Sunday, September 30, 2012


Two weekends in a row of leaf peeping!

Big views for little dog girl
On top of Deception Peak
Looking down into the Santa Fe watershed
Santa Fe watershed
This weekend we hiked down from Deception Peak through the ski basin. In a few short months we'll be skiing again.

Envisioning skiing through those trees. I will do it this year!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Rat-a-Tat-Ouille

Ever since I first saw the movie Ratatouille a few years ago, I've been craving Ratatouille. It's taken me a few years to get around to actually making it because the last time I had Ratatouille, I overdid it. I was living in France at the time, and my friend Rosie made Ratatouille for a Sunday night dinner. It was, of course, a big hit. So much so that we made it again the next weekend, and again the next weekend, and again, and so on. Our addiction got so bad that WE smelled like Ratatouille. As Julia Child says in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Ratatouille "perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence." It sounds romantic, but it's really not fun to smell like the essence of Provence. It took a few weeks to totally rid her apartment and all of our stuff of the smell of Ratatouille. Too much of any good thing can drive you to hate it - lesson learned!

I swore that the last bite I took of Ratatouille eight years ago would be my last forever. UNTIL, I saw Ratatouille! It's taken me five years since I saw the movie to work up the nerve to make it again, and I was so delighted to find Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Ratatouille's Ratatouille! If you've seen the movie, you must remember how gorgeous and enticing that colorful Ratatouille was.

This is a non-traditional Ratatouille recipe - it is actually more of a confit byaldi. It is baked and it doesn't have herbes de provence so you won't smell of their essence. We served it with crusty french bread and goat cheese, and it was perfect.

We broke all of the rules... Oregon pinot noir. Yikes!

Not quite as pretty as Remy's...

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
As envisioned by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant ( “Italian Eggplant” are less than half the size of regular ones and work perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  1. Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
  3. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick. (I used a sharp knife and it was no problem)
  4. Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
  5. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
  6. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tip: cut the parchment paper to fit BEFORE you put the vegetables in the casserole. You can trace the top of the casserole and cut it accordingly if you do it ahead of time. Another lesson learned.)
  7. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
  8. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


We spent a whole glorious week in Minneapolis for Labor Day this year - a whole week of hanging out with my favorite people, relaxing, eating and drinking and enjoying urban living. Santa Fe is the perfect place for us from day to day, but I need to be in a real city once in a while. I have places I like to go and things that I do every time I visit, but we did try some new things this year...

The Pizza Farm!

I've been wanting to go ever since I heard about this place a few years ago, but we were never in MN on a Tuesday evening in the summer. We had a lovely drive to Stockholm, WI along the Mississippi and Lake Pepin. It was a bit of a drive, and we were all wondering if the pizza could really be worth driving all that way. Luckily it was flippin' AMAZING! They grow all of the ingredients on the farm and bake the pizzas in a brick oven. The pizza farm lived up to and exceeded years of expectations. We're hoping to make it a yearly tradition.

Restaurants on Central Avenue 
After college, I worked for the Main Street program on Central Avenue NE revitalizing the corridor, providing business assistance, and promoting Central Avenue as a place to shop, dine and do business. Central Avenue (and all of Northeast Minneapolis) has changed so much in the past 10 years. There is new life and energy there that I think were hard to imagine ten years ago. Old favorites are still there like Holy Land and Crescent Moon and others have moved on or closed. We tried the Thai restaurant Sen Yai Sen Yek for excellent curry and pad thai and the Ecuadorian restaurant Chimborazo where Llapingachos were a big hit.

Happy Hour at Gather at the Walker Art Center
An urban view, killer cocktails and mini banh mi. A perfect way to spend an evening! I honestly can't remember what my cocktail had in it, but it was the best cocktail I've had in a long time - not too sweet or strong. It made me consider breaking out of my bourbon and red wine ruts.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fair! 2012

So true!

We are back from my much anticipated and most beloved annual Labor Day trip home to Minnesota. I was going to write about visiting home after not going for so long and all of the fun stuff we did in Minneapolis, but I really don't think I can let a year go by without capturing our annual visit to the Fair!  Here are some scenes from the best state fair ever! Minnesotans are a lucky people!

Once a year isn't often enough!
I miss MPR
Pup toast 2012
A seriously HUGE cabbage

A new addition this year was a photo shoot featuring us (mostly me) reacting to fun Fair! finds:
Seriously! This duck is too cute!

Another new addition was a Fair app - thank you googly phones!

Apparently, it wasn't ALL carefree fun though. Look at this shot Andrew caught of us looking a little stressed.

Nothing another pronto can't cure!

Looking forward to 2013...
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