Sunday, October 28, 2007

Weekend Happenings!

The weekend started out on Friday night with some organizing of my office/craft room. Anyone who has lived with me knows that "neat" and "organized" do not typically describe the rooms I inhabit. This is most certainly true of the craft room/office. The room contains my old desk from when I was a kid (but painted black with glass pulls), D's old filing cabinet, a gate-leg extension table that used to be in my grandparents' house, a chair I pulled out of someone's garbage and painted and recovered, and 3 additional chairs of various origins. In addition to the furniture, there are a bunch of boxes containing wedding gifts that haven't yet been put away, various shopping bags full of stuff that I have to return to the store or out away somewhere, a shopping bag containing gifts I'll be giving for Christmas, about 5 bags of yarn, a huge stack of photographs to sort, a huge box of sorted photographs, and 2 bags, a box, and a stack of scrapbooking stuff. On Friday night I did manage to put some of the stuff away, and I'll put more away once I move a chest down that's currently in the master bedroom.

On Saturday am I headed to a Friends and Newcomers new member coffee. I met some more nice women and learned a few more of the ins and outs of my new town (and the surrounding area). One thing that has been very reassuring about meeting these women is finding out that I'm not the only one who loathes the grocery store in our town. While the prices at the Market Basket are very good, the aisles are narrow, the lines are long, the parking lot is too small, and the produce goes bad too quickly. Everyone seems to shop in neighboring towns either at the Shaws, Hannaford, Stop and Shop, or Donelans. Typically, I do as much shopping as possible at Trader Joe's and then head to Market Basket for whatever I can't find. It drives me nuts every time I go there, but it is much less expensive than the really nice Donelans that is also close to our house.

One of the women at the Newcomers coffee told me about a place called Idylwilde Farms in Acton. She said it was similar to Wilson Farms in Lexington and that they had terrific produce and meats. I knew I had to check it out, so I headed over on Saturday afternoon. Basically, it looks like a big barn, and outside they have stacks of fresh local produce. This week they had tons of different kinds of pumpkins, squash, applies, and multi-colored cauliflower. I picked up a sugar pumpkin and some purple cauliflower. Inside it was a mix of Wilson Farms and Russo's in Watertown. Perfect stacks of fresh and colorful produce, fresh baked goods, a huge cheese section, and a perimeter of staple and gourmet foods. I was able to find all of what I needed for my Daring Bakers challenge, including a vanilla bean and superfine sugar. They also had fresh raspberries which I knew would make the perfect garnish. I also picked up a fresh, natural roasting chicken for Sunday dinner.

Upon coming home from Idylwilde, I started in on my Daring Bakers challenge (you can read about the details of that in my previous post). Meanwhile, D put together 2 more storage shelves in the basement and started tearing up the carpet in the master bedroom so we can get started on our demolition/construction. We're demoing the existing closet and building a walk-in because I have way too much stuff! Were also going to lay down hardwood flooring in the master bedroom and upstairs hall. I can't wait until the room is done and we can start sleeping on the beautiful sheets that my mom gave us for our shower. The colors are so soothing.

Saturday night we went to the Gibbet Hill Grille for dinner to celebrate the 1 year anniversary of our engagement. We had heard about Gibbet Hill from D's cousins, and then saw it on TV Diner where it won the "Platinum Plate" award. Luckily I had called 2 weeks earlier for a reservation because it was parents' weekend at the local prep school and the restaurant was very busy. Gibbet Hill Grille is located in a beautiful refurbished barn on a farm in Groton, MA. There's a fireplace by the bar making it very cosy, and they serve a nice variety of wines by the glass. I had a very nice Pinot Noir and D had the house beer--Gibbet Hill Brew. We were ushered into the dining room promptly at 8pm and started perusing the menu.

There were many fabulous-sounding choices--from gourmet sandwiches to roasted beet salad to all kinds of steaks. We started with PEI mussels which were served in a delicious better/herb broth with a piece of toast to soak up the juices. Being a huge lamb lover (I eat it probably 1 out of every 3 times we go out to dinner), I was happy to hear that they had a rack of lamb special served with braised cabbage and brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potatoes. D had the Arctic Char (he loves all things Icelandic/Scandinavian). My lamb was delicious and I think D was a bit embarrassed when I separated the bones and started gnawing on them after I had finished most of the meat. I had a Malbec that was specially selected to pair with the lamb. After dinner we had port and coffee, during which time we watched and listened as others in the restaurant ran up to the bar to check out what was happening in the Red Sox World Series game.

Sunday was also a moderately busy day for me. D and I organized some things on the shelves in the basement and decided there were some more items we could part with. I also went through my closets and pulled out some stuff to try to consign and some to donate. D mowed the lawn while I worked on a project handblock printing onesies and dish towels (I'll post on this later). Then D and I spent about 1/2 hour laying in the hammock in the warm sun (until the sun went behind the trees and the breeze became too cool).

After "hammock time" I set to work making dinner--chicken with 40 cloves of garlic from the Joy of Cooking. I originally consulted Joy just for the minutes per pound for a roast chicken, but found the garlic recipe which called for lots of dried herbs and garlic. I have a whole deck covered in fresh herbs that we need to eat up so I thought this would be a perfect recipe. Basically, I basted the chicken with olive oil, rubbed under the skin with fresh chopped herbs and salt and pepper, seasoned the cavity and stuffed it with whole fresh herbs (sage, rosemary and thyme) and a quartered lemon. Then I put the chicken in a covered casserole, added some chicken broth and white wine, and all of the peeled cloves of garlic from 3 heads! The covered casserole went in a 375 oven for 25 minutes, then the cover was removed, the temp increased to 450 and the timer set for 35 more minutes of cooking.

While the chicken was cooking I boiled potatoes for garlic mashed potatoes (with the garlic from the chicken). I also cut open 2 sugar pumpkins, saved the seeds on a cookie sheet for roasting later, and roasted the pumpkin pieces. Not sure yet what I'm going to do with the roasted pumpkin. A few weeks ago I made roasted pumpkin risotto which was quite good. I may make that again, or pumpkin soup.

When the chicken was done it smelled heavenly. I removed it onto a platter and added the garlic to the mashed potatoes. I then strained the cooking liquid into a bowl and added some hot chicken broth to thin the sauce down a little. The flavor was great. After dinner I picked all of the remaining meat off the chicken and then put all of the carcass pieces into the slow cooker along with a quartered onion, 3 celery stalks, 2 carrots, the herbs that were in the chicken cavity, and a handful of fresh parsley. This morning I strained that and will make soup with it tomorrow night for dinner.

It was a full weekend that also included watching the Red Sox win the World Series for the 2nd time in 3 years. While I watched the Sox I finished my knitting project for my swap partner. Hopefully I'll get the box in the mail to her tomorrow.

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