Monday, January 30, 2012

Best invention ever: Arnold Sandwich Thins

Not a big fan of typical sandwich bread (the cardboard they use for roll-ups at the cafeteria at work is atrcious) so was so happy to find these Arnold brand Sandwich Thins at Stop & Shop yesterday. Multi-grain: check! 100 calories: check! Delicious: check! Paid endorsement: not yet! Do you see me, Mr. Arnold?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our winter vacation will take us to the other side of the world

Twelve days and counting. On Friday, February 10, we leave Boston for what’s sure to be an unforgettable two-week vacation to a destination that’s on many people’s “bucket lists”. We’re heading to New Zealand, one of the last lands to be settled by humans! When we arrive in Auckland, we’re going to start a fast-paced tour of this island nation, seeing and experiencing and eating and drinking as much as we can.

We’re traveling with our friend Mark from Chicago, who has made all of the travel arrangements – for which I am eternally grateful. He’s planned all of our flights, our hotel reservations, our car rentals, and some excursions that sound unbelievable. Peter’s been studying the Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand that I got him for Christmas, and is making a list of options for things to see in each location we visit.

I’ll be posting more details of our trip as it gets closer, but here’s a map of New Zealand showing where we’ll be hopping.

We start in Auckland, way up on the North Island, where we’ll stay for one night before flying to Queenstown on the South Island. We then drive to Lake Te Anau in Fiordland National Park (where we’ll spend one night on a boat cruising Doubtful Sound) before we drive back to Queenstown for a night’s stay. From there, we fly to Wellington, the southern most tip of the North Island, where we’ll stay two nights before driving to Napier for two nights, and then continuing on to Rotorua. “With bubbling mud pools, exploding geysers and surreal-coloured mineral terraces, the 'Sulphur City' and surrounding region never fails to impress,” says The Lonely Planet Guide. We finish our trip by driving back to Auckland where we’ll spend our last night before flying back to Boston via Los Angeles.

We are doing a crash-course in getting to know New Zealand, because we don’t want to miss a thing.

I’d be interested in any and all ideas and suggestions (books to read, websites or blogs to visit, food, drink and/or expedition suggestions, "must-see" attractions, etc.) whether you’ve been to New Zealand or have just always wanted to go. I’ll also be bringing my laptop with us and hope to post photos and recount our adventures on this blog. More details coming soon!

Even Boston Sports Club is slapping Paula Deen over her diabetes confession

An ad for the Boston Sports Club that appeared in today's Boston Sunday Globe.

I read this week that Food Network star Paula Deen continues to be shocked at the volume of negative buzz about her confession that she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes several years ago, but only came forward with her story after she had scored a big payout as a paid spokesperson for a diabetes drug.

I guess I’d have more sympathy for Paula – known for creations such as deep-fried butter balls and her hamburger served on a “bun” of glazed donuts, topped with a fried egg and bacon (see video below) – if she had come clean with her diagnosis three years ago – and then adapted some of the recipes she features on her TV program. Think of the powerful message she could have helped spread to her millions of fans if she had spoken up earlier. Knowing what she knew, continuing to feature “heart attack on a plate” food on her show, and then waiting until she had a big contract with a drug manufacturer before spilling the beans about her diagnosis seems like dirty pool to me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Getting ready for our retro dinner party tomorrow night

Fireplace project 2012 nears a conclusion

You may recall that a few weeks ago, we were still struggling to get our new gas fireplace up and running. Well we took a big step forward last week, as the stonework was finally completed. The next (and hopefully final) steps will be to install a mantle (we’ve got a few options in mind), re-painting the walls surrounding the fireplace, and getting that picture up on the wall. Anyone wanna come over for s’mores?

Jonny McGovern is doing it modified. And really, shouldn’t we all be?

