Saturday, June 29, 2013

saturday afternoon snack

Snacking on the Japanese rice crackers that mom and dad brought with them. The Japanese are so thoughtful and attentive. They make the most ordinary things look extraordinary.

Friday, June 28, 2013

for next week ...

It's summer and Zach and I have decided to dedicate all next week to celebrating gardening! We have some fun garden-related posts lined up and we hope you'll stop by to check them out!

In the meantime, have a great weekend!

{Etsy Treasury} Watermelons

An Etsy treasury inspired by my favorite summer treat ...
For clickable links to view each item and/or to see this treasury on Etsy, go here.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Leftover Lunches: Kefta Burgers

leftover lunches.  i hate leftovers, ever since i was a kid, and during the summer, i always had to eat leftovers, because there was no school lunch pizza on the menu at home.  so now that it's summer, i'm trying to design some of the things i make around having leftovers that i can easily whip into something different and delicious.  today we're making kefta burgers with red sauce, from the leftovers of fussy-sunday dinner.  when you make it, make a bunch.  the kefta keeps well, and retains its spiciness, even out of the microwave.  and the tomato sauce can be canned, or kept in the fridge for a while.  

reheat the kefta from the other day in the microwave.  place on a bed of lettuce on toasted great harvest virginia savory bread, top with the cold leftover tomato sauce, and chow down.  serve with a fresh tomato/cucumber salad and some pita chips.  delicious.  especially for leftovers.

2 lbs. ground beef
1 small onion, grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, mixed with a little cilantro
1 stem of fresh mint, chopped finely
1tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/2 tsp ras al hanout
1 tsp olive oil

finely chop all fresh ingredients.  in a large bowl, mix the beef in with spices and fresh herbs.
sprinkle with EVOO to keep the beef from being too sticky to work with.  knead the mixture repeatedly to ensure all ingredients are evenly mixed.  let rest for 10 minutes or so, then form into small 3 oz patties.  

throw onto a HOT grill surface and get quick char.  about 2 minutes (keep a close watch so you don't burn them [also use a clean grill]).  reduce the heat to low, flip and continue grilling.  cook to desired temperature.

tomato sauce:
2 lbs of roma tomatoes, peeled and seeded, and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup of wine
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 tsp of roasted crushed cumin seeds (heat a dry cast iron skillet, throw in your seeds, toss until you start to smell it, don't let it smoke)
3 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried chili or 1 or 2 whole dried chilis
1 lemon, juiced
1/8 cup parsley (mixed w/ a little cilantro)
dash of cinnamon 
1/4 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp ras al hanout

boil the tomatoes for a few minutes, until the skin starts to loosen, then drop then in cold water.  peel, seed and chop.  in a sauce pan, heat the olive oil, then brown the garlic and onions.  add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, cumin, chili, cinnamon, and turmeric (leave the parsley, ras al hanout, and lemon for finishing the dish).  stir the mixture together.  put the heat on simmer, cover the pan, and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but you can simmer it for a couple of hours to help the flavors develop.  before serving mix in the parsley, ras al hanout, and lemon juice.  

tomato/cucumber salad:
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped 
1/4 cup of fresh parsley
1 small diced onion
1 tsp salt
1 medium lemon, juice
1 tbsp olive oil

chop up tomatoes and cucumbers. add salt and set aside to drain for 20-30 mins, then add the other ingredients and mix well together. it's best to let it sit for another 20-30 mins to let the flavors meld. simple, fresh and delicious. tastes very cooling on a hot summer afternoon.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

new england sketchbook: rockland and acadia national park

letter blocks say what blog
the breakwater pier outside of rockland.  this pier was about 1k of granite blocks reaching out into the bay.    

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there were 3 windmills spinning on the distant shore.  i of course had to include them.  this pier was surrounded by lobster traps too, and people out fishing for mackerel.

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a sailboat off the end of the pier in rockland.  makes me miss sailing with my favorite college prof and mentor, dan engelke.  it's been a while since i last saw him, but we nearly always took his flying scot out for a spin around green bay when we visiting northern door county wisconsin.

letter blocks say what blog
my favorite spot on the trip.  the peak of acadia mountain.  i came to the park alone to climb this trail.  it was a tough climb and a tougher climb down.  then i decided to climb st. saveour mountain too.  i was exhausted after this hike.  there was no one up there when i got there, and i climbed out on the edge of the granite rock cliff and sketched this image of the cove leading out into the atlantic ocean.  it was inspiringly beautiful to just hear the quiet, save for the tiny boat entering the cove.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

new england sketchbook: providence and portland

letter blocks say what blog
city hall in providence, rhode island.  this was across the street from our hotel.

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rhode island state capitol building.  sits on a hill on the west side of town.  there is a treelined walkway leading to the front steps, and the grounds were open and airy.

letter blocks say what blog
downtown providence, drawn looking up from the canal.  walk ways and foot bridges follow the path of the canal.  i walked down a little ways and sat on a rock watching the ducks and drawing the skyline.

