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Chicken Barley and Vegetable Soup

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I wasn’t going to do another chicken soup post, diagnosis but after requests for this recipe and some thought, diagnosis I realized that this is different then the last chicken soup I wrote about.  While I was writing, for sale I wondered how many versions of chicken soup must be out there?  I have at least 3 to 4 myself.   I will post more as they get remade or made for the first time.  Until then, here is another addition to the cannon of probably the most American soup out there.  I give you, my other chicken soup, which I will officially call; Chicken, barley and vegetable soup.

Chicken, Barley and Vegetable Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lg onion or 3 small
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 2-3 bay leafs (1 or 2 if big)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • Couple sprigs of Savory
  • 1 Tablespoon of garlic chives chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Chop onion, separate into thirds or if you have three small onions keep separated
  2. Peel and chop carrots
  3. Chop celery and zucchini.
  4. Open corn and drain liquid
  5. Sautée ⅓ or one of the small onions in olive oil, salt and pepper
  6. Salt and pepper both breasts in same pan as onions, on medium high heat place breasts skin side down
  7. Cook for a couple minutes, or until you get a good sear.
  8. Flip breasts over cover and cook on low till done.
  9. Check every once in a while to make sure they don't burn
  10. Meanwhile cook barley according to directions, minus 5-10 minutes - it will fully cook later when you add it to the rest of the soup.
  11. Once chicken is done set on a plate to cool
  12. You should have some good drippings left in the pan.
  13. Add another third of onions and a handful of carrots and celery and sautée
  14. When onion is translucent add this to your stock pot, along with broth and veggies
  15. When chicken has cooled off tear from bones (using the skin is up to you, I love it).
  16. Add chicken and barley to soup.
  17. Add savory and garlic chives to soup
  18. Bring to boil then lower to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes or until veggies are how you like and barley is done.

 

How Leftovers Become Stars.

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I love taking leftovers and reworking them into something else.  Fried chicken into chicken salad, symptoms roasted veggies into soup, order tortilla chips and salsa into chilaquiles con huevos and the list goes on.   I learned this from my father who would take the previous nights dinner and make it part of breakfast.  It was completely common to have spaghetti and eggs or enchiladas and eggs in the morning.  I have taken that one step further and turn leftovers not only into breakfast but lunch or dinner.  I know a lot of people do this especially if your a parent or a chef.  I find it to be a fun challenge and really get into it.  You may recall a posting where everything was round.  All leftovers.  If I’ve made you brunch or you’ve come over to a bbq, cure there is a good chance some part of it was a leftover.  My latest is was very simple.  Curried corn that had previously been grilled con on the cob.  I just cut the corn off the cob added curry powder, lime juice, red onion, a seeded jalapeno, salt, pepper and some melted butter.  Simple, easy and a crowd pleaser.

On the road to Fiji

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We start our second leg having one last brunch with Margaret and Andrew.   After saying our final goodbyes, this we rented a Jucy car and headed towards Central Otago, visit web wine country.   We were off and running, doctor but first a pit stop at the Black Swan Cafe for a flat white.  Heading west on state highway 8, it wasn’t long before we found a lovely park in Lawrence where we had a quick snack and a stretch.  Then it was off to the famous Jimmy’s Pies in Roxburgh.  Some people might say the best pies in New Zealand.  I agree, maybe even in the world.  Hey, I even bought the T-shirt!!!  After filling ourselves with pies we headed to wine country, Cromwell.  We missed the wine tasting but, we did manage to pick a couple local wines (and see large fruit) that found there way back to NYC.  Our final destination for the night was Lake Wanaka.  We stayed at the Altamont Lodge.  It’s little out of the way of town but nice and great for the peace and quiet.  They don’t have a lot of rooms, another plus.  We were running late and missed most places that were open for dinner but we did manage to find the only good pizza in NZ(from what I am told).  The Cow Restaurant.  It was the only place left open(barely).  It is also a little out of the way(off the main road), so do yourself a favor and look for it.  They were kind enough to let us order a pie to go and have a beer while we waited.  Next time we will make it earlier so we can have a proper sit down meal.   The next day we took a small walk around the lake and headed over to Lake Hawea.  This was the beauty spot, perfect for lunch and a bottle of rose.  Even though we really liked Lake Wanaka we might just stay here next time.  Super peaceful and beyond quiet, a real getaway.  The couple hours we were there we only saw four other people.

