The Polar Vortex is baaaa-aaack. So I made it some chili (vegetarian, obvi). In my opinion, it’s what to eat when it’s freezing.
You can find my original recipe (a term I use lightly, mostly because it’s just like… sauté onions and garlic, add beans, add tomatoes, add whatever spices you have on hand, simmer, eat) here: vegetarian chili for lazy people.
I topped today’s piping hot bowl with a handful of tortilla chips, some Fire Roasted Corn + Black Bean Salsa from Nola’s Fresh Foods. Nola’s is made minutes from our place in Southie and is a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made award winner. After receiving a complimentary sample a few weeks ago (delivered to my doorstep, no less), their salsa keeps ending up in our shopping cart.
As for the lime wedge and the useless miniature wooden spoon… they’re mostly there because chili looks like, you know… chili. And I wanted to distract you from this. Did it work?
But seriously. Make yourself a bowl.
Also On Tap for Today:
Friday morning workout with the Mama Beasts and re-remembering how to dress myself and my children for the cold (something I seem to need to do every winter…)
I’ve only been to Texas once. I flew in on a Tuesday, stayed in a creepy Marriott (I used to think a Marriott was a Marriott… and then I landed in one that shared a driveway with the Diamond Ladies “gentlemen’s club”), worked at a local middle school for a day, and flew out that Thursday. The one time I ate out, there were shrimp hidden in my salad. Having never eaten seafood before, I wondered if I might be allergic. I didn’t want to die in a hotel overlooking Diamond Ladies. That would just be too sad. Needless to say, I didn’t get much in the way of local flavor while I was there. So you’ll understand my delight when I opened a package from Kasee, my Austin to Boston match, to find some truly Texan treats.
From Austin to Boston
Strangely the chewy pecans Kasee sent did not survive long enough to be photographed (ahem, Nick). He vouched for their deliciousness, though. I am sure he’ll help me sample all the other goods, too. We go through quite a bit of hot sauce and bbq sauce in this condohold.
Friday fun fact: 25 Massachusettses would fit inside Texas.
How cute is this Texas cookie cutter? The Alamo air freshener cracked me up. I wonder if it smells historic. I’ll report back.
Edible Austin and black eyed peas – I’ll have to break these out on New Year’s Day.
I haven’t been very adventurous lately, given all the food allergy testing and whatnot, but I cannot wait to crack open this jar of okra pickles. I like it hot. (Which is why I have perma-heartburn. Don’t tell my RD.) I know the bbq sauce will be put to good use as well.
Peach jam and local honey, two breakfast favorites of mine
And even more spicy sauces: roasted raspberry chipotle sauce, hatch chili salsa, and “that green sauce” …my curiosity is peaked! You can count on seeing a whole lot of heat in upcoming posts thanks to Kasee’s generous package of treats.
Clearly, I need to make a return trip to Texas.
…And Boston to Austin
I had just as much fun shopping for Kasee as I did enjoying the surprises she sent my way. I searched high and low for Necco wafers, as we live just a few blocks from the old factory, but I couldn’t find a single roll. I used to love those things. Except for the brownish greyish ones. I think we can agree that candy shouldn’t be brownish greyish.
Here is what I did find and send her way. Besides that gourd-geous thing.
A few of my favorite local baked goods (which I no longer indulge in since forgoing gluten… it’s nice to have a reason to share!): Dancing Deer Baking Company maple leaf and gingerbread acorn cookies and Lark salted rosemary shortbread -both of these treats are made locally and taste divine. They make great hostess gifts. And regular gifts. You know what I mean.
Clover honey from McClure’s of New England – I love this in tea, over oats, or just plain ol’ on a spoon.
Spicy apple ginger chews from the Ginger People – A favorite sweet snack, perfect for travel
Stonewall Kitchen maple pumpkin butter – made in Maine, not Massachusetts, but New England flavors nevertheless. I felt it was okay to bend the rules a bit, seeing as Maine is my true north. Literally and figuratively.
I’ve loved getting to know Kasee through her blog, The Apron Gal. She posts the most delicious sounding recipes, and has inspired me to break out my aprons more often. Thanks for all the Texas treats, Kasee!
Also On Tap for Today:
Getting “Sunday things” out of the way two days early
[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false] Humans are nosy creatures. I’m pretty sure we were just born that way. Either that, or MTV’s Cribs made us that way. We could debate nature vs. nurture, or I could just let you peek inside my fridge and call it a day.
