Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ham and root vedge

2 January 2009

Did I mention the ham. But we still have this amazing, pure, clean, white goose grease. So we roasted a mess o' root vedge in it: onions, and nips, both tur- and pars-. High, high smoking temperature, so everything crisped to a turn.

And with that, dear friends, the blog goes on hiatus. Barbara is off to Canada, Holt is left behind in Cincinnati, and "What Holt Had for Dinner without Barbara" and "What Barbara Had for Dinner without Holt" are not to be contemplated.
Whenever we do get together for dinner over the next few months, we'll report to you, our eager readers.

New Year's Day, 2009

A bit of champagne and an experimental Oregon truffle. A tad disappointing in fact. Bought it from Madison's in Findlay Market, who kept it cool on the refrigerated shelf, packed in a little tub of rice. Now whether we stored it improperly in the fridge, or Oregon truffles are a just a lesser breed, the result was not at all like an Italian truffle. The fungus among us was rather spongy—scarcely to be shaven. The disappointing texture led to thoughts of using it a risotto, which lead to the following SHOCKING DISCOVERY. We had at one point something like four kilos of arboro rice—vacuum-packed in 500 gr. blocks. It had all disappeared. Now the mice (mouse) that have moved in for winter seem adventuresome (overly) but sneaking off with four kilos of rice, grain by grain, seems grandiose. We have no idea where all that rice went.
We fell back on plain ol' spaghetti, coated with olive oil and the truffle, which proved in the end not to be very pungent or flavorful.
Our verdict for Oregon: pinots, yes; truffles, no. Rain, no; Wagner, so totally no.

Dinner at Allison and Joe's

Wednesday, New Year's Eve 2008

[Brief linguistic diversion. The order of the names of couples that we know, we have figured out after much data gathering and testing of theories, is determined by a set of ordered rules. See if the same is true of you. At first, we were afraid that our naming patterns revealed an unconscious sexism—the horror, the shame for good little pinko-liberal-feminists like us!—since the man's name tended to lead: Jon and Lois, John and Peggy, Brian and Catherine.

However, further research in the lab revealed anomalies in the pattern: Allison and Joe, Mary and Fred, Cathy and Russel. And then there were Brian and Bob, Vaden and Ginger.

The rules on reflection turn out to be fairly simple—metrical/euphonious rather than sexist. In a pair of names the shortest comes first. The boys' names seem to lead because they tend to be shorter, blunter, less mellifluous than girls' (at least in English). This is a standard way of building an English period with gradually lengthening clauses ("Our lives [1 beat], our fortunes [2 beats], and our sacred honor [4 beats]"). However, the rule is preceded by another. If we knew the couple originally as a couple, then the rule of length applies. If not, the person we knew first comes first. So, we knew Allison (as a graduate student) before we knew Joe (her husband). We met Mary before Fred, Brian before Bob, and Brian before Catherine. Notice how the last example masks its origins: it seems to be a) male first, or b) shorter first, but is in fact c) first met first. Such is science: facts, patterns, anomalies in patterns, hypothesis, test of hypothesis, exceptions that prove the rule. Right up there with General Relativity and the Double Helix. Where was I? Oh, yes . . . ]

Dinner with (dactylic) Allison and (monosyllabic) Joe. Allison is not only dactylic but gravid.* We brought prosecco to celebrate, not in a mocking spirit, though it did mean more booze for us! They started us off with tasty stuffed mushrooms, then a tomato and goat cheese pasta, and amazingly a fresh salad, raised under grow-lights. It occurred to us halfway through our wintry chlorophyll rush, that some people with a disregard for the law might be tempted to misuse such an invention for raising things other than lettuce. Could this, and not salad, possibly account for the popularity of grow lights in urban apartments?
Dessert was a family recipe for lemon-seed cake. Barbara is a sucker for anything with lemons, and the poppy seeds merely continued the drug-addled theme of the evening. Joe proved a knowledgeable and generous guide to the valleys and glens of Scotland. A splendid time was had by Holt and Joe (monosyllabic), Barbara (syncopated disyllabic) and Allison (trisyllabic, gravid, and sober).

*Pregnant, in the club, up the spout, in a family way, abreeding, expecting, knocked up, gonnahaffababy, great with child, and absolutely great with children.

Chicken and Creamed Leeks

Tuesday 30 December

The legs and thighs of the roasted chicken hotted up over slightly caramelized leeks with lotsa cream.

Monday 29 December

Dinner at Julie's.
Holt's dad has left. Holt's sister, husband, and the five niecelets and nephlets arrived for breakfast on a flying pass through. Just as well we're invited over to dinner at Julie's.
A nasty cold night calls for a nice friend and a soothing stew. We start with a herbed boursin and addictive shrimp. The classic cocktail sauce cannot be improved upon. Then a deep, rich, soulful stoo. And as a special treat, asparagus. Good idea that: tilting the planet, so we have seasons, and the opposite seasons in the southern hemisphere.
We praise in odes
The Antipodes!

Ham and Brussels Sprouts

Sunday 28 December

The vedge of winter. Pretty and pretty hardy. Went great with left over ham (we happened to have some). Cut the sprouts in half, browned cut side down in a little butter and oil, then steamed covered with a little broth and wine. A warm, slightly nutty accompaniment to the cold ham. Did I mention we have some ham?