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eG Foodblog: Ninetofive - January in New England

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#1 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:35 AM

Good morning! What an auspicious day to begin my eGullet foodblog:

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If you've checked the news or are living in the northeast, you know that the Boston area was hit this a.m. by a nor'easter. (Actually, I haven't yet checked the news this a.m. -- they were saying nor'easter last night.)

The subhead of this week's blog is "Where the garden is bare, and the pantry bursts." Indeed, I'll be showing you pictures of my poor garden later this week and maybe you can imagine the glory it is come July. :raz:

I’m not a power-poster on eGullet, thus why it was probably next-to-impossible to puzzle out my clues (more on those below). When I do post, it’s mostly on the New England forum. I spend huge amounts of time reading the forums, though, especially the food blogs. So last summer, I gingerly approached Snowangel about blogging. I had visions of sharing the bounty of a New England summer with you all – the bounty from my garden, the hauls from our local CSA, the flats of berries we lug back to the kitchen from local u-pick farms. Ah, but no, Susan had other ideas: how about blogging in January?

January?!? Was she insane? This is my garden in January. I haven’t even received a bill for the first installment of my 2008 CSA season, never mind a tender handful of spring greens. (Those won’t come till June.) Moreover, those beautiful flats of berries were all transformed into jam, of which we have exactly one jar left.

The idea grew on me, though. I keep a huge pantry. I spend a lot of time during the summer preparing food that will get us through April of the following year. Why not show my readers how all that work pays off in the winter?

So I hope you'll pull up a cup of tea (or coffee; I do not discriminate) and visit my little corner of the world this week. I do have a weird, wonderful pantry to show off, as well as a special treat for restaurant foodies tomorrow, a possible trip to King Arthur's Baking Center in Vermont on Saturday, plus day trips around greater Boston, where I live. Not to mention you'll get to see how my crazy little household eats in a given week.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#2 MarketStEl

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:39 AM

Never mind your garden; I want to see SNOW! As much of it as you can provide! All snow, all the time!

All we got down this way was rain. Again.

If this keeps up, I may have to move back to New England.

In the meantime, welcome to the community of eG Foodbloggers! I look forward to your sharing the bounty of your pantry.

And to more snow!
Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia
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#3 racheld

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:51 AM

New England!!! :wub:

Your garden is a frosty paradise to gaze at, whereas my own is a vista of scraggly limbs, soggy leaves, and a few neglected couldn't-get-them-all-in-the-house pots of herbs, sadly muttering to themselves as the weather changes, rains, flurries, and SOGGS.

And I DO adore a clandestine glimpse into someone else's pantry.

You go right ahead---I've already had my coffee---I'll just stand here and inhale the SNOW.
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#4 CaliPoutine

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:54 AM

So I hope you'll pull up a cup of tea (or coffee; I do not discriminate) and visit my little corner of the world this week.



How about a diet coke?

Welcome to the foodblogging world, I look forward to this more than you know. ( Robin keeps telling me to use up what we have in the pantry)

#5 Anna N

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:55 AM

WOW! As someone who has difficulty getting to a grocery store to do any serious shopping more than once a week I know I am going to just love this blog! As well, living in Ontario I know exactly what is in season here - pine needles and snow!
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#6 Shelby

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 07:57 AM

Yay! Another blog to inspire me!

#7 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:01 AM

Breakfast this a.m.:

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It's a bowl of Bob's Red Mill 8-grain cereal topped with seeds from half a pomegranate. It's not very attractive, but it's delicious, especially with a drop of maple syrup stirred in. The coffee is French roast from Starbucks, a gift from my parents at Christmas. I like my coffee strong with lots of milk and two Splendas. Well really, I like it strong with cream and two sugars, but my butt doesn't like it, so I'm stuck with the milk and fake sugar. I'll eat the rest of the fruit later on this a.m., maybe with two eggs fried up in a nonstick pan.