I’ve been watching this great new video featuring comics Jonny McGovern and Nadya Ginsburg. It’s about a lady in their aerobics class (played by former Saturday Night Live regular Melanie Hutsell – love her!) in Los Angeles who does everything a little “modified”. But it also drives home an important reminder that if something ain’t working in your life, modify it! As Jonny and Nadya sing, “Pressures of the world may make you scared inside. But you’ve got the power to do it modified.” Amen to that.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Try this: The Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Chicken

Yup, I'm on a Barefoot Contessa kick. You may recall my recent post about Ina's incredible coconut cake. Well, at the same dinner we served that cake, we also made her Lemon Chicken, which is so good and so easy, it's now on my list of "go-to" recipes.

I was so eager to eat this dish that I forgot to snap a photo, but I did grab one from the Barefoot's website.

Note #1: Because we had a bunch of people over for dinner, I tripled this recipe and it worked great.
Note #2: I also used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts as well as boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Cooked them all together for the same amount of time.

Barefoot Contessa's Lemon Chicken

  • 1/4 cup olive oil 

  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves) 

  • 1/3 cup dry white wine 

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons) 

  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano 

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves 

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on*
  • 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown.

Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish. 

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper.

Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken. 

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes.

Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Picking a presidential candidate is snot what it’s cracked up to be

In an effort to appeal to the senior citizen voting block, Newt playfully starts a round of “Whose Gotcher Nose?” at the Sleepy Valley Older Adult Living Center in Charleston, SC.

Add your own caption in the comments section!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Try this: roasted sausages with onions, bell peppers and potatoes

Nothing against a vegetarian entrĂ©e now and again, but tonight, it’s all about comfort food. And to us, that means meat. Peter recently found this recipe in The Boston Globe, and it was so good, that we’re making it for the second time this week. We just popped it in the oven and I can already smell the garlic roasting. The recipe says “Serves 6”. I say “ha!”

  • 2 large onions, thickly sliced
  • 3 large ripe bell peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-wide strips
  • 1½ pounds redskin or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 fresh sweet or hot Italian pork sausages (about 2¾ pounds), cut in half crosswise
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Set oven rack in lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss onions, bell peppers, potatoes, sausages, garlic, rosemary, oil, and 1 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. 
  3. Spread mixture in large roasting pan and roast for about 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. If necessary, remove pan from oven and spoon off excess fat. 
  4. Add orange juice and vinegar, return pan to oven, and continue roasting until sausages are well browned and the vegetables tender, 20 to 30 minutes longer, stirring once or twice.
  5. Add most of the parsley and stir to mix. With a slotted spoon, transfer mixture to a large serving dish, sprinkle with remaining parsley, and serve at once.
UPDATE: Blobby tried this recipe and has less-than-perfect results (Sorry, Blobby) Oven temperatures may vary - you might want to start checking for doneness at about the hour mark.


Anemic grilled cheese? Spare me...

On Saturday, we made good on our Christmas gift to our friends MaryLynne and her 12-year-old son, Ian. “Mom” was sent off to Etant, our favorite spa in Boston’s South End to get a 90 minute massage (finally making use of the gift card we gave her a few year’s back). Note: If anyone is inclined to give me the gift of a massage, I promise I will be on the phone making an appointment before I’ve finished saying “thank you”.

While MaryLynne was doing all that relaxing, we took Ian to Jillian’s, a bowling alley / billiard hall / nightclub that stands in the shadow of Fenway Park. We decided to get a bite first, and the lady at the front desk told us that there was no table service yet (it was just after 1:00 pm), but we could sit up at the bar. So we dropped off our coats, and we just climbing up on our bar stools when the bartendress, an overly-tanned brunette wearing too much make-up and a big fake flower in her hair, sneered at me. “How old is he?”, she said, nodding toward Ian. When I said he was 12, she told us in no uncertain terms that we couldn’t sit at the bar. “But that’s where the lady over there told me to sit,” I said. “He can’t sit at the bar,” she said again. “Tell me what you want, and I’ll bring it over to a table.”

Ian ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, and although he said it was “fine”, my concept of a grilled cheese would include actually grilling the bread so it takes on a golden hue with a crusty exterior (sort of like the bartendress). There should be a crunch and the cheese should be melty and oozey. In an ideal world, there’d be a piping hot bowl of Campbell’s tomato soup that I could dip the edges of my sandwich in.

