my bracket

as is pretty much everyone right now, i'm embroiled in this ncaa business. however, my heart is not really in it. i'm confused about the teams, not sure about the standings, and honestly, the only reason i picked gongaza is the funny name. this bracket though, i can get behind:

i will take issue with standing rib roast winning though. i've met many standing rib roasts over the years, but none have ever come close to the deliciousness of a regular 'ol slice of salty, crispy, porky bacon. and it's really no contest with those artisanal bacon slices that are like inches thick. but other than that, i'm all about this bracket.

grapefruit salad

a much prettier food picture, and more forward looking as well. i'm headed off to belize later this week (crazy, right?!) and can't wait for the tropical fruit salad breakfast to commence. in the meantime, i've been keeping myself busy with a visit from my baby brother, and in the middle of all this new-york style eating (pizza, wings, ramen, crack pie), this fresh, homemade salad looks like a beacon of the spring to come. i actually made it a couple of weeks ago, when the weather was even more dire. the bursts of grapefruit, coupled with the smoothness of the fresh goat cheese was like a burst of summer, and made my cold night seem very misplaced. oddly enough, the peak of grapefruit season is from january through april, so scoop them up while they're still good. this salad is a tasty way to reintroduce your taste buds to bright flavors after the long, dark winter, just like i'll be trying to reintroduce my skin to the concept of sun when i'm in belize. bring on the sunscreen!!

spinach salad with grapefruit

serves 4
4 1/2 cups spinach
1 whole ruby red grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments with a sharp paring knife
2 ounces fresh goat cheese (herbs optional)
sliced almonds

french vinaigrette
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
5 tablespoons white wine vinegar
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ small clove garlic, grated
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

put all ingredients in a jar (if you're going for consistency with the french theme, those bonne maman jelly jars are great for this) and shake it up. dancing while shaking is highly encouraged too.
assemble spinach, crumble goat cheese, dole out the grapefruit, sprinkle almonds, dress with vinaigrette, and eat.

spinach: $2.50
goat cheese: $4
grapefruit: $1
sliced almonds: $2.00
total: $9.50
per serving: $2.38
for a quick trip to springtime, i'd say close to $3 isn't bad.

chicken + sausage stew

this stew is probably not the prettiest thing ever posted on this blog, but with the weather much colder than necessary, its depth and warmth make up for the hodgepodge look. if you're only one, this recipe will easily feed you for a week. if you, like me, get tired of eating the same thing over and over, the leftovers freeze really well, which means you'll always have something to remedy these bleak, cold days.

yes, i'm still making these "seasonal" stews, but really i'm dreaming of ice cream dripping on the's time already!

chicken + sausage stew, adapted from gourmet

1 pound sausage (i used andouille), cut into rounds
8 large chicken thighs (about 2 1/2-3 pounds)
2 large onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 14 1/2-ounce can low-salt chicken broth
1 can cannellini beans
juice of half a lemon
3/4 cup pitted and sliced kalamata olives

aaute sausage in a large dutch oven over medium heat until brown, about 4 minutes. transfer to large bowl. sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. add chicken to pot and cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. transfer chicken to bowl with sausage. pour off all but 1 tablespoon pan drippings.

add onions and bell peppers to pot; sauté until golden brown, about 15 minutes. add garlic, oregano, thyme and paprika; sauté 2 minutes. return sausage, chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. add tomatoes with juices, chicken broth, lemon juice and 1 cup water. bring to boil. reduce heat; cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes.

uncover pot. add olives and simmer until chicken is very tender and liquid is reduced to thin sauce consistency, about 40 minutes. add beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. i actually prepared this a day ahead of time and refrigerated it overnight. we just reheated it over medium-low heat for 45 mins. serve over couscous with a big fresh green salad.

oilcloth lunch bag

years ago, i promised you i'd try to make an oilcloth lunch bag from a martha stewart tutorial. however, on closer inspection, i realized her tutorial was woefully lacking in detail for a novice seamstress like myself. despite this setback, in a great effort to please, i pressed on and came up with this:

my oilcloth, (from ikea- a surprisingly good source for fabric!) was a little looser than martha's. this meant that my lunch bag doesn't stand up as well, and serves as more of a lunch sack than a proper bag. no matter- it still holds my lunch, contains spills, is pretty, and easily reusable, and was the product of my own two hands. i didn't bother with the velcro, although it would be very easy to attach. even with martha's lacking direction, it didn't take me too terribly long. a good project for a rainy afternoon; you can make a whole slew of these for presents too!

(ah! i just found this site with the pattern! this would have made my life much easier!)

-i'm assuming you have a sewing machine. if you don't, you can still do this project by hand with a little more time.
-fabric was $7.50 per yard. you can make approx. 2 of these.
total cost: $4.25 cents, plus you'll have lots of extra scraps of fabric

hudson valley winter

a couple of weeks ago we trekked out to the lower catskills for a long weekend. here's grace's photo-collage of the trip. it includes such things as: an abandoned bus bound for san fransisco, an unexpected swan, fresh beet juice mixed with seltzer, being torn between frank gehry and trees, more doornobs than you could ever want, 8 year olds policing their buffalo fields, ladies and men, cooking grits, and yes, that's right, vienetta! god bless huge suburban groceries stores and the endless desires of their customers!

burgers i have known

we had a visitor for a couple of weeks this february/march and wanted to make something special to celebrate his arrival. since his last name is burgerman, we naturally wanted to make some special fancy burgers, but in a cruel twist of luck, we discovered he is a vegetarian. maybe his vegetarianism is borne out of a deep concern with the over-commercialized meat industry, or the growing negative effects raising cattle has on our environment, but it could also be fear of not being able to fully live up to the name "burgerman". being a vegetarian just seems easier, i guess.

with a lack of traditional options to choose from, we knew this was the right time to attempt the "BURGERCAKE". friends, i deeply, deeply, regret not showing this to you sooner. it is the pride and joy of this blog and was truly the best burger i have known. (jon, you're a close second!)

after doing loads of online research on burgercakes, we settled on the following items to represent the traditional burger ingredients:

bun: yellow cake, 2 large layers (one bigger than the other)
sesame seeds: puffed rice- rice krispies would have been fine, but since our co-op doesn't carry scary GM food, we had to settle for the hippie variety.
meat: chocolate cake, we only used one round for this, and cut it in half with dental floss. also, carefully cut along the edges of the cake to create the rough, meat-y, look.
mayo: white icing, from a can. i didn't see any other burgercakes with mayo, but grace is from the south, so that means mayo on everything. i'm happy to oblige, because mayo is damn good.
ketchup + mustard: dyed white icing. we used gel dye from wilton. the colors were very rich, but we did use quite a bit of red for the ketchup.
lettuce: dessicated coconut dyed with a bit of green food coloring- i think it's an amazing resemblance!
cheese: if you know me, you know i think a burger without cheese is worst than no burger at all, which is why this burgercake has large slices of mango sandwiched between the two faux meat patties.
there was also quite a bit of chocolate frosting hidden between the layers, because, well, why not?

here is my cheeseburger CD case beside the burgercake so you'll have an idea of scale, i would say it was about 1:4. also, i'd tell you how much it was, but since it was a gift of sorts, it would be a little uncouth. what i can tell you is that the amount of sheer pleasure i got at opening the fridge to this mega-burger was worth at least 10 times the cost.
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