Traditions: Easter Dinner

Last year was our first effort at a family Easter. This year there was no snowshoeing, but we did dye and hide eggs.

Easter Eggs

Baguette hunted them, with help from Elmer the Patchwork Elephant.

Hunting7

Then there were deviled eggs.

Deviled Eggs

And Mr. Sandwich’s parents came over for a dinner of ham (my great-grandmother’s recipe),

Ham

roasted asparagus (shown here pre-roasting),

Asparagus

and beer bread (my grandmother’s recipe),

Beer Bread

as well as mashed potatoes and root vegetables and Lawry’s creamed corn.

I may have gone a little nuts.

Dessert–because I lacked time and energy to make a pound cake–was vanilla ice cream and lemon cookies, both from the store.

Verdict? The ham, asparagus, and creamed corn are definitely keepers–although we knew that going in, because I’ve made those before (a quick shout-out to Lawry’s for sharing their recipes, BTW). The beer bread was fine, but not at the top of the food priority list for us, and the mashed potatoes and root vegetables were tasty–but when Mr. Sandwich said, “I just really like your regular mashed potatoes,” well, let’s just say that it’s tough to embrace the experiment.


This post was not sponsored by Lawry’s. I just really like Lawry’s.

Meal Planning

I want to do it. I just have a lot of trouble finding the time to sit down and think about it.

Fortunately, last night we had friends over for dinner (afterward I realized that this was the first playdate we’ve hosted, and it went pretty well overall); we made pulled pork sandwiches with cole slaw, Ranch Style Beans, mashed potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

And when I say “made,” I mean that the only things we actually made ourselves were the potatoes and asparagus. Everything else came straight from the store or was assembled.

But we have lots of leftovers (except for asparagus), so there are a few meals there.

And I’ve got a Crock Pot full of steel-cut oats, so there are some breakfasts.

Really, I think we’ll be pretty set as long as I make one more dish today. So should I clear out some space in the freezer by making meatball and tortellini soup? Or should I have something hearty but light and make more curried lentils and brown rice?

Decisions, decisions.

Birthday Extravaganzas

We worked hard to avoid one. My contention? A one-year-old doesn’t know it’s her birthday. She doesn’t know what birthdays are. So the party isn’t really for her.

That’s why we went with a party we wanted–cookout and cake, served to family. Mr. Sandwich wood-grilled steaks and sausages, and I grilled salmon and asparagus on the gas grill. I also made a tomato-rice-parmesan salad that I saw in Real Simple and couldn’t stop thinking about. And then there was cake (with a cupcake for Baguette) frosted in an unintentionally poi-like shade of purple.

As for the basic premise, I was totally on target. She had no idea why all those people were there, and passed out on her grandpa’s shoulder for most of the party. But I can’t blame her. Turning one is hard work.

Assorted Thoughts

This is a weekend of dinners with friends. One was here (love the potlucks–even with a small group, it halves the work) and one is out (love eating at someone else’s house–it removes the work). Last night’s meal: steak and fusilli tossed with spinach, olives, and grilled asparagus. Oh, and a cupcake array from Dots in Pasadena. Let me tell you, those are some good cupcakes.

Our dog hates her car carrier. I think we’ll replace it with a dog booster seat that will let her see what’s going on and won’t make her feel confined. Just typing “dog booster seat” feels a little ridiculous, though. I started small, by buying her a harness to keep her safely in the booster seat. She seems to like it; I hope it fits right.

People keep telling me that I don’t look that big. That’s nice, but let me tell you, I feel tremendously pregnant. Changing positions has become a surprisingly difficult undertaking. Thank goodness our couch is so comfortable, since that’s where I’m spending an awful lot of my days lately!

And it has turned out to be a really gorgeous day in the San Fernando Valley.

Feasting in Chicago

A week ago, Mr. Sandwich and I headed out for a long weekend in Chicago. As it turned out, getting there felt longer than the weekend. Why? Because there were tremendous thunderstorms in Chicago, leading to a series of ground stops and, for us, an ELEVEN HOUR LAYOVER in Phoenix.

