31 August 2011

Officially Ours

It's official.  We are closing on our new house today, which means I am one step closer to being a little more settled. I've missed being in this space and have so much to share with you. 

On a side note; Any cat owners out there?  I'm searching for suggestions on how to keep the stress level to a minimum during the move. 

26 August 2011

Summer Vegetable Gratin

image by WiGal at food.com
As you can tell there has not been a lot of posting happening over here at Indigo 26.  We are right in the middle of a fixing a water leak, fixing up a new house, selling and moving.  I thought July was going to be busy, but I was wrong.  Mostly becauase I didn't think it would really take two and half months to complete all of this.  We are hoping the official move will be next weekend, but the plans are very dynamic around here.  Thank you for sticking around for the few posts.  I'm hoping to be back regularly soon. 

With that said, I am completely missing the summer vegetable bounty.  The old kitchen is packed, and the new kitchen is not yet finished so our diet has consisted of sandwiches, salads, fruit, oatmeal, or nothing.  I am so ready to be settled and in the kitchen again.  This is a strange statement for me to make considering my family will tell you I'm allergic to cooking.  I do love wholesome food, and I have found that as I gracefully age, I am enjoying being in the kitchen more. 

So since I can't make this summer favorite from my farmers market bounty I thought I would at least share it with all of you.  And if you do decide to make it, send me photos so I can drool.  This is quite possibly the best gratin you will ever taste.  It's worth the extra effort.

Summer Vegetable Gratin

This recipe was originally published in the July 2008 edition of
Cook’s Illustrated
Serves 6-8 as a side

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 pound summer squash (yellow), ends trimmed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes (3 to 4 large), sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin pole to pole (about 3 cups)
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 large slice white sandwich bread, torn into quarters (I used homemade bread that I had previously frozen and then ran it through the food processer to make crumbs)

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
2 medium shallots, minced (about 1/4 cup)
optional: 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Brush 13- by 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon oil; set aside.

Toss zucchini and summer squash slices with 1 teaspoon salt in large bowl; transfer to colander set over bowl. Let stand until zucchini and squash release at least 3 tablespoons of liquid, about 45 minutes. Arrange slices on triple layer paper towels; cover with another triple layer paper towels. Firmly press each slice to remove as much liquid as possible.

Place tomato slices in single layer on double layer paper towels and sprinkle evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt; let stand 30 minutes. Place second double layer paper towels on top of tomatoes and press firmly to dry tomatoes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened and dark golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Set onions aside.

Combine garlic, 3 tablespoons oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and thyme in small bowl. In large bowl, toss zucchini and summer squash in half of oil mixture, then arrange in greased baking dish. Arrange caramelized onions in even layer over squash. Slightly overlap tomato slices in single layer on top of onions. Spoon remaining garlic-oil mixture evenly over tomatoes. Bake until vegetables are tender and tomatoes are starting to brown on edges, 40 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, process bread in food processor until finely ground, about 10 seconds. (You should have about 1 cup crumbs). Combine bread crumbs, remaining tablespoon oil, Parmesan, and shallots in medium bowl. Remove baking dish from oven and increase heat to 450 degrees. Sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly on top of tomatoes. Bake gratin until bubbling and cheese is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes before serving.

19 August 2011

Feeling the Love

we said vows. from Jeremy on Vimeo.

I don't typcially post videos but I couldn't help but smile when I saw this over on the Blue Carrot Blog this morning.  I'm feeling the love.  Enjoy your weekend. 

18 August 2011

The Fireman

Meet my brother.  One of the nicest guys I know.  He is a volunteer for the local fire department.  He and his family live in rural Nebraska in a village of 300ish people.  Recently, he invited me back for the annual village celebration.  A day full of family fun and local tradition. 

As he showed me around his neighborhood, there wasn't a single person he didn't know or speak to, and all I heard were good things.  "He is a hard worker.  Give you the shirt off his back.  I can always count on him..."  This should have come as no surprise to me because I've always known this about my brother, but it caught me off guard.  For as long as I can remember, people have been unkind to him.  Most thought he wouldn't amount to much, and for a while we only had each other.  He stuck up for me and I stuck up for him.  A bond I'm fairly certain is embedded so deep nothing will break it.  We are worlds apart, which makes our relationship uniquely strange.  I can only hear about the latest technological advances in farming for so long before I go bonkers and he has no desire to understand my life in the city, but we would do anything to protect each other.

Hearing others confirm the person I know as my brother makes me incredibly proud.  He has risen above the odds that were stacked against him and made the best life for himself that he knows how.  As a volunteer firefighter, he is willing to put his life on the line to save a neighbor or friend.  We had a conversation about this while I was there.  So many others in the village don't understand the importance of the service and don't always support it.  I'm not sure how you can turn away a person that would put their life on the line to protect yours and do it for free. 

In this moment my heart is full.  I had just lifted my nephew into the truck because he wanted to be a fireman like his daddy. 

