semperfiona: (alicia)
Fiona's Law of Out-of-Season Tomatoes: The smaller they are, the tastier they will be.

*noms grape tomatoes by the handful*
semperfiona: (Default)
Tammie and I have been talking for ages about doing bento-style lunches. Last week, we bought some fun things to play with--and bento boxes to put them in--and last night we made our first bento. (Tammie finished them up this morning, so the final configuration and contents was a little bit of a surprise.)

  • Lettuce, tomato, cucumber salad with carrot shreds (and flower-shaped cucumber slices!)
  • Blueberries
  • Sushi rolls: 1) Cucumber, carrot, wild mushroom 2) Smoked salmon, asparagus, cream cheese
  • Edamame
  • Ferrero Rocher
  • Gingered carrots & asparagus
  • Rice molds with flaxseed
semperfiona: (egg)
For my birthday, my lovely loves got us tickets to a stage production of Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman's TV miniseries/novel (now also available in a graphic novel adaptation). In Chicago!

Saturday was the day of the show, and we made a weekend of it.

Friday just after noon we left STL, foster kitty in tow, for Chicago. Kitty was not too thrilled to be travelling, but she calmed down about halfway there. We planned to meet my parents at 7 at a restaurant that Tammie used to frequent when she lived in Chicago, The Lucky Platter in Evanston. Mom & Dad came down from Wisconsin and spent their day at the Shedd Aquarium and then drove to the restaurant. I got a call at 6 to say they were there...

"Yikes, that's early! We did say seven...and it looks like we may be late, traffic is being very ugly."

"We brought books, we'll just sit here and wait."

Traffic on I-55 northbound was horrific from south of Joliet all the way in. Our directions would have had us going north on Lake Shore Drive, but we bailed at I-294 after it took almost an hour to travel 20 miles. We finally arrived at Evanston about 7:10.

Meanwhile Mom had visited the Lucky Platter and felt that it was not passable for Dad's wheelchair. (They actually do have a ramp, it turns out, it's just you have to ring for someone to bring it out.) They suggested a different restaurant around the corner, the Firehouse Grill. Dinner was delicious prime rib for everybody except Chris (and the cat, who had to suffice herself with kibble in the van).

After dinner, the cat transfer was made, and Mom and Dad headed home. C&T and I went to our hotel, the Holiday Inn in Skokie. Our passage to the lobby was briefly impeded by an Indian wedding party. In fact we saw Indian wedding parties no less than five times over the two-and-a-half days; in one case a musical number broke out in the parking lot (saluting the bride and groom into their limo or something like that, maybe?) I don't know whether these were all different weddings or the same one, but the saris were lovely.

Saturday morning we went back to the Lucky Platter for breakfast. Delicious! Amusing kitsch and found-art decor (sculptures made of tin cans, chandeliers made of colanders, aluminum foil balls making a pattern on the ceiling...). The most surprising thing was the Gingered Fruit side dish: strawberries, green and red grapes, and pineapple all in ginger syrup with chopped red onions and fresh cilantro. It was amazingly good.


Then Tammie and I walked (and Chris drove) to the Close Knit yarn shop location from the Windy City Knitting Guild website. Along the way, we saw this sculpture in a park. Beyond it, a couple were taking pictures of small animals: guinea pigs! The piggies escaped a couple of times and had to be chased. By the way guinea pigs can lollop surprisingly fast, in case you were wondering.


Close Knit's space was deserted; I called their phone number and got a recording with a new address and directions (back to the main street we'd walked up and two blocks further north). On looking around a bit we did also find a small sign in the shop window next door with the new address. Waited for Chris to catch up and then walked the remaining few blocks to the new location. Found a ball of the Kidsilk Night color Macbeth (deep purple) that I had wanted but couldn't get when I was making the Eerie, so even though it was only one ball I bought it. And some other stuff of course.

After that we went back to the hotel to get ready for the show. Our plan had been to wear corsets and jeans, but it didn't entirely work out. Tammie decided to wear her steampunk vest and gaiters, while I wore her corset instead of mine. Chris wore his tux.

