I find it somewhat annoying when people start out their blogs with an apology or exclamation about it having been so long since they blogged, but I am now finding it hard to resist the urge to type, "Wow! I haven't blogged in over a month! I don't really know what happened!"

So. There's that.

I decided last night that a criterion I would like to look for in a new apartment is some expanse of counter that is wider than my cutting board. I've cooked a lot lately, including some semi-fancy meals that required a lot of ingredients and bowls and such, and it's tough in a small kitchen! I very quickly run out of space to put things, like spoons, vegetable peeling refuse, and, oh, you know, cooling racks. Thus, I often end up using the stove as a counter-extension, which has led to more than one melted plastic mishap. But what's a girl to do?! I know apartment kitchens are notoriously small, so I'm not holding my breath, and I won't turn down a great apartment just because it also has a small kitchen, but I can sure dream. And measure.

That said, it's been a great cooking week (you know, since the kitchen, in all its postage stamp-ness, is my happy place). Sorry there aren't any pictures--I wasn't necessarily intending to put all of this in a blog post. Thursday it snowed AGAIN, so I did not go into work in the morning, and I decided to start preparing for our Valentine's feast Saturday night. I made parmesan-basil muffins from plainchicken.blogspot.com. I love her recipes. They smelled fabulous, but once we actually ate them, I wasn't blown away. My thoughts are that they either needed less beating, or that they really needed to have been eaten fresh. I can't help the beating--I just feel so powerful when I'm wielding the electric mixer!

Friday night Hubby and I made a cheesecake together. It's actually really easy! The hardest part is smashing the graham crackers, but luckily I had this wooden smusher thing that my mom gave me for Christmas. I think it is meant for garlic, but it worked very well on the graham crackers. I used the Better Homes and Garden classic cheesecake recipe, which was great...I just recommend if you make it that you immediately wipe from your mind the amount of butter and cream cheese that's in it so you can best enjoy your dessert. ;-)

Our "feast" on Saturday included pan-seared strip steak with shallot-wine pan sauce (from Bon Appettit), muffin pan potato gratins (again from Plain Chicken), green beans almondine, and the aforementioned muffins. We had the cheesecake for dessert, with strawberries and shaved dark chocolate. My mom also gave us a microplane grater for Christmas, which I didn't think I would use much, but I have been LOVING it. It makes beautiful parmesan cheese. I spent a fair amount of money on the groceries for the meal, but still not as much as if we had eaten out. And since Hubby isn't crazy about fancy restaurants, I'd say we enjoyed it more than we would have at a restaurant! So it was win-win.

Sunday I baked a ham that I had gotten on super sale some time after either Thanksgiving or Christmas. The one at Thanksgiving worked so well and yielded so many meals that I decided it was definitely worth it. It's been chillin' (ha ha) in the freezer taking up space ever since I bought it, so it was nice to finally remember to take it out in time for it to thaw and to have a free afternoon to get it cooked. We ate some with leftover potatoes and green beans on Monday, and then last night I made an impromptu pasta carbonara. (We conveniently had leftover heavy cream from the Valentine's potatoes.) I mostly followed Rachael Ray's recipe, though I left out the wine and added peas to Americanize it and because I wanted to. Her tip about adding hot pasta water to the eggs so they wouldn't scramble seemed unique to me, and worked very well. It was so delicious--I would definitely try this again. Plus we made it with whole-wheat pasta, so it was totally healthy.

Okay. Well, it sure seems like all I ever do is cook and eat! I'll have to start paying attention to my life and finding other fodder for my blog. :-)

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman