April 25, 2013 § 4 Comments
Before we get to risotto, I have a few little announcements to make, housekeeping style. I trust the risotto can wait a couple moments, even though it is not known to be the most patient of rice dishes. But anyway, as I mentioned a little bit ago, this here little blog is undergoing a spiffing up process. It’s like Five and Spice is going on Project Makeover! That’s not a real show is it. Extreme Makeover? Anyway, that’s beside the point.
The point is that some major, and (so!) exciting renovations are happening, led by the (brilliant) ladies of Wooden Spoons Kitchen. In order to make it all work, starting sometime on the later end of tomorrow (Friday) the site will be down for a while. It will stay down over the weekend while the magic happens in the background. Then on Monday morning it’ll be back with its brand new look and also at a new URL. Instead of being at wordpress.com the site address will be plain old fiveandspice.com (took me long enough to make the change, right?! Some weird Estonian company or something had snagged that URL, I think in hopes of getting me to buy it from them. But when their lease on it expired, I snapped it up. Take that!).
I’ll have the old site set up to redirect, so old links will all still work and whatnot, but just know that henceforth you’ll be able to look for me at that new address. Now this is important (hence the bold typeface) if you subscribe by email, that should keep working without interruption (at least in theory. Fingers crossed.) but if you subscribe via an rss feed/reader type of thing, you will have to resubscribe. But, this should be easy enough, right? You did it once! I bet you can do it again. (I, on the other hand, have no idea how to subscribe to an rss feed. I am a luddite. This is why other people are in charge of moving the site over, and holding my hand, and talking to me in reassuring voices the whole time.)
So, with that taken care of, let us turn to the risotto. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 19, 2013 § 20 Comments
I wasn’t kidding about the soups (I even made another one today for lunch. This one, in fact, but with kale instead of cabbage). And, as you can see, I definitely wasn’t kidding about the spinach and pine nut soup. Actually, I used the soup and my desire to make it as an excuse to have an impromptu St. Patrick’s/St. Urho‘s day dinner for a few friends. Clearly there is nothing very Irish (or Finnish for that matter) about spinach and pine nuts, but check out how green that soup is! I decided that with a side of soda bread and some good Irish butter and cheddar it would suit us just fine.
And it did. It’s actually quite a wonderful soup. No wonder I used to make it as a starter for dinner parties all the time! Come to think of it, I think I first served this soup (or a version of it) at the first serious dinner party I ever hosted. That was back in the day, back during my sophomore year of college, if I remember correctly.
Courtesy of my first year of college, I developed such an aversion to the food at the school’s dining hall, I convinced the school to let me not be on a meal plan at all, and I started cooking for myself in the tiny – and usually disgusting with other students’ crusty leftover midnight macaroni and cheese pots and half eaten bags of microwave popcorn – dorm kitchen down at the end of the hallway.
That was pretty much my start of cooking seriously for myself, though in this context “serious” meant a lot of chicken breasts with steamed broccoli interspersed with granola or Special K bars for dinner. (The Special K bar dinner was the saddest.) I also discovered how very lonely it can be to sit and eat dinner in silence by yourself every single night. I suppose that must have contributed to my passion for sharing meals, and I started devising ways to coax others to dine with me. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 29, 2012 § 30 Comments
Hello there! ‘Tis really and truly the season, isn’t it?
I feel as though it’s been days since I’ve gotten to bed at a reasonable hour, drunk anything that didn’t come from a just uncorked bottle, or eaten a meal that didn’t end with cookies.
And it isn’t even New Year’s yet!
Which is terrifically fun. Obviously. Though is it horribly dull of me to say I’m ready to get back to our quieter everyday routine? What can I say, I’m a cancer. Home and hearth is where my heart is.
Plus, I’m looking forward to putting my shiny new Christmas gifts to use!
My family tried (and semi-succeeded) in going mildly minimal on gifting this year. That is to say, we gave presents that were things people needed (socks! Oh my gosh, I love socks! And I’m not even saying that in a sarcastic voice. I reeeeaally love getting socks as a present. Somehow I always need them.) or that were really high quality and would earn their keep with use.
October 12, 2012 § 13 Comments
Well dear friends, the distillery, which after a flurry of ad hoc focus group testing with friends who are roughly in our target market and/or have clever things to say about names is now officially named Vikre Distillery, now has a Facebook page. As of yesterday! And you know, if that doesn’t make something real, then what does, really?
In the non-Facebook version of life, also known as reality, the distillery is still very much in the process of becoming extant. But, we’re making a lot of progress and have found all sorts of amazing help, willing ears, editors, math-checkers, connection-makers. Though so far, the number of people who have offered their services as first line taste testers outstrips the numbers of any of these categories by far. Leaves’em in the dust. No contest. (Gee, I wonder why.)
By day, I find myself bopping between meetings and then back to focused data coding. By night I continue to stare pensively at data with a furrowed brow breaking only to fill mason jar upon mason jar with vodka and herbs, trying to come up with our ideal gin blend and aquavit flavor profile, etc. etc.
Joel crunches and recrunches numbers, and perfects powerpoints, and pamphlets, and makes a lot of phone calls. I’m glad I’m not doing that part. I have a weird irrational quasi-fear of calling people.
