because of the quirks of my work schedule, i haven’t been to work since last thursday. originally, i’d planned to take advantage of this stretch of time off by taking a trip to visit a friend, but in the end, i decided to just lay low and stay home. it’s been very relaxing. here are the highlights:
–on friday, mr. happy stuff and i enjoyed lunch together at brasserie v. i think i’ve only eaten there once before and i hope to go back again soon! every single sandwich on their lunch menu (actually, pretty much all of the food on their menu) looked tasty to me. this made my decision very difficult, but i finally settled on a muffaletta. yum. we also ordered frites (which came in a cute cone-shaped dish lined with parchment and a side of aioli). the sandwich had a delicious blend of flavors and was big enough that i ate the second half for lunch the next day. that night, i made smitten kitchens’ bourbon peach hand pies. the bourbon wasn’t particularly noticeable, but the pies were butterrific! i have never had a recipe with so many different “chill” cycles, but the crust did have a lovely flaky texture.
–on saturday, mr. happy stuff and i enjoyed a leisurely trip to the farmer’s market (including breakfast at ingrid’s lunchbox–mmmm….cornmeal crepe….and a to-die-for cream cheese danish from stella’s. i don’t even usually like danish, but this one was a-maz-ing.) and then a bike ride to nearby paoli where we stopped for a picnic and shared an ice cream cone from the new “paoli peddle stop” which serves (among other things) chocolate shoppe ice cream. the bike ride is almost 30 miles round-trip. it felt good to be back on the bike.
–we ended saturday on a high foodie note: dinner at muramoto. this place has been on our “must try this” list for awhile and i think that after our experience there saturday night, we’ll probably have to go back again sometime. oh. my. goodness. we began our meal with a “bite size starter” for each of us. i had the braised pork, miso cream cheese and peach terrine, topped with fresh tiny greens. very rich, very tasty. mr. happy stuff had the tempura king crab with truffled bearnaise and i seriously don’t think i’ve seen him that happy about food for a very long time. his eyes closed, a smile spread across his face and as soon as his mouth was empty, he couldn’t stop talking about it. he reports that it’s a good thing this dish is only one bite–it’s so rich that any more than one bite would be overwhelming. but that one bite? fantastic. the second course that came was our “maki mono” (sushi rolls). we ordered two–the first was mango, avocado and a soy sauce reduction wrapped in rice and an outer layer of thinly sliced duck. the second was the “rainbow roll”–tuna, yellow fin, salmon, crab, avocado and avocado. one of those fish was wrapped around the outside and there was rice wrapped around the filling and yes, the fish appeared to be raw, but … oh man. even i (not generally a fish-eater) loved both of those rolls. dipped in a little soy sauce, then rushed to my mouth for a burst of incredible flavors and textures. i’d have been happy eating a whole meal of just those special sushi rolls. our third course was the “hot dish” where i got the beef hanger steak with satsuma potato salad and miso blue cheese dressing and mr. h-s got the sauteed shrimp and marinated tofu in spicy coconut sauce, red onions, bell peppers and peanuts. we shared the entrees between the two of us (i didn’t eat any of the shrimp, but very much enjoyed the tofu and vegetables.). mr. h-s likened the steak to the one he ate at harvest (this is high praise. that steak was pretty much his favorite meal ever in madison.) the shrimp and tofu were quite spicy and the bowl of rice that they brought out to go along with it was much appreciated. then, we just had to finish the meal with the dessert sampler plate. mr. h-s had a view of the plate preparation area from where he sat and he’d seen lots of these dessert plates being prepared while we were eating. sprinkled with a few leaves of this, drizzled with a syrup of that, a few edible flowers scattered over the plate… extravagantly elegant. our sampler included the green tea “opera” cake, lemon verbena panna cotta, coconut mango pudding and chocolate cream cake. unsurprisingly, our favorite was the chocolate cream cake. very rich, chocolatey, smooth, and delicious. the evening was definitely a splurge, but very worth it.
–sunday, i spent the afternoon with a friend that i haven’t had a chance to visit for a long time. we’ve had schedule conflicts for months, but finally were able to arrange to get together to paint. the last few times i visited her, i had admired her paintings. she does these disarming paintings of the cutest monsters (and sometimes robots) that i just adore. i’d asked if i could come over sometime to paint with her and so we did! i made one painting that i really liked:
and one painting that i didn’t like so much. reassuringly, she said that sometimes that happens and with painting, you can just paint over the thing you didn’t like and do something different. a little more forgiving than quilting can be sometimes! we had a wonderful afternoon, chatting and catching up over cups of hot tea and painted canvases. she’s painting me my very own monster. i’m so excited!
–monday was a beautifully cold drizzly day. no, really. it was the perfect weather for staying inside all day, feeling cozy and working on projects like canning more tomatoes and peaches.
the peaches were the colorado ones i received in my most recent fruit csa share. i had four pint jars with cute lids, so i decided to use those. instead of halving the peaches, i sliced them so i could fit more into the jar. i could still only fit about two peaches per jar, but that left me three peaches from the share to enjoy fresh. the 20 lbs. of tomatoes were from a local community farm that a friend of mine works at. last time, i’d tried a “raw pack” method where i diced the tomatoes before packing them into jars with boiling liquid and then processing them. the tomatoes ended up floating on top of an inch or so of semi-clear liquid. it doens’t seem to affect the flavor, but i wanted to try cooking the tomatoes down to see if that worked better. they turned out beautifully rich red, no weird layer of liquid, but i also only got 10 pint jars out of 20 lbs of tomatoes… we’ll see how they taste over the winter. i ended the day back in the swimming pool with a friend after a long hiatus while it was being re-painted over the summer. we did a short workout and missed our third swimming companion who moved to minneapolis over the summer.
–today, yet another friend that i haven’t seen for a long time, drove into town and we enjoyed lunch at the macha teahouse, (these cardamom cookies are yummy and have such very cute packaging.)
we did a little shopping on monroe st. and then went back to my place for some simultaneous crafting. she worked on some cards that she sells and i began cutting fabric for my common threads quilt (i’m so excited! september is my month to send fabric!).
although i wouldn’t mind having another five days off, i’m feeling quite rested, happy, and very well fed. it was so wonderful to spend time with friends this weekend. like lots of little, teeny tiny vacations all smooshed together. and i didn’t even have to pack a suitcase.