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Thanksgiving Recap

26 Nov

In addition to the traditional fixings (my favorite dish this year was my sister Sarah’s sweet potatoes with goat cheese; recipe below), my family added a few new elements to this year’s holiday celebration.

First, a post-dinner haiku contest. Here are a few memorable ones:

Wild birds land on lake
Farm birds land on dinner plate
Wonders never cease

Potatoes and bread
The devil’s carbohydrates
Thank you, stretchy pants

Cozy in men’s socks
Watching trees dance in the grey
Wondering always

Taters, turkey, peas
Drop from my fork to the floor
Here kitty kitty
(I think this last one was adapted from a previously published poem, but it was performed with great enthusiasm by a 5-year-old, so we gave it the grand prize.)

After the haikus we had some desserts. This year we averaged 1/3 of a pie per person. Needless to say, we had a lot of leftovers.

From the left: classic pumpkin; gluten-free orange almond cake; chocolate/banana/caramel; and apple.

We also heard a variety of readings including poetry by Margaret Atwood and Paul Laurence Dunbar, a couple chapters from The Pushcart War (so timely!), an essay by E.B. White on subsistence farming, and a short remembrance of my mother’s mother. Kris read this poem by Mary Oliver that I quite liked.

Why I Wake Early

Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields
and into the faces of the tulips
and the nodding morning glories,
and into the windows of, even, the
miserable and the crotchety –

best preacher that ever was,
dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –
good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

Finally, we all brought books for an exchange and each got to take home a few new finds. I’m thankful for books!

Spanning high brow to low brow

Recipe to save for next year, courtesy of my sister:

Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Bacon

4 large sweet potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch
4-6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pt heavy cream
8 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper
Chop and cook bacon. Remove bacon to towel to drain.
Cook onion in bacon fat, slow and low to caramelize.
Add cream and gently heat, add goat cheese, stir to melt.
Return bacon to pan once the cheese has melted. (Add a little cream or, alternatively, GF pancake mix to adjust sauce until it resembles homemade mac & cheese sauce.)
Layer sliced sweet potatoes with sauce (seasoning each layer of potatoes with salt and pepper) – 3 or 4 layers deep – in a 9×13 pan.
Bake, covered, at 325 for an hour or so.
Remove foil, broil for a few minutes to brown top. Could add a bit of cheese at that point, too.

Picnic Society Recap

30 Jun

Last Sunday Anne and I hosted a gathering of the Picnic Society, an important organization Anne founded last year. Allow me to tell you about it.

First, to get into the picnic spirit, we gave everyone a fancypants picnic name like Cassidy Sutton, Silas Adams, or Tallulah Shaw. Anne and I think this really helped set the tone.

We had a patchwork of brightly colored blankets to lounge on, and a giant red balloon to mark the picnic spot. Friends and friends-of-friends came to nosh on crackers and cheese, fruit, curried chicken salad with mango, orzo salad, and more. Anne outdid herself with two amazing pies: blueberry and strawberry banana cream! For refreshment, we sipped spiked southern punch, strawberry lemonade, and a cucumber mint tea with our striped straws.

Caroline won the croquet match, but the badminton game was a draw. We ended up awarding the Picnic Prize (a fun Boxsal picnic box) to Julia after drawing her name from a hat.

Thanks to all of our friends who came and brought everything from sparkling beverages to sparkling wit. We love you!

Photos by Julia Smith

Kids’ Table Party

13 Apr

A couple weeks ago, Anne and I co-hosted our first Kids’ Table Party with some of our favorite (grown up) kids.

Anne came up with this awesomely nostalgic menu and added some grown-up flavors:

Apples with Peanut Butter
Green Bean Casserole
Lobster Macaroni and Cheese
Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies
Apple Fizz Cocktail


The chef

I was in charge of cocktails

Kelley brought artistry to the cracker and breadstick plate

Fortune teller placecards and spin art party favors

Pre-dinner activities

The artist at work

Julia's literal interpretation of Crayola colors


Kid Lit. Still good.

