Friday, June 19, 2009

My Covet List

after moving into my new home with L, I decided I would be leaving my job. Both for personal reasons and because of the economy, I expect to be unemployed for a while. So all of my original fantasies about how I wanted to set up our space had to be re-thought. Now that I'm on the frugal living track, I'm collecting a list of home items that I really want, but am not allowing myself to buy (yet).

- Deck Tiles: we have three balconies! With views! But they are a bit stark and windy. They also have some special finish that needs to be treated carefully because they are actually roof decks. So, I'd love to put in some wood or bamboo deck tiles. has some decent options.

- Planters: again, make the roof decks feel more hospitable. I'd love to have big, rectangular ones around the edges of at least one deck. Then the question is; edibles, or ornamental grasses?

- A ModKat Litter Box: these are so much better looking than your typical plastic litter box, plus the top-entry means the dog won't get into it.

- A wall-mounted bookcase for my office space, such as this one at CB2.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Party Food!

So it turns out I'm not much of a blogger. This post is sooo way overdue!

We had a housewarming party! It was fabulous and festive, and did the trick of filling our home with cheer. It was 3-7pm on a Saturday in May. It was a beautiful day, during a heat wave. We had all of the doors open and the fan on high, and it stayed nice inside.

I planned the menu for weeks. OK, maybe just one week. I wanted food that I could make ahead, that could sit out all afternoon, that would be super yummy, relatively healthy, and would go well together.

Here's what I came up with:

- Toasted baguette with artichoke antipasto; fresh baguette sliced into small pieces, drizzled with olive oil & toasted in the oven, plus artichoke dip from Trader Joe's.
- Pita crackers with white bean hummus; Trader Joe's all the way. I love the pita crackers; they're a round cracker out of pita bread, super light.
- Crudites with roasted eggplant-garlic yogurt sauce; carrots, celery, radishes, with a sauce made from Trader Joe's roasted eggplant-garlic dip with greek yogurt mixed in.
- Feta-stuffed olives from Berkeley Bowl.
- Rosemary-cayenne walnuts; from a Chow recipe, except that I used maple syrup instead of sugar and added cayenne pepper. Super yummy!

- Lamb meatballs w/ lemon-cumin yogurt; recipe from chow. These were a super big hit and gone almost instantly. I wish I had made more!
- Lentils in endive leaves; I used the pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe's, spooned into individual endive leaves, garnished with a leaf of fresh oregano.
- "Caprese bites", using pre-marinated mozzarella balls from Genova Deli, fresh basil, and sugar plum tomatoes, on toothpicks for easy munching. Yum!
- Paprika-roasted cauliflower; inspired by another Chow recipe, except I followed some of the commenters' suggestions to make it with balsamic & olive oil with salt, and I added paprika for a "Mediterranean" theme.

- Dates with chevre & pistachios drizzled with honey; my mom used to make dates with goat cheese for parties. I added the pistachios & honey. Big hit, even from a former pastry chef.
- Fresh fruit; grapes, on the stem, snipped into party-sized bites & strawberries.
- Almond cookies from Trader Joe's; light, just sweet enough.

Rosemary-ginger lemonade, both a hard version (with Vodka) and a juice-only version. I used frozen lemonade concentrate (a good organic kind from Berkeley Bowl), and with one of the cans I put it in a saucepan with ginger & fresh rosemary to simmer for about 10 minutes before adding the water and the two other cans of concentrate. I also added some fresh squeezed lemons to add more tart (I find lemonade from concentrate to be too sweet!). I used three cans of concentrate, maybe six lemons (?) . About a third of it I reserved as unmixed, and mixed 1.75ml vodka into the rest.

People stayed well past 7pm, and all of the food was gone! I had expected leftovers! The only things left were a small amount of lemonade (virgin), some of the walnuts, and a few radishes with some eggplant dip.