As we drove down the beautiful Haast Pass highway to our next destination we came across  the Blue Pools.  Insanely blue and gorgeous.   So of course we had to dive in!  But we weren’t the only ones.  We were joined but a couple German tourists.  One of them even took to diving off the side of the mountain!  Another must stop, but be prepared and wear bug spray or you will get eaten alive.  Also if you do go for a dip it is cold and reapply that bug spray when done.   Swimming always makes you hungry so we made a quick stop at Haast for some……………….fish and chips!!!!! Jason tried to get me to eat white bait but I wasn’t biting! We did stop under the  Haast River Bridge to eat and have a Macs beer.    In keeping with our rushed schedule we are so fond of.  We made a few very quick stops before reaching our next sleeping destination, Franz Josef Glacier.  A quick stop at Knight Point, and the Tasman Sea.  We made it to Franz Joseph just in the nick of check in time at the TOP 10 Holiday Park.  This was probably the smallest room we stayed in but all we were going to do is sleep.   We also manage to get in a few beers in town at Speights Landing Bar.  Very touristy, but it is open late, has a huge outdoor patio with a fireplace and the drink prices are good.  The next day was Franz Joseph Glacier!!!  Walking through a rain forest it is hard to imagine you will be next to a glacier.  But, guess what? It’s true!!!  We did make a quick stop at the waterfalls and as you can see we had to jump in.  Although the water was cold(and refreshing) it was no where near as cold as what was coming from the glacier itself.  Talk about ice water!!!

After our fun with Franz, we started towards our next resting spot.    Along the way we pulled off onto Forks Okarito Road to check out the Tasman Sea one last time and found a Kiwi!!!  Not really but we did see the sign!!!  And a really small village of Okarito with a backpackers lodge.  If you really want somewhere to stay that is away from it all, this little village is it.    A little further up the highway we pulled over for some flat whites and beer in Whataroa and found this charming court house.  Next was a stop in Hokitika for what else,  fish and chips!!! We wished we could have stayed here longer it’s a nice little town and a great beach.  Although we kept our stops to just a couple, we managed to get to our final destination, wait for it………just in time for check in!!!.  Arthur’s Chalet  was one of the best places we stayed at. We got in just in time to have a beer at the bar and then take to our room and drink a couple we bought in Whataroa.  It’s an old-school lodge/chalet, which I love.  Complete with fire place, lots of wood beams, a bar and squeaky floors.  Plus they serve breakfast for free!!!  Only place in Arthurs Pass.   Also a good thing to remember is they actually close from 11-2 in the afternoon.  The owner has great advice on what to do if you aren’t sure or like us just passing through.   First stop of the day was the Devils Punchbowl Waterfall,  truly amazing.  Just when you think you’ve seen enough waterfalls you come across probably the most spectacular one yet.  The pictures really don’t do it justice.  By now we were hungry and needed to get on our way.  We made a quick pit stop at Arthur’s Pass Store and Cafe for a flat white and a chicken, brie with cranberries pie, yum!.  As we left Arthurs Pass our hostess told us of one other place for us to visit, Cave Stream.  It is exactly what it says.  It is a stream(albeit a very strong one, almost a small river) that runs through a cave.  Well, the water carved out a cave would be more accurate.   And, you can walk from one end to the other!!!  Luckily there were two nice guys who had a little glossed look about them but had just finished the walk and let us know what we were in for.  So with our swim trunks/toggs(New Zealand speak) head lamp, shoes and our hoodies we headed out to take on Cave Stream.  Boy were we glad we were warned!  At one point, probably half way through we looked at each other and thought our we lost? did we take a wrong turn? how much longer do we have? We aren’t in Disneyland anymore.   It definitely was an adventure.  Time went out the window and you wonder why you were there.  But, as we kept pushing forward we enjoyed the magnificence of where we were.  We finally reached the end at about an hour and some change.  Delighted to be out in the world again, we realized why those to nice guys had that glazed look on their faces.  We felt like they did, not sure what just happened and almost like an alien landing on earth.  I know this sounds like it wasn’t much fun but,  I would have done it again in a heart beat!  Next time with two head lamps and a water proof camera that had night vision, if it’s possible.  It truly is something you will probably never experience anywhere else and is a must, if you have the chance.

