Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Monday: comfort food

Happy Monday, all! I am very perked up by the sunshine and the blue, blue sky over the D just feels like spring is on its way.

Having said that, it's still pretty freakin' cold out! So, I'm of a mind to explore lots of meatless comfort food options, if you don't mind:)

Most definitely want to try this splendid-and-easy-looking avocado pasta.

But, as I was telling my friend, Charisa, the other day: I need to get back into my soup-habit! Having a simmering pot of soup on the stove inspires such a cozy feeling! This hearty, healthy soup recipe caught my eye on the Michigan Farm Fresh Food blog.

What about you? What are you making for dinner this week?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

street art in the D

 Check out this cool shout-out to street art in our fair city! How amazing is it to think that artists come from all over the country to put their mark on the D? It kind of blows my mind, but then, I think street art is cool. I think, thanks Chaos and Harsh and Omens, way to turn winter-cold-grey-brick into a riot of color...into art:)

What do you think about street art? Legit, or a menace? Does it make you happy, or mad? Do tell.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day!

We were greeted with quietly falling snow this Valentine's Day, which as it so happens, is my very favorite holiday.

Truth be told, I never had a date on Valentine's Day until I met Jake. Isn't that funny? But, it's always been my favorite holiday for a few reasons:
  1. My birthday is only a few days away. (and it's my mom's birthday today!)
  2. There is chocolate everywhere!
  3. The official colors of the day are pink and red, two of my favs:)
My celebration of the day will involve only a few special tweaks to our normal routine. I'm meeting my mom to get our hair done together, and then I'll probably finish grading some papers before getting dinner started. For a couple of years now, I've gotten a special, super easy Valentine's Dinner routine: herbed rack of lamb and roasted vegetables to throw in the oven, some fancy little store-bought macarons,

 and champagne, bien sur!

Simple, and just special enough for a snowy Tuesday night. :) I might even sit down and make out a few cards, carrying on my own little "galentine's tradition." Maybe I'll even go crazy and craft cards of my own design, like these, or these. Maybe not.

But whether you run about town gathering supplies, or plan a magical winter outing, or just have a blind date with a book, I do wish you the very best day. Know that you are special, unique person with a purpose: to love and be loved.

Here is a romantic song to set the tone, which my friend, Jamica, and I decided is one of the best love songs ever! (She and her hubs have a lyric from it engraved in their wedding bands, and I walked down the aisle to it.) Hope you enjoy:)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Meatless Monday: my weekend with Ina

Hey all! Happy Monday:)

After some careful research, all three of my comp. sections and several of my colleagues all agree that we have the February blues. Let's face it: in the Mitten, it is now officially, really winter. (I know, with all this 50-degree nonsense, we've turned into such babies!) And, it is also that time of the semester when everyone starts to get sick. Ugh. So, it's no surprise that everyone showed up to campus today feeling like they were wearing plaster boots.

Good thing I broke up my grading marathon this weekend by making ridiculously large batches of two of my favorite Ina Garten comfort recipes!!! (yay, leftovers!)

Pasta Aglio e Olio. (Ina calls for spaghetti in particular, but I've been known to use all pasta shapes).One of the easiest dinners to make. EVER. You basically cook the pasta, and while it boils you saute a bunch of garlic in olive oil. Add a dash of red-pepper flakes, some herbs (Ina uses parsley) and Parmesan cheese. Bam. (This weekend, I threw in a couple tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes and capers--yum!)

But, what's that, you say? You have a sweet tooth? Say no more.

My go-to sweet munchy (at least, this past weekend): peanut butter frosting. Deb makes one with cream cheese (!) which looks just scrumptious. I use my trusty Ina tome to create the classic, and then I've been injecting the situation with some healthiness--sliced Pink Lady apples to dip in the creamy, peanut-buttery clouds.

Hope these meatless treats inspire you to conquer any Monday/February blues you might have!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's (or birthday...) in the Mitten

To kick off this weekend-before-Valentine's Day (and that big birthday), I thought I'd do a special "five gratitudes"--the five fun date-places I'm grateful (get it?) to live near.

1. I'm grateful to live near the Whitney--a beautiful mansion-turned-fancy-restaurant that would make for a pretty romantic dinner-date. 

2. I'm grateful to live near the Detroit Institute of Arts--among the top six museums in the country! A dreamy place to wander around and hold hands.

3. I'm grateful to live near the French Laundry--no, not the place in Napa...but this one is pretty charming in its own right. We had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding here, and loved it so much we celebrated our first anniversary here, too!

4. I'm grateful to live near the Detroit Opera Theater--so many cool cultural experiences to be had here! We saw Alvin Ailey's dance company one Valentine's a couple of years ago; breathtaking! I'd love to see the production of Swan Lake there this spring.

