Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's Snowing Right Now

But doesn't this look pretty?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Thank You Notes

Write them. It'll make you feel better.

(In case you don't want to follow the link, here's the key half-quote: "...recent scientific findings linking gratitude to increased optimism, stress reduction and a better night’s sleep.")

That's not the reason to write them, of course. You write them to make the people who did something nice for you feel good. But feeling good has always been a by-product of thank you note writing for me. I feel good when I cross "thank you notes" off my to-do list - satisfaction in completing something. I feel good for the same reason when I put them in the mailbox. And I feel good later on, if I get a compliment on the note itself (those compliments used to be for my notes...now they're for Dixon's. And let's be honest, getting a seven year old boy to write thank you notes is, in fact, a gigantic accomplishment.)

I'm embarrassed to say that I'm a little more slack than I used to be in the thank you note department. I sometimes do send an email when I used to send a handwritten note. I shouldn't - this article was a good reminder that nothing replaces a personally written card.

Plus, email doesn't provide any excuse to buy new stationery. And...yes to new stationery.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Flashback: Oysters in Paris

Originally uploaded by Kit Pollard.
Cooper and I are going to Paris for a few days next month - it'll be his first visit to the city. I can't wait, of course. I've been thinking a lot lately about the last time I went to Paris, which was almost nine years ago and right around the same time I started this blog. I was with Cooper's sister, Missy, and his cousins Sarah (aka Sarah G.) and Gilly.

It was hilarious and ridiculous and so fun. Our last night there, we had a totally gluttonous meal that started with a ginormous seafood tower.

I'd eaten a lot of oysters before that night and I've eaten a lot since. But that's still one of my most memorable seafood experiences. This is what I wrote about it at the time:

Our last meal in Paris was a big one - we wanted to eat absolutely everything we hadn't yet had, and we almost did. Unfortunately, none of us ate any onion soup while there, but that was just about the only thing we missed.

Our meal started with some of the more exciting food we ate: fines de claires (oysters) with crevettes roses (shrimp) and bulots (what we think are periwinkles). The oysters were served with a delicious vinegar and shallot sauce that perfectly balances the salt and sweetness of the oysters. And the bulots, tiny snail-like creatures in little shells, were served with a homemade mayonnaise (that I tried and liked - convincing me that I do like mayonnaise, just not the store-bought type).

When the seafood was brought to our table, we were all more than a little overwhelmed - it came on large platters that made it look like a meal for forty. Somehow, though, our American appetites got us through it. After the first course, we had escargots, steak au poivre with potatoes dauphinoise, and a firm white fish. And dessert, too.

And ate nearly every bite of it.

So the next morning, as we ate our final croissants at the airport (fresh and delicious, despite the fact that we were at the airport) we all felt as though we'd done our stomachs justice in Paris. And though I did crave American food on the flight home...four days later I'm now ready to go back.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Food and Wine's Newish Blog

When I get busy with work, I get way behind on my food-related reading. You should see the pile of magazines currently sitting in my basement. And forget about reading food blogs - that feels like a frivolity my schedule just can't handle. (Obviously, regular blogging here takes a hit, too.)

Lately, though, I've been making an exception for Food and Wine magazine's new blog FWx. I'm not sure exactly when it started (not that long ago, apparently) - I just know that a few weeks ago, I realized that all the Food and Wine Facebook links that interested me were heading over to this new website, which was really more of a blog, called FWx.

Apparently it's designed for Millennials but - considering I am in no way, shape or form a Millennial - it has broader appeal. Posts like this apple and coffee-tasting tutorial are what keep me interested. Informative, succinct, funny and actually useful.

Exactly the right size and style for a quick break between PowerPoint slides.

Friday, March 21, 2014

This Week: March 15th to March 21st

This week has mostly been about work, work and more work - but before all that, we had a super fun weekend. Friday night, my high school friends Pete and Liz, who live in Maine, were in Annapolis, so a bunch of us - several of the "known since kindergarten" crew - got together at McGarvey's:
Pete & Liz are the ones making out. So gross.
Crab dip, crab cakes, burgers, oysters. Beer. There are so many things McGarvey's does right. I have been there a zillion times and I never get sick of it. It's the setting of so many of my favorite memories.

On Sunday, we hosted a small St. Patrick's Day brunch at our house ("brunch" means people come over from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m.). We had smoked salmon and radishes and shamrock cookies from my sister and Alicia's cabbage noodles and Jen' reuben dip and lots of Irish bread and bangers (thank you, Trader Joe's) and mash and - the centerpiece - homemade corned beef hash (this recipe), which is not pictured because I was too busy cooking the hash and eggs to stop and photograph anything.

It was so festive and fun:
Everyone was in the spirit and ready to have such a good time - from the little kids to the grandparents.

On Monday, it was back to the grind again. But at least we have the memories of the weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Those Weeks: March 4th to March 14th

It's been busy times around here - and not just because of Fake St. Patrick's Day (though that was the most notable event going on during the past week and a half - and where the oysters, in the shot above, came from).

Last weekend, we followed Fake St. Pat's with brunch at Petit Louis with my parents and grandmother. The restaurant's consistency, both in food and service, never ceases to amaze me. As a group, we were unadventurous - quiche and salad for the ladies and croque monsieurs for the men. Pasta for Dixon (talk about unadventurous). But it was all just right.

After brunch, we had a quiet afternoon then hit Ridley Field for the Loyola vs. Duke lacrosse game, which Loyola won, handily. It was packed, cold and very exciting, especially for Dixon, who is about to start his third season tearing up the field for Kelly Post. This year, he told me this morning, he's planning to stick with defense but maybe also give goalie a try. "I like defending things that are important," he explained. "Like the goal. Or against zombies." Noted.

I've been too busy to cook much but I have given a couple recipes a try. The first, pictured on the top right of the photo above, was a roasted shrimp and gremolata dish from Bon Appetit.  I thought it was great - easy to make and super flavorful. Cooper, however, did not love it - too much parsley for his parsley-averse taste buds.

Food and Wine's spinach carbonara also received somewhat mixed reviews. It was quick and certainly healthier than regular carbonara but it didn't really wow me. Still, not a bad dinner and there's something to be said for putting a bunch of antioxidants on the plate.

This weekend, our annual celebration of all things Irish continues. Tonight, we go out in Annapolis with my high school friends - not for St. Pat's but because my friends Pete and Liz are in town from Maine. Tomorrow, rest and then Sunday, Irishy brunch here with family and friends.

I am celebrating already, by eating soda bread for breakfast (pictured bottom left). No, I didn't make it. I imagine I might make it through my whole life without ever making bread from scratch. I bought it at Trader Joe's. And it's good!

I hope everyone celebrating this weekend has a wonderful (and safe) time. Slainte!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Suddenly Everywhere

Swordfish and dessert courses.

But thankfully, not together. (Yet.)

Seriously - both swordfish and dessert-for-dinner seem to be everywhere these days. Swordfish is old school (what's next - pasta with sun-dried tomatoes?) and dessert-for-dinner is straight elementary school (in the best way).


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