Our final destination before we head off to Fiji is Christchurch.  We arrived at the YMCA and first thing we did was laundry!!  After four days on the road, it was needed.   With clean clothes and freshly showered we headed out for dinner.  We ended up at Pegasus Arms which is a pub with live bands.  So what do you think we ordered? What else?  Fish and chips!  After a few beers and food we tried to find our friend Robins house but had no luck.  We did find Cruz bar.  Unfortunately no one else did.  After a few drinks we decided walk around for a little bit before finding something else and when we did, it was too late, so we went back to the Y and call it a night.  Not the best night we’ve had, but we did find the Pallet Pavilion which is this amazing art/music space and see some of the damage that the 2011 earthquake did.   The next morning we went to see more of the wreckage and it was heartbreaking.  Picture the downtown of the city you live in, in ruins.  This once vibrant area was fenced off.  It is now known as the red zone.  Even though this tragedy has destroyed many historical buildings and homes, it has not destroyed the people of Christchurch.  They are bright eyed and optimistic about their future.  We saw that in the warm smiles and friendliness we encountered everywhere we went.  Also the rebuilding that’s going on, like the Pallet Pavilion and the Shipping Container Mall that’s part of the Re:Start project going in the city.  With a few souvenirs from the mall, we took our Jucy car to it’s new home.   The airport.  We were very lucky to be in Christchurch on that weekend as it was the 3rd year anniversary of the quake.  We got to witness something extraordinary.  At precisely 12:51pm we all stopped to take a moment of silence to remember.  Of all the wonderful amazing things we encountered, waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, boulders, this was truly something special.  You might think this would be a little bit of a downer but quite the opposite.  To see every one stop what they were doing and just be silent and remember, was one of the most beautiful experiences that we were lucky enough to be part of.

 

 

* There are so many tragedies and reasons to give to charities that it can be quite daunting. With hurricanes, tornado’s, I could go on for days.  But when a city 3 years later is still having earthquakes almost daily such as Christchurch, and to see it personally, you can’t help but want to, help.  I don’t ask for favors like this and I’m not asking for you to give anything except your thoughts and if you pray then your prayers.  The earthquakes right now are small but they could get worse or they could stop, no one knows and that’s scary.  Growing up in earthquake country you know what it’s like and it’s quite frightening.  My heart goes out to the these wonderful people and I hope they get some peace soon, if not today.  Like I said we are not asking for money but if the spirit moves you, here is where you can donate.  Thank you.

Earthquake donations http://www.ccc.govt.nz/homeliving/civildefence/chchearthquake/earthquakedonations.aspx

 

 

 

From NYC to the NZ

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We had a great adventure this winter visiting Jason’s family and homelands.  The weather, stomach food and landscape were everything you could imagine and more.  Made all the more amazing by Jason’s wonderful and loving family who took in this yank with open arms and hearts.  We started off in LA visiting my family and friends.  We only had a day but we all made the most of it.  Next we were off to Australia and the beautiful Gold Coast.  We stayed with Jason’s granddad, information pills who ran us ragged!!!  Broad Beach was amazing, sick with warm water, bluebirds, good food, a little rain here and there, but also some wonderful sunshine.  I had my first of many fish and chips at Johnny’s Fish and Chips, as well as my first flat white, a.k.a as coffee here.  The next day we walked down to Surfers Paradise Beach and ended up at Pete’s Fish Market where we bought some fresh prawns that we grilled for pasta.  After a few days of running around we spent our last day taking it easy, lounging in the pool and jacuzzi.  We weren’t barely dry before it was time to catch the plane to New Zealand.

Our first stop, Auckland.  We arrived at night so we missed seeing one of the newest additions to the family but we had a great late night catching up with Mike and Shona.  The next day was a trip to Piha Beach with it’s beautiful black sand beaches and Lion Rock laying there with the grace and beauty of well, a lion.  The water was cold, but that didn’t seem to stop any one from having a good time, so of course we joined in.   Unfortunately little Cindy wasn’t up for a swim.  For lunch, we had  fish and chips.  It was day one and I was already in love with this beautiful land.  The next day was brunch at Mike and Shona’s favorite spot Circus, Circus.  It did not disappoint.  I had eggs benny and Jason had a more traditional breakfast with poached eggs, beans, grilled tomato, sausages, hash browns and toast.  Both were amazing.  And to wash it all down with?  What else, a flat white.  That afternoon we caught up with our dear friend Gemma at Point Chevalier Beach for Auckland’s Big Gay Out.  We also had the pleasure of meeting her mum and had  a wonderful snack of ceviche in coconut milk,  bbq’d lamb with grilled eggplant and lovely white wine.  Though we never did get to see the famous wine cellar.  For our last supper we had, what else,  grilled lamb and lots of wine!  Although our last day was a short one, we did managed to squeeze in the Sky Tower and some lovely cosmos.  Not a bad sendoff.  Thank you Mike, Shona and Cindy!!!

