Archive for November 2012

Night at the Theatre: A Christmas Carol

Don't worry I didn't deprive the family of turkey while they were here. I'm even sharing the obligatory turkey picture.

I always get busy that I forget to document the final product. Such a shame when I think about it. It was such a beauty. Had Sammy not gotten sick, I had big plans of sharing my Thanksgiving checklist. I guess there's always next year.

I think the highlight of the visit may have been the evening at Ford's Theatre. We kicked off the holiday season in traditional Washingtonian fashion by seeing A Christmas Carol. Keith, often a theatre critic, even enjoyed himself.

Everyone knows the story, so let's get to the highlights. The special effects were almost magical. The music was heartwarming. And the actors nailed it. I highly recommend fitting it in this holiday season if you can. There's also something special about sitting in the same theatre as President Lincoln and looking over to see his box honoring him.

Perhaps, this will become a holiday tradition for Keith and me. Do you have any holiday traditions?

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American History Museum

Hopefully, you had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by the ones you love. For the first time, my mom and brother ventured out to spend their Thanksgiving with us.  My brother loves to geek out on history and since it was closed for renovations on their last visit, the American History Museum was a must-do. It's also a pretty safe bet as there is something for everyone. My mom would have spent hours admiring the First Ladies' exhibit had we not pulled her way.

Even after having checked it out several times already, I was excited to see there was a new exhibit on the history of food in American culture. I was in awe of Julia Childs' kitchen. I think she was on to something with the peg board. Don't be surprised if you see it make an appearance in my kitchen.

After rushing out of the museum, we were greeted by this site before hurrying up to Eastern Market to pick up the turkey and settle in for the holiday. 

Did you have family in town? If so, are there any local attractions you must fit in?

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Sick Purr Baby

This little sleepy head gave us a bit of a scare last weekend. Little miss Sammy wouldn't eat and wasn't even keeping water down last Sunday. Of course, Monday morning meant starting the week at the vet where x-rays were taken and a prognosis was made. Thankfully, our little purr baby is back to herself now, but not before making this past week a bit more stressful.

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Recipe: Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp

I love pie. There's something so very comforting about it. I'm sure this is attributed to my grandpa baking a different pie whenever I'd come home from college. This continued even after I moved out to Washington, DC. Grandpa would bake apple, chocolate cream, blueberry and every once in a while butterscotch. We'd sit, eat pie, and catch up on life. 

Well, I just don't have the patience to make a full pie. I tend to take the easy way out and bake a crisp. Eating a big bowlful of a fruit crisp isn't as comforting as a slice of warm pie, but it's still pretty darn good. Even better when I can justify it as breakfast the next morning. 

With more than enough apples and pears in our fruit bowl than Keith and I could eat before they started to spoil, I decided to bake a warm crisp. I gotta admit I was pretty excited when it turned out delicious because...well, this is a complete Nicole creation. If I had not already placed an order for an apple pie, you would see this on our Thanksgiving table next week. 

Apple, Pear & Cranberry Crisp


3 large granny smith apples
3 medium bartlett pears 
1 medium orange
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 t. freshly grated ginger
1/2 t. cinnamon 
2 T. all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

2. Butter an 8 inch square baking dish.

3. Peel the apples and pears. Slice to about 1/2 inch thick and place in a bowl.

4. Zest the orange and add to the apples and pears. 

5. Add cranberries, ginger, cinnamon, and flour to apples and pears.

6. Juice the orange and add that as well. Toss to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Set aside. 

Crisp Topping

1 c. thick cut oats
4 T. cold unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 T. all-purpose flour
1-2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. 

2. Using fingers or a pastry cutter, cut the butter in. Make sure you don't have any large clumps of butter. I'm not as thorough to get it pea size.

3. Sprinkle the oat mixture over the baking dish filled with fruit. You can break up any large clumps at this point as well. 

4. Bake at 375 for 30 to 45 minutes depending on your oven. You want the fruit tender and the crumb mixture to be a golden brown.

5. Remove the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

6. Delicious with ice cream or a dollop of vanilla yogurt. I admit to going with the yogurt when I'm trying to make myself feel better for enjoying this as breakfast. 

7. Enjoy!

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Bourbon Review: Parker's Heritage Collection 2012

Parker's Heritage Collection is a highly sought after annual release from Heaven Hill distillery.  The Heritage Collection allows Parker and Craig Beam, the father-son Master Distiller team at HH, to really explore the studio space in the Heaven Hill rick houses.  In past years, they've released a wheated bourbon finished in cognac casks, an ultra-aged bourbon (27 years) and a cask proof wheated bourbon among others.

PHC 2012
This year they've a high proof, 131.6 proof, mix of wheat and rye mash bills.  I was able to secure this bottle from Hi-Time Wine out of California.  I've spent some time with this bourbon, as I've tasted it a couple times over the course of the past 6 weeks or so.  On to the details:

Nose: Cinnamon, orange peel, and a whiff tobacco and leather.  I can tell from the nose that this is a complex bourbon.

Taste:  A maple sweetness on the tip of the tongue upon entry.  As it moves across the tongue, I got some traditional rye spiciness, and on the back of tongue I got more of the pleasing sweetness usually associated with a wheater.

Finish:  A nice complex mix of spice and sweet.

Overall:  I rate this at 89.  This improved a good deal after I opened.  When I first tasted it a few weeks ago,  I did not care for it.  After opening up some, it seems to have improved.  I'd be interested to taste this blind, since I know what's in it, I know what to taste for.  It would be interesting to see what I could pick out not knowing what it is.

All that said, it isn't as good as some of the Parker's Heritage Releases, though I haven't tasted them all.  The 2011 cognac barrel finished bourbon is one of my all time favorites, but this one does not reach that level.  It's a good bourbon though, and and if you can find for around $70, I think you should buy it.  I bought two; one to drink and one to bunker.

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DIY Bedroom Art

As I mentioned, Sandy helped me focus on a few things I have wanted to accomplish around the house. I purchased this large canvas almost six months ago.

I wanted a large piece of statement art to hang over the that gorgeous bed we purchased a while back. What do you think? I wasn't in love with it at first, but it is growing on me once I decided to live with it for a bit.

I'm slowly making progress on the bedroom even though we've lived in our current apartment for almost two years. Up next is a bench for the foot of the bed. There may also be new curtains in the future as well.

Have you created any masterpieces for your home?

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