Monday, August 29, 2011

A Norweigen Wedding

 St. Olaf Chapel.

Eric and Johnny.

Inside of St. Olaf Chapel.

I don't have a picture of the bride's Norwegian costume, which is a real shame.  She looked stunning.


Brother and sister.

Pear cider and beer inbetween the reception and the after party.

The cousins!

The groom and I.

And Hillary, because she's gorgeous.  Ayden was also around but as the puppy currently known as "Cone of Shame" while she recovers from getting spayed, she wasn't up jumping and looking pretty for the camera.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


In case anyone has missed the trouble that is Hurricane Irene, well...she's here.  Heavy rains (over an inch so far) and wind gusts up to 40 mph and sustained winds up to 20 mph, it's not as bad as we thought it would be...but I'm sure glad I'm not outside in the nearly-horizontal blustery downpour.

This weekend was supposed to be my first weekend ever on the Cape - sun, beach, picnic, sand, all that is good and wonderful about the end of summer here in New England.  But Irene intervened, so instead of a beach weekend, my friend and I made the best of our situation.  We had wanted to attend afternoon tea at the Boston Harbor Hotel, but it was booked!  So instead, we went to the lovely hipster haven of Jamaica Plain for some thrifting and the best Cuban sandwiches in Boston (with friend plantains and mango/papaya shakes, of course).  Then, back to my place for movies, drinks, and food.  We started off with caipirinhas with lots of lime, then made a hurricane sorbet based on the classic hurricane drink:

Classic Hurricane

2 oz light rum
2 oz dark rum
2 oz passion fruit juice
1 oz orange juice
juice of a half a lime
1 tablespoon simple syrup
1 tablespoon grenadine

Squeeze juice from half a lime into shaker over ice. Pour the remaining ingredients into the cocktail shaker. Strain into a hurricane glass. Garnish with a cherry and an orange slice.

Hurricane Sorbet

¼ cup light rum
¼ cup gin
¼ cup vodka
¼ cup amaretto
¼ cup triple sec
½ cup grenadine syrup or 100% pomegranate juice
2 1/2 cups juice (could be 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup passionfruit juice, ½ cup pineapple juice; I used 2 cups of Trader Joe's Mango/Orange/Peach juice with 1/2 cup of pineapple juice)

Mix together and process in your ice cream maker.

Next was making the best gazpacho in the world (not kidding).  I've made it twice since Thursday, and it changed my life.

Andalusian Gazpacho (adapted from Serious Eats)

3 pounds (about 4 large) very ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
1/2 pound (about 1 small) cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks 
1/3 pound (about 1 small) small red onion, peeled and cut into rough 1-inch chunks1/3 pound (about 1 medium) 
green or red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 ounces (about 2 slices) white sandwich, French, or Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into rough 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving 
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, plus more for serving 
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine tomatoes, cucumber, onion, pepper, garlic, and salt in a large bowl and toss to coat thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Drain juices into a large bowl and add the bread. Transfer the drained vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until vegetables are frozen, about 30 minutes.  Remove vegetables from freezer and allow to sit at room temperature until mostly thawed, about 30 minutes. Transfer vegetables and all their juices from the pan to largest stock pot you own with soaked bread.  Using stick blender, blend vegetables, juice, and bread at high speed, slowly drizzling olive oil and sherry vinegar into blender as it blends. Strain soup through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl.  This will take awhile, but it is worth it. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve, drizzling each bowl with olive oil, a few spirnkles of sherry vinegar, extra cracked black pepper, and chives. Gazpacho can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  You do end up having a bit of leftover tomato goo, but I'm trying to figure out something to do with it...maybe food process it to get in even finer pieces and then use as a pizza sauce?  I'm not sure yet.

With gazpacho was fresh bread, serrano ham, fresh figs, and manchego cheese.  Dinner of champions, I tell you. 

After dinner was a gin tasting; as I am quite new to gin (three months?)  I really haven't had a chance to taste different varieties.  We ended up doing a test gin-and-tonic for Bombay Sapphire, Hendrick's, Citadelle, and Tanqueray 10.  Tanqueray 10 is by far the most expensive, but by far the best.

Last but not least for the evening was dark and stormy ice cream, also based on the cocktail:

Dark and Stormy

1.5 ounces dark rum
Ginger beer

Fill highball with ice, and add rum.  Fill to top with ginger beer.

