Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hello Birdie: Thursday-Saturday

Thursday morning...Up with the rooster. Actually the rooster overslept and tried to make up for it by crowing like 25 times. YEA ALRIGHT WE CAN HEAR YOU.

So the corn bread is in the oven. I exchanged sugar for honey this time. 

Now I'm going to make the rub for the turkey and then he comes out of the bucket and again this is me entering enemy territories. I'm feeling like a special ops who's going rogue. 


Put right in the blender: 

4 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 teaspoons thyme
4 teaspoons minced onion
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 white wine
worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

I chilled it in the fridge until I was ready to go with a clean turkey and the stuffing. The turkey comes out of the brine and gets cleaned off. Use a lick-the-pot and a wooden spoon to get the rub under the skin. I  dumped the left over in the cavities, cause I have no idea how it's really done. Rosemary's trick is to soak a cheesecloth in melted butter and cover the bird.


4 1/2 cups cubed white bread
1 lb Italian sausage meat
1 chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery 
2 tsp. dried sage leaves
1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves, minced or crumbled
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and grated
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
3/4 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/4 cup melted butter

Toast the bread in the oven.
Fry the sausage, onion and celery. Add the sage, thyme and rosemary.
Put bread cubes and sausage mixture in a bowl and toss. Mix in grated apple, cranberries and parsley. Drizzle over melted butter and stock. 

The bird was in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours. After 1 hour there was not a single drip of liquid in the pan so I guess the brine really worked for sealing the pores. I dumped a whole bunch of turkey broth over the bird so there would be something to make gravy with in the end. I re-buttered the cheesecloth once and then left the cooking alone for the rest of the time. I did cover up the bird with tin foil to keep from burning around 2 1/2 hours. That was my only mistake, covering it a little too early, it could have used a little more color. But check it out, poking the drumstick you could tell how all the juices got sealed in there, there was a big bubble under the skin. Awesome, Operation Hello Birdie is complete.

The friends showed up at 12.30 and after the tour they jumped right into helping out in the kitchen. 

Lovisa helped with the gravy.

Elena made veggie sausage stuffing casserole and rum pecan yams.

Randy and James made mashed potatoes.

Craig helped by taking pictures and making room in the fridge by drinking beers.

We turned the living room into the dining room.

I decided to kick start christmas a little bit, very locally though on the mantle only. That's a Swedish advent candelabra. We put them in every window around christmas. And there is a little Lucia with candles in her hair. 

Dinner time in the living room with a man sized fire going. Randy, Lovisa, James, Craig and Elena. Coze factor 10.

After dinner we played Balderdash (Rappakalja)  and Craig has to get an honorable mention for his phony definition of the word GLABRESCENT. Which actually means "hairy when young, hairless when old". But Craig wrote "joyful upon the discovery of mushrooms". We also learned that in a town in Romania upon discovering a corpse, the police has two ask "are you dead?" three times. 

Then there was pie and more games and more wine.

Thanksgiving ended somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 am and it was a very successful one.

Friday-Saturday was French toast, mimosas, bloody marys and Working Girl. Visits by lovely neighbors, glögg and gingersnaps. Left over lunch and some sightseeing. Streets of Fire/naps. 

It's getting harder and harder to go back to the city. The christmas countdown has started. T minus 3 weeks. 

Things are going forward with the windows. Five more since last weekend. 

These are old news (living room) but I haven't shown them from the outside.

This is the south side and the window on the bottom left is new and the two top ones are these:

The lovely morning sun makes this room even greener. YIKES!

This is the east side of the green room.

And this is inside.

The bay window in the bedroom is next and there is a little more work to be done there than we thought. The foundation is slipping a little and Scott is going to have to jack it up to fit the windows in. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hello Birdie: Wednesday

During my 15 years in the United States I've become remarkably attached to Thanksgiving. The only thing that's Swedish about me during these 4 days are the 3 crown tattoes on my back. AND I've created a tradition of kick starting christmas by sneaking out the glögg a few weeks early. Glögg is Swedish mulled wine and we drink it to stay warm, get a little tipsy maybe and also cause it's just plain tasty! We serve it with gingersnaps. So if you happen to walk down Maple Ave this coming weekend and there is smoke coming out the chimney and a lovely smell of cloves, ginger and cinnamon wafting through the air, you should come and knock on the door. We'll pour you a cup!

I've been very lucky this whole time to always have been surrounded by some kind of surrogate family and have a place to call home for the holidays. We've spent the last 2 years on the Vineyard with Rosemary and friends. Last year's bonus was that my parents were in the country and we brought them up there. What a great time! Maybe we are starting a new tradition in Clintondale. Unfortunately Rosemary  won't be joining us this year, but it will give us an opportunity to have Thanksgiving again in a few weeks. We will miss you Rosemary and we are thinking about you! 

2 years ago in Vineyard Haven with Lovisa, James...

