Friday, December 31, 2010

Year of the Tiger in review

I am so excited for 2011. I know there are internet servers groaning around the world because they have to support yet another blog post about how excited a blogger is looking forward to a New Year and a new start. Yet, I don't care. Because if there are servers out there that are annoyed, aka feeling feelings, then that's just bad news. At that point, we need to completely forget about my blog and do something about computers having emotions. Am I right? We are five sentences into this post and I am already off track, let's just blame it on the half and half in my coffee.

I have been referring to 2011 as "The Year of the Rabbit" because I want to cook rabbit for the first time this year and I think I'm so funny all the time. Wouldn't you know, this year is the actual Chinese Year of the Rabbit. Awesome.

Rather than share with you a list of resolutions that I will either complete within the week or abandon by late April for my "birthday resolutions" (which I absolutely do. I love resolutions.) I am going to look back at 2010 and share a few best of moments. Taking time to look through a new viewpoint is one of my favorite things to do when thinking about the last year. I'm kind of an old fashioned girl, I like history, I love nostalgia, I love remembering things, even if they just happened. Here is a little who, what, when, where and why about my perspective of 2010:

  • Who: I am tenacious. I learned that this year. I used to call that trait by a number a different names: obnoxious, stubborn, willful, uncompromising. One day, I looked at it from a different angle and called it tenacity, and suddenly the trait found a new purpose. There is a line and I occasionally cross it, but if I was afraid of the other edge of tenacity, there are a few things I would have completely missed out on this year. Things I love, like my job and learning to cook new foods, and that would be so sad. Is it good to recognize faults in ourselves? Sure. It is better, however, to look again and see how a fault can be crafted into a talent or a grace. Turn your attention and effort towards honing those skills, and the original fault will start to resemble the unpolished version of your newly discovered virtue-- that's all it ever was in the first place.

  • What: I like to think I have a pretty good memory, but in all honesty, I'm finding I need to write down more than I used to. Here are a few things I discovered in 2010 and most want to remember.
    • Nothing slows me down like watching sets of waves roll in. Nothing.
    • I like to show people I love them by cooking for them. I guess I think the way to everyone's heart is through their stomach.
    • I love hot air balloons, so much so that I woke up at 6 am every morning to watch them this summer. I love them. I'm like a kid. I'm not embarrassed.
    • SUFJAN STEVENS.
  • When: One evening I sat on the steps that led to the beach while on vacation at the Oregon Coast. I just sat and watched the waves until it was too dark to see the ocean (and too dark to see the raccoon lurking in the bushes-but that is another story). There was no beautiful sunset, there wasn't even much conversation. There was, however, a misty grey fog hanging over a steel blue ocean, and the air was salty and damp. I sat there while my aunts and uncles talked about heart health, my cousins made up jokes and talked about vacations when we were younger, and my dad laughed just a little too loud. I still don't totally know what I felt at that moment, I can't really name it one thing or another. Even though I don't know the emotion I was feeling, I could see, smell, hear, touch and taste the moment. I could completely drink it all in.
  • Where: Traveling undeniably changes one's perspective. I think I have always assumed that the change in geography was enough to do that. Now, I think that you don't necessarily need to change location to have a totally new experience. Tyler and I started the year out with a weekend in Portland visiting friends and attending the Dogs in School art show. This weekend was so random because while Tyler and I went to the same city and the same art show, we were on totally different vacations. I stayed with my friend, Sarah, while he stayed with his brother. Sarah and I went to a show at the Doug Fir, the boys went to the Kennedy school. Sarah and I went to an office party in an old macaroni factory, and the boys caught up with old roommates and friends around the kitchen table. It was the perfect example of why travel is so exciting. You truly can visit the same place 1000 different ways. We returned to Portland later in the year with my whole family for our annual reunion and vacation (as you read above). We stayed out at the coast for about a week in a lovely beach house and then spent four days back in the city. That vacation was completely different from our "two vacations" earlier that year. Portland was a many faceted jewel for me in 2010.
  • Why: The year of the Rabbit (!) has some 20/20 vision on 2010. Here are 11 things that 2011 is definitely going to be filled with if I have anything to do about it:
      1. New travels.
      2. New foods. 
      3. Waves.
      4. Hot air balloons.
      5. Concerts.
      6. A little style (with a lot of help from Common Couture).
      7. Writing.
      8. Baking (fingers crossed!).
      9. Good books.
      10. Dinner parties. Lots and lots of dinner parties.
      11. My wonderful family and friends who always offer new perspective.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A choice courtship

If you've read more than a couple of posts on this blog, you may have noticed I love to cook. But the real deep-seated love belongs to food. I love food. I know what you're thinking, who doesn't love food? I promise, I won't toss out the F word- foodie. But, to be cliche and honest, I'm bananas about food. I have the great fortune of working a job that allows me to spend all day long thinking, researching, reading, writing, tasting and steeping in all things food. Isn't it great that as humans we have the opportunity to enjoy the something that fuels our bodies several times a day? It's brilliant.

Unfortunately, it is clear that not everyone shares this same regard for food. Which is actually quite strange because it is such a basic element in daily life. A walk through the local grocery store features end cap displays of food-like substances (to borrow words from Michael Pollan), solving the "problem" of cooking. Scanning a magazine or newspaper highlights the newest diet trend that vilifies  a single food group, and encourages people to avoid it at all costs.  To which I say, boo. There is no bad or good food in its own right. There is however, a good or bad relationship to food.

A good relationship with food goes beyond simply liking the food on your fork. It is an appreciation of the role food plays in our lives and the grand scheme of life overall. Food tells of a place, a history, a farmer, an animal, an environment. The more disconnected we are from our food the more likely we are to forget the central role it plays in many areas of culture and in our world.

I am going to begin sharing the juicy details of my little love affair with food with each upcoming post. I get it, we're busy. This is America after all. However, I really do believe that a healthy connection to our food is needed now more than ever. It isn't too late too shift our paradigm from food-as-fuel to food-as-fancy and affect some broken systems for the better as we do so. Bon appetit!

