Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Whole Lotta Baking

This weekend was one for doing laundry, fixing the radiator (success - you may no longer boil in our apartment in the winter!), paying a trip to target, visiting with friends from out of town, and baking. Lots of baking. Saturday, I made our favorite scones recipe - very similar to my mom's biscuit recipe from The Joy of Cooking but a bit less labor involved. And then I noticed that the bananas on our counter were starting to get a bit too ripe (i.e. we skipped to many swim practices last week), so I decided to make banana bread. And I just pulled a new batch of granola out of the oven.

Last week, we even did a bit of baking during the week, with Sam whipping up a batch of pizza dough, using Deb's favorite recipe, and we made our first attempt at replicating Amorina's delicious fig and prosciutto pizza. I couldn't stretch out the pizza dough very well so the pizza was a bit thick in a few places, but otherwise, it was a pretty good start. No real recipe - brushed the pizza dough with some olive oil and chopped rosemary, then covered with mozzarella cheese (1/4 lb?), quartered figs, and prosciutto until it looked covered. Love that combo.

On the non-baking front, last week I picked up some fresh ricotta at the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza, so when we were feeling lazy Friday night, I whipped up some Pasta w. Asparagus and Ricotta, a super easy dish that can all be put together while the water is boiling. I use a shortcut of throwing in the asparagus in the last few minutes of the pasta, so that you can cook everything at once.

On the dining out front, we had a good meal last night at Spitzer's Corner down on the Lower East Side. We stumbled upon it because 'inoteca had a two hour wait for a table for 5, and Spitzer's was across the street, but it was great for our group - very lively, not too pricy, a great beer list, and lots of good food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pasta and Eggplant

We've been eating well the past week, with a couple new restaurant finds and some new recipes, as well as some old. At Amorina, we had a delicious fig and prosciutto pizza that we loved so much, I picked up the ingredients to try and replicate it at home. We had eggs and potatoes and not much else around last Thursday, so I made a Tortilla Espanola, which is always tasty. And the tomatoes looked delicious at the coop on Saturday, so we whipped up the old standby of Tomato and Basil last night for dinner. Think it was the best of the whole summer. And tonight, we got around to making the Eggplant Dengaku recipe my mother-in-law was so kind to scan for me, and it was as good as she said. This coming from someone who's not the biggest of eggplant fans.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008

Grilled Marinated Pork Tenderlion with Pineapple

I pulled this out of one of the many New York Times Magazines I brought with me to Mongolia, and got around to making it for dinner tonight. Boy was it a good one! Definitely a keeper.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mongolia Recap

After the Flaming Cliffs, we headed north. The first stop to the ruins of two monasteries around Ongi (or Ongiin) Temple. The Soviets had destroyed the monasteries, which sit on both sides of a bubbling stream, back in the 1930's (I think). The buildings looked like they had been in ruins for much more than 70 years though.

Then, it was on to the ancient city of Karakorum. The city had been the capital of the Mongolian empire under the Khubilai Khan. Later on, the oldest monastery in the country of Erdene Zuu was built there. A lot of it had been destroyed by the Soviets as well, but there were still some buildings standing, as well as the wall.

We headed to the Terkhiin Tsagaan region and the Khorgo volcano. This was one of my favorite spots. The lake was beautiful and our ger camp location was well worth the extra drive. Sam and I decided that the lake was perfect for swimming. However, we decided to wait until the next morning to take a dip, which may have been a mistake. It was warm and sunny when we go there late in the afternoon, but the next day it was chilly in the morning and after wading, we decided it would be better for after hiking the volcano. The hike warmed us up and the volcano was amazing as well, but when we got back to camp, I just couldn't get the guts up to get past my knees. Sam managed to get in the water and did a few laps in front of the beach!

The last stop before heading back to the UB was to Lake Huvsgul, up near the border with Russia. The lake was beautiful, with crystal blue water, but by that point we weren't sure if it was worth the two days dive it took to get there.

Overall, we saw some amazing places, but it took a very long time to get to them. There aren't really any paved roads (or roads for than car tracks) outside of the capital, or road signs, so it is very slow going when you're driving, and very easy to get lost. Throw some flat tires in there along with some other auto troubles and it took 10 hours of driving one day. I think that until there are roads (or at least helipads, which we didn't see anywhere), its going to take a while for the tourist industry to get too crazy. There are only so many people who are willing to spend so much time in the car and stay in ger camps the whole trip.

+ All my Mongolia photos

Monday, September 1, 2008

Twin Cities

As you will have seen already from the previous post, Sam and I were in the Twin Cities over the weekend visiting Sam's family and paying a visit to the Minnesota State Fair. The state fair isn't a small fair by any means. This is a huge tract of land devoted to the entertainment of the state for two weeks a year, within the city limits of St Paul. Its a big deal. There's a ton of rides, prize winning quilts, jams, pumpkins, and cows. Livestock giving birth. Tiger Woods seed art.

And most important in my book, food. More to the point, fried food. On a stick. We started the day (breakfast because we wanted to beat the crowds) with corn dogs (which were way too large and we didn't finish since we wanted to leave room for other foods), then on to some cheese curds, draft root beer, walleye on a stick, pickle on a stick, and I think there was some ice cream and a few ribs thrown in there too. Mmm.

Saturday we hit up the St Paul farmers market for breakfast (yes, our whole trip revolved around food), met up with Sam's dad, managed to fit in a trip to The Mall, and then headed to TJ's where we were spending the night. And Sunday, more food at one of Sam's favorite breakfast places, Key's, and then a walk around the U, and eventually Minnehaha Falls which was right near the airport and was a good last stop. We know how to pack things in!

+ Photos of the trip
+ Sam's flickr also has some more photos from his camera phone than are shone here.