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also from the canal.  looking north.

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after providence we drove to portland, maine.  this is commercial st. in old port, along the pier.  i sat and sketched the street line while mindy and her parents shopped in the place with the yellow awnings.

letter blocks say what blog
the break lights lighthouse at cape elizabeth, maine.  our second day in portland took us took us on a short drive to cape elizabeth and this park perched on the cliffs.  we ate an awesome food cart lobster roll and a fresh cucumber and blueberry salad and i wandered around out on the rocks and around the cliffside trails.  

A visit to Millennium Park

Yesterday, Zach and I drove back into the city after sending my parents off at O'Hare. We wanted to visit the Art Institute but it was still early, so we strolled over to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate, the Crown Fountain, the Pritzker Pavilion (designed by Frank Gehry), and a glimpse of the Jun Kaneko sculptures.


It started to drizzle and by the time the museum was open, there was a huge crowd in line for tickets. I told Zach I was too tired and emotionally spent to stand in line, so we opted to go for an early lunch instead.

We went to Yuzu, a little sushi and robata grill restaurant tucked in the middle of Ukranian Village. We had learned about this place by watching Check, Please! on PBS, so we were excited to see if the food tasted as good as they made it look on tv.

negi hamachi
spicy scallop
tuna, salmon, hamachi, wrapped in kelp

Yuzu did not disappoint. We started off with some seaweed salad and grilled whole squid. Then we sampled some shishito peppers, ribeye, and king oyster mushroom from the robata grill. We also shared some sashimi and rolls, and capped off our feast with some green tea cheesecake. We might not have followed my parents to Japan, but I thought we had a really fantastic Japanese meal right here in the Midwest. The good food helped ease my heartache, albeit only momentarily.

Monday, June 24, 2013

i HATE goodbyes

I apologize for the radio silence.

Zach and I have been spending time with my parents while they are in town. We drove mom and dad to Chicago yesterday so they can catch their flight out of O'Hare today. I am feeling quite sad. Goodbyes are hard.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Fish with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

As you can tell, we've been on a grilling kick. Summer and grilling go together like salt and pepper. Who doesn't like it when you can whip up a quick and easy meal with minimal clean up afterwards?

This week, we are sharing a delicious recipe for a strawberry avocado salsa. It is fresh, sweet, and tart, with a small amount of heat. Serve it over grilled fish (any kind you like), couscous, and a side of roasted asparagus. Yum.

1/2 pint of fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 large avocado, diced
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
juice from 1 lemon
salt to taste

In a large bowl, combine all your ingredients and mix well.
Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour before serving.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

we're home

Seeing my parents and getting to travel up and down the northeast with them was a lot of fun, but Zach, my parents, and I are back in Indiana, and I am overjoyed to see my little fellow!

Monday, June 17, 2013

last day at acadia

first three pictures are of jordan pond

after rising early to watch the first light hit the eastern shores, we returned for a short nap, then ate breakfast, packed our bags, and went back to acadia for one last trip through the park before we headed back to portland to fly home tomorrow morning.  the drive through the park was a bit of a spur of the moment decision, but it was a good decision.

@ sand beach

we decided we'd just take a drive around the park road loop before heading off.  we ended up spending the better part of the morning.  the weather was perfect, with blue skies, a warm sun, and a cool breeze. we stopped several times to take pictures and just stare at the amazing features of acadia.  we stopped by the aptly named sand beach (most are covered with granite boulders and stones), where we walked out to the atlantic waves crashing across the beach.  mindy's face lit up, as she ran out ahead of the rest of us to the water.  she may not be all that into the woods (it does have bugs), but crashing waves give her the same kind of excitement i get from climbing mountains.  it was wonderful to see.  her dad told me how he used to take her to changi beach in singapore when she was a kid.  then she turned around and looked at us with the same grin that i've seen in their old family photos.  pure joy and wonder.

@ thunder hole

after walking through the sand and letting the icy waves wash across our feet, we got back in the car and continued on.  we stopped along the granite cliffs with the waves crashing.  i climbed down the rocks and checked out the tidal pools which were filled with mussels and other little sea life going about their days.  it was so cool.  a world within a world.  after some more pictures and wandering we piled back in the car and finished out the park loop, then began our drive back to portland.

as we made our way off mt. desert island i could see a huge storm brewing ahead of us, and about two or three towns down the road it began to pour.  and i mean pour.  it was a long drive down small roads and through tiny towns, but we made it back safely.  after we returned to portland, we finished off our trip with one last lobster at j's oyster bar.  i think i'm lobstered out, but it was worth it.

sunrise from cadillac mountain

Early this morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed and onto Cadillac mountain to catch the very first light of the country. It was very cold and windy, but the amazing landscape and the anticipation of the sunrise kept us all excited.

If you're up and getting ready for the new week ahead, here's a song for you ... Happy Monday blog readers!

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