... and Rosemary.

One year ago on Lucy Vincent beach with Tim, James...

.... mamma...

and pappa.

It's wednesday afternoon and I spent my first night alone in the house last night. She's a bit intimidating Big Pink. We got a serial killer basement and an attic worthy of it's own horror movie. BUT I've come to realize though that we are NOT haunted, and if Big Pink isn't haunted - no house is.

OK. Just had a wee scare but it's already over. Metro north is adding trains to accommodate the whole island of Manhattan. I actually talked to a real person there who said "we will not turn anyone away." That's the holiday spirit! James is coming up after work tonight and we have 4 friends coming in the morning, looks like everything is happening according to plan. 

This is operation hello birdie and the mission is to keep this 12 1/2 pounder juicier than you've ever experienced in your life. So again, we are dealing with a mean lean 12 1/2 pounder. I went small to keep it manageable. AND I got 1 vegetarian and 1 borderline vegan coming tomorrow... Then on the other hand we got James... oh well, we've got hot dogs and Swedish IKEA meatballs in the freezer if my thinking should prove too small scale.

Step #1: We get a 5 gallon bucket with lid from Lowes. We line it with an oven bag.

And thank goodness they put this sticker on the bucket because I was about to throw a baby in there.

The recipe calls for 2 gallons of (cold) water but I had nothing big enough to mix in so I did 2 1 gallon installments. In the 1st one I mixed in 1 cup of kosher salt, 2 tablespoons of dried thyme (timjan), 2 tablespoons of dried sage (salvia), 1 table spoon of celery seed, 1 table spoon black peppercorns and finally 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Stir until the salt is dissolved. Doesn't this look tasty... After I poured the first batch in I mixed one more with just 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of salt.

I gotta be honest with you. I have no clue what to do with this guy. It's all a guessing game from here on. 

Clean the turkey off real good and remove the innards. (oh boy...) Save them for the gravy...


Put it in the bucket.

Turkey mud bath. Yum.

Pour the brine solution over him. Seal the bag, put a lid on it and store it overnight in cold place. I got mine in the barn. And goodnight sweet birdie, good night.

Operation hello birdie is so much more than just cooking a turkey though. It involves everything from making our house ready for multiple overnight guests for the first time to planning the ultimate Thanksgiving menu. The guests should be hydrated at all times and they should be entertained non stop. I've made that playlist I've wanted to make as long as iTunes has been around. It really deserves its name "BEAUTY". And for his birthday I bought James balderdash which could be one of the funnest games around and I'm breaking it out tomorrow.

So I'm trying to get ahead a little and am making the cranberry sauce tonight.

A bag of fresh cranberries in a sauce pan.

Pour 1/2 cup orangejuice, 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup of what should be port wine in the pot. My port wine consists of 1/2 cranberry juice and 1/2 red box wine. Next time I'm in Portugal I'll remember to pick up a bottle..... I added a bit of cinnamon too... Boil until all cranberries are popped and the consistency is like jam. Pour it into serving container - squeeze half a lemon over it - cover it and refrigerate over night.

This is it for tonight. I'm retiring with Hulu in bed and am eagerly awaiting James' phone call telling me he's wrapped. Law and Order - let them go!!! This guy's got a train to catch!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Misplaced energy is still energy!

We showed up on friday night and Scott had installed 3 windows in the living room and one in the dining room. They still need to be trimmed out but by golly whatta difference already!

It's so much quieter now that the black garbage bag that was acting as window for the past 2 months isn't flapping in the breeze.

Another sign of the DOG wiped away... There used to be a half eaten windowsill attached to this window but now it's gone. Bye bye doggy, bye bye.

I'm really happy with our choice to go 2 over 2. It appeals to my Scandinavian sensibility and looking around the neighborhood it seems to be the style. The argument against them is that our house was built in 1800 and at that time they could not make panes this big. The correct windows for the time period would be 8 over 8 or smaller. Now, 19 Maple Ave happens to be a big mish-mosh of eras and has gone through so many stages that it's hard to do a true restoration. We are putting in skinny 4 over 4 windows in the bay window because that was most likely a Victorian addition for example. So bear with us Clintondale, we won't turn Big Pink into a complete Frankenstein but are using our best judgment.

So, seeing the leaps and bounds that the 4 windows did for progress James and I went nuts. In every possible direction. One minute we were tearing up the floor in the awful green room. That could easily have waited a month or five but alas, on hands and knees getting rid of pee stinking linoleum.

Just so you get the idea, this floor is a vast improvement...

This is the room next to the green room and the 1 year plan is to join these 2 rooms to make the master bedroom. Knocking down a wall and hopefully raising the ceiling. Also hoping to put a bathroom in that far corner.

Next minute I'm assembling IKEA furniture for the guest room and making the bed. It's really so so so so cute!

Guest room by IKEA.

