Every year in New Orleans, Jazz Fest spans the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. We were all set to go this year until we realized that it conflicted with a reunion. I was heartbroken at first, because it meant another year without crawfish bread. Crawfish bread is one of the signature dishes served at Jazz Fest (along with crawfishmonica, alligator pies, and fried green tomatoes - to name a few of my favorites). Elizabeth, never one to accept defeat, swung into action and brought home two pieces for us and dutifully kept them in her freezer - until this past weekend. Brought as a present to our engagement party, I could hardly keep my hands off them! Of course it would be crazy to heat them up at a party - they are too good to share!
Check out this montage to the crawfish bread that was.
Thanks Lizard for bringing crawfish bread back into my life. It was a wonderful treat and totally made my weekend.
I have been a delinquent blogger this week! I spent Friday through Monday last week in New Orleans, and I have had a very busy week at work. I will catch up soon I promise! In the meantime, enjoy the photo I took from the roof of the Omni Royal Orleans hotel in New Orleans. We went there to look at it as a possible location for guests to stay for the wedding. There was only one small problem - the price tag! At around $279 a night, we want to find something cheaper to recommend for our guests.
Once when Dave was traveling for work, I surprised him upon his return with the Bouchon cookbook and all the ingredients to make the Bouchon macaroons - a notoriously difficult (or impossible?) recipe to replicate in a normal kitchen. I think that the intimidation factor is strong, and the level of commitment required is high enough that it has been months and we have yet to even try! We have however made his simple roast chicken several times (page xii).
I bring this up now because I had the good fortune of having chef Thomas Keller (of the French Laundry) sign our copy this week. Check it out below - "it's all about sharing" is what he wrote to Dave. He's got a pretty great signature.
When talking to the crowd, Thomas Keller spoke of how he became a celebrity chef - discussing the traits he thought contributed to his sucess (ritual and repetition) and the failures that built character (his restaurant Rakel in NYC in the 1980s). He said "act like it's yours, and one day it will be" - and this struck a chord with me. I interpretted to be about taking ownership and responsibility for your work, while also showing respect. I like this perspective.
Now maybe I will finally get the courage to try to bake macaroons - and not be discouraged that while Thomas was signing the book, he said it was one of the most difficult recipes... hmmm...
Every Friday, the lady at work that carefully makes our coffee every morning tells me happy Friday. Today is an especially happy Friday - I am off to New Orleans (where I grew up) for the weekend! Lots of adventures are in store for us...
Happy Memorial Day weekend to you - I hope you have a wonderful 3 day weekend.
So I have never made lasagna before, but I have been dying to try. Since we subscribe to a CSA, we are often looking for new ways to eat what we get in our weekly bag (see our root veggie pot pie from February). After looking through a few cookbooks, I settled on a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens red plaid cookbook because it cut the (usually very rich) ricotta cheese with cottage cheese (and the fiance likes to keep things light when it comes to cheese). I on the other hand have been known to eat nacho cheese at the Ramoni's straight from the warmer, but that is another story...
In this lasagna you will find the following ingredients (all of the veggies came from our CSA - including the mushrooms):
1 large onion
1 head of cauliflower
1 shredded carrot
1 bunch of spinach
2 cups sliced mushrooms
4 cloves garlic (I added extra...)
non-fat ricotta cheese
non-fat cottage cheese
grated parmesan for flavor
and no-boil lasagna noodles, milk, etc.
Pretty healthy set of ingredients for a tasty lasagna! Who knew? This single dish fed two of us through 3 or 4 meals. Pretty impressive for relatively little effort. My mom makes a killer traditional lasagna (which is next on the list), and my fiance's mom makes a delicious white lasagna. Now I just need to remember to ask her for the recipe...
Monday night I was up in the city visiting Johnny until about 11pm. By the time I rolled in through the door, I was tired! Imagine my surprise when in the dark, my fiance calls to me that there is a box on the back stoop. Inside were four antique bocce balls and a note from my dad.
What a wonderful and unusual surprise! My dad had purchased them at the Crescent City Auction House a few weeks ago - and I know that he loved them because I had heard about them many times. Each ball is made of mahogany and has little bits of ivory to mark the number of the ball. Now I need to find a way to display them that does them justice - what do you recommend? I was thinking a shallow woven tray or bowl set on top of the piano...
So I have been pretty good about updating my blog every day or so lately - well that was until I learned my brother Johnny was admitted to the ER at St. Mary's in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon. Our mom flew out on Sunday (see note about her superhero status), and he has been getting better ever since. Johnny had developed some serious tonsillar abscesses and he needed several days worth of IV antibiotics and fluids to fight off the infection. So now it is Wednesday evening and he has put the worst of his illness and two final exams behind him - quite a feat for 5 days! Check him out in the hospital room above. Lookin good Johnny!
