This weekend’s cooking featured Orange & Yoghurt Pancakes from the February 2011 issue of delicious. The recipe is a bit fiddly – lots of different bowls of things need to be prepared, and it stretch the resources in my (admitted under-equipped) kitchen. To simplify things, I decided to serve the pancakes only with Greek yoghurt and the berry compote – no messing around paring orange peel – but if I were to make this for brunch with guests (as I almost certainly will) I’d give my guests the choice of all the possible toppings. Because I’m still getting to know my kitchen, I burned quite a few pancakes before I’d worked out the right burner to be using, and the right setting for that particular burner, but once I’d worked it out, the pancakes were delicious, and smelled divine.
Like all lasagnes, it’s a bit fiddly to make (although the fresh lasagne sheets I used made it a lot less fiddly), and it uses the food processor twice (I hate cleaning the food processor). I think there wasn’t really enough filling for the lasagne – if I made it again, I’d double the amount of filling (or halve the “footprint” of the lasagne) – and I over-browned it a little, but I was generally happy with the end result – not spectacular, but still good, and a nice vegetarian option.
Last night I made a belated Mothers’ Day dinner, and David and Clare joined mum and me for dinner. Mum requested a stir-fry, so I made a Beef & Broccolini Noodle Stir-Fry. I thought it was OK, although nothing special (I think it would have been improved with a bit of chilli), but David and Clare both liked it enough to request the recipe. I think they liked that it was a relatively straight-forward recipe with left-overs that would reheat well for lunch the following day.
For dessert I made Lemon & Prosecco Cake from the most recent issue of delicious. I substituted cheap sparkling wine for the prosecco, and I thought the resulting cake was a little rubbery – perhaps I over-cooked it? Clare used the remaining cheap bubbly to make mimosas, which she served wearing appropriate glasses.
In In Defense of Food Michael Pollan has written an “Eater’s Manifesto” that is well-researched and a pleasure to read. His advice – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – is simple and easy to follow. It has changed the way I think about food choices, shopping, and consumption. It’s written with an American audience in mind, but I think that anyone eating a “western” diet can take away something useful from this book.
In completely unrelated news (well, not completely unrelated – they’re both manifestos), I discovered The Cult of Done Manifesto yesterday. Given that I just want to be Done with my PhD, this is a cause I can get behind. I’ll be posting The Cult of Done Manifesto in all sorts of places! Also, this poster of the manifesto is fantastic, especially if you’re a Rubik’s cube nerd (which I am not – but I can still appreciate it).
Somehow, we ended up with a lot of carrots in the house. I think it was Boston Organics‘ fault – lots of bags of baby carrots.
On Thursday night, we waged war on the carrots – making soup and cake. Of course, there was plenty of leftovers, so I took cake and soup to work yesterday, and I might have eaten a few slices of cake today, too. I expect to see (ha!) improvement in my night vision!
Today I bought a bike pump – in theory I can just use the compressed air at my local bike store, but it hasn’t been happening. I feel I should I add “biking places” to my list of things to do in Cambridge this summer.
Jesse was in Boston yesterday, and, after some inexcusable forgetting and oversleeping on my part, we headed to Flour bakery for brunch. I’m the first to admit that Flour doesn’t provide a particularly tradition brunch, but their food is just so good, and the place becomes more and more zoo-like as the day wears on. In any case, I had a delicious roast lamb sandwich and piece of berry bread pudding. Yum!
After we’d finished eating we both had the afternoon free so we walked along the silver line route to the Institute of Contemporary Art. After admiring the building’s architecture we headed inside (where I discovered that Harvard has recently purchased institution membership to the museum, so free entry for me), and checked out the Shepard Fairey exhibit.
I really enjoyed the Fairey exhibit. I’m afraid that I’m probably a little lowbrow. I like contemporary art best when it’s fun and humorous. I tend to struggle with it when it’s overly serious.
