Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chocolate By the Bald Man

Bryan went to New York over the weekend to present a paper at a conference. He came back really late on Saturday night and when I woke up on Sunday morning this is what my little eyes did spy!

9 Bonbons by Max Brenner

Bryan hand picked each one and each flavor just for me!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Summer Come Quickly

Isn't she a beaut? I was so excited to find the exact bike I wanted at the Cambridge Antique Market this weekend. They have a bicycle shop in the basement where they fix up older bikes and re-sell them!

I felt a little bit like I was in the Wonder Years while I was riding her around the parking lot trying to decide whether or not, "it's just like riding a bike," is a merit-able saying. 
It is, by the way.
You see, I have not been on a bicycle of any kind since I was ten years old. When I told the guy who carried Mrs. Schwinn outside for me, he laughed and then said, "oh, you're serious. Then I would strongly recommend you not pedal the first few times around the lot. Just get your balance and it'll probably come back to you." It did! It was, cough cough, just like riding a bike. I was super shaky at first and I only almost crashed once, well twice (this was before I was even moving, so does it really count?--- I was trying to get on so the man could adjust the seat height and I almost took out a whole row!). But 'almost' is the key word there. Now I just need a not-lame helmet and a lock and I'm all set!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Restaurant Week

So it's restaurant week here in Boston which means all the super expensive places that sound amazing provide three course menus for a normal price. And since we decided to become foodies when we moved here, we must take full advantage of such great deals, right? Right.

We made three restaurant week reservations, all at locally owned places and had lots of fun dressing up to go out all week! We tried Pigalle (pronounced Pig-all) in the South End, B & G Oysters in the South End, and T.W. Food in Cambridge. They were all delicious and had exceptionally dim lighting (thus no food pictures... they all turned out terribly unappetizing so I'll spare you.) And at B & G Oyster we were even seated near Michael Kors! You know, "great American fashion designer," as Heidi would say on Project Runway? Yea, we made eye contact. 

Speaking of celebrity sightings... I think I spotted J-Lo the other morning:

And while we're discussing food, I'll give an update on our first batch of home brewed beer. 

It's tasty. It's carbonated (which still kind of blows my mind). And it was approved by the guys at the brewing store. (If you take bottles in they will all taste it and do a little evaluation of it for you.) 
Since that turned out so well, we decided to move right along to our next batch which will be an IPA. The more we talk about beer and try new things, the more I miss my favorite Southern beer! Lazy Magnolia is definitely hands down still my favorite. Southern Pecan, Indian Summer and Jefferson Stout are definitely where it's at. If anyone at home wants to send some my way, I'd truly appreciate it! (and I might just return the favor with a bottle or two of our brew!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hull Ahoy

We drove out to Hull Island last night for dinner at Yoni's house. He picked up fresh salmon at the local market and I cooked when we got there. It was absolutely the best fish I've had since we've been here! Super fresh and really tasty with the dijon sauce and red onion/ watercress salad...

After dinner we walked down to the beach to see low tide. The water rises and falls about 9 feet during tides so it uncovered a few yards worth of beach to play on. All the boys skipped rocks and threw rocks the whole time we were on the shore. Silly boys.

The island is in the Boston Harbor and on our walk back from the beach we spied the city all lit up across the bay. What a lovely evening!

Today was quite nice as well. We walked down to the Charles for a picnic lunch since the weather was incredibly nice out. We watched airplanes track across the sky and rowing teams move up and down the river while we lounged. I slept for a while and when I woke, Bryan read a Flannery O'Connor short story to me. My pale-because-of-Boston's-winter skin is showing the effects of sleeping in the sun today... but I wouldn't have traded it!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Fallen Ones

They littered the sidewalks. 

They filled the garbage cans. 

They failed us. They all failed us. And in our time of need, no less. Umbrellas, I suppose, were not meant to withstand hurricane force winds, but oh, how I wish they were! If anyone knows of an umbrella that CANNOT flip inside out no matter what you throw at it, please let me know. Our storm is over for now, but there will be others. After four straight days of pouring rain and outrageous gusts of wind my own umbrella didn't fare so well either. I did not, however, abandon him on the sidewalk. (I did put him away shamefully after he flipped inside out and pulled me down the block all the while in front of storefront windows full of fine diners who I'm sure got a good laugh and was left to rely solely on my not-made-for-Boston-weather rain coat for protection.) So thanks for that, Umbrella. Thanks for that.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Rain Rain Rain Came Down Down Down

We went to Newport, RI, today for a bit of business and a bit of fun! It was really rainy and windy and the waves were crazy! I made Bryan pull over so I could take some pictures from the safety of the car with the window cracked just far enough to get the lens out.

Since I last posted, we bottled our beer... still waiting for the carbonation to reach the right level... 
Candice made it safely home, 

and I've been working on camera-appropriate faces with Adele. It's especially fun when she's dressed like little red riding hood.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We dig through trash. So what?

For the second time in my life... (please see the first here)... I felt like a bit of a hobo. We are bottling our beer this weekend and because we are not alcoholics we did not have 40 beer bottles just lying around our apartment ready to be refilled. We went out late last night to rummage through recyclables. 

We collected lots and lots and our house guest, Candice, (who is in town auditioning for the Royal Academy of Music in London) also helped scavenge.

She also spotted a poor little table that needed some help but has great potential. So not only were we walking around digging through people's recycle bins, we were carrying a wet, slightly sad table, and grocery bags full of empty beer bottles. We really know how to treat a guest!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Brew Ha Ha

We started a new adventure this weekend! Beer Brewing! We thought it would be a lot of fun to learn the whole process and are really excited about our first batch! It should be ready to bottle next weekend and should be ready for consumption a week later (or two weeks later depending on how hungry the yeast are.)

Since it was our first time we used a kit that included all the ingredients. We chose a Red Ale and now that we understand the process we can come up with our own recipes and use loose ingredients rather than another kit. 

Here we are steeping the barley. From what I understand this breaks down the barley into more simple sugars which are what the yeast feast on.  

I was almost as excited about our new HUGE stock pot as I was about the whole beer thing.

Steep, Barley, steep!

After the steeping comes the malt or malt extract. You heat it a little on a wet towel so that the plastic doesn't get too hot and melt into the malt.

After the malt comes the first round of hops. This is for flavor and must be boiled into the concoction for one hour. This phase smelled really good and humidified our kitchen at the same time.

Most of the time we had to carefully monitor temperatures and sanitation. I've never cooked anything that had to be so clean! Not that I usually make dirty things...  (We even wore gloves so if you try some of our brew, know it was made with the utmost of care and cleanliness.) Apparently any stray bacteria can cause the entire batch to go terribly wrong. How sad would it be to wait three weeks to try something that is incredibly nasty? It would be worse than that time I made eggplant lasagna with home-made hand rolled spinach pasta and home-made cream sauce. It took all day and was the most disgusting thing I've ever created... and that was only one day.

What was I saying? Ahh, yes. after the rolling hopped-up hour long boil comes the dry hopping process. Not really a process, actually. You just throw in a second round of aroma hops and boil for five more minutes.

The entire next part involved surgically clean hands so no pictures were taken. We moved the boiling stock pot to an ice bath to bring the temp down. (If it's too hot when you add the yeast, you can kill them, and we are not murderers.) Then we siphoned the wort (young beer) (did you like that new vocab word?) into the sterile 5 gallon bucket, added the yeast and covered. This is where our brew will live for the next 7 days. 

Please excuse the lame "Ale Pail" graphic. I bet they think they're soooo clever...