I loved reading last week's blog because I, too, watch what I eat very carefully. Later this spring, I will start actively training for two triathlons, but for now, my goal is to take some extra poundage off my frame and build muscle. I took off 10 lbs. last year by making some small changes to my diet, such as switching to skim milk in my coffee instead of full-fat, upping my veggie intake, dropping alcohol (not that I drink much), and cutting back on saturated fats (meat) by using it as a condiment, rather than a main course. I don’t eat a lot of junk: my “blessing” is that I actually prefer homemade food. If I’m going to eat ice cream, it’s ice cream I’ve made with cream, milk, and eggs from our local dairy, not some fake fat crap. But I’ll get out a scale and weigh out a and portion of 3 oz. and top it with lots of fruit. That sort of thing.

So a little bit more about me. If you haven't figured it out, I'm in the Boston area, precisely 30 miles northwest of the city proper. Careerwise, I describe myself as a freelance writer, recipe developer, and author. Oh, and recently, contributing editor of Clean Eating magazine. I’ve been writing full-time since 1999 for magazines/newspapers ranging from Parenting and Family Circle, to Oxygen and the Boston Globe. In 2006 I decided to focus mostly on food writing/recipe development, and that decision was a good one for me: I’m back to that beginner mind where I still can’t believe I get paid to write about Brazilian grilling instead of Brazilian bikini waxes. :raz: Snowangel mentioned that I wrote a book: actually I’ve written three (well, co-authored two and written one by myself). If you’re interested in learning more, my website is below.

As I’m freelance, I work from home. To make things more interesting, my husband runs several software companies from here, too, although he does have an office in North Andover, about 10 miles east. People always ask how we can stand the closeness, but we actually don’t see each other that much during the day. His office is upstairs at one end of the house, and mine is downstairs on the other end. Plus, we’re both workaholics, which helps cut down on water cooler talk. Or would that be kitchen counter klatches?

We have a six-year-old son who’s in half-day Kindergarten. (Canceled today, so that throws a wrench into plans I had.) Oliver is very excited that we’re food blogging this week. Yes, that’s WE. He decided he wants to be part of this thing and actually spent all day Sunday practicing photographing his food. He even wrote a cookbook to share with you all.

We also have an au pair who's living with us this year. Her name is Christiane and she’s from Germany, actually from the former East Germany (she was born shortly before the wall came down, which makes me feel really REALLY old.) She works with Oliver on his German when he comes home from school at noon, but also is a companion and friend to him. She will be here until October. She too seems excited that I'm blogging this week. My husband speaks German very well; I'd say fluently, but he's humble and insists not so fluently. I speak enough to order a coffee and pastry in Bavaria, and even then, with lots of hand gestures.

More on our crazy food eating habits -- got to drag my son out of bed!
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#8 Rehovot

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:11 AM

I'm glad you explained your coffee mug; I was going to ask about it. :smile:

What German recipes did Christiane introduce to your family?

(By the way, over Christmas, I was snowed in and got to know the pantry well. I even found the back wall. :rolleyes: )

Happy blogging!

#9 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:11 AM

We are supposed to get 14 inches of snow today. Yippee! We all got snowshoes for Christmas and have gotten good use out of them, especially my son.

We were just down in Connecticut last week. Once we drove over the Mass border, I noticed all the snow had disappeared. We've had snow on the ground since before Thanksgiving.

Ok, I hope I'm not rubbing it in here. Usually our winters are gray and dreary. This has been one of the prettiest winters we've had in a long time. They remind me of my early years in Vermont ....
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#10 daniellewiley

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:24 AM

This will be fun! We also have a kindergartner in the house AND an au pair. Does your au pair cook much food for you guys? (ours has NEVER)

Looking forward to Oliver's contributions. My Dylan is currently planning her first cooking vlog, so I can relate to his photography planning. :biggrin:
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#11 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:46 AM

What German recipes did Christiane introduce to your family?


