A Wonderful Start to Spring

Written by Kat on March 21st, 2010

View to the South
View to the South (Boston’s Customs Tower)

View to the North
View to the North (The Old North Church)

Bubbling Beets
Bubbling Beets

Voignier
Yummy Voignier

Salad Craving
Salad Craving on the first Day of Spring

Dinner chez Liz
Dinner Chez Liz

The Hostess with the Mostest
The Hostess with the Mostest

 

Available for Your Viewing Pleasure

Written by Kat on March 19th, 2010

So, the Slingbox is up and running again. After the meltdown of my Tivo in January, I disconnected it, but with things on US TV that some people can’t get overseas (like University of Maine hockey games, right Jean?), I hooked the whole deal up again. If anyone wants access (both to live US TV, broadcast in Eastern Time zone) and stuff that I record on Tivo (happy to take requests), let me know and I’ll send the details.

The only caveat, of course, is that you don’t delete my entire library of shows. [grin]

 

Random things from my run yesterday afternoon

Written by Kat on March 17th, 2010

1. Harvard Square is great for reading the signs the homeless people hold to entice you to give them spare change. There are the usual “Spare Change”, “Homeless, Please help”, “Clean and Sober”, and “God Bless”. My favorites from yesterday were “I am the Marlboro Man. Can I bum a smoke or a quarter?” and “Too Ugly to Turn Tricks”, the latter being from a scrawny young 20-something and yeah, he was pretty sad looking.

2. The volume of broken umbrellas was phenomenal. I counted at least 20 before I got bored with the counting. Also, lots of sump pumps draining basements.

3. Between Inman and Harvard, along Cambridge Street, there was a steady stream of gummi bears littering the sidewalk every 6 to 10 feet, at random intervals. Then, between Porter and Inman, there was an equally steady stream of goldfish crackers on the sidewalk.

4. It’s March, yet apparently the first day of 50+ degree weather brought out all the flip-flop wearing fools. It’s March. It’s New England. Along the same lines, both Tory Row and Grafton Street pubs already were putting out the outdoor seating sections. Very optimistic of you people.

5. People in general and college students specifically still haven’t learned to share the sidewalk. I know, my own fault for running in the most congested areas in Cambridge and I should run next to the river like everyone else, but still.

 

Trottoloni Pasta with Crimini and Proscuitto

Written by Kat on March 9th, 2010

Ingredients
1 pound curly pasta (in this case, trottoloni)
3 tablespoons evoo
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 pound crimini or portobello mushrooms
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 pound prosciutto di Parma, cut into lardons*
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for grating

Directions
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. In a 12 to 14-inch saute pan, heat oil until shimmering. Add the onions, garlic and chili flakes and cook until light golden brown and wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute over high heat 5 minutes, until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Drop the tagliatelle into the boiling water and cook according to the directions. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking liquid, and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Toss over high heat 1 minute to coat the pasta, adding a splash of the cooking water if necessary to keep the sauce from being too “tight”. Add prosciutto and toss to mix. Serve immediately, topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

* I had no idea what a ‘lardon’ was. It just means strips, in this case about 1/2 inch wide.

 

Beer, Beer and More Beer

Written by Kat on March 8th, 2010

Lord Hobo

… You know that your evening will end up in a rather drunken state when…. the first beer of the night is called “Arrogant Bastard“… [grin]

With Jean unfortunately already on a flight back to London (after a lovely day in Portsmouth, NH, where the drinking really already started, I might add), Joe and I headed to a new pub just a few short blocks (4, to be exact) away from my apartment. Lord Hobo just opened a few weeks ago, to acclaim from beer aficionados and with great food reviews as well. This evening was my introduction to it, even though I’d been to the pub in it’s previous incarnation as the B-Side Lounge.

We didn’t intend to drink through the entire beer menu (good thing, too, as the draught menu itself is at least 50 long, bottles another page or so, plus the cocktails… but I digress), but we did sample more than half a dozen each and with the exception of the Allagash piss-water that Joe had at one point, the beer definitely has some quality going. My personal favorite of the night was the Shark Attack; least favorite was the Dead Guy (not often that you can say you drank a Dead Guy and survived a Shark Attack in one evening, eh?) They even served a Munich weissbier that didn’t taste skunked. Overall, I give Lord Hobo a thumbs up.

