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Butternut squash soup, May 2010

I’m not a very nostalgic person. I’d rather live in the present instead of remember that, for example, I used to sport two-tiered bangs and braces.

However, sometimes it’s fun to look back at the past to see how far you’ve come.

Butternut squash soup, July 2008

In the spirit of arosko’s upcoming two-year birthday, we thought we’d recreate the first meal we ever blogged about, but this time with two years of photography and culinary experience under our belt.

 Insalata caprese, May 2010 

Insalata caprese, July 2008

The old post was always a bit of a sore spot for me, kind of like looking at photos of my early 90s self. But looking back on it now, it’s an invaluable measure of our progress.

It’s hard to realize how much you’ve grown without tangible evidence. Since the last post, we’ve acquired not one but two new cameras and photographed dozens of meals (our guests have graciously stared at their food as we snap away).

 Crab cakes with tarragon and lemon peas, May 2010 

Crab cakes with tarragon and lemon peas, July 2008

We’ve also gained a fair amount of culinary knowledge from our voracious appetite for experimenting. Two years ago I’d never heard of a zester, had the gall to serve dried basil on insalata caprese, and substituted fake crab in a dish where it was the featured ingredient.

 Rhubarb compote, May 2010 

Rhubarb compote, July 2008 

My natural tendency is to be embarrassed, but this time, I’m more encouraged than anything. It’s kind of fun to look back and realize how much you’ve learned.

…which I’m sure this post can accomplish for arosko in 2012 :)

~Sonja

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My mom used to worry about my ability to survive once I was out of the house. Since even Easy Mac challenged my culinary skills, it was a pretty valid concern.

As time has gone along, I’ve gone from eating Hot Pockets every night (yes, I’m serious) to loving the art of cooking natural, nutritious food.

Even though my mom was far away in Minnesota this Mother’s Day, I hope she’d be proud that after years of avoiding the kitchen, I managed a Mother’s Day brunch for my in-laws. (Someday I’ll make one for you too, Mom!)

My favorite recipe of the day for homemade granola (see below). Try it on plain yogurt flavored with a little honey and vanilla.

Happy Mother’s Day!
~Sonja

Homemade Granola
Adapted from Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

1. In a large bowl, mix together 4 cups oatmeal, 2 cups slivered almonds, and 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut.

2. In a small bowl, whisk 2/3 cup vegetable oil and 1/2 cup honey. Pour over oat mixture and stir with wooden spoon to combine.

3. Spread onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 350°F, stirring occasionally, until mixture is golden brown, about 45 minutes (mine got a tad burnt by 45 minutes, so make sure to adjust for your oven accordingly).

4. Remove from oven and let cool, stirring occasionally.

5. Add dried fruit to the cooled mixture – I used 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chopped dates. Store in air-tight container.

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Failure makes success all the sweeter. If last year’s garden effort didn’t have the disappointments it did, how would I know that this square foot gardening thing was the best thing since sliced…radishes?

I have been blown away at how easy it is to grow produce using the square foot method. And it tastes just as good as it looks!

It’s so cool to have beautiful spinach leaves waiting for my salad bowl when I get home. And sweet redemption when I bite into a radish that doesn’t totally clear out my sinuses.

I’m sure this year will have it’s challenges, but I’m looking forward to the ride as the season progresses!

~Sonja

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We love travelling, but it’s always good to be home. This weekend’s visit from my parents was a welcome contrast the bustle of a European vacation…as well as a good excuse to try out some recipes!

My parents graciously let us experiment on them, including with this farro and roasted vegetable salad.

We love this recipe, which is extremely tasty and very versatile! (You can easily substitute your own choices for the roasted veggies, grain, and cheese to customize it.)

Of course we made sure to include our old standby (with newly improved techniques).

And this recipe for tempeh reubens has become our new favorite sandwich (starring tempeh, the soy product you just must give a chance).

The rhubarb ginger crisp recipe found here also was a hit (and convinced me to buy the book).
We had a ball laughing at Luna’s hijinks and playing a fun new trivia game.

Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!

~Sonja

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Q: Do the French really eat lots of baguettes and croissants?

A: Yes!  Every day we saw Parisians lining up to get their daily baguettes and pastries. At 85 Euro cents, how can you go wrong?

Q: Were French people mean?

A: Not at all! All the people we encountered were pleasant and polite.

Q: What did you do while you were stuck in Paris because of Eyjauosifsdfkjdfkj?

A: Cried.

OK, we actually relaxed in some parks, walked around the city, and even took a day trip to a cute town called Chartres outside of Paris to see the cathedral.

Q: What were your favorite Parisian food items?

A: Everything!  Notable were a delicious lentil soup, falafel, and a savory tart that I wasn’t able to catch on film because I ate it too fast. And the baguette sandwiches were pretty darn satisfying.

Q: How many photos did you take?

A: Around 4200!  We had a hard time whittling them down to 200.

Anything I missed? Drop us a comment :)

~Sonja

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I went to Paris expecting the Louvre to be a highlight of the trip. It didn’t let me down.
In a city of museums, the Louvre stands out as a fantastic institution.

We made two trips, yet I feel like we only scratched the surface of the collections!
The museum had it all: art, history, art history, and historic art.

The building itself was magnificent. It was pieced together over centuries as the home of the French monarchy before being converted to a museum after the revolution. It was really a perfect exhibition space.

The Mona Lisa was mobbed dozens of camera wielding tourists, pressed up against a barrier. We were surprised by just how impressed we were with the most famous painting in the world .

It is a beautiful and mysterious – and we ended up passing by several times for “just one more look”.

The breadth of history that the Louvre engulfs is just amazing. How wonderful to be able to admire a Greek masterpiece – and then turn a corner and compare it to a beautiful renaissance Michelangelo mirroring the style and skill that he rediscovered. 
 

Despite the enormity of the museum, the Louvre was well curated and perfectly accessible. After leaving the museum on our second visit, we were able to just hang out in the courtyard and try to absorb all that we had just experienced.

Hopefully we’ll be able to go back sometime in the future!

~Alex

 

I didn’t even mention the massive Egyptian and Mesopotamian collections. Nor the lavish Napoleon III apartments. I didn’t even speak of the giant French paintings. And I forgot to share about the great medieval moat. The huge reliefs from the Palace of Sargon II were amazing. Hammurabi’s code was fascinating. The pyramid entrance by I.M. Pei was beautiful. And the facade of the museum was beautiful as well. And just huge. Just sitting there in the middle of a bustling city, waiting to share it’s treasures with the world. I really liked the louvre, can you tell?

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We contacted the dog whisperer about Luna’s anger management issues. He suggested a therapeutic restaging of the incident.

I’m not sure that it worked.

~ Alex

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I used to be a Paris-snob snob.

Overrated, I thought. How could Paris be as great as all those people who LOVE Paris say it is?

I figured I’d never visit the city.

Until very recently, when Julia Child and some dear friends got me thinking that if they loved Paris, maybe it had some things to offer.

Like, possibly, the best museum in the world?

 The Louvre

Or amazing architecture?

 Notre Dame

Or beautiful parks?

 Place de Vosges

Or fine cafes?

 CafĂ© Delmas‎

We had an amazing time on our one-week-turned-two escapade in Paris, especially loving the history, food, architecture and people of this city we’ve come to know.

Now Paris isn’t just the city other people love.

~Sonja

Stay tuned for more! If you’re interested, see the full set of Paris pics.