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Lapin Aux Olives

So...yeah.  That took forever, didn't it?

I've been cooking my little heart out, and of course have saved the more difficult dishes for last.  But I haven't bothered posting about any of them, have I??

Anyway, I made this dish (basically, Rabbit with Olives) when our friend Steph was in town.  Everybody licked their plates and got seconds, so I was very pleased.

This was an easy one to prepare, even though it had several steps.  I'm finding this is typical of most of these recipes - there is browning, sauteing, a couple of deglazing steps, and braising.  The combination of these adds layers of flavor that makes this dish greater than the sum of its parts, which is pretty amazing.  Chemistry, for the win!

The rabbit itself was not difficult to obtain.  My local supermarket had plenty in the freezer section, so I got one whole rabbit.  The recipe calls for 4 rabbit legs, and I might have to look into this the next time I make this dish.  The legs are by far the meatiest part of the animal, and don't contain all the tiny bones that you have to contend with in the rest of the pieces.

You take the rabbit pieces and marinate with onions, celery, carrots, garlic, white wine, and peppercorns for about two hours.  Remove the rabbit pieces, dredge them in flour, and brown them in the dutch oven with butter and olive oil until golden, then remove from the pan.  Add the veggies and brown in the pan until caramelized.  Add some more flour and tomato paste to make a roux, then add the marinade and red wine vinegar to deglaze.  Add some chicken stock, olives, and rabbit pieces back to the pan and simmer until the rabbit is tender (I think about an hour).  This is what you end up with:

Aaaand all plated up with some crusty bread:

My stomach is rumbly just looking at it!  I hope you're not expecting fancy plating, because that is not how I roll.  I think the food speaks for itself.

Blueberries with Lime Sugar

I'll start with one of the simplest recipes in the book, Blueberries with Lime Sugar.  But first, I had to make a batch of Citrus Zest Confit, which is also in the book.  So look at that, you get two recipes for the price of one!

My first step was to zest the limes, then cut into thin strips.  As you can see, I didn't achieve strips, they were more in the "shard" family.

Then I simmer in a sugar/water mixture until the liquid is reduced by half.  Let them cool completely, drain, and you're all done.

I took the juice from the limes and mixed them with a little more sugar, mint, and the confit.  And my dessert was complete!

Ok, so I wasn't done yet.  I baked up a batch of almond madeleines (from Cook's Illustrated, I think) to soak up some of that lovely juice, and it worked out very well.  You could also pour the berries over ice cream, dress up some lemonade, or maybe even plink a few in the bottom of a champagne glass and fill to the top with your favorite bubbly.  Oh man, now I'm hungry.

I can't promise that all my entries will be this picture-intensive, but everything just turned out so pretty.
ETA:  I'm having technical difficulties with my pics.  I'll have them up soon! 
I haven't been using this poor blog for much of anything recently.  The twin scourges of Twitter and Facebook have taken over in terms of a place to post pictures and the minutiae of my life, while keeping all my friends updated in a couple of convenient places.

Lately, I've been reading some food blogs, and a couple in particular gave me the (not-so-original) idea to work through all the recipes from a single cookbook, and seeing if I can learn something new and make some tasty stuff in the process.  Oh yeah, and blog about it and post pictures of the food.  Some of these blogs have become huge on the internets in their own right, and have inspired books and movies.  I'm not interested in that.  I consider this something like an online Moleskine notebook, where I can keep my notes on where things went right, and where I went horribly wrong with a recipe.  Plus my friends seem to like it when I post pictures of the food I make.

So, I'm starting with Anthony Bourdain's cookbook, Les Halles.  It is actually a compilation of recipes from the restaurant where he was the executive chef for over 20 years.  The recipes existed before he started working there, and no doubt will be used at Les Halles for many years to come.  This is classic French Bistro food, unapologetically carnivore focused and very meat-and-potatoes oriented.  My kind of food, in other words.  Plus, Bourdain's profane and honest prose is educational and entertaining at the same time.  And yet, I'd only made a couple of recipes out of this book in the two years I've owned it.  Why?  Because French food always seemed intimidating to me, and some of the recipes involve a lot of prepwork and steps, as well as some ingredients that are not easy to find.  So this is my effort to get my butt in gear and get over myself.

So, I stand to benefit in many ways by keeping this blog.  I can make some pretty great food, learn new techniques in the kitchen, and discover some local sources for some of the meat and other ingredients called for (which is never a bad thing).  I suppose this should go without saying, but I won't post the actual recipes, because it is wrong and I don't want to get my ass kicked.

What weekend?

I was looking forward to a semi-relaxing weekend, but it was not to be.  I seemed to spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen, which is not a horrible thing, but I had very little sitting-down time. 

I started with a gigantic batch of pancakes Saturday morning, which were easily the best batch I have made.  The recipe was one that my mom had clipped from a newspaper and given to me, along with many others, as a wedding gift.  I know I've made them before, but it's been several years.  I've been enjoying the leftovers the past couple of mornings. 

