a basil grows in beacon hill

Sometimes living in the city can feel like an impossible task.

your car gets towed if you forget to move it on the right day, which is never the day you thought it was.

you’re certain your neighbors see you making oatmeal in your underwear, a lot. Probably more than they’d prefer.

the guys from the restaurant out back gather to smoke pot together and murmor below your window, every single afternoon.

the mice were told the kitchen was available for cohabitation, and signed a lease.

But of course there are reasons we stay. And on top of those, when you overcome a limitation–like, say, no green space to plant in–and contrive a little spot for some hardy basil to give it a go, it really feels like a victory.

I hope these little plants know what they’re in for.

 

 

Faded Plaid

Joe made this design over the weekend and submitted it to Threadless. I proposed the idea of an altered plaid pattern and Joe scurried away and came back with this remarkable thing. My favorite part might be the wood floor backdrop. You can give it a thumbs up (do!) right here. (actually you can vote 0-5, but I think we know what score a thumbs up equals, right?)

Tomorrow I’ll post a few pictures of our tour of America’s Test Kitchen. We sat on set and watched the filming of a couple shows, got to try the result (chocolate pudding), and browsed their amazing cookbook library.

Cook’s Illustrated’s Perfect Cookies

Recipes go into the Test Kitchen (which publishes Cook’s Illustrated) and reappear as runway models of their former selves. Inefficiencies, widely accepted rumors of what works, weird unnecessary steps, and disproportionate ingredients are trimmed, firmly reprimanded, frisked, or tugged into place.

Their recipe for chocolate chip cookies is full of just these alterations, challenging everyone’s favorite back o’ the box recipe by Toll House. Lighter on the flour, more and darker brown sugar, higher oven temperature, one less egg white…everything focused with undivided attention upon creating the chewiest cookie possible, with flavors of toffee, butterscotch, and serious butter love hiding inside.

The result speaks for itself. In your mouth. While you debate eating three in a row.

You can get their detailed recipe to add to your repertoire (do) right here, and here’s a visual guide to the key elements.

This post is my entry into Cook’s Illustrated delightful blogging contest. Read more about it right here, and see the other contestants here, here, here.
UPDATE: E&D won! Joe and I get to visit the Test Kitchen next week! You can see the top finalists here, I love the judges’ comments. In true Test Kitchen fashion, they took the contest seriously and gave great commentary on what they liked. So fun to participate with all the other bloggers. Read about our visit to the Test Kitchen right here!

What Happened to April

Sorry guys. I’ve been missing this place.

I went home for a baby shower. Joe and I made a little mix cd to give as a tiny thank you to all the amazing women who gave us gifts, many of them obviously handcrafted with love. It was supposed to be Springy, and Agreeable, so that even my grandmothers would like it. You can listen to it too, right here. (the mix I lined-up to play right after our mix is really good too–French and sexy.)

Want a close-up of that little painting Joe made for the cd cover? I know I do:

My only selfish request for the shower brunch was that there be cinnamon rolls. My mom makes the recipe that was copied off of Cinnabon, as in the all rights reserved Cinnabon, the one you hope is in the airport so you can sneak off and get a small box of chewy frosted dough.

Is there anything quite like seeing a dozen adults queue up to buy themselves cinnamon rolls?

a sample gift:

What else?

I made this easy quinoa tabbouleh and thought about how healthy and worthy I was, eating quinoa and even pronouncing it properly under my breath. (instead of “keen-wa,” there used to be days when I said “qui-noAH.” Whatever. The point is, it has a lot of amino acids.)

I watched the first episode of “Dresscue Me.” You can download it, free, from iTunes. Joe was almost too stressed out by the estrogen-energy to watch; which I say as a warning before you get the whole family in front of the television.

I read a bunch of great books. The last three on that list were particularly fun to read. If you need a little great writing in your life, a little reminder of how immediately enticing a story can be, get The Imperfectionists from the library. I almost read it twice, just to make it last longer.

