Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Weekend Everybody!

The weather outside is totally icky today. I love a good rainstorm, especially if it becomes a thunderstorm, but this chilly, gray, is it or isn't it crap just gives me headaches. Literally, the pressure change outside wreaks havoc with my sinuses. To top it off, I've a headache of one sort or another all week long.

So you'd think I would spend the day relaxing and sleeping in. Not so. I'm testing recipes (which is fun, don't get me wrong). I think now that I'm officially off the diet and on my own to count calories and cook again, I'm going a little nuts.

Last weekend I made an etouffé, some baked herbed tomatoes that I later ate with Laughing Cow cheese on Wasa crackers for a snack, and Lemon Muffins that I broke out for breakfast with cottage cheese and fruit. I also tried to make cantaloupe coolers -- they were very cantaloupe-y. And I made a cous cous salad with rotisserie chicken, my new go-to for cleaning the fridge and not overdoing the calories.

Today we're supposed to be going to a barbecue at a friends house so I offered to make some cheese covered olives (we'll see if the recipe works, but I think something might be missing), some stuffed cherry tomatoes (scooped and draining as we speak), some potatoes O'Brien (homemade and in place of my usually fabulous but mayo laden potato salad -- probably not going to be an everyday substitution in that case because I love potato salad), and some sweet of some sort. I had one in mind, but I'm currently reading Michelle Maisto's The Gastronomy of Marriage: A Memoir of Food and Marriage and her walnut tarts sound out of this world!

This book is super fun if you're a foodie at all. I don't normally read a lot of non-fiction, much less memoirs, mainly because I have so much fiction on my plate to work around. After seeing Julie & Julia, however, and reading some of Julie Powell's blog posts, I have to admit that I really enjoy reading about other people's obsessions with food. Makes me feel like I'm in good company.

Michelle Maisto is a twenty-something living in NY (dangerously close to my own age and that's not all we have in common -- I'm seeing a link here between women in my own generation embracing food as a means of expression, comfort, and control that is missing in other areas of our lives, like work). At the time the book was written, Michelle had just gotten engaged to her long-time boyfriend and they'd decided to move in together. Planning the wedding while merging their homes, discovering new things you only learn in living with someone, and maneuvering about their kitchen -- deciding what is whose responsibility and when -- are things that every couple goes through, so I can relate to her story. In addition, Michelle is a total foodie, a pescetarian besides, with a love for fresh produce and trying new things. She describes their dinners and favorite dishes with a mouthwatering zeal that makes me want to immediately run to the farmers' market and buy everything I've yet to try myself. In truth, after the fabulous greens with pomegranate butter that I had a Jax last weekend, Michelle's fondness for them is amping me up to try and recreate the dish myself.

Did I mention that she comes from an Italian background and her fiancée a Chinese background? I've been craving noodles since I started this book last night!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, the book does have a handful of recipes included, and other dishes are described with so much depth that I'm sure anyone interested (me!) can make many of them at home themselves.

The Gastronomy of Marriage is not due out until September 8, so keep it on your radar if you're as obsessed with food as I am. Again, we'll all be in good company and I know I'm not the only one who can relate to a girl with a carb and cheesy tv habit!


Vickie said...

Well, YUM!!!

Vickie said...

And I hope you are feeling better soon. Your weather was different than ours. We had overcast skies, but only got sprinkles,no real rain.

Michelle said...

Hi Becky,

So thrilled you're enjoying the book! If you wound up making the walnut tarts after all, I'd love to hear how they turned out...

I hope it was a great bbq and a wonderful weekend. Thanks so much for your kind words and enthusiasm!

All best,
Michelle Maisto

Becky LeJeune said...


I haven't tried the tarts just yet -- they were in my plan for Saturday, but four recipes later it was time to go! I was glad to see that they can be made with pecans. I love walnuts, but every Christmas my grandmother sends us boxes of Texas pecans. I have three right now and I'm looking at your tarts as a great alternative to sandies for using some of these up!

I'll keep you posted!