5. Gah! Now that I'm into this list, I realize how hard it is to only pick five great date-spots. But, this list would not be complete without a shout out to Iron Chef (and my Grandma's crush from the Chew): Michael Symon's Roast. We had one of the best meals of our lives there! I'm so grateful to live near this impeccable establishment.

What about you? Got any fun Valentine's Day plans? Do tell.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

book talk: can I have my birthday in Paris? Pretty please?

Continuing my stint of French-themed reads, I'm now almost done with My Life in France, by Julia Child.

Julia Child's tone is warm--if somewhat scientific or brusque at times--and she has a deft sense of humor that glows subtly throughout the book. She talks about food in a way that makes me certain she and I would've gotten along famously. In fact, the way she comes across in the book reminds me an awful lot of my own Grandma Guinot, who's liberal politics, love of gourmet cooking, and no-nonsense way about her made their impressions on me growing up, and made me love her fiercely. 

Julia's descriptions of dishes, and her experiences eating them, are clear and crisp; not an overwraught phrase in sight. The effect is minimalistic genius, and has stoked my desire to return to the City of Light into a bright blaze. I am burning for Paris, man. But not just my Paris, I want to see (and eat in!) Julia Child's Paris.

I want to go here,

 and here,

and here, three of the Childs' favorites that Julia mentions in the book...

...aaaand, since I am turning the big 3-0 this year, I wonder if I might not ring it in in Paris? I've already got some good advice from chic things to do in Paris on a budget, to where to find Jean Paul Sartre's favorite cafe. I think I may have finally  figured out how to celebrate this milestone! (*cough* Ok. Um, now I just need to find the airfare...)

Monday, February 6, 2012

birthday boxes

Rather than having a big party, which of course couldn't include all my favorite people (I'm looking at you, friends who live in other California, Ohio, and all parts of the South), I would love to be on-the-ball enough to make and send birthday boxes.

They'd just be little things--small tokens to bring the festivities to my loved ones, including them in the joy. 

Here is a fun-looking box, with stuff to make cupcakes, tiny plates to eat them off of, and even decorations!

Amanda Jane Jones made these cool boxes for her man, who coincidentally turned the same age I am turning in a few weeks. If I sent straws, I'd have to also send tiny drink mixers, and recipes I think. You know, dull the pain. For me.

On second thought, maybe I'd keep the drink mixers, and send the straws!

Friday, February 3, 2012

birthday treats~cheese

As I contemplate how to celebrate my looming birthday, I can't not think about what I'd like to eat. I'm just so in love with food, you see, that I think about it all the time. Like a lover. It really is one of my greatest pleasures in how could I possibly celebrate without carefully considering what to nosh on?

I couldn't.

And one of my favorite foods in the. whole. wide. world. is cheese.

Michigan cheese

For my birthday, I would love to stick a candle in a wedge, like Jo's hubs did for her. What a jaunty little substitute for birthday cake!

I would absolutely want my birthday cheese to be chosen for me by Madame Fromage. She has the best, um, taste in cheese, and her blog always makes my mouth water. Plus, she is a fellow writing prof (I saw her food-writing presentation at the Conference on College Composition and Communication last year), so, solidarity. PLUS, how could you not immediately love and trust a woman who has designed a Downton Abbey-themed cheese board??

The answer is you must absolutely love and trust her. Obviously.

But, I don't have to go across the pond to get scrumptious cheese! I would love to savor some of my favorite Mitten-made favorites, like the peppery Bridgewater or the Great Lakes Cheshire from Zingerman's Creamery, or a creamy, velvety Raclette from Leelanau Cheese.

Of course, this does not in any way preclude enjoying chocolate or cake as well. Just so we're clear.


What about you? What is your favorite treat (birthday or otherwise)? Do tell.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

how does one celebrate a birthday?

“Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons.”

― Ruth Ann Schabacker

Ok, gang. It's officially February. And I don't mind tellin' ya that it's my birthday this month...a particularly painful one, at that.

(deep breath) I'm turning thirty.

Now, I've always loved my birth-month. Celebrating my birthday so close to Valentine's Day has meant lots of chocolate, flowers and pink surrounds me each year--and I love it! I usually know exactly how I want to celebrate. Last year, it was champagne and pizza with Jake on the day, and then a special date to see the Merce Cunningham performance at the Power Center.

This year, everyone keeps asking me what I want to do. And I have no idea. It feels momentous, important, to be acknowledging this milestone. I'm not quite sure exactly how I'll decide to commemorate it, but I was hoping you all wouldn't mind if I used this space (the blog) to work through some ideas. I may actually end up celebrating in July...or maybe I'll just spread it out over the whole month of Feb. Either way, wish me well as I muse on all things celebratory!

Also, I could really use your help. You guys are all smart and classy and have great taste. Any ideas for fabulous (and budget-friendly~we're on teachers' salaries here!) ways to fete? Do tell!
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