Monday, March 10, 2014

Rainy Days & Beignets

This Thursday I got outta town for an overnight work trip with my friend Jen to New Orleans (poor us on hardship duty). Our hotel was 5 miles from the French Quarter so we cabbed it there, had beignets at Cafe Du Monde (she had never been to Nawlins before and I insisted upon this), and then - after doughnut hors d'oeuvres, of course - had a delicious meal at Domenica. I had the cavatelli with fire roasted eggplant topped with goat cheese and it doesn't sound like anything spectacular but it was so good.

I had been hoping to go to Head for the Hills music festival in Kerrville on Saturday but the weather didn't cooperate - it was cold and rainy all weekend. We enjoyed some quality family time watching Dallas Buyers Club (have you seen it? You should!), went to work out at the Y but had pulled pork at the Beat Street Bistro instead (because C has a bout of conjunctivitis and we've already brought one dose of plague to the Y)*, and tried to get into The Americans but no dice.
*would like to say that's that the first time that we've put on workout clothes just to go out to lunch, but alas.
On the cooking front, I tried out several new things, bran muffins from here and Cooking Light chocolate-banana snack cake*, each with a hearty addition of chia seeds. I bought an enormous bag of chia seeds a while ago and am finally getting around to incorporating them. They go unnoticed in the bran muffins - which are shockingly delicious, even the man of the house said so, and C ate them with gusto - and add a birdseed-but-not-in-a-bad-way texture to the snack cake.**
* I love chocolate and banana together, and this cake is delish
** how ridiculous is the term snack cake?
AND I started using my newly delivered pressure cooker this weekend. I had purchased ATK's Pressure Cooker Perfection over a year ago but dawdled buying the appliance because C arrived and I stopped cooking for a long time and in the spring it was reported that the Boston marathon bombers used a pressure cooker as the bomb vessel, which added to my notion of pressure cookers as dangerous and scary. These many months later, I decided to give it a try. I've never seen a pressure cooker in action but I watched this video:
I tried out chili, macaroni and cheese, a chickpea and artichoke tagine, and steamed butternut squash. I am in love with this thing! I made two batches of mac and cheese, each with an addition of a lonely half-consumed bag of frozen peas (batch 1) and chopped spinach (batch 2). No-mess one pot cooking, done in 10 minutes from start to finish. Someone else was also a fan:
Can't wait try it out for roasts and stews and maybe some desserts. (Luke says I ask him at least every six weeks if he's ever had rice pudding and he answers 'no' and I murmur 'me neither, I wonder if it's good'.)
On Sunday C and I went to Babies R Us (which along with Bed Bath & Beyond rounds out my list of stores that I will only shop at only under circumstances of dire need, a diaper pail bag refill being one of those -- and their inventory was wrong and they didn't even have them I hate you Babies R Us!) and Costco. More pressure cooking, one more episode of the Americans (final verdict: not 80s enough! Too implausible!), and a batch of chocolate ice cream that didn't freeze properly for some reason but no matter - I'm re-labeling it as a semifreddo.
Looking forward to enjoying the ahem semifreddo, watching Lena Dunham on SNL, starting this book, and planning for California exclamation point exclamation point exclamation point. Can't wait!

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