Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Cabbage with Caraway

I like lots of cookbooks, but if I'm ever marooned on a desert island (with plenty of high quality ingredients), I'll want to have this one with me. Not that anyone would actually carry it along on any kind of a trip. It's five pounds of recipes and no pictures. But despite small print and pretentious name, a lot of the recipes are simple. And anything that Los Poblanos throws into my box is bound to have several listings in the index. Here's something delicious we did with cabbage the other day:

  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, chopped (I left them out and cut down oil)
  • 1 T caraway seeds (this is the magic ingredient)
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 2 t lemon juice
Melt butter with oil in skillet over med-low heat. Cook onions until soft. Add everything else except lemon juice. Cook until cabbage is crisp-tender (5-7 min). Sprinkle with lemon juice.

from: Reichl, Ruth, ed. The Gourmet Cookbook. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Leyla -- I think I may have first discovered this cookbook at the Urbana Library.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Not So Big Duplex

Mom's been wanting to see pictures of the inside of our place for a while. It was painted in dark colors when we first moved in (even the ceilings), So I painted everything brighter: white ceilings, chartreuse and yellow and white walls. Plus a big piece of corrugated metal on the living room wall to reflect more light.

A couple of years ago I checked out The Not So Big House from the Urbana library. In the book, an architect called Sarah Susanka describes houses that are more efficient and livable rather than bigger. Chad and I like efficient things (the bicycle, for instance; the public library, for instance). I don't remember a lot from that book except that Susanka wasn't a fan of high ceilings. Browsing the shelves at our local library a couple of weeks ago, I came across a sequel called Creating the Not So Big House. I read it from cover to cover (there are a lot of pictures). I learned that, as I'd suspected, our not so big duplex is pretty great. The one thing I'd change about it would be that I'd make the half-wall that divides the dining and living rooms shorter. That way, even when sitting down, one would have a "long sight line"--which makes small spaces feel roomier. I wouldn't get rid of the wall completely, because Susanka taught me that, if I did, I'd have to put the couch farther away from the table in order not to feel like the living area was crowding the dining area.

I can't tear out walls since we're renting this place. But our very kind landlord likes the new, bright colors.

The blanket that we're using as a headboard was given to me in Korea. And if you look closely at the second view of our bedroom -- doorbeads!
The guest room (as yet unimproved) doubles as a laundry-drying room. No reason to use a clothes-dryer when you live in the desert.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Scenic City Riding

On my free Friday, when Chad's not off work, I often go adventuring. Last Friday's trip was a city ride to the Rio Grande (known in Spanish as the Rio Bravo, probably because "big river" is kindof a dumb name).

One new-to-me challenge of Big City riding is getting over or under freeways. I-40, by running diagonally, tries to trick bikers into pointlessly crossing and re-crossing it. But I was able to outwit the interstate with the help of the city of Albuquerque's excellent bicycle map. The city also provides, in some places, these super-cool pedestrian/bike overpasses. The approach to this one is through a golf course.

I always take along a book or two and stop for a long lunch-and-reading break. On Friday, it was a burrito and The History of the Peloponnesian War. I'm reading through the St. John's College reading list, and right now I'm going back and forth between Thucydides (the war book) and Plato. War is pretty boring compared with philosophy.

When I came out of the burrito shop, I interrupted two sweet rides exchanging pleasantries.

One of the reasons I went to the river was to check out a farm called Los Poblanos Organics, headquarters of a food co-op we just joined (thank you to our new friends, Summer and Oliver, who recommended it!). They bring us treasure boxes full of produce every other week.

Their driveway's very pretty, and that's as far as I got since I hadn't made an appointment. But when I volunteer for their work-on-the-farm-and-get-a-discount program, I bet they'll let me in then.

So instead I visited the Rio Grand Nature Preserve, a good place for bird and turtle watching.