My goddaughter, Emma Grace, celebrated her First Holy Communion this weekend. I can't believe it's been 8 years since her Baptism! Auntie feels old! So proud of my little Communion girl!
Spring has sprung here in Boston! The flowers are all in bloom, buds on the trees, and anything above 40 is shorts weather here, so this 65 degree day calls for bikinis on the commons and a myriad of questionable fashion statements.
I have some exciting projects coming up, so I will be keeping this updated! My little flower here is part of last night's fun.
Congratulations Lauren and Jim on your perfect little boy! Welcome to the world, Parker!
I mentioned the project I was able to get started on down in Virginia. Let me explain it a little more:
My friend Niki (Hink Creations) came to me with a very cool project. She was working on the brochure for a science, math, technology and arts camp in North Carolina (Camp Snowball) and needed some illustrations. I was ready for the challenge and excitement of dusting off my sketchbook and pulling out my paints.
She did a fabulous job laying out the brochure and I was so happy to be a part of the project.
Here's a compilation of some of the illustrations I got to do:
A few days ago I decided to drive from Boston to Charlotte with a friend to celebrate another friend's birthday. Our trip down was relatively quick and easy, only getting antsy in the last 45 minutes of the trip. We had a great weekend with old friends and were fully prepared for our return trip home.
A mishap at the gas station (a poorly marked diesel pump) left us in small town America. Strasburg, Virginia to be more specific.
The evening became pretty eventful considering the slow pace of a Sunday in a sleepy town. We had some dinner, met some rambunctious locals and watched the Oscar's with our lovely bartender, Michelle.
Between dinner and beers and chatting, I was able to knock out a few sketches from a project I was asked to work on. Overall, it's a pretty cool feeling to accidentally end up in the tap room of an early 20th century hotel doing one of my favorite things.
Beat the winter blues with some fresh herbs.
I love fresh herbs, but there's not enough light to grow them this time of year and it's almost always a complete waste of money to buy them at the grocery store unless you use them immediately.
We picked these green onions up in NY and left them un-refrigerated for a bit too long. When we got home to MA, they were wilted and pretty much dead. Frustrated that I just wasted $1.99, I tried an old trick my mom taught me when celery wilts- put it in some cold water.
I can't tell you they'll last forever- but I can tell you that the photo to the left was taken a month after I brought them home, which is way longer than refrigerating them. With just a little water and a little sunlight, I've had delicious green onions growing in my kitchen!
Just change the water every few days- it gets a little slimy!
For generations the women in my family have passed down the Good Housekeeping Seal. Generally speaking, we all have our subscriptions to the classic magazine (although mine has been lost in the mail for the last year or so) and we know how to cook, clean and be superb hostesses...all the while being strong, independent and free-thinking women.
My sister and I were on a road trip down to Long Island last spring joking about how some celebrity knew she had "received her seal" when she had roasted her first chicken. Pshhh. Roasting the chicken is the easy part; it's what you do with it afterward that makes it worth roasting in the first place!
Poking around my cabinets, I made up the first step of my recipe:
1 Whole chicken (wash and removed innards)
3 parsnips (diced)
2 apples (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
The juice of 1 lemon
1 onion (peed and diced)
1/4 cup plain or panko bread crumbs
2 tbsp dried lavender
1/2 tbsp dried rosemary
2 tbsp agave
1 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare the chicken. Leave the gizzards and other innards aside for stock (later). Dice parsnips, apples, onion and garlic. Toss with agave, rosemary, lavender, bread crumbs and lemon juice. Stuff ingredients into the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover and roast for approximately 45 minutes. Take the lid off and cook another 20 minutes, or until browned.
Now here comes the fun stuff:
Once the chicken has cooled a bit, cut the breasts off and some other meaty parts. Drain off the juices and set them aside in a saucepan for gravy. Remove the carcass and stuffing and place them in a stockpot. You can also add and vegetable scraps. If I know I'm going to make a stock, I'll save veggie scraps in a zip lock bag in the freezer. Add in the innards from earlier, top off with water, cover, bring it to a boil and let simmer for as long as you can handle ( definitely at least 30-45 minutes, but up to 2-3 hours). You want the meat to fall off the bone.