But we finally made it to O’Hare, and, at 3 a.m., to our hotel room. After a late breakfast at the Silver Stallion (sounds like a strip club, but actually home to very nice breakfasts), we spent Saturday evening and much of Sunday with family (the purpose for our trip was a 50th anniversary party, which was a terrific event). And then Sunday evening we drove into Chicago itself to have dinner at the Chicago Chop House. Dark, wood-paneled, lined with photos from the city’s history (we ate under the gaze of Ada and Minna Everleigh, Chicago’s most famous madams)–the Chop House had just the atmosphere we were looking for. It also had just the steaks we were looking for. The evening was a tremendous splurge, but the dry-aged New York Strip was worth it–as were the Four Cheese Potatoes Au Gratin and the Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce.

One might think that such a meal would be more than enough for one evening, and one would be right (indeed, I was not interested in more food until about 2 p.m. the next day). But thanks to Facebook, I had discovered that one of my grad school friends, now living in Philadelphia, was also in town. So four of us met in downtown Chicago and walked up the Miraculous Mile to spend some time catching up at the Ghiradelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop. A tip: the Decadent Drinking Chocolate is aptly named. While we were sitting, I looked through the front window to see that across the street is Hershey’s Chicago. I wonder if sometimes the competition gets too fierce, leading to a chocolate rumble.

The next day, we took the L (El? “El”? So many options) into the city so that we could board the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s excellent river cruise (hint: wear sunscreen–a week later, I’m still burned between the knee and the hem of my shorts). From there, we headed south through the downtown and then west past the soon-to-be-renamed Sears Tower to Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant. This Chicago institution is open for breakfast and lunch, with great skillet egg dishes and donut holes. It’s also the starting point for historic Route 66.

That evening we met another friend and her children (the younger is my goddaughter) at Nancy’s Pizza in the suburb of Niles. The deep-dish Hawaiian pizza was excellent, and if I’d had a way to eat the leftovers, I’d have taken them. But we were scheduled on an early morning flight back to L.A., so we sent them home with our dinner companions instead.

So we met our goals: spending lots of time with family and friends, touring the city, and eating iconic local meals. However, even though it was directly across the street from our hotel, we did not get to eat at Mr. Pup. Maybe next time.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, a few photos in no particular order:

RockSugar

After a not terribly strenuous day of shopping, one of my friends and I wound up at RockSugar, a “Pan Asian Kitchen.”

What is Pan Asian, you ask? A bunch of stuff. The strongest influence on the menu was Thai, but there were other flavors in the mix. The decor (gorgeous colors accented by carving) was a blend of Thai and Indian, with a touch of Chinese thrown in.

We split two appetizers–Chicken Samosas and Bang Bang Chicken–and an order of green beans and asparagus in black bean sauce. I liked everything, although I’m not sure any one dish was particularly distinctive. Still, each dish was tasty, and I’d be open to a return visit. I’d also be open to dessert–there are several intriguing options.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. Mr. Sandwich’s parents are coming over, and here’s what we’re feeding them:

ham
creamed corn (recipe from Lawry’s)
roasted asparagus
cheesy potatoes
Triple Sec pound cake.

So what is everyone thankful for? I’m thankful for friends and family, and for our new home. Most of all I’m thankful, as I am every day, for Mr. Sandwich.

Happy Birthday to Me

It’s not my birthday. In fact, it’s nowhere near my birthday, which was in February. However, two of my friends gave me a gift card to Lawry’s. If you’re not familiar with Lawry’s, since the 1930s they’ve served prime rib with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and the restaurant’s Famous Original Spinning Bowl Salad. My family loves Lawry’s so much that a homemade version has become our annual Christmas tradition, although we’ve never tried to make the salad.

The salad is made by spinning a bowl in a larger bowl of ice, and the dressing is poured on in a continuous stream. The recipe includes canned beets, which I thought sounded horrible, but actually turned out to be a nice addition to the mix.

The prime rib is carved tableside, in a large steel cart that is wheeled around the restaurant. And unlike the beef I’m generally able to buy for our traditional Christmas dinner, the prime rib is actually prime–more tender and flavorful than most steaks you’re likely to encounter. We also ordered sides of asparagus with hollandaise sauce, and creamed corn. Christmas dinner features creamed spinach in place of those, but based on tonight, I may want to introduce creamed corn to the tradition.

One of the things I like about Lawry’s is that many traditional restaurants have male servers, as though somehow men are inherently classier than women. At Lawry’s, the servers are women–although the carvers, at least the ones we saw, were men. The service, by the way, was excellent. At the end of the meal, our server brought me a complimentary serving of the restaurant’s trifle (what’s a traditional English dinner without trifle, after all?).

So in the end, what does it matter when my birthday really is? This would be a welcome gift at any time.