Arrived at the theater's parking lot just in time for the last shuttle (it was about 1/2 mile away) and got to our seats just as the show was about to start.

Neverwhere, the stage production
IT ROCKED. EVERY GAIMAN FAN SHOULD GO. There, that's a review for you. To use a few more words, Lifeline Theater in the Rogers Park neighborhood does an excellent adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere to the stage, as adapted by one of their very own. The minimal set works very well to evoke London Below within the small space, with sewer pipes, ladders and ducts that are climbed into and out of as the characters move about their world. Characters also enter and exit through the middle of the audience space. The dialog comes straight from the book in most cases, and all your favorite characters make an appearance, from RichardRichardMayhewDick and Door, natch, to the Rat Speakers.

We were the only ones who dressed up in quasi-costume for the show, though one man did pay tribute to Gaiman by wearing a Dream t-shirt.

This chair is in the theater lobby. Notice the shadow under Chris's feet!

Please be kind to the big chair: only two people and no food or drink

Saturday night
After the show, we had dinner with our friends-of-no-LJ Chris and Rob, whose wedding we attended last summer. We had planned to eat at the hotel's own Indian restaurant, but it turned out the restaurant was being remodeled so we decided to go to an Indian district and find something there. Parking was a nightmare, so I finally said a prayer to the Asphalt Fairy--and just as we were about to give up, a space appeared. The first restaurant we tried was very busy so we decided to try a different one. Dinner was tasty and the company as always was wonderful.

Then we all went back to the hotel to hang out and talk over Woodchuck and Red Stripe until midnight-thirty, when they regretfully had to leave for their hour's drive home.

Sunday morning we ate at Sander's Pancake House next door to the hotel (very tasty but not as memorable as the Lucky Platter) and then after checkout we went to Fuzzy Wuzzy yarn shop in Arlington Heights where we were able to catch up with [ profile] transplantmom and her family for a hug and a brief chat before they had to go home and we went to the mothership (IKEA for the uninitiated). IKEA was its usual self--we spent not too much money--and then we finally headed home about 3:30.

Cat report
Dad and kitty are settling in together. He reports that she is very affectionate, as I had told him--she loves to be brushed--and she is also very very talkative. They're not sure yet what she's talking about, or to whom (perhaps herself). He is probably going to call her Furbie-short-for-Furball. As god is my witness, I suggested four good names, as well as telling them we were getting the feeling she's a Maggie, but you can lead a horse to water, y'know? He says it has to be something they'll actually call her, and Furball certainly qualifies. I feel that's a nickname, and a cat should have a proper name, but...not my cat.

Sushi fail

Dec. 23rd, 2009 03:06 pm
semperfiona: (Default)
Last week Amanda and I made plans to go out for sushi today. We decided to go to Asian Cafe, a newish place that she likes. Shortly after we got there three people came in: mom, dad and crying toddler. Amanda commented that it was just our luck that there be a baby. They joined a big table; ten or twelve people were already seated. (The baby, incidentally, ceased crying right away and was never a problem. She did come visit me for a minute and try to take my cutlery but I took it away from her and her mama came and got her.)

We read the lunch menu, asked some questions ("What's in a South Beach roll?" The waiter didn't know, because it's not listed on the full menu either.) and ordered the lunch special 2 for 1 sushi rolls.

Then we waited. A long time. Just about when we started to wonder where our food was, the waiter came back to say "we're out of rice." *boggle* He explained that the big table had ordered "a lot" and sushi rice takes a long time to make (which is true enough). we ordered from the Vietnamese/Chinese side of the menu. Both of us wanted hot & sour soup.

More waiting. Another reappearance by the waiter. "We're out of hot & sour soup. Do you want egg drop?" No, we really didn't. "Would you like miso?" Yes, actually, we would.

The eventual food was tasty, but wow, that was a two-hour lunch that normally should have taken less than one, and still NO SUSHI!
semperfiona: (candles)
Thank you all for the lovely birthday greetings today!

