2 sisters 2 cities

August 21, 2010

Nantucket Birthday Clam Chowder

The day before we left for our 10 day vacation in Nantucket, Husband M had his 30th birthday.  Since we were pretty busy packing and tying up loose ends before we left, we were only able to have a small celebration.  I made one of his favorite easy summer recipes…Martha Stewart Everyday’s Grilled Steak with tomatoes and scallions and a brownie from the farmer’s market.  His Aunt T had thrown him a big birthday party in Maine the weekend prior and I also had plans for a lobster bake while we in Nantucket.  His work also threw him a afternoon party with freshly baked cookies, so all in all, he had 4 birthday parties this year.

For the Nantucket lobster bake, we ordered pre-cooked lobsters and steamers from Sayle’s fish market.  Our little cottage did not have air-conditiong and the day of the party happened to the hottest day we were in Nantucket.  Thank goodness we bought pre-cooked lobsters…I can’t imagine how much hotter the place would have been if I had been cooking lobsters for hours.  They did a great job packing them and they stayed warm for quite awhile.

For a starter, I decided to make a batch of clam chowder.  We were having 10 people over in all and this recipe I put together made well over this amount (if served as an appetizer).  I used Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything No-Holds-Barred Clam Chowder recipe as the base and tweaked it based on a few other recipes I have made in the past.

Nantucket Birthday Clam Chowder

Serves 10+ as an appetizer

Ingredients:
-1/2 pound applewood smoked bacon (or similar high quality), chopped
-2 cups minced onions
-5 cups peeled and chopped baking potatoe
-4 tablespoons flour (I used wheat)
-2 teaspoons dried thyme
-7 five-ounce cans of clams
-4  eight-ounce bottles of clam juice
-S&P
-2 cups milk
-2 cups heavy cream
-2 tablespoons butter
-fresh chopped parsley
-oyster crackers

Directions:
Fry the bacon in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove the bacon with a with slotted spoon and put aside.  Cook the onion and potatoes in the bacon fat until the onion softens and is translucent (10-15 minutes).  While they are cooking, drain the canned clams and reserve the drained clam juice.  Add the flour and thyme to the onion and potatoes, and combine.  Add the 4 bottles of clam juice and the reserved clam juice from the cans.  Cook until the potatoes are tender (an additional 10-15 minutes).  At this point, I turned off the heat and put the lid on the pot to keep it warm until the guests arrived.

About 5 minutes before I was ready to serve the chowder, I added the salt, pepper, milk, and cream (put the milk and cream out for about 20-30 minutes to get to room temperature so it does not curdle when you add it).  Add the drained clams and bring to a low simmer.  Add the butter on top of the chowder- the clams will be finished cooking once the butter melts.  I served the chowder with the chopped parsley and oyster crackers on the side.

-m

March 2, 2010

30th Birthday in Miami

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , , , , — 2sisters2cities @ 10:57 pm

This past weekend, my husband and I took a quick weekend getaway to Miami for my 30th birthday.  My actual birthday is February 29th, making me a leap day baby.  So technically, I was celebrating my 7 1/2th birthday.  This is a terrible time of year for a birthday in my opinion because it is still in the dead of winter and everyone is beyond sick of the weather.  My younger sisters all had summer birthdays, and therefore were able to have huge pool parties.  Not I…always an indoor party for poor little me (my sisters are definitely going to be rolling their eyes as they read this!)

Before we went on a cruise 2 years ago, we stayed at the South Beach Marriott overnight before we embarked.  We really enjoyed our stay there and have always thought about going back.  My 30th/7.5 birthday seemed like the perfect opportunity.  We were able to fly directly to Ft. Lauderdale after a series of mishaps with Jet Blue.  Our plane getting into Boston was delayed an hour, the Jet Blue systems went down and they grounded all flights for an hour, and then a plane on the Ft. Lauderdale runway lost communications with air control and we had to suddenly avert our landing and circle again.  Fortunately, our dinner reservations were for pretty late….it’s Miami!

On Friday night, we had dinner at Nobu, a famous sushi chain.  It was really delicious food, but our meal got cut a bit short when our tables got cleared and we were given dessert menus (we had been planning on ordering a bit more sushi).  Afterwards, we hit up the Sky Bar which was outdoors and was very nicely decorated.  They also had gas lamps, which I parked under all night as it did get a bit cool.

The next morning, we grabbed brunch at a place right around the corner from our hotel called The Big Pink.  We hit up the beach after and we were pretty much the only people for the 4 hours we hung out there.  It was a bit windy and overcast, but we got occasional bursts of sun.  It was really relaxing to just read, talk with my husband, and watch the water.  One of my friends from college, who now lives about an hour from Miami, met us up in the afternoon and we grabbed drinks and apps at the hotel bar.  It started to downpour while we were there and the whole crowd watched in dismay (ok, slight amusement) as the wedding decorations set up in the area adjacent to the outdoor bar all blew over and fell into the hotel’s water fountain!

For dinner that night, I had done some researching on OpenTable and Yelp and decided to try out Wish.  The food was excellent and they had menus that actually lit up as you opened them.  The back garden was closed due to the weather, but we were still able to eat outside.  On Sunday morning, we woke up on the early side to sit out at the beach for an hour.  We then got ready, checked out of our room, and hit up the Sunday brunch downstairs.  Here is the view from the South Beach Marriott:

We then headed to the airport and we were back in Boston by 6.  It was definitely a very fun birthday and one I will always remember!

-m

February 25, 2010

2010 Goals Status

Filed under: M's post — Tags: , , — 2sisters2cities @ 9:48 am

Since I am officially turning the big 3-0 this weekend, I wanted to follow-up on my goals for the year before I embark on the next decade of my life:

M’s 2010 Goals:
1.  Start letterpress printing! This involves getting my new poco press cleaned up and ready to go.  I need to make a trip out to Chicopee, MA to a warehouse called Letterpress Things to stock up on tools, inks, and cleaners.  I also need to buy a base and determine what software I need on my computer to start designing plates- Done, I did everything here and just need to start designing some plates, ordering them, and then start printing!
2. Try yoga again – Took one beginner class.  Purchased a series of 10 classes off of Gilt for Exhale Spa…just need to actually use them now.
3.  Cook more meals and do more prep on the weekend– Kind of…I’ve been cooking a lot, but not necessarily doing more prep on the weekend.
4. Organize my kitchen -Done, bought a ton of wooden crates (maybe too many) off E-Bay.  Found  kitchen cabinet hooks at the Home Depot and installed them this weekend.
5.  Read more books off the NY Times Best Seller listDone…new book review of past 5 books coming soon.  I have about 30 books on hold at the library as well.
6.  Spend less money on clothes Done…haven’t really been in much of a shopping mood for clothes at all lately.  This probably has more to do with the fact that all the stores are showing spring clothes, none of which will be wearable in Boston until about June.
7. Take more classes at the Boston Center for Adult Education. I am currently thinking about taking a digital photography class and an Adobe design class- Done…took Adobe Illustrator class, signed up for digital photography and 2 other classes.
8. Buy a headboard for our master bedroom- Still working on this.
9. Finish painting our master bathroom or hire someone to finish it.– Decided to install crown molding instead…still need to find a contractor to do this.
10. Post on a regular basis to this new blog! – Getting better at it…definitely room for improvement on content and frequency!

-m

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