**UPDATE
After publishing this post, I came across this article, "What Food Says About Class in America" by Lisa Miller at Newsweek.com and found the following paragraph exemplifies exactly what I mentioned in the post:

"Claude Fischler, a French sociologist, believes that Americans can fight both obesity and food insecurity by being more, well, like the French. Americans take an approach to food and eating that is unlike any other people in history. For one thing, we regard food primarily as (good or bad) nutrition. When asked “What is eating well?” Americans generally answer in the language of daily allowances: they talk about calories and carbs, fats, and sugars. They don’t see eating as a social activity, and they don’t see food—as it has been seen for millennia—as a shared resource, like a loaf of bread passed around the table. When asked “What is eating well?” the French inevitably answer in terms of “conviviality”: togetherness, intimacy, and good tastes unfolding in a predictable way."
This is a great read and illustrates the parallels of food in our culture. I definitely recommend taking a few minutes to read it, especially as we head into Thanksgiving week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Savory Oatmeal

The following recipe was inspired by a conversation with my boss about wether or not it's ok to have risotto for breakfast (the answer is of course, yes). It got me thinking about what breakfast risotto would be like, and bam, savory oatmeal was born!

On the stove:
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small onion or shallot, diced
1/2 small green pepper, coarsely chopped
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2 cups water
1 or 2 eggs
Shaved cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil


  1. Saute the garlic, onion, and green pepper in the olive oil in the bottom of a medium sauce pan, for about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. 
  2. Add 2 cups of water to the pot and bring to a boil, add oats, reduce heat and cook 1-5 minutes.  Stir occasionally to prevent from sticking.  I like to wait until most of the excess water is cooked into the oats.
  3. While the oats are cooking, cook one or two eggs however you like them and serve over the oatmeal.
  4. Top with cheese and salt and pepper to taste.




Microwave:

  1. Prepare instant plan oats according to package.
  2. Mix in sauteed vegetables, top with eggs and season. 
Voila! Breakfast "risotto." 



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bright Idea: A Fall Dinner Party

Like many current trends, I am heavily influenced by the AMC TV series Mad Men. It's not only one of the single best things on TV at the moment, it's causing this retrospective (zing!) transformation on pop-culture lately. From fashion to home design to etiquette, this show is reviving the 1960's- and I'm totally falling for it. Head over heels.

After watching Joan describe to her husband how Emily Post says to set a table ("You'll be at the head, and I am at the other end and it's boy-girl-boy-girl...I won't have your boss's wife thinking your wife doesn't know how to set a table.") I realized I desperately wanted to master the art of a dinner party.  Hospitality is a synonym for love in my book.

However, dinner parties are relatively hard on the wallet and I don't have a kitchen large enough to accommodate the task of cooking for more than a few (read: 1.5) people at once. How would I host a gathering of my closest friends?

While discussing the dilemma of wanting to throw a celebration of food and friends without independent wealth and a chef's kitchen, my friend Sarah had a brilliant idea. Why not share the load and thus share the fun? Suddenly, despite budgets, we had something in the works. In the words of Betty Draper, "Only boring people are bored."

The plan:
  • Find a menu that featured the flavors of fall and a wine pairing guide.
  • Invite foodie friends to select their course and commit to two bottles of wine to compliment their meal.
  • Secure a location and a date for the party.
The Menu (adapted from The Girl and the Fig cookbook):
  • Goat cheese stuffed figs with Gin martinis.
  • Artisan cheese course.
  • Heirloom tomato salad.
  • Chicken breasts with tarragon mustard sauce and Haricots vert.
  • Rosemary creme brulee.
The Scene:
  • Cocktail dress attire.
  • Frank Sinatra on vinyl.
  • Candles, cloth napkins and harvest themed centerpieces.
The Outcome:
  • One of my favorite nights to date

This night was an amazing success. I knew my friends loved to celebrate, but I did not realize how much. The night began with cocktails on the patio under a brightly festooned tree. Prom-style photos inevitably took place. But when you have so many beautiful people buffed-up and camera ready in one place, you really have no choice but to document it.

We dined for hours, with each course presented by the couple who prepared it. We wined as well, no glass was left empty-- though the frequency of refills varied per person. We toasted to the things we wanted to celebrate in each other, and we roasted the things that were 'ripe for parody.'

The pocketbook does not need to be deep for one to live richly.






Saturday, September 25, 2010

Get Well Sooner

In Colorado, September kicked off with a few rough weeks.  The Fourmile fire, that began in the hills just to the west of Boulder, ended up being the costliest and most destructive fire in the state's history.  After a number of smaller-sized flare ups throughout the foothills and high temperatures keeping the landscape a dry tinderbox, the community was beyond ready for fall to come around and begin cooling things off.  

This past week brought us the first official day of fall, a few days of cooler temperatures and a even a couple of desperately needed rain-showers. However, as changing seasons often do, it also brought along an irritating cold. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy any excuse to watch SNL marathons on VH1- and believe me, I really do. However, sinus headaches really throw a kink in the plans.

Cue: Tyler's chicken, jalapeno and lime soup. 

Ingredients:
2 cloves garlic, ¼-inch dice
2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 jalapenos, chopped and seeded (leave seeds to taste, more seeds mean more spice)
1 qt. chicken broth
4oz chicken breast, cubed
1 tomato, seeded and julienned
1/4 cup lime juice
cilantro to garnish
2 avocados, cubed

Directions:
  1. Sauté the garlic in about 2 tbsps olive oil (about two swirls around an 6-qt stock pot) until lightly browned and slightly softened.
  2. Add chopped onions and jalapenos and continue sauté until softened.Add chicken, chicken broth, lime juice and the tomato. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. A few minutes before serving, add chopped cilantro to the soup. Ladle soup into bowls and top with avocado. Salt and pepper, to taste.


The soup is supposed to be super spicy, but you can control the heat by seeding the jalapenos or topping the soup with sour cream. When one of us is feeling a cold come on this soup never lets us down.