We didn’t try the food, but it looked good.

For the record, I learned two things on Saturday night: 1. Don’t try to match a British soldier pint for pint because you will end up stumbling home, barely able to remember where you live and 2. It is likely unwise to spend the half the evening discussing one’s love life (or lack there of) with one’s best friend’s fiance. At one point (after I was already three sheets to the wind), he told me that apparently I scare people — in a good way [grin] and at another point, Joe “threatened” to find 10 single men in the bar that would like to sleep with me. Thankfully, he didn’t go round to ask anyone, because can’t say that pimping is looked upon nicely in Cambridge-town. All in good fun and we had a lot of laughs. The only thing missing was Jellybean being there, but we’ll have to go back, because their cocktail menu looked mighty nice as well… lots of drinks with bubbles (scroll down a bit for the cocktails)!

I spent Sunday on the couch watching hockey and nursing a headache. Joe spent it on his way back to London. I hope British Airways treated him kindly.

 

On Insomnia

Written by Kat on March 5th, 2010

Being the geek that I am, I have a laptop on my bedside table. Yes, I clearly have an internet addiction. I actually use it as a DVD player because the TV is in the living room not the bedroom, and most every night, I plan on watching a film to put me to sleep. Being the insomniac that I am, this seems to be the only way that I can even get some shut-eye.

But here is the thing: for the last month or so, I have been trying to watch the same film every night and every night, almost exactly at the same time, the same thing happens: I actually fall asleep. The movie is Chocolat (one of my favorite movies, one that I have seen a few hundred times, even while awake, and one that is slow moving and quiet enough that I actually can fall asleep to it. Also, it’s appropriate for the season, it being lent and all).

So, every night, between minute 5:08 of the film (where Vianne says to Armande “We’d like to rent out the patisserie and the apartment above”) and minute 7:36 (when Anouk says “A real one? Like the Count de Monte Cristo?”), I am out like a light. And I pretty much am awake again right as the closing credits roll. At this rate, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you that Johnny Depp was actually in the movie!

There is that saying that insanity is repeating the same action over and over and expecting a different outcome. At this point, the outcome is pretty clear: apparently the only two hours of real sleep that I get a night is while watching Chocolat (much of the rest of the night is spent getting up every 20 minutes as I can’t sleep). Maybe I should just put it on a constant loop. [grin]

 

Spring Knitting Project

Written by Kat on March 3rd, 2010

I tend not to knit in the summer time. Besides the obvious fact that there are so many other cool things to do outdoors in the summer, knitting in the summer tends to get pretty hot on the fingers and sweaty fingers does not for good knitting make. It still being a few months until summer, however, I decided last week to start on a little more ambitious project for myself: a lace-weight 100% baby alpaca yarn cardigan in yes (of course) green. It’s a open edge (meaning, no band on the ends) and I intend to make semi-kimono-like sleeves for it — in other words, loose and flowing. The yarn is super light and it’s been a bit of an effort to work with it because of that (not to mention that I bent a pair of #1 needles already so I went out and bought two new sets in case I do that again; I tend to knit pretty tightly), but so far, so good. I am a little less than half-way up the back piece, so maybe one-sixth (or perhaps more like one-seventh) of the way done in a weeks time.

Spring Knitting Project

I’ve given myself until April 30 to complete, which might be overly ambitious, but we’ll see. My fingers are definitely getting a workout with such fine yarn.

 

On the Mend

Written by Kat on February 22nd, 2010

Sedgwick on the Mend

Sedgwick is slowly getting better. It’s been 5 days now since the dreaded morning and at this point, the wound is healing and we’re simple hit the “this is really annoying” stage. He’s tired of wearing the collar (not that it was ever particularly popular) and most of all, I think that he misses the ability to groom himself and scratch his face. I’ve gotten into the habit of scratching his face for 10 minute intervals every few hours, which seems to appease his need to pull off the collar. Between that and the hot-packing of the wound 4x per day, I am spending a lot of time sitting on the floor next to the pillow-bed I put out for him.

