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There’s A Lot Going On

I have an intern. She’s fifteen, green-haired, and brilliant. She’s taken over RonAndRobertOnDivorce.com. In fact, she’s manning our entire social media campaign. The kid is so smart that half the time when I’m looking over her work I have to consciously hold my mouth closed or risk my jaw falling into my lap.

For the record, she’s also a lot of fun to work with. She’s smart and funny and she wears Doc Martens and listens to the Pixies and rocks her faded green  midnight-blue-with-turquoise-streaks* hair. She is one of the raddest chicks I’ve ever hung out with. And I hang out with some pretty rad chicks.

So I have an intern and that is fabulous. What else? Last weekend Mike and I catered a private film screening in a gorgeous house in Malibu and it was a huge success. I am super proud of us for pulling it off. The food was incredible – Mike planned the menu and cooked everything himself. His presentations were stunning. I cannot forgive myself for failing to take photographs of the table because you would have died. He served everything except the desserts on hand-painted Italian china and the desserts were served on antique silver. He cut beautiful, flower-like garnishes out of lemons and tiny red, gold, and green peppers. I’ve never seen anything like it. My husband is a god in the kitchen. Here are some crappy snap shots I took with my Blackberry while he was practice-cooking earlier in the week:

stuffed tomatoes

These have a fancy name but I can’t remember it. They are little tomatoes stuffed with lamb and goat cheese. So. Delicious.

endive salad

A little endive salad. These were so beautiful – the endive leaf is shaped like a little boat, and it’s filled with baby arugula, radiccio, sliced figs, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a sprig of fennel.

He also served gorgonzola-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates, stuffed mushrooms, made-from-scratch spanakopita, crostinis with fresh tapenade, and the crown jewel was an onion tarte. For dessert there were lemon tarts and fruit tarts. Made from scratch. I’m telling you. Kitchen god.

We are both exhausted. Between last week’s catering gig, our jobs, social commitments, training for Bolivia, and planning for Bolivia, we are working from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep.

Last night Mike and I took a night off from everything and watched four episodes of The Gates. It’s a ridiculous soap-opera about vampires and werewolves and it is mind-numbingly delicious. So we took a night off and watched four episodes while we gathered all our gear and cleaned it and folded it and sorted out what clothes need to be washed, packed our backpacks, ate dinner, and folded clean laundry.

See? Even when we take a night off we don’t take a night off. Though in all honesty, last night was perfectly lovely. It was fun to sort through our gear and I discovered all kinds of wonderful secret compartments in my hats and my backpack where I can stash emergency money in case we get robbed.

Which reminds me. We have to make our fake wallets. That way, if we do get robbed, we can hand over fake wallets with fake credit cards and fake drivers licenses and enough cash to make the thieves leave us alone. Brilliant, right? As long as they don’t search our bags. And if they do, we cross our fingers they don’t find all the secret compartments.

We’re going to be fine. I just have to remember to breathe.

*Ed: She changed colors. She’s a chameleon, that one.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Yesterday I tried to post this recipe but instead I got carried away talking all about our wonderful anniversary/family visit. And as much as I loved pouring over family photos that week, I equally loved spending one-on-one time visiting with my mother-in-law. I realize that the cliche is a mother-in-law who meddles and sticks her nose in and disapproves of everything, but my mother-in-law is anything but that. She’s absolutely lovely. She reminds me a lot of my Aunt Sue – my mother’s beloved Aunty who passed away when I was 16. I spent my childhood at Aunt Sue’s heels while she baked cakes and served fairy tea in miniature china teacups. I spent hours with my head resting on her ample bosom, while she told stories about her childhood home, our nation’s capital, the illustrious Washington D.C.  She’s been gone for years, but I see her in my mother-in-law. The way Mom pads around the kitchen in red knit ballet slippers, telling stories about her childhood in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where her mother lived her entire life in a two-bedroom house with no kitchen sink. We spent our mornings immersed in photo albums, our afternoons cooking, and every evening I curled up at her feet like a cat and asked for more stories. More!

When Michael’s parents were first married, they owned a beautiful sailboat that they’d take out for weeks at a time. Michael cut his teeth sailing and I have seen the photos to prove it. (omgsoadorable.)  The following is a recipe for the strawberry pie Michael’s mother used to make on the boat whenever they went out to sea. It’s unbelievably easy and it’s probably one of the best strawberry pies I’ve ever eaten.

Sailboat Strawberry Pie

Oven: This will depend on the type of crust you use
Prep: 30 min.
Bake: Nada
What You’ll Need:
frozen/refrigerated pie crust
fresh strawberries
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
whipping cream
sugar
vanilla extract

We started with a Marie Callender’s frozen pie crust. I was skeptical because I’ve always insisted on baking my own pie crusts from scratch, but this pie crust was so delicious – flaky, tender, flavorful – I don’t know if I’ll ever go to the trouble of making a crust from scratch again. We followed the instructions on the box, which were something along the lines of “take the crust out of the box, prick it all over with a fork, bake it for 15 minutes, voila!”

While the crust was in the oven, we washed the strawberries, trimmed their tops off, and set them out to dry. It’s important that the strawberries are completely dry before you put them in the pie.

When the crust had baked and cooled, you sift 1 cup of powdered sugar evenly into the pie crust.

When the strawberries are completely dry, you arrange them in the powdered sugar dusted pie crust.

strawberries

We were only about half-done filling the crust with strawberries at this point…

Next, sift 1 more cup of powdered sugar over the strawberries, covering evenly and completely.

If you want to make your own whipped cream, now is the time. Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to your whipping cream and whip on high while slowly adding sugar to taste. We forgot to buy whipping cream, but Mom had Cool Whip on hand and that worked perfectly.