48 hours ago, our refrigerator housed nothing but a jar of pickles, a bruised tomato and a few bottles of Nick’s home brewed beer. Perhaps that’s why I mysteriously lost two pounds. I scaled back our grocery shopping knowing we’d be away over the holidays and for the marathon. What I didn’t anticipate was a full blown blizzard coinciding with a full blown post-marathon hunger rage. Whoopsies. We made do with one or two quick trips to the store, plus a gigantic Peapod order once the snow had cleared and the truck could safely make it down our driveway. Now we have three jars of pickles. And some other stuff, too. Grocery delivery has changed my life for the better. And the lazier.
A few tips if you’re considering a similar service:
I still do most of my shopping in person, like most non-celebrities, but Peapod and similar services are great for large orders and stocking up, or for when you don’t want to carry economy-sized packs of toilet paper through your building lobby.
Ordering online is convenient, helps with meal planning, and helps to eliminate impulse purchases… like Star Magazine, for example. Or chocolate-covered… chocolate. The downside being, obviously, that you never find out if that baby really is an alien, and you miss out on the chocolate.
Coupons, online specials, and the odd discount code or two help to offset the delivery fee– many services will give you free delivery on your first order. Once you get a taste, you’ll probably get addicted. You’ve been warned.
Our driver always takes our plastic bags from previous orders, so I don’t feel quite as bad about blowing up the Earth by not using re-usable bags. This may not be true for every service, but it’s worth looking into.
One of these things is not like the others. Hint: it's the bagel that could be mistaken for a small asteroid.
I took Bridget‘s lead and supplemented my usual groceries with a trip to the Wayland Winter Market at Russell’s Garden Center. One of my favorite things about living in the city is having access to multiple farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall, but it wasn’t until I read Bridget’s recent post about winter markets that I realized how much I missed the local, farm-fresh produce and goodies during the cold months. Yesterday marked my first Saturday in nearly five months with no early morning long run On Tap, so I hopped in the car and enjoyed a gorgeous, snowy ride west of the city to Russell’s.
In addition to the fromage blanc (from a farm in my hometown) and Pam’s Salstina, I also picked up a bag of loose black citrus tea, two salt bagels the size of my head, and a big bunch of fresh basil from the Cape. There was a great variety of vendors at tables scattered throughout the garden center. It was a lovely way to spend the morning and add a few fun ingredients to ye old fridge.
Curious about the rest of the kitchen?
I think Nick’s favorite thing about the kitchen (besides the fact that food magically appears in there), is the under-counter lighting. Those lights make no sense to me, so we spent 5-12 hours a week, following one another to the light switch turning them on and off. I figure we’re saving time by having someone else grocery shop for us, so we may as well waste that saved time, by wasting energy.
A real bulldog, and a real bulldog tea towel.
Our kitchen is rather small, but I think it’s just plain perfect. There’s plenty of room for everything we might need, and no room for the things we don’t need.
Yes, that is a Sandra Lee cookbook. Don’t judge. She makes a mean tablescape, and an even meaner cocktail.
In case you need proof that art imitates life, I give you a newly acquired piece of art, which cost about the same as two bunches of basil. And it hasn’t wilted. Yet.
A print of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelf 102: Cooking... must frame and hang sometime this millennia.
The two hardest working things in the kitchen (besides the dishwasher, obvi) help me to reach things that are way up, or way down.
A collapsable step stool for shorties like me, and a very furry vacuum cleaner.
And last but not least, my absolute favorite, functional item in the kitchen: my BC Grandpa mug. I sort of stole it (with my mom’s permission) from my grandparents’ house when my Grandma was moving into assisted living. As much as I like everything to match, I think there’s something sort of sentimental about tea mugs.
Cute mug for a cute man!
My grandpa was one of the kindest, sweetest men, and though he didn’t live to see me or my siblings graduate from BC (or Merrimack… hello, big little brother), I think he’d get a kick out of me walking around with his mug. And he’d probably like our kitchen. I would’ve loved to show him around. 🙂
Welp, it’s almost time for grown men to get paid millions to jump on one another the Patriots v. Jets, so off I go. Perhaps I’ll take you on a tour of the living room if the game gets boring.
Also On Tap for Today:
Look for indoor soccer shoes, first game’s tomorrow
Wha chu doin’ here so soon? And why have I written September 30th on three different checks today? If the old adage is true, and time really does fly when you’re having fun, it’ll soon be November. And shortly thereafter, Santa Claus will be breaking into our condo via an air conditioning vent (there’s no chimney, he has to get creative).