It's been a fabulous day. My family took me to dinner at Brazie's, one of my favorite restaurants of EVER, but where we hadn't been for years.

Wow. I've just lost my whole train of thought. Chris is playing that link that's been going around: Susan Boyle singing on the British talent show...My eyes are streaming.

Okay, recovering from the staggering beauty of that performance.

Dinner was lovely. Tammie and I had almost settled on a dish to share, and then the waiter told us the specials. He said Our Word: scallops. And they were luscious: cooked just to doneness and not a second longer.

I got some fancy new toys for my camera: a new telephoto lens and a set of UV and polarizing filters (one to fit each of the lenses we have). And a cute dress for Rosa, along with some silly fun toys, and a matching denim jacket.

Some fun cards
semperfiona: (candles)

Three fabulous women among our framily have birthdays in March: [ profile] tempesttea, [ profile] reannon, and [ profile] lavendargrrl. To celebrate, Tammie put together the Triple Birthday Pie and Cider Crawl. First stop was to be PieTown Stompin Grounds in Alton IL, as seen on Feasting on Asphalt. Sadly, we had just reached my favorite bridge when we got a call from [ profile] sungazing. "Um, we're standing outside the PieTown and it's closed. People inside doing renovation."

So we went directly to the second stop, Cane Bottom My Just Desserts, a mile or so down the road. This in itself was already a modification from the original plan, as we had intended to visit the Elsah location but it had closed. However, Cane Bottom, or My Just Desserts, or whatever you call it, turned out to be a lovely little place in the first floor of what appeared to be a converted old house. They were a little taken aback to be descended upon by a group of fourteen people, but were quite friendly and accommodating all the same.

The menu is a chalkboard. The left side lists all the currently-available pies, and the righthand side lists sandwiches and soups and such. Our waitress warned us that we should order our pie at the same time as our food, as they erase items from the board willy-nilly.

The day's special soup was "Springtime Asparagus", and as big asparagus fans Tammie and I had to have that. Choosing a pie was a bit more difficult, involving much negotiation. We ended up ordering the "Mrs. Ledbetter": a baked chocolate pie with coconut and pecans, akin in some ways to a German Chocolate cake and in others to a pecan pie.

The soup was a delightful surprise: it was not creamy in any way, but instead had asparagus and rice in a light broth. And the pie was also wonderful: thick chocolate filling laced with coconut and pecan topping. My only quibble might be with the crust: a touch on the hard side and not as flaky as I might like.

Many items disappeared from the board while we ate and even while we ordered, but toward the end a new item jumped on: Radically Cherry. So [ profile] tempesttea, [ profile] lavendargrrl and I shared a piece of that as well. It had the most delicate lattice top I've ever seen on a pie, and the filling was lusciously tart.

Next we went sightseeing. At Jamie's suggestion, we visited the Robert Wadlow statue and took lots of pictures there.

Then we drove up the Great River Road to Pere Marquette State Park, stopping here and there for more pictures; none of mine are worth sharing. I did get a few decent shots at the park, though. The Mississippi is a couple feet above flood stage right now.

After hanging out at the park and its lodge for a couple hours, we headed back down the river to the Rotten Apple for dinner and the aforementioned cider. Between the eight of us who remained (various people having left earlier in the day), we tried several of the available ciders. The universal favorites were Woodchuck Dark and Dry and Wyder's Raspberry Cider.

Food was quite the tasty. I ordered us an appetizer of Pig Wings (barbecued pork shanks) and they were very quickly made to disappear. Hush puppies were almost as big a hit, though Tammie complained that hers was underdone; everyone else seemed to have no such issue. Tammie and I ordered the crab cake appetizer as a meal, and she supplemented hers with Cream Cheese Grits with Tasso Gravy (none for me, thanks, I am not a grits fan) and I supplemented mine with a cup of the thickest gumbo I may have ever seen. Chicken and andouille, this one, with nary a sea critter to be found, but it was quite zingy and tasty and I ate every speck.

We all agree that the Rotten Apple should be added to the go-again restaurant list, though it may not be a common destination given the distance.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)

I made this for our Christmas Day Open House. It's caramel with chopped bacon and almonds, flavored with maple syrup.

