Category Archives: Life

Merry Christmas, Round 1

Happy Christmas Eve!


Tonight, we’re cooking just for ourselves – a Christmas Eve tradition that we started our first Christmas together. Before we started dating, since my family celebrates Christmas following the Orthodox calendar, December 24th was usually pretty uneventful. Now, though, I get to celebrate two Christmases – the December AND January versions! Last Christmas Eve, I made a rib roast; tonight’s (slightly more adventurous) menu: sous vide duck with orange and cranberries, Dijon-glazed Brussels sprouts, and homemade cinnamon ice cream!

We have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate this Christmas – our families, a finished (and bound, as of today!) Master’s, an almost-completed JD, and of course, our engagement!

Merry Christmas to all – we hope everyone celebrates well with their loved ones near and far.

 

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Thankful

After cooking all day Wednesday (late into the night, actually – we didn’t go to bed until after 2:00 a.m.) and starting up early on Thursday morning, we made it through Thanksgiving.

In spite of all the craziness of the last few weeks, cooking and hosting Thanksgiving was something we were both so looking forward to. We knew we wanted to do everything ourselves, and by “do everything,” we mean from scratch. None of this “semi-homemade” mentality (our hatred for Sandra Lee deserves its own post).

Telling friends about our plans inspired some interesting looks and comments (“You’re cooking the entire meal? By yourselves?”). While some admitted that just thinking about hosting Thanksgiving gave them nightmares, we were excited to have both of our families over and to cook our hearts out…and everything turned out beautifully.


It was really a wonderful day – we have much to be thankful for!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
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Big week

Happy first snowfall to all! I usually like the snow to wait until after Thanksgiving, but we’ve held out longer than last year, so I can’t complain too much.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it’s less than a week away! We are so looking forward to hosting our families and cooking up a storm in our little apartment! In preparation for next week, we’ve been trying to not spend a lot of money on groceries and use up what we have in our refrigerator. A few nights ago, we decided to make a curry. Based on what we added, it turned into more of a curried chili, but that’s what made this meal so great – it was completely adaptable to the ingredients we had on hand!

For our curried chili, we braised two chicken thighs (bone in, skin left on) in some olive oil. In another pot, we combined a can of light coconut milk with a tablespoon of curry paste, and stirred together until the mixture just about boiled. We then poured that over our chicken thighs and added lots of vegetables: green beans, green pepper, tomato, carrots, and cannellini beans that had been soaking throughout the day. Everything was left to simmer for about an hour (we also added some more curry paste to increase the heat); just before serving, we added a handful of golden raisins for sweetness. Andrew sliced up some of his homemade bread for the finishing touch.

We have both had a rather hectic week, but Andrew has completed an important milestone:

he presented his master’s thesis yesterday!

I’m so proud of how hard he has worked throughout this program. It seems like just yesterday that we were running to the mailbox to check on acceptance letters. I’ll always remember opening our tiny apartment mailbox and finding the large square envelope inside (from my own law school application process, I came to learn that big envelopes mean good things!). Now, after three semesters and two summers of full time classes, Andrew has his master’s!

We do have a lot to be thankful for this year – and I can’t wait to celebrate with everyone on Thursday! Ljublju you, Driy!

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3 Weeks to Thanksgiving

Happy November to all – grab a hot cider, a cookbook or two, and settle in for some fun reading!

I’ve always loved November.  To those in Minnesota, this might make me sound crazy.  Right about now, the weather starts to get gloomy, gray, and cold.  We start to accept that there won’t be many sunny or warm days ahead, reluctantly bring out the heavy coats, and prepare ourselves for SNOW.  Last year, at the beginning of November, we had our first major snow storm of the year…and dealt with the harsh realities of winter until the end of April!

So far so good – no snow here.  And despite what most people think about this time of year, I love it.  It’s chilly, yes, but it’s crisp and refreshing. I happen to like my hat and gloves.  All the coffee shops have their “holiday” cups out.  And, best of all, I know that the semester is almost over…and THANKSGIVING is just three weeks away!

Thanksgiving, 2010

The one place that always gets me ready and excited for Thanksgiving is Williams-Sonoma. Whether we go in July or at the end of October, I crave turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing.  My sister and mom totally gets this – for the past few years, we’ve stopped in before Thanksgiving to get our “essentials,” and always end up leaving with something (usually several somethings) that we didn’t know we needed to make the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Andrew has admitted to me that this is probably his favorite store, so I’m pretty sure that this tradition will continue long into the future! We have already studied (numerous times, I might add) Sonoma’s Thanksgiving Guide 2011, as we’re hosting both sets of families for dinner.  I’m guessing there will be several trips to W-S over the next few weeks…

Now, to focus on school just enough to finish what needs to be done before all the fun begins!

