Monday, October 31, 2011

Cozy Halloween

I can't get into scary and ghoulish, but I can do cozy! On the agenda tonight:

  • Pumpkin macaroni and cheese
  • Having a fire in the fire place
  • Begrudgingly sharing my candy stash with cute trick-or-treaters

Wishing you a very happy, candy-filled, cozy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

October snow

(via LIFE)

Last night Peter and I went out to Ashland and met my Dad for dinner. When we came out, huge snow flakes were swirling around all over! And there's more in the forecast this weekend. Mother Nature wants to remind us that we are back in New England.

This weekend, I'm having lunch with a dear girlfriend, my mother-in-law is coming for a visit, and I'm going to try to collect all my supplies for the chair project. Also - just to be festive - I'll probably have to eat a lot candy.

Hope you have a wonderful (maybe snowy!) weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Big plans for ugly chairs

I brought two of these hideous chairs home earlier this week. They are sitting pretty ugly in my living room, just waiting to be shed that yellow/green/brown leather skin. I have big plans for these guys!

Since these chairs were free, I want to give myself license to play around a bit, and I'm going to try re-upholstering them myself! I've been watching this helpful series of video tutorials, and have taken a few how-to books out of the library. I'm a little nervous about ruining the chairs (and pretty upholstery fabric) but this is something I've wanted to try for a while, and this seems like a great learning opportunity.

Right now I'm trying to decide between pretty, busy patterns or something very plain. I'm going to steer clear of stripes and geometric stuff because those would be harder to match up correctly. I'll definitely keep you posted as this project progresses. If you have any brilliant tips, I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Concord, MA

(Hiking around Walden Pond. I've come a long way.)

Peter and I went to Concord on a bit of a whim Saturday afternoon, and found ourselves completely charmed. This town was once home to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott. All their homes are open for tours, including Thoreau's teeny tiny cabin by Walden Pond!

(There's a man inside dressed in period costume answering questions like he is Thoreau. "I walk four hours a day...nature is my holy place.")

The center of town is darling, boasting not one but two independent book shops, an antiques store and The Cheese Shop, which is essentially my idea of heaven.

They stock wine, pate, fancy sandwiches and salads (I had a truly fantastic broccoli salad with dried cranberries, almonds and a creamy buttermilk dressing), and of course, huge amounts of delicious cheese.

When we were there, the Concord Museum was celebrating its 125th birthday, which included live music outside, apple cider, and free admission. I'd recommend it even without the free admission if you find yourself in the mood to learn a lot about Concord.

The Concord Festival of Authors is taking place over the next two weeks. The Lobster, Champagne and a Dash of History event (which includes a free glass of champagne!) sounds especially fun.

Afternoons like this make me feel confident that we made the right choice about moving to the Boston area. I might be singing a different tune come February when I've been cold for months with no end in sight, but for now, it feels like home in a way that no place has before.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pollettone alla Toscana

I've been reading Life is Meals in the morning and evening, and it's such a lovely way to book end the day. There are food stories of all kinds - favorite meals of literary figures, dinner party menus gone awry, dining etiquette through the ages, interesting facts about seafood and vegetables, and everything in between. There's one entry per day for a calendar year. I have lots of fun checking in on special personal dates to see if there is some sort of cosmic connection to the event (my birthday, for example, has a brief history of ice cream!).

This recipe from the book was so good. It's essentially a dressed-up meatloaf. The ingredients list is long, but you likely have most of it already. In the book, the recipe calls for you to roll into a log-shape and cook it in a pan, but that seemed like too much work to me. I put it in a loaf pan and baked it, and it came out beautifully.

Pollettone alla Toscana
Recipe adapted from Life is Meals (originally adapted from Marcella Hazen)

You will need:
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound groud pork
1 tablespoon milk
2 inch square of white bread (I use Udi's)
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 slice finely chopped prosciutto
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove finely chopped garlic
1 lightly beaten egg
1/2 cup unflavored bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup red wine
5 oz. baby cremini mushrooms, sliced

Mash the bread into the milk with a fork until smooth and creamy. Place ground meat into a bowl, and add milky bread, onion, salt, pepper, prosciutto, cheese, garlic, bread crumbs and egg. Mix thoroughly by hand. Shape meat into loaf and place in loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

When the meatloaf is nearly done (after 35 minutes of cooking), add butter and oil to a sauce pan turned to medium heat. When melted and slightly foaming, add in mushrooms and wine. Saute for five minutes, then reduce heat to low until meatloaf is ready. Slice meatloaf and put mushrooms on top.

Serve with tarragon mashed potatoes, a green salad and Downton Abbey on the side.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin report

Happy Monday to you! I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Peter and I realized we hadn't been home for a full weekend since the school year started, so we were long over due to hang out at home, cook and see friends (which is exactly what we did!).

The dinner and pumpkin carving on Friday night was a success! But let me tell you, carving pumpkins is a lot more work than I remember. The last time I did this, I was probably young enough for my parents to do the gross job of cleaning out the guts in the middle.

We went with the Halloween carved village (my ambition dropped as the glasses of wine increased). But you can see my sister-in-law made a pretty leaves pattern! And that happy/angry gentleman in the front is Patrick Bradley.

I hope they live to see Halloween!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Leaves or lace?

Tonight Peter's sisters and our soon-to-be brother-in-law are coming over for dinner and pumpkin carving! I'm going to be making this and this, if I can get my act together quickly this evening.

Martha Stewart has a fantastic pumpkin carving gallery (not that anyone's surprised by that!). These are a few of my favorites:
I'm deciding between the leaves and the lace pattern. I'll try to be a good blogger and take a few pictures to share next week :) Have you carved your pumpkin yet?

Wishing you a very happy weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Late to the party

A short list of fun things I've only recently discovered (though I realize that you probably hopped on board with these long ago...).

This song, in particular, has been on serious rotation in our house. You should see my dance moves when she starts to sing about running fast! Pretty impressive.

Happy Thursday to all!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Recipe round-up: cooking for fall

(Photo courtesy of my sister)

I'm starting to crave kale and squash and braised meat. Have I finally been seduced by autumn?! Here's a little list of things I hope to make in the coming months:
And of course, pumpkin crunch always sounds good this time of year :) What are you making for dinner these days?!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Guest posting on The Culinary Couple

Emily has been a wonderful blog friend to me for years (check out this cute interview with the Culinary Couple buried deep within the Fresh Basil archives!). I was thrilled when she asked me to put together a guest post to share while she and Nick spend time with their darling newborn, Sam. Isn't he just the cutest?!

I'm chatting about how to sew the easiest baby blanket ever - it has cute stripes! Here it is, if you'd like to take a peak.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Autumn reading list

(1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

What are you reading this autumn? I'd love to add a few more books to my library list!
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