Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I hate to do this, but I fear it's the only way I'll ever get some of this off my chest/hard drive.

A brief run through of some VERY delicious things that have happened to me in the past two months, that I will be happy to expound upon if anyone gives a crap. Captioned with the goofy name that I would have put on the post if I had worked up the gumption to write one in a timely fashion.

I'd like to point out that this does not mean that these were any less delicious/meaningful than anything else I ever write about. But a by-product of me keeping busy so as never to feel like I'm sitting at home waiting for something to happen (another complicated subject fascinating only to me which, again, I will be happy to expound upon if anyone gives a crap) is that DNY gets pushed aside. 

In no particular or chronological order:

Improvisation in the key of soup:
Potato Leek soup.
I made this on Feaster with the leftovers from the latkes. It was just stock, potatoes, leeks, garlic, and thyme. Then I shaved some cheese on top. I froze several tups, but they did not survive unfreezing.

Hip to be Square: Peanut Butter Pancakes at Square Cafe.
Had a girly catch-up lunch with Lora and K one blissful afternoon. We were lucky enough to get a table at Square Cafe, which I rarely visit because I can rarely get a table. I need to learn to make these because they were incredible. 

Afternoon Delight: Carnitas Tacos at he Round Corner Cantina
Bill the Thrill went to Chile, and we met up at the Cantina to celebrate/catch up. I had never eaten there, only drank my face off, and absolutely fell in love. It was Early March and we had another freakishly warm day where they opened the back patio for two hours. We totally took advantage of that to eat and drink margaritas/sweet teas. Can't wait to do it again.

A Happy Accident: Open Faced Basil Grilled cheese sandwiches
During a sandwich kick that went on for quite a while, K was over making sandwiches in tiny kitchen. We used to use basil pesto but to save some calories, she had decided to try just using whole leaves of basil. Upon trying to flip this sandwich, she lost control and the top piece of bread, leading to a wildly successful open faced piece of goodness. I sprinkled garlic salt on mine, which made me very very happy.

BRGR, or, as Kyle likes to call it, Brown Green.
Janna and I went to Brgr. It's one of those places that everyone has been to all ready and highly recommends, and I just never had a chance to go. So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we walked to Penn circle and each ate half of these two delicious things: Devonshire Turkey Burger and Shroom Burger with Parmesan Herb Fries. The Devonshire is a Turkey burger with a slice of roasted turkey on top, and bacon and cheese. The Shroom  has some kind of magic cheese sauce made with truffle oil and what I can only imagine is crack cocaine. French fries have never been my favorite, unless they are done VERY well, and these definitely were. Janna says these french fries pick up where Shady Grove left off. YUMSVILLE. My only regret is that we did not try any of the hard milkshakes.  Which is why I'm looking forward to going back. 

A Pretty Picture: Homemade Alfredo Sauce with Peas.
I used to have a Cinco de Mayo party every year. Lots of Corona, Chips and salsa, and playing video games outside. But this year I just made a huge batch of homemade alfredo with peas and invited Janna over. Which was great because 1) I didn't have to deal with Cinco de Mayo and 2) I got to spend some QT with Janna before she left. We had a couple really fun going away parties for her, including one EPIC Porn and Chicken night, which I do not have pictures for.  Janna is an incredible friend and a kindred spirit, and I miss her tons all ready. Remember: White Russians are Awesome. Also, DOn't Mess with Texas

Asparagoos? I LOVE Asparagoos!: Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Salad.
A Cooking Light recipe with Whole wheat pasta, goat cheese and homemade mustard dressing that made K say "OH MY GOD"

I feel better now.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Toast

To the 2010-2011 performance season, which I (just barely) survived. To the craziest five and a half months of my life. To Verdi and Mahler, Puccini and Poulenc, Berlioz and Brahms, and of course Hamlisch. To the hardest music I've ever had to learn. To discovering my voice and my backbone. TO becoming a better musician. To being moved to tears by the same piece every time I get to sing it. To having way too many feelings. To rehearsals every single night. To sleep deprivation.  To crawling around on the floor. To costumes and makeup. To escapism and passion and opera. 

To my friends, old and new,
Who listen to me when I complain about being busy, who listen when I complain about everything. Who may not care about my nerdy obsessions, but still support me anyway. Who still invite me places even when I've had to turn them down so many times. Who pick up after months right where we left off.  Who tell me exactly what I need to hear about my life, my future, and my idiot heart. Who take care of me, feed me, and don't make fun of me for falling asleep on their couches or wanting to hang out in my pajamas. Who make me feel like I'm home, like I'm safe, and loved. Who make me feel like family.

