19 November 2012

Soup's on.

I'm not really much of a soup person. I like it when I eat it, but I very rarely crave it and make it pretty infrequently. I do get a bug up my butt on occasion and want it, make it, and eat it. Last week, I wasn't planning to make soup, but a suggestion on Facebook got me thinking.

A quick sidenote to mention that I'm part of a super fun group on FB called "what the hell is for dinner?" - it's a public group, so I recently discovered that all my dinner posts show up in all my friends' feeds, so I wonder how many people have since blocked me? Ha! Regardless, it is super fun to share ideas and get tips and feedback with friends and friends of friends.

I was having a corn craving, and Hillary's mom suggested I try the Depression Era corn chowder she'd been thinking of making. Seemed easy, and included corn and potatoes, which I was looking to use up, so I decided to go for it. I made a few tweaks based on some reviews I read - I cut the liquid some but also added a splash of cream, and the condensed milk I had was fat free. I also threw in a jar of pimentos for fun and sprinkled some paprika and a ton of salt and pepper.

And what goes perfectly with corn soup? Cornbread, of course! With cheddar and jalapenos.

This soup was great. Simple, quick, hearty - if one was meat inclined, I'm sure bacon would be a great addition. As one who is seafood inclined, I am positive a dollop of crab or smoked fish (trout or whitefish) would be amazing on top. Next time! Note, of course, that as with most soups, this tastes even better the next day!

Strangely enough, I again craved some soup a second week in a row, so tonight I made a quick and easy pumpkin soup that I have made in the past. I made this sometime in the last year when I wasn't blogging much, so luckily I had printed the recipe and left handwritten notes on how to bump up the deliciousness. I swapped out half the water for apple cider, swapped out 1/4 cup of the milk for cream, and hammered it like crazy with spices - salt, pepper, ginger, nutmeg, and crushed red pepper. I kept it on low heat and simmered it for close to an hour.

On top, some sprinkles of Gorgonzola. Because it is delicious.

Unfortunately, I haven't figured out the perfect amount of red pepper yet....

"Too spicy in my mouth!"

I agree the fire could have been toned down a notch, but I still found it to be super delicious. I find with a lot of homemade soups that the taste of the broth is incredibly overpowering, so I like that this one foregoes broth for water, cider, and milk. I'm excited for these leftovers tomorrow, and I was extra excited to use the funnel I bought years ago and never used...

Flecks of fire.

On an unrelated note, I won't be hosting Thanksgiving this year - for the first time since Brad and I have lived together! I'm half relieved, half bummed, but I'm sure it'll be a lovely day nonetheless. I decided to take advantage of the free oven space and make a from-scratch stuffing to take to the in-laws', and I'll also be making two pies, so I'll be keeping myself somewhat busy. Hoping everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving!! xo

14 November 2012

On the books.

Did I mention that I'm wrapping up a freelance project right now? Days go something like this: work, dinner, back to work. No time for bloggy bloggy. BUT I'm almost done. Then I will be back to discuss corn chowder, gourmet ice cream, and Thanksgiving feasts!

I leave you with this.... The jerk bee that stung me on vacation. I was just walking along, minding my own business, then OW. I stepped on him. Guess he was hanging out all stinger up!

Stay warm!

06 November 2012

Through the looking glass.

Our house was built in 1937. We've been very lucky that the house has many good updates (kitchen, roof) but also has many of its original features (floors, grates, knobs)--including the original windows with the rope and wheel pulley system. These windows are beautiful.

Buuuuut.... Some don't open when it's hot. Some don't open when it's cold. Most have to be held in place with a stick. Some had storms, some didn't. In fact, the window in our closet had two half-storms on top of each other, which provided a nice little draft. Most of the windows were drafty. (The being said, our bills are still cheaper and our house still warmer than our previous built-in-1998 house). In case you can't tell, I'm very defensive of our windows. They've seen a LOT. They're a part of the house, and its history. So it was with very mixed emotions that I agreed to let Brad replace them. All of them. ALL THIRTY-TWO of them. Because, you know, who wants to take a two-week trip to Europe? Or buy a new car? Not me. Windows.

And today was the day...

I didn't approve this.

I love the world.

I was able to work from home today, thinking, oh, I'll just keep an eye on the dogs (the windows were taken out from the outside). Well, let me tell you. Getting your windows replaced, at least in a pre-1978 house (lead paint), is total chaos. I certainly appreciate all the efforts made to protect my house, but it seriously looked like they were going to go Patrick Bateman on someone's ass.

And lots of hugs and kisses to the pooches, who (somewhat not too grumpily) spent the bulk of the day locked in the downstairs bathroom, the only room w/o any windows being replaced.

A quick peek inside... what hasn't seen the light of day in seventy-five years:

By the way, I saved three of the old windows - the top part with the slats. We also saved a handful of the handles and locks, as well as a few of the wheels. Not sure what will become of these, but at the very least we wanted some memento. I'm thinking we'll hang the windows somewhere in the house. You know, art.