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Changes

Well it’s been about a month since either one of us has posted on here. That is our fault and we should make more time for it, but it’s tough when both of us are in graduate school and work. I am nearly done with my thesis (next week!) and the reality of the situation is slowly sinking in, making it harder for me to commit free time to this blog. Natalia is very busy trying to help her clients and it’s difficult too for her to find energy to write. But perhaps some recent news will provide a renewed impetus for writing: WE GOT ENGAGED!!!

That’s right, we took a trip to Chicago and I got a bride, she got a groom. There are no timeframes for the wedding (at least a year away probably), but until then we get time to plan, toast, and cook. It must be said that while we were in Chicago we ate at some of the best restaurants in the country. Our meals at The Purple Pig, The Publican, Cafe Spiaggia, and Q were all beyond anything we could have imagined.

In fact, the meal we had at The Publican preceded our engagement and it provided us the opportunity to have duck hearts. The duck hearts come from Au Bon Canard, a local farm (to Minnesota), and they were single-handedly the greatest dish we’ve had since we ate at Piccolo in June. In June the dish that won our hearts (pun intended) was the Tete de Porc, or pig’s head to the Englishly inclined. It was a beautiful melange of creamy fat and unctuous flavor and truly exceptional. The duck hearts at The Publican were a completely different dish: smooth and buttery, but had a wonderful starchy quality provided by the lentils. The dish was completed was then topped with slices of kumquat which added a wonderful citrusy element to the salt and starch. Natalia was hesitant about this dish, but afterwards was completely blown away by the experience.

I guess there really was no better way to later win her heart by feeding her hearts before hand. Thanks Chicago for the memories, we’ll be back soon!

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Lucky me.

I’m a pretty lucky girl.

Take a look at our morning yesterday. It was a beautiful Saturday, and after watching our Chelsea FC win 4-1 (we are a very BLUE house…see below), we decided to take advantage of the first fall weekend in the cities.

We rode our bikes across the river to the Mill City Farmer’s Market.  Located between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater, this market is my favorite in the Twin Cities.  We bought garlic and a baguette, then walked down by the Mississippi and crossed the river to East Hennepin and had a great lunch at Pizza Nea.  It couldn’t have been a better morning!

We’re so lucky to live in a neighborhood that has so much to offer – I love Northeast!

Another reason I feel so fortunate, especially lately, is that I have my own master chef at home. I’ve always loved to cook, but with school being as busy as it is (those who told me that third year of law school isn’t so bad should have their heads examined), Andrew has taken over the kitchen.  He has seriously become one of the best cooks I know.  Over the last week, here are just some of the dishes I’ve been able to enjoy:

          


    

Right now, we’ve got the Packers game on (ok, so we’re a bluegreen house) and chicken braising in home-made tomatillo salsa.  Really a great end to a great weekend.

See?  Told you I’m lucky! 

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The Beginning!

This is our first blog post-ever! Well, at least it’s our first blog together. Other than a collection of high school assignments or cynical attempts at writing, neither of us has made a concerted effort to sit the hell down and write out our thoughts. After we tried to do that, we thought it would probably be better just to write about our cooking attempts and see where that takes us. As we talked about the project though, we quickly began to realize how important cooking and food is in our lives.

A shared love for P.F. Chang's was all it took to bring these two together. That and scotch eggs.

We are fortunate enough to live in a great city like Minneapolis that offers incredible high-end restaurants, low-end joints, and everything in-between. This city is incredible, but sometimes cooking at home can yield the most lasting results. We’ve found that the myriad of delicious, locally-sourced restaurants has inspired us to try new cuisines, techniques, and even new flavors (we’re both recent converts to the pickle). This desire to flex our culinary muscle-nascent as it is-has caused our brain muscles to grow and seek out new ideas on life, literature, film, and booze. Lots of booze.

Science shows graduate students NEED booze to get through the average Tuesday.

Having said that, we will try to keep this blog germane to a short list of things: food, drinks, local restaurants, culture (including Talia’s favorite: shopping), and heavy matters like religion and politics. Or not so much the last two; who knows, it’s a crazy world in which we live.

Let us know your thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or recipe ideas below and we hope you enjoy this blog as much as we think we like writing for it.