To the bitter, to the sweet. To the dryness and the rain. To the pain and to the pleasure.
To everything that makes life so delicious.

To Buffalo Chicken Pierogies, made from scratch:


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Iron & Wine & The City of Food-erly Love

After a late start, a 5 hour drive, and a $100 speeding ticket (I was trying to get away from the tractor trailers! Honestly!), the most amazing thing awaited me in Devon, PA:
A picnic lunch, and a 5 mile sunny walk on the trail through the woods.
Goat Cheese, Fancy Crackers, Spicy Hummus, Grapes, and Sparkling Water

Owing to the fact that it was winter and I live in Pittsburgh, there is a distressing lack of outdoor time in my life. Sitting in the sun on a blanket in a field in Devon, I felt untethered and free.

and totally Bad Ass.

For years, Owen has been trying to orchestrate a trip to Han Dynasty for me. (Side note: I initially typed .com instead of .net for the web address and got a VERY DIFFERENT WEBSITE.) We got dinner with Graham and Laura, who were also going to the show with us.  I'm a little skeptical when people tell me they have found the "best Chinese restaurant", because they're never actually right. I have memories of Mandarin Tang, a restaurant in Easton that my family used to go to twice a month, religiously, while I was growing up, and no where I have been since has matched up to those memories.

But Han Dynasty comes very, VERY close.

We couldn't resist the House special: LAMP CUMIN. It sounded Enlightening! (BAAAAHAHAHAHA)

Lamb Cumin, Chicken with Hot Peppers, Beef with Shredded Celery, and Baby Bok Choy with Black Mushrooms.

Absolutely everything was delicious, but I'm still thinking about the chicken with hot peppers. Cubes of chicken deep fried then tossed with dried and fresh peppers and garlic. No sauce, no other vegetables, just chicken and spices. I personally feel that a spicy dish should be so spicy actually hurts. This one brought tears to my eyes. Tears of joy, and a little bit of pain. After Han, we travelled to Philly for the show. 

My love for folksy Appalachian inspired music has been growing steadily for years. My old roommate Mary turned me on to the Low Anthem sometime last summer, which I loved for its balance between electric Dylan sensibility and sweet soulful a cappella harmony.  One of my best friends from college, Erin, got me into Iron & Wine back when it was pretty much just Sam Beam and an acoustic guitar.  When they released Shepherd's Dog in 2007, I remember not being completely comfortable with the larger band sound they were migrating towards, but Sam's sweet voice, the compelling lyrics, and general music deliciousness eventually and somewhat reluctantly won me over. In preparation for the show, I bought both TLA and I&W's new albums, and was not pleased with Kiss Each Other Clean. It sounded over produced and random, not cohesive or sensitive. It seemed to have a lot of potential but did not grab me in a meaningful way. Smart Flesh, however, was pretty much all I wanted to listen to for weeks. So I approached the show thinking I would enjoy the opener and, probably just tolerate the headliner (As Graham was fond of saying all night "I'm not that into it")

I've seen a lot of live music in my life. This was one of the best live performances I have ever seen of anything ever. I could not believe how disinterested most of the crowd was in The Low Anthem, considering how well they played. But Iron & Wine was masterfully musical and completely enchanting.  I could not take my eyes off Sam Beam or his magical beard. And I almost cried when he played one of my favorites:

It was incredible.

My happy place is the Philadelphia Art Museum. The last time I visited Philly, it was a Monday, and being the giant goober that I am, I did not realize the museum is closed on Mondays. So this time, I was not going to leave without seeing the inside of the museum.
I'll be totally honest, my favorite part was the Weapons and Armor collection. Something so sexy about an antique pistol.

We had planned to go to Fork and Barrel, a restaurant in East Falls that Owen could not stop talking about. I had my heart set on homemade soft pretzels, when we saw this sad sight:

Ceased operations, 4 days before our visit.

Not to be defeated, we headed to Iron Hill Brewery in West Chester.

I haven't to Iron Hill since I was in college, long before I was of drinking age. So this was very exciting for me to revisit a place known for its beer and actually be able to drink it.
Raspberry Wheat Beer
Calamari and Peppers in Cilantro Aioli

Goat Cheese Pizza on Malted Barley Crust

Cheeseburger with Sweet Potato Fries

Unfortunately, the best part of the meal is not pictured. We couldn't decide between the Chocolate Hazelnut Cake and the Limoncello Cake with Blueberry Compote. So we got BOTH.  Amazing.

I miss Philadephia. My mini vacation was over much too quickly, and I never get to see everything I want to see when I'm there.  Early the next morning, I was back on the road headed to an afternoon rehearsal for Dialogues of the Carmelites. I can not wait for my next trip to Philly for good food and good company.


