Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Finishing With The Goths

We got back from Washington DC Sunday night but had someone in town for training Monday thru today so I didn't have a chance to finish posting of our Visigothic adventure.

We took advantage of Friday to take to the two younger Goths 2.2 and 2.3 to the Natural History Museum of the Smithsonian.

Our Gothic young charges in highly disciplined close order drill on the way to the museum

The highlight was the butterfly exhibit. This was an area that is filled with live butterflies. You have to go through an airlock to get in. You are FIRMLY told to not touch any of them...even if they fly up your nose. When you're done, you go back out a different airlock and are checked from head to toe to make sure you aren't carrying out any inadvertently.

2.2 loves all things associated with animals.
She was totally entranced going around with her identification card and finding as many as she could.

And of course what butterfly wouldn't want to hob nob with Wife?

Of course if we're with #2 and 2B, some sort of eating out extravaganza is in order. They selected a place in Falls Church called 2941 Restaurant. I will forgo the full review but hit a few high notes. The reviews I saw were quite mixed as they had changed their dining room and menu format. But we loved it. Especially the service. We had a great waiter and sommelier which really made for a great time. A few of the dishes had fruit sauces that were a bit too sweet but the majority were very good.

The new format emphasizes their bar drinks. Martinis, Vespers, Manhattans all excellent.

Happy Goths
One of the final things we did on Sunday before I left was teach 2B a recipe that he loves, deviled eggs. He has developed a significant interest in cooking and baking so it was a pleasure to pass this on.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pre-emptive Strike on Goths

After the depredations of the Christmas season when the Imperial Albuquerque was occupied by multiple tribes of barbarians, Wife and I held a session of the high council and decided that the defensive strategy we'd been pursuing was not working. What was required was an offensive strategy.

So we headed off the the Washington DC area where the Visigoths are wintering in anticipation of their alleged Pacific Rim offensive. Our surprise was total.

Visigoth Queen (aka daughter #2) in shock that Imperial Troops are forcing her to entertain.

Visigoth King (aka SiL 2B) dismayed that his wine plunder is being re-plundered

One of the younger Goths tried to capture Wife

But she was detained

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Chicago

I'm in Chicago for my bi-monthly business trip. Lakeview Coffee and I had dinner with his good friend and our former colleague Ricardo. It is always a fun time with Ricardo because restraint in food and drink is almost an oxymoron with him. We went out to sushi at a place that is LC's go to neighborhood place where he and LL are super friendly with the owners.

Today we meet with our three clients. We have a new associate starting with us in Chicago and both Ricardo and LL had leads for us. Very nice.

I've notice that I am significantly more relaxed with work. Maybe it was the disruption of the last month that has me appreciating how much I enjoy doing what I do and how relatively effortless it is for me to do it. Interesting.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Be Careful Of What You Ask For

With the amount of time I've been in Connecticut, I pretty much missed most of the good snow hiking periods this winter so far. But Wife told me that they had a good snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning just before I returned on Wednesday night. On Thursday morning there was still lots of snow in the foothills (it frequently melts off within hours) so I was hopeful that there would be more snow on the other side of the mountain where I usually go in search of snow hiking. Friday, and the signs were still looking good.

I got up early on Saturday and headed out. When I got to the parking lot there was no one there. And there was snow right from the very start. That's pretty unusual so it boded well for the rest of the hike.

The first part of the hike was what I expected with the train pretty beat down and turning into ice because of the melt and re-freeze. What I didn't expect was after only about 15 minutes of hiking to suddenly find the foot prints starting to dwindle.
And dwindle

Until I got to a spot only a half a mile into the trail when the foot prints stopped all together. Trail breaking - Fresh Snow from this point on.

Going through fresh snow is not the easiest thing to do. There was a mixture of snow that had developed a crust that you kept breaking through and just powder. With all my time at sea level, I'm not in the best of shape. Plus this kind of hiking you end up going half the speed and requires twice the effort.
It kept getting deeper...

...and deeper!

Finally I came around a corner where the sun was shining on the untrammeled snow. This picture is not touched up. It literally looked like a field of diamonds.

After about an hour, my legs were really tired and I decided I'd better let discretion trump valor. I didn't see a soul until I got back to the parking lot. Sweet hike.

Off Of Crisis Mode - Temporarily

So after spending 18 of the last 30 days in Connecticut ( I just got back from the last trip on Wednesday), we are no longer in crisis mode with Dad. He is on hospice and he does have cancer but the issues that put him in the hospital were a range of ancillary issues which have been cleared up.

He is working well with his support team at home which required hire hiring and integrating a live in certified nursing assistant plus some additional cleaning assistance and other aid. He's very weak from any kind of movement perspective but is capable of working on his computer again and is no longer exhausted all the time.