But at Jillian’s, Ian got a pale, sad imitation of a grilled cheese sandwich (with edges of unmelted cheese peeking out from between the anemic slides of white bread). It was not “grilled to perfection” (as my friend Julie likes to say). It’s a fuzzy picture, but is that the saddest grilled cheese you've ever seen?

But enough about the lackluster lunch. It was time to bowl! So we slipped into our rental shoes, grabbed some bowling balls, and headed for lane #1. It had been awhile since any of us had hit the alleys, so it took a few frames to get our groove on. Ian did great – one strike in each of the two games we played. I started out strong, but lost my mojo pretty quickly (some excuse about the ball being too heavy and my shoes being too slippery blah, blah, blah). Peter won both games, improving with each ball he threw.

Anyone of my blogging friends up for some bowling? I’d be happy to bring you over to Jillian’s for a few games and perhaps some cocktails, but we’ll pass on the grilled cheese.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy solitude in Southie

I’m sometimes amazed that even though we live in the city of Boston, we have such easy access to a 22-acre park a few blocks from our home. And on snowy Saturday mornings like today, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were a few brave joggers and a couple of other dog-walkers around Castle Island this morning. And while I wouldn’t want it any other way, it does surprise me that the park is not filled with other visitors enjoying our first "real" snowfall of the season. The ocean was a flat steely grey, looking more like a lake than the Atlantic, and dry, fluffy snowflakes were blowing in every direction. Save for the occasional planes arriving at and departing from nearby Logan Airport, it was quiet and quite peaceful. Otis, who never met freshly-fallen snow that he didn’t love, was in his glory, chasing his “Soft-Bite” flying saucer and barking with doggy joy.

Snowy morning = hot chocolate with marshmallows

Friday, January 20, 2012

More snow on the way for Boston

We got a few inches of white, powdery snow last night, which made for a beautiful morning landscape from the top floor in my office building. (That's downtown Boston off in the distance.) Forecasters say we might get another few inches tomorrow and then some more Sunday night. Sounds like a hot chocolate weekend to me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pay no attention to that man singing in front of the screen door

Remember that song, “Just When I Needed You Most”? It was a big (only?) hit for Randy VanWarmer back in 1979. Its simple chords and repetitive structure makes it one of those songs that, once heard, will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

So with that warning, I invite you to watch the video below. It’s not Mr. VanWarmer, but a fellow who calls himself “Hick-In-The-Woods”, who recorded the video at his dad’s 80th birthday party back in 2005. I stumbled upon this a few days ago, featured on the Awkward Family Photos website. Mr. H-I-T-W does a respectable job; heck – he even hits the high notes. What makes this video interesting is the commotion going on behind the singer.

As Awkward Family Photo asks, “What exactly is happening behind that screen door?” Any guesses, fair readers?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Betty White and I have something in common

It's not our glowing complexions, our love for TV game shows, or our semi-regular guest shots on Mama's Family. Today, Betty and I are celebrating birthdays (one of us is 90, the other is a youngish 49). I've always loved me some Betty White, even before I knew we shared a birthday bond. I like to think that we're both almost always kind, have a soft spot in our hearts for animals, and are really good at Password.

But of course, Betty and I aren't the only one whooping it up today. Also celebrating birthdays are Muhammad Ali, Jim Carrey, Kid Rock, James Earl Jones, Michelle Obama, Zooey Deschanel, Susanna Hoffs, Maury Povich, and Vidal Sassoon.