I have some ideas for improving it: maybe pecans instead of almonds, maybe no nuts at all. Maybe leave the bacon whole on the bottom of the pan, so that each piece of candy has a big burst of bacony goodness. Maybe use thinner crispier bacon to mitigate the can't-chew-it issues.

But it was a success nonetheless.
semperfiona: (bright flowers)
At this very moment, on a chilly afternoon in the second week of December, I am eating lovely ripe homegrown tomatoes from our summer garden. In fact, (viz. the first line of that song) yesterday I had one for dinner with bacon and lettuce.

Those who live around here will remember that we had a killing frost back at the beginning of November. Ain't it amazing. We picked all the remaining green tomatoes, of which there were many, and stuck them in a colander. They have been gradually ripening ever since, and I have been greedily eating them!
semperfiona: (Default)
So I'm caught up with LJ, twitter, email and slacktivist, which makes this the part where I'm supposed to put down the computer and get ready for work. I have assorted garage items I need to find and take with me, too. But a twelve-hour day lies ahead of me and I haven't even had any coffee yet, and I don' wanna! I'll post, instead.

The reason I have to collect the assorted items from my garage is that tomorrow $COMPANY is sponsoring a carnival day for charity. My team, as you might guess if you remember that our aisle is a putting green, is running a chip shot contest.

The reason I have a twelve-hour day ahead is that I volunteered for the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team), and the training is after work on Mondays. Must wear comfortable clothes, it's hands-on training. Today is first aid.


Yesterday my ex-husband was awarded his master's degree. He invited me to the ceremony, and I went. Commencements are boring as hell, honestly, but I had been supportive of his endeavor where his family often were not, and it seemed like the right thing to do. But UMSL is crazy, scheduling commencement exercises for Mother's Day!

At least we had waffles with strawberries and cream at home first. Nom nom nom.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
[ profile] ohari will be delighted to hear this. I have it on good authority1: Cheese is a vegetable.

In other cheese news, yesterday's dinner was planned to be Indian-from-the-pantry (i.e., using some of the various Indian sauces we had). [ profile] lavendargrrl stopped by Taste of India to ask if they'd sell her some paneer (Taste of India has the best Paneer Pakora in town, possibly the best EVAR). The hostess made a gesture with her hands about six inches apart, and asked "How many cakes?"

Tammie said, "Two," thinking that they'd be about a pound each. The hostess returned with two blocks of cheese each the size of my thigh. Tammie quailed and said, "One! Just one!"

About a pound of it went into the rogan josh sauce with some peas (Rogan Josh Mattar Paneer, heh). Yum. My.

The rest is now in the freezer. We plan to attempt pakora some time in the near future.

1 aka, overheard at the office.


Dec. 21st, 2007 12:34 am
semperfiona: (holly snow)
I call them ChrisMice. A family Christmas tradition of [ profile] lavendargrrl's, they induce squees even from grown men. Process... )
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
[ profile] beckyzoole asked, and I had meant to post anyway, where did we get the Vampire Squash?

Last weekend, Tammie and I went down to Roger & Hunter's for a couple nights to attend TammyG's baby shower. On the Sunday, we all went to a Garden Festival at Bakersville Pioneer Village run by and located at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. There were vendors selling everything: yummilicious handmade bread and cinnamon rolls, garden plants, herbs, quilts and more. And heirloom squash. We bought three different kinds: Vif d'Etampes ("vampire"), Casper, and Jarrahdale. I shot some pictures of them before and during the cutting-up.

