Monday, January 26, 2009


For Christmas, my mom made comforters. Here is the one she made for me and Craig. It looks great in our bedroom, and she used a different way of securing the layers that wasn't the usual knotting, so it doesn't have any little tails. It's a great present and we're happy to have it, especially since the weather's been very cold here for the last few weeks.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Quinoa Salad with Portabellas and Leeks

Today for lunch I made a quinoa salad with portabella mushrooms, leeks, scallions, and garlic. I started with this recipe from Luisa Weiss, who writes a weekly food blog called The Wednesday Chef, a very enjoyable blog.
I decided to use red quinoa instead of the normal brown kind. The original recipe called for fennel instead of leeks, and shiitake mushrooms instead of portabellas, but I had to use what was available in the store I was shopping at. I also used balsamic vinegar instead of the rice wine vinegar the original recipe called for, and forgot to get fresh parsley and cilantro, and substituted bottled lime juice for the fresh lime juice and zest. Other than that, I followed the directions she provided in her blog post pretty closely. =)
It turned out pretty good, but not fantastic. I think that the fresh parsley, cilantro, and lime zest would probably add a lot, and the leeks were a little strong for my taste, even after a vigorous sauteing. I think I'll probably make it again, probably still with portabellas, but trying to find fennel and making sure I remember the fresh herbs. I will say that I am still looking forward to having it as leftovers for the next couple of days - the recipe made way more than Craig and I needed. But hey, leftovers are good.
It's also a very healthy meal. The quinoa is an excellent source of complete protein and dietary fiber, and the only fat is from the olive oil used to saute the ingredients that need sauteed.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Pipe Rigate with Canellini and Baby Portabellas

For the last several months I've been reading a blog called The Amateur Gourmet. Five years ago Adam Roberts either was in law school or had just graduated from law school, was not happy in life, and started a food blog. Since then he's had a show on Food Network, published a cookbook, and kept blogging. He did a list of his greatest hits, which included Cavatappi with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, a recipe he got from his favorite TV Chef, Lydia Bastianich. So, earlier this week I decided to try it.
I knew that I had garlic, red pepper flakes, and sun-dried tomatoes, and stopped at our local natural foods market after work, since it happens to be on the way home. I didn't print out the recipe or even check before we left, since things got a little rushed at the end of the day, but I wasn't too concerned.
We walked into the little store, and saw their baby portabella mushrooms. I often make a pesto pasta with artichoke hearts and portabellos and figured they'd work in this meal, too, so I had Craig get a bag of them.
I knew that we didn't have cavatappi pasta, so I wandered over to the pasta section. Neither did they. What they did have was a lot of pasta made with whole grain, quinoa, and various other health/specialty ingredients. I have a pretty opinionated sense of taste, and the "healthy" pastas just don't taste good to me. They did have one brand of durum semolina (normal) pasta, so I picked out the kind that seemed like the best option, which turned out to be pipe rigate.
I also needed beans. I couldn't remember the name of the beans from the recipe, but knew that they were white. I debated between canellini and great northern beans. I went with the canellini, which it turns out are white kidney beans, and was happy to see that I had picked the right one when I got home and checked the recipe.
We got home and I brought my laptop out to the kitchen and pulled up the recipe. I read it over and went to get the other ingredients. I pulled the jar of sun-dried tomatoes off the pantry shelf, and found that they were not, indeed, sun-dried tomatoes. The jar was actually sun-dried tomato pesto. I thought about going back to the store for about half a second, shrugged my shoulders, and put it on the counter with the rest of the ingredients.
I followed the first two steps, sauteing the sliced garlic and then adding the red pepper flakes. I looked at the sliced garlic, which was now brown and toasty, looked at the portabellas that still needed sauteed, and took the garlic out. (Later I crushed it and added it back in as the last step before putting the pasta with the sauce.)
I then sauteed the portabellas, and when they were done I added about half of the jar of the sun-dried tomato pesto, with enough of the pasta water to make it seem saucy, not in danger of burning and not soupy. When that seemed hot, I added the cannellini beans. After they warmed up, I tasted it and it seemed kind of bland, so I added the rest of the pesto, a little bit of balsamic vinegar, and some salt. That seemed better. I had to keep adding pasta water to keep the mixture the right consistency.
I had been cooking the pasta, and it was finished at about the right time, so I drained it and added it to the sauce, stirring it all together. Amusingly, the open ends of the pipa rigate were apparently the right size for the beans to fit into, and many of the beans proceeded to do just that. In fact, when Craig was eating the pasta, he mentioned that he thought I was going to put beans in the dish. He hadn't seen any, since only a few were left in the sauce, outside the pasta.
This dish actually grew on me as I had it for leftovers twice after the first evening. I think it's because of the beans. The first night they seemed out of place in the pasta, with a distracting flavor and chalky/grainy texture (I'm also particular about beans, tending to like smaller and smoother beans like edamame and black beans much more than the larger beans). Later, after they'd had time to absorb more flavor, and probably change texture a little because of the microwave reheating, they seemed better integrated into the dish.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ladies and gentlemen, we have a new president

