Here is some of what’s been going on around here lately.
Jordan’s famous blueberry pancakes topped with Robin’s famous homemade Amagansett peach preserves.
Jordan has not yet gotten the memo that processed meats are evil. Here we have chorizo sprinkled atop scrambled eggs and sausage from Hemlock Hills farm on the same plate. Scrumptious.
This was another Food52 find. The chocolate cake was made with Guinness. The cream cheese frosting was supposed to be made with pear cider, which J couldn’t find. Instead, he decided to infuse it with some lavender mint tea that we had laying around the house. And he says he can’t improvise…
Flowers for poor, sickly me. Thank you sweetie.
I am the trip planner whenever J and I travel. I get a strange sense of comfort and satisfaction from reading guide books and ruminating over itineraries, maps, and hotels. This is especially true in the case of Japan, since I know (or more accurately, knew) my way around, and since I have a laundry list of places that I am aching to revisit. Within about a week of booking our trip, I had almost entirely mapped out our journey and finalized our hotels. You could say I was more than a little excited.
When it comes to food, however, I encourage J to do the research and tell me where he wants to eat. To him, every vacation is about food, first and foremost. And while the culinary experience is a big deal for me as well, I don’t quite relish the idea of reading through countless posts on Chowhound and the like in order to find the most beloved foodie destinations.
Putting aside the challenge of navigating Japan, and particularly the labyrinth of Tokyo, I created a Google Doc for us to collaboratively plan our adventure. I have filled in where will be each day, with a column for “activities”, and another column for J to fill in, called “eating”. Here he can pull together his sources for the best food in a given area. The challenge, of course, will be in our ability to find these restaurants once we’re there, but we’ll cross that bridge later.
J started his research with the cities of Kyoto and Osaka. So far, he has bookmarked a chain called Yubanzai Komame-ya, specializing in yuba, a delicacy composed of fresh layers of the skin of soybean milk (in other words, tofu skin);
and Giro Giro, offering a modern take on Kaiseki (a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner), which has been widely well-reviewed. People particularly are drawn in to watch the chefs at work.
Of course, we don’t want every detail planned in advance. I hope we can wander aimlessly and let our noses guide us to some great hole-in-the-wall places as well.
I may have been too busy to post anything over the last few weeks, but that doesn’t mean J has been slacking in the kitchen. On the contrary, I have many highlights to share. And, although J will swear up and down that he is a terrible baker, many of this post’s goodies are baked ones.
This lemon custard bread has my name written all over it. I typically love anything lemony, especially in the dessert category.
J made these homemade biscuits to pair with a soup (picture not found). I think I tried to resist eating them for about 5 minutes, and then I had to give in and eat them for the rest of the week.
And now smothered for weekend brunch, just to make them extra healthy.
Finally, something healthy! This tuna salad with olives, peppers, artichokes, basil (recipe from food52) is the best I have ever had in my life. I could eat it everyday. There are so many flavors going on, and the basil gives it a hint of sweetness. Served with kale and quinoa salad, one of J’s go to recipes, always fantastic (and lemony).
Our friend, Amy, visited us this past weekend, and J knew that brunch the next morning would be pretty naughty, so he went easy on us with dinner. It was healthy and delicious, and made us feel a little less guilty about dessert.
We finally finished off the scones, which is both happy and sad.
Brunch prep: this is basically a giant latke, from J’s Thomas Keller book.
The finished product.
Needless to say, we could use a good walk today to make up for the damage we’ve done.
Some homemade Middle Eastern mezze:
This week brought us two very cold days, with temperatures in the teens at night. That’s all it took to finally get some noticeable ice on the lake, and even along the Hudson River. Then the weather got much warmer. Today feels like the first day of spring, in fact. We have some melting going on in the backyard (luckily for the ducks, who are still clinging to every unfrozen inch of the place).
J is worried that this winter will be too warm for the lake to freeze over. He has long been looking forward to walking on it. We’re told that it always freezes though, and by late January/early February the ice fishers will emerge with their huts. I hope J will wait until he sees them safely perched out there before running across it himself.
We’ve had our first holiday season up here (and as a married couple). Christmas trees now lay on curbs, the car has been equipped with snow tires, and it looks like temperatures will start to drop this week. Although we did get a freak snow storm in October, it has since been unseasonably mild and we are holding our breaths waiting to see what winter, at its most brutal, will look like in Lake Peekskill. I think that as long as we resign ourselves to use the occasional sick/vacation day when the roads get dicey (we both get plenty but rarely use them), it might actually be easier (i.e. prettier and cozier) up here. Jordan’s prediction is that this will be a mild winter, and that we’ve already experienced the worst. He’s such an optimist. I keep telling him that December is always the mildest month of the winter. We kid ourselves into associating Christmas and New Year’s with snow, but January is when the season hits full force. Once the next snow falls, we won’t see the ground for many months to come. I wonder if we will still go hiking/walking every weekend, and whether people will want to keep visiting us. I wonder if either of our cars can handle snowy roads (hope so!), and how long it will take to shovel them out and defrost them in the morning before work. And I wonder how we will bear the morning commute into the city, knowing that if we stayed home we’d be in front of a raging fire and looking out onto the frozen lake in our backyard. The real test of whether we are cut out for life up here, or whether we should pack our bags and join J’s family in sunny California, begins now.
In the meantime, we had some Christmas weekend guests, who were treated to J’s sausage and peppers and his lamb tagine.
For New Year’s weekend we visited our friends in Amagansett, where we walked through sand dunes and cooked a seafood feast.
Tomorrow we head back to regular work weeks (well, it’s only a 4 day week, but still…). These last 2 long weekends in a row have spoiled us rotten.