Musing with Max

Musing with Max

April 27, 2011

Dinners with Friends

There's almost nothing that brings people together than food. Let's face it, everybody loves food so it can easily be the center of a conversation even amongst people who have absolutely nothing in common; even if they don't like the same foods at least it's a topic of conversation which everyone can join in on and not wind up at each other's throats; well for the most part. The European and Latin cultures will sit around the dinner table for countless hours with family and friends with nary a thought on the time spent. If you ask me, this is the civilized way to dine and to socialize. I'm not the only who agrees, just look at the number of movies about a meal, IE:

My Dinner with Andre


The Big Night

Babette's Feast

Eat Drink Man Woman

 Like Water for Chocolate
The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover
...OK well maybe not that one but you get my drift. I'm sure there's quite a few I left out and not to mention the innumerable scenes in movies of people dining and sharing...this can go on forever. And then there are books about food, and I don't mean cookbooks just read anything by M.F.K. Fisher and magazine articles and blogs. I think I've made my point. So it was with a happy skip in our step and sunny smiles that we ventured two houses over to our friends Michael & Louise's for yet another delightful dinner with friends.

The menu:
picky stuff
fennel and citrus salad

Roast leg of lamb for an Easter Saturday

Roasted potatoes

Pear crisp...or what's left of it!
The company:

the angelic Soren :)

Sweet Hazel, or as I like to call her-Grace

And who knew that lamb has the same effect as turkey

...even for Max

who wasn't invited due to the aforementioned company.

April 23, 2011

Rite of Spring

And slowly it comes...
...ahhh, the forsythia, the first sign; so bright, so not mine since we pulled it out last year cause this was not happening at all which makes it absolutely useless.
The magnolia

... the one by the train station,
which puts the rest to shame.

the daffodils

the cherry blossoms. OK, I'm cheating, these are from DC from a couple of years ago but they're so stunning I couldn't resist.

not sure what this is but it's Spring, it's flowering, it's qualifies.

We're so giddy!

April 17, 2011

The Visitor

So I come downstairs on a bright beautiful Sunday morning which comes on the heel of a miserable Saturday with tremendous amounts of rain coming down and see this little guy in my yard
Hmmm, what to do??? Max and Frank will not be happy but I want to play with the little munchkin

and I think he wants to play with me!

Yes, I do!

Hmmm, looks like he's thinking about something...
What is it Soren?

Oh my! Maybe Max has the right idea

Think I'll join him :)

April 13, 2011

Model Behavior

After my recent ramblings about Spring, etc. it serves me right to wake up this morning to a cold, drizzly, miserable day. Walking Max on a day like this can be challenging. First of all it's cold, drizzly and miserable, second of all since everything was covered in snow and ice for so long and it has melted into the ground and we've had periodic rain for the last two months, the ground has turned into a mud field. It's very hard to tell Max not to walk on the soppy ground which gets into his paws and up his legs. This wouldn't happen if Frank would allow me to buy him booties but that point is moot. Hell, getting him to put the raincoat on him is a battle. And to top it all off, on this cold, drizzly, miserable morning Max decided to lunge and bark at every moving object he saw, every car, every school bus, every garbage truck, every kid, every parent, every dog, every squirrel, every tumbling tumbleweed... Normally he is the perfect little gentleman though and if I might add, quite handsome...
and nonchalant
and intense

and pensive

and forlorn

and beautiful

and quite the little centerfold.

William Wegman, move over!

April 11, 2011

Hope springs eternal...

We had such an incredibly cold and snowy, icy winter that I was actually beginning to doubt it would ever end. And then this happened
and it happened again...

...and then there was this
and all Max wants to do is go out and play

and I want to make Crab cakes because they are Spring as far as I'm concerned. So I eagerly run and get my copy of Food & Wine from May of 1995, yes 1995. Which is all about lovely Spring dishes and has the ultimate crab cake recipe from Sheila Lukins who was the cooking genius behind the Silver Palate and its cookbooks; sadly she died a few years ago at the age of 66 of brain cancer. These are her crab cakes and I love them, they're light and airy and tangy and they contain bread crumbs! I say that with such zeal because all I ever hear now and see in menus is chefs (some) and people who think they know food better than anyone going on and on about some restaurants' crab cakes because they don't contain bread crumbs. I fail to see bragging rights on this, just what on earth is wrong with bread crumbs? Got me. Anyway, these do contain them and they are sublime. So without further ado:

Sheila Lukins' Chesapeake Crab Cakes
6 servings

12 slices of best quality white bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup olive oil, more if necessary
1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
1 lb. fresh lump crab meat, picked over
1 scant cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery (1/4 inch)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper (1/4 inch)
1 tbsp tiny capers, drained
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp ground mace
dash of Tabasco
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp of butter, more if needed

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and toss with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and Old Bay seasoning. Spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until toasted. Let cool for 30 minutes. Using a rolling pin, crush the cubes into medium-fine crumbs.
2. In a bowl, combine the crab, mayonnaise, onion, celery, bell pepper, capers, parsley, orange zest, Worcestershire, mustard, mace, Tabasco, and egg with 1/4 cup pf the bread crumbs.
3. Transfer the remaining bread crumbs to a shallow dish. Form the crab mixture into 12 cakes about 3/4 inch thick. Carefully dredge the cakes thoroughly in the bread crumbs. Arrange the cakes on a platter, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to eight.
4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt one tablespoon of butter in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Fry the crab cakes in batches, about 3 minutes per side until golden brown. (Add more butter and oil if necessary.) Drain the crab cakes on paper towels. Serve immediately.

I will admit, I don't bother with step one. I use the bread crumbs that I have which are usually fresh since I throw leftover bread in the food processor and grind it. I do add some Old Bay Seasoning to the crab mixture. And sometimes I use yellow pepper rather than red if that's what I have on hand and I may skip the orange zest if I don't have that. I will never leave out the capers though or the mayonnaise.

So now it's official, Spring has truly arrived! Yay, Yay, Yay!

April 5, 2011

Put an egg on it!

Hand in hand (or should I say mouth to mouth) with my love of chicken is my love of eggs, the perfect food. I love eggs in just about any way shape or form; I love them scrambled, fried, easy over, coddled, boiled, poached, baked, you name it. Eggs are my go to food when I can't think of anything else to eat or when I want to make something quick and easy and don't need a lot of ingredients. I love to make creamy scrambled eggs in lots of butter and eat them right out of the skillet sprinkled with a little salt and some freshly grounded pepper...and if I want to kick it up a notch I may add some chopped smoked salmon and chives if I have them on hand. I love egg salad with mayonnaise and some funky mustard and finely chopped onions, sometimes adding cubed boiled potatoes. What's better than a fried egg sandwich with a little mayo, with or without bacon, or with or without tomato, or scrambled eggs with cheese on a toasted English muffin. How about a Spanish omelet with sliced onions and potatoes, or a French omelet with a mix of chopped fresh herbs, or baked with chopped chorizo and green peas. How about that lovely French dish of Oeufs Durs Soubise, or hard boiled eggs with onions and cream and good old Spaghetti a la Carbonara.The list is endless and always delicious. Or you can simply do as I do many a times when the craving takes over; just put an egg on it:
                                          Arroz con huevo or rice with eggs
                                          Pure de papa con huevo or Mashed potato with eggs

                                           Picadillo with egg over easy

                                          harina con huevo or fried egg on polenta

                                          Spinach salad with poached egg

I could go on and on and on in finding what to put an egg on. Max on the other hand doesn't get it.
He'd rather take a nap.