My coworkers and I watched the inauguration. Here are a couple excerpts from Obama's Inauguration Speech that jumped out at me:
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

Rev. Joseph Lowerey's benediction was also quite inspirational to me - there don't seem to be any transcripts up yet, but here's a nice summary, with two of the highlights I was looking for.

The musical piece “Air and Simple Gifts” by John Williams, performed by Itzhak Perlman, violin, Yo Yo Ma, cello, Anthony McGill, clarinet and Gabriela Montero, piano was pretty incredible, too.

Friday, January 16, 2009


If I sit in my office, I can almost pretend that it isn't cold outside.  If only I did not have a weather bar in Firefox that kept reminding me that it is -15 outside. 

Also, I have to go outside soon...

(Yes, I realize this is the second weather post in a row.  Talk to Lindsy about it.)

Update:  It's now -18.  High for today is +7.  Yep, I had to put a + in front to clarify...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Winter weather in Goshen


So while we do get some lake effect snow, most of the worst misses us.  That's right--the dark green band is bending around Goshen.  We will probably catch some of it, but I was amazed at how well it was curling around us... 

And on top of the snow, it's supposed to get down to single digits tonight with highs in the teens for tomorrow.  Too bad the cold doesn't curl around too, leaving a nice toasty Goshen...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Coffee again

Well, I guess it is human to change...

I have switched from honey in my breakfast oatmeal to brown sugar. I even put milk on it this morning.

And I have gone from not drinking any coffee to looking forward to that cup every morning. This morning I didn't have time to make a cappuccino so I just drip brewed a normal cup of coffee using Starbucks' Breakfast Blend. It was okay, but not as good as the cappuccino.

The coffee change probably shouldn't be too much of a surprise. My main objection to coffee didn't have much to do with the taste. I remember my mom and other relatives drinking a lot of coffee when I was growing up. She would make a pot of coffee in the morning and have a cup or two. Then she would finish the pot after work, warming up a mug-full in the microwave.

That seemed too much to me so I decided to never start drinking coffee. I managed for 20 years or so. I don't remember when I started the non-coffee conviction, but it probably was early in my second decade or thereabouts. Before I even tasted coffee I was convinced I would not like it. Between that conviction and the acquired-taste of coffee, eschewing the bean juice was relatively easy.

Until Kathy bought that cappuccino maker...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Take On Me

Kathy reminded me of this awesome video.

If you haven't heard it, here's a link to the original song. I couldn't find the original video, but it's the same video with the original lyrics.


Washington DC Portrait Photographer Stephen Voss

If you have a few spare minutes, you really should check out these photos by Stephen Voss.  I was particularly impressed with the portraits, but the whole portfolio is pretty amazing.  Makes me want to get back into photography...