Feaster is my favorite holiday. Food, booze, friends. I need nothing else in my life.

Feaster was born last year when, as usual, I was without my family for a major family holiday. A bunch of favorites (Including Liz Short, when she was still near to me) came over for dinner on Easter Sunday and we played board games and drank champagne for several hours on my porch in Squirrel Hill. It was an amazing evening and I have been looking forward to repeating it for an entire year.  

So in my preparation for Feaster, I was trying to think of something to accomodate everyone's dietary needs (I think I mentioned previously that it is my dinner party goal to have something for everyone. An admirable goal, if I do say so myself.) But nothing in my usual recipe arsenal was really catching my attention. I know it sounds weird, but it came to me while watching an old episode of SNL, starring John Hamm and Michael Buble. I can't embed a decent video so I will link to it:

First I laughed hysterically, then I realized that Pork and champagne would make an amazing combination.

Hence:  Apple and Champagne Roasted Pork Shoulder.

Disclaimer: I am a giant goob. I completely erased my pictures of the finished product, the table spread, and my deliciously high piled Feaster plate. But somehow I saved a picture of the roasting process. Silly Bethy.

I had found a recipe for friend pork cutlets in a champagne apple sauce, which obviously was not what I was looking for, exactly, and had heavy cream in it which would have excluded the lactards. Instead I roasted the pork in apple juice and chicken stock, then shredded it and drown it in a champagne thyme sauce that I made up with smashed up champagne poached apples. 
I would relay the recipe, but I honestly have no idea what it is. Don't ask me how I did it. Because I all ready forgot.
We also had potato leek latkes, green beans, homemade bread and had more dessert options than was reasonable or decent. Anyone want to talk about their favorite part?


Pomegranate Mimosa

The weatherman called for rain, but luckily, it was freaking beautiful out and we sat on the porch for hours. I learned that I have great neighbors, and was reminded that I have great friends. Krystal, Zach & Kristin, Katie & Jessie, Thrill, Aaron, Gordon, etc. It was a beautiful day. <3

Thanks for coming to Feaster! Let's do it again next year.

We Celebrate Our Weight Loss Successes through Pure, Unbridled Glutony

I'd like to begin this by saying that Krystal is amazing for having lost 60 pounds this year and I am SO PROUD OF HER.

And what better way to pat yourself on the back for months of self restraint than giving it a big old middle finger:
A modest beginning: we started off with white corn guac, and a little drink. Mai Tai and Malbec. Then things got serious.

Hawaiian, Chipotle Chicken, and Veggie with Japanese eggplant

What do you do when you can't decide between three different Pizza toppings? Order all three and pretend you're going to take one home for lunch the next day.
What do you do after that?

Tiramisu, of course.
And a couple of flavored coffees.

IMHO, the best was the Veggie (it has goat cheese on it too!), the crust was light and crispy, and it was loaded with toppings. But they all three were highly enjoyable. Tiramisu is probably my favorite dessert, and this one was rich but not overpowering, creamy and balanced. I only wish the cake had been soaked in coffee a little longer. And also Kahlua, because that's how I like to make it. 

This has been planned for a while. K has developed a talent for finding foods that are delicious and healthful, ways to be indulgent and not undo any hard work. One of our go-to quick dinners is frozen CPK white pizza. We can eat the whole thing and not feel badly about it at all. So when the California Pizza Kitchen opened in the Ross Park Mall, our interests were piqued. And it seemed like an appropriate venue for this momentous occasion. We dressed to the nines and made some delicious decisions.

We are fabulous.

K is, pretty obviously, a big part of my life. She is hilarious and dedicated and incredibly beautiful.  She is the good angel sitting on my shoulder offering me hummus and carrots. 

Congratulations to her on her great success, congratulations to both of us on our exquisite-ness.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Comfort Foods

This should be post dated all the way back to the beginning of March, when we would have one unseasonably warm day, followed by snow the next.  I don't really deal with drastic swings in weather very well, and my default reaction to any sort of external stress is usually the same: Homemade Mac and Cheese.
My qualifications for a good homemade Mac and Cheese are few and straightforward: Cheese sauce the consistency of Elmer's glue and four cloves of garlic.

I'll say it again in case you didn't read me.


The same weekend, I got to hang out with Kyle and Kenny. Kyle made me some comfort food to take care of me after an unfortunate incident involving his dog and my hand.

Pork and Tomato Pot Pie and Potato Hash

I need to ask him for the recipe because it was perfect. Pork, tomato broth, noodles. It was warm and earthy and comforting. Kyle certainly knows how to take care of me.