Winter veggies


Oddly enough, we get some of our best veggies in the winter ~ 

Weekly veggiesFor the second winter in a row, we’re participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture). From a practical point of view, CSAs win out over traditional grocery stores: I get to order my food online, receive it door-front every Saturday and spend way less money than I would in the grocery store. (Our produce bill adds up to about $30 a week for the entire winter – January till end of March.) Plus, we are forced to plan a menu, which is automatically chock full of vitamins and minerals. It’s also fun to sample exotic (to us) veggies we didn’t know about before. Surely, you didn’t miss that terrifying looking growth front and center (romanesca). Just in case, here ya go again ~

RomanescaPart of the cruciferous family, romanesca is somewhere between broccoli and cauliflower, in everything from shape, to consistency, to color. We stir fried it last week with our winter broccoli. Not only was it deliciously sweet, but it also stood up well to being cooked. To try this week are rutabagas, which I plan to mash, similar to last winter’s since perfected mashed turnips. What veggies do you use during the cold months?

Bonne année !


Bonne année à tous et à toutes !

It’s hard to believe I last artsdevivre’d almost two months ago. Eep. Things happen. Like life. Since I made that lovely coq au vin, we’ve been busy in our little corner of the world … D re-did our kitchen while I was in Michigan visiting my niece, nephew, brother and sister-in law for Thaksgiving.

La nouvelle cuisine

It was so sweet and thoughtful of him to take on such an aggressive project, and actually finish it (well!) in only five days. It’s so fun having the open cabinets I’ve been admiring for months on Pinterest. And the chalkboard paint is a super-fun bonus, too! 

I took on a few projects of my own (not nearly as expansive as re-doing the kitchen). I gave our front door a makeover, transforming from typical grey ~

Grey door

 ~ opting for a cheerful green ~

Green paint

I felt pretty nervous at how bright it was, but was ecstatic with the result ~

Green door

I love the contrast of the green door and black shutters. It was even more festive with this simple DYI wreath I hot glue-gunned together ~

Wreath

It was a bit perkier the first week in December than it is now (pesky gravity), but I’ll supplement it with additional ornaments next year.

We of course did the usual holiday rigamorale, spending time with friends and family (in person and on face time), sending and receiving holidays cards and well-wishes. 

Cards

I’m pretty militant about online privacy, which is why this one is blurred out. You get the idea though 🙂

I tried out new recipes ~

Christmas roast

~ learning how to improve ones like this simple roast via my personal favorite, the Barefoot Contessa (you really should cut a roast this thick in half to optimize a medium-rare temperature). I was fine with the end pieces, but the middle was really too rare for my family’s liking. I shockingly succeeding at intricate ones like an authentic French Bearnaise sauce. The key is to continue stirring for quite some time. (I think Maman and I together put in about 35 minutes.)

We celebrated NYE Charm City style, and were so ecstatic to happen on a small-time ball drop in Hampden, ‘hun. So fun and festive, I couldn’t believe we haven’t been attending annually.

I’d lost my motivation for artsdevivre the past couple months. I’m an habitual comparer of myself to others and was feeling frustrated with my utter lack of knowledge of photography and graphic design. I can’t give the time to this blog that I’d like, what with my job that actually pays me. But I started to really miss this whole process, from brainstorming, to documenting, to writing and publishing. So me re-voilà les amis. I don’t promise perfectly taken photographs (I’ll still be sticking with my trusty iphone, instagram and diptic for now), or super funky layouts but I do promise (most importantly to  myself) to continue documenting all the little daydreams and real-life experiences that add up to create the artsdevivre in our lives. 

Recipe highlights


Salut, les amis ! I hope you all enjoyed a beautiful fall weekend. I was so excited to get back to the farmer’s market and witness the amazing squash, pumpkins, gourds, pears and other fall-time treats. Secretly, I prefer the fall market to the summer. But I’m a veggie-a-holic so that makes sense. Here are some recipe highlights from last week, the first one headlining spaghetti squash, the perfect fall treat.

D claimed it was the first time he’s ever enjoyed this veggie I love to pretend is pasta. Maybe he was just being nice. But I have to admit, it was rather tasty. Mine was inspired by this recipe, but I think you really don’t need to follow any specific set of directions, measurements, etc. Do what looks natural to you and use the spices you prefer. Here’s a rough plan of what you should do:

1. Painstakingly halve the spaghetti squash. Be careful! Even with our amazing Shun knife, it was a task. 

2. Bake the squash skin side up, “meat” side down at 350 degrees for about an hour. 

3. Fork out the spaghetti squash and alternate layers, starting with squash, ending with cheese, of cheese (I did a mix of cheddar and parm – it was what we had), sliced tomatoes, squash and spices in a greased 8 x 11 baking dish. I did dried parsley and onion powder because that’s what the original recipe author called for. I substituted garlic powder with chopped garlic and basil from my herb garden for dried just because I always prefer fresh if I have it.