We paired the soup with Mesta Temparanillo table wine from Spain.  It is the the September red of the month at The Boulder Wine Merchant- which is always, always, always a great buy. I would love to say that the red wine did something scientific to benefit my cold, but the truth is, I just love this wine with spicy food because the bouquet of flavors stands up to spice really well. Thank you, Spain, for this wine win.



Finally, and this is not a typical addition to a meal for me, I enjoyed a pour of bourbon after dinner.  I attribute this bit of homeopathic knowledge to my Great-Grandmother, who strongly believes the answer to a sore throat or a cough comes in the form of a hot toddy. I am coming around to this logic, as I much prefer a pour of a drinkable alcohol I know the name of to a cherry-flavored alcohol syrup goo that I can barely choke down (I'm looking at you, Vick's). 


Not being a huge fan of whiskey (unlike my bourbon-collecting husband), I have to say that Dead Guy Whiskey, from Rogue Ales out of Newport, Oregon, is delicate enough to sip while powerful enough to, dare I say, give your immune system just the right amount of liquid-courage to knock out a cold. 

"HONORING UNIQUE ROGUES WHOSE SPIRIT 
LINGERS LONG PAST THEIR MORTAL EXISTENCE"


Eat, drink and be well!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Jazzy iced coffee

I had a recent conversation with a friend, wherein she told me that hanging out with me had led to her drinking coffee in the afternoon. After making sure that wasn't a euphemism for me being boring, I told her "you're welcome."  As far as I'm concerned, an increase in coffee consumption is a good thing, so long as you are savoring and enjoying this ancient beverage. Oh, I just love coffee.

More than loving coffee, I love really carefully crafted coffee. Artisan coffees have caught a bad rep over the years, in large part due to an unwieldy purveyor who has doused coffee in a slew of syrups and whipped cream and calling it gourmet. This is a bad rep that artisan coffee does not deserve.  A well-crafted cup of coffee reflects the thirsty work of a farmer, a roaster, a buyer and a barista who all love to understand the complex nature of a simple bean.  A good cup of coffee offers a sense of place, a story of cultivation and careful preparation and is a reliable friend on an early morning.  Oh, I really love coffee.

It was at a Blue Bottle kiosk at the Ferry Building farmers market that I first tried a New Orleans iced coffee, and people, it was worth the absurdly long line I waited in.  Cold brewed coffee with chicory, milk and simple syrup- safe to say it is a joie de vivre.  I was already suspicious that the baristas at Blue Bottle were apron-clad undercover angels, and when I discovered a recipe card for the NOLA coffee on my way out the door, I my suspicions were confirmed. Prep some of the coffee concentrate and keep it in the fridge for up to 5 days to really enjoy these last warm days.

New Orleans Iced Coffee adapted from Blue Bottle Coffee Co.
(we have had the worst time finding chicory in Boulder, so we have opted for the Cafe Du Monde coffee and chicory blend, and it has been a great runner runner up to the Blue Bottle version)
Prepare concentrate in a large enameled cast-iron stock pot with a lid. 
Add a full can of Cafe Du Monde Coffee and Chicory to the stock pot. Cover coffee with 2.5 quarts of cold water. Stir, cover, and let steep at room temp for about 8-12 hours (overnight is perfect). 
Strain the concentrate through a fine-mesh strainer.  You can line a strainer with a large coffee filter or cheese cloth to catch as much sediment as possible.  This will look like used motor oil and should yield about 4-5 cups. Mmmm motor oil. 
To make the simple syrup, combine 3 oz. sugar with 2/3 cup of water over low heat, stirring until dissolved. Agave is a good substitute for simple syrup, just use to taste since it's a little sweeter than sugar.
To serve, pour 3 oz. of coffee concentrate into a tall pint glass.  Stir in a splash of simple syrup and top with low-fat milk. Add in one or two ice cubes.  Put Louis Armstrong on the turntable and spend your coffee break in the French Quarter. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Labor Day meal of epic proPORKtion


It deeply saddens me to say goodbye to the summer, which I suppose is a testament to how great this summer was to me, but shush babe-I hate goodbyes.  In order to soften the blow a little, I planned a special end-of-summer meal that we carted over to the park and grilled out on the picnic table.  Everything's just a little bit more enjoyable over a good meal.

This meal in particular was a stretch for me because I made (pause for dramatic effect) pork chops. Yes, as in swine.  I cooked it. I ate it. I even liked it. This is significant as I've had it out against pork since I was about 8 years old. I have a distinct memory, which I'll spare you the details of, where it ended in me declaring to the world: "I'll never eat pig again!" And I didn't. I ate Kosher. When I didn't eat Kosher I told people that I thought the animals were too cute to be food (lie). I had a bevy of reasons I wouldn't eat it, and for about 16 solid years I stuck to my guns. I saw no pork. I cooked no pork. I ate no pork. 

Sadly, Mr. LovelySplendid totally digs on swine and has long bargained with me and requested I branch out. That I please give pork a chance. Happy Labor Day to him.

As I was planning out the meals for the week I came across this absolutely lovely farm stand on Valmont and 75th called Munson Farm. (Which you have to visit if you are local, because it's totally awesome.) They were selling local peaches the size of softballs and the freshest ears of corn I've ever seen in real life. Once I loaded up on my side, all I needed was a good meat to round out a delicious summer meal. Well, lucky Mister, pork chops were on sale and I was feeling courageous.


Pork Chops with blue cheese, grilled peaches and corn on the cob (recipe for 2)

This recipe was not only delicious but also easy to tote over to the park for a picnic. Add 5 bonus points.

You'll need:

2 pork chops; we opted for smaller sized chops for the budget and my deep-seated fear of hating this dinner.
Roughly 3 tbsps Stoneground or dijon mustard (you can eyeball this)
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
Blue cheese to taste; I liked the Salemville Amish cows milk version, which is sold by the wedge at Whole Foods Market.
2 ears of corn
1 giant peach (a la James)

1. Rinse the pork chops under cool water and set aside.  In a large bag, combine the mustard, water, salt and pepper. Once you have your desired consistency and flavor for your brine*, place the pork chops in the bag and seal.  Place in fridge for 2-4 hours to chill and allow the flavors to fully marry. Place the bag in a baking pan in case the zipper lock gives way- unless, of course, you like to live dangerously.  
*Many people add an apple cider to their brine, but I wanted to keep it savory since we were going to be pairing the meat with peaches. 

