Friday, March 25, 2016


Hubby and I tried a new/old place when we were in Austin the other day. 

If you've ever spent time in Austin, you've probably driven past it numerous times on Barton Springs Road. Back in the day it was an old school Italian place called Romeo. Once that finally closed, it went through several different incarnations, none of which lasted past the blink of an eye. This new one though? The one called Juliet Ristorante? Well, it just might have a chance at longevity.

They've been open for a while, but just started serving weekday lunches recently.

Hubby ordered the grilled chicken breast with broccoli, polenta, and gorgonzola crema, which came with the choice of a small side salad or cup of soup.

I opted for Capellini e Funghi.  Both were delicious, but the real surprise was this...

the Grilled Romaine Caesar Salad.  It's been a long, long time since I let out that many moans finishing one dish!

Just about the only thing I didn't like about the meal was the price. Almost fifty bucks plus tip is a tad steep for a weekday lunch that didn't include wine or dessert, dontcha think? But, then again, I'm the person who's used to spending around $5 for her chicken fajita taco lunches at Mima's. Plus, when a restaurant is trying to use fresh ingredients, locally sourced, instead of frozen stuff shipped in from who-knows-where, well, it's gonna cost ya.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Yesterday it was time to celebrate our second Muse -- the one we call Outdoor Woman -- becoming a grandma. No words necessary. These pictures speak for themselves!

If a grandbaby got to choose their own grandparents? Well, Outdoor Woman and Man would surely be the ones they would choose. I can't imagine anything more fun than childhood visits to this home full of people who love to cook and travel and go on adventures, with their very own swimmin' hole right behind the house, not to mention the kayaks and fossils and chickens and eggs and dogs and vegetable garden and wild porcini mushrooms! Could it get any better?

This time, the hostess. Next time, the hostee. SQUEE!

Monday, March 21, 2016



Since yesterday's post was all about food, I thought I would share the latest project from my Sudanese travel journal, which explains a bit about dining in Sudan. We ate several meals at Habooba's (Grandmother's) house when we were there, but she usually put out utensils for the Americans.  On the day of the wedding, however, when I came to her house to get my party hair done, I was led to one of the bedrooms where a group of older women were waiting to be introduced to me. We were then served a meal in this traditional, more intimate fashion. Despite the language barrier, by the end of this meal, I felt I was among friends.

Kisra (a.k.a. Injera in Ethiopia and Eritrea) is the sourdough-leavened circles of thin, sponge-like flat bread that is not only food, but also plate and utensil, perfect for picking up bits of lamb stew, bean dishes, or fresh salads made from cucumbers and tomatoes, then sopping up their juices.

I used a variety of colorful paper scraps to fill the bowls...

and saved up my used tea bags (some of which came from Habooba!) to make the Kisra.

To Break Bread Together: "Gathering over a meal is one of the most ancient forms of community process, as people sharing food appreciate each other at a profound level. Nourished bodies and relationships pave the way for better collaboration and higher quality work...When we relate simply as people, judgments and niggly issues can be dropped about "the other." Sometimes this is called primate food-sharing behavior, because of the deep biological roots this has in signaling group belonging and familiarity. It means you have relaxed enough to put your (physical or rhetorical) weapons down and trust each other. Eating with someone starts to make them a friend and not just a colleague. This particular pattern is cross-cultural, as everyone everywhere eats." from Groupworks

Sunday, March 20, 2016


Yesterday my hubby emailed me a recipe he'd spotted online. That's what he does when he sees something that sounds yummy, since he doesn't cook himself. When I opened the link and saw the recipe, I slapped my forehead and moaned. Not because it was something I didn't want to cook, but because it was something I already had -- just two or three days before! When I pointed that out to him, he said "You did? But yours didn't look like this picture." "Well Dear, that's because the picture shows chicken legs, and I chose to go with the thigh option." "But didn't yours have a crust?" "Not really. You dip the pieces in flour before you put them in the pan. Then later, when you drizzle the pan juices over that, it goes all crispy crunchy." "Oh... OK!"

I halved the recipe for the two of us, and still got two meals out of it!
If, like me, you think a simple roasted chicken makes the perfect Sunday dinner, but aren't that crazy about sticking your hand up under the skin to spread around butter and seasonings, or trying to divide the bird into recognizable pieces afterwards, you might want to give this recipe a go. It just doesn't get any easier, or yummier!

By Sam Sifton, as seen on NYT Cooking
Adapted from Steven Stolman
Yield: 4 servings

4 chicken legs or 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 T. olive oil
2 T. herbes de Provence
1 lemon, quartered
8-10 cloves garlic, peeled
4-6 medium-sized shallots, peeled and halved
1/3 cup dry vermouth
4 sprigs of thyme, for serving

Heat oven to 400 F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow pan, and lightly dredge the chicken in it, shaking the pieces to remove excess flour.

Swirl the oil in a large roasting pan, and place the floured chicken in it. Season the chicken with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken, then add the vermouth to the pan.

Put the pan in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, then baste it with the pan juices. Continue roasting for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through.
Serve in the pan or on a warmed platter, garnished with the thyme.

Now if only one of my local purveyors of fresh pastured chickens would start selling them already cut up, instead of whole!