Weekending: Milestones and Change

I need a weekend to recover from this weekend. We seemed to have gotten into the spirit of spring cleaning and checked quite a few items off of our lists. There was that leaky faucet to replace in the kitchen and of course my garden needed to be plowed and readied for planting in a few days. Then, we continued celebrating my birthday from last Monday — now that Evan had un-mired himself from work. There was cooking to be done and I couldn’t keep my hands off of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book so most of the things we made were from my new cooking volume. Last, but not least, there was a room make-over for Sophia and… more cake. Let’s start with what matters most to everyone — dessert. The cake was a strawberries and cream cake from an old Cooks Illustrated recipe. I must admit, that I had to make the cake twice having forgotten to put butter in the first one and accidentally making it a Russian Biskvit. Apr12_2 The cake itself wasn’t very tall and I impressed myself by managing to split it into three layers. The assembly is deceptively simple needing only strawberries, sugar, cream cheese and cream to finish. Apr12_3That is what it looked like when it was assembled and before it was devoured. The strawberries are halved and arranged with the hull sides out on the perimeter of each layer. Inside are chopped macerated strawberries with a reduced strawberry syrup. All that is topped with a cream cheese and whipped cream frosting and the very top is just frosted. Okay, okay, I am sure you need to see the inside shot as well… Apr12_6   Mmm… it was good. Good thing too because it was a dessert that followed a meal of Middle Eastern-spiced cod cakes in minty tomato sauce. They were a cinch to make if you don’t mind a bit of herb chopping. In fact, I knew they were going to be pretty amazing because what dish that has a whole bunch of cilantro and parsley isn’t good? The dish was the epitome of spring, summer and healthy, too. Apr12_1 Since the cod cakes required  a bit of chopping, we decided to make the rest of the weekend’s meals a little easier. I had chicken stock making in the slow cooker which, by definition, cooks itself and an amazing roasted chicken leg recipe. This one is also from Yottam Ottolenghi and just absolutely gorgeous. It is easy to make provided you’re motivated to marinade a day or two in advance. All you need to do is toss some olives, capers, caper juice, red wine vinegar, dates, bay leaves, olive oil and well… chicken legs together and let sit in your fridge for a bit. Then roast and serve with plain cous cous. I had never cooked anything savory with dates before and was very surprised how their intense sweetness balanced the brininess of the olives and capers. Mmmmm… there may have been oregano too, but truthfully, Evan marinated this one so I am not quite sure. Apr12_8     A meal such as this one was just what was necessary to satisfy at the end of a very busy weekend where in addition to cooking up a storm and fixing leaky kitchen fixtures, we also transitioned Sophia to a big girl room. She’s outgrown her crib and we thought it was time she got a big-girl bed what with her being a big girl now. Shh, but don’t tell her that she’s a big girl. According to her, she’s apparently not ready to be one. We managed to turn over a new room between breakfast and lunch on Sunday which required a plan of action and fast execution. After cleaning out the closet to ready it for her clothes, I can honestly say that I shall never become a hoarder… ever, ever, ever. Apr12_9   Here she is in her new digs. As you can see, I did splurge for three photo prints from the animal shop but framed them myself with some neon colored frames from Michaels that I got on a great sale. I also framed a Sophia original in a metallic blue frame and that is hanging to the right of the lamp. The basket housing Minnie is one that Grammie (my mother-in-law) made for us as a gift for my bridal shower. Perhaps the most unique aspects of the new big girl bed are Sophia’s pillows; I selected two pillows stuffed with buckwheat hulls that are typical in Japan and are supposed to be much more breathable and comfortable for your neck and back. They are definitely unique and we’ll see if they will work out. Lastly, there was of course plenty of fun and play going on at our house… and we did enjoy the great outdoors in the evenings. Whew… when’s next weekend again?Apr12_5

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