It’s odd, if you take a second to think about it, how much stock we put in the New Year. It’s just another month really, something that happens 11 other times every year, countless times in the course of a lifetime. But somehow this is special.
Maybe it’s because it comes just after the holidays when most of us have overdone and when there are so many new things. Maybe like all our other obsessions with time it’s about making the best of what we’re given or putting off the inevitable end. It’s odd that we have chosen this one time of year to be intentional, but I think it’s not a bad tradition, all in all.
We had a wonderful holiday. We got to spend some serious quality time with both of our families and with many friends whom we had not seen in quite a while. There is a lot to be thankful for, and we had many opportunities to look back on a fantastic 2011.
- Moving to a new home and making some tough decisions that will make a big difference in our futures.
- Grabbing hold of opportunities to find mini-vacations, which took us to Chattanooga, Madison, Wisc., Myrtle Beach, and Chapel Hill, reconnected us with far away friends and brought us closer together.
- Participating in a professional project that took me outside my comfort zone and gave me a real taste of what could be.
- Writing a book. No really–I was a “winner” of National Novel Writing Month 2011, and writing 50,000 words in 30 days was an enlightening experience.
No blog post can really capture the meaning of a year or of a life. But if there’s one thing I did learn from NaNoWriMo, it’s that putting things in writing makes them real. That, and putting your goals out there in public is the only hope for accountability.
So here it is, some road signs, if you will, for making 2012 another excellent year. Continue reading
I <3 Saturday baking. (Taken with instagram
This quick and colorful dish became a regular appearance on the dinner table this summer. It’s full of healthy veggies and makes great use of those fresh CSA items that I didn’t always have a plan for.
Summer Spaghetti Primavera
- 5 oz. uncooked spaghetti
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 large handfuls green beans, rinsed and trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-in. pieces
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2-3 large summer squash, cut into 1/2 in. dice — I used a combo of yellow crookneck, zucchini and pattypan
- 2 Tbsp. pesto
- Parmesan cheese
Cook spaghetti according to package directions and drain. (I’m a huge fan of this energy-saving technique.) Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add green beans and garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Add squash and continue to sauté, stirring occasionally, until squash has softened and is slightly golden. Toss spaghetti, vegetables and pesto together. Divide between two plates and top with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan.
My husband is a great sport when it comes to what I do in the kitchen. He is willing to try anything I cook and he’s patient when I got on about improving something he finds already quite delicious. And he’s not a picky eater. Really there are only three things I cannot get him to eat: beets, eggplant, and okra.
Beets taste just a little bit too much like dirt for his preference (I even baked them into delicious cupcakes, with no success.) And eggplants and okra are slimy. And when okra isn’t slimy, it’s fuzzy. I get it, I do. But I also keep receiving these three vegetables in our CSA box in rather unavoidable quantities, which means I’m always having to come up with some way to cook or preserve them so that I can enjoy them all by myself before they go bad.
I’ve baked and pickled. (I’m quite excited to see how the pickled eggplant turns out!) And unfortunately I have composted as well. But today I wanted to try a little something different. Enter okra fries.
So we just got back from vacation this week, and as my mother says, the first day back from vacation is always the hardest day of the year.
Because we had been out of town, I hadn’t been to the grocery store in a while, and I wasn’t about to go on that first day back. So dinner was going to have to come out of whatever odds and ends we had in the pantry. Enter the Big Ass Pancake.
The original recipe just refers to it as Big Pancake (also often known as the Dutch Baby), but I prefer the added word, partly in homage to hilarious local blogger and artist Robin, who paints this great, and aptly named, piece here. I have recently become quite enamored with my cast iron skillet—so it’s role in this recipe was the first selling point. The second was that I had almost everything it called for. I say almost because I had to make “milk” out of fat free half & half and some water.
Nevertheless, the Big Ass Pancake turned out delicious in a big ass way. I halved the recipe to make just one pan, and my husband and I split it, topped it with some homemade applesauce, powdered sugar and a few drops of lemon juice. The resulting dish was somewhat like a cross between pancakes and french toast—and my husband said it reminded him of croissants. But it was good; and I will make it again. Probably this weekend.
P.S.: If you’re curious about cooking with cast iron but worried about the maintenance, check out this article for a super-easy way to keep up the best pan you’ll ever own.
Amazing chalk-drawn typography. Full story and more photos at Web Urbanist