Use a sieve to separate the solids and the liquid stock. I'll transfer to a second stockpot at this point. Let this stand for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken carcass is cool enough to handle. You'll have to get your hands pretty messy at this point- so no getting squeamish, roll up your sleeves and take off your rings! Start pulling all the the meat from bone- the longer you boiled, the easier it will pull. Squeeze the meat so it's in small pieces and to ensure you're not getting any bones or other parts in your soup. Put all the meat you pull back in your original stockpot. Discard all bones and debris as well as all of the veggies you boiled.
Add the stock you had strained to the stockpot. Prep any veggies you like for your chicken soup. I usually stick to the basics- carrots, onions and then I'll add pea and corn at the end so they don't get over cooked. I also like adding different grains (Trader Joe's has a good middle eastern grains selection), barley or pasta. This recipe will be very low sodium, so to enhance flavor, add an extra bouillon cube or some salt.
Sounds like a lot of work? It'll be the best chicken soup you've ever tasted. Better than grandma's.
Now back to the main meal. Heat the juices you had in the saucepan on low. Slowly add in flour and whisk to break up clumps. Continue to add small amounts of flour (no more than a tbsp at a time) until the right consistency is reached. Your gravy should be thick and smooth. Serve this over your chicken breast.
This is definitely a Sunday project. Active cook time is not much, but there's a lot of waiting. It's definitely worth it and you get a ton of food in the end! My $4 chicken (BJ's Wholesale 2 for $8) ended up being a very full dinner and several lunches.
It's moments like that that I feel I've earned my "seal."
I started my year off filled with many goals and resolutions- but even more so, filled with joy! 2012 was an action packed, exciting year with very little to complain about. I landed a great job, found a wonderful apartment and accepted a marriage proposal- what more could a girl ask for?! And if I thought 2012 was good, 2013 looks even better!
With 241 days left before the big wedding day (follow our wedding blog at www.megandadamgetmarried.com), I'm working out, eating healthy and making Meg Sela the best she can be before she becomes Meg Shave.
My new obsession is with a juicer we inherited over six months ago. It's been sitting on the shelf in the pantry, just waiting to be utilized. I'm not sure what my apprehension was, but I'm glad I got over it!
I got home early New Year's Eve and while waiting to get the festivities started, I decided to test out the whole juicing thing. I researched some recipes, raided the fridge and before long, I saw the bottom of the fruit bowl (haven't seen that in months!). Veggies, fruits, berries, yogurts, coconut milk, herbs and spices...I tossed everything in!
Aside from the health benefits (a juice a day, I feel fab!) the juices are absolutely delicious! Here are some of my favorite combos:
A new haircut and a lot of ambition- bring 2013! It's a new me!
We got a time lapse pup cam to see what the dog is really up to while we're not home. Below are the results of an 8 hour day:
In other news, I learned how to make animation gifs today!
First off (as a follow up to my previous post) IPA steak is delicious...if you like IPA. Juicy and tender, but certainly not my first choice of flavor.
Secondly, the moment I've been anxiously awaiting all year- garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the most rare, regional and seasonally available vegetable I've ever come across, and they are so worth the wait!
They look like curly green whips and smell very earthy. Most of the recipes I've seen for them are either pickled, sautéed or puréed- never raw. I personally love garlic scape pesto. It's sweet, tangy and powerfully garlicky!
Garlic Scape Pesto
1lb fresh garlic scapes, diced into 2" pieces
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seeds or nuts (walnut, sunflower, pine nut, etc)
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt to taste
In a food processor or blender, place garlic scapes, cheese, nuts and 1/2 of the olive oil. Begin to mix. Add more oil until mixture is the consistency of a thick paste.
Serve as a dip on chips, as a pesto on pasta or sandwiches, as a garnish with chicken breast or as a hot dog topping (just tried that one tonight!)