Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Appreciated

I have a not talking problem. It loses me friends, people think I'm mad at them. It makes my blog sit empty for days on end. Some people understand.
My best friend is a girl I've been friends with since 5th grade. She's a not talker too. We used to sit on the phone with each other, not saying anything, for hours at a time. It drove our parents crazy but it made sense to us. In the time we've been friends there have been periods of years at a time that we haven't spoken. In the year and a half before I got engaged, I hadn't spoken a single word to her. And yet after we left the spot where we got engaged, we went right to her house and showed her and there wasn't even a hint of awkwardness. No tinge of ill will that I hadn't been in touch. Not a moments hesitation on either side when I asked her to be my bridesmaid. Just catching up. And that sort of downtime has happened since then too. Lately we've been together more, as we walk through life and others who we think are close to us leave us in the dust. As we learn more and more how rare our friendship is. We are on equal footing. Neither of us is reliant on the other for anything more than some quality time now and then. Neither of us has the upper hand. We know that despite the fact that we may not speak for even years at time, when one of us finally does pick up the phone, or show up at the others door, that we will pick up right where we left off. It's taken me quite a few years to find out who really matters in my life. And even longer to realize how important it is to focus your energy and love on those people and not the ones who are less deserving. It's hard to stop focusing energy where people don't deserve or appreciate it. Especially when you know that the ones you ignore will be there for you anyway. But I'm trying. Hard. I'm sure this won't be the end of my lessons but I'm glad that this is one I've learned.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

That means Happy Saint Patrick's Day in Gaelic. In Suffolk County, Saint Patrick's Day conveniently falls on Evacuation Day. It's probably more like Evacuation Day conveniently fell on Saint Patrick's Day but we won't question it. Evacuation Day is the day in 1776 when the British retreated from Boston Harbor. Since we wanted the day off to get drunk on green beer were so proud of that first Revolutionary War victory, today is an official holiday in Boston.

And here in Boston, it certainly felt like we had the luck of the Irish today. It reached 65!
However, because it was so warm, and because I feel like I'm getting sick, I didn't go through the ritual I usually do.
Usually I make a traditional Irish-American boiled dinner with Corned beef, Cabbage, Potatoes and Carrots. And that part I did this year too. however I usually make some real Irish food too. And while I didn't make them I'm going to share my recipes, in case anyone feels like making some real Irish food and not boiled dinner, which is actualy completely Irish-American. you won't find people in Ireland eating Corned Beef today!

I found these in Saveur magazine a few years back and have tweeked them to my liking.

Irish Lamb Stew
3 lbs. trimmed boneless lamb stew meat
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds
7 carrots, peeled, trimmed, and halved
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas ( I prefer frozen baby peas)
2T Beef Base
2T Chicken Base

1. Preheat oven to 250°. Put the lamb, potatoes, carrots, onions, parsley, and 2 cups water into a large ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Season to taste with salt and pepper and gently stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2. Once the stew comes to a simmer, cover the pot and transfer to the oven to let cook until the lamb is just tender, about 2 hours. Remove the pot from the oven and gently stir in the peas. Cover and return the pot to the oven. Continue cooking until lamb is fork tender, about 30 minutes more.
3. Add in both the beef and chicken bases to taste. Sometimes I use more or less depending on how flavorful my meat is.
4. Allow the stew to sit, covered, for 20 minutes, then spoon into bowls and serve hot.

Colcannon
This is my favorite Irish dish ever. My family thinks I'm crazy but I think that's just as well because it means it's all for me!