I then made some shortbread for a potluck that afternoon, and adulterated the recipe with the juice and zest from one lemon.  Those were VERY tasty.  I made them a little thick - the recipe called for the dough to be spread into a 9X13 dish, but it seemed like they would be much too thin, so I used a 9X9 instead.  Perhaps I'll do the thinner version next time.

By the time I was done with all that, it was time to go to the potluck.  This was a little party for someone from my department that recently retired.  Good lord, the amount of food was staggering, and there was also a chocolate fountain! 

I ended up leaving at about 3:30, then heading over to Alteration Nation to drool over the Demonia boots.  They also have a section of vintage clothing that is pretty impressive, especially for the size of the store.  I managed to score a $5 sweater and a $5 skirt!

I ended up getting home at around 5:30, which gave me just enough time to change clothes and head over to the Old Market Pub to meet up with some online friends.  Even though the waitress seemed eager to kick us out after our meal and ONE beer, we encouraged her to bring us more drinks and stayed until 11-ish.  It was fun to see the girls again, and I can't wait until our next meet up!

I did manage to sleep in until almost 10am on Sunday, which was nice.  The rest of the morning I dedicated to grocery shopping.  I decided to give Trader Joes another try, and I was not disappointed.  I managed to find everything I needed (except for the Stumptown Coffee, but that can't be helped :)), and I saved almost $50 from what I usually spend, including wine!  It helped that I didn't buy a bunch of the boxed meals, and their meat prices are much more reasonable than Haggen or New Seasons.  I think their lamb only costs about half as much.  Plus they just have more of the food I like.  The wine steward seemed to be impressed with my haul in that area as well - I got a Novella Petite Syrah and Zinfandel, a Montinore Pinot Gris, and a Cline Ancient Vines Zinfandel.  He recommended that I get the Novella Synergy (a blend of some sort - duh) on the next trip.

The rest of the day, I made some cheese and did laundry.  I got a little sitting time in, but I was very restless and felt like I had to be doing something the whole day.  So I didn't live up to my hope of watching TV shows and movies that J doesn't like :)  I did stop myself from making dinner, especially since we already have a huge amount of leftovers.  Soon, it was time to pick up J from the airport, and by the time we got home and ready for bed, it was after 10.

So, two very long and busy days, at least for me.  Can I get a weekend to recover from my weekend?

Mar. 19th, 2009

We've gone through the first week of the vegetable delivery, and hmmm - we'll see how we do. I need to do a better job of planning meals around the veggies we're getting every week. They do have the option of switching to biweekly deliveries instead of weekly, which might be an option. I'm still having to go to the store and get staples (we go through a lot of onions each week). But the quality of the food is good, and we get a lot of it.

This eating less processed foods and more healthy stuff doesn't seem to be having much of an effect on my weight so far. I could stand to lose a couple of pounds. I may be back to where I was before we went on the big diet a couple years ago. But I don't like weighing myself, so I will never know. My clothes still fit, so I'm not too worried. Weirdly, I don't "feel" as fat as I did before, but I couldn't explain why. Maybe I just feel better about myself in general?

Work is settling down. Other than my ongoing projects, things are pretty much back to normal, so not a lot to report on there.

With J going on his trip to SF next weekend, I will need to keep myself occupied. I will probably watch movies and programs that he would not normally want to watch, and generally act like a bachelor. I feel like such the stereotypical man in our relationship! Again, weird and unexplainable.

Odds and Ends

Aside from a few sniffles and the occasional tubercular cough, I think I am over the worst of the cold.  I really didn't want to miss any more work.  I didn't feel guilty about the days I did have to take, because I truly wasn't even functional.  The little bit of grocery shopping I did on Sunday completely wiped me out. I did manage to make some ricotta and do laundry this weekend, but that was the extent of my productivity.  The rest of the time I stared blankly at the TV screen or napped.  I couldn't even concentrate enough to knit. I feel even worse for J because he's had to work through his sickness, and even do presentations in the middle of the night for the Bangalore team.  Ugh.  At least that part is over for him.

I recently bought the Twin Peaks super duper deluxe box set (with some Xmas money), and started watching it on the nights when J went to bed at 5 in the afternoon.  I forgot how thoroughly fucked up that show was.  I still have no idea how it made it onto network TV.  I still love it, but I think it's definitely an acquired taste.  Not sure how J would like it (although I think he liked the Fire Walk With Me movie that we own).

This weekend will be our chance to get caught up on getting the house cleaned up since we had our visitors over.  We haven't felt well enough to strip the beds and do all that laundry.  I can also ponder the craft room more in depth and see if I can find better storage for all of our linens.

