Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Potato-Leek Soup

Food Guy has a YUMMY potato-leek soup recipe. The base is from Alton Brown, and to this FG has added bacon and a step of deglazing with white wine. We like to keep it chunky at the end instead of perfectly smooth.

Sweating Vegetables:

Add chicken stock:

Blend and eat!

Kudos to Mr. Brown; we love this recipe with a hunk of bread. We generally ration ourselves so we get two dinner soups, a lunch soup for lunch the next day, and then enough to freeze a portion or two to pull out another night.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Week ending 1/17 round-up

Fitness round-up: Ran once. In there I did run a mile at 10 minutes, surrounded on either side by some walking (and some gasping for breath, not going to lie). Going to do better next week.

Food round-up: This was a good food week—the menu worked really well. On Sunday, Food Guy and I spent a few hours in and out of the kitchen, making Potato-Leek Soup for Sunday dinner and Monday lunch.

Since I’m rarely home to help with the cooking, I asked if there was anything I could prep for the next few days. He doesn’t like to chop veggies too far in advance, so there isn’t usually anything, but instead we started making the tomato sauce for Monday’s dinner. We had two big pots simmering and cooking, and once the set up was complete it was mostly the occasional stir. And with two of us in the kitchen, we could wash dishes as whoever was at the stove finished with them. This prep helped Monday be not nearly as crazy.

We had two healthy meat free nights on Wednesday and Thursday, and Friday night we ended up having friends over and just serving various dips and cheese and snack foods that we all ate as we felt like it, so we still have our fish in the freezer for this week. The Tortilla Stoup was lunch two days, and I love it—I’d never had tomatillos before this recipe and I love the way they taste in here (although Food Guy had to go to three stores to find them, so I have to limit how often I put them on our menu! And despite his Italian heritage he’d never made meatballs himself before, so that was a fun project. We have plenty of leftovers for today’s lunch and dinner and will not have to leave the house in the terrible cold here and can have a long, lazy day at home cleaning up after our impromptu party and reading.

Frugal round-up: Suddenly having people over on Friday changed our budget for the week a bit. We bought two bottles of wine and chips and cheese, and ice cream although everything else we had on hand. (I like to keep the makings of my mom’s amazing artichoke dip on hand—three ingredients, 30 mins in the oven, and everyone always loves it. Not health food though.)

We did manage to save about $60 with the gift certificate my mom gave us. I put half into our Dream Fund, and half into our new Vacation Fund for the weddings we’re planning to attend.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s

I saw Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s in one of the publishing trade mags as a break-out book, a book that had just made a bestseller list somewhere. I mentioned it to Food Guy and he got it out of the library that day. We love Trader Joe’s —the green principles, the quality of the food, the set up of the store, and the prices, and each week consists of a visit there as well as one to a more traditional store in which we can get the cereal, tea, and other items TJ’s doesn’t sell.

My initial impressions of the cookbook were mixed, as the format is not as slick and glossy as the books I love to touch and drool over, and a lot of the recipes seemed overly simple. But on second thought that seemed like a good thing—this may really be a cookbook for those of us with real busy lives who can’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. And while I’m lucky enough to have the equivalent of a personal chef, it would be great for both of us if I could make a meal plan with more days of simple prep and quick recipes. So I went through and chose a bunch of recipes for the next week.

I’ll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Twue Wuv

This is the best news I’ve seen in a while: Scientists Discover True Love

The research on love that I’ve read about seems so depressing—basically stating that people fall out of love as the natural course of things, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So this made me really happy, and also validated what most of us know from seeing those rare couples who you just know are deeply in love years and decades after the first bloom. This pretty much made my night.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Book Review: The Best American Mystery Stories 2008, edited by George Pelecanos

I love to read, but since I’ve started working in publishing my spare time is usually used on reading for work. I consciously try to carve out some time on the weekends to read other things so I can remind myself of what else is out there, and to make sure that my internal calibration of good writing doesn’t decrease (as it tends to when the majority of what I read is unpublished work from a wide variety of abilities). So when I get a chance to read something else, I want to really enjoy it.