I also bought two strawberry plants and two raspberry canes. The strawberries got repotted last night; they're going to live indoors. The vendor swears they'll produce all year indoors--and if they don't, well it was only a coupla bucks. The raspberries will go outside to join the blackberries that were so prolific this summer.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
  • Rouge Vif d'Etampes
    • Very easy to cut. Thin rind
    • Yellow orange flesh
  • Jarrahdale
    • Tough rind
    • Dark orange flesh
  • "Casper" White pumpkin
    • Medium rind
    • Pale yellow flesh
  • Pie pumpkin, from Schnucks
    • Very tough thick rind
    • Medium orange flesh
    • Very easy to remove from rind once steamed; rind remained hard and intact

Tried every knife in the house. Pie pumpkin was a bitch to cut, and Jarrahdale only slightly easier. Vif d'Etampes was a breeze, sliced with a boning knife. If it tastes as good as it looks, it's definitely the easiest to work with.

More to follow as we cook things with them.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
It's 8:30pm, and [ profile] lavendargrrl has just been stricken by a sudden and overpowering craving for pie.

We live in St. Louis, where since the demise of Tippin's there are no longer any Pie Restaurant chains. There's never been Baker's Square here (nor Poppin Fresh, its prior incarnation).

Searching google and the various restaurant search websites returned only a couple of possibilities, none of them open past 3 pm. Finally, after calling [ profile] ona_tangent and [ profile] beckyzoole for suggestions and failing there too, we thought of Denny's. None of us care for it, but we thought that for pie it might be passable.

But then we had another idea. Bob Evans serves pie, they even have carryout whole pies! And off we went to our nearest Bob Evans, where we found pie that didn't suck at all. Not a lot of choices, but the ones we had were quite tasty.

If we win tonight's Powerball, we'll enter into negotiations to open a pie restaurant franchise. St. Louis has Dire Lack of Pie, especially late night pie. This must be remedied.
semperfiona: (work motto)
I was visited by the donut fairy this morning. There was a bakery bag on my desk chair containing one (1) chocolate cake donut. Yay!


Nov. 13th, 2006 01:01 pm
semperfiona: (Default)
Today has not been my day for coffee. Tammie made me a cup of coffee at home this morning and put it on top of my car for me to take into the car with me when I got in. She told me she'd done it. Not sixty seconds later, I got into my car, closed the door, and started to drive away. Ten seconds after that, I remembered the coffee and came to a stop. Coffee cup fell over, and coffee showered my windshield and driver's side window.

Tammie was just getting ready to pull out of her own parking place; she saw that I had had a catastrophe and stopped. She gave me half of her own coffee to replace that which was now decorating the outside of the Dykemobile, and we each drove away.

The replacement coffee tried to kill me. I swallowed wrong, and then I hacked and choked for nearly a minute, eyes watering frantically and lungs gasping.

I now have a newly made cup of Irish Crème coffee. I can only hope this one will treat me better.
semperfiona: (demon baby)
The true purpose of powdered-sugar donuts is to remind the most suave
and sophisticated among us that even they can be made to look silly by a
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
I've been meaning to post this recipe for weeks now, ever since the first time we made it. The recipe comes from Frozen Desserts, a book I bought when I first got my ice cream maker.

Trust me. It's delightful.

Strawberry Ice Cream Flavored with Balsamic Vinegar
(Gelato di Fragole all'Aceto Balsamico)

1 lb fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp heavy cream

Wash and hull the strawberries. Dry them thoroughly. Put them into a food processor or blender with the sugar. Start the machine and add the balsamic vinegar through the lid or funnel. Blend into a smooth puree. Pour out into a bowl and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. The sugar and vinegar will bring out the flavor of the fruit.

Combine the strawberry puree and cream and freeze in the ice cream maker.
semperfiona: (pumpkin pie)
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned getting Chicken 65 at the Tandoori Hut. Last night, we went there and ordered it again. What we got this time was breaded, deep-fried chicken chunks in an orange-colored creamy sauce devoid of onions, completely different from the deep magenta, creamfree, unbreaded, onion-redolent entrée of two weeks ago. Upon mentioning that to the owner, he said he had hired a new chef with fifteen years experience who makes it a different way. But since we had asked the question, and expressed an appreciation for the previous version, he said he'd go make us one of his. Both are tasty, in very different ways; the owner-version turned out to be too spicy for Tammie though (you'll recall that last time she got the Medium dish and I got the Mild), so I have it as leftunders today.


semperfiona: (Default)

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