Sunday, November 30, 2008


Our 8 ft. Blue Noble Fir tree (from Oregon) is looking and smelling wonderful. We picked it up today at Green Gardens, and put the lights on tonight before dinner. The tree fits perfectly in the room next to the kitchen:

Elaine's Pesto

A fun part of the Thanksgiving trip was visiting my aunt and uncle and accepting the delicious gift of homemade raspberry preserves and pesto from aunt Elaine. She makes these, along with lots of other goodies, every fall and then preserves them. Receiving one of Elaine's delicious jars is something that everyone in the family looks forward to. We were so excited about the pesto that we had to use it in our first dinner back home tonight. We mixed the pesto with whole wheat penne, sauteed eggplant, and quattro formaggio cheese sprinkled on top. Served next to a big green salad with lettuce from the farmer's market - this was a great dinner. And we will be taking the yummy leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Ann Arbor Thanksgiving

We arrived home late last night from a fun-filled Thanksgiving in Ann Arbor. We visited my dad, grandmother, aunt and uncle, along with a few family friends who knew me when I was a baby (I was born and lived there until I was 2). We got to stay at my dad's new condo, checked out the local farmer's market, and even hit the town one night to meet up with Dylan's college friend, Hugh. It was lots of fun to spend time with Trevor and Liz who flew in from NYC - I don't get to see my brother enough! Here are some photos from Thanksgiving day of the cooking and eating that took place at dad's house.

Dana and dad, getting ready to carve the turkey:

The 20 lb. free range turkey that dad brined on Wednesday night:

Talented gravy-makers, Dylan and Liz, hard at work in the kitchen:

Dinner (turkey, gravy, grilled root veggies, spinach/cherry/goat cheese salad, cranberry sauce):

And the classic Vaughn chocolate pie for dessert (with my added touch of fresh raspberries):

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dinner : Sea Bass, Acorn Squash and Spinach Salad

Our last dinner before heading out to the freezing (but fun) temperatures of Michigan for Thanksgiving:

Sea Bass with acorn squash and spinach salad with a soy-mustard dressing. We only get Chilean Sea Bass about once every couple months due to its relatively high mercury content and Dana's 'condition'. We get it from a local fish market who says they get it from fishermen who catch it legally and responsibly. It is a very nice fish market so I tend to believe them - also the fish is sooooo good.

Hope everyone has a Happy Turkey Day!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dinner and Tomato Eater

Recently I've been working on my salad dressing. Normally Dana always makes the salad dressing for our dinners because she has a natural talent for it. Over the last seven years, after closely and carefully watching her prepare her dressings, I am starting to feel comfortable making them myself. So far I've just been doing the basic balsamic vinaigrette. The last couple of attempts have gone really well so I am going to start branching out into mustards and who knows what else!

Below is a recent dinner we made - spinach salad with avocado, onions, home-grown cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette, and wheat-flax pasta with a sausage tomato sauce topped with coarsely grated parm.

Our heirloom tomato plant on the back deck has stopped trying to grow fruit, but the cherry tomato plant growing out of our driveway is still going strong. Dana found this little guy hanging out on one of the branches - a tomato hornworm. We just pick them off.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mexican Bass with Crispy Potatoes and Lemon Baby Broccoli

Last night we made up a very delicious recipe based on some Mexican Blue Nose Bass from our local fish shop and a bunch of things we had on hand. We had some leftover boiled potatoes and these beautiful, sweet orange cherry tomatoes from our farmer's market run last weekend. We also had baby broccoli, lemon and parmesan cheese (perfect for modified version of the Amateur Gourmet's broccoli dinner). The dinner plan was coming together! First we roasted the cherry tomatoes in the oven with olive oil, a few garlic cloves and basil from the garden. Once that became a sweet, pulpy mess, we kept it on warm in the toaster oven. Then we got the broccoli ready by drizzling with olive oil, salt, pepper and roasting for 15 minutes, spritzing with lemon juice and tossing with Parmesan. Meanwhile, we diced up the potatoes and cooked them in a pan till they got nice and brown/crispy. At the same time we coated the bass in flour and a little salt and pan fried it (with a nice pat of butter). When everything was done, we plated the broccoli, put the bass over a bed of crispy potatoes and then spooned on some of the yummy roasted tomatoes. There were a lot of dishes, but this was a terrific meal!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Farmer's Market Goodness

Raspberries, brussels sprouts, eggplant, orange cherry tomatoes, guavas, red grapes, ruby grapefruit, honey crisp and granny smith apples, satsumas, macadamia nuts. Will our healthy diet be redeemed after the dutch baby and bacon breakfast?

Sunday Dutch Baby

Dylan had a puzzled look on his face when I woke up this morning, rolled over and suggested that we attempt to make a dutch baby. This could be because I am already pregnant and neither of us is Dutch, but it also could be that he hasn't been keeping up with reading the Amateur Gourmet's blog posts.

A dutch baby is a puffy, baked pancake that you drizzle with butter, lemon juice and powdered sugar. I learned about them last week from my beloved Amateur Gourmet, and adapted Molly's recipe that he linked to on his website. I used milk instead of half and half (because it's all we had) and added a pinch of salt, a dash of vanilla sugar and a few dots of bourbon vanilla to the batter. I also cooked the dutch baby in a heavy ceramic dish instead of a cast-iron skillet, placing a jelly roll pan underneath to catch the stray bits of butter that would have ended up in my oven. Here is the preparation:

That baby really poofed up in the oven, and I was crouched below the oven for a while with the light on, marveling at the puffy, golden-brown bubbles that formed while I watched. It was pretty impressive!
We sliced it in half, put it on plates, drizzled on lemon juice, dusted on powdered sugar, added a few slices of bacon and a dish of strawberries and bananas, and had a breakfast fit for king and queen!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Finally Streak is over 18 for a presidential election!