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Well, I guess I should explain this a little better. My husband's aunt married a German, and they live outside Munich. My husband and his siblings spent a lot of time with his German cousins with extended trips to Europe (and the cousins coming here for extended trips to the U.S.) After high school, my husband's uncle arranged for hubby to do a year-long engineering apprenticeship at a factory in Nurnberg, where it was sink-or-swim ... speak German or else. After his gap year, hubby entered MIT and lived in German House (Deutch Haus?). So you can see -- by the time I met him, my husband already had a lot of immersion in the language and culture, and he has his food favorites: leberkase, gelbwurst (which my son also loves), not to mention the rolls and breads.

I have to admit: I'm not a huge fan of German food. I do like the breads and have a fondness for anything chocolate and haselnuss :wub: . We were in southern Germany this fall, and I found a new obsession: Flädlesuppe. Basically chicken broth with strips of thin pancakes floating on top. Sometimes there's a semolina dumpling in the broth; in Munich, I had a soup with a liver dumpling. At some point this winter, I'm going to get in the kitchen and see if I can recreate the soup. The best version I had was at a monastery (Andechs) near my aunt/uncle's home. I'll see if I can find a photo.

That was the long answer, I guess. The short answer is No, she hasn't introduced any favorites. She seems quite happy to eat our American food. She's a very good eater :biggrin: and her only dislike is fish and seafood. A bit disappointing, as I eat more fish/seafood than any other flesh protein, so we save those meals for the weekends when Christiane tends to go out.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#12 Megan Blocker

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 08:56 AM

Never mind your garden; I want to see SNOW!  As much of it as you can provide!  All snow, all the time!

All we got down this way was rain.  Again.

If this keeps up, I may have to move back to New England.

In the meantime, welcome to the community of eG Foodbloggers!  I look forward to your sharing the bounty of your pantry.

And to more snow!

View Post

Ditto! Thanks for the snow shot, Diana. As a former New Englander myself, I'm really looking forward to this week.

Is Oliver a good eater? What's his favorite? And does he like to take part in the cooking?
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#13 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:07 AM

Even in the deepest snows, Monday is milk delivery day:

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There was an interesting article about Shaw Farm that appeared in the Boston Globe last week. Most weeks we get the four 1/2 gals of skim milk and pint of heavy cream, but in the winters I'll often add a dozen organic eggs. (In the summers, we get eggs from the CSA.)

My son and I are the big milk drinkers around here. We usually have to run out on Sunday for a 1/2 gallon of milk to get us through to Monday.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#14 daniellewiley

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:09 AM

Even in the deepest snows, Monday is milk delivery day:

Most weeks we get the four 1/2 gals of skim milk and pint of heavy cream, but in the winters I'll often add a dozen organic eggs. (In the summers, we get eggs from the CSA.)

My son and I are the big milk drinkers around here. We usually have to run out on Sunday for a 1/2 gallon of milk to get us through to Monday.

View Post


What do you do with all that heavy cream? (especially now that it's not in your coffee)
Danielle Altshuler Wiley
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#15 Marigene

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:12 AM

This is going to be an interesting blog this week. Maybe I will glean enough information on how to clean my pantry out....instead of constantly adding to it.

What type of items do you normally purchase at King Arthur? When I go home to visit my family, we usually make a quick trip, less than 30 miles, so I can stock up and not have shipping charges. I love that place!

#16 markemorse

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:14 AM

It was hard to imagine what would sound like a good idea after last week's bounty, but that's the amazing thing about the foodblogs here, isn't it...there's always something unexpectedly fresh and undiscovered around the corner...

BTW, if it's the book I'm thinking of, that German Cooking Today book on your bookshelf in the teaser pic has some of the most spectacularly unappetizing food photography I've ever seen! Am I thinking of the right book?

ETA: here's hoping that it's not one of the cookbooks you've worked on....

Edited by markemorse, 14 January 2008 - 09:18 AM.


#17 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:22 AM

The fridge shots:

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Our fridge is usually empty by the weekend; this is pretty much a week's worth of food for us. I cook a lot on the weekend, especially if it's going to be a busy week workwise.

