All posts by leahklein

As far back as I can remember, I would wake up from my nap time to the smell and sounds of something cooking in the kitchen. I would stumble out of my bed and slowly make my way to the kitchen. My mom would be there chopping, stirring, mixing, or washing. I would rub my eyes take a deep breath and eventually be awake enough to either taste something she was chopping or ask to help out.
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Dine out with Chef Renee Erickson at Row 34

This came through my inbox just now and if I were here tomorrow night I would go in a heartbeat. I love Row 34 and would to get to know more about Chef Erickson.

Tomorrow, Chef Renee Erickson of Seattle’s The Walrus and the Carpenter. Head over to Row 34 Thursday, October 23rd.

Guests are invited to visit Row 34 for a special appearance by Chef Renee Erickson. During her one-night stage, she’ll be cooking dishes from her newly released cookbook, A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus, giving west coast seafood enthusiasts a taste of her favorite flavors and recipes. Her dishes will be available a la carte in addition to Row 34’s full dinner menu, with Chef Erickson joining Chef Sewall to shuck oysters, sign and sell books and mingle with guests throughout the evening.

Menu items for the evening will include:
— Boquerones toasts with butter, fresh horseradish, ikura
— Dungeness Crab Melt with tarragon mayonnaise, cheddar
— Mussels in Cider with dijon, creme fraiche
— Pacific Octopus Salad with grilled beets, chermoula, shaved fennel

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Weekend Guide: Head of the Charles Regatta Edition October 18th-19th

Saturday and Sunday will be perfect for watching the Head of the Charles Regatta.  Bring a bike or stroll over to the banks of the Charles River to watch rowers from all over the world compete.

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Saturday, October 18th

This weekend is not only the Head of the Charles Regatta but it is also the Wellfleet OysterFest.

Shady Hill School Fair: fun, yard sale, fair, food.

A Capella Competition at Faneuil Hall Saturday & Sunday 12-4:00.

Donuts pop up at the Taco truck brick and mortar shop in Harvard Square thanks to Party of Two. Donuts not your thing? Try a trademark tart!

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Sean Collier Memorial weekend at Lyndell’s. Free coffee and breakfast as well as a raffle and delicious ways to contribute to the memorial fund.
Sneakers are not just shoes anymore.  There is a whole sneaker culture and dare I say “art”.  The Boston Sneaker Jam is at the Seaport World Trade Center  starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday and goes through the weekend.

Sunday, October 19th

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is doing a free performance at the Cambridge Public Library. Nielsen String Quartet No. 4 in F, Op.44 and Schubert String Quartet in A Minor, D.804, “Rosamunde”.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be the only fabulous grand gathering of the season.  Head over to Kirkland Tap & Trotter for Tony Maws’ version of a family gathering at the communal table.  Gather your crew crew, and family members after a day at the Charles River and gather around a table for a family-style dinner at the communal tables for $45pp (including wine). This is perfect opportunity to come in, break bread, and meet friends old and new. Dinner starts at 8pm. Reservations are requested, but not required.

At 7 p.m. on the Lawn on D in Boston hear some of the areas best story tellers present real life stories at Best of Boston’s Story Slam.

The Return of the Bow Tie: Alton Brown at hook+ALBERT

If you live in Cambridge, anywhere near Harvard University it may seem that the bow tie never went away.  The bow tie is always present at black tie affairs, but until recently it was a rare sighting outside formal affairs. The bow tie is a signature accessory for many Harvard University folks but as we found out, it is definitely not a requirement to know how to tie one if you attend the university.  Perhaps it is the metrosexual movement or perhaps it is just that rules are shifting and changing, but whatever the reason, I am loving the return of the bow tie.

We found this kind gentleman who was willing and able to show us how to tie a bow tie in the middle of Harvard Yard.
We found this kind gentleman who was willing and able to show us how to tie a bow tie in the middle of Harvard Yard.

In my family, the men appreciate their accessories almost as much as the women.  My father, a former professor and current researcher chooses the cravat as his preferred accessory.  My husband is a fan of the tie, cuff links and occasional pocket square.  My son, seems to be choosing the bow tie.  We like to dress up for celebrations and a few years ago my son had a major meltdown because the shoes I bought him were not fancy enough for Christmas.  Last year, he asked for a jacket and bow tie to wear for Christmas.  I also recall, after we had been invited to a Diwali party that he inquired whether I had a tux he could wear when he saw my daughter and I struggling to figure out how to put on our beautiful borrowed saris with the help of Pinterest guides and YouTube videos.