I had a great visit and I walked away with something very important.  My brother helped me remember that despite what trouble life brings you, there has to be a time when you set aside your differences to help others, to be a good person, and accept others for who they are.  He has his flaws.  We all do, but at the end of the day he is still trying and that's all that matters.  To be a good man, a good father, a good citizen. 

Meet my brother.  The volunteer fireman.

17 August 2011

Sun Tea

I went home to Nebraska a few weeks ago.  It is a special treat when I actually get to visit my parents' home.  Typically they meet me wherever I happen to be.  As I took my coffee out to the back porch the first morning, I found a jar of tea already brewing.   

For as long as I can remember my mom has always made sun tea.  Every summer morning a new glass jar would be on the porch.  With all the change that takes place in our lives on a daily basis, it is comforting to know that some traditions remain constant.  Seeing this jar brought back so many memories of summers past.  It truly reminded me of my mother and home. 

Little things like this bring a sweetness to my life and I can't help but smile.  I wonder why I don't make sun tea every day.  Some practices, however simple, are worth saving.  It's never too late to start.  What do you think?

11 August 2011

Beauty in the Mess

What else can I say?  I'm a little stressed.  Our household is stressed.  In one home, boxes are piled high, the master bath has been torn apart, and the word clean is hard to define these days.  My cats are less than thrilled.  They wander around totally confused with the clutter.  We sit and stare at each other and wonder when it will all be over.  At the other house, there is dust in every single corner of the house.  Nothing is exempt: walls, inside of cabinets, window sills, screens.  It's all a mess.

Last week I had a major melt down.  Seeing no end in sight, I had convinced myself that I was done.  The planner in me is having a hard time with change and the lingering feeling of being unsettled.  A timeline usually helps with these emotions, but deadlines come and go and feel very dynamic.  There was a moment when I was about to put the new house on the market and unpack all the boxes.  I had reached my limit.

Then, I was reminded by cc (as she so frequently does), of all of our blessings.  Yes, it's a mess, but there are so many things to be thankful for, and when it's all done, we (and the cats) will be so much happier.  We will be one step closer to the life we want to live.  This is what I love about her.  Amidst all the destruction, she still sees the beauty even when I can't see beyond what's in front of me. 

There is an end, I just don't know the date, and I'm thankful for cc for all her reminders.  They make my life a littler sweeter these days. 

03 August 2011

To Paint or Not To Paint

Above is the kitchen in the new house.  Disregard the junk.  We haven't moved in and it's a work in progress.  As I mentioned in my previous post about taking the time to choose paint wisely, it's important that the colors have a good flow.  A warm kitchen with a cool living room that share the same space doesn't really work.  Our dilemma is just that, a two toned living space.

I'm eliciting the help of my fellow readers.  I have too much of me in my head and could use an outside opinion.  To paint or not to paint the cabinets?  They are beautiful, but they are just not our style.  We are wrestling with the decision to paint them a lighter color or even just stain them differently.  The floors are going to be stained darker, the walls will be a classic gray, and we are up in the air about the backsplash. 

We are looking for clean and light with a cozy feeling at the same time.  Something similar to the one below, although not quite as starchy. 

image found via DustyLu blog
 What do you think?  Paint them?  Stain?  Or just say what the heck and leave them alone. 

Also, any suggestions on what to replace that hideous light with are welcomed!

02 August 2011

5 Reasons To Take Your Time Choosing Paint Colors

Although I'm very excited about the new house, I'm not so excited about painting.  Rather, the process of painting.  We could contract the work, but we have the time and why spend the money when you can do it yourself, right?

The hardest part has been choosing paint colors.  I've never seen so many shades of gray.  I've learned a few lessons about choosing colors wisely, which really means, I've already made mistakes.  I'm in a rush.  Not because I have to be, but because it's my nature to get started on a project and finish it soon.  An unfinished project leaves me emotionally unsettled. 

The agony in hastily selecting the palette is what led me to the following five reasons about slowing down.

1.  When you think you've picked the right color from a 1'' x 1'' square and you buy a gallon of it without trying a sample on the wall first, you might kick yourself later when it is not the right color.  NON-REFUNDABLE

2.  Choosing paint in the location in which it will be on the walls is vital.  Your light is completely different than that of the store. 

3.  Take into consideration the flow of the house.  Choosing a cool color in the living and turning around to see a warm colored kitchen doesn't look appealing.

4.  Oil based enamel is a bitch to paint the first time, let alone twice.

5.  When you take the time to Kilz entire walls, bookcases, and a fireplace, repainting is not an option. 

Nonetheless, my painting duties have been stripped from me.  It has been decided that my paint skills are less than adequate and I've been banished to packing.  I really am a better packer and cc is a much better painter, so it works out for the best.

I will be thankful when it's all complete.  Not just because I hate painting, but because I'm ready to move in.  The excitement is building and I almost can't stand it!