Next was the South Island adventure with a great big welcome from more of the Tagg clan who greeted us with hugs, kisses and welcome home’s at the Dunedin airport.  We were then promptly whisked away to lunch at Margaret’s house.   After being on a small cramped plane it is exactly what we needed.  The garden was exquisite, you could sit in it for hours.  We then spent the next few days lounging around Jason’s father John’s and his girlfriend Hee Ji’s house/jacuzzi and running around seeing Dunedin.   Our first stop was Otago University where Jason’s dad works and were Jason along with his brothers went to university.   We made a quick stop at Danish Delights Bakery for snacks and lunch supplies to take to Sandfly Bay where we met a very lazy but loveable sea lion.  That night we drove to Careys Bay Hotel and Seafood  in Port Chalmers for an amazing dinner.  As if that wasn’t enough, we spent the next day seeing old haunts, driving back to Port Chalmers to spend some time at Jason’s favorite beach Purakaunui Bay where we had a quick dip in Canoe Beach. But not before we took a ride on the the tree swing. We then headed up to Fleurs Place in Moeraki for more amazing sea food.  Jason had the Bacon wrapped Blue Cod, and I drooled.   It’s and hour or so outside of Dunedin but it is a must go. We even got to meet Fleur herself!!  Such an amazing women.  Plus as an added bonus you  can stop and see the  Moeraki Boulders.  Truly an amazing natural wonder.

Just when we thought we might get a bit of rest we sped off with Margaret, who took us to the Catlin’s.   We made a quick stop at Dollyworld and Teapotland(I’m sure you can see why).  Upon arrival we stopped at Curios Bay Fossilized Forest  where we almost go blown away.  Then the Waipapa Lighthouse.  Stunning view, especially knowing that your at the most southern part of the world that is closest to the South Pole besides Stewart Island.  We scrambled and made it to the Chaslands Area Cathedral Caves just in time.  If we had arrived any later we would have been in high tide!!   Although I almost did get swept away by the tide taking a picture of Jason and his mum.   That night we stayed at The Whistling Frog Cafe and Bar.  Our chalet was perfect, and so was our dinner.  The next day as we headed out we stopped at what would turn out to be one of many waterfalls, McLean Falls.  It was a beautiful walk to a beautiful waterfall, so green and lush.  A great way to start our day.  We managed to get in a few more quick stops like the Estuary Boardwalk and  The Lost Gypsy Gallery on our way back to Dunedin.    When we arrived back in town made a quick stopped at Signal Hill that has the most amazing view of the city and habor below it.  As well as marveling at Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world.

After our short whirl wind tour of the Catlins, we said a momentary goodbye to Margaret and a hello to the McTaggley’s.   Also known as Andrew, Kathryn, Elizabeth and Laura.   Upon our arrival on that night, Kathryn made a delightful Pavlova and dispensed some sage advice.  Ask anyone who has made or attempted to make a Pavlova and you get a knowing smile or the knowing horrified face.  It seems everyone has one or both of these kinds of stories up their sleeve.  Jason and Kathryn were no exception to this rule. They were quickly swapping battle stories of Pav’s lost and won.  We spent the next couple days  molding clay, reading books and playing the ukulele, while managing to get in some sites.  Like the tranquil Chinese Garden, which is the only truly authentic Chinese Scholar’s Garden in the Southern Hemisphere.  I say tranquil, but the girls kept us moving right along.  They also took us for a swim at the Moana pools.  Our last night was adult’s only.  We hit the town and showed it no mercy!!! And our throbbing heads showed us no mercy the next day.  But we had a blast.  The Octagon will never be the same.

We finish our lovely stay back where it started, at Margaret’s, with a wonderful lamb dinner and a fond/sad farewell to the McTaggley’s.  The next morning we are sent off with a wonderful care package of lamb sandwiches, fruit, tea, coffee and fruit cake with more farewells from Margaret and Andrew.  With the sun on our backs, we headed out alone to the great beyond of Central Otago, then up the west coast and back over to Christchurch for our final night and departure.

