Musing with Max

Musing with Max

March 16, 2014

Signs of Life

The meltdown began last weekend. All of a sudden there were temperatures in the mid 50's, the sun came out a shone down on the piles of ice, we had a little rain here and there. I could actually get into my car wearing regular shoes since the ice around it had melted down to blacktop on the driveway. Yes the cold came back towards the middle of the week but the predicted snowfall didn't happen at all so it made it more bearable. I can wear sneakers when walking with Max rather than snow boots. Yesterday I looked out towards the backyard and was shocked to see that most of it is green with a couple of little ice caps here and there, I can see the entire patio. This morning Max was able to sniff the ground on our walk

and kept his nose down for most of the time or hopped around in ecstasy. I saw a bunny. And tiny buds on the magnolias.

The birds are singing and Max finds more places in the sun.

I bought daffodils at Trader Joe's

to bring in some much needed Spring...despite the forecast...snow tonight. Can't wait til Thursday.

March 2, 2014

Roaring in

Winter refuses to abate. It is relentlessly hanging on for dear life as if this will be it's last breath ever. The frigid temperatures have become the norm as has the white landscape. This has become our regular footwear,

nice no? No. I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt, and I love wearing dresses...and heels. This must be what purgatory is like...or Alaska, same thing. Two weeks ago I read in the Times that we had accumulated 50 inches of snow, the norm for the entire winter is 20 , and then we got another 12. I hate being in the record books. I was actually under the delusion though that once this most frigid and snowy of February's bade it's adieu we would be out of the woods, or more precisely, the ice. Wrong! Today is March 2nd, (which I just realized as I type this is the anniversary of my arrival in this country...48th to be exact) and we are expecting yet another snow storm. 6 to 12 they say, March is definitely being lionesque. Being snowbound is getting old, driving through the obstacle course of potholes is getting even older. Eating and cooking, however never will, especially if it's Portuguese!

Cozido de Grao (Chickpea Stew with Lamb Pork & Veal) adapted from Saveur


  • 2 tbsp. lard or unsalted butter
  • 6 oz. cured Portuguese chouriço sausage, sliced 1½" thick
  • 6 oz. boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1½" pieces
  • 6 oz. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1½" pieces
  • 6 oz. boneless veal shoulder, cut into 1½" pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into ½" pieces
  • 2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ medium butternut squash (about 1 lb.), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped mint
  • Portuguese pão, or rustic country bread, for serving


Heat lard or butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, 9–10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl; set aside. Season lamb, pork, and veal with salt and pepper, and working in batches, cook meats, turning as needed, until browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add garlic and onions to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, about 20 minutes. Stir in paprika and cayenne; cook until fragrant, 1–2 minutes. Return sausage and meat to pan, along with stock and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, partly covered, until meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots, chickpeas, squash, salt, and pepper; continue to cook until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Discard bay leaves and stir in mint. Ladle stew into bowls; serve with country bread on the side.

Day 2.

Entrecosto No Forno (Braised Spareribs and Potatoes) adapted from Saveur
Serves 4 to 6


  • 2 racks (about 6 lb.) St. Louis-style pork spareribs
  • 1½ cups massa de pimentão, or jarred red bell pepper paste, preferably Incopil brand
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½" pieces


1. Place ribs in a roasting pan and rub with pepper paste, coating completely. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight.
2. Heat oven to 325°. Let ribs come to room temperature. Uncover pan and season ribs with black pepper. Cover pan with aluminum foil; bake until ribs are tender, about 2 hours. Remove from oven; increase oven to 425°. Transfer ribs to a baking sheet. Scrape red pepper paste from ribs and transfer to a bowl. Pour half the drippings from pan over paste; whisk until smooth. Add potatoes to roasting pan; toss with remaining drippings and season with black pepper. Place ribs over potatoes. Brush paste mixture over ribs. Return to oven; bake, uncovered, until ribs and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour more. Remove pan and heat oven broiler. Broil until ribs are slightly charred, 3–4 minutes. Transfer ribs to a cutting board; let rest until cool enough to handle, then slice into individual ribs. Transfer potatoes to a large serving platter; place ribs over top.

(I did not have the pepper paste so I improvised, took a jar of pimentos added some dry piri piri pepper for heat and whizzed it in the food processor, worked out nicely)

Can't skip dessert, right?

Encharcada (C0nvent Sweet) adapted from Saveur
  • 2 eggs, plus 9 yolks
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 (2"-long) strips lemon zest
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon


Whisk eggs and yolks in a bowl. Using a ladle, press the eggs and yolks through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; set aside. Bring sugar, lemon zest, and 1 cup water to a boil in a 12" skillet; cook, without stirring, until sugar is dissolved and a candy thermometer inserted in the syrup reads 225°, about 5 minutes.

 Using a slotted spoon, discard lemon zest; reduce heat to medium. While stirring, slowly drizzle egg mixture into syrup.

Cook until small curds form and mixture is very thick and appears slightly curdled, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to a 9" pie plate and sprinkle with cinnamon. Guide the flame of a blowtorch back and forth over the top of the egg sweet until the surface caramelizes. (Alternatively, place under oven broiler.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

(Warning: this is SUPER sweet, I would cut back on the sugar a bit, maybe by half a cup)

And neither will cuddling with your baby

I think we'll survive the Winter.