Even with all the prep-work... and even with all the windows... these guys were in by 9:30 and out by 3. Seriously. And they did a GREAT job. Super kudos to you, Wallside Windows. Work aside (and they did a great job), the men (and women) that do jobs like this are in your house. You put a lot of trust in them. You're spending a lot of money, and this is a big deal. So when you've got eight guys trouncing through your house, you want to feel comfortable with them. You want them to be friendly, and put you at ease with themselves and their skills. These guys did, and I'm incredibly grateful for it. I was totally stressed out by the house looking like a tornado hit it, so I was extra appreciative of the fact that when they left, it was like they were never here. (They even vacuumed, which, let's be totally honest--they were basically just vacuuming up dog hair.) Except, of course, for the new windows! And do they look fancy. They are double hung (which everyone keeps telling me makes them easy to clean. To which I say, "clean?"), and swoop in and out all smooth like. They even have these little "night lock" latches that allow you to leave the windows open overnight or when you're not home - and not worry that someone's going to bust in (or a kiddie to bust out). AND... you don't need a stick to hold them open.

....now we need new curtains and hardware to match our fancy new windows, RIGHT?

03 November 2012


Vacation? Amazing. One of our best yet, I think. The perfect blend of relaxation and doing stuff (if you know us well, you know we don't do much of the pure sitting around by the pool vacationing, although there is certainly something to be said for that - perhaps we need to do MORE of that one of these days). Of course, there is SO MUCH more we'd still love to see in both cities (Palm Springs and San Diego) because, for once, we did do more pool/beach relaxing than we normally would on a city-type vacation. We never made it into the city of San Diego. No Gaslamp Quarter or Old Town, which would have been cool. We didn't go to the zoo, which I know I would love. We could have explored Palm Springs itself more, for sure - our days there were mostly on the road or at the hotel pool. But for the time we had in each city, I would say we did a darn good job. We saw a lot of beautiful places, ate a lot of delicious food, sipped tasty cocktails and beers, and we even got a little bit of a suntan, which is certainly welcome as the winter ghost face is starting to settle in.

That all being said, being home is good, too. I think it says a lot about where you live, and how your life is going, when you can have a great vacation but still be happy to be home. This time last week, we were driving up the north San Diego coast, through La Jolla and up into Encinitas for lunch, in sunny, 80-degree weather.


Right now, it's 42 degrees out (although it is sunny). I'm in flannel pj pants and a sweatshirt and I'm bundled up in a fuzzy blanket. I'm working (well, obviously not exactly this second - I decided to take a quick break to at least start this post), on a Saturday (but thankful for the fun freelance project).


But I'm still smiling. And cozy. I love our house and missed George and Heidi like crazy.

Back to vacation, though...

Our locales -

Talk about two extremes! In Palm Springs we stayed at the Hotel Del Marcos (or Del Marcos Hotel, depending on where you're looking), a hotel built in 1947 and recently renovated and decorated with authentic mid-century modern furniture that I wanted to steal. We had a big suite, with a kitchenette and a giant patio overlooking the pool.

In San Diego, we stayed in what appears to be a nearly brand new beachfront hotel, with trendy, minimalist furnishings and a balcony overlooking the beach and ocean.

Both gave us anniversary champagne, so extra points for that, of course. :) The sun also rises early and bright in both places, so we were up (well, I was up) by 7 am every day, giving us plenty of time to do stuff each day before the sun went down (5 in Palm Springs, 6 in San Diego [no mountain to hide behind!]). Including a handful of runs, walks, and bike rides. Exercise on vacation? We ARE getting old.

In abbreviated form, here's what we saw - Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, the San Jacinto mountains via the Palm Springs Arial Tram, Point Loma and the tidepools at the Cabrillo National Monument, the coast between San Diego and Mexico (including a drive through Coronado), the coves at La Jolla (and its resident sealife), and the coast north of San Diego up highway 101. In abbreviated form, here's what we ate - sushi, California cuisine, seafood, tacos, and a bevy of cocktails and local beers. Some highlights of it all -

A Joshua Tree at Joshua Tree.
I'm sure there are rattlesnakes hiding in the bushes.

Eerie but beautiful quiet at the Salton Sea.

The San Diego coast.

One of my favorite adventures was taking the beach cruisers out in Palm Springs and tooling through the neighborhoods behind our hotel. Retro fab architecture, desert landscapes, the mountain at dusk as a backdrop, and even a giant but super friendly mastiff pup named Rodney.

Despite nearly crashing us both a few times as I attempted to handle this giant bike and take pictures at the same time, and I'm pretty sure tripping someone's alarm when I got too close to take pictures, this was one of our more perfect moments.

Let us not forget, of course... FISH TACOS.

For our last night, we trekked across town for what felt like miles and miles and miles (we were hungry!) to the Pacific Beach Fish Shop, where you select your filling (fish, lobster, meat), marinade, and how you want it (taco, sandwich, plate) to make your perfect California coast meal. Both of us selected the local halibut and added avocado - corn tortilla and Fish Shop seasoning for me, flour tortilla and melted butter for Brad - and a local San Diego beer. It truly was the perfect way to end our vacation - local, fresh, DELICIOUS, and oh so California.

Can't wait to go back and do and see (and eat!) even more, but for now, the memory of that last bite of fish taco will keep me going until our next vacation to the Pacific coast.