4 lbs. potatoes peeled and
quartered
12 tbsp. butter
1⁄2 small head cabbage, cored and thickly sliced
2 lightly packed cups chopped greens (any
combination of spinach, parsley, kale, or broccoli
or cauliflower leaves) (I always use all kale)
1 1⁄3 cups milk
4 scallions, green part only, chopped (I always forget to add these)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Boil the potatoes until tender. You're supposed to steam them but that's too much work for me.
2. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup water and 2 tbsp. of the butter to a boil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add cabbage, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well, discarding liquid, and set aside.
3. Melt 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped greens and sauté until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Add cabbage and cook until heated through, 1–2 minutes, then transfer to a large mixing bowl.
4. Put milk, scallions, and remaining butter into a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until scallions are softened, 1–2 minutes, then add to cabbage mixture and cover to keep warm.
5. When potatoes are done, add to cabbage mixture and mash with a potato masher until fluffy and smooth with some chunks. Season to taste. Serve hot.

So those are my real Irish recipes for Saint Patrick Day. It was just too nice to stay in and make them today but now I'm craving colcannon and I'll be making a big batch soon, I know!



P.S. My trip was awesome and I'll definitely post about it but this seemed easier for today :D

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

This is not a post for Ali Martell

(This is not a post for Ali Martell Because Ali hates the Squirrels. I love the squirrels, I feed them, I take pictures of them. If you don't like them, you won't like the pictures and video in this post. :D)

I've been meaning to write a post all week and failing. But seriously, Cookie dough is a tough act to follow. Things haven't drastically improved since my last batch of cookie dough but wonderful little things are happening to even out the scales. Things like this



Do you guys see that?! It's plant! And it's bloomed! Spring is nigh! Maybe. Yes, Boston had a wonderful streak of warm weather this past weekend and you can bet I took advantage of it. My mother and my husband and I went and had lunch on Newbury Street and then walked around the public gardens and the common. It was amazing. I felt like I hadn't been outside and comfortable in ages. And the sun, oh the sun. Magnificent. It was just what I needed to pull me out of the funk I was nosediving into. And these little guys (this is the part some of you may not like). They were the icing on the cake. I could have sat there all day and fed them, they're so fluffy and fun.





video

I know you aren't supposed to feed them but everyone does and I couldn't help myself. They came when I called them!


Besides the squirrels and fabulous weather there was one other big thing that made this week much better than last.



I'm going South this weekend! My best friend since 5th grade and I are flying to Virginia, meeting up with a friend and then road tripping to North Carolina to see a concert. And it's supposed to be warm! I'm cautiously optimistic about the temperature though since I seem to bring cold with me wherever I go. Like on my honeymoon in Disney when it was 80 before we got there and 80 after we left, but only reached 60 once in between. Either way, I'm excited. I'm traveling with my best friend and I'm going to make the most of it!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Safe to Eat Cookie Dough

This past week kinda kicked my ass. Starting with a family member being rushed to the hospital on friday, my weekend was a roller coaster ride of awesome and very not awesome. I got to see my sister in law and niece, awesome. Spending many hours in the ER, not awesome. Thats how it's been going. And while things seem to have evened out for now, I don't feel evened out. I still feel thrown and more than a little pouty and needy. And so I followed a long standing tradition in my family, and ran to my boyfriend the refrigerator for comfort. And since it was a class A emergency I made and ate Cookie Dough!

Only I didn't feel like getting salmonella or e. coli or anything so I made Safe cookie dough. Not good for baking, extremely good for eating raw, tossing in ice cream etc. And since I'm a giver, here's how it's done. Hint: it's easy.

Recipe For Safe to Eat Cookie Dough

1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar - lightly packed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. Milk

Put the butter, both sugars, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl and beat together. Add the flour gradually, about a 2/3 c. at a time, until it's all mixed. Then add in whatever and however much of anything you want, Chocolate Chips, nuts, sprinkles or all of the above, I won't judge you.

Or, if you have a cookie recipe that you love you can use that. Any dough can be made edible by just removing the eggs and baking soda (you don't actually have to remove the baking soda but since you're not baking it it's useless) and adding a bit of milk to make up for the liquid lost with the eggs.

Voila. Dough you can eat with a spoon that won't kill you.*





*It won't kill you from salmonella or e.coli or other egg related illnesses but I can't say anything for heart disease or the like, you are after all consuming straight butter and sugar. But damn, it's good!