2. Heat up a greased grill to a medium heat.  Place the pork chops on the grill and cook thoroughly, flipping as needed.  

3. While pork chops are cooking, place ears of corn still in husks directly on the grill. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until corn is fully cooked but still crisp in texture. To eat, pull back husks and use them as a handle. (add 5 kitsch points)

4. If you have additional room on the grill, slice peaches in half and place flesh-down the the grill.  Cook these to your desired consistency. I found a good indicator for me was the temperature of the skin. Once the skin began to feel warm to the touch and there were visible grill marks on the flesh of the peach I pulled them off the heat. You can experiment with this one, but probably want to stray away from over cooking since it makes the texture really stringy and saps much of the flavor.

5. About 5-10 minutes before pulling the pork chops off of the grill crumble the blue cheese over the meat so that it begins to soften and melt but is not runny or liquid in texture.

Arrange these items on your plate and pair with your favorite summer beer or wine.  Follow it up with a great conversation with your friends or a Lady GaGa sunset dance party.  Your choice.










Saturday, August 28, 2010

Monday's redemption: Moules Frites at Mateo



It goes without saying; Mondays are rough whether you're in kindergarten or a senior executive.  Who likes leaving Sunday Funday behind to wake up early and dive right back into the workweek? No one does. Trust me, we all understand "Monday SUX!!"- No need to reiterate with a weekly status update. Now, what are we going to do about it?

I don't know what you're doing, but I'm going to Mateo. More specifically, I'm going to Mussels Monday at Mateo.

Mateo is a French Provençal restaurant in Boulder and deserves much more buzz and airplay than it currently gets. Or at least, more than I've heard.  I always feel a little bit fancy (the perfect amount) and totally comfortable at this restaurant.  They have struck a wonderful balance between a sumptuous dining experience and down-to-earth French country ambience.

Add to that list, the happy hour, or après, menu which reads like an anthology of French culinary classics. My personal favorites are the house rose, the artisan cheese plate, pommes frites and mussels (moules). I have a total food-crush on this restaurant, and it doesn't hurt that both times we've eaten there people were speaking in French at the table next to us. That's a twofer of lovely splendid-ness.

At this point, you are thinking, "What does this have to do with Mondays?"  Well, dear friend, Mondays are Moules Frites night, which means a pot of mussels and a bag of their house frites with sea salt all for six tiny dollars. You can order two glasses of wine, a gourmet cheese plate, moules frites, make a date of it, and honor the beloved budget.  That's checkmate, Monday.









Friday, August 6, 2010

Where I've Been...

Oh, how I've missed this.  I have been busy beyond belief between job-seeking, interning, moving, freelancing, vacationing, and budgeting.  Before I realized it, nearly four months had passed since I signed in and blogged about something lovely or something splendid.  Why is this so sad? Because so many lovely and splendid things have been happening and I haven't been sharing.  I know I've said it before, but I'm back.  Back to share, back to write, back to blogging, baby.

Now here is my visual post on things I fell in love with on vacation in Oregon.








Friday, April 9, 2010

FOOD FRIDAY: The One where I plug my favorite brands

Hey there friends,

Back again for a Food Friday.  I am working on a few other weekly posts outside of Friday posts that hopefully should crop up in the next few weeks as they are fine-tuned, but until then, I am going to post another favorite food experience and hope that you enjoy.

This week the Hub and I made it to the Boulder County Farmers' Market (the first of this year) and scored some great food finds.  The most lovely of these finds, I must say, are the fresh eggs from Abbondanza Farms.  They were a bit pricier than the eggs you find at the grocery store, but they were MUCH fresher and as such, they were tastier. I think my favorite thing about the fresh eggs was the fact that they were blue, brown and white - no need to add colors over this Easter weekend.

In addition to our delectable eggs, we discovered that Udi's makes a sourdough that echos the sourdoughs of San Francisco (my home and native land?) and some funky Tomato and Cracked Pepper pappardelle pasta from Denver's own Peppardelle's Pasta. These were the inspiration for this week's best meal.

Enter: Creamy Zucchini and Herb Pappardelle Pasta (a Lovely Splendid Original)

Ingredients:
2 medium zucchini, cut into thin half moons
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2-3 tbs olive oil
5 oz. goat cheese
1/2 lb Tomato and Cracked Pepper pappardelle
a couple sprigs of dill, basil, and parsley (fresh makes this dish a spring-y pasta)
salt and pepper to taste

To start, boil a large pot full of salted water.  In a skillet, heat up the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the zucchini and garlic to saute until the zucchini is tender, and garlic is fragrant.  Cook by sight and smell, and just don't let the garlic burn.  If the zucchini starts to brown, it is really tasty, but the pan might be too hot for the garlic. (If you have onion, or shallot, that would be a good addition to the veggie saute).  When cooked, cover the zucchini and remove from heat.  

Once the water is at a good rolling boil, add the pasta. We broke our pasta in half, so that it would cook more evenly, but you'll need to follow your heart on this one.  The pasta cooked for about 6-7 minutes, but be sure to give it a taste test to make sure it is al dente (bite it, if it's too chewy, or still opaque in the middle, give it a few more minutes- don't burn your tongue, as you will need it to taste your creation). Drain all but 1 cup of the water from the pasta, and return the cooked pasta to the pot. 

Slowly add the goat cheese (in chunks) to the pasta and reserved pasta water, stirring to make sure the cheese melts evenly over the pasta.  When the cheese begins to look like a creamy alfredo-like sauce you can add the veggies. Mix in the chopped fresh herbs to the garlic and zucchini while still in the skillet.  When that looks evenly incorporated, add the veggies to the cheese and pasta in the pot.  Toss the veggies and the pasta until thoroughly coated, and serve with a crusty (SOURDOUGH!) bread.

