store, I browsed through my favorite speciality food store, DiBruno Brother’s which got me so hungry that I decided to head over to the restaurant even though my girlfriend was still stuck in traffic.
I sat at the bar and ordered a Petrus Aged Pale Ale from Belgium which they lovingly describe on the menu as “a gateway drug to the pleasures of sour beer”. I’ve had this beer before and I just can’t get enough of the crisp and sour taste, especially on a hot and humid day. I then ordered the truffled mushroom and fontina bruschetta which was a mix of salty, creamy and crunchy. While I ate, I enjoyed watching the very precise chefs prepare and weigh out the the delicate snacks (cheeses, olives, meats) for my fellow diners. As I took my last sip of the Petrus, the bartender convinced me to order the Saison Dupont, which he called his “desert island beer” – he explained to me that this style of beer was made by farmers in the winter to drink during the summer months. It was a little fruity, earthy with just a touch of spice. It reminded me a little of a wheat beer like Hoegaarden (maybe they are cousins?) Oh, there is so much to learn about beer!
By that time my friend arrived and ordered the same drink and we split a couple of paninis and caught up on life. Meet ups like these are so important to me, and I want to mention that I have been friends with this gal since middle school. Cheers!
PS. I am working on a special birthday project for Jeff, which I will be able to share with you this weekend, I am SO excited about it so be sure to check back!