Don’t forget about this almond pastry Easter recipe I wrote about last year.

Just because I wasn’t around here doesn’t mean I wasn’t reading your lovely blog posts, and funny tweets, missing your thoughtful company, and clicking your delightful links. I was.

Grains & Matches

I have just finished eating twenty cocktail olives. It’s eat-everything-in-the-kitchen time because the subletters are moving in next week. Usually this means a grim grim analysis of the ridiculous sauces I’ve bought over the last eight months and used once each (really Rachael? Four different rice vinegars? That sounds like a great idea.). Were Boston to be Pompeii II, archeologists would analyze my pantry and think very highly of my eating habits. As it is not, I’m left with the facts that I often buy loads of grains, find old glass jars, pour said grains into jars, and cheerily put them up on shelf never to be acknowledged again.

Does this pantry make you sick with envy and lifestyle jealousy? no? Just me.

So the arrival today of 2500 very endearing little things that start with m–not monkeys, guess again–was enormously cheering.

Matchbooks! We sell a lot of cigarettes at the market. Pack a/day, pack a/week, pack a/ “I only smoke on vacation.” And they all want matches with their purchase. As we see it, with matches you either can have them, or you can have them awesomely. We chose awesomely, obviously. We like to think Roy would approve of the cribbing, and are happy to give the beach babe second chance at pop culture stardom.

Market Launch! (Friends & Family)

Good news! Our shower drain is backed up and we haven’t showered for days!

Oops, wrong post. Save that good news for the new-ways-to-avoid-shampoo post.

The other good news: I am delighted to announce that the Market now has its own website! No more leeching off my website, no sir. I’ve been fiddling with it for far too long to have any objective opinion anymore, so check it out and give me your thoughts! We are headed to Nantucket officially in about two weeks, at which point we will really have some news and photos to post, so officially add the Market blog to your subscriptions! Customer profiles, ocean photos, cocktail recipes, island gossip, and oh-so humorous anecdotes are sure to follow!

Something I’m particularly excited about is our newsletter. I am a big fan of email-newsletters, they make me feel marginally better about the demise of print. (My favorites are from Zingerman’s and Present & Correct.) If you like to receive well designed, nicely written newsletters with curios, tidbits, and the occasional small cartoon, sign up here! After we have collected enough email addresses, not only will we send out a newsletter, but we will sell all the addresses to a struggling pharmaceutical company looking for a few friendly supporters!

Okay friends, I’m off to lure an innocent plumber into our apartment. xoxo.

Rouge in February

Campari and I have never gotten along like we should. Campari & soda seemed like the best possible drink to sidle up to the bar and order, preferably if you’ve arrived late, and everyone else has ordered and then you show up and whisper something to the bartender and this deep red, slightly sparkling, completely Italian drink appears in your hand. But it is strong, bitter stuff. And soda does you no favors, remaining steely and sharp alongside the bitter. I was forced to conclude that the only way you can really drink it was if you planned on drinking nothing and just carried your glass around with you all night.

But yesterday I was digging through the archives at smittenkitchen, looking for inspiration for last night’s dinner party. I  found inspiration (from 2007, lemon risotto with scallops) and her recipe for a Campari-involved concoction.  And oh yes: this is it. Pink, sparkling, layers of sour, bitter, sharp, tangy and softy sweet at the end. It’s ideal as an apertif: when you have an empty stomach and are very worried about when dinner will start, but have only been offered a drink so far with maybe a nibble of cheese to mull over, asks for (demand) this.

Fill ¼ of the glass with campari

Fill a little over a  ¼ of the glass with soda

glass should be 1/2 full at this point.

Quick glug of sweet vermouth (it will say “Rouge” on the label.)

3 glugs of grapefruit juice

Lime for decorative purposes, I don’t think it’s gin-and-tonic essential here. As you can note in the picture, by “glass” I mean tumbler.