Alton Brown hook+ALBERT bow ties
As you can see, we haven’t quite perfected the knot, but we’ll get there in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is the Alton Brown at hook + ALBERT Midnight in Perry.

I was sent a bow tie for review, and what I love about the Alton Brown hook+ALBERT beyond the fabulous design names (mostly food related) are the fabrics they chose.  They are really nice, soft, fabrics, with a mix of materials from wool and silks to microfiber poly blends.  The patterns are playful yet the bow ties remain stylish.  If anyone is going to create a flawless line of bow ties it would have to be Alton Brown.  The bowties are made by and sold at hook +ALBERT and are made in a variety of styles: batwing, slim, and diamond.

  • Midnight in Perry – Batwing, navy and gray reversible plaid (SOLD OUT)
  • Roma Marinara – Batwing, orange solid with reversible moss florals
  • Old Fashion – Slim, maroon polka dot with neutral polka dot backing
  • Picnic in the Park – Diamond, olive gingham & reversible navy florals
  • I Meant Julep – Diamond, light blue chambray and light blue paisley
  • Sweet and Sour – Batwing, magenta solid with reversible navy plaid (SOLD OUT)

The pocket square are $45 and are cotton or silk.

  • Hail Caesar Salad – Silk blend square with floral detailing
  • Farm to Market – Brown, grass green and light blue plaid mix
  • Blueberry Compote – Matching set to the Midnight in Perry bow tie (SOLD OUT)

This is a perfect pairing of the food science, bow tie loving Alton Brown and the fashionable hook+Albert is as magical as a glass of Port with a sliver of gorgonzola.

The Alton Brown x hook + ALBERT collection is available at hookandalbert.com.

And once you choose the perfect bow tie, here is a great guide for how to tie it.

IMG_0952How nice will the Thanksgiving table look surrounded by both men and women wearing their best accessories?  I myself am a scarf wearer, but I am definitely tempted by these bow ties and pocket squares. If you’d like to read a little more about the bow tie, check out this Atlantic piece by John D. Spooner entitled: Bow Ties: Some rules of thumb for the neck.

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Make Puffed Rice at Home (Recipe * how to)

Isabelle and I were recently invited to the kickoff of Uncle Ben’s Ben’s Beginners cooking contest and we were inspired to try something a little different. I wondered if we could puff out own rice. There were a few resources online but not a ton. Here is how we did it. Isabelle then created a recipe for delicious granola bar bites..

We use rice often and I always make enough for leftovers. Usually I freeze the rice to be steamed for dinner in a pinch. This time we saved some to puff.

Homemade Puffed Rice
Ingredients:
2-3 cups of cooked rice

Line a cookie sheet or large pan with parchment paper. Put the cooked rice on the tray in a single layer. If you are rushed for time just let it dry out on the tray overnight and you can oven dry it the next day.

Preheat your oven to 250 – 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the rice in the oven for 1-2 hours until the rice is nice and dry.

Once the rice has been dried you can store it in a jar like popcorn ( I am not sure how long it will stay good but at least a couple of weeks). Pop the rice in a little vegetable oil as you would for popcorn. I suggest doing 3-4 tablespoons at a time just to get the feel for it. If you have a microwave popcorn popping bowl, this is my favourite way to pop the rice (and popcorn for that matter), pour in about a 1/4 cup of your dried cooked rice. Press your popcorn button on the microwave and then listen carefully. This is where you need to use your sense of hearing and smell. When you hear the quiet popping of the rice let it be but as you hear fewer pops get ready to stop it. You will smell the steam too which smells like cooked rice. You want to stop the popping and pour the popped rice onto a plate as you pull it out because it can char quickly and the popping bowl gets hot.

Use the rice for a delicious flavour and crunch on salad, in vegetable or rice dishes or for Isabelle’s puffed rice granola bars.

Vote for her recipe here and help us at a chance to win $15,000 (that could buy a lot of rice for a lot of families) and $30,000 for a school cafeteria makeover. You can vote daily.

Thank you for your support!

Fallen for Funghi: A Taste of Fall at Lineage

I fell for fungi a long time ago. As a child, I remember sitting by the counter in my mother’s kitchen carefully wiping down mushrooms with a damp paper towel until the were spotless and ready to be stuffed. When I was a bit older, we lived in France and I remember collecting mushrooms in the mountains, clearings filled with Chanterelles that we them devoured for lunch. My father is passionate about mushrooms and his love for mushrooms was definitely passed on to me.

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This week, Lineage is celebrating the mushroom in all it’s wonderful glory. A variety of mushrooms will be paired with Pinots that have been carefully chosen by Chef de Cuisine Rich Morin and General Manager and Beverage Director Amy Audette.

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Specials include dishes with Confit Local Chicken Mushrooms and Oak Roasted Matsutake Mushrooms, as well as Mousseron Mushrooms and Maine Lobster Gnocchi, among others.

Audette will be highlighting a variety of Pinots, with wine tastes, glasses and bottles ranging in price from $6 to $22, including:
’12 Dominio IV “Love Lies Bleeding,” Willamette, OR
’12 Patricia Green “Estate Old Vine,” Ribbon Ridge, OR
’11 B. Kosuge “The Shop,” Carneros, CA
’11 Walter Hansel “Cahill Lane,” Russian River, CA
’10 Francois Lumpp “Crausot,” Givry 1er Cru, Burgundy, FRA
’11 Domaine Chandon de Briailles, Pernand-Vergelesses 1er Cru, Burgundy, FRA

Lineage is located at 242 Harvard St in Brookline, MA. The Mushroom and Pinot week begins Monday, October 13th.

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Slow Down to Speed Up

Sometimes, I need to remind myself to slow down to get things done. It takes some effort because it’s counter intuitive. It reminds me a bit of Driver’s Ed and learning to drive in the mud. Our teacher would have us speed up as much as we could and then when we hit he mud, he’d slam in the brakes. I think it was to teach us about how the anti-lock brakes work, but also how a car will react to those wet muddy road conditions. When you slam on the brakes all the power you have left in controlling the car is to steer. You can’t control how fast things are coming at you, you can’t control what you see and what you miss in split seconds, and you can’t control the car aside from steering it a little to the left or a little to the right.
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So, this morning as I sit by the sizzle of the fryer, I’m taking my foot of the pedal. Instead of racing full speed ahead to do errands by sitting in my car going through emails in the 10 minutes before the store opens so I can replenish items in the medicine cabinet and pantry before going home to do work, prepare for a weekend of activities, and catch up on bills, emails, chores.

I am here taking what might be an extra 20 minutes drinking coffee and planning out my day.

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Sometimes I need more convincing than others that I need to slow down. I used to get suck for months on end and then I realized if I just slowed down earlier I would not get so sick and lose months of time and energy at once. It’s all about efficiency for me. So now I find myself spinning my wheels some days. I have so much to do and no focus. I get lost in my work and not in a good way. In a way like those moments when you are driving and you look outside and think, “Where on earth am I and where am I going?”

I have a new app that has reminded me to slow down. It’s not some new age-y, hippie meditation app (I’ll get there some day but I need baby steps folks) , it just tells me to take a moment and plan my week or day. Any.do also let’s me know in the morning what my day looks like.

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If you work in an office maybe planning your day is second nature, company-wide practice, a ‘but of course’ thing. For me, an accidental freelancer I need reminders to plan, look at the big picture and prioritize my time.

How do you keep your life efficient?

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Small Changes: Family Life Ever Evolving

Small changes is a theme of parenthood.  From the newborn days when you spend days trying to parent perfectly only to find out that once you have found your stride something changes to the constant changes of routines and schedules of school-aged sports playing children.

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Last year, I wrote about a change in routine of walking to school.  This fall, I’m working on the extra screen time that has been creeping into our schedules.  The children are early risers (as in sometimes before 6 a.m.) so starting the day with a tv show was a routine that we fell into because it bought us all time to start our days at our own speed.  With computer games, and time running away from us, one  30 minute tv show has turned into two or three times that on any given morning.  Then again, in the afternoon as I was making dinner somehow extra screen time wriggled into the schedule again. In addition, I don’t think screen time is the best way to start the day. Last year, we did no screen time in the afternoon because they had it in the morning but again, after homework and activities somehow screens made their way back on.

