Year 1 with Eleanor


My mom is always and forever asking me why I don't write more about Eleanor. I always say that I have to write about other things like recipes and hiking and breakfast sandwiches. Life's greatest experiences of course... 

Eleanor doesn't get more press coverage in part because I'm highly reluctant to the label of "cat lover". People that love their cats have a certain stigma that is often supported by cartoons, unattractive sweaters and words like crazy or bizarre. That being said, I've enjoyed having Eleanor in my apartment for the past year. I'd like to think she's kept any mice at bay. She has made it pleasurable to spend a quiet weekend in my apartment whether it's to clean, cook or crush some episodes of Gilligan's Island. Eleanor is also pretty capable of taking care of herself for a few days.

Winter in Boston


I'm currently in LA for a few days ... and soaking up all that translates to. I went for a run yesterday morning on the beach. I've been drinking ice coffee. I talk about the traffic. Those are LA things as far as I'm concerned. But, the best part of going someplace nice and warm... is pointing it out to as many people as possible that are still cold.

I'm honestly not sure what the weather is like right now in Boston. But, it made me think about all the snowy weekends we've had recently. I don't really get to reap the benefit of snow days like many other people - but the weekends are my opportunity to venture out. A few weekends ago, I slipped into my big tall Hunter boots, grabbed my camera and went for a nice long walk. There isn't really that much to say about these pictures except that I took them.

BTW, I'm a bit in love with that tree outside my window. I love watching it change seasons. It's my personal little wind meter since I can see the branches moving from my bed. Recently I've been looking at moving and it would be sad to not have this tree to act as my personal seasons barometer. I'd probably get over that if I had a dishwasher or enough hot water for a 10 minute shower.

Back to Boston on Thursday. Double crossies for good weather and less down jackets.

A few bright blooms


I'd like to think that I'm not one of those people that you hear complaining about all the winter.

Summer is my favorite of course, but winter isn't bad. It means fleece, fireplaces, endless hot coffee, and being cozy. Also, cross-country skiing. That being said, it does also mean that I've worn my Hunter Boots and big down jacket nearly every day to the office. But today the weather in Boston was down right warm. I almost felt bad going to yoga because it was nice enough to run outside in minimal layers.

I celebrated the warmth by returning to my favorite bench by the harbor and reading.  Then I took an extra long walk along the harbor with a friend. As I sit on my couch watching the Olympics, I almost feel like my skin is a little sun-kissed and that is perfectly fine by me. It felt amazing to actually be warmed by the sun ... as opposed to occasionally thawed.

polenta bake with sausage and kale

I believe sausage and kale is one of the best combinations out there. It's like peanut butter and chocolate as far as I'm concerned.

That being said, the combination is rather definitely indicative of Fall and Winter dining. I'm not sure how you make this combo into a summer meal ... so perhaps we should all just enjoy it while the weather screams cozy.

While I did eat leftovers of this dish for several days, I don't think polenta is really meant for a Wednesday lunch. It is meant to be consumed relatively hot out of the oven and perhaps while wearing comfy sweatpants and an oversized hoodie sweatshirt. My brother / family gave me a big ole bright blue sweatshirt from my high school for Valentines Day this year. I pretty much haven't taken it off. While not everyone can wear this outfit, everyone can enjoy this meal.



I am a bit of an early riser at times and this weekend was one of those times. But it helped me to really maximize my Saturday. We had a bit of snow during the work week and thankfully it stuck around a bit so I could go skiing. 

The rest of the weekend was really uphill from there. I got gently lost in the woods. Went to target. Ate cake at a family party. Reminisced about my youth at a basketball game. Found my favorite ice cream. Made a loaf of bread. Took a great walk. Ate beef stew and watched Downton Abbey.

Pretty much a winner. I'm hoping it all happens again sometime soon.

Country Beef Stew (with fresh bread)


Sometimes I have a really hard time finding something to make for Sunday dinner. Yesterday was one of those days, I had visions of beef slow cooking on the oven while I watched the Olympics ... but I wasn't really finding anything that fit my fancy. I thought about switching to fish... but was equally stumped. I even pulled several cookbooks from the shelves. It was in the last cookbook that I found what I was looking for... Beef Stew.

But, this beef stew is not like others. The little blurb in the Downton Abbey cookbook is what sold me: "Mrs. Patamore would be well aware of the rejuvenating effects of a solid meal, and would likely have made this filling stew for the staff during a particularly busy week... Mrs. Patamore would offer this dish as a way to soothe the servants' tired souls and feet" As a family we love beef stew which has been previously documented in this slow cooker recipe. And while the ingredients overlap in several cases, the outcome here is very different but no less great. Even though I'm the only person who added the spices to the pot, I had to stop and think about the difference when I took my first bite.

Baby Pea Oven Risotto


Last weekend I stood in the Charlestown parking garage with a dilemma. I already had two bags to carry the .80 mile (or 12 minute) walk home... but I also really wanted to bring this heavy cast iron dutch oven as well. And, it was raining.

The thing is... I had a lot of plans for this dutch oven and they needed to get started right away. My sister and I technically have shared custody of this pot but she is welcome to it anytime she wants to carry the 13 pound wonder down the 3 flights of stairs, down the hill, and up her 5 flights of stairs. But it was Sunday night and I knew I had sole custody.

The first thing I wanted to make with Big Red (the pot) was to attempt oven baked risotto. I'd heard a fair bit about it but never had the right type of pot to do a test. Spoiler alert? Oven risotto is frightfully easy and just as good. It's like making cupcakes and perhaps easier. You essentially leave the risotto the simmer away by itself for 45 minutes. You can do a lot of cleaning (or reading or nail painting or Tivo watching) in 45 minutes. 

Low Sodium Cooking Adventures

I'm really behind in my posting. Honestly, I thought about just posting the links to the original recipes and calling it a day. I even thought about pretending these recipes didn't happen just to feel caught up. But I'm a terrible liar and that feels like lying.

I had a really awesome day yesterday and I want to write about it - but before that happens... I must make some progress on the small mountain of recipes that have been through my kitchen recently. Without my fan fair, I want to talk about the couple of the low sodium recipes that I've tried out. Very rarely do I think about the nutritional components of anything when I'm cooking. I'll swap out heavy cream for light cream but, I'm normally thinking about making something a bit lighter ... not healthier... if that makes sense.

Recently, I learned that my grandparents are on low sodium diets. This makes sense they are both 80+ but I still had never processed what that meant for eating right. Turns out sodium is a sneaky little devil. Some quick research I did told me that our family members 55+ should stick to a diet that has 1,500 mg of sodium or less. Quick math had me attempting to find meals that would be less than 500 mg of sodium.

Without further ado, here are 3 of the 4 that I've attempted so far.
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