This pasta was a great perk for our mid-week.  Being in Colorado, the weather really toys with your emotions.  It's sunny, but the wind is blowing 90 mph.  It's 60, but it's snowing.  The pasta was the perfect dinner to remind us that spring is coming up soon, and the fresh flavors were so different than our standby winter nosh.  I don't mean to toot my own horn, but y'all, I Hank Aaron'd this dish right out of the park.  My husband thinks I'm a culinary genius.  I'm not, but I'll definitely wear that title around the house (like Crocs, or a bathrobe).

To complete the meal, I had a glass of Cupcake wine's Dry Riesling, which is really worth a shot.  I'm generally a Sauv Blanc drinker, and Riesling is reserved for bridal showers or mid-July (due to the sweetness).  However, the dryness of this wine really balanced the typical sweet flavor, and was a great pairing with the herbs and vegetables of this dish.

Finally, I know I mentioned the Udi's sourdough already, but it is worth another plug.  My family hails from San Fran and the bay area, the motherland of sourdough bread (Boudin bread bowl anyone?) and I find I can be rather judgmental of any bread that tries to call itself sourdough.  Though nothing can quite capture the pure joy of some sourdough, dry salami, and red wine while taking in the salty air of Chrissy Field, this loaf reminds me of how much I love it.  Udi's. Write that down.








Happy eating friends!

*Remember, it's April, that means the farmers will be out there tomorrow. Will you?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

FOOD FRIDAY: R.W. Knudsen Just Pomegranate



This food friday is actually a beverage friday post, but there isn't a day that begins with "B" and we're working with what we have.  The bev comes from a fruit, which is a food, so there ya go!

This week I was introduced to the R.W. Knudsen Just Juice line, and I'm currently exploring the many possibilities these juices have. The Just Juice is a stand out product among other juices as it is, you guessed it, just juice from the fruit labeled (meaning, no white grape or apple juice "filler").  I picked up the pomegranate juice, as I am so fond of those seedy little guys, and have been experimenting with various combos and creative uses for a 100% fruit, unsweetened, juice.

The quality of the juice that stands out most, is that it is very concentrated as far as flavor is concerned.  It is essentially the Liberace to your Elton John, the Burgundy to your mauve, the Martha Stuart to your Susie Homemaker.  This juice, my friends, is very serious.  Therefore, my wimpy taste buds have requested I try a few pairings for this bold flavor.

My house mate added roughly a teaspoon to plain yogurt to liven it up. I think this was absolutely brilliant as many of the flavored yogurt cups pack a calorie load upwards of 200 kcals per serving.  The juice adds natural sweetness and flavor with out the empty calories.

It needs to be said that the juice itself is really quite good on its own, but has a distinct tartness that is a taste to acquire. I would love to post more on the topic, but my mac book is suddenly not supporting the internet for more than 30 seconds at a time-which is not so awesome. Perhaps I'll be buying a PC in the near future. I digress.

Any Just Juice drinkers out there? How do you drink your Just Juice? I'd love your input.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is this real life?

Hey there friends.  I have not forgotten you.  I have nearly forgotten my own name, but not you. Never.

This past week and a half I have had all of the following happen:

  • ended time at my former job, and economy special
  • interviewed for an internship for my dream agency
  • offered internship (score!)
  • contacted for a freelance project for a company I really like
  • not one but 2 blizzards
  • started seeds for my first ever garden
  • talked to my dad who is in Dubai
  • and enjoying the gap in time between jobs.
Whew. I'm loving it! I am going to be back tomorrow with food friday, and that's a promise.

Have a Lovely Splendid Thursday friends.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Food Friday: beets, pasta, and the surprise goodness of the two

For my first Food Friday post, I am sharing my newest recipe that I am kind of in a shock over loving as much as I do.  In our efforts to eat sustainably, my husband and I joined a local food delivery service called Door to Door Organics.  They are in partnership with a number of local farmers, and basically allow you to have the highlights of a CSA (fresh, local, organic, and safe food) without the drawbacks of only having it part of the year, or having too much food to know what to do.  We have been having our produce delievered for the last month, and it is one of the best choices we've made food-wise in a very long time.  We love it so much we have passed on the info to quite a few of our friends, and they are all on "OMG I <3 D2D" highs too.  Seriously, if they are in your area, check them out.

One of the more unexpected benefits of signing up for this service, besides saving money on produce, is the fact that we are expanding our palates each week.  There are a lot of veggies that I have not tried before simply because I would stand in the produce section at the grocery store and intimidate myself from even touching the veggies.  I'd look an eggplant and tell it, "You're really beautiful, you are. That isn't the issue with us. I'm just afraid I'm going to commit to you and not treat you like you deserve.  Someone, someday, is going to come along and know how to treat you right. It's not you, it's me."

However, since getting our produce delivered we have tried Eggplant Pizza with mint and feta (great success), Winter Squash (acorn and butternut) soup with carrots and figs (lovely), and Beet and Spinach pasta. 

Last week, we opened our box of produce the day it was delivered and began to plan our meals for the week.  As I noticed the beets I felt the corners of my mouth turn downward and I didn't even know what to tell these poor beets- they weren't even beautiful like the eggplant. How could I break up with them here, like this, after they had come so far? Where would they go? That's when I knew, we had no choice but to try them, the poor ugly roots, they needed us to come through.  I bribed my husband with the promise of ordering pizza if this meal was in fact a complete disaster, and set out to find any beet recipe that didn't initiate a gag reflex.

Lovely people, meet my newest, and might I add prettiest, pasta recipe:
Penne with Beets, Spinach, and Goat Cheese (Adapted From Simply Organic**)

2 bunches med beets (we just used three beets)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 med onion thinly sliced
3 tbsps balsamic vinegar
2 tbsps oregano
2 tbsps chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound whole wheat penne
salt & pepper
6 oz soft goat cheese
3 oz parmesan
1 bunch spinach (we used this instead of the beet greens on the top of the beet)
Cut the greens off the beets and compost them. Trim the tops and bottoms of the beets and put the beets in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes to 1 hour or until the beets are cooked.  I learned that beets, like potatoes, are done when they can be pierced with your fork with little resistance. When done, remove and run under cold water, using your hands to gently pull off the skins.  Cut the beets into bite sized wedges and set aside.