Some days are awful and I throw up my hands, convinced this was the worst idea in the known history of mankind (worst, no exaggeration) and that it will all be a miserable failure. Other days are bright and happy, full of hope and new connections and small successes and a sense that we can make things happen. These things go like that.
Anyhow, progress, progress, progress. Each little step, on any sort of day, is progress. « Read the rest of this entry »
July 24, 2012 § 9 Comments
We are nearing August. The air, thick with fresia, mosquitos, and humidity begs for laziness and simplicity. I can partially oblige.
Simplicity. Simplicity often has such beauty to it. So much can be contained within so little. Like a haiku.
Peaches, golden orbs
Buttermilk, kissed with maple
Blend until frothy. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 21, 2012 § 23 Comments
First, the bad. My hometown was ravaged by horrible flooding in the last two days. Just torn apart. A torrent of rain developed overhead and wouldn’t budge until it had dumped 7 inches, 9 inches, 10 inches of water in some places. The wall of water rushed down the hill toward the lake taking out huge chunks of roads and sidewalks, dumpsters and bridges with it.
Perhaps you even saw it on the news yesterday. I know the story about the seal that was swept out of the zoo by a river of water and was found stranded on the highway received a lot of attention. Many of the other zoo animals – the little barnyard animals in the petting zoo – drowned. I spent half the day in unremitting tears about this. Unfair is not nearly a strong enough word.
It’s horrifying to be reminded how powerless we are. It’s also probably really important to be reminded. These extremes may be the new normal, and it’s time to be truthful about the fact that we are not remotely in control. And perhaps the best we can do sometimes is bond together, lend a never ending supply of helping hands, and cope.
All my family and friends there are fine, though. Thank heaven for that.
June 8, 2012 § 25 Comments
So, I think I might have had more to share with you. Some further reflections, maybe a recipe, and many many thanks for your wonderful, kind response to my post about my feast. But it’s going to have to wait. It will have to wait because my consciousness has been completely and irrevocably subsumed by this soup.
It’s like a secret that’s just too good. It takes on a will of its own, growing and pushing and elbowing until it burbles out to be shared, whether or not you meant for it to be aired. I do want to share this soup with you, and it has decided that it simply can’t wait any longer.
When we ate it for supper a while back Joel exclaimed, “this is the first soup that I can say without qualification that I love.” Myself, I would count it among a very small handful of soups that I have truly loved. But it is the only one of said soups that does not also contain more than my week’s allotment of cream in a single bowl.
May 10, 2012 § 14 Comments
For much of my adult life (starting, even, when I was more adult-ish, than adult), I’ve wanted to have a restaurant or cafe where I was recognized. All Cheers-like, where everybody – or, more realistically, at least somebody – would know my name, and I would know theirs. I’d be a regular.
Perhaps it comes from my small-town girl core, which craves to be situated in a community small enough where you can’t help but bump into someone you know on every grocery store visit. Perhaps it comes from the more universal human desire to belong, to be part of something, to be known. Either way, it’s been a borderline compulsion for years, but mostly just an internal one. I’ve never really intentionally played it out. Either my tendency to explore and try new places would thwart my quest to become a regular, or a high turnover rate in the staff would. (Technically with the latter, I guess I still was a regular, but it doesn’t count if there is no one that greets you with that smile of the eyes that says, ‘hey, I know you! I’m glad you’re back. How’s the family/kids/dog…?’)
May 7, 2012 § 141 Comments
When you think about it, it’s remarkable, really, just how many opportunities we have every day to do something new. Much of the time it doesn’t feel like it. Our days follow patterns. We have baskets full of habits and well-worn ruts that we comfortably cruise along in.
And actually, a certain amount of repetition and stability in your life turns out to be really important and healthy. Which makes perfect sense. Nature is full of rhythms and patterns. We reside within them, and if completely rhythmless we feel jostled and jarred and seriously uncomfortable.
But if we don’t keep our eyes open to all the myriad of tiny dips and swerves within the patterns, it can be easy to feel trapped in some sort of mold that looks a lot like same-old-same-old.
I forget sometimes, that I’m the one making the decision to walk down the exact same street to get to the subway every time I go, when in reality, there are dozens of paths that run there. The destination is the same – rhythm – but I can switch the route up – discovery!
Same with cooking. We need to eat. Pretty darn regularly, in fact! And it’s easy to find ourselves making the same things over and over again. Of course, I’ll be the first person to sing the praises of old weeknight standbys (did somebody say spaghetti?!). They’re lifesavers. But, it’s also remarkable to me just how very many things I’ve never made before, or techniques I haven’t tried. Even with a decent number of years of cooking under my belt. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 31, 2012 § 11 Comments
The other day, I stole a few moments to bop over to Sara’s lovely blog, Sprouted Kitchen, to take a peak at what she had cooking. When I arrived I was instantly arrested, not by the recipe but by the quote she began her post with.
“Beet’s concentrated jewel-like color is both its joy and its downfall. It is Murphy’s law that it should marry so happily with the virginal white of goat cheeses, mascarpone, and thick puddles of creme fraiche, none of whose looks are improved by a pink stain curdling the outer edge” – Nigel Slater, Tender
This captivated me. This simple, beautiful statement that captures so much of the personality of beets. They are enticing and they are challenging, colorwise, flavorwise, every which way.