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Archive for November, 2010

Dinner With Mom

Last night I made dinner for my mother-in-law Eleanor.  We had a great time chatting and I gave her an update on the guys tour, (Matthew is on tour for 3 weeks with Chicago Blues: A Living History).  They are currently in France where they are doing various concerts.  Matthew was also asked to do a lecture in conjunction with University of Chicago in Paris.  Yesterday they left for a two week tour with Matthew’s group Taproot ”  for the American Embassy.  They will go to Tunisia, Mali and Mouritania, and jam with some high level musicians.

I decided to prepare a recipe from  Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way.  But I started with an appetizer plate of Charcutrie, cheese and hard boiled eggs halved topped with brown butter and salmon caviar from Food & Wine 2007 by Grace Parisi.  I did modify the recipe by omitting the brown butter.  I didn’t think it needed it, and I was using a butter sauce on the scallops and I didn’t want Eleanor to think I was trying to give her a heart attack.

The Scallops Grenobloise,  the main dish,  consisted of seared scallops which were plated and topped with diced lemon flesh, capers and homemade croutons, and mushrooms sautéed in lightly browned butter ( noisette butter) and finished with red wine vinegar, and a sprinkling of parsley ( which I cut but forgot to sprinkle).  I served it with asparagus with  mushroom sauce also from Jacques, and little fingerling  potatoes aloneside. We shared a bottle of Domaine Des Cassagnoles 2009 “Cote de Gascogne” which is a lovely  white that is very well priced and available at Binny’s Liquor.  It was divine!

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I just read an article in Time Magazine (Oct. 25th issue) about cookbooks and why we don’t need more than a few basic ones. “Nobody needs an entire library of them especially since most of them end up just being coffee table books. Who really cooks like that at home anyway? And yet, we keep buying them,” said the author.

Well I cook at home like that and I will keep buying them and they are not coffee table books and I use them all the time. And I don’t think I’m alone. Am I?

I love making Pate en Croute. When I prepare it everybody fawns over it. I love French food, Italian food, Chinese food, Lebanese food, Moroccan food, Spanish food, etc. I have several books on each subject, and I use them.

I’ve made Cassoulet from scratch and cooked it for four days, calling home to tell my husband to take it out of the refrigerator so it would be room temperature when I arrived home to pop it back into the oven to cook for several hours, breaking the crust every hour. Yes, my neighbors were knocking on the door asking what I was cooking and friends were inviting themselves over for the finale.

So the answer to the question above is, I do!

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Home Away From Home

Short term rentals have become big business specifically apartment rentals.  Thousands of people are renting their weekend or vacation homes to you and me when we’re traveling to another city and don’t want to stay in a hotel.  They are not Bed & Breakfasts, they are apartments in average neighborhoods and in some cases really nice neighborhoods.  Matthew takes advantage of them all the time when in New York when he travels on Music or Cognac business. They’re great!  I love the idea and we have had nothing but success with them.

So, here’s the rub.  Imagine my disappointment while reading an article to find that last summer (2010) apartment scams were up 50%!  As a result of this, local government is warning property owners of the need to comply with zoning and licensing regulations. How much is that going to cost?  If you’ve had a good experience with one of these rentals make sure you keep that contact. 

In Chicago and New York a ban was approved on renting residential property for less than 30 days. Starting May 1, 2011, it will be illegal to rent an apartment in New York for less than 30 days.  What this means to us is that if you get burned you have no recourse because you were participating in an illegal activity.  Of course local officials will have a hard time trying to control this unless neighbors complain (which apparently happens in some situations because of partying or bad behavior on the part of some guests).  I am greatly saddened by this.  I know some people are doing it to make money in this down economy and this will hurt them, and it’s nice dealing directly with the owners. It makes it much more personal. 

There are some agencies that so far are not overpriced and hopefully will remain affordable.  One such agency whose website I visited that I liked is Airbnb.com.  If you know of others please share!

Happy Traveling!

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Happy Anniversary To Me!

Yesterday was our 16th wedding anniversary and Matthew is in France on tour.  We spoke earlier in the day but later that night I’d started getting on with my evening and frankly had forgotten about it.  About 5:30 p.m. the door bell rang and per usual for me not expecting anyone ( and I think the bells are crossed) I didn’t move from my spot on the sofa where I was relaxing with a book. 

I could hear my downstairs neighbors getting up to go to the door ( the sound in this apartment is a nightmare).  Then the doorbell rang again, this time I got up to see what was going on.  There was a guy coming up the stairs with a bouquet of flowers!  I should have known, there has never been a year where my darling husband has not sent me flowers on our anniversary, regardless of where he is.

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