Last week was a really long week for several reasons, and by Friday night the husband and I were ready for a break. And a snack. So we splurged on some sushi to share as we caught up with each other and some of our favorite television shows. It's amazing how much enjoying a simple meal can re-center a relationship, reorient two people after days of busily accomplishing this or that task, meeting this or that child's needs.
Saturday evening we culled the tomato plants and then cleared the garden. The night time temps are starting to drop here, and sad as it was to see the plants go, it feels good to have things tidied up and ready for next year. We also picked the last of the cusa squash, which I turned into a chocolate cake after the kids went to bed. Speaking of cooking after the kids go to bed...
The husband and I had many discussions this weekend about how we are both feeling blah about our current meal rotation. The catalyst for the topic was the arrival of the most recent issue of Cook's Illustrated (highly recommend it), and the decision to try one of the recipes we found in its pages (Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes, again, highly recommend!). Trying to stick to a food budget (why is this so hard?!), lack of uninterrupted, or at least semi-undistracted time (I feel you, Martha) in the grocery and in the kitchen, and the difficulty in just dropping everything to "run to the store" for that last necessary ingredient have led us to gradually slide into a boring rut. And being pregnant hasn't helped either.
This week we're going to try to really plan out the week's menu, not just a loose approximation like usual, and shop for everything we need for those meals. Also, I have been going through past issues of Cook's to find some surefire recipes to try out. I will keep you posted on how our new system evolves..
And finally, coffee. Yesterday a family member paid me a huge compliment (or at least I found it to be one) when she told me that every time she has coffee at my house she feels like she's sitting at a European cafe rather than Western New York surrounded by a multitude of kids (mine plus hers) going bonkers. A couple others have messaged me and asked how I make my coffee because it looks so good in the pics. Well, folks, let me reveal my secrets.
I buy espresso roasted beans in bulk from a local grocery store, which I then grind fresh every morning. "Espresso roast" merely indicates that they are a quite dark roast; feel free to use them for any brew method you like. Through trial and error I worked my way through alot of different brands, before finding a bean that had a nice dark roast and oil level without being too oily and/or burnt tasting.
I usually make coffee in the drip maker, which has a carafe and no burner below (which can give a scorched flavor to the coffee). Before beginning, I fill the carafe with very hot water and let it sit for a few minutes, then empty it out. The amount of grounds used is personal preference, but I would rather make coffee that is too strong and dilute it (with extra milk or a little hot water) than have unfixable weak coffee.
For creamer, I warm whole milk in the microwave. And since the power of presentation on the tastebuds is never to be underestimated, I serve on White Heritage Pfaltzgraff cup and saucer. I inherited my set, but these and other options are all over the ebay. And there I will leave it, before you die of sheer tedium. Have a great weekend everyone!
Okay, one more thing. I have a set of six pairs of chopsticks that I would like to giveaway. They are like the ones in the pic above, and in addition to red and white, the set includes blue, black, orange and green. They are super cute. Trust me. You don't have to do anything complicated to enter, just leave a comment below that you are interested, or comment on the link on the Atelier facebook page, or on the Instagram pic (find me, I'm on there as mboctor). I'll old-fashioned style pick a winner on Wednesday. Bonne chance!