Archive for February, 2013

February’s dinner: red and white

February 27, 2013

Red and white is a bit more agreeable a color combination for cooking than last month’s blue and white.

A red and white table

A red and white table

This month, I didn’t make an appetizer, since I thought we had more than enough to eat in the main course. Dinner was flounder stuffed with mushrooms and clams in a tomato cream sauce. Mashed potato and sauteed red peppers were on the side.

Stuffed flounder, potato, and red pepper

Stuffed flounder, potato, and red pepper

For dessert I made a cheesecake that we topped with strawberries from last summer. I have to say that this cheesecake is one of the best desserts I’ve ever baked– it came out of the pan nice and cleanly, the filling was creamy and smooth, just how a cheesecake should be.

Mmmmmm, cheesecake

Mmmmmm, cheesecake

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New brew

February 24, 2013

I got a set of home brewing gear for Christmas and last month I started my first batch of brew. The new gear allows me to have better control over the brewing process and to make larger batches than I was making before. My first time out, I used a fairly simple recipe for brown ale. It took about two weeks to brew and another week to condition in the bottle, but this weekend I opened up the first bottle and I am very satisfied with the result. The batch made about 50 bottles, so we’ll be drinking that for a while, but sometime later in the spring I am looking forward to making my next batch.

Brown ale, homestyle

Brown ale, homestyle

January’s dinner: blue and white

February 23, 2013

Our first meal of the year of colors was a challenge: there are plenty or white foods, but edible things that are naturally blue (I’m not using artificial colors for this year’s dinners) are hard to come up with. Once you get past blueberries, there’s just not that much. So this month’s dinner was mostly white with only a little bit of blue.

A blue and white table

A blue and white table

For an appetizer, we had potato cream soup. The main course was cod baked in milk, with white rice and mushrooms on the side (the mushrooms at least started out white, although they ended up more gray after cooking). To go on top of it all, I made a cream sauce with almonds and juniper berries (the only other blue food I managed to come up with). For dessert I made a blueberry pie which we enjoyed with vanilla ice cream.

Potato cream soup

Potato cream soup

Baked cod, rice, and mushrooms

Baked cod, rice, and mushrooms

Blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream

Blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream

 

 

E. laid out a great blue and white table. Although blue and white may be a bit hard to come up with for food, it is something we are well equipped for when it comes to home decor!

Modestly presenting…

February 16, 2013

After much effort and many rejection letters, I am happy to announce that my first official work of scholarship is now published:

http://worldhistoryconnected.press.illinois.edu/10.1/forum_jensen.html

I was working on the article all last summer and I am thrilled to see it completed.

Special dinners 2013 – colors

February 15, 2013

Last year’s special dinners on the Lord of the Rings theme were very successful. This year, we’re taking something very different for a theme: colors.

When I was young, there were a lot of things that I associated in my mind with colors, especially with things that came in groups or series: days of the week, months of the year, letters and numbers, the strings on my violin, etc. I guess I was a little bit synaesthetic then. Many of those associations have faded as I have gotten older, but I still enjoy sets of things in different colors and I still remember some of my old color sets.

This year, I am making my special monthly dinners based on the pairs of colors that I connected with the months of the year. Some of these pairs obviously come from holidays (red and white in February, orange and black in October), and others seem pretty natural for the time of year (blue and white in January, yellow and green in March); some of the others, I’m not sure where they came from.

January: blue and white
February: red and white
March: yellow and green
April: purple and yellow
May: red and purple
June: yellow and blue
July: red and yellow
August: yellow and orange
September: light green and dark green
October: orange and black
November: silver and gray
December: red and green

I’m not entirely sure how I’ll do all of these colors. Some are going to be really challenging, especially November. For some months, the colors will probably be more of a theme, other months I’ll be able to do a full meal in the colors. It’s going to be fun figuring it all out.

Look for January’s post soon.

The blizzard of 2013

February 10, 2013

The weather forecasts began predicting snow about a week ago. Day by day the forecast accumulation amount got bigger and bigger. We had some forecasts of big snowfalls earlier in the season which turned out to be duds, so people were a little skeptical of this one, but by Thursday night it seemed pretty clear that a serious storm was on the way.

The snow began Friday in the late morning. It started out as a light sprinkle, but before long it was coming down thick and heavy, driven by strong gusts of wind out of the east. It’s not unusual to see such heavy snowfall for a short time, but this went on unabating for hours and hours. By nightfall, it was getting even thicker with no sign of letting up.

We spent the day cozily inside, enjoying our weekend. We had a sauna in the afternoon and watched the snow keep falling. We were prepared for a power outage, but apart from one quick flicker, it stayed on with no problems. The snowplows kept rumbling by on the road every hour or so.

When we got up on Saturday morning it was still coming down just as heavy as ever, and the snow kept on coming through the morning. Finally in the afternoon it began to taper off and by around two it was all over. We got our winter gear on and headed down to start shoveling the driveway. Our neighbors very kindly helped us out with their snowblowers, but even so it was tough going. All told we had about two feet of snow, with drifts and banks of three or more feet.

On Sunday, the sun came out strong and the temperatures eked about freezing, so we saw a fair amount of melting at the edges, but it is going to take a lot more to melt away all the snow that we got in two days.

Our front, a view up the path through the snow

Our front, a view up the path through the snow

Looking out from the front porch

Looking over the back yard, towards our blueberry enclosures

Looking over the back yard, towards our blueberry enclosures