Good for What Ails You

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What Ails You Chicken Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken
  • 1 bouquets garnis
  • 3-4 quarts of water (enough to submerge a chicken)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 ribs of celery
  • 3 carrots
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diagnosis peeled and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Take out bag of innards from chicken
  2. Rinse the chicken and take any extra feathers off
  3. Place in pot with water
  4. Add salt, information pills pepper, garlic and bouquets garnis
  5. Bring to boil, then lower heat to medium
  6. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes
  7. Meanwhile peel and cut carrots into ¼" slices, set aside
  8. Chop celery and onion, set aside
  9. When chicken is done remove and let stand and cool
  10. While chicken is cooling off put veggies in the broth
  11. Bring to boil then simmer for 10-15 minutes
  12. When chicken is ready to handle, peel the skin, chop it up and set aside
  13. Strip chicken of all meat, tear into desired size pieces, set aside.
  14. Add chicken and skin when veggies are done.
  15. Bring soup back to a slow simmer and serve.
Notes
You can add rice, noodles, or barley, just make sure you cook these before adding them. I like to cook them just under the desired time so they finish in the soup. Bouquets Garnis is Oregano, Thyme and Savory wrapped up in Bay Leaves tied with kitchen string. I use this in all my stocks and soups. It is a great time saver and adds the perfect amount of flavor. You can make these yourself or get them at http://www.oliviersandco.com/ or at one of their stores.

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Chicken broth and chicken soup are said to be good for what ails you.  So with the Flu being particularly bad this year, and Jason being struck down by it, I decided to make chicken soup.  Years ago I got a tip from a mother from Catalan Spain.  She said to boil a chicken with one or two cloves of garlic.   Strip the chicken of it’s meat and put back in the pot.  Then serve.  She also pointed out that the skin must be in there also.  It supposedly has healing properties.   Being one who does not argue with mothers, especially when they come from my ancestral homeland,  I nodded my head and said yes ma’am.  Of course I asked if I should add anything else?  Salt and pepper, nothing else was her short but firm answer.  Keep it simple, it’s what the body needs.  Well, if you know me, then you know I can’t help but tinker with a recipe.   I have added a few things, like bouquets garnis, onions, celery, carrots  etc.  I’ve also been known to throw in some ginger, barley, rice, cilantro and even alphabet noodles.   Now I understand the reasoning for keeping it simple, it makes sense, and I have made it that way and it is very good.  What I find when I am asked to make chicken soup  is that everyone has something special they like in it.  This last time was the alphabet noodles.  Whether you like it simple or complex, there is one thing that does seem to cure or at least make being sick bearable, that’s homemade chicken soup.  I feel the most important healing thing about making this soup isn’t just fresh ingredients, but the care that comes with it.  Maybe that’s what the healing properties are.

Tomato Soup in Winter

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It may be winter but I thought it was time for a little summer.  So here is my recipe for a roasted tomato soup that will make you warm with the summer sun!

 

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Roasted Tomato Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • 3-3½ lbs of Roma Tomato's
  • 4 cloves of Garlic chopped
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • a pinch of Thyme
  • 1 quart of Chicken Stock
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Cut tomato's lengthwise
  3. Core tomato's wit spoon saving inside for later
  4. Place on cookie sheet skin side down
  5. Sprinkle garlic in all tomato cups
  6. Salt and pepper tomato's
  7. Drizzle olive oil on tomato's
  8. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until caramelized
  9. Remove from oven and place in pot with chicken stock
  10. Bring to boil and reduce heat, cheap simmer for 15 minutes.
  11. When done blend or use immersion blender to puree
  12. Put back in pot on low heat and serve.
Notes
If you want you can remove the skins after roasting, just wait till they have cooled before you handle them. If you want a creamy soup just add heavy cream when you have put it back on the stove on the low heat. If you want a little thicker soup, cut down the amount of chicken stock by about ¼ cup.

