Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Prepare to be Amazed...

Back from a long weekend with the DKG, and I've got my groove back. We went to Betsy's boss Sid's vacation home, complete with amazing landscaping, a sunny porch to knit on, and pea fowl.

Here's a little journal of the weekend; thanks, Kim, for being the official photographer, as my hands were too busy balancing my knitting, plates of goat cheese, and glasses of local wine to think of snapping photos.

Friday we get there, and Kitty and Betsy had a gorgeous lunch spread waiting: hummus, sausage, fruit, rosemary bread, too many other things to name. The six of us tucked in and then took a walk through a vineyard to Sid's plot in the community garden. The owner of the vineyard is also a physician who grows grapes as a hobby and shares his land with his neighbors. We picked some flowers (here's Katie near the cutting garden), and on the way home ran into the owner. He was sweet and funny and just magically pulled a chilled bottle of sparkling white from his truck for us to drink with dinner. Already it felt like pixie dust was sprinkled over the weekend.

Much knitting ensued -- or in Kate's case, much stitching, as she was working against deadline on a new stitching book. There was plenting of knitting and talking and laughing and listening to each other's playlists on battling iPods. For dinner, Kitty made a great Mexican spread where we built our own burritos. After dinner, there were martinis and cosmopolitans and lots lots more knitting.

Saturday morning Kitty made an omelet bar. When she first mentioned this, I thought Trouble. Having seen 1960s footage of Julia Child jerking extra-hot pans of eggs for multiple guests, and none of us being Julia, this seemed like a big undertaking that would take valuable time from our knitting and wine drinking. Was I in for a surprise. Here's what you do: Take a freezer quart-sized Ziplock bag, write your name on it in permanent marker, and crack two eggs into it. Squish it around to mix up the eggs. Then add the ingredients you want and squish it some more. Now get the air out of the bag, drop it into a pan of boiling water along with everyone else's bags, set a timer for about 12 minutes (15 or so minutes if you use three eggs), and go open the sparkling white wine the physician/farmer gave you. Get ready to toast, at which time the timer will go off. Give everyone her omelet bag, plop the omelet onto your plate, and, as the Internet instructions say, "Prepare to be amazed!" The omelets tasted fantastic, and they even come out clean enough that you could easily wash and reuse the bags, cutting down on the waste.

More knitting. Kim and I went to the grocery, and then we all walked to the Round Barn Winery for lunch. This isn't the winery I mentioned that's right across the street from Sid's house, but that one is apparently not so super. Round Barn is only a few blocks away, so it was a quick walk. After lunch, we bellied up to a tasting bar and tried a million different wines. Kim and I lugged home about four bottles each. If I spend Thanksgiving with you, expect to try Cranberry wine.

That night, Kim and I tried cooking a Julia Child dinner from a vintage, cover-falling-off copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, circa 1962. Here was the plan:

  • Garlic soup
  • Steamed artichokes
  • Chicken with mushrooms
  • Roasted fennel on the side
  • Cheese plate
  • Apple crisp (which Kitty threw together earlier in the day; thanks, Kitty!)

    We'd matched some of the wines we'd bought earlier with different courses. Some of the glasses of Artesia Spumante contained yeast crystals, which was quite beautiful.

    I feared the flaming step where we doused the chicken in cognac and set it on fire. After Kim told me horror stories of seared bangs from a French-class Bananas Flambe experiment gone bad, I steeled myself and finalized my will before setting fire. Bangs in a headband, long candle-starter in hand, stretching to the stovetop, I took the plunge:

My hair and Sid's kitchen survived. In fact, we only had two dinner mishaps. First, we forgot to turn on the oven when we went to roast the chicken, necessitating shifting courses around so that the cheese plate came first, which is what we expect in America anyway. Second, we shouldn't have served artichokes; the ones we bought were completely useless: no meat, tough leaves. I've never had such horrid artichokes. I taught Katie to prepare artichokes, though, using a technique from Two Fat Ladies. And the choke in the middle made a gorgeous still life, so I suppose it wasn't a completely lost experience:

The chicken was fantastic -- it was very simple (in spite of its need for flame), but the layers of flavor from cognac, brandy, cream, and mushroom cooking liquid was something. If you're a guest in my house any time soon, be prepared to eat it.

Sunday morning was lazy, involving Katie's mom's breakfast casserole, lots of water to counteract our wine dehydration, and too much lamenting that the magical weekend was coming to a close. I've got half a Pinup Girl sweater, Kate completed all the stitching for her book, and Betsy actually finished the adorable Vogue Knitting sweater she started seven years ago when they were in the process of adopting their first daughter.



Blogger amyzeats said...

first off, that entry was such a pleasure to read. even though you'd described a lot of that to me in person over this weekend, reading all of those descriptions was completely engrossing and gorgeous and appetizing. i HAVE to make omelets in a bag! holy cow!

meanwhile, here's the Nigella (Lawson, not spice) recipe I told you about and promised to post:

One-pan sage, onion, chicken, and sausage
(serves 6)

1 large or 2 small onions, cut into eighths
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virg)
2 tsp English mustard*
1 tbsp dried sage
ground pepper
1 lemon
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
4 lbs chicken, cut up (i used only thighs when i made it)
12 sausages (i had a big link of turkey sausages from my farmers' market)
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

in a big ziplock freezer bag, add in the onion, oil, mustard, dried sage, pepper, lemons plus the rinds of the lemon (peel off as much as you can -- but do it before squeezing the juice!), and worcestershire sauce. squidge it around, as nigella says, until it's mixed up and then add in the chicken. marinate for the day or overnight, or even a couple of days.

preheat oven to 425. let chicken come to room temp, then arrange the pieces in a big roasting pan, skin side up. add in the sausages. pour marinade over it all and sprinkle with fresh sage leaves. bake for an hour and 15 minutes. seve on its own or with whatever you like (i made egg noodles).

* i didn't have english mustard and so far only found it in freakin' dean & deluca. BUT i did have two kinds of mustard seed (black and yellow) and turmeric, which are all in english mustard. so i used that and it was great.

5:07 PM  

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