Saturday, November 24, 2012

Post-Thanksgiving All Girl Vegetarian Extravaganza

I'm a compulsive planner, but I also enjoy a last minute get-together. With no plans for Friday night and not having cooked much because Liz and I had Thanksgiving dinner with Judith and Michael Foltz and their extended family, I decided to put together the Post-Thanksgiving All Girl Vegetarian Extravaganza with daughters Liz and Laura and Laura's friends Kelly, Lisa, and Cheri. There's nothing like a group of women and some festive beverages to make the kitchen a merry place--and raise the noise level.

Left to right: Liz, Kelly, Lisa, Cheri, and Laura.

Every guest brought a bottle of red wine, but we started with Rosemary Pomegranate Royales.

These are a delicious concoction of rosemary-infused simple syrup, pomegranate juice, prosecco, pomegranate seeds, and a rosemary garnish. Following the cocktail hour, we opened some wine and hit the buffet.

Cornbread dressing and port-tangerine cranberry sauce. The Tofurkey is a prop. We are not fans of most faux meats.

Carrot souffle, a longtime family favorite, takes 2 pounds of healthy carrots and, with the addition of milk, eggs, and cheddar cheese, turns them into something decadent.

Who doesn't love red potatoes roasted with olive oil and rosemary?

The secret to the baked spinach and artichoke hearts is the bechamel sauce and two bags of baby spinach wilted in olive oil and minced garlic..

What's Thanksgiving without deviled eggs?

Or cheese biscuits?

We lingered at the table before bringing in the dessert: Spicy pumpkin trifle. I was inspired by a recipe I found for gingerbread pumpkin trifle, but I made lots of changes, including swapping spice cake for the gingerbread. I like trying experiments out on guests--you get lots of opinions that way.

Here's the side view:

And the top view:

Our family has a favorite summer strawberry trifle. Now we have a favorite winter trifle. This one's a keeper!

A Post-Thanksgiving All Girl Vegetarian Extravaganza--That's what we're having.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Pear

Last night we had a little party at Kendrick Place to celebrate the life of our pear tree. It stood along the fence row between Kendrick Place and the Masonic Temple. We've long speculated how it came to be there. Who plants a pear tree in the middle of the city? My favorite explanation is that it's a remnant from the farmland that was here before the city expanded.

The tree had developed both blight and canker--and on the recommendation of the experts at Cortese Tree Specialists, who had tried in vain to save it, the decision was made to take it down. Here's how it looked in full bloom this spring. Pretty, isn't it?

I was too busy pouring pear bellinis for the party guests to take any photos last night, but when men with chain saws and a wood chipper arrived early this morning. I was ready. Here's the view from the bedroom window. That speck of blue up in the tree is the guy from Cortese whose job it was to climb the tree and start sawing off the top branches.

With the branches gone, you can see the guy a little more.

At the end of the courtyard, a big wood chipper waited.

All gone--except for the stump.

Heard the expression "rotten to the core"? That's a pretty good description of this tree's core, which they handed me as a souvenir.

Here's a close-up view of the core.

Speaking of souvenirs--some of us decided last night that we wanted a slice of the trunk. I am not exactly sure how we will use these, but the guys were nice about honoring our request. Here's one of the guys doing the slicing.

My neighbor Mary Holbrook, who joined me in witnessing the take-down, started stacking the slices.

Ultimately, we stacked them on our stoop--while we decide what to do with them. The rings were too indistinct for anyone to gauge the age of the trees, but we were told that when they are sanded a bit, we might be able to see the rings.

Here's the new view from the bedroom window. No pear tree.

There was one final surprise. A pear! This was a big surprise because there were very few pears this year

Now, back to thinking about what to do with the pear tree slices...Suggestions welcome!!!

A chain saw and wood chipper kind of morning. That's what we're having.