October 21, 2010

Fall Fashion Color

It's been a while since I've posted.  Quite honestly, I've been in the middle of a huge writing project!  Someday, hopefully, great news about The Great American Novel by yours truly will be posted here on Gorgeous Bits.

In the meantime, thank you for your emails asking where I've been lately... it makes me feel well loved (and missed!)

I'll be getting back to more posts soon, but in the meantime, enjoy this piece of eye candy from a fabulous fashion blog, Garance Dore.  I'm daydreaming about a bright, colorful, up-beat fall wardrobe.

If I had endless piles of money, I'd buy every single pair of these in every single color.

Happy Fall Kittens!  

October 7, 2010

Classic Cassoulet

cassoulet, originally uploaded by Sam Turner.
This may be one of the worst dishes to photograph... all gloppy and stewed looking with unexciting beige-y colors. But man O man. It is divine in terms of how it makes the house smell on a crisp weekened day and it will lure people to your home, kitchen and table like nobodies business.

Yummy oven-crisped garlic bread served on the side to scoop up the soupy bits would be perfect too.

I'm throwing down the gauntlett this weekend with my favorite classic French cooks-all-day recipe, but if anyone cares to engage in a Cassoulet Off with me, please plan your recipe, create and photograph it then email me the results. 
I can't wait to find out which ones are best. And this weather SCREAMS for it darlings.

Any ideas for an apple dessert?

Smoked Sausage Cassoulet (or apple chicken sausage is good too)
Just plan to make a day ahead for the best flavor...

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 pounds assorted fully cooked smoked sausages (such as kielbasa and andouille)

  • 4 large leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 medium apple, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes with roasted garlic in juice
  • 3 15-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
  • 1 cup (or more) canned chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 4 cups diced country-style bread
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium heat. Add sausages; sauté until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to plate and cut into 1/2-inch rounds.
Add leeks and garlic to same pot. Sauté until beginning to soften, about 8 minutes. Mix in apple, rosemary and sage. Add brandy and simmer until almost evaporated, about 5 minutes. Mix in canned tomatoes with juices, canned beans with 1/2 cup reserved liquid, lima beans, 1 cup broth, tomato paste and cloves. Add sausages. Season with pepper.
Bring cassoulet to boil. Cover pot and transfer to preheated oven; bake 30 minutes. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Uncover; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until cold; cover and keep refrigerated. Before continuing, rewarm in covered pot in 350°F. oven 40 minutes, adding more broth if dry.)
Heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add bread and sauté until golden brown, stirring often, about 25 minutes. Combine fresh tomatoes and parsley in large bowl; mix in bread. Season topping with salt and pepper. Spoon onto warm cassoulet. Bake uncovered 15 minutes longer.

{Recipe found on Epicurious.com.  It's hands down the best one I've tried!}

October 4, 2010

Love is Like Salt

The Chef's at Oregon Culinary Institute have a terrific little experiment they do with the students in Term 1 in regards to teaching them about the importance of salt. 

To be specific, what can just the right AMOUNT of salt do to a dish?

First, the chef's create five batches of perfectly pure cream of potato soup.
Next, they season or salt each one a little differently...

the first batch, no salt = no flavor.  VERY bland.
the second batch, just a tiny bit of salt.  Slightly better, but not enough seasoning to bring out the true    flavor.
the third batch... just the right amount.  The flavor of the potato is bright, vibrant, full of it's own potent possibility.
the fourth batch, a little too much salt.  Slightly overwhelmed with salt, the soup is a mere a shadow of itself.
the fifth batch, WAY too much salt.  The potato is rendered invisible.

I think love is sort of like that.

If you are in a relationship let's say, and there is no "true love", it is boring.  Not passionate.  Lack luster.
With a little love, a relationship can survive, but it doesn't really aspire to much.
Just the right amount, and love can bring out the best in two people...  you know, pretty much MAGNIFY the best traits in each person.
Too much... well, maybe there isn't such a thing as too much love.  But if there is, maybe a person can feel overwhelmed, lost, not themselves anymore.