So on the top shelf, you've got the fresh milk, some buffalo mozzarella for my salads from Costco, my penultimate jar homemade jam, TJ Greek-style yogurt (mine), and Dannon whipped stuff for my husband and Christiane. There's a bin over on the far right that holds my husband's lunch meats.

Next shelf is some homemade applesauce, maybe about 3 lbs. of butter, chocolate yogurt for son, some thawing pizza dough, and tonight's dessert in the pyrex bowl. :smile: Way back behind is some fruit I've had marinating in alcohol for over a year -- next year's fruitcake!

Bottom shelf: this week's meat, including a thawing whole chicken, two dozen eggs, and some other odds and ends.

The drawers are stuffed to the gills with veg. I eat a LOT of veggies! The pills in the cheese drawer are rennet tablets for home cheesemaking. Did I mention I also eat a lot of cheese?

Then the fridge door: odd bits like brined green peppercorns and walnut oil (a new addiction, thanks to Lucy/Blaudauvergne, who I interviewed this summer for a Boston Globe article). In the little tub up top is my yeast. I bake all our breads ... more on that later. OJ is hubby's: both my son and I cannot drink any citrus juices. :sad: Other stuff in there: harissa, flax oil, maple syrup, some dressings, my son's catsup, Worcestershire sauce, and a couple hot/spicy chutneys. Oh, and three different kinds of mustard.
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#18 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:26 AM

Even in the deepest snows, Monday is milk delivery day:

Most weeks we get the four 1/2 gals of skim milk and pint of heavy cream, but in the winters I'll often add a dozen organic eggs. (In the summers, we get eggs from the CSA.)

My son and I are the big milk drinkers around here. We usually have to run out on Sunday for a 1/2 gallon of milk to get us through to Monday.

View Post


What do you do with all that heavy cream? (especially now that it's not in your coffee)

View Post


Good question! I make ice cream for Oliver and Christiane. This week it's Christiane's turn to pick, and I think we're going with strawberry. Oliver always picks chocolate -- the darker the chocolate the better. In the summers I can flavor the cream/milk with mint, which grows wild in our yard, but otherwise it's all chocolate, all the time with him. :wink:
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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My eGullet blog
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#19 markemorse

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:28 AM

Then the fridge door: odd bits like brined green peppercorns and walnut oil (a new addiction, thanks to Lucy/Blaudauvergne...

View Post

Just out of curiosity, how much are you paying for your walnut oil? It's become a critical element in our cooking since moving to Europe, so of course I wanted to turn my parents on to it...but the same amount I buy over here for 2.50 was something like 9 dollars at a Fry's or Safeway (Phoenix-area chain megagrocers)...

#20 lucylou95816

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:30 AM

So far, your blog sounds interesting..looking forward to where the week takes us.

#21 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:31 AM

It was hard to imagine what would sound like a good idea after last week's bounty, but that's the amazing thing about the foodblogs here, isn't it...there's always something unexpectedly fresh and undiscovered around the corner...

BTW, if it's the book I'm thinking of, that German Cooking Today book on your bookshelf in the teaser pic has some of the most spectacularly unappetizing food photography I've ever seen! Am I thinking of the right book?

ETA: here's hoping that it's not one of the cookbooks you've worked on....

View Post


Haa! No, not my book (mine's the turquoise book next to Alton Brown and has nothing to do with food). I agree. The book is rather uninspiring ... I just had it up there to get it off the floor.

I'm going to show you all my cookbook collection. It's a little insane.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#22 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:38 AM

This is going to be an interesting blog this week. Maybe I will glean enough information on how to clean my pantry out....instead of constantly adding to it.

What type of items do you normally purchase at King Arthur?  When I go home to visit my family, we usually make a quick trip, less than 30 miles, so I can stock up and not have shipping charges. I love that place!

View Post


We call it Mom's Crack Den around here. :raz: It's fabulous, isn't it, especially now that they've expanded?

I usually have one or two things I "need" to buy when I visit. For example, sheet gelatin, which is impossible to find around here or those little cinnamon nuggets for scones ... I've never seen them anywhere else. Otherwise, it's simply a free-for-all with my credit card.

