23 January 2014

Winter Readings

This cold has been unbearable at times but what it does do for me is put me in the mood to be with a book for long periods of time. Sitting in a cozy chair in our new home by the fireplace... just delightful. With school out today, I did finish two books I have started and as I was getting ready to choose a new book to start, I thought of those books that I just love to reread in the winter.

Here are my top four...

The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The bitter cold, mind numbing tasks, low on food, fuel and light... this book has all the spine tingling effects of a crime novel because it is so real. Reading it at five years old or 55 years, still on my list of best reads in the winter.
The book as it appeared in my school's library

While reading this book, I like to eat my mom's potato soup.  Recipe here:  Shirley's Potato Soup

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

This book is set in Alaska and a couple who wants a child so badly and can't, see a Snow Child in their yard one evening.  The book has a fairy tale quality to it and draws you into the couple's fantasy, or is it?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson

It is set in Sweden, full of mystery, cold, dark, crime after crime...

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Set in Maine, a melancholy book, but with hopefulness scattered like spring seeds all through the book.  I like that one of the characters is a teacher, too!   Reading this book is delicious with my uncle's vegetable soup:    Amos' Vegetable Soup

I am now reading The Circle by Dave Eggers.  I hear this book will make my winter list.  I hear it described as the 1984 for the dotcom generation.  Maybe I can talk Bob into making his Grandma's Tomato Soup for this one!  Carolyn's Tomato Soup

Even though winter seems long and bitterly cold, enjoy the season for what it does bring you:  cozy times with a good book and a bowl of hot soup!

22 January 2014

Breakfast Cookies

This is probably the first time since I was 10 that I didn't order Girl Scout cookies. Thin Mints remain my all time favorite cookie in the whole wide world and I usually buy a few boxes to have in the freezer as that is my favorite way in the whole wide world to eat them. I love cookies in general, their small size is easy to carry around in your purse, they come in all kinds of delightful flavors and you can dunk them in milk. Nowadays my milk is Almond Breeze and I am trying to squash my desire for Thin Mint cookies with these yummy sounding Breakfast Cookies. I found the recipe on Pinterest and have been meaning to try them when I had a couple of overripe bananas. I would forget to tell Bob that I wanted to keep the bananas and at some point he got tired of having them in the fruit bowl. Today, with the snow day, I decided to beat Bob to the fruit bowl and bake up a batch of these cookies.
I baked the cookies longer, about 35 minutes, to get the crispiness I wanted. They are delicious dunked in (almond)milk, hot de or cocoa or just by themselves.

21 January 2014

Sidney Street Cafe 10th Anniversary Party

Last night Bob and I spent four and half hours eating dinner. Nope, that isn't a mistake. That's exactly what we did. SSC celebrated its tenth anniversary by having fourteen chefs prepare an eight course meal (not counting the appetizers). We started getting there early. Those of you who know Bob do not find this an amazing fact. However, a good portion of our time was in the bar. We had a seat at the bar and watched expert chefs prepare a raw bar and a charteuterie bar that was delicious both in taste and sight. The home cured ham was being sliced from the leg, including the hoof. Homemade sausages and chutneys were served with a round artisan bread that was sliced and toasted.

At the raw bar, we were given a choice of scallop served with a watermelon vinaigrette, oysters, and a redfish salad.  The scallop was my favorite as the vinaigrette was so refreshing.

Do you see the whole redfish, crab and sea urchin?
We sat at the bar for 90 minutes, grabbing tasty treats and watching the bar tenders do their thing.  All drinks were included in the price.  I had my first dirty martini on the rocks.  It seems to be a new thing in the world of drink.  It is important to note here that each course had its own wine pouring.  Bob loves the wines every bit as much as the food.  Me, not so much.  In fact, at one point I had had enough wine and requested a (Mexican) coke.  It was the perfect cleanser between the rich meals!

We were seated at a table for two, set beautifully with brown tablecloths and cream napkins.  Candles were placed on each table.  Looking across the restaurant, the candlelight sparkled off the glass.  SSC is decorated with streetlights on short, dark wood columns. The streetlamps were lit, casting a soft glow in the room. 

Our first course was raw scallop cured in herbs, with butter, mustard and an elderflower jelly.  The texture of the scallop was creamy.  The scallops were small and were eaten with a bit of butter, mustard and jelly all at the same time.

The elderflower jelly is the pretty,  clear dollop on the plate.  

The oyster course was very good.  The oysters were from the bay (the pan seared on) from the pasture (the fried one) and from the earth, the vegetable that tastes like oysters. Under the oysters is a smear of cauliflower.  The piece that looks like a stick was the vegetable.

The third course is by one of our favorite chefs and was in our top three favorite courses.  A cauliflower base, with lamb jus, lamb crispies (my term!)  lemon brown butter, creme fraiche and an egg placed perfectly on the top.  You break the egg,  where the yolk is perfectly cooked and only slightly runny, and eat all the ingredients together.  Such a great bite!

The next course was the most different.  It was a plate of different grains, tofu and homemade hoisin sauce.  The grains were crunchy, crispy, soft and chewy.  It was a delightful plate.  Something I could see me making at home.