While the beets are cooking, wash the spinach and chop coarsely - I like how a chiffonade looks, but any form of chopped spinach would work.  Bring another pot of water to boil for the pasta.  

In a large pan or skillet, over med heat, warm the olive oil (we only used a little in the pan, so I don't know if you need then whole 1/4 c.) and add the onion and garlic.  Cook stirring occasionally, for 5 mins or until soft soft and a little carmelized. 

Add the vinegar, oregano, and rosemary and cook for 1 min, stirring to break up any brown bits.  Cook the penne  and then add the spinach during the last 1 min or so of cooking.  Drain the pasta and spinach, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water and return the pasta to the pot.  
Add the beets to the onion mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Mix in the cheese, reserved pasta water, pasta, and onion/beet mixture then sprinkle with some of the parm.  

We went from two people who have scrunched our noses at beets since age 7 to two people who can't stop raving about them.  "OMG, did you know beets are sooo tasty guys?!....Did I tell you about the beet pasta I made? I used BEETS! And LIKED IT!"

**This book was a impulse buy, and it is full of total gems.  If you want to try eating locally or seasonally, buy this book! Do. It.
**This book is incredible, some of the very best recipes I have ever tried.  It's such a great resource for eating seasonally and locally. One of my proudest purchases!

NEW BLOG FEATURE: Food Fridays!

I have been doing as much research as I can about blogs that people actually enjoy reading and comparing it to what I really love to write about.  FOOD made the list as highly enjoyable material to both read and write about.  Win win....win.

As a big fan of FOOD, both the cooking and consumption of it, I am going to commit to doing a Food Friday post each week outlining a favorite food experience.  It will either be a recipe that I am swooning over, a delicious meal out that made me want to sing, or a tidbit of info regarding my efforts to eat sustainable and affordable food (so that it can be sustainable and affordable for everyone).

(As you might have noticed, I am revving up the blog so stay tuned for upcoming blog fixtures like this one.)


Clouds, Lists and Catalysts ( as well as a question for where you want to read this blog)

I have been exploring the Tumblr blogging platform this past week and have set up a lovelysplendid.tumblr.com.  I love blogging, but I enjoy it doubly when I have comments from readers.  I am curious about where you'd most want to read this blog.  Here on blogspot or there on Tumblr?  Let me know in the comments section, because I'm most interested in staying connected with you people. Pretty blogs can come and go, but it's the people who stick around and read it that make it worth it!

Here is a blog post from the tumblr site:

I am a dreamer for sure. I am not about to deny that.  I'll also admit that sometimes my dreams are so wild and so out there that it isn't very likely that I can get started on them in a reasonable fashion. I am a head in the clouds kind of girl I guess.
I am also stubborn.  Stubborn and usually in overdrive.
Contrasting with my daydream-y, ice cream, fluffy perspectives, I have found that writing something down increases my chances of doing it. Let's go ahead and use the term tenfold in regards to my chances of follow through when I write it out on the internet.  Chalk it up to me caring what others think about me.  Chalk it up to the incredible powers of the internet.  Chalk it up with sidewalk chalk if you want.  I don't know why this is true, but it is and it works, so I'm going with it.
If you check out the My CataLIST link on the top of this blog you'll see my list of things I must do.  It's the catalyst to making my daydreams into memories and blog posts.  I want to see lovely things, do lovely things, meet lovely people.  I believe doing everything on that list will be a good use of my time and talents. Also, a splendid use of this blog space, don't you think?

This is a new direction (read:there is now an actual direction) for my blog, and consequently, for my free time.  I am going to try to do as many things on my list as I can and then I'm going to bring it here and tell you all about it. I want to eat, cook, travel, and live my life the best ways possible.  After all, I might have two blogs, but I only get one life.  Ah yes, that was deep.
Here is where I need your help: I want my list to be a bit longer than it is now, and I'm having a loss for ideas.  What should I do?  What have you done that you have loved and will never forget?  What crazy thing is just too crazy for you to do yourself, but you'd like to hear about someone else who's done it?  Fill the comment section with your list ideas folks. Ready? Go!

Monday, March 1, 2010

A public rant on Birth Control, a "blogged it out to spare the masses" kind of post

 It sometimes amazes me the criticism I get when people hear what type of birth control method I use.  It ranges anywhere from "oh, you're trying?" to "Ah, the cross-your-fingers method, I see."  As if anyone has any place to ask, let alone comment on such a personal thing. However, that isn't even what bothers me the most.  What gets to me is the lack of information out about women and fertility, and the pop-science that so many ascribe to. The reality is that women are still being severely judged for the type of contraception they use, and blamed for unexpected pregnancy.  We have not come quite the long way we had thought, baby.


I use a natural method of birth control, where I monitor my body's symptoms on a daily basis and use barrier methods when fertile. I have done this for 2 years now (knock on wood) and with discipline and organization, I have been child-free this whole time.  This wasn't my first method of choice, but now there is no way I will go back to any pill. You couldn't pay me.

The reason is three-fold: one, it isn't necessary;  two, it may turn you into a freak of nature; three, it's not always a very safe option (read as: class action lawsuits).

It isn't necessary:  Women ovulate one day a month, and that means they are fertile the day before, the day of, and the day after.  Doing the math, 3 of 30, we are fertile 1/10 of the month.  Men, on the other hand, are fertile everyday.  Everyday. 30 of 30. 10/10. It is in fact the fertility of men that makes the window of conception a little longer. Since sperm can live up to 5 days in the right "environment," the fertile time period is extended to about 10days in total.  About 5 days before ovulation and 5 days after.  I love men, I love my husband, but the simple science here is that it is on you, guys. It's on you. Am I going to take a pill 365 days a year to cover for my 36 days of fertility? Nope. You go on ahead. Thankfully there are options  that don't require over-medicating one of your partners.