The shipping charges seem pretty steep to me, so I usually make a trip up to Norwich three or four times a year and make a day of it. It's a little under two hours for us. As I mentioned, I grew up in Vermont and one of my favorite aunts, who happens to be an outstanding baker, lives not far from Norwich. We meet there, slobber over bakeware, and repair for lunch afterwards.

OK, I've got a story due today, so I'm going to take a break for a few hours. More TK.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#23 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:40 AM

Just out of curiosity, how much are you paying for your walnut oil? It's become a critical element in our cooking since moving to Europe, so of course I wanted to turn my parents on to it...but the same amount I buy over here for 2.50 was something like 9 dollars at a Fry's or Safeway (Phoenix-area chain megagrocers)...

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Oh dear, the price label came off, but I think I paid something like $2.79 at Trader Joe's for it. They're no longer selling it, however. Otherwise, it's about $7 at Whole Foods. I'll have to check for a more accurate price later on.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#24 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:48 AM

This will be fun! We also have a kindergartner in the house AND an au pair. Does your au pair cook much food for you guys? (ours has NEVER)

Looking forward to Oliver's contributions. My Dylan is currently planning her first cooking vlog, so I can relate to his photography planning.  :biggrin:

View Post


Oh good, so you can relate, Danielle! No, Christiane doesn't cook for the family. She makes sandwiches for Oliver's lunch, that sort of thing. Tomorrow she'll have to heat up the dinner I've prepared for them (I'm taking you all out to a very special dinner in Cambridge!).

I actually think I'd hate having an au pair who liked to cook. I'm very territorial about my kitchen.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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#25 Kouign Aman

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 10:59 AM

Oh, it will be fun to see winter and not have to dress for it! Thanks!
I think you and I must have the most popular fridge in North America. I've seen it in at least two previous foodblogs as well.
And I must say yours is nicely stuffed! :wink:
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#26 Smithy

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 11:51 AM

Welcome, from another snowy place and another jammed pantry! I'll be interested to see how you deal with Ol' Man Winter.

I've always loved the King Arthur catalog. I hope we get to see the real place this weekend!

How much are you paying for pomegranates out your way, and what-all do you with them? Are they easy for you to find? Lately I've been fascinated by the cross-section, and I'm admiring the (unusual, in my experience) symmetry of the four-armed star in your photo.

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#27 johnnyd

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:13 PM

her only dislike is fish and seafood.


:angry:
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#28 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 12:37 PM

her only dislike is fish and seafood.


:angry:

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I know, JohnnyD. It's criminal. Our last au pair wasn't crazy about fish or seafood, but by the end of her stay, she was eating plenty of it. (Rubbing hands together) I have plans, lots of plans ....
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock (Marion Street Press, Nov. 2006)

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#29 ninetofive

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:24 PM

Okay, story filed. Now I can play.

Darn! I forgot to take a picture of my lunch, a delightful tossed green salad topped with these:

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and these:

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The sardines in tomato sauce are a new addiction. They have a nice mild taste, not too salty, and one can can get me through two lunches. Christiane gets fair warning before I unleash the fish from their tins, because they are just a bit stinky. The tomatoes get me through the winter. I hate buying tomatoes out of season, but these are really quite nice. They're called Campari and I buy them at Costco (another crack den for me).

Today's salad also included 1 ounce of buffalo mozzarella, a tsp. of flaxseed oil, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a good sprinkling of smoked salt. Very yummy. Don't worry, you'll see plenty more salads this week. They're standard lunch fare for me.
Diana Burrell, freelance writer/author
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The Renegade Writer Blog

#30 mizducky

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 01:25 PM

Yay! Like many who did their college years in Boston, I remained in the area a good decade afterwards, so this is going to be a real nostalgia trip for me. I'm also enjoying looking at a classic New England winter without having to actually drive in it. :laugh: Happy blogging!

(Plus, as a freelance writer myself, I'm going to be checking out your blog with great interest!)





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