The next course was by Chef Kelly English, another favorite of ours.  He prepared butterfish, shrimp, cornbread cake with potlikker.  Again, in our top three.  

The butterfish holds to its name.  Such a delicious, buttery texture, with large flakes, similar to walleye.  The shrimp was spicy and perfectly cooked, a bit of a bite and then the fresh seafood taste.  The cornbread and collard pudding cake was so good and it absorbed the potlikker and was delish.

The next dish was a pasta dish.  The pasta was made with a little bowl where there was fresh masa.  The ground meat is chicken liver and the whole thing is drenched in a sorghum like I have never had.  It had a smooth taste, similar to maple syrup but with a depth of taste far different than syrup.  Different but very good.

Delicious combination of flavors.  I liked how the sorghum thickened up, grabbed up the bits of chicken liver and became a tasty bite all by itself.

The last savory course was Russian hog with pumpkin and black truffle and then farro, which I was unfamiliar with.  Crunchy like rice krispies.  

The ham was delicious, the traditional salty taste of ham but with the consistency of a pork chop.  The balsamic vinegar and honey mix was a wonderful sauce.  You can see the small beads of farro, and those were crunchy.

The last dish, and appropriately so, was the dessert.  So perfect!  The dessert was freeze dried ice cream which appeared like powder on the plate, with Satsuma orange slices (tiny!) and pistachio nuts, truffles and meringues.  There were two truffles made with chocolate but these truffles are the dark chocolate truffles you've had before.  These were chocolate but seemingly of a gelatin that melted in your mouth. Such fun to eat!  I could eat another one now!

One of the reasons we moved to the St. Louis area was to be close to remarkable and amazing food.  We look forward to more wonderful events and applaud SSC for a wonderful night of food!

12 January 2014

Web Address has Changed!

Due to some changes in Google, I have changed Our Good Life web address. It is now www.terristeffes.com Sorry for any issues this may cause.

The Dining Room

Our dining room is a part of the kitchen.  It does feel more like a dining room than an eat in kitchen and I would suspect that it is because of the four windows in the area.  This area is getting its vibe from the Miami Beach area.  The turquoise and yellow were the colors of the hotel we stayed at before we went on a barefoot cruise with some great friends from Bob's school, Jefferson Junior High in Columbia.  So many memories of that trip!

Again, a good foundation:  Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray on the walls, white painted trim, white blinds.  Great canvas just waiting for the right stuff!

Here is the original look:

BEFORE:  Rather plain, pretty gold placemats and a beautiful view of our fence going up...
Now we have a colorful, musical art piece above the windows, which are now valanced with a medium striped burlap.  Cute bubble mirrors on the wall, reflecting the Art Deco style of Miami Beach.  The turquoise bowl holds rope balls in yellow and red.  Yellow placemats add a pop of color.  

Love the art piece and the turquoise bowl!

Want a rug here but haven't found the right thing.  If you have an idea, please share!
Enjoying our Miami Beach dining room!

11 January 2014

Garlicky Buttered Shrimp-Pinterest Trial

This recipe has been all over Facebook and Pinterest and so I am going to take this on for our Friday night meal.  Of course, I am going to change up the recipe before I make it the original way, but in this case, it is a good idea.

For one, I am reducing the amount of butter and replacing it with olive oil to make it a bit more heart healthy.

Secondly, I am serving it over brown rice to give us a healthy serving of grains with the meal.

Here's the recipe I made:

1/2 c butter
1/2 c olive oil
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 lemon, sliced
1 bag medium shrimp (cooked or uncooked, whatever you have)
Italian seasoning

Put butter and olive oil together in skillet, melt together.  Add garlic and stir often, until garlic is cooked and golden brown.  Lay slices of lemon on top of the butter sauce.  Add shrimp.  Sprinkle on Italian seasoning.   Cook on stovetop for 15 minutes on simmer.

Serve over rice.

VERDICT:  The original pinner, "Diana," said this was the best shrimp you would ever eat.

Here is what Bob had to say: Very good!  
Here's what I thought: Very good, not the best I have add.  I would add red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese and I think that would be a winner!

10 January 2014

The Living Room

In our beach cottage here in New Town, we wanted to capture a feel of being at a resort but with the comfortable feeling of being at home, too.  We have visited many beaches and felt that each and everyone of the ones we know offered something special in the way of relaxation.   Our favorite vacations have been on beaches!

The living room is a definite spin off of our New England coastal visit.  We loved the homes, the welcoming atmosphere, the blues, reds and yellows.  I took a lot of sailboat pictures in New England, and met up with some pretty fine ladies, Kristen, Marnie, Robin and Jodi.  I loved that trip!!

We had the basics right, the wall color is Comfort Grey (Sherwin Williams) and the white woodwork and mantle.  We just needed to accessorize with color and our favorite souvenirs.




Time for the accessories!  With the help of Jackie Long Interiors, we dressed up the living room with soft burlap curtains, fun colorful accessories that weren't too nautical or beachy, and downsized the tables in the room to create more walking space.  

AFTER!!   Love the yellows and reds.  We "shopped" our basement for the art!

Two new pieces by the cabinet in back, weathered wood with antique corkscrews pictured on it.


Here is my favorite accessory, though:

Truman,  peeking out from under the new throw.