Had a great start to my birthday. We woke up early (5:30 am) and Peter gave me a nice card and a new shirt from Patagonia that we'll be taking on our "Great Vacation Adventure of 2012" (details coming soon). Then we hustled to get out the door so we wouldn't be late for 6:30 am yoga class at the Boston Sports Club. A great workout - but ay yi yi -- did i mention the puddles of sweat on my mat? You'd think that I spent the weekend eating and drinking with family and friends (hahahahahaha). I was happy to pretty much score a yoga position I thought was impossible, a low crouch with one leg extended behind me and the other leg balanced on my right arm. It was kind of like the pose in this picture, except that:

  1. I'm a guy 
  2. I didn't do it on a log at the beach 
  3. I wouldn't be caught dead in that (color of) unitard

After that, it was a low-key birthday. Went to work, met a fellow here in South Boston who's going to help us prepare our taxes this year, took Otis for a quick walk around the block in the rain, and then settled in to watch the Golden Globe Awards from Sunday night which I thought were pretty boring and waaaaaay too long. The highlight of the evening was a hazelnut pastry from Flour Bakery that Peter surprised me with - delicious, creamy, and sweet. That's not how I'm going to lose a few pounds, but hell -- I'm sure Betty White would have done the same thing.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Discovering Violetta Villas

Have you ever heard of Violetta Villas? I hadn't until the other day, when my friend Robb forwarded me the following clip of her singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" (or as she says "My Heart Belongs to Dead-dy".)

Villas, who died just month at the age of 73, was born in Belgium, and made a name for herself as a cabaret singer, actress and songwriter. She starred at the Casino de Paris in Las Vegas in the late 1960s, performing in as many as nine language (take that, Meryl Streep!). She also acted in several films, including the musical "Paint Your Wagon".  Her life was filled with highs (performing duets with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Charles Aznavour, etc.) as well as extreme lows (alcoholism, morphine addiction, as well as what's termed a "delusional disorder").

Enjoy this clip of Violetta - be sure to take in her crazy mane of hair, the stilted choreography, and her back-up singers who who just can't seem to stay on the beat.

Try this: the Barefoot Contessa's coconut cake

So my goal to lose ten pounds before the "Great Vacation Adventure of 2012" (details to come shortly) were thwarted by this cake. But 49th birthday celebrations happen only once in a lifetime, so I'll just be eating dry lettuce leaves for the next few days to make up for my transgressions. Mom and dad drove out from New York State for the long holiday weekend, and on Saturday night, we hosted them, and our friends Julie, Tom, MaryLynne, and Ian for a big dinner, topped off with the aforementioned cake.

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) is one of my favorite cooks to watch on the Food Network, and even though we've made this cake a few times (and have also made the same batter to make some out of this world cupcakes), I think this particular cake took the prize: moist and delicious. Hmmm...could it be the five sticks of butter? If you're celebrating a special occasion or just feel like treating yourself to this impressive-looking but easy-to-make dessert, might I recommend this recipe?

The Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cake

For the cake
3 sticks of butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1.5 teaspoons almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

For the frosting
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
2 sticks butter at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 pound confectioners' sugar
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, then line them with parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. With mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look a little curdled.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixture on low speed, alternatively add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in four ounces of coconut.

Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, until tops are browned and cake tester comes out clean. Cool on baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

For the frosting, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners' surgar and mix until just smooth. Don't whip!

To assemble, place one layer of the cake on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A burning desire to wrap-up our last big house project

We seem to be getting closer to the truth with our fireplace project. When we moved into our new condo in September, we sought and got approval to extend a gas line over to an area of the loft where we wanted to install a new gas fireplace. After we got settled in, we contacted a contractor we had worked with in our previous property, as well as a local fireplace showroom, to get the ball rolling. Our intent was to have the fireplace installed and finished by Thanksgiving. "No problem," we were assured.

Let's see...what's today's date?

To be fair, we have made progress as you can see in the series of photos above. But it's been a path of mis-steps and delays, including weeks of waiting for the City of Boston to process the approval certificate for the project. Once our paperwork was in place, our carpenter built-out the fireplace framework several inches wider than the agreed-upon architectural plans, which meant we had to go back and order more stone for the wrap-around. Then once the burner unit was put in, we had the little issue of a leaky gas valve. And did I mention that when the contractor finally got here to put on the stonefront (on January 2nd), the stone he and his coworker lugged up here to the fifth floor was the wrong color? They gamely repacked all of the stone and promised to correct the mistake, and they did, but now we are looking at a stone install date of January 19-20.

