Thursday, January 31, 2013

Soup to See You Through

(chicken and rice; carrot soup with yogurt; a version of sweet potato corn chowder with black beans).

On the final day of January, I thought I'd pop in quickly with a few soup recipes to see you through the cold days to come. I make soup nearly every weekend between October and March, and the soups above have been in heavy rotation lately.

A few months ago, I would have been showing you vegetable soup with red lentils, but I sort of overdosed on it. It's delicious if you haven't eaten too much of it, though!

January, I must say, I'm not very sad to see you go.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Sunday Dinner: French-Style Pot-Roasted Pork Loin

I haven't done a Sunday dinner post in a while. We're still making all kinds of wonderful things - especially on Sundays! - but the light is so poor by the time we eat that I usually don't take pictures. Plus, winter food isn't always so photogenic.

But I'm making an exception because this recipe for pork loin is truly exceptional, and very different from any I've made before. It's from America's Test Kitchen, so you know it's a good one.

Basically, you butterfly the roast and smear a butter-garlic mixture inside before tying it up again. The roast gets seared on three sides (just three!), and then finishes cooking in the oven at an extremely low temperature. I'm not usually one to go all nuts for pork loin, but this recipe is outstanding. So moist and porky, and I was just using a humble Trader Joe's roast!

Winter Sunday Dinner: Cozy French Roast

*We did make a few substitutions. I forgot to buy an apple, so we used a mixture of green and purple grapes instead, probably about one cup. It was lovely - I think roasted grapes are an underused cooking gem - but I'm excited to try it the original way next time. Also, I threw a mess of parsley on top, because I always like green stuff on my plate. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Like riding a bike

We're heading to the Berkshires this afternoon to go skiing! I haven't been in two years (my annoying knee injury - and the lack of snow - made it impossible last winter). I'm so excited to get bundled up and soak up the fresh air. Fingers crossed I remember how to do it. It's just like riding a bike, right?!

I also have grand plans to try to re-create the dish we had at Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal - gnocchi, lentils, sausage, prosciutto, oh my. I'll let you know how it goes! As a warning, it will likely look as appetizing as this did, but will hopefully be just as delicious. 

Hope you all have a wonderful mid-winter weekend!

P.S. I know bloggers frequently share this sentiment , but I wanted to offer thanks to those of you who stop by Fresh Basil to chat about all the silliness that goes on here. I (mostly) love keeping this blog, and it makes me so happy when readers check-in and say hello. Thank you for doing that!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Loving Lately

I picked up this striped t-shirt at J.Crew on super sale after Christmas, and I wear it all the time (do you wear something to death when you first get it? I'm guilty). It has such soft fabric, it's light enough for layering, and it's long - I can't stand short shirts! Just sharing in case you need a few more stripes in your life :)

Sarah and Katie both rave about this show, and I trust their taste completely. I picked up season one at the library over Christmas vacation, and absolutely adore Laura and Dorcas and the whole Lark Rise/Candleford gang. It also features Mr. Bates!

My girlfriend Ashley, who is a genius at all things house-hold related, recommended this cordless iron a while back on her blog. I was thrilled to receive one of my own for Christmas. This is embarrassing to say, but it really does make ironing a lot more fun. 

And a few fun links:

P.S. Thank you for weighing in on the boot dilemma of 2012. I went with these, in case your curious!

Monday, January 14, 2013

10 New Albums on the iPod

We've found a lot of new music to add to our iPod! Yay for following through on manifesto goals. These selections were heavily influenced by the NPR listener picks for 2012 list.

However! You may notice that I only have nine albums listed above. Do you have any suggestions for that elusive tenth c.d.? I'm tapped out! (Though this is a gaping hole in our current musical collection...)

What's the best thing you've listened to lately?

Friday, January 11, 2013

West Elm-Inspired Pillow Covers

I walk by West Elm on my way to and from work - a very dangerous route. I am loving all the abstract silk pillows they started displaying in the windows these last few weeks - so fresh and pretty!

Last weekend I went to Freddy Farkel's in search of some new fabric for Euro shams (more on that later!), and I found a fantastic pink silk fabric in their remnants section. I bought a yard for only $4! These are just simple envelope covers - super easy to whip up. I may add a button in the back since the silk is a little slippery.

I'm so happy with the mini-refresh! This time of year, when all the holiday sparkle and cheer are being put away, I love to have a few new things in the mix at home.

P.S. Yes, that is the Christmas tree standing in the corner. I just took it down last night. The shame! But I miss the lights already.