D.C. or Bust

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Jason and I take regular trips to Washington D.C. to see what’s at the Smithsonian and the other museums.   It’s a quick easy getaway from NYC.  We started the weekend as usual.  Both of us scrambling to get to the bus, tadalafil and making it with some time to spare.  When we arrive we either hit our favorite Chinese restaurant or head to the  hostel and call it a night.  This trip we called it a night so we could get a fresh start in the morning.  We always have some agenda when we get there but also leave things open.  This was to be a multi-media art trip. We started with an ipad in the lobby of the hostel and made funny pictures of ourselves, generic then it was to see the newly expanded Julia Child’s exhibit(a must see) that now includes Food: Transforming America’s Table, 1950-2000.  Although it was small they really packed in a lot of information.  We saw the Lichtenstein retrospective, where we accidentally took illegal pictures of his work.  The  Nam June Paik had  great pieces like  TV Buddah and the Electronic Superhighway.  Black Box continued our media weekend with the amazing film Democracia that revolves around a group of traceurs in revolutionary-styled garb performing parkour in the Almudena Cemetery in Madrid. The Ai WeiWei, so prolific and just awe inspiring, broke your heart while keeping you grounded.   The Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution was the most fun.  We were kicked out of the America’s Presidents as it was closing time so we will have to see again.   Barbara Kruger: Belief + Doubt.  I was never much of a fan but this exhibit changed that.  She is one of those artists that must be seen in a large setting to understand what she is saying. It was brilliant.  Shock of the News, was this great exhibit where artists like Picasso, Jasper Johns, Laurie Anderson,  Man Ray, Sarah Charlesworth, among many others, transformed printed news into art by  co-opting, mimicking, defusing, memorializing, and rewriting newspapers.  I love going through and seeing the Neoclassical Decorative Arts of the Late 1700s in the classical wing of the National Gallery.  Where we snapped a picture of that yellow chase lounge and  got a rare viewing of Michelangelo’s David-Apollo.  The Price of Freedom: Americans at War was not my favorite but, the Rosy the riveter and what women could and could not wear(United Victory Colors) was interesting and fun.  If you look closely at the  pictures you can see  the bottle of liquid stockings.  I would argue that this is the first version of a tan in a bottle. Plus the button is hilarious. The Cuban Missile Crisis was fascinating, thankfully JFK was president or we would be screwed.  Changing America: the Emancipation Proclamation 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963, The price of Freedom:Americans at War. One word, Humbling.

We also ate at our favorite places.  The Garden Cafe Americana, always amazing.  It’s probably the best buffet you’ll ever have. Though it’s not part of the Smithsonian itself, it is in the National Gallery of Art .  It closes early like 3pm and can get very crowded so plan ahead and make sure you get a seat.  We didn’t make it this time but love the Bistro d’ OC, a great french bistro.  Sit in the front room or at the front bar or for a more quiet spot go upstairs into the back bar area.  On the recommendation of a friend we tried Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.  Not technically a steakhouse, in my opinion, but don’t let that stop you.  Our waitress was amazing, it had an easy atmosphere and our Hanger Steak was cooked to perfection.  We will be back.  A more relaxed meal can be found on the Mall itself.  Hot dogs, french fries and beer will do the trick. I mentioned Chinese earlier and no trip would be complete without visiting Full Kee.  The Beef and Cilantro soup is my favorite.  I love reading the specials on the wall, knowing I will probably never eat them.  We have been known to bookend our trip with this late night gem. This time it was on our way out.  It may  not be  the fanciest but the food is always as good as we remembered.

Goodbye City Life! At Least For The Weekend Anyway

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We began our adventure in a car we rented for the weekend, buy information pills driving 14 hours each way. I’m talking about our recent adventure to Tennessee, symptoms where we hoped to soak up nature and live as one with the land.  As much as one can get staying in a cabin.     Of course we were roughing it, so to speak. The shower was outdoors, the stove was of the a camping variety, our water came from large jugs, the bathroom was an out house, the light was kerosene lamps and it was heated by a wood burning stove.  What else do you want from a cabin in the woods?  As it turned out, nothing.  It was perfect, peaceful and quiet.  Mother Nature graced us with wonderful warm weather.  It may have been November but it could easily had been late September.  We walked the land, marveled at streams that when it rains become dangerous rivers, chopped wood, went to bed early and rose with the sunrise, saw old friends and made some new ones, all while preparing and eating some amazing food.  We even drove into town to the local Piggly Wiggly to get supplies.

