when i returned to work in october, there were a few new faces. new students that started working with us for the quarter, a soon to start new staff member, and a researcher from italy. in the first week or two i was back, a few of us went out to lunch with our italian researcher to talk about his research in water footprinting and our life cycle assessment work. the conversation quickly became a lesson for all of us in the differences between our cultures. while we were enchanted with the thought of living in italy - the food, the clothes, the wine, all of it - he was quick to remind us how expensive everything is there and how cheap it is here. while talking about food and food customs during the holidays, one thing stuck with me: his family and friends told him he had to try pumpkin pie while he was here. to them, pumpkin pie is the quintessential american food of the holiday season. and they're exactly right.
i had a great thanksgiving with my little turkey. we spent the long weekend with my parents, watching old james bond movies and entertaining the baby. or being entertained by the baby.
if you follow me on facebook, then you know i've started my holiday baking this week. here's my bucket list, in no particular order. what are you baking this year?
if i remember it correctly, i was in sixth grade when i finally got a cd player for christmas. it was the first year in our new house and one of the only times i can remember waking up christmas morning in my own house. usually we went to our grandparents'. that year, they came to us.
i hope everyone had a great thanksgiving. did you eat a lot of turk? if you're anything like my father, you have pounds and pounds and pounds of it left over. he cooks two turkeys. one the day before thanksgiving - specifically for sandwiches and leftovers - and one the day of to be served with dinner. earlier this week he told me he cut way back and only cooked 35 pounds of turkey instead of the 44 he cooked last year. 35 pounds of turkey for 12 adults. needless to say i never went hungry growing up.
so if you - like my dad - have pounds of turkey left over and are already getting sick of turkey sandwiches, i suggest this soup. it's painless to whip up, transforms turkey into something different, you probably have leftover carrots and celery from your thanksgiving feast anyway. and if you don't have spinach or mushrooms hanging out, then omit them. no big deal. don't have fresh tortellini? substitute egg noodles or broken spaghetti.
ah, martha, you almost got me again. for me, she's always been hit or miss. on one hand, my favorite basic yellow cake comes from martha stewart. her peach pie is out of this world. chicken & pearl couscous with tomato and lemon is one of the best meals i've had this year. and then there are the flops, which i also need to get better at documenting. these peanut butter swirled chocolate cupcakes sounded delicious but are far from it. and her one bowl chocolate cake? while not a disaster, i'd take ina's version over martha's any day.which brings me to this stew.
i wish i didn't procrastinate so much. the weekend before halloween we carved pumpkins with friends. that same satuday, we drove to my parents for my mom's halloween party & spent the night. both were planned weeks in advance. yet somehow, that saturday morning, i left myself way too many things to do: pack overnight bags for me & the baby, wash a load of diapers, buy pumpkins to carve, and make some kind of food to bring both to parties. this loaf cake fit the bill perfectly. i whipped it up in no time first thing in the morning, did laundry and packed bags while it baked, showered while it cooled, and since it makes two loaves, had the perfect amount for both parties. i plan to make christmas stockings this year. let's hope they're done in time.
even before baby winn was born, jason and i have divided weekly dinner duty. usually we each choose two meals to make, assuming one night will either be leftovers or take out. usually jason chooses something without a real recipe, like paninis or pasta with meat sauce. this month, when browsing through my newest copy of everyday food with the baby, jason shouted we had to have this pasta dish for dinner. naturally, i suggested he cook it. and that he did.
for the month of october, i eased going back to work, working one day a week. tuesday. so for the five tuesdays in october, i went to work and jason stayed home with baby winn. this beef stew was perfect for one of those tuesday nights, when i wanted to play with the baby as soon as i got home and jason wanted to relax or do one of the dozen or so things on his to do list that can't possibly get done when you have a baby around.
last thursday, my mother stayed home with the baby so jason and i could have an hour or so to ourselves for dinner. we went to a great local greek restaurant and had moussaka and a gyro, both delicious dinners. and now i am on a greek kick, since i chose this chicken souvlaki and tzatziki from katherine marinelli over her shadow layer cake (i was thinking of making a small, six inch version to celebrate absolutely nothing, when jason talked me out of it) or linguine with sweet potato parmesan cream sauce (until jason reminded me he does not care for sweet potatoes) for this month's secret recipe club assignment.