Giving him the drugs has been a pain in the butt as well. I feel really guilty about being so heavy-handed and he, well, he just hates the pills more than anything else. The first few days I tried to be cajoling and explanatory about it (lots of rationing with him, in German, as if he understands that), but the last few days (after he really bit me on Friday), I’ve determined that I really just need to wake him from a deep sleep, push the antibiotics down his throat and hope he doesn’t spit it up again. Every time I do it, I think of the silly Seinfeld episode where Kramer is taking dog pills for his cough.

 

Cooking Experiments from a New Continent: Moroccan Tagine

Written by Kat on February 21st, 2010

So, to break out of my usual European-centric cooking route, I decided to try a new recipe that I saw in one of my cooking magazines: a Moroccan Tagine. It turned out really well and the recipe was really simple. This might have to be added to the “regular rotation”. I had it with a Tomato-Lentil Couscous (though I cheated and just used a box for that).

Tagine

Moroccan Lamb* and Chickpea Tagine

Ingredients
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lamb stew meat*
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons honey
2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup raisins
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas / garbanzo beans
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
Chopped cilantro to garnish

Directions
Heat a large saucepan** over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add meat; saute for 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove meat with a slotted spoon. Add onion, salt, cayenne pepper and cumin pan; saute for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; saute for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Return meat to the pan. Stir in tomato paste and honey. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, raisins and chickpeas; bring to a boil.

Reduce medium to low, cover with lid and simmer for 50-60 minutes or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Add pistachios and cook for an additional 10 minutes, lid off. Sprinkle with cilantro.

* I don’t eat lamb so I made this recipe with beef and while it might not be authentic, it was great nevertheless.
** Traditionally, this tagine should of course, be made in a tagine. I don’t have a tagine, so I just used my Creuset dutch oven and it worked beautifully.

 

Sedgwick has had Better Days

Written by Kat on February 17th, 2010

Sedgwick

Today was a bit of a rough day. It started with Sedgwick (the older, bigger of my two cats) climbing in bed at 2 AM and at first, just cuddling. OK, no big deal on that part as he often snuggles into bed. After about 20 minutes though, he started a rather extended and extensive cleaning routine that even in my half-sleep, I thought was a little odd.

And while sparing you the rather unappealing (= disgusting) details, this morning was messy and as soon as the vet opened their doors at 9 AM, I made an emergency appointment. Sedgwick had to stay and have surgery for a ruptured abscess between his stomach and hind-leg region. They shaved a good portion of him for both the anesthesia drip and monitoring tools, plus of course, where he needed to have the abscess removed and cleaned out. I picked him up this evening and he is “resting comfortably” though I can’t imagine that wearing one of those elizabethean collars is comfortable in any way shape or form. The home care for the next 7 to 10 days is going to be rough not only on him, but the other cat and me as well.

Speaking of the other cat, Sidney spent most of the day just beside himself, in that his big brother was missing. After I came back from the vet sans Sedg, Sid walked around the apartment yowling for a good hour (which wasn’t terribly conducive to me getting a lot of work done). He finally fell asleep in Sedg’s spot on my desk for a while, but then started searching the apartment again after a few hours. Now that Sedgwick is home, Sid wants to be all lovey and happy that Sedg is home, but Sedg is just cranky. Not sure if Sid gets that.

At any rate, crisis averted, of course, and ultimately it wasn’t that bad (“That’s what you think!” Sedgwick is thinking; actually he’s more thinking “Dass denkst Du!”). It could have been a lot worse had the abscess ruptured internally or if the infection had gone into his blood stream. I’ve been a stress case most of the day, as you can imagine, and oddly, more of a wreck since I’ve been home with the patient. While not one of those crazy old cat ladies, I do have a particular bond that comes from working from home and having Sedgwick and Sidney around me most of the time.