So I haven't said much about Johnny yet on the blog. He is kid #4 of 6 and a nursing student in San Francisco. Johnny and his lovely girlfriend Paola were instrumental in the creation of the lamb cakes at Easter. He is also a really good photographer - taking photos with all kinds of obscure and antique cameras. Check out his work on flickrand his self portrait below.
Now that spring is in full swing, my fiance and I have been making frequent trips to the nearby Elizabeth Gamble Garden in Palo Alto. Everything is blooming - peonies, roses, bluebells, snap dragons, poppies - everything. It has been a really nice place to spend time.
Also, today I bought www.seablueseegreen.com. I have really enjoyed writing this blog over the last few months - so I decided to fully commit and buy the URL. Now I just have to make sure that I have all the settings correct so that feed readers still work correctly. Let me know if you experience any problems!
In honor of bike to work day, I met a bunch of co-workers at Palo Alto High School at 7:15am for a bike ride caravan to work. I must say, biking was really nice - and my new goal is to do it more frequently. My current routine of wake up, drive to work, sit for 9 hours, drive home, eat, sleep, rinse, repeat isn't the most active/healthy lifestyle. With the weather as beautiful as it is, I think I am finally out of excuses NOT to bike.
Although the above picture was taken weeks ago on the way home from the farmers market, I felt like it was representative of my morning (same kick ass bike at least).
I haven't yet mentioned this on my blog, but my brother's girlfriend Ali is one of the three final contestants on America's Next Top Model. Tonight is the final episode (CW tv, 8pm PST), so keep your fingers crossed! Doesn't she photograph beautifully?
One year ago today, my lovely grandmother Memaw passed away. Memaw was my mother's mother and she lived with us from the time that I was about three (?) until she moved down the street to a nursing home when I was a senior in high school (she had advanced Alzheimer's disease). The photo (one of my favorites) above shows her in her military uniform - she joined the Army during the Second World War.
I was named after her (and my dad's aunt too actually). Check us out on the porch swing above - she always had a wonderful smile, peaches and cream skin, and lovely wavy hair.
Memaw wasn't your ordinary grandmother. She was our constant companion and friend - she sewed us costumes, read us many books, built forts out of paper bags (see above), and walked me to school everyday. She pointed out the morning glories that grew on the corner of 6th and Prytania and said hello to the "good morning dog" on 2nd and Prytania when he would growl in our direction as we passed. She also made chicken pot pie without the veggies for my brothers (also with extra crust). She also made raspberry jello jigglers, bought raspberry sherbert, used the butter spread that had cartoon corn on the side, got the bread with the nuts, and made hot chocolate with milk. Also - she was the only person in the family who could make gravy without bouts of anxiety.
We miss our Memaw - but luckily we have lots of wonderful memories from so many happy days in the backyard and evenings in her living room. Now if only my parents knew how many nights we had snuck to her apartment to have a second helping of dessert...
Here is my lovely mother when she was pregnant with me. Little did she know that five more would follow! On the days where I can hardly take care of myself - I look back and wonder how she did it! My superhero mom made it all seem effortless. I love this picture because I think it is really cute how my mom and dad sort of match in this photo. Some of it must have rubbed off on me... because here I am (wearing a very similar plaid) last Christmas.
Here are all the ladies of the Ryan family - my mom, Bridget, Cecilia, myself, and Mallory. Happy Mother's day to moms everywhere!
The double delight rose is one of my favorite flowers. I first fell in love with them because they grew outside my fiance's house during his last year in school. The photo below was taken of a flower that grew at his house.
Therefore, when given the opportunity to plant some flowers at our house - I knew that one of them had to be the double delight. After a few failed attempts to graft roses from his old house, we bought a bare root rose bush from the Summer Winds nursery in Mountain View. The rose below is the first bloom it has produced.
It isn't as pink as I would have expected. However, the fragrance is very strong. I am looking forward to seeing how it changes as it continues to bloom. I am just happy to have kept the plant alive long enough for it to bloom!
Jake Harriman, a classmate and friend of my fiance, started Nuru International after business school. We were lucky enough to spend some time with him this weekend - his passion and drive are truly infectious. I wanted to share the above video, and there are many more if you are interested.
My brother's fiance Mallory lost her father to cancer last weekend. To my (almost 2 year old) niece, he was granda lightning - what a wonderful grandfather name. Today is his memorial service in New Orleans, LA. Although I can't be there, I am thinking of Mallory and the entire Taylor family today. I found this poem a while ago and found it comforting - hopefully it will provide some comfort for others.
Death is nothing at all...
Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we still are.
Call me by my old familiar name, speak to me In the easy way that you always used.
Put no difference in your tone, Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed At the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word That it always was. Let it be spoken without effect, Without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; There is unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind Because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, Somewhere very near, Just around the corner.
All is well.
Nothing is past; nothing is lost One brief moment and all will be as it was before How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!