There’s something amazing about the mountains in Tennessee.  I grew up in a few different environments, one of them was the mountains in California and to this day, I don’t get the same feeling of peace as I do when I’m here.   It’s a place that you want to sit back take it slow do some chores and cook till you have filled your pantry with goodies and your belly with food.  Lucky for us we arrived just in time for a late lunch and a stroll around the property.  Our guide led us around and showed us some old homestead from early settlers and gave us a history lesson on who would have lived there before and what they would have farmed.  To me seeing history is always more fascinating then reading it.  When we were done getting the tour we took in the incredible sunset on top of the tool shed, and then it was back to the cabin to burn some wood and get cracking on dinner.   Grilled corn with sausages and a warm salad with a honey vinegar dressing.

The next day we were left to our own devices.  With our guide driving back to his home in Colorado we started the morning with breakfast  and a leisurely stroll.  We visited friends who lived nearby, catching up on their latest projects, chopped wood and  traveled into town for more supplies.  That night we slow cooked some beans on the wood stove, drank whiskey, listened to the radio and played cards.  Not bad for a Saturday night!!

Our last day we started it off with left over beans and eggs steamed over grilled onions and of course bacon.  After our hearty breakfast we took one last stroll said our goodbyes to the neighbors and headed back to NYC and our city lives.

Japanese Market

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Another Turkey day has come and gone and we are sad to see it go. Unfortunately we  arrived at our destination late so we didn’t get any pictures of what was made.  There was the usual suspects, more about Turkey, cost green beans stuffing cranberries but  with a few new items.  I made Jason’s famous smoked sweet potato/potato mash, there was a refreshing fennel salad, more sweet potatoes with paprika, and Anna’s butternut squash with parmesan cheese, thyme and fresh parsley.  Luckily for us Jason did take pictures and made a fabulous pumpkin pie that disappeared faster than giblet gravy!  Or was it a pumpkin pie?  I told everyone I would let them know what was it it but not til after.  So without further ado the secret ingredients in the the pies were Butternut Squash and Brandy.  No pumpkins were harmed in the making of this pie.  We got the recipe from The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/video/2012/11/14/dining/100000001903215/pumpkin-pie.html  We thought, hmmmm interesting lets do it! The results speak for themselves.  Two pies gone in no time.  We also had an actual pumpkin pie and it was also delicious.  But I think from now on it’s Butternut Squash Pie that will be made in The Lab.

So for my birthday we did a couple things, view one of them was go to our favorite Japanese market the Mitsuwa Marketplace in New Jersey.  The prices are amazing and the selection is always interesting and different.   We usually end up with half the store and very full bellies.  This time we actually ate before we shopped, viagra
but not before taking a quick spin around.   We had a great meal of Spicy Melty Pork Ramen and Pork Don.  Then went in for the kill.  We started in the produce department grabbed some Kyo Ninjin carrots from the local Suzuki farm, along with some daikon radish, and Chinese cucumbers we pickled using a Miso Pickling Mix.   We also grabbed a jar of Teriyaki mushrooms,  a package of dried mushrooms for soup,  some saki, wasabi peas,  instant miso soup and instant curry for those long busy days at work  when you have little time for lunch.  We always pick up something we have no idea of what it is,  this time it was a package of unusual veggies in water.   To me they are screaming soup!!!  We actually showed great restraint this time.  With only two bags of goodies we walked away happy and not over burdened with what we purchased.  All in all it was a good Birthday outing.

Comfort Food

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As the week ends, information pills we start focusing on Thanksgiving, seek   the ultimate in comfort food.   While Mexican is my main food of choice, I would have to say I have a favorite from almost every region , from Ethiopian stews, Italian pastas, Japanese, Thai, Greek, German, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, Polish, New Zealand meat pies, Indian, anything curried and of course French, mmmm butter, mmmm cheese. But for most of us, what we grew up with is what truly makes a meal or dish comforting. This time of year though, it’s Thanksgiving.  Turkey, gravy, mashed potato’s, stuffing, cranberries,  green bean casserole and pie.  I’m getting full and sleepy already!!!  We always add new dishes and keep old favorites but it always ends up with friends and family enjoying a day and a meal together.  To me, that is the ultimate in comfort food.  Food for the soul.  I usually make two or three dishes to take with me and as usual I wait till the weekend before to decide what I am bringing.  Hopefully you have your game plan and can stick to it.  If not, don’t worry, in the immortal words of Hudson & Halls have another glass of wine and it will all work out.  Well, that may not be exactly what they said but I like to remember it that way.  In any case, I will be doing a bit of both.  So as you go into the wonderful day of tradition and new experiences remember to take comfort in all that is around you and eat all you can!

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