Last week, I prepared the kids for a change.  I mentioned that we are shifting routines to start our day without screen time.  There were fears, there were tears, there were negotiations, and there were tweaks.  There will be tweaks as we go.  I started the week with no morning screen time on a Thursday to ease into it.  Weekends are more flexible.  Yesterday, as I picked up pretzels and frozen vegetables to do a quick re-stock in the house, I also picked up an activity that I thought the kids might enjoy doing together in the morning.  Crayola to the rescue!  I got the new Crayola kit where kids get to create their own marker colors.  It was pretty cool!

The best thing about this morning is that we were all ready early, so we walked and rode scooters to school.  While I was packing lunch, my little guy, who is usually running around telling everyone to hurry up because we’ll be late said, “This is so great, we have so much time and we can even help get things ready.” Wait what?!  Not only did my heart melt, but I actually had two kids in the kitchen willing to help out.  Isabelle packed her own snack, and Henry packed up the bags.

I am no fool.  I know this is the honeymoon period and we’ll be back to tears, fears, negotiations, and “You are the meanest mom in the world”s, but for now I’m going to take it and run with it.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve for those rougher mornings.  I’ll keep you posted as we continue along with this and other little changes.

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The Applegate Upgrade: Pre-packaged meals that don’t make me cringe

Even stay-at-home/work-from-home parent can feel the crunch of the back to school and back to everything else schedule. In a way, as a freelancer, the luxury of a flexible schedule allows me to be less efficient which is a bit of a catch 22 when time is of the essence.

Because we still have our fabulous Lindentree farm share through the end of October, Tuesdays take us on a bit of a wild goose chase up to the farm in Lincoln, back home to Cambridge for a quick change and then into Boston for ballet class, then home by 8:45 or 9:00 p.m., about 11 hours after we originally left the house in the morning.

This schedule means that we are basically on the go from pick up to bedtime on Tuesdays. When I plan ahead, I put some rice in the rice cooker midday and I prep some vegetables from the farm as I put our farm haul away.

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Isabelle does her homework in the hammock at the farm while I collect our share and head out into the field to harvest whatever is “pick-your-own” that week. Then, we head home to put it all away, make dinner to-go, change, put up hair into a bun, and head into Boston.

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Some weeks, traffic is a little slow, or homework needs a little extra help, and dinner to-go just can’t happen.

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The bun is done but the thermos is empty. This week, Applegate sent us some HALF-TIME packs to sample and Isabelle asked to try one for her dinner. So, we swapped out the thermos for an Applegate HALF-TIME pack. I made a quick salad for myself and to supplement the boxed lunch and Isabelle chose the Turkey HALF-TIME pack.

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It was such a treat to just grab it and go and not worry about trying to get to South End Buttery before they closed (they close before ballet gets out) thus losing some of my work time which I treasure while Isabelle is in class.  The other option has been to grab dinner after but with a class ending that late every minute we wait for take-out or a restaurant dinner is extra money out of our wallets and extra time on the clock pushing bedtime later and later.  On Tuesdays, time is definitely of the essence.

Isabelle enjoyed her dinner.  She is not a huge American cheese fan, but she ate some of the cheese (sub in cheddar Applegate and she’ll be happy camper), she enjoyed the turkey and crackers and yoghurt, and a few gummy bears for a treat were perfect.  It was easy to prep a few vegetables to round out the meal and I felt like she had a pretty balanced quick supper.

Enter to win your own Applegate HALF-TIME kit here.

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The Sacred Cod’s Roasted Beet and Baby Kale Salad (Recipe)

On Tuesdays we head out to the Lindentree Farm in Lincoln to pick up our weekly farm share. This time of year, we are treated with an abundance of raspberries, some nice alliums and of course plenty of beets and kale. Over on the Cape, the Chatham Bars Inn, which has an 8 acre farm of their own is also harvesting plenty of beets and kale. Chef Caleb Lara of the Inn’s own Sacred Cod restaurant shares this delectable recipe for a a roasted beet and kale salad highlighting these treats from the fall harvest.