Here is the good news...we've been able to use the fireplace for several weeks now. And Peter did an awesome job picking out the burner unit. He did his due diligence and selected a unit that not only throws off great heat but looks like an actual woodburning fireplace.

And so while it may not yet look as pretty as it will (hopefully) very soon, we DO have a working fireplace, just like we had planned. I will look forward to letting you know when we finally put a big, fat checkmark next to "get fireplace installed" on our to-do list.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Another reason to feel sorry for (and confused about) old John McCain

According to a report on The Huffington Post, Arizona Senator John McCain says has no regrets about the most controversial decision of his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. Speaking to Sean Hannity on Tuesday evening in New Hampshire, McCain said naming Sarah Palin his running mate was "still the best decision I've ever made."

Unless, of course, he was serious about wanting to be president.

Black olive nose

There is no particular reason for posting this close-up photo of our dog's face. Other than, I guess, to show off his unique handsomeness.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Trying to save a runaway dog

As I was driving home tonight and taking the final corner onto the street where I live, I saw what I thought was a skunk in the middle of the road. But as I got closer, I realized that it actually a small black and white dog, running out from the entrance of the big ship freight yard on the corner. He crossed in front of my car and started running at full speed down the street. I was on the phone with my mom, so I quickly ended the conversation, flipped on my car’s hazard lights, and tried to catch up with the dog, who was now sprinting down the opposite side of the street, right in the path of oncoming traffic.

When I caught up to the dog, I rolled down my window and called to him, snapping my fingers, doing whatever I could think of to get him to stop. He glanced over at me a few times, a petrified look in his eyes, but I could tell that there was no stopping him. Three times, cars barreled toward him, and I furiously flashed my headlights -- bright to dim, bright to dim -- to warn them that there was a dog in their direct path. Directly behind me was a city bus, at one point blaring his horn at me, as he tried to get to his next stop to drop off passengers. (Really? A car in front of you has its hazards on, and the driver is flashing headlights half-hanging out of the window, calling to a runaway dog, and you need to blast your horn?)

I followed the dog all the way down my street and my heart sank as he approached a busy intersection. I pulled over to the side of the street, gripped my steering wheel and closed my eyes, waiting to hear the dreaded squeal of brakes. But when I opened my eyes two seconds later, I saw that the dog had miraculously made it through the intersection unscathed. Across the street, I could see him, still running, before he was enveloped by the darkness.

I considered continuing my pursuit, but was facing a red light at the intersection and knew that the dog probably would not stop for me even if I were able to catch up with him again.

I think the dog was wearing a collar because I could hear what sounded like metal ID tags clanging together as he ran down the street. So tonight, my heart is heavy but hopeful that this little dog can find his way home, and that his owners can rest easy, knowing that their little friend is back where he belongs.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too hot for my high school yearbook

Perhaps you’ve seen the story about the Colorado trollop teenager whose yearbook picture was rejected for being too racy. Future chemical engineer Sydney Spies wanted to use a photo of her wearing a short yellow skirt and a modified black tube top as her official senior portrait in the Durango High School Yearbook. But the co-editors of the book (all students) said the photo was inappropriate.

“We are an award-winning yearbook. We don’t want to diminish the quality with something that can be seen as unprofessional,” said editor Brian Jaramillo.

Poor Sydney. If an innocent girl can’t use her high school yearbook to flaunt her curves in a come-hither pose that’s more suited to some dime-store skin magazine (a photo, by the way, that Sydney’s mom supports) then I ask, how have we as a society progressed in the past 30 years?

It was way back in 1981 that I also fought to get a racy photo of myself posted in my senior high school yearbook. “His goggles are too sexy,” said the protesters, marching outside the principal’s office. “And the way he’s feathered his wispy hair, the inappropriate spread of his collar over his polyester sweater, and those devil-may-care sideburns make Mike’s photo too ‘hot’ for the yearbook.”