It may turn you into a freak of nature: The side effects of the pill suck. My personal experience was that the pill made me the angriest, most weepy little flower on the block.  I was getting mad at the laundry and thought my professor wanted to fail me because I hated horror films. My brain was undergoing massive horse hormone therapy treatments everyday so that I could assure everyone that "we're waiting" "I'm just too irresponsible to be a mother, so we're being responsible with the pill." I'm sorry, please tell me what is responsible about subjecting yourself to a list of side effects that reads like an obituary?

Please read and observe this side effect sheet for me: (Borrowed directly from the Yaz website) "OCs can be associated with an increased risk of several serious cardiovascular side effects, including blood clots, stroke, and heart attack...leukorrhea, diarrhea, vomiting, vaginitis, flu syndrome, moniliasis, allergic reaction, cystitis, tooth disorder, sore throat, infection, fever, surgery, back pain, migraine, dyspepsia, rhinitis, acne, gastroenteritis, bronchitis, pharyngitis, skin disorder, intermenstrual bleeding, decreased libido, pain, increased cough, dizziness, pain in extremity, and pelvic pain."  
How liberating. What is better is the outright rejection of the male birth control pill.  Most men prefer to use another form or even risk the pregnancy.  I once read an article about this where a man basically said the following: “I would rather rely on a solution that doesn’t involving medicating myself and the problems women have had with hormone therapy doesn’t make me eager to want to sign on to taking a hormone-type therapy.” Lastly,  I would be remiss if I don't mention that I suspected the pill worked purely by inducing celibacy. Just saying.

Recap: the round the clock fertile male prefers not to take a pill with lesser side effects. So the default responsibility falls on the woman, obviously, since she is fertile 10% of the time. Leukorrhea anyone?

Finally, it is still dangerous.  Hormone therapy is still developing as a science, and carries a high risk with it.  As a 23 year old woman with little to no health problems, aside from the occasional cold, I don't think I am willing to submit myself to hormone therapies likely to lead to more problems than I had ever dreamed of.  However, a lot of women do submit to it, thinking it is their only option. When issues like the Yaz pill lawsuit arise it feels just a little too late.  Women have DVT, pancreatic cancer, and I know a woman who had to have her gall bladder out, to take the pill.  It just isn't always a great option.

In a time where we have established women as an equal players on so many levels, why is the pill the standard form of birth control?  Why are women who opt out ridiculed? Why does the school nurse talk to teenage girls about the pill but not about the intricacies of her cycle?  This is a major point of frustration for me.

All that said, I was conceived on the pill.  So, "most effective form" that.

Soap Box Done. For now.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Creative Mindercising and Getting Arty

Lately I have been hopped up on the ideas of art and creativity and the way that they advance culture.  Now, some Boulderites are going to pull out their hair, stomp their feet, and possibly spit on the ground when they hear me say these next words: Boulder creativity is rather stale. I mean, broke in college, napping on the couch, see a Wheat Thin on the coffee table, bite it and chip your tooth. That stale.

Don't panic if you audibly hear something right now.That sound you are hearing is the collective gasp and a few shouts of "Heretic!" from the yuppie masses.  You can hear them clearly because they are all out on the patios, listening to the ambient drone of String Cheese, Wide Spread Panic, or OAR.  Drones of the jam band variety, occasionally peppered in with "Redemption Song."  Oh Bob Marley, if only you had known your lyrics would be displayed on so many luxury SUVs. 

I know there are creatives in this town who do art outside of political motivation;   who play music that doesn't make me want to cry as middle aged men and woman flail their arms and kick in spasms  dance on the Pearl St. bricks; who do not think that close up photography of columbines mixed with wild grasses are the highest form of art.  While those things can be nice for a mountain town or hippie vibe, I think that there is much more to be explored.  I think there are people who believe in art as a progress-or, and even occasionally the aggressor, when faced with ignorance or stagnant perspectives. I know that I do.

I'm going to start out on a creative mindercise regimen (because I'm not really a fitness writer, I tried, it ain't me babe).  There are a number of exercises, creative espresso shots, and inspiration-based blogs and forums that I am going to draw from to spelunk the funk in my brain.I have invited a few others to do this with me on a Facebook group page at this link. We have completed our first project: Create a flier of a typical day and post it around your neighborhood (or post it in the photos section of the group). I have to say, for such a simple and potentially one-dimensional assignment, the creative approaches and streams of consciousness that my friends produced was inspiring. It solidified my theory that there can be a resuscitation of the arts in our community.  I'm excited to see Boulder grow this into something, and then one day (oh please oh please!) Boulder can be known for something in addition to it's reputation as a liberal  (add to that, mmj) mecca.

Check out some of the art postings from this week, and if you would like to join our group, welcome pal.

**I only put a couple up here, to see the rest, visit the Facebook Group page...it may become its own blog in the near future... stay tuned Lovely People, stay tuned.






Monday, February 15, 2010

No Regrets

We've all been there.  Standing in the parking lot, peering into our bag as if we expect something new to materialize. We ask ourselves "Do I need this? Do I really need this?" And for most of us we shake it off, close the bag, and walk the rest of the way to the car.  Others of us allow the buyer's remorse to occur while standing in the produce section of the grocery store.  We say to ourselves "I do love the butter lettuce, but dangit if that iceburg head isn't going to save me 39 cents. What will I tell my friends when they find out I buy fancy lettuce?!" I wish I was joking.

Walk across the parking lot from the grocery store to a Broomfield tattoo parlor, and you'll see what I did this Saturday.  If I were able to title the event, it would be called "Valentines Day 2010: A Gift of Epic Awesomeness and General Badassery."  It is the most literal title available for my day.

It began with an email from my friend that went a little something like this:
"So, I think I'm going to act on a impulse and get [name changed]'s initials with a heart tattooed on my butt for Valentines (no, I'm not joking). I'll probably do this tomorrow afternoon or Saturday.
This is not the kind of thing I want to do alone."

and a thread continued on to the tune of:
"Ohmyhahaha that is amazing.  I will come hold you hand and laugh. At you."
"If it's less than 50....I could maybe be persuaded"
"I haven't quite convinced myself to actually go through with getting the tattoo.  Listen, it's not because it's against my religion or anything I just think it might hurt my precious baby butt."
 "guys I'm getting a real one. I'm getting an anchor because it looks like tyler's initials and more reasons.  But i'm doing it because if I don't do it right now, I'll chicken out again. Sorry to go emo."
and finally:
"I am so excited about this I could not sleep last night. I am totally in to get the name on the ass. Should we make an appt. somewhere?"