Chef Lara's Roasted Beet and Baby Kale Salad from the Chatham Bars Inn's Sacred Cod Restaurant.  Photo Courtesy of the Chatham Bars Inn
Chef Lara’s Roasted Beet and Baby Kale Salad from the Chatham Bars Inn’s Sacred Cod Restaurant. Photo Courtesy of the Chatham Bars Inn

Roasted Beet and Baby Kale Salad  

(Yields: 6 portions)

Ingredients:

  • 8 Baby Red Beets
  • 8 Baby Yellow Beets
  • 2 lbs. Baby Kale
  • 2 cups Maple Vinaigrette
  • Croutons (French Baguette)
  • ½ lb. Great Hill Blue Cheese
  • Canola Oil, as needed
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Baby Red and Yellow Beets:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Remove tops from the beets and wash
  3. Keep the red and yellow beets separate, through the rest of the process
  4. Toss the beets with a small coating of vegetable oil in mixing bowls
  5. Season with salt and pepper
  6. Lay flat onto a baking sheets and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes
  7. The size of the beets will determine the length in cooking time
  8. To test if they are done, insert a small paring knife in the center
  9. If the knife releases with no resistance they are finished cooking
  10. Peel beets while still hot using a kitchen towel
  11. Once clean, cut into wedges and reserve

Maple Vinaigrette:

  • 2 tsp minced Shallot
  • ½ tsp minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp. Grain Mustard
  • 5 tbsp. Champagne Vinegar
  • 8 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 8 tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 5 tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients except oil
  2. Secure bowl and slowly whisk in the oil, season to taste

 

Croutons (French Baguette)

  1. Cut the baguette into thin pieces on a bias
  2. Arrange on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper
  3. Bake until crispy in a 350 degree oven

 

To compose the salad:

  1. Arrange the beets on each plate in a natural fashion to liking.
  2. In a mixing bowl add the baby kale and dress lightly with the maple vinaigrette as well as salt and pepper to season.
  3. Toss the kale green to coat with the vinaigrette
  4. Arrange in a mound on each plate.
  5. Top each salad with croutons
  6. Crumble the blue cheese into small bite size pieces and top each salad

The Sacred Cod is located at The Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod in Chatham, MA.

Design: From Gallery to Fashion to Food

I admit I am not really sure how someone has a “good eye” or an eye for design.  I think some of it is based on experience but in part it must just be something you are born with.  It is also could be just what some individuals notice and others don’t see.  This summer I had a chance to stop by Lauren Brooks’ Crudité Creations kitchen/studio where she designs and creates bouquets of crudités for small family events, large corporate gatherings, and  just “thinking of you” deliveries.

Growing up, Lauren remembers seeing her mother set up openings in her art gallery.  She would help her mom set out displays of finger foods to accompany each opening.  In a gallery, every detail matters. This was one of several stepping stones that led Lauren to her passion, creating art out of food.

DSC_1178Lauren gave us a peek into the process of what it takes to create one of these crispy, crunchy, fresh and healthy works of edible art.  It is part design, part food styling, and party knowing a lot about the produce she is working with.

Professionally, Lauren went from galleries to design and became a fashion buyer.  Yet another creative position where an eye for design and style matters.

DSC_1158I love a crunchy crisp vegetable as is.  Adding in fun shapes and cutting them into bite size pieces makes it even more enjoyable.  The icing on the cake, however, is adding in a few dips.

Lauren spent several years in Israel where her husband played professional basketball and it was those years that must have influenced her hummus because I have had a lot of hummus in my life and this one is top notch!  In addition to hummus, Crudité Creations has a ranch dip, caramelized onion dip, and white bean dip.DSC_1180What we also learned by spending time with Lauren is that creating a bouquet is no simple task.  Between prep, design, and completion each bouquet takes a long time to create.  On the other hand, watching children devour a bunch of crudité with relish in minutes is totally worth it. I think this is  a great gift idea for new parents, a treat for the Teacher’s Lounge, and the perfect pre-trick-or-treating treat to serve at a Halloween Party.  Crudité Creations is based out of Newton, MA and can be ordered online here.