March 31, 2013


March was not a great project month for me. The highlight of the month was a trip to Denver for a work conference. The conference took place over three days, and was pretty jam-packed, but my colleague and I flew out a day early to try and see a few sights. We managed to just miss a major storm, and arrived to 14" of fresh snow and sunny blue skies.

After checking into the The Curtis hotel, we trekked down to the civic/cultural district.

Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum was far too large for us to explore thoroughly, but from what I did see, my favorite exhibit was "Fox Games".

Denver Art Museum

We also made it to the Clyfford Still Museum, which was fabulous throughout. It's very easy to make it through the whole museum in a couple of hours (just about my limit on museum tours).

Clyfford Still Museum

Clyfford Still Museum

 There is no shortage of large exterior sculptures in Denver.

Outside the Denver Public Library

"I See What You Mean"
Denver Convention Center

Downtown Denver
The old Tivoli Brewery, now a Student Union on the Auraria Campus

March 17, 2013

Smitten for these recipes

If you haven't already figured it out for yourself, the Smitten Kitchen cookbook is really wonderful. Not only are the recipes delicious, but so are the stories, instructions and photos. I have several cookbooks, and I am always drawn to the ones that have a photo for every recipe.  Sadly, the photos in this post are all iphone photos because I am not a food blogger, and it does not occur to me to take good photos of food. But rest assured, the photos in the book are much, much better, and are right on par with the quality of the recipes.

Eggplant & 3-Cheese Calzone

In addition to the few recipes I tried out right after Christmas, I've tested 6 more in the last couple of months, and all of them were awesome.

• Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns
• Almond Date Breakfast Bars
• Eggplant and 3-Cheese Calzone
• Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Tacos
• Sesame-spiced Turkey Meatballs
• Olive Oil Ricotta Cake with Lemon Glaze

The only one that I probably wouldn't make again was the Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns. While tasty (when isn't bread and melted cheese?), they were extremely time-consuming. Also, the last step was to coat the tops in melted butter and I just couldn't do it (I have an aversion to melted butter). Sadly, it's really necessary to making them look appetizing, so I was a little put off by their pasty appearance. In reality, I'd probably just make myself a grilled cheese sandwich next time.

The Eggplant and 3-Cheese Calzone was one of the best! Since I was sick the night we had this, Mike actually made it while I assisted (read the recipe and handed him the tools). It was really flavorful and tasty and not at all difficult (and was the first time I've ever made anything with eggplant). Since we were running late we ended up using store-bought pizza dough, which was the only down-side.
Unknown Orange Squash
We made the Spaghetti Squash and Black Bean Tacos in January at my dad's house because they don't eat a lot of meat. Another quick and easy dish. We didn't actually use spaghetti squash since we didn't have any, but I don't think it really matters (and to make it really simple - we just used canned black beans). We paired it with the Cabbage / Cucumber Slaw from the book, which I've now made 3-4 times.

Squash Tacos, with Feta, Avocado and the Cabbage/Cucumber Slaw

The Almond Date Breakfast Bars were delicious. My sister Sara made them first and gave me a good tip about buying the pre-diced date pieces. It saves a lot of work as cutting sticky dates is not fun. They have also been a great addition to the granola I make. I didn't have any almond butter on hand so I substituted peanut butter. The only thing I noticed is that they were a little crumbly. Next time I'll do the second "chilling" in the fridge that Deb recommends. I ended up throwing these in a cup with some plain yogurt and eating it at my desk for breakfast. It traveled well and paired perfectly with the yogurt.

The Sesame-spiced Turkey Meatballs are probably my favorite recipe in the book so far. At least, I've made them the most. They are so easy, and incredibly light and flavorful. We just pair them with hummus, pita, feta and chopped cucumber. Sara made them with the recommended Smashed Chickpea salad, which she said was delicious. Her only complaint on the salad was that the recipe didn't make enough, so her suggestion is to double it.

Lastly, the Olive Oil Ricotta cake... so lovely. It's a really simple cake, but as Deb says, it's really flexible. The recipe includes instructions for a Grape Coulis, but I don't tend to keep Concord Grapes on hand, so I went with her "cooking note" alternative: the lemon glaze.
This cake will be made again.

March 13, 2013

Cheers for a Perfect Day

Last Friday we had another one of those perfect ski days. We headed back to Timberline on Mount Hood, and were welcomed with blue skies, fresh snow and very, very few people. I love days like this and it makes the $60 lift ticket worth it. It even snowed very lightly in the afternoon, which made Mike happy.

Papa, you would have enjoyed skiing on this type of day!

There was one slight mishap when Mike's snowboard bindings released his board just after we got on the lift and I threatened to make him ride the lift back down to retrieve it. Luckily the lift operators sent it up with a skier and he was saved the embarrassment.

It bears pointing out that the ski lift operators seemed to be in an incredible mood on Friday - all smiles, well wishes and helpfulness. Maybe that's normal...

We called it quits around 4 pm so that we could grab a seat at the Rams Head Bar in the 
Timberline Lodge for some mugs of cocoa.

The lodge is awesome; built in the 30's as a WPA project, and declared a historic landmark in the 70's. For anybody interested in this sort of thing, here is the interactive timeline.

The level of craftmanship and attention to detail is incredible.
I love sitting up on this floor and looking down at the fireplace and cozy couches. And the views out the windows are great on a clear day, provided that snow hasn't reached the second floor and blocked them out!

Finally, no trip east of Portland would be complete without grabbing food and drinks at Everybody's Brewing in White Salmon. So that's just what we did. Cheers for a perfect day.

March 7, 2013

Forest Animals (A non-mobile mobile)

More baby presents! When you're in your thirties it's pretty much non-stop baby season.

Next month my friends Megan & Trevor will become parents for the first time to a baby boy. I first thought that I'd make them a mobile, but I wanted to do a forest theme and I had already created that in a mobile in various ways (Forest Friends, Festive Forest, Mushroom Mobile), so I decided to interpret it as a wall hanging instead. 

This approach allowed me to be creative and not feel like I was making the same thing twice.
Most of the piece is handsewn flat felt, stuffed with wool for a little dimension. The animal tails, bird eggs and owl body are needle-felted directly to the blue felt background. The whole piece is framed in a purchased bamboo frame without the glass.

You can see that I adapted my raccoon pattern to be a bit more two-dimensional.

In general this piece came out how I imagined, though I thought I'd get more animals into the scene. Alas, I ran out of time. So while I think it's generally well-composed, it does feel a bit "empty" to me. On the plus side, it is for a baby, so I think he'll enjoy looking at the shapes and colors regardless.

I gifted this to Megan at her baby shower last week, and the invite requested that in lieu of cards the guests bring children's books. So I paired this with the book Forest Bright, Forest Night.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...