Saturday, November 19, 2011

Girls Night: Making Pasta!

It is said the best thing a man can do for his health is to find a woman to share his life. The best thing for a woman's health, as it turns out, is to forge friendships with women. (This is not to say my relationship with Steve doesn't bring me happiness! It has been one of the most joyful happenings of my life.) Part of what has been most challenging about moving here is losing daily contact with my mother, grandmother, sister, aunts, cousins and friends. Not surprisingly, when Steve mentioned he had some female colleagues anxious to meet me, I was delighted! Facing several days with him at a conference in DC made me nervous, but it was also the perfect opportunity to get to know some lovely hens. 

Sara Compion is a grad student in sociology from Pretoria, South Africa, and she owns a pasta maker she offered to bring over last night. Sophie Roberts, a professor at UK specializing in North African Jewish Studies, and Cindy Jong, a professor of Math Education, also came and brought wine and dessert. We started by making the dough: basically flour, water & egg:

Cindy & Sophie: Apparently, frenzied-looking intensity helps immensely, because Sophie's dough was gorgeous. She was also a dab-hand at pasta rolling. Some talents go unrealized for decades.
Sara brought some clothes hangers to let the dough sit. I suggested a laundry rack.
I missed a few photos at this point. Cindy and I were charged with this responsibility of grinding out the pasta from the flat dough sheets, and I found it wildly gratifying. Here is a record of the final product:

All kinds of naughtiness and ribaldry ensued. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lanterns & Lunch

I got some pressed paper Asian lanterns a few years back. They have wire braces that prop them open, and when lit, illuminate leaves and flower petals. One of the braces got lost in the move and Steve endeavored to replace the brace with various gauges of wire, but they kept breaking. After several tries, he made a lawn sign brace work. We decided to convert the overhead light sockets into plugs and plug in the lanterns, hanging them from the ceiling. Steve knows lots of useful guy stuff like how to safely shorten an electrical cord. These kinds of things make me nervous and impress me in equal measure. The lamps are now hanging over the dining room table on a dimmer and the effect is lovely.
Yesterday, we pulled the shades to better observe our handiwork, and sat down to a lunch of potato leek soup a la Gram (& Joy of Cooking), romaine hearts with toasted almond slivers and apple with a white balsamic vinaigrette, and some to-die-for bread Steve baked in a cast iron dutch oven. The recipe is from the New York Times-- Rob Howard perfected it last year. Tea with lunch: South African Rooibos. Naturally caffeine free.
Today we tootled off to catch the last straggler booths at the Lexington Farmers' Market. We got some delicious mustard greens (which we were instructed to warsh every night to keep em alive & fresh), and beautiful turnips, which Steve will sautee with pears for dinner tonight. 
I plan on making bison burgers with Dale's BBQ sauce, swiss cheese and local thick-cut bacon.  Our final purchase was a generous bag of sassy, tart apples for an apple pie. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Moving, Part II

In my opinion, the most fun to be had in a move is setting up the house. I think most women would agree, though house decorating is not the sole province of our sex. Once all the boxes are in, the nesting fun begins. What delighted both of us is that our belongings seem to have magically meshed prior to my arrival: we have very few duplicates and our sense of interior style proved remarkably similar. We both like natural wood, pottery, paper lanterns, old things, folk art, plants and the occasional sleek, affordable Swedish piece. 

The first challenge was the living room: our living room is nearly square and has no wall unmolested by doors, windows or radiators. We have a couch, two large chairs with ottomans, a coffee table, a tall antique desk, AND A 53" TELEVISION to accommodate. I'll give you three guesses to WHOM the television belongs. You're right! It's Steve's. To be fair, he was gifted this behemoth by a friend whose wife would no longer have it in the house. After much shuffling of furniture, eyeballing, and sitting and thinking, we solved the situation by shifting everything 45 degrees: the furniture would make its own square at a diagonal to the walls. 

Our kitchen is wonderful! I'm not sure why galley kitchens seem to get a bad rap.. they're marvelously convenient. Everything is in reach quickly and, at least in ours, there's plenty of space. We both love to cook and thus far have enjoyed an Oktoberfest meal of kielbasa, potato pancakes & dill sauce, sauerkraut, and beer; taco night with spicy shredded chicken; and a roaster chicken done up with my mom's killer recipe of fresh rosemary, garlic, olive oil & vermouth, Gram's green beans a l'orange, and polenta.  We are both heavily invested in spices and bulk grains as you can see on  the spice rack, the magnetic spice holders on the fridge, and in the cannisters to the right.

We have plans to train English ivy along the windows of the dining room and the shelving holds all of our books and music. You can see some of the Wettlaufer pottery in the foreground on the table. The English ivy has a cameo off to the right. We have yet to put up paintings and art. 

As a housewarming gift, Steve went to an antique store and bought me a silver plated cocktail mixer, which we have been using.
We're enjoying a mild autumn evening on our porch, complete with porch swing, park across the street and martinis.