Friday, February 25, 2011

Taking a moment

I've been quiet the past couple of weeks because we have been so crazy at home, and then this week because we've been on vacation.  Here.  Staying Here.  We have been going 90 miles an hour, even on vacation, until this morning.  It is -13 outside and we are tired.  And since we are on vacation no one can make us do anything but sit around and drink coffee and just enjoy the view.  Well, I'm sure the kids will be after me for pancakes in a little while but right now they are snuggled together in bed watching cartoons.  (Yet another vacation treat--we don't have televisions in our bedrooms at home.)

So here are at least ten things I'm grateful for this week:

1.  My wonderful traveling companions.  We have so much fun together when we go places.  It always makes me want to go more.  My guys are flexible and adventurous.  Who could ask for more?
2.  The special terror of watching my children race down a mountain, so far ahead of me that they are just specks at the bottom.
3.  Ski school, which allows my sweet husband and me to have date "days" while on vacation, instead of date nights.  The kids love it, too, because their instructors take them all over the mountain on the blacks that I hate!
4.  24 degrees with seven inches of fresh powder, no wind, and blue blue skies.  We had one day like this and count ourselves lucky.  It was the kind of day you might get once in every two or three trips.  Truly special.
5.  The owners of this beautiful home we rented for the week.  They have been gracious and welcoming from thousands of miles away.  This lovely house really has felt like a friend's home we borrowed for the week--very comfortable and relaxing.
6.  The majestic scenery at Big Sky.  We have been several places out west skiing, and I've seen mountains all over the world.  This is truly, truly amazing.  One peak, Lone Mountain, rules over the base area, and the entire bowl is ski-able (by crazies, not me).  We are eager to see it in the summer!
7.  Long tables in the cafeteria area, which allowed us to enjoy lunch one day with some "lifties."  It was fun to get a little inside scoop on the life of the young people who make this place run.
8.  Long rides up the ski lifts, which are a great time to chat with my husband or kids.
9.  No lift lines!  Even on that perfect President's Day, we only waited three or four minutes on the busiest lifts. 
10.  The opportunity to be lifted out of our (now really crazy) busy day-to-day life and enjoy time together.

What a great week.  I'll post some more pictures, hopefully, but right now I can't find that cable that connects the camera to the computer!  (That one up there is from Bill's phone.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I think I've had this before...

Back for another French Fridays with Dorie post, finally!  Last week's recipe was the delicious Almond-Orange Tart.  If you could see my calendar right now you'd understand why we didn't get around to it.

This week was easier, and my post will be quick.  We are headed to Montana in about eight hours.  A whole week of great big sky.  Frankly, I'm not feeling like the short ribs are going to get done for next week, either, but I'm scanning the recipe so I can take it with me.  Anyway...

This week was Green Beans with Pancetta.  Or, as my children called them, Green Beans with Bacon.  I think I've had this before, Dorie!  My grandmother always always always put some pork in to cook with her green beans.  There were only two differences between hers and this week's recipe:  first, either we had undercooked beans this week or she completely overcooked hers; and second, she just put her pork (fatback or bacon) on top of the beans while they cooked all day, while we sauteed crispy bits of pancetta.  Oh, and a splash of olive oil.  But the flavor combo of pork and green beans is unmistakable and universally yummy.

Just a couple of pics: 

The pancetta crisping in the pan, and...

the green beans joining them.  The verdict was thumbs up all around.  I really like this quick change to green beans, and we'll definitely add this to our repertoire.  Even if it's just lowly 'Murrcan bacon and not (pinky finger extended) pancetta.

Finally, my sweet friend Mary is a much more faithful blogger than I.  Every Wednesday she's posting a recipe for a great family dinner, usually something simple, quick, and well-loved by the kiddos.  Check her out! 


A bientot and bon voyage to us.  I'll hopefully get to post more next week since we'll be away from the day-to-day craziness.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheers! It's Friday!

Whew.  Last week was a killer and I couldn't get to the dish, Chicken P'Stilla.  Plus it was Moroccan and I wasn't really wound up about it. 

But I'm back to "French Fridays with Dorie" with Basque Potato Tortilla this week.  This French egg dish made me think of a frittata, a pretty common light dinner around our house.  We usually eat our frittata with whatever's in the veggie bin, plus a little leftover pasta if it's available, plus some cheese and fresh herbs.

This recipe originates from an area in France near Spain and the Mediterranean.  It's no real surprise, then, that it bears such a close resemblance to Italian food.  Also, the word "Tortilla" in Spain doesn't refer to what we think of in Mexican food, but rather to the same type of egg dish as a frittata.  Anyway.  On to the cooking.

This tortilla is filled with potatoes and onions.  I just used plain old Idaho russets.  Here are the veggies chopped and ready to be browned in a skillet on the stove:
I promise there are onions in there, too.
Then the eggs are added and browned over a stove for a few minutes.  That is my grandmother's cast iron skillet.  I kind of doubt she ever made a tortilla in it, but it has seen more than its share of sausage, catfish and okra.  It is also one of the few items I'd grab if I had to leave my house in a hurry.

Finally the tortilla is run in the broiler to brown the top.  It emerges puffy and beautiful.  Then I of course deflate it a little when I take it out of the pan:

Judging from other people's posts in this little challenge I need to upgrade my serving pieces.  Noted.

The verdict:  Yum!  But it was very familiar, too.  I served it with salad and a little baked ham, so it kind of seemed like the hashbrowns/eggs/ham breakfast Dorie mentioned.  But it was also just like my frittatas only with potatoes instead of veggies.  Everyone like it.  I think I probably won't make this again straight out of the book, but I'll probably add potatoes as a filling option the next time I make frittata.  And I can also now call it tortilla, evidently.

Anyway, I also felt like I had betrayed the spirit of the challenge last week by not making the chicken p'stilla.  So I also made that on Sunday:

J loved it.  Bill and I also like it very much, and the other kids ate it willingly.  My biggest problem is that I'm just not so big on thighs (chicken ones, I mean).  I'll probably make this sweet/spicy dish again, but with white meat or a mix rather than all dark meat.

And then...there are the nuts.  Lord have mercy, reason enough to buy the book.  I went to a little meeting this past week and needed to bring a munchie, so I thought I'd bring Dorie's "Sweet and Spicy Cocktail Nuts."  These nuts were in the challenge before I joined, and they had gotten great reviews.  They are so wonderful I wanted to give them star billing!  (And I did, right at the top of this post.)

I used all pecans, from my uncle's farm and shelled by my sweet kids.  This recipe is worthy of them.  If you and I attend a function where food is required, I'll bring these.  Sweet, smoky and HOT all at once.  Absolutely habit forming.

So, I don't even know what dish is next, but I cooked a lot this week!  It has occurred to me lately that I like getting to know a cookbook with  distinctive point of view that one author gives.  Dorie has a very particular point of view, and while I don't always agree with her I like knowing where she stands.  Can't wait to see where we go next!

A good thought for this grey day

I came across this and think it is good to put in my pocket for today:
I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.  (Helen Keller)
From What They Said, a gift from my sweet husband a couple of years ago.

And here is P as Helen Keller, along with her grandparents, at the school wax museum last year:

Have a great day!  More coming...I actually cooked my "French Fridays with Dorie" dish this week!