I had an interview for a job in New York on Wednesday, and most of the past week has been consumed with the interview and the related preparations. The interview occasioned the purchase of my first suit – not a particularly fun undertaking. There seems to be some kind of rule that suit pants should look terrible on women. After exhausting the suit options at Benetton and Ann Taylor, I was beginning to think I was going to have to buy a suit that had a skirt. Fortunately, Banana Republic came through – I really should have trusted my instincts and gone there first: the clothes fit, they carry a petite line (no pant shortening necessary), and their pants are acceptable. Better than that, they had a fantastic sale, and combined with a discount with my Gap card and a $10 coupon, I got the whole suit (jacket, pants, white shirt, and knee high stockings) for around $150. I’ve since learned it’s possible to buy a lightly used suit on eBay (and presumably craigslist) for even less, but I’m glad I tried suits on before I bought them. Besides, I was running out of time – it would have been difficult to buy the suit online and get it by Wednesday.
In any case, I now own a suit. It’s very conservative (black), but it fits, and it looks OK. I mean, I’d hire me. :-) As much as I complain about my stuffy high school, it did leave me comfortable wearing a suit.
I took the train down to New York on Wednesday morning (someone else was paying) and returned to Boston on the bus on Thursday evening (I was paying). The trip was mainly for work – an interview and a meeting with collaborators (both went well, I think) – but I managed to fit in a little fun as well.
The trip down on the train was very pleasant, as it almost always is. I put on my noise canceling headphones, listened to music, and then worked a little on polishing my job talk, before settling in to knit. I finished one sock and started another – so altogether a very productive train ride.
After the interview I hung out in a coffee shop until Oliva (a high school friend who now lives in New York with her husband, Jon) finished and work and came and met me. We returned to her apartment, got changed (my interview involved the purchase of my first suit), and headed out to a Mexican restaurant (noisy web page!) where we met Jon for dinner. Olivia’s apartment has a wonderful New York view that’s constantly changing as the sun moves across the sky, and lights in room in sky scrapers turn on and then off. I was lucky to be sleeping in the living room on the sofa bed, and with a spectacular view from bed – it was nice to fall asleep and wake up to New York.
This morning, we had a fantastically decadent brunch before I headed uptown to meet with collaborators. (I don’t know that you’d be able to find brunch on a week day anywhere other than New York). We walked from Olivia’s apartment, stopping to check out a couple of fantastic buildings (Olivia is a very good New York building guide) and at some nice stationary stores, finally making our way to Norma’s – not the cheapest brunch location in New York, but not completely over the top either (unless you order then $1000 caviar omelet). I’m of the opinion that when traveling you should just accept that money’s going to fall out of your pocket (within reason), starting the moment you step out of the house. I find I have a much better time if I take this approach, and don’t necessarily end up spending a whole lot more. We had delicious orange juice, good tea, and complimentary samples of the fruit smoothie. Olivia ordered the crispy belgian waffle which came with fruit (and chocolate sauce on the side, at her request!), and I had the chocolate French toast, which was unlike anything I’ve had before. Delicious, rich, and completely impossible to finish.
I took the Bolt bus to Boston. Definitely better than Greyhound or the Chinatown bus, but not quite as good as you’d hope either. The real reasons to take the Bolt are as follows: relatively cheap (<$20 one way); new buses; a guaranteed seat if you buy a ticket online ahead of time; some semblance of order in the boarding process; and power and a wireless internet connection on the bus. It’s pretty good, but I ended up in a seat with a broken overhead light (no reading, no knitting), and the internet connection was patchy, at best. At some point it stopped working altogether, and a rebooting of the system did nothing to alleviate the problem. I’m not sure if it was a bandwidth issue, but I wasn’t hoping for anything particularly fast – I really just wanted to be able to check my email, and perhaps work through some responses. The was possible to begin with, but it really only lasted the first 15 – 30 minutes (and it takes 4 1/2 hours to get from New York to Boston).