So in the spirit of being early, rather than late, here’s a picture of Prince Clark dressed for Halloween. His “Whoa, whoa, whoa there, commoner. I was sired by a champion.” ‘tude really comes out when he’s wearing a crown.
I couldn't keep this gem to myself for more than six hours. And no, PETA, that's not real Dalmatian.
Don’t worry. There is more where that came from. Much more. So much more that I may need to find a part-time job to support my dog-costume-buying problem habit. Just kidding. It’s not quite that bad. Yet.
Slightly less creepy things in store this October:
My brother is getting married in a week! I can barely contain my excitement. Seriously. I am freaking out, man. Any time I think about it, a goofy ear-to-ear smile emerges and I have to fight a very strong urge to high five strangers. I put “Somebody’s Getting Married” (from Muppets Take Manhattan, obvi) on my iPod. And I am incorporating various elements of purple (today it’s eyeliner) into every outfit between now and the time I slip effortlessly (here’s to hoping hahaha) into my bridesmaid dress.
If my math is correct (safe bet that it’s not), we will be running close to 100 miles in October with Team in Training. I am at that magical point in marathon training where every, single long run is a personal distance record. It’s sort of nice to have a record breaking weekend, every weekend. Nice and terrifying at the same time. I truly appreciate everyone who is so generously supporting me in this endeavor. You mean the world to me.
I am also looking forward to the birthdays of my favorite (and only) sister and my favorite (and only) boyfriend, our Clarkiversary, the Boston Book Festival , hunting for non-itchy sweaters, apple picking and decreased humidity. In no particular order.
Eating local is all the rage (this is a good thing), but I rarely seek out opportunities to drink local. This, too, is probably a good thing. I need not sample brews everywhere I go. I wouldn’t get very far. Nevertheless, while we were in Delaware last week, we joined our friends for a tour of the Dogfish Head Brewery and and a sampling of several of their local brews.
Prior to our 18 hour journey to and from the First State, Nick watched Beer Wars, a documentary on craft breweries, which prominently features the folks at Dogfish Head. I thought the movie was about people fighting over beer, and since I’m not a big drinker and I hate war, I read Glamour instead. I am a very enlightened soul. Short story: Nick knew what to expect. I did not. I wore a dress and was ridiculed by our tour guide. It matched the safety goggles we were required to wear, ergo I maintain it was appropriate attire.
The brewery itself was about a half hour’s drive from the beach house, set on a property that used to be a cannery, in Milton, Delaware. The ride out was breathtaking. I was immediately impressed by the giant tree house that stands in front of the brewery. I especially liked the sign at the entrance which read, “Watch your Dogfish head.” Unfortunately, the tree house is not part of the tour.
We received four paper sharks to redeem at the post-tour tasting, our aforementioned safety goggles, and we were off. Dogfish Head was established in 1995 with their Rehoboth Beach brewpub, Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats. To meet increasing demand, the brewery was opened in Milton and continues to grow. As our tour guide told us, Dogfish’s craft beers are sold in 25+ states and three foreign countries: Canada, Mexico, and New Jersey. Zing!
We learned a bit about the brewing process and checked out the giant hand-crafted beer vats (is that what they’re called?). It was all quite impressive. Following the tour, we had the opportunity to taste four of their brews from the following:
I tried the Festina Peche and Namaste. The first was a bit too tart for me, but I really liked the lemongrass and coriander of the latter. Since I was driving, and I’m a bit of a lightweight, I stuck with the Dogfish Head Beach Beer birch beer for the rest of tasting. No disrespect to the brew masters, but the birch beer was my favorite. In fact, I enjoyed the sugar rush so much, I ordered a full glass at the brew pub when we headed there for dinner later that night. Much of menu features locally sourced produce, meat and seafood and the atmosphere is relaxed and low key.
So what is a craft brewery, you might ask. (You might not ask that, but for Pete’s sake, play along.) In order to be classified as a craft brewery (or a microbrewery, though I am not sure the two are interchangeable), the maximum amount of beer a brewery can produce annually is 15,000 barrels. The big guns of beer (Anheuser-Busch) brew in a day, what breweries like Dogfish Head brew in a year. For more numbers, click here. In 2009, Boston Beer Company (our neighbors and the makers of Sam Adams) was the #1 craft brewery by sales volume. Several other New England Breweries made the top 25.
I still have a lot to learn about local drinks, but what I have learned so far is fascinating. And tasty. Take Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers and their Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, for example. Delicious, local and craft brewed! Those friends of mine might be on to something…