I've been seeing a lot of friends that have plans to give up things for Lent.  I don't celebrate or recognize Lent, but by coincidence I've made some changes to my routine that might end up being of a more long term variety.  For one, I tried shopping more on the edges of the supermarket and staying out of the middle.  I'm trying to cut out more of the processed foods in our diet, including soda.  I got J on board, and so far it seems to be working okay for us.  I need to get in the habit of making batches of iced tea to keep in the fridge at all times.  Water alone just doesn't do it for me.   I also discovered (from sheer laziness) that I don't need to put stuff in my hair for it to behave at this length, so I have completely cut out styling products.  Ditto on makeup - aside from moisturizer and the occasional mascara, I haven't been wearing any.  Not surprisingly, my skin has been in really good shape.  I'm also toying with the idea of growing my haircolor out and cutting off all the black too.  We'll see how long it takes before I get bored with my natural color.  Knowing my history, I'll have my natural color for all of two minutes before I start messing with it again.

I have the SARS

short hair
Sigh - I was hoping to avoid being sick this season, but it appears I am afflicted.  Really sore throat and a slight out-of-body-experience feeling today, and I'm not even taking medicine.  Since it is because we had friends visiting who were also sick, I really can't complain much.  The visit was delightful, but too short as always.

Work has been stupid busy lately.  Between a couple rounds of layoffs and some wrestling with our online enrollment vendor, I have been on the run since the beginning of the year.  Things have finally started to slow down somewhat, so I have been able to get caught up with some things, including keeping this here blog updated.  It has been too easy to just go on Twitter and Facebook and do my little 140 character limit pings, my little bite-size updates.  Now that I can breathe, I can be a little more expansive.

Facebook has been an interesting experience.  I use it mostly to keep in touch with friends that I don't get to see because we live so far apart.  However, I've also been finding a lot of high school people, with varying results.  For the most part, I have to say we've all been aging pretty well, everyone looks so damn good!  For the most part, it seems like the people friending me are the people that really wanted to get back in touch and are interested in what I am up to these days, and I feel the same about them.  There were a few that I think were just curious, but otherwise we don't really respond to each other's posts.  And I've probably scandalized a few church people that I used to know back in the day.  My sense of humor has gotten more and more tasteless as the years progress, so I won't be hurt if they decide not to follow my updates any more.  I know some work people that are on there, but I am very reluctant to friend them - I want to keep being rude and crude without having it affect my employment.  Overall, it has been fascinating seeing where people have ended up in their lives thus far.  It turns out I know some pretty interesting individuals.

In my free time, I have made more progress on painting the inside of the house.  The craft room is nearly done - I have some ideas for linen storage solutions (utilizing the closet, or maybe the small crawlspace thingie in the guest room), so maybe I can get rid of the big bookcase that is taking up so much room, and put it in the garage or something.  I think the master bedroom will be next.  We will need to strip the wallpaper and patch roughly five billionty nail holes, so it will be a project lasting several weeks.  But at least I have the colors picked out - a deep red for the walls with a cream trim.  Rawr!

I also just finished a book that will hopefully prompt me to move forward with some things that I've been thinking about for a while - In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.  I highly recommend it.  It isn't a book that is trying to convince you to be a vegetarian (although they wouldn't necessarily frown on that), but to stop eating processed foods and look for more locally grown produce.  I've looked at CSA's in the past, and this is nudging us to sign up for delivery with one of those.  I'd love to find out about farms that sell meat shares as well, but we will probably have to hold off until we get storage solutions figured out (i.e. the fridge in the garage).  This also means visiting the farmer's market on a regular basis.  Lucky for me, I have one of the best in the country just a few miles away.  For me, this also means possibly giving up soda, but I think J would have a harder time with that.  Baby steps.

Tweets of the Day!

  • 12:19 is thinking, where the hell did my morning go? #
  • 12:20 @jodilicious I accidentally pinged the "taco bot" when I was in California last. Very very amusing. #
  • 14:14 @jodilicious If you mention the word "taco" in your Tweet, the Taco Bot replies with "Me gusta tacos!". But only in CA state. #
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Tweets of the Day!

  • 10:52 got to watch Obama's speech in the lunchroom. Can't wait to see the whole thing at home (I missed the first part). #
  • 11:52 @mayeve Where are you getting all this hope-filled mexican food? #
  • 13:18 @mayeve Hee, I figured as much about the names :) I'll have to take a note on Acapulco's Gold, been looking for a cheap mexican place. #
  • 08:47 is back at the grind, and hoping my package from Amazon arrives today. #
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Gee, I might be


Jean O'Donnell's Dewey Decimal Section:

571 Physiology & related subjects

Jean O'Donnell = 051454544522 = 051+454+544+522 = 1571

500 Science

Math, astronomy, prehistoric life, plants and animals.

What it says about you:
You are fascinated by the world around you, and see it as a puzzle worth exploring. You try to understand how things work and how you can make them better. You might be a nerd.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

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