Translation: 5 married women with either jobs or children or both tattooing names/initials in hearts, on cheeks, for a gift. Yes, David, this is real life.

After an eventful night of marriage curses, phone calls, and text messages from a tattooist   man-child, we found our parlor, our price point, and our cover stories for our husbands for the afternoon.  A decoy meet-up at Target, a little caffeine, some Michael (Jackson, if you have to ask) and we were ready to the dang thing.

Does this story get better? Oh yes, yes it does.

We get to the Big Easy (real name) and are greeted by Paul, who would be our artist for the day and would proceed to tattoo the initials of my friend's husbands on to my friend's individual tushers, as my younger brother calls it.  One by one, each girl drew the heart and the initials (think of your high school notebook, but grown-up, very grown-up). Then we'd all giggle and coo around the chair our friend was laying in, effectively mooning each of us, and braid each others' hair to distract from the pain.There were a  few comments of  "At least it's not like a real tattoo," even though it most definitely was. It was the hipster version of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, or more like the Ya-ya Twisted Sister Hood. Holla Dee Snyder!


Once each of my friends were brandishing a hilariously wonderful Valentine's day gift on their ba-donks (it's amazing how many euphemisms I can think of for that body part), it was my turn.  I brought over my little drawing, and rolled up my sleeve.  Then, I braced for impact.  I might have asked a few times "This isn't a boy's tattoo right? Because I don't want to look at a boy tattoo everyday." I learned, that even girls can be sailors. Frick.


The gift reveal was a success, and despite being 2 hours late for our fancy V-day party, everyone was really stoked on the day. It was one of the best Saturdays I've had.  Even if I look at my arm when I'm 50, and say "what was I thinking?"  I'll remember the day and lighten up, because I still can't believe how much fun it was. Also, if I don't think it's awesome when I'm fifty, someone needs to remind me that I used to be fun, and had really, and I mean really, great friends, and I need to relax.

About the buyer's remorse.  Well, that was to be expected.  And as you can see, it is on my wrist.  My wrist that I see about 200 times a day.  My wrist that I can get way too close to my face and stare at every imperfect pore, not to mention not so straight lines or asymmetrical anchors.  I may go back and get it perfected, but I also may just leave it as is.  A souvenir from a day I went out-with one day's notice- with friends to get a tattoo in honor of my hub, that will also always make me think of them.

Ahoy mateys!

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Winter Rant Turned Beauty Blog


Hello lovlies and hi there splendids. I have to say sorry for my sporadic writing.  I gave my blog a little kiss of death when I included it in a New Year's resolution.  I mean, if you enjoy something giving it a deadline is kind of a fun-sucker.  Fun-sucker aside, I have been kind of going through a bog of sorts lately.  And I don't feel bogged down, oh no, I got to keep on moving.  I just feel like the past week or two I have been slogging through some grimy mud, and my attitude is less snarky and more bitchy cynical. Bo-ring. However, thanks to a solid stretch of time with some truly fabulous women this weekend, I'm feeling fresher than The Situation.


As I have mentioned on my blog ( here, and here) this winter is really full of itself. This winter is embarrassing Al Gore.  This winter makes me agree with Kenneth Parcell when he says "Global warming? Sorry, sir, that's just scientist talk." And yet, four months and 90 (gross) inches of snow later, we still have at least three months left of this windy, dry, dry, run.  Everything is dry. Just look at this current picture of me, and you will get the idea. I am researching and compiling a list of necessary items to carry on.

Here is what I have found so far:

 Hair Care- because it's too cold not to use a hair dryer.
  •  It is hard to think about the tops of our heads when we think about moisturizing and skin care, but that's a whole lotta derm to ignore. Mix in hair styling products, blow dryers, and Colorado's climate, and whoo boy! If it were possible to use shea butter or jojoba oil directly in my hair, I would, but to my dismay (my utter delight) the emo look is finally going out. Luckily, I was recently told about Scalp Benefits shampoo from Aveda.  It moisturizes and balances the pH of your scalp as well as the roots of your hair.  In only a few uses, I can tell you this is my winter shampoo from here until I move to Hawaii -- which may very well be tomorrow. (I paired it with the Pure Abundance conditioner, so that I could still style my hair. Priorities friends.)
  •  If your issue is hair damage due to the unfortunate fate that we face: going out in the cold with wet hair means you will be rocking a head of icy dreadlocks; then you should try a heat protecting product. Aveda Damage remedy has coconut oil and quinoa protein to restructure the straw-like strands that can appear this time of year (I used to love Therma-Silk, where for art thou?).
Skin Care - even alligator skin on shoes is heinous.

  • I have taken to a bi- or tri- weekly exfoliating routine, and it's really made a big difference.  I have really sensitive skin, and so I am using a rice-based micro-foliant from Dermalogica, but I'm pretty sure that any exfoliation is good.
  • Moisturizers have me stumped. This is actually the inspiration for the entire blog post. I have consulted a few estheticians about what kind of facial moisturizers are needed for this weather and have been told that "intensive moisture" is best.  Here are three I have read reviews on here, here, and here, but ultimately I am clueless. (Tell me your favorites in the comments section).


Other Remedies


  • I have finally committed to drinking more water, and when I can't do the water I'm drinking more tea.  They say caffeine is a water usurper, and if they only knew how much coffee I drink they would probably give me a time out. Drink up.
  • I have a humidifier in our bedroom and it is a total gem. My eyes and skin love me when I remember to use it.
  • And if all else fails, blow your savings on a tropical vacation or join me in sending the National Weather Service emails asking them to turn the heat up.
P.S. I know global warming isn't a joke, but it doesn't mean I don't think it's funny to always reference it.

P.P.S. I use CFLs and ride the bus.