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Happy New Year and Roast Goose

Goose 1

Happy New Year! How did you spend the holiday? I’ve been laying a bit low — a pregnancy complication (now hopefully resolved) kept me off my feet (and out of the kitchen) the week before Christmas, and then sciatica (extremely painful lower back and hip pain, unfortunately not uncommon in pregnancy) hit right before New Year’s.

By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around, I was ready to get back into the kitchen.

We’ve given up on going out New Year’s Eve — spending a fortune so that we can fight traffic (remember, we live in Pasadena, which tends to be a zoo on New Year’s Eve), stay up late and drink inferior champagne with strangers sounds like less and less fun as the years pass. Instead, we cook a celebratory meal and eat it at home. With good champagne (this year replaced by Q ginger ale, which was quite good, but not, alas, champagne) and family.

And this year, I decided to roast a goose. I had never had goose before, and most of the people I surveyed hadn’t either. But I was curious, and I love duck, which I figured was similar, so I thought I’d spend the exorbitant money for a special New Year’s Eve dinner. I used a Julia Child recipe similar to this one

It turned out pretty well.
Goose 2

Goose turned out to be a lot like duck, but with darker meat, a stronger flavor, and more fat. The skin is crisp, the meat was flavorful and tender. We all enjoyed it (even the Nuni) but because it’s so rich, we ate small portions. We ate our fill, and there was enough goose for probably 3 more adults. (My mother is turning it into cassoulet).

I decided to cook it using Julia Child’s method, which was really a steam, followed by a braise, followed by a brief roast. The result was that most of the fat was rendered out (and eagerly collected by me.) Some is safely in my refrigerator, but some was siphoned off to make the most glorious roasted potatoes imaginable. The goose was good, but the potatoes were UNBELIEVABLE. It’s worth roasting a goose just to get the fat to roast potatoes in.

Potatoes

(Recipe here.)

We set the table with our wedding china,

NYE 3

and dressed for the occasion.

NYE 2

Agnes of Dog must have some retriever in her, because the scent of roasting water fowl made her want to join the party more than usual.

NYE

We ate shrimp and celery remoulade (my dad’s special recipe — we all miss him especially right now), goose, potatoes and salad, and chocolate mousse for dessert. We toasted East Coast New Year’s, and then it was off to bed.

East Coast New Year’s is a perk of living in California.

The next morning we weren’t overtired, or hung over (I suppose I can attribute that to the ginger ale). We woke up to a glorious day (Pasadena always puts on a show for the Rose Parade. Makes the tourists want to move here), went to church, and then ate a lucky New Year’s Day brunch out on the patio. (It was 75 degrees and sunny).

NYD Brunch

Greens (symbolizing prosperity – that’s Tuscan kale, sauteed in olive oil and garlic), poached eggs on toast, Irish Bacon (pork is lucky because pigs move forward), and tiny yellow tomatoes that looked like gold coins or sunshine. (Nothing says yellow tomatoes are lucky, but look at them — how could they not be?)
We spent the rest of the day being low key, and doing things we hope to do in the coming year — read, spend family time – we even had a date night.

I hope 2012 brings you and yours luck, prosperity and happiness. Happy New Year.

Finding Fall in Southern California

Apple Picking 1

The first time I ever went apple picking was my senior year of college. Ken had his car on campus that year — a little blue Ford Festiva, that had been spray painted, and had no air conditioning or radio. We were celebrating one year of dating, still shiny and happy and young and new, and decided to head off into the wilds of Connecticut to pick apples. I wore my appropriate apple picking attire — a red and green gingham shirt, and we discovered the joys of fresh air in an orchard, of plucking apples off the tree, of cold pressed cider and hot apple cider donuts.

After that first year, we went every year we lived in the Northeast. When we lived in New York, we borrowed my father in law’s car, or rented one (we could barely fit ourselves in our tiny Manhattan studio — where were we going to park a car?), and hit New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut to get out of the city and load up on apples. Apple picking was never about the apples — they’re readily available at the Greenmarket after all — but about simple entertainment, fresh air, getting out of the city. And donuts. Don’t forget the donuts.

Apple Picking 15

When we moved to Los Angeles six years ago, I thought my apple picking days were through. Our climate is too warm to have apple orchards — we can pick oranges in our own back yard, but the autumnal fest was lost to me. Until this year. We piled into the little blue car (now, so many years later, a Prius, with air conditioning and an iphone connection), with the Nuni in tow and headed into the mountains, into the “mile high” town of Oak Glen. Nestled in the San Bernardino mountains just east of Redlands, Oak Glen boast six or seven apple orchards, and the crowds that go with them.
Continue reading Finding Fall in Southern California

Trip Recap, Part 2 — Rainy London and Dinner at the Harwood Arms

I realize this is the world’s slowest trip recap, but I took all of my photos in RAW, which means I have to convert them to upload them, and OHMYGOD SHOOT ME if I ever do that again. Still, I wanted to share with you a few special moments in London, including an AMAZING meal.

When last we spoke, we had just begun our day in London with a lovely visit to Borough Market. And then it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Undaunted, we pressed on, hopping a routemaster bus to Trafalgar Square, and heading up Regent’s Crescent.

London
Continue reading Trip Recap, Part 2 — Rainy London and Dinner at the Harwood Arms

Almost Wordless Wednesday – Garden Update

First tomatoes!

Produce

Someone could barely wait for me to take the picture before she grabbed the tomato and proceeded to devour it:

Produce 2