Porchetta and borlotti beans with an escarole salad dressed in a simple vinaigrette—what more is there to say?

 

Due to Global Warming (a pleasant sounding euphemism if ever there was one) it is 61° here. So we’re having a salad for lunch—escarole, watercress, eggs, green beans, little potatoes, and avocado— bathed in an anchovy vinaigrette. It’s supposed to be in the forties tomorrow so we are dry-brining an 8-pound pork shoulder that we will braise for January’s last lunch.

 

Six things that made us happy today:
1. We fixed Henry the studio dog a cup of milky tea. He lapped it up.
2. The round jazzy rhythm of Project Trio’s Interlude: 2nd Happiest Song In The World (Random Roads Collection) is looping on our playlist putting a swing in our step.
3. A good fire in our Franklin wood burning stove took the chill out of the air.
4. Our kind neighbor gave us the gift of seven brown eggs from his two chicks who’ve kept laying despite the cold.
5. Headbutler.com always makes our day brighter, but today we’re beaming and blushing.
6. Our scrawny Meyer lemon tree is bearing fruit.
 

How does that tune go—Rainy Days and Mondays? Add to the mix: sleet, snow, and freezing rain. We’re fighting off the blues with big bowls of cauliflower, Italian sausage, and lumache pasta. Carb counting be damned.

 

The thermometer dipped to 18° today and snow is expected later this afternoon—winter has arrived. On the other hand, it was 5:22 last evening when we noticed the magical  l’heure bleue of twilight—so the days are getting longer. Hooray! In celebration of cold weather, snow, and ice, we’re having creamy polenta with lots of butter and parmigiano-reggiano with crisp, chewy pieces of ham for lunch today. Maybe we’ll go ice skating this afternoon. Have a lovely weekend, dear friends.

 

The day dawned this morning at a chilly 10° and it took the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee for the car’s windshield to defrost—today’s lunch would have to warm us to the core. So all morning a big pot of beef short ribs with onions and a hand of fresh ginger simmered on the stove. When the broth was full of flavor and the meat was nice and tender, we poached baby bok choy and scallions in the broth. It’s lunch in front of the fire today. We’ve got our warm on now!

 

Today’s lunch is drunken sauerkraut, cooked long and slow with gin and vermouth, and paprika-spiced Hungarian sausages—a big pot of choucroute for the table and a little pot of martinis for the cooks. We’ll slather on some Hirsheimer’s hot mustard and wash it all down with a pilsner.

 

Freezing cold outside. The wind blew the doors open while we were off celebrating the Inauguration, so we walked into an icebox of a studio. After building a big fire, the place is finally thawing out. A hearty lunch is in order—a seared flattened pork chop, caraway cream noodles, and fermented kale and collard slaw. After so much pomp and ceremony, it’s nice to let it all hang out at home.

 

 

Our little farm market just started selling fish, and today’s special was a sparkling-fresh side of salmon. It was irresistible, so that made the decision for today’s lunch. We poached it in a court bouillon and served it with a warm, earthy lentil salad—a surf n’ turf kind of thing. On Sunday we are headed down to Washington D.C.  for the inauguration. We’ll visit The Portrait Gallery and see America’s Presidents, then walk over to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—we may stop by and pay our respects to President Lincoln on the way. Then it’s dinner at José Andrés’ Zaytinya. Monday morning we’ll head over to The Mall and stand with The People to witness the oath of office and listen to President Obama’s inaugural speech. We would most likely have a better view watching it on the tellie in the comfort of our living rooms, but there are some things for which you just have to show up. Aren’t we lucky that we can. Have a lovely weekend for yourselves, dear friends.

 

We used the last of  our preserved lemon reserves in today’s lunch of stewed chickpeas and tomatoes with cinnamon, cumin, olive oil, and lots of parsley from the garden (it’s been so mild this winter it’s still thriving!). This afternoon we’ll hop on making our first big batch of preserved lemons of the new year. We can’t cook/live without ‘em!