So now it's a question of when the next crisis occurs. Don't think it will be immediate but who knows. My older brother and I are going to start decreasing the amount of time out there to see just how stable things are.

It has been a blow to my income producing efforts (one of the risks associated with being a sole practitioner). But there has been some big positives in the form of a changed relationship and communication with my Dad. Without going into a whole bunch of gory details, let's just say that parenthood was something that he did because he loved my Mom and that it was never comfortable for him. For me to be in a position as has occurred where he verbally is telling me he loves me and appreciates me, is literally something I never thought I'd hear. So there's quite a bit of bittersweet taking place through all this.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Big Party Pictures Coming

I really intended to be a good blogger. I took pictures of the event. Even though I went back to Connecticut the very next day for Dad, I had them edited on the plane and ready for upload. But to my dismay, Google told me I'd run out of free storage and had to pay for more! It took me until today to do that. And now I have to wait another 24 hours to have it become effective. Hopefully tomorrow I will get to finish the post.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Zakushka Party Finale

I did my best. However, I'm sad to say there are no actual pictures of the party itself which was a great success. I was doing a pretty good job of getting some pictures during the final day of cooking - the day of the party. But then as we came down to the last two hours of plating everything and setting up for the actual event, it just got chaotic. Then E, a friend of Cabinet Lady and Dr. Debbie, said we needed to try the vodka just before the guests arrived, well that pretty much ended picture taking.

What, I didn't tell you about the vodka? In traditional old Russia Zakushka (and modern Russia too for all I know), vodka was the traditional drink, the idea being to counterpoint a bite of food with a shot of vodka as you went around the Zakushka table. That being said, CL and DD had made their own flavored vodkas - orange, raspberry, pepper, and vanilla. Forget anything that you've bought in the way of flavored spirits. These were MUCH better. We were concerned that most people today would not drink straight spirits and would want wine or beer or something mixed. Not the case. If not taking shots per bite, at least having vodka with you as you ate and communed with the other guests was the theme of the evening.

OK, the last pictures.

Wait - another comment - Wife gets no credit for all the work she does in the cooking OR the fact that she is getting more and more into the choices and creativity of the cooking itself. I need to figure out a way to change that.

Wife preparing the flavoring for Noodle and Spinach Kugel

Kugels almost done without their bread crumb and cheese topping.

Wife made three kinds of home made bread - these pan loaves, some braided loaves, and an unleavened Central Asian onion flat bread (really good).

Wife also made these tomato tarts - kind of a pizza like thing with a pastry crust - I made that :) - pre-baked, filled with cheese, fresh basil, and fresh tomatoes. It was a hit.

This is the 'in the middle' scene of making tuna rolled in roasted peppers. Unfortunately the finale never made it to photo. It was imported canned tuna, flavored with chopped oil cured olives, garlic, parsley, and lemon juice like a kind of tuna fish salad put into roasted peppers, rolled and cut into pieces like a sushi. Another hit.

My home made gravlax came out great and was very popular. I didn't know if I was going to be able to cut it as thin as necessary. But I found a knife I don't use much, got it real sharp, and had no problems. Cutting scene below.

Pate uncovered and out of the pan. It came out great as well.

The Team just before our pre-guest vodka shots
Dr. Debbie, Cabinet Lady, E, and Wife

A shot of the 'cold buffet'
Pretty much all picture taking stopped after this so sorry but no picture of the 'hot buffet'.

But I did get this one picture of CL and DD's Charlotte Russe dessert - another winner

When your guests arrive and immediately dive in and start eating and drinking, you know that you've done well :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cooking Up A Zakushka Storm

As promised in spite of prodigious cooking taking place all day, I did my best to fulfill my blogging photo journalistic obligations. There's no particular pattern with these, just a kind of photo stream of consciousness.

The first dish of the day - Trout in Orange Marinade

Chopping onions for the Liver Pate

Chicken Wings and meat for Meatballs

The Chicken Wings in Garlic Sauce cooking

The meatballs have been flavored with bread crumbs soaked in wine and garlic.

Wife (ecstatic as always at being photographed for the blog) polishing silver.

Wife was also busy making a Central Asian bread, Non

The Meatballs in Chorizo Sauce
A very neat recipe where the sauce consists of chorizo, ham, roasted pepper, tomato, garlic, coriander, cumin, pimenton, and red pepper sauteed together and then blended with water and returned to the pan.

One Step-by-Step Dish
Mushroom Ragout



Hens in the Wood

Tomatoes, red onion, scallions, garlic, wine, stock, and tomato paste added

Then cooked down to a think stew.