Dark and Stormy Ice Cream  (adapted from Gosling's)

2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
½ cup dark rum
½ cup ginger brandy
1 ½ cups ginger syrup

In a saucepan combine the milk and cream and scald the mixture over moderate heat, stirring.   In a large bowl beat the egg yolks until they are light and thick.  Temper with a few spoonfuls of the hot cream/milk mixture and then add to the saucepan, continuing to cook over moderate heat, stirring, until it coats the spoon.  Pour through a sieve into a large bowl and chill in the fridge.  Add rum and ginger syrup, and freeze in an ice cream maker.

In case anyone is keeping count, we had 11 different liquors last night, which is awesome.  We also watched The French Lieutenant's Woman with Meryl Streep, which was missing the final fifteen minutes on Netflix, leaving us in great suspense.  Irene is obviously to blame.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Trying to open the wine (A Frenchman awkwardly saved the day when we couldn't get it opened).

The spread.

Enjoying dinner!

Pritzker Pavilion, all lit up for the concert (the Grant Park Orchestra played The Book With Seven Seals, an oratorio by Franz Schmidt to much acclaim; we all enjoyed it!)

Biology girls from IWU, reuniting for lunch!

I love the El.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

now and then

Then: baking pies for my last Thanksgiving at IWU.  That poor oven had to be on halfway through the night, mostly because one of us accidentally put 2 tablespoons of salt into the crust instead of 2 teaspoons.  No matter, the two of us just made another apple pie and ate the entirety of the filling from the first salty-crust pie.  Delicious and sugar-coma inducing.

Now:   Getting together for brunch in Minneapolis!  One is volunteering for a year with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps at Kaleidoscope Place, a community center for children in the Philips neighborhood of Minneapolis, and the other is planning to join a program sponsored by the Cambridge Science Festival that matches scientists with Boston-area teachers.  (one step closer to my goal of becoming Ms. Frizzle). 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

now and then

Then: visiting Sioux Falls on a trip to the family farm in Worthington.

Now:  one back from a year working in China, ready to go back again for his second tour of teaching English (and learning 5000 characters, which is crazy), one home for a summer trip to Minnesota.  He traveled quite a few more miles to take this picture, that's for sure.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to catch a fish

 Step 1:  go out about an hour before official sunset.

Step 2:  Cast into the weedier-ish part of the lake, about 40 feet out.

Step 3.  Reel 'er in!

Step 4:  Bring fish close to the dock, and kneel down.

Step 5:  Grab fish firmly, making sure to immobilize pernicious top fin.  Examine hooks and remove carefully but authoritatively.  Fish wiggle more when you are skittish.

Step 6:  After successfully removing the hook, fake throwing the fish at your sister, just because it's fun.

Step 7:  Throw him back.

Step 8:  Look at the pretty sky.

 Step 9:  Tease the sunnies.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

old-lady street cred.

The sunflowers and cherries were found at a church sale up north for a pittance...I wish I knew which lady spent time embroidering them, but I'll just have to live with the hope that making these is a labor of love for her, and buying them was getting me one step closer to my grandma's kitchen. 

 The magnolia blossom was made for me by this dear friend, after remembering my love for the flower after going crazy seeing them for the first time on our band trip to New Orleans.  Eight years pass, I said nothing about magnolias to her, and then she presents me with that gorgeous tea towel, not knowing that I practically have an addiction to the magnolias that bloom outside of McCormick every spring.  (my first year living here, I took over 300 pictures of them in two weeks).  Friend/flower ESP, oh yes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

24 hours in Maine

Building near North Station.

North Station is also the TD Garden, home of the Celtics and Bruins (nice use of space, Boston).

Morning beach walk.


Beach at high tide.

 Exactly what I'd expect of a Maine coastline.

Sand and driftwood.

The view from my reading spot.  

Wild Maine blueberries, hidden among the University of New England campus.

The University of New England has a Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center, and this little guy was abandoned.  My friend swears that seal pups are the devil in disguise, but look at that face!  How could that ever be evil, I ask you?

Their research lab just seems so much cooler than mine.   Maybe because you can play with baby skates!  The little ones were about two inches across, but the adults were larger than a dinner plate. 

The gas station and deli where we bought lunch.  When you first enter, it looks like a normal gas station: an aisle for pop and beer, and aisle for chips and crackers, and then you see the giant lobster tank.  Welcome to Maine.

My beautiful five-claw lobster roll on a lightly toasted bun.  So delicious.

The marshland near the beach.

The beach at low tide.

Looking back towards land.


Ripples in the sand.

 Looking out towards the ocean.

The other Salty Dog, currently beached.

Martian landscape.

 Beautiful grasses.

The beach, much larger than it was at high tide.

Buildings in the town of Saco, Maine.

Clam chowder and beer at Run of the Mill...a perfect way to end a beautiful day in Maine!