The Best American Mystery Stories 2008 is a collection of short stories given to me by Food Guy for Christmas. I enjoy mysteries and spent a few months working through the library’s Agatha Christie series, but I’m always looking for new authors, and I by no means only like mysteries. It’s one of the many genres I enjoy.

My primary problem with this collection is that it really didn’t feel like I was reading mysteries. There were some great stories in here—I’ll find out if Rupert Holmes has published anything else after reading The Monks of the Abbey Victoria, and I got chills from Child’s Play before I saw that I already like the author of that story, Alice Munro. The book says mysteries on the front, but there is a quote from Pelecanos prominently featured on the back that says, “Though there are twists and surprises to be discovered, none of these stories are puzzles, locked-room mysteries, or private detective tales.” (They accurately predicted that people would feel a bit puzzled after reading these stories if there wasn’t a warning.)

I guess I missed the feeling of an actual mystery here, for though the stories were by and large interesting to me, I did not feel like I’d discovered new mystery writers, just writers in general. Which is okay, but not what I was expecting and I guess hoping for despite the disclaimer. If there’s no mystery, just a well-written story, why put it in the “Mystery” pile at all?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Kindle

For Christmas I received the life-changing gift of a Kindle. I opened the box, and then I sat there and cried. And it HAS changed my life.

As an editorial assistant, I carry home approximately 200 pages a night. That usually means printing chunks of two or three projects that we are unlikely to buy for one reason or another, using our elderly printer, as well as ink and paper. And I carry it all back the next day to share my thoughts with the editors. And more on the weekends!

Since I commute three hours a day, having a giant bag stuffed with unwieldy papers is a real pain, figuratively as well as literally. I’ve never had back problems before, but lately there have been some serious twinges. So when my mom asked what I thought of the Kindle, and whether it would be useful to me, I thought about it.

But I was torn. I’m a book person. I love the smell of a book, the feel of a book, the whole experience of a book. Plus I use the library all the time, and Kindle books are expensive for someone who doesn’t really have that extra money to apply to something that I could get from the library for free. Plus it’s expensive itself, and this didn’t seem like the year for expensive gifts. So I said I’d have to really think about it, and let the matter go at that. And when they were sold out a month before Christmas, I mentally kicked myself and moved on.

My mom ordered one anyway, and I’m so glad she did. I can now carry a real person’s purse, instead of a publishing wench's giant bag. I’ve read a few books on it, all published before 1923 and therefore free. (Lots of free books available on the Internet, pre-1923 no copyright issues.) I can put documents on there and read them, so instead of taking 100 pages of a project home and knowing after 50 it isn’t right for us and still having to lug it around, I can close it and move on to the next thing, which I have with me on my handy-dandy device. I am also giddily imagining what it would be like to go on vacation without packing a suitcase full of books. If I’m going away for a week of relaxation, I need at least 5 books, and at that I’ll usually run out and have to buy some. So I can’t wait to buy a few titles and download some old free-but-good books, and take one small device along for the ride.

Do I think this will ruin publishing as we know it? I think it will change it for sure. There’s a lot of debate over whether e-books are priced fairly, for instance, although that’s a separate post altogether. And it is a different experience. But having words available at my fingertips without the downsides of my beloved books is pretty amazing, and I have to say I’m thrilled with my new Kindle.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Weekly Menu

Weekly menu: week starting 1/12/09

Mon: Spaghetti and Meatballs and small salad mostly a la Jamie Oliver (lunch potato leek soup)
Tue: Chicken Tortilla Stoup a la Rachael Ray (lunch spag & meat)
Wed: Big Salad and leftovers (lunch stoup)
Thurs: Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas a la America's Test Kitchen (lunch leftovers or caf)
Fri: Fish & broccoli (lunch quesos)
Sat: Leftovers
Sun: brunch at the in-laws