Friday, February 28, 2014

February Acquisitions (or, keeping myself accountable)

first via; second via

To chase away the Winter blues, this month, I bought the following:
  • Nars matte color stick in Laos
  • A Clarisonic (I'm skeptical, but I was also apparently bored enough to purchase this product)
  • Another striped shirt, this time from Madewell (Can I really ever have enough striped things?)
  • A Mayle jacket from one of the capsule collections (in used excellent condition)
The bulk of my monthly purchases, however, consisted of baking supplies. Because cakes and tarts seem to be of great interest to me these days, especially this gorgeous cherry number, which screams picnics and all things wonderful and Summer.


And, confession time done.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Peach Cardamom Galette

Lately, all I can think about is cake and baking.  It occupies so many of my daily thoughts.  If I broke down the waking hours in a typical weekday, it would look like this: 50% human rights thoughts; 30% cakes/cookies/baking; 20% other/Ethan/family/travel.  I blame Winter and hibernation.

One of my favorite things to bake are these free-form galettes filled with whatever fruit I have at hand.  It may not look pretty now, but after 30-40 minutes in the oven, it comes out, crust a golden brown, bubbling, oozing the alchemy of sugar and fruit juices.  Incredible.  

Cardamom peach is a new favorite.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The hammock.

I really should not torture myself with these images of summer, but I miss this hammock. It sits beside the Colorado mountain house, amongst tall trees and brush.  Last summer, during our wedding, the meadow around the house was covered in vivid purple lupine wildflowers.  We'd walk down into the meadow, stomping our feet as we trudged through the tall brush, and then stare at the Continental Divide ahead.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Izmir Kofte

Put a stewed casserole of meat and tomatoes in front of me and I often cannot resist.  I had this dish in central Turkey. It came to our table bubbling hot, hearty, and accompanied by this bread and a plate of crumbly cheese.

I'm making a variation of it for dinner.

Izmir Kofte
Recipe by Ozlem Turkish Table


For the kofte (meatballs):
450 gr /1 lb ground lamb
1 medium onion, grated
2 slices of stale bread, soaked in water and squeezed dry
1 egg, beaten
1 bunch finely chopped Italian parsley
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
A bowl of water for kneading kofte / wetting hands

For the rest:
450 gr / 1 lb medium potatoes, sliced like thin apple quadrants
1 green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 medium carrot, coarsely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400 gr /14 oz (1 can of) chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
240 ml / 1 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 180 C / 350 F.

Discard the crusts of the bread, soak in the water, and squeeze dry. Then crumble them into a large bowl. Add all the kofte ingredients except the meat and knead well. This will soften the onions and enable the spices to blend in the mixture evenly. Add the ground meat and knead well again until the mixture resembles a soft dough. With wet hands take a piece the size of a large walnut and roll into a large finger shape about 1 inch thick. Continue until all the mixture is used. The meatballs can now be covered and stored in the fridge until required.

In an oven dish, create layers with the vegetables and the meatballs. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Bake in the oven for about 55 – 60 minutes or until the potatoes are soft and the sauce has thickened.

Serve hot, with plain rice or some crusty bread.       

[Post-edit: I adapted the recipe by adding fresh thyme and mint to the meatballs and  eggplant to the veggie mix. I baked the mixture for one hour and 45 minutes.]

Out and about

I've been a recluse lately. I blame Winter.  This weekend, we managed to make it to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery (love all the free museums in this city) and then finished off the day with a cup of tea and slice of Flan Normande at Paul.  (Note to self: Must find a recipe for this pastry.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

2013, a year in review.


We still lived in Bangkok.  Sigh.  This was my last trip to Chatuchak Market.
My family visited Bangkok and we played tourist.


One of many rooftop bars in Bangkok. What a view.

March - June

A month or two into my move to Washington DC.  Walking around the Mall.

Same day, at sunset.


The view from the mountain house in Colorado.  We were married in this meadow.

Sunrise in Turkey.


An afternoon of baseball.


Fastfood bibimbap in Dupont Circle Park.


The inevitable transition to Fall.


Treats at the office.


On the Hill.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shakshuka for breakfast


I'm sick with a cold, recovering from a very busy week, and thinking that I need to make another batch of shakshuka very soon.  I use the recipe below but, rather than finishing it up on the stovetop, I bake the mixture in the oven for 10-15 minutes - just enough for the eggs to cook as I like them.  Also, I like to add feta to the mix.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium brown or white onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste-- spicy!)
  • Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté till mixture is fragrant.  Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium until softened.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir till blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes till it starts to reduce. At this point, you can taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences. Add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. Place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook "over easy" style on top of the tomato sauce.

Cover the pan. Allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced. Keep an eye on the skillet to make sure that the sauce doesn't reduce too much, which can lead to burning.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My sister's bridal shower

I am not a planner.  Sure, professionally, I kind of have to be, but my personal life is different.  My aversion to planning is probably most evident (read: extreme) in travel. I prefer not to plan trips ahead (which can admittedly cause some problems).  I once found a cheap ticket to Beijing that left two days later, and I was off - same thing when I chanced upon a ridiculously cheap ticket to London. In my first solo trips to Europe (and I guess most of my trips), I picked a place of arrival and departure and decided that the weeks in between would be sorted out once I arrived, somehow.  I confess that I sometimes get really, really annoyed by travelmates who are compelled to stick to an itinerary.

However, there are exceptions to this planning aversion, and they always involve family/loved ones.  For instance, I was super proud of myself for pulling off Ethan's surprise birthday party a few years ago.

And I am now co-hosting my sister Jennifer's bridal shower, scheduled later this month.  My sister Jennifer is the opposite of me in that she plans everything and every detail is thought-out, perfect, polished.  It's a tall order, but I love her so much that I'll have to put my planning aversion aside for now.  

That said, I haven't gotten very far.  

I like this...

And I feel strongly that there be yummy crostinis...

all images via Pinterest

To be continued.
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