Thursday, March 31, 2011

Piper & Zoe Take San Diego!

We have safely arrived in California! We're living in temporary housing for a while, so most of our stuff is still somewhere in the middle of the country, but we've got the important things here with us. Two of the most important things, of course, being our cats - Piper & Zoë.

I know I've mentioned my "girls" and their various escapades a few times... but this was certainly the biggest adventure for them yet! The fact that they were coming on the plane with us was a fascination for many people we talked with the move about. I guess you don't see (or hear) cats on planes very often. They actually did very well - better than I expected. They meowed almost all the way to the airport (over an hour's drive), but after that - barely a peep. Piper just let out a couple of yelps when we ran through some turbulence - but I think I heard some humans do that, too!

Here's a quick photo tour of the "Piper & Zoë Take San Diego" journey:

Zoë says: "I'm ready to go, Mom! (But that flash is awfully bright....)"

Made it through security (no pat downs - whew!) - now we're just waiting to get on the plane

Piper was wide-eyed at all the goings on

Ready for take off!

One flight down - now enjoying a ride on a moving walkway in Chicago

What to do with your cat when you have to use the airport loo (in case you were wondering)

 Second flight down - we've arrived in California!
Settling right in at the new place - Piper finds her spot
And of course, Zoë's found hers, too!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big News!

If you're coming right to the main page and not reading this through a blog reader, you'll see we've got a new look. It's a hint about the big news.

We're moving to California!!!

So, there won't be any adventures in the Pioneer Valley for a while. But I'm not going away - just changing the blog name and the look.

I'll probably be MIA for the next few weeks as we wrap things up here in Massachusetts and get settled in on the opposite coast. I can't wait to start taking advantage all of the amazing, fresh California produce and getting cooking in the kitchen again. See you then!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Foodie Lust: Modernist Cuisine

Have you heard about this new cookbook Modernist Cuisine? Earlier this week, I read an article about the 6-volume, nearly 2500 page cookbook/brain child of Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer of Microsoft, that's part science, part photography, part haute cuisine (Wired magazine, March 2011 edition). I was almostly instantly intrigued by the glimpse of eye-popping photography and descriptions of fascinating food chemistry and cutting edge cooking techniques (at least by the home cook's standards - I doubt many of us dabble with sous-vide and xantham gum on a regular basis...). As an avid home baker, I know that chemistry is key to a successful recipe, but I only know a few of the foundational concepts (for example, that baking soda needs an acid to work properly, whereas baking powder has the acid built in). when it comes to cooking, I'm practically clueless. I grill the way I do and reuse cooking oil for frying because someone taught me to do those things, not because I know any "secret science" behind it. But this series promises to tell those secrets and more - why "old" oil produces better fried food, while boiling cooks faster than steaming, why raising a grill doesn't lower the heat, etc.

When I heard an interview about the book with Dr. Myhrvold on NPR this morning, I was further convinced that I must some day leaf through the pages of what has been described by some as the authority on modern cooking techniques. It simply appeals to my analytical scientist side (in college, I majored in Biology and Writing - so I've always enjoyed exploring those right brain/left brain connections). Of course, the $460 price tag may be a bit of a deal-breaker (though at least it qualifies for free shipping!!). At least unless I can find a copy at a library - or maybe heavily discounted on eBay. Until then, I think I'll probably have to be satisfied with smaller tidbits and photos from the Modernist Cuisine blog.

Tell me your thoughts - is cooking more art or more science for you? If money were no object, would you rush out to get this cookbook tome? Love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cheddar Crumpet Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich

I have professed my love for crumpets many a time. My attempts to make them on my own have been OK - but nothing like the ones I can buy at my local grocer's bakery. (Seriously, if you live near a Stop & Shop - get the crumpets! They don't always have them, but when they do - snatch them up. You won't regret it!)

First, if you're not familiar with a crumpet, they're kind of like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake. They've got the wonderful nooks and cranny's of the English muffin, but they're a little sweeter and moister. They make a great base for all kinds of toppings - toast and top with butter, lightly fry and drizzle with honey, add peanut butter and jelly, etc. Today, it occured to me that they would make a great base for an egg sandwich. And so, the cheddar crumpet open-faced breakfast sandwhich was born:
Cooking the egg over-easy (or even over- medium, as I prefer) lets that wonderful, rich yolk soak in into all the little nooks and crannies of the crumpet. Absolutely heavenly. And it's very, very simple to make. You'll have breakfast in about 5 minutes (and I'm not ashamed to admit I devoured it in about the same amount of time!).

Cheddar Crumpet Open-Faced Breakfast Sandwich

1 egg
1 crumpet
1 slice mild cheddar cheese
salt, pepper, tarragon (if desired)
oil spray

Spray a small frying pan with oil. Heat pan over medium heat. Crack egg into pan and fry for about 2-3 minutes until whites are mostly cooked. Flip and cook another 30 seconds just to finish cooking the whites on the other side. Remove egg from pan.
Spray pan with oil again. Place crumpet face-side down in pan and fry for 1 minute. Flip, top with egg and cheese, cover with the lid of a small saucepan and cook 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.
Sprinkle with salt, pepper and tarragon before diving in!

Happy Weekend every body!