See you next year!

Photos by Julia Smith.

Happy Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

My family had a Valentine’s Day party last weekend, since I was home for a couple of days.


An explosion of pink. Notice the Valentine mailboxes on the mantle. We exchanged homemade cards. (Just like Elementary School!)
Yummy Ratatouille au Gratin.
We have lots of pictures of my dad carving birds. See also: Dickens Christmas.
Dessert X2
A little dressed up.

This was our thirtieth theme party. To commemorate the occasion, I had this poster designed by a talented woman I found on etsy. Everyone in my family got a 18″ X 24″ color poster. A good conversation piece, don’t you think?

The Seven Players of Iron Chef: Layers

26 Jan

In December, my office held our third Iron Chef competition in conjunction with our annual holiday party. The competition theme was Layers, and once again, my co-workers brought it. Layers upon layers of awesome. It was unbelievable. And I don’t use that word lightly. I honestly wouldn’t believe it myself if it weren’t for this photographic evidence (provided by Julia Smith, of course).

Jeremy made a layered cocktail. He's also rocking the grungy Seattle circa 1993 look. His first album could be called "Layered Soul."

This was my entry: gluten-free spinach lasagna with walnut pesto. It tasted good, but honestly the best part was the Garfield quote I found to accompany it: "Once again my life has been saved by the miracle of lasagna." Garfield has so many layers, people.

Okay, my lasagna was good, but Kim's Raw Lasagna was better. Look at that thing. She was obviously trying to "slayer" the competition.

Other entries included Elise's Amazing Layered Sandwich, Elena's Incredible Mediterranean Parfait, Julia's Tasty Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars, and Steve's Sumptuous Seven Layer Bars. What the what?!?

Not only was the food creative and delicious, but the jokes were hilayerious, and Lorene brought some new flayer to the decor as well. She took it to a whole ‘nother level (layer?).

We decided not to vote on a winner, I think because we thought it was more in keeping with the “holiday spirit” or whatever.

We are all a little unsure of what’s going to happen at the next Iron Chef competition. We think if it gets any better, our heads might explode.

In case you missed them: “Iron Chef: Mint” and “Iron Chef: Cinnamon.”

Holiday Double Feature

28 Dec

I’ve been busy. So have you!

1. 2010 Great Cookie Bake-Off

For the past several years, my mom, sister, niece and I have been putting together holiday treat packages for our friends and family. It takes a whole day (plus a lot of preparation), but we like it anyway because we are not afraid of hard work. “Great Cookie Bake-Off” is a bit of a misnomer, since we’ve done all sorts of things, from peppermint bark, to meringues, to homemade caramels. But we like the sound of it anyway. This year we wanted to try something different, so we added a couple savories to the mix.

Here is 2010’s menu:

Spicy Mango Chutney
Curried Almonds
Coconut Candy
Chai Fudge (recipe on this page)
Coconut Curry Cookies
Chai Tea packs (see Liza’s recipe)

Can you smell the chutney?

2. Christmas Brunch

On Christmas morning, my mom and I made brunch for the rest of our family.

Winter Parfaits (homemade granola, yogurt, blood orange, pomegranate arils, and candied lemon peel)
Crepes! (Savory: ham and cheese; brie and apple. Sweet: nutella and banana; lemon and sugar)
A nice big salad.
Oh, and sausages.

Parfait means perfect.

Always raising the bar.

(Both photos by Sarah.)



6 Nov

Some people asked for pictures.

Robot in Profile
Robot Using Public Transportation
From left: Annie Hall, Little Orphan Annie, Robot, Jennifer Beals, a Bedbug

I’m sad that I don’t have a picture of the front of the head. It’s pretty cool. It has a beam of light for a mouth. The white arm-like thing on the front is a rainbow maker. There is a magnetic strip down the center, so you’ll never lose your keys. You can also use the robot to make a phone call.

November 17 Update:

Look what Anne found! The lightbeam mouth is a metaphor for something.