Monday, January 7, 2013

3rd Anniversary Gifts: Leather

Peter Lugar steak sauceblack leather soy candlecowhide rug; rustic leather boxed coasters; metallic leather iPhone caseleather card holder

I get a kick out of putting these little anniversary gift round-ups together. Our third anniversary is now less than six months away, so I feel like I've finally reached the point where I can post this without seeming insanely over-zealous (I didn't say it wasn't still over-zealous...).

This is obviously a liberal interpretation of "leather," including some cow- and beef-related paraphernalia. I know leather luggage tags, or nice leather luggage itself, are popular suggestions, and for good reason! Those are lovely gifts. I also think his and hers watches are a fun way to go.

I better give this some thought. Now I only have five months and three weeks to consider! Any other brilliant leather gifts to throw into the mix?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Manefesto

I am the worst at winter. I think a lot of New Englander's share this quality, even though we should, in theory, be very good at it. But the months of cold and darkness take a toll.

This winter, I want to do my best to enjoy it, not just get through it. Here's my little list of fun to keep me inspired:

Dive into a classic * Add ten new albums to the iPod * Sew new living room throw pillows * Host a winter doldrums dinner (with invitations!) * Ski at least three times * Salt roast a whole fish * Force bulbs through March * Light candles every night * Watch all of Friday Night Lights * Invent a soup recipe * Set a new record in Jenga * Write a 10-minute play * Try two new Boston restaurants *

Are you good at winter? Please tell me what gets you through!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter Weekend in Montreal

Montreal was cold and beautiful and completely exceeded our expectations.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, after a seemingly endless car trip (note to others: I am absolutely terrible to travel with on long car trip - Peter, you're a champ :). We checked into our hotel, had a quick bite of poutine, and headed to the metro right underneath our hotel (fantastic since it was freezing out!). We got a three day metro pass for $16 - totally worth it. 

We then headed out to Mile End for a drink at Dieu du Ciel. It was so festive and cozy inside. And it was fun to see the Brooklyn-ish part of the city - it definitely felt that way to us. 

For dinner, we had a reservation at l'Express. Oh, I loved it so! The service was wonderful, they sell half bottles of wine (truly the perfect amount for two), and everything we ate was delicious. We had bone marrow and the l'Express terrine, beef tartare and frites, and a perfectly ripe piece of Camembert for dessert. 

On Saturday, more snow was predicted, so we sought refuge inside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It's quite large, with three buildings connected underground. Admission is free, and it's definitely worth a visit. I liked the decorative arts and design wing, and we both enjoyed the Quebec and Canadian art section, particularly this painter's work.

Marche Jean Talon was next on our agenda. We weren't 100 percent sure if the market carried on in the winter, and we were thrilled to find that it does, in an entirely enclosed space. It was huge, filled with the most amazing meat, cheese, and vegetable vendors. We could have bought so many things, but restrained ourselves and focused on lunch. We took a baguette, two cheeses, and a slice of pate back to our hotel for a picnic, and watched the snow swirl around outside our window.

That evening, we went to Old Montreal. It was charming and beautiful in all the snow. We stopped for a quick drink and then headed over to Notre-Dame Basilica for their light show. A video at the beginning tells the history of the church and had us cracking up a little bit with the strange dialogue. But once we got to the lights portion of the show, it was fantastic. The alter is stunning.

One thing I loved about Montreal is their extreme enthusiasm for fireworks - something we have in common. Every Saturday night in December through early January, they have a fireworks show over the Old Port. We went down to watch them, with a rockin' 90's music soundtrack going in the background. We were hopping around, freezing to death, and all the Canadians were still and happy, cheering along when impressive fireworks shot off. It was a lot of fun, but really cold. Only recommended for the most die-hard fans.

We couldn't help but go to Au Pied de Cochon for dinner on our last night after reading so many great things about it. And after a mix-up with our reservation was cleared up, we had a fantastic time there. We had the foie gras cromesquis, pickled beef tongue with tarragon (!!!), and a special entree for two that had pork, prosciutto, more foie gras, gnocchi, lentils, carrots, beets, and pickles. If it sounds like a heart attack, it kind of was, but in the best possible way. 

I am embarrassed to even tell you this after describing our dinner from the night before, but on the way home we stopped in Waterbury, VT at Prohibition Pig (tag line: smoked meat and libations). Peter was eager to try some hard-to-find beers from Hill Farmstead Brewery, and we couldn't not get a few pork rinds and pickles to snack on. We have been on a kale binge since our return.
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