Cover your pie with whipped cream (or Cool Whip) like so:

whipping cream

You want to completely cover the pie with whipped cream, much the way you would cover a meringue-topped pie with meringue – sealed all the way to the edges. Put the pie in the fridge for two or three hours to chill before serving. Voila! You’re done! Easy peasy and completely delicious.

fini

Now I wish I’d taken a photo of the pie once it was cut and plated because in addition to being delicious, it was also gorgeous. But you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Now onward! Make pies!

White Girl Stir Fry

Here is my recipe for White Girl Stir Fry.  It has nothing to do with actual stir-fry, except that it’s delicious. It’s also fast, easy, and healthy.

What You’ll Need:
Tofu
Vegetables
Chopped Garlic
Olive Oil
Ponzu sauce

First, heat some oil in a nice big pan. Next, sautee your chopped garlic. I had some nice scallions, so I chopped those up and threw them in too.

scallions

The vegetable and tofu goes in next. I used brocoli, but you could use carrots, mushrooms, beans, cauliflower, even brussel sprouts would be rad. Throw ’em in there, swoosh everything around in the olive oil, then put a lid on it. You want it to steam a little bit before you add the next ingredient.

broccoli

And now…

ponzu

PONZU! Apply your PONZU! liberally. The more PONZU! the more delicious.

Finally, when your tofu and vegetable is softened to your liking, fold in about two or three handfulls of spinach. (Or any good wilting green you like.)

spinach

Last but not least, take a photo of your dinner and post it on the Internet.

squircle

It’s not pretty, but it is a squircle!

It’s easy! Everyone likes it!

spaghetti sauce

You guys. I made spaghetti sauce. From scratch.

I realize that most of you probably cook all the time and the idea of getting excited over some spaghetti sauce is truly laughable, but fore me, me who up until very recently had a panic attack whenever I was asked to cook something, me who didn’t know how to hard boil an egg, me who enjoys the taste of burned food because until recently, everything I cooked for myself was charred to a blackened crisp, for me this spaghetti sauce was a very big deal.

I didn’t even use a recipe. I just threw stuff in a pot and simmered it all together. Some of the stuff I sauteed first and some of the stuff I browned first, but I just threw it all together and you guys, it was so delicious and I had so much fun doing it. So. Much. Fun. I’d tell you exactly how I did it, but I’m probably the only person in the world who has never made spaghetti sauce before, so I won’t. Instead I’ll show you a photo of how it looked when I ate it with spaghetti squash and asiago cheese.

dinner

You know you want some.

Min’s Irish Soda Bread

For as long as I can remember, my mother has cooked her famed Corned Beef and Cabbage for each and every Saint Patrick’s Day. Except for Christmas, I never felt further from home in New York than on St. Paddy’s Day, 3,000 miles away from my family and our delicious traditional meal.

So you can imagine how excited I am for tonight’s Family Dinner! That’s right! In honor of Saint Patrick and Frost Family Tradition, Mama Frost is making her wonderful Corned Beef and Cabbage and I baked two loaves of Irish Soda Bread to go along with it. Mmmmmmm…. I love me some Irish Soda Bread! My mom gave me this recipe, and I think she got it from her father, who probably got it from his mother, Min. But I’m just guessing.

Grandma Min’s Irish Soda Bread

Oven: 325*
Prep: 10 min.
Bake: 65-70 min.
What you’ll need:
A 9×5 loaf pan (I use a 9″ cake pan and it works fine.)
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 egg lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
raisins

P.S. As I typed that list out, I realized that I totally did not add the baking soda to my Irish Soda Bread. What happens when you skip the baking soda in a recipe? (We’ll find out at dinner tonight.)

Preheat your oven to 325* and grease your loaf pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, BAKING SODA, sugar, and salt.

Blend egg and buttermilk, then add all at once to flour mixture.

add buttermilk and egg

Mix buttermilk and egg mixture into flour mixture until just moist.

mix in until just moist

Stir in the melted butter…

add butter

Then… defile the Irish and add RAISINS to the mix! Yes, that’s right. Traditional Irish Soda Bread does not contain raisins, at least not according to the Internets. However, my family’s traditional recipe does include raisins, and it’s delicious that way, so do as the Frosts do and add raisins! Yum! (Also, don’t really defile the Irish. We love and adore the Irish. In fact, the Frosts are Irish. So maybe the Internets are wrong about what makes Soda Bread authentic.)

add raisins

I have no idea how many raisins you should add. Just throw in a bunch until you think it looks right. And be sure not to forget the baking soda. It is, after all, Irish Soda Bread.

Pour your batter (it should be thick and gooey, like the batter for scones) into your greased loaf pan. I like to use a rubber spatula to scrape the mixing bowl clean. Put it in a 325* oven for 65 to 70 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

irish soda bread

Well, it looks fantastic. Too bad this blog doesn’t have smell-o-reading because it smells fffffaaaaannnntaaaasssstic! Now you’re going to let it cool on a wire rack for thirty minutes to an hour.  For best flavor, wrap it in a clean dishcloth and let it sit over night before serving. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Now for your daily sleeping wiener:

wiener dreams

(Tomorrow I’ll tell you what the fam thought of my soda-less soda bread. Seriously? How could I forget the baking soda?)

***It was awesome, by the way. Delish. Everybody had multiple helpings, and one of my brothers even skipped dessert so he could justify eating more of the sodaless soda bread. But really? The true star of the show was my mother’s Corned Beef and Cabbage which, Holy Mother of Goldfish, was so incredible, so much more incredible than I even remembered, it was completely worth moving 3,000 miles across the country for.