 

We’ve had a craving for Chinese food, especially pork fried rice. So didn’t we just order up a big old carton for ourselves. Our fortune cookie said, “You have a yearning for perfection”. And we believe we are eating it right now! Sometimes you just have to give in and let yourselves go.

 

We’re starting out the week right with cream of spinach soup with chopped egg, chopped baked ham, and minced fresh chives. With so little growing outside we recharged our batteries with big bowls of “green”. Henry the studio dog danced around the kitchen on his hind legs begging for bites of ham. He lunched on a quartered hard-cooked egg as we slurped our soup. Everyone was happy. We’ll take a stroll along the canal while the afternoon is still mild and before the cold blows in.

 

It must be the springlike weather here in the East that has us craving green and crunchy. To satisfy this hunger, we chopped up a thick slice of pancetta and a couple of scallions, and gave them a quick sauté until the pork was crispy and the onions were soft. Then we whisked together some good green olive oil and a few tablespoons of our own red wine vinegar—it’s been aging nicely in a crock on the shelf. We spooned everything on top of  ”wedges” of butter lettuce. Seems too simple and perhaps a little lightweight for girls such as ourselves who boast big hearty appetites, but it tasted so very good and was just the ticket. But now that the afternoon has worn on, we think it will be “tea and biscuits” before very long. Our stomachs are rumbling.

 

This past weekend we roasted a pork belly in a low slow oven until it rendered most its fat—the meat was tender, and the skin crackly crisp. It’s a rich rich cut, so we’ve been slowly making our way through it, slicing off long strips, eating just a few at a time. Today we pan-fried some thick slices as if they were strips of bacon, browning them until they were crisp on the outside. To cut through the richness we piled on a mini Asian cucumber salad dressed with mirin, rice wine vinegar, sugar, Maldon salt, szechuan peppercorns, and red chile flakes, then garnished it with sliced scallions and parsley leaves (since there wasn’t any fresh cilantro at the market). It’s a late lunch today, but it sure hits the spot. It will be a cup of chamomile tea and two crackers for dinner tonight.

 

Veal and mushroom stew over boiled potatoes with butter and parsley for lunch today. We got all fancy-like and peeled the mushrooms—very French. It was a great way to start the week. If the weather keeps warming up, we’ll be having grilled hot dogs and potato salad by Thursday!

 

We’re stilling getting the studio back into full swing this week and haven’t had a chance yet to restock the fridge. It’s nearly bare. But in the vegetable drawer there was a big head of escarole, some leeks, a handful of green beans, a bunch of spinach, and a hand of fresh ginger. So we made this simple nourishing vegetable soup. We each get a hunk of bread to sop up the goodness. Feels like a monastic lunch today, but it’s awfully good. Have a lovely weekend, dear friends.

 

This year is starting up right. A package arrived late morning from our friends Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery—the best cheese purveyors we know. Nestled in a bed of excelsior were two perfectly ripe cows’ milk cheeses—their own Devil’s Gulch, a bloomy rind cheese sprinkled with sweet and hot pepper flakes, and a wedge of Saint Nectaire from the Auvergne, a washed rind cheese aged on rye straw. We ditched our lunch plans, toasted some bread, and had the most delicious time. You never know what life is going serve up—today we were the lucky ones.

 

We’ve been away from the studio for far too long. Today, our first day back, has been a slow one. The place felt neglected, so we turned up the thermostat (who turned it off anyway?), built a fire in the old Franklin to take the chill out of the air, replaced the ink cartridges in the printer (it’s been on the fritz), and sorted through the pile of mail—we struggled to get back in the groove. Then we had lunch. We kept it simple—pan-fried spicy Italian sausages and tender cannellini beans annointed with a delicious green extra-virgin olive oil. Now things are working, surfaces cleared, we’re cozy, well fed, and quietly, happily dozing at our computers. Happy 2013, dear friends.