Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Delicious Dishes: Pesto Bread

You MUST make this pesto bread! Here is why:

1. It's super easy, requiring only a mixing of ingredients, 8 minutes of kneading, 2 hours of rising and some spreading of pesto and parmesan.

2. It's beautiful. By rolling it up like a jelly roll, slicing it down the middle and braiding it, it comes out looking like a professional made it. The recipe even has a full page of pictures of a how-to.

3. It's delicious. It's like garlic bread's grown-up, sophisticated cousin. I could eat this every day and not tire of it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Revelry Review: Cutting for Stone

South Asian Author Challenge, Book 3/5: Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Sister Mary Joseph Praise is traveling from her homeland in India to Ethiopia when she meets Dr. Thomas Stone. They end up working in the same hospital for several years. One day, when she doesn't show up for work, her colleagues find that she has been concealing the fact that she is pregnant with twins.

One of the twins, Marion, narrates the novel. The first half tells the story of Sister Mary Joseph Praise and the second half picks up with what happens to the boys after their birth during a time of a coup in Ethiopia, living with adoptive parents and Marion's decision to move to the United States. This sweeping novel touches on just about every topic one could imagine: birth, death, love, rules, politics, medicine, family, responsibility, etc. The characters are some of the best developed that I have ever encountered. I wish, however, that there had been slightly less medical jargon/scenes (the author is a MD in real life), because I started to get caught up in trying to understand it and, in the process, got diverted from the pace and beauty of the novel's prose.

At nearly 700 pages, it is a long novel and a big time commitment. However, it is one that is worthy of the dedication to finishing it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Snapshots of my vacation.

Jesse and I began our vacation with a trip to the outlets in Freeport. I scored a pair of Cole Haan flats for only $32! Then, later that night, I treated myself to some time at Soakology, a teahouse and foot sanctuary. They lead you downstairs to sit on overstuffed couches and chairs that are up on platforms. Then you soak your feet in warm warm of the scent of your choice (mine? mint chocolate!). They refill your water three times over the course of an hour. I also got a 20 minute foot massage and some red chai. It was amazing and the perfect way to begin the week!

Maine blueberries are just about my most favorite thing ever. They are smaller and sweeter than anything we can get here. I enjoyed this blueberry and lemon tart from the Standard Baking Company.

My Mom and her boyfriend came up to visit and meet Jesse's parents. Here we are looking like we got dropped into a Maine themed postcard.

A shot of the sun setting on the bridge.

Our most favorite vegetarian restaurant ever, The Green Elephant. I had tofu tikka masala, a blueberry soda and Jesse and I split a chocolate and orange mousse cake. LOVE this place! It was one of the best meals I ever had. From there we wandered around the Portland Museum of Art, which is free on Friday nights.

We spent a day at Old Orchard Beach. We walked on the beach, ate pier fries and played mini-golf.

On Saturday, after the second of one the best meals of my life at Street and Company, which was beyond incredible, we headed about 30 minutes north to the lake house (affectionately called "camp") that Jesse's family rents every summer. We spent the days doing camp things--sleeping, reading, eating ice cream, playing cornhole and ping pong, swimming, canoeing and challenging each other at board games. Oh, and making friends with the wildlife.

Here are Jesse and my Mom in the canoe.

This picture is a good example of what camp is like. Relax by the water, read and enjoy doing nothing! Overall, the trip was amazing and far too short. I fall in love with Maine more and more every time I visit.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Revelry Review: Medium Raw

I recently finished reading Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook by Anthony Bourdain.

Now, I should confess to you that I LOVE Anthony Bourdain. I watch episodes of "No Reservations" endlessly. I think it is smart, well-written, honest and interesting. Tony goes places and does things that I can only dream about. I loved Kitchen Confidential too, mostly because I spent a few years working full-time as a waitress and thought it was time that someone was honest with the general public about restaurant life.


Either it's my old age or Tony's that has led me to conclude that Medium Raw is just a tad too....well, mean. Don't get me wrong--I found it interesting and I like reading his point of view on the food world. Let's face it--tons of bad food-related media is thrust at us daily. But was it necessary to essentially filet Alice Waters? And I know he hates the Food Network, but I didn't know just how deep that hatred ran. I don't like Sandra Lee either, but his description of her is a bit over the top. It felt like essay after essay kept getting more and more angry.

I should back up and say being over the top and a little gruff is why so many of us love Anthony Bourdain. I just wish this book had read more like the honest critique he is known for and less like one big attack on all things mainstream in the foodie world.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Delicious Dishes: Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup

I have a confession: I have a soup obsession. Even in the middle of the summer. To me, soup is the perfect meal.

Despite it being very warm outside, I tried making the Swiss Chard and Lentil Soup from Two Blue Lemons. It was fantastic. Filling enough to feel like a whole meal, delicious and nutritious. I also made another loaf of bread with the dough I had in the fridge. Seriously, you HAVE to try the method Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day! It's so easy to have fresh bread whenever you want! I am glad I tried these two together. It will be the perfect dinner when the weather gets cool this fall.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Revelry Review: Every Last One

This past weekend I finished reading Every Last One by Anna Quindlen. I loved two of her previous books, One True Thing and Black and Blue, so I decided to give this one a go too. What I had forgotten in the many years since I read those other two is that Ms. Quindlen is a master of making you feel the terrible emotions that people go through when they experience a tragedy.

I can't say too much without giving away the heart of this book, but here is a brief summary: Mary Beth Latham is married and has three children. The first half of the book weaves an intricate portrait of the ins and outs of their family life. It is pretty ordinary. Then something absolutely horrible happens. I was pretty blindsided because I had purposely stayed away from reviews of this book so that I wouldn't know what it was. Simply put, there is a Before and an After for Mary Beth and the rest of the book follows her as she attempts to give meaning to the After.

I cried. And then I cried some more. If you've read Isabel Allende's Paula or Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking and liked them, then you might also like this portrait of grief and loss.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Delicious Dishes: Bhindi Masala

This weekend I made Bhindi Masala (Okra curry) using the recipe I found over at Two Blue Lemons, with the addition of a ton of spinach. It was the first time I ever had okra. While I didn't love the okra itself because it seemed tasteless, the recipe was yummy and quick. Next time I might try adding chickpeas and some green beans.