Saturday, May 31, 2008

3 weeks to go!

Just a quick update:

Matt and I have decided to come home to Seattle for awhile while we figure out where we will be living when Matt launches into his boat designing career. We're coming home on June 25th and hope to be in Seattle for the month of July.

Meanwhile, we have a lot to look forward to: the Elliot family is coming to visit next weekend, we have a trip to 6 Flags New England planned, then the Roddys will be here for Matt's graduation, and we have an apartment to pack up and good friends to say goodbye to. Lots of pictures and updates to come.

Making Pasta for Ben

rolling out the pasta

Matt and I have gotten hugely into making fresh pasta. We don't have a pasta roller, though, so we're getting freakishly strong biceps and bruised palms in the process. Blame it on Jamie Oliver. We love to watch his latest cooking show, Jamie at Home, on Saturday mornings at 9:30 on the Food Network. He may be a little too cool for his own good, but we still idolize him.

When our friend Ben had a birthday, we decided to invite everyone over for a fresh pasta feed. Almost everyone (Eliot, I don't know how you got away with that) helped roll it out. I also made gorgonzola stuffed dates wrapped in bacon and the cats helped me. It has nothing to do with the bacon, I swear they just like to hang out with me!

Happy birthday Ben!
Armstrong's got his eye on the prize

Ella "helping." She dragged one off under the bed about 5 minutes later.

birthday boy Ben

Larry, Eliot and Ella, Mike

Joey, Ashley, Mike, Matt, Ben, Eliot, Larry

Fiddlehead Ferns

par-boiling the fiddleheads

So fiddlehead ferns are a favorite local delicacy. People scavenge baby ferns, just coming up from the ground. The ferns' entire bodies are compactly curled into a spiral, just like the top of a violin, hence the nickname. In a few weeks, they'll be waist-high and leafy, but at this stage their density gives them a vegetable-like heartiness and their flavor is sort of a cross between broccoli and asparagus when cooked.

My dad, who lived in Maine in his teens, remembers fiddleheads with fondness and he practically forced me to go out and buy some before they were out of season. So I got some. And they sat in my refrigerator for a few days... I had no idea what to do with them.

Finally I consulted a few recipes online and decided to go for something familiar: risotto. Here are two pics from my efforts, which were deliciously well worth it. There are mushrooms, onions and fiddleheads in the risotto base (I par-boiled the fiddleheads first, but really didn't need to). Then I added grilled chicken, grape tomatoes and parmesan at the end.

simmering risotto

the finished product

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Seven weeks to go!

I know that I've been absent from here for awhile. In defense, I was teasing on the phone to a friend that the only exciting thing that has happened to me lately was almost hitting a turkey that darted across the road (this happens regularly around here). But the honest truth is that I don't have any interesting pictures to put up, and I feel guilty not giving you some eye candy. But I suppose you'd rather know what's going on with us than nothing at all.

Winter was atrocious. In early April, I went out to Colorado with my good friends Katie and Julie to attend a retreat at Frontier Ranch up in the Rockies. It was an incredible time for me: the beauty of the West with its red rock, shrub oak, and alpine ranges was a refreshing change from the chill winter of Maine. I hadn't seen a mountain in months. It was also good to be with old friends and to take time away for reflection, prayer, and renewal for my heart.

Matt finished his third quarter of school while I was away and by the time I returned, he was already down in Manhattan for his two week internship with Sparkman & Stephens, a yacht design firm. He had a really good time with the Sundberg and the Basingers, who he stayed with, and learned a lot about design that has already been useful this quarter with his final project.

Gavin, Andrew, Matt and Matt (and no, it wasn't St. Patrick's Day)

Final project. Music to my ears. When I came back to Maine, the "peepers"--Mainers' nickname for melodic frogs that come out in the spring--suddenly came to life in the pond behind our house. Long yellow wands of forsythia are blooming, and dogwood blossoms are on two trees in downtown Portland near my work. It seems that every day a new tree has green leaf buds on its branches, although more than half are still bare and spindly. So, spring has begun. I surprise myself to realize that I had honestly ceased believing that it would. And with the coming of spring, the close of the school year.

The last snow of the winter--in March. I was so pleased.

Matt graduates June 21 and we have just 7 weeks left. Our plans are still up in the air for where we go next, although there are some opportunities in the wings on the West Coast. We shall see. Meanwhile, there are lots of good things to look forward to in our last quarter here. Matt has a pair of tickets to Six Flags New England that we're hoping to enjoy soon. Out friend Ben has invited the class out to his family's place on a small island off the coast of Connecticut in a few weekends to celebrate his birthday. I'm hoping to make it down to New York to visit the Sundbergs, since I didn't have a chance when Matt was there. And our friends Nina and Christian are talking about coming up from D.C. to check out the Maine coast at the beginning of June.

And so the long winter thaws and life begins again. Hopefully before long we'll be barbecuing on our deck and taking picnics to Goose Rocks Beach again. And with any luck, I'll have pictures to share of our upcoming adventures as well.