So there you have it.  My opinion.  My rambling of the day.

Worth it's salt?

October 3, 2010

Sunday at the waffle stand

Sunday at the waffle stand, originally uploaded by uncommonmuse.
Oh yum.

A huge benefit to living in Portland is the fact that we have fast and easy access to the most phenomenal street food in the whole world. And I'm not just making that up. Truly. Check it out here

On Sunday mornings, when you crave a hot cup of coffee and a breakfast treat that is the crowning glory of all breakfast treats, you must head to North Portland, my neck of the woods, for a handful of delicious waffle-y love.

Flavour Cart is outstanding.

October 2, 2010

Demise of the Fruit Fly

IMG_2400, originally uploaded by uncommonmuse.
Every fall, it seems we have a tremendous problem with these wispy, annoying, tiny pests.
I swat at them helplessly as they bombard not only the freshly picked late-season fruit, lusciously crisp apples and fading garden tomatoes adorning my kitchen counters, but they are constantly dive-bombing into unsuspecting glasses of wine.

A fan-tabulous and old-timey solution my Grandmother Gi Gi used to keep the little buggers from taking over her compost bucket (yes, she composted back in the day) was to fill a juice glass partway full of inexpensive red wine, (the less expensive kind, don't waste the good stuff of course) top the glass with tightly fitted Saran Wrap, then poke a few holes into the top of it. Then, just set it out and wait.

Within about 24 hours you'll have a virtual graveyard of pesky fruit flies floating around in your boozy trap.

...and don't feel too bad, my guess is they expired happily. With a tremendous last buzz. ; )

PS~ this photo was my attempt to show a somewhat attractive trap.  But the truth is, you'll really need to poke slightly larger holes in the Saran Wrap. The fruit fly guys will get in, but they'll be too disoriented and woozy to get out.
And that's a good word for the day: Woozy Fruit Fly.

October 1, 2010

The Laundry Room

retro 2, originally uploaded by linus_lohoff.

Emma snuggled her soft pink cheek into the crook of my neck.  I breathed in the familiar powdery scent of baby and covered her up with a soft blanket, still warm from the dryer.  I stood there for a moment, quietly rocking from side-to-side in the ancient mommy dance, shifting my weight from hip to hip in rhythm with the white noise lullaby of the dryer.  I stopped for a second to pull a faded yellow blanket from the dryer and draped it over her and tucked it around her sleeping body.

I was in the heart of our home.  The laundry room was warm and silent.  It smelled of fabric softener and faintly of spray starch, and, for some reason, I always felt completely safe here.  This was a housewife’s unofficial sacred space.  In this sanctuary, mothers transform dirty laundry to clean, neatly folded piles of clothing.  It is physical proof that we love our family, and we clothe them with that love.  Even our choice of detergent and stain remover is a declaration of love.  Almost magically, a mom can resurrect a favorite t-shirt seemingly ruined by stray drippings from a melting Popsicle.  

It was in this center of my home where I often found myself dancing my children to sleep, sneaking bites of fruit roll-ups by the handful, and every once in a while crying hidden behind the door, my sobs muffled by the spin cycle.  (If your husband thinks you are in the throes of a huge load of laundry, he will not interrupt).  It is the perfect escape.  Rearrange the piles of laundry just a little, and voila --

instant Mom Fort.

Today was my birthday and my wedding anniversary, and our house was a quiet safe-haven to celebrate the milestone of our 14 years of marriage.

            There was a knock at the door.  I stopped moving and strained my ears to listen for my husband’s footsteps.  Deciding that I didn’t hear any, I stepped out into the living room and glanced at the kitchen wall clock.  9:35 PM.  As I made my way to the door, still holding Emma, I ran through a quick list of people that it could be, but couldn’t arrive at any likely candidates. 

As I approached the glass-paneled front door, I could see that the front porch light threw a yellowish glare onto the grave faces of two police officers as they stood motionless on the other side of the door. 

Little did I know, my safe suburban refuge was about to be demolished.

{from the journal entries writing project}