In the end, my photo was published, but it was not without a lot of heartache and for weeks, I suffered jealous stares from my classmates who had opted to pose for more subdued, less seductive photos. But as Sydney and her mom would surely agree, what choice do we have? If you’ve got the sexy, flaunt the sexy. Full steam ahead, Sydney! (That means “go for it”, honey.)

A tale of two dinners

Exhibit #1: I came home from work on Thursday evening to find a French feast. Peter, inspired by a recipe in French Feasts by Stephane Reynaud, a book I got him for Christmas last year. It’s a delicious (and easy) dish, and Peter paired it with homemade egg noodles we picked up from Sauders, a Mennonite market in Seneca Falls, NY, during our trip to visit my folks at Christmas, and freshly-steamed broccoli. Here’s the recipe:

Poulet de Bresse au Vin Jaune

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 7 ounces morel mushrooms (Peter couldn’t find, so he used a mixture of Portebello and Shitake)
  • 1.25 cups Vin Jaune (sherry-like white wine)
  • 1.25 cups heavy cream
  • 5 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 2.5 tablespoons butter
  • oil
  • salt and pepper

  1.  Cut the chicken into eight pieces. Peel and slice the shallots
  2. Saute the chicken in a mixture of butter and oil. Add the shallots and mushrooms and drain off the fat
  3. Return the chicken and shallots to the pan and coat with the flour. Add the wine and chicken stock.
  4. Add the peeled garlic and bouquet garni and cook at low simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Stir in the heavy cream and cook and additional 15 minutes.

Exhibit #2: I came home from work on Friday evening and both Peter and I quickly agreed that it was cocktail time. We put a call into our friends downstairs, Robb and Salvador (and for Robb, who claims I don’t mention his name often enough on this blog: Robb, Robb, Robb, Robb, Robb and Robb), and invited them upstairs. While we awaited their arrival, I prepared a classic recipe that we had intended to make for our New Year’s celebration up in Maine. But then Peter got bogged down with some debilitating, high-temperature-inducing illness, so we never made it to Maine. He’s all better now, and we decided it was high time to break out the Lipton onion soup mix and make some French onion dip. And let me tell you, it was delicious! Here’s the recipe:

  1. Pour pouch of Lipton onion soup mix into a bowl.
  2. Stir in cold, fresh, delicious sour cream.
  3. Stir and serve with greasy, salty, crunchy potato chips of your choice.

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Peruvian feast at Rincon Limeno in East Boston

It was definitely a case of our eyes being bigger than our stomachs. But what a feast we had this evening at Rincon Limeno, a Peruvian restaurant in East Boston, just on the other side of Logan Airport from our home.

We each started with a Pisco Sour, a traditional cocktail from Peru, made from Pisco brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, egg whites, and a dash of bitters. It was my first, and it was very sweet, but had a interesting texture, with the egg whites forming a light merigune floating in the top of my glass.

Next up was Papa a la huancaina, an appetizer consisting of sliced boiled potatoes with a cheese sauce flavored with peppers and olives.

And because we can never pass up a good ceviche, we had to get the (large) platter of Ceviche Misto, a delicious platter of fresh seafood “cooked” in lime juice with onions and fresh herbs. The flavors were outstanding and the texture was just right. Our friend Salvador makes an awesome ceviche in the summertime - so this was a great mid-winter treat for us.

Peter, who was an exchange student in Lima, Peru, for three months when he was 16 years old, went with his favorite dish, Lomo Saltado, a mixture of seasoned steak tips with onions, tomatoes and cilantro, all served on a bed of French fries.

And just so I could try everything that looked good, I got the Plato Montaniero, a sampler plate offering up a grilled steak, crispy pork, rice topped with a fried egg, fried plantain, a bowl of beans, and a green salad.

This was our second visit to Rincon Limeno, and we’ll definitely be going back. It’s an easy ride, and the food is outstanding and reasonably priced. And there is so much more I want to try on the menu.

Rincon Limeno
409 Chelsea Street
East Boston, MA 02128

Sunday, January 1, 2012

SIgns to ponder

Do these signs outside the public restrooms at Castle Island in South Boston mean that no ugly people can use the facilities? Seems pretty outrageous to me...


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