4. Bake the whole concoction for about a half an hour, uncovered, at 350 degrees. 

Next time around, I’m going to use a smaller baking pan (maybe my squash didn’t yield as much as hers) and go lighter on the cheese. I didn’t use all the cheese the recipe called for, and still felt there was a bit much (if it’s possible for there to be too much cheese, of course). 

The other yummy veggie recipe we tried last week was this absolutely delicious creamy avocado pasta that D made while I had parent-teacher conferences.

Normally, I can’t get him to crack a cookbook, but with my Pinterest craze we are trying lots of new recipes. It’s hard to believe this is vegan with the intensely rich creaminess the avocado sauce bestows upon the dish. (And I don’t mean that as a knock against vegans AT ALL, I’m just so addicted to cheese that I can’t imagine my diet without it.) D’s version was inspired by this recipe, but if you don’t feel like clicking through, follow these simple steps:

1. First pulse  3 large cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil in the food processor. Then add two ripe avocados, 1/2 cup of packed basil leaves and salt to taste and re-pulse.

2. Then cook the pasta to your liking, drain and toss with the sauce. 

Délicieux ! My only caution on this one is to eat any leftovers ASAP since avocados spoil quickly once cut.

Using fresh produce


I’ve been trying hard to do two things recently:

-take advantage of the end of fresh produce before the weather cools down for real.

I mean look at those gorgeous fall mushrooms! Can’t wait to make creamy mushroom pasta with fresh parsley and grated parmesan this week.

-make minimum one Pinterest recipe per week. Last week I went with this delicious avocado salad dressing. 

Avocado, cilantro, and dill - yummy salad dressing with 3 avocados, 1 bunch of cilantro, 1/2 cup of dill, 1/2 cup Olive oil, 1/2 cup coconut milk, and the juice of 1 squeezed lemon. Add 1/8t salt, garlic pwdr, and onion pwdr. Blend on high in the blender. Store in a mason jar in the fridge

{via}

I’ll give you the specifics below and tell you how I changed it up a bit, but know that when the main ingredients are avocado, fresh dill and fresh cilantro, it’s hard to go wrong! Here’s what my prep looked like:

See how simple?! One bunch diced cilantro and half a cup diced dill, juice of one lemon, pinches of salt, garlic and onion powders, a half a cup each of olive oil and coconut milk and three avocados. Throw it all into a blender and pulse till it’s liquid-y. 

The substance of the avocados dressing the fresh spinach and feta crumbles made for a completely satisfying (and healthy!) lunch. D was not as crazy about my goddess dressing as I was earlier this summer, so I’m thinking we can alternate between these two until the produce leaves us for the winter. 

Also, I’m not a salt-a-holic, but I really thought it could use more than the pinch it called for. And if you like a kick like we do, try adding in some cayenne pepper! 

Mother’s day feast


What did you all do with your mothers this weekend, les amis ? D and I invited my maman up to Baltimore for the weekend. We basically spent the weekend eating – Baltimore favorites like crabs and Berger cookies courtesy of D’s parents – and a big brunch chez nous today. I tried out a new cake recipe I found on Pinterest and did some quiches, too. Despite a messy start after our visit to the Farmer’s Market this morning ~

We were able to pull everything together for some really yummy (and pretty!) results ~

I wish I could take credit for this fabulous salmon spread with flowers on top, but we splurged at the market this morning. I actually thought it was goat cheese but was pleasantly surprised upon tasting at the salty goodness. I hypothesize it would be relatively simple to duplicate by mincing smoked salmon and mixing with cream cheese and some fresh herbs. I’m not sure I could impress the flower quite as perfectly as the vendor did, though.

I now feel comfortable with whipping up crustless quiches on my own! Here’s a quick and easy go-to recipe:

-5 to 6 eggs beaten, depending on amount of guests

-1 cup of milk, beaten in to eggs

-1/2 cup of heavy cream, beaten into eggs

-Whatever fillings you desire. Today I went with :

~Lorraine (bacon, gruyère cheese and chives)

~Asparagus, gruyère cheese and caramelized onions

~Smoked salmon, gruyère cheese and asparagus

All you need to remember is to grease the quiche pan a bit, spread ingredients on bottom of pan and then pour egg/milk/cream mixture on top. The fillings will float up to the top. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degree Farenheit. (Until the egg is pulling away from the sides a bit and a bit brown on top.)

The lemonade cake recipe from Cooking Light  turned out fabulously. I sliced lemons to decorate the sides and plucked a bit of phlox from my garden for the top. You could increase the lemony-ness of the cake by upping the amount of lemonade concentrate added to the cake batter. The cream cheese frosting was frothy and yummy. Combined with a couple of mimosas or bloody maries, D’s London Broil on ciabatta bread and some fresh salad greens, we deemed the meal another success!

It only took about two hours of prep and cooking, not bad when including a homemade cake and cream cheese frosting. What good recipes have you tried and loved recently?