Next extremely important task was apparently to finally blow up a pilates ball that's been in a box since we moved in. Followed by 20 sporadic crunches.

While this is going on James is going bananas on the knot weed. Not even close to being on the agenda but hey! When the mood strikes. We somehow cleared a good third of it!

A man and his ho. Or is it hoe?

It was a gorgeous day and I had to join in. I will not miss a good photo-op where I can look like a total country hobo.

No that's not our fire, officer. Alright it is our fire, but look how safety conscious we are with the fire extinguisher right there.

So one can now walk from one end of the knot catastrophe to the other. Linked is a site where our dear knot weed (deemed an invasive plant in New York state...) is pictured next to snails and bugs and some other farmer enemies. Soooo, there is still a lot of work to be done to get rid of it but this was a step in the right direction. We didn't uncover as much litter as we expected, but there was still enough beer bottles and bleach containers hidden in the dirt to wonder a bit about people's habits and general ideas of upkeep.

Back to the dervish like activity of the weekend. I also bought a turkey, assembled a christmas tree stand, arranged the living room 3 times, made pytt-i-panna (Swedish prince sausage, potatoes and onion all fried up together and served with fried eggs on top. Spice it up with paprika. Delish!) got an Apple expert on the phone to fix my busted iTunes library, planned our thanksgiving menu which includes a lot of brining research. The turkey goes in the bucket on Wednesday morning and I will tell you all about it.
And that about covers the weekend.

A short 2 day stay in the city to prep for a movie I start in a week. I look forward to it, Henry's Crime, with Keanu Reeves and James Caan. And back to Clintondale tomorrow night. It gets harder and harder to leave our lovely Hamlet and our aaaaawesome house. Come by anytime this 4 day weekend for glögg and gingersnaps! Welcome!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Windows and Dog Envy

Linda approximately 25 years old. Hobbies include drinking champagne, frolicking in Manhattan hot spots and vintage shopping.

This is Linda approximately 35 years old. Hobbies include sorting the garbage and taking it to the dump, raking leaves and window shopping (literally).

We never arranged for a garbage pick-up but have just been putting it off and off ... in the barn.

This is 2 months...

But this is just from one night... That's a joke of course.

But sunday we finally got our act together and sorted it all and took it to the dump. Who knew that this was one day going to be the highlight of my weekend!?! It used to be buy backs and closing down the local bar. Things certainly have changed.

Last weekend had an equally exciting highlight in the form of the tree trimmer! We know how to have fun in Clintondale!

Our tree trimmer came recommended from a friend at work whose brother owns 1-2-Tree. Brilliant name! (845-564-3513)

Trying to save the hollow maple in the front... We'll see how many more years the town will let us keep it...

It's very sad to see grand daddy sugar maple's branches on the ground, like stripping him of his manhood a bit, but we know it will lengthen his life and make him healthier in the spring. Besides, we can't cut him down cause he will definitely haunt us if we do. Just look at him:

Windows are here! Chillin in the dining room waiting for our contractor Scott. He starts installation today. By this weekend there should be some significant progress.

Hey, is that a living room? It's shaping up, still in the wrong part of the house though but it's something.

Knot so pretty. Denial denial...

Red neck kitchen with patio table.

One has to sometimes bury the guilt under the sofa cushions and just sit back and relax. We are going to have this house for a long long looooong time and we can just paint next sunday. This sunday we buried the guilt under mimosas with the neighbors from Little Dog Orchard and the Gunk House and their significant pooches. This IS the little dog and he did NOT help settle my puppy fever.

It's getting colder and it was time to try out our fireplace. City style. The Montana Kid is no stranger to making fires but we still settled on Duraflame logs... They promised "more robust flames" on the packaging. You be the judge.

I guess I won't be surprised if a cord of wood shows up at the house in the next few weeks. The Kid will play innocent but we all know (especially in my family...) how obsessed one can be about firewood.

Looking forward to Thanksgiving which will be spent at the house cooking with friends. Ah bliss.

And lastly some recipes of course...

Pasta with Italian sausage

1 lb Italian sausage meat
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and pepper

Brown the sausage meat in olive oil and break it up in small pieces. Remove the meat and dry off on paper towels. Saute the onion and the garlic. Drain the tomatoes and add the chunks, but save the juice. Saute with the onions for 4 minutes then add the juice, herbs and sausage. Let it simmer for 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite pasta.

Mushroom Risotto

2 portobello mushrooms
1 cup shitake mushrooms
1 Spanish onion
2-3 garlic cloves
2 cups rice (We used Arborio rice)
1 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
white wine

Chop the onion and saute with olive oil. Add a little butter and keep sauteing. Chop the mushrooms and saute them with the onion and the garlic.

Add the rice and then start adding wine and stock a little bit at a time. Don't let the pan get dry. Once the rice has reached desired consistency, add the herbs and the salt and pepper.