Bring on the Boeuf

The weekend before last we had a dinner party for a few friends.  I decided to finally make Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon after I had been threatening to attempt it since I got the cookbook.  For those of you have not heard of this particular recipe , it is referred to as one of the best, it featured prominently in that Julia & Julie move, and it takes a long time to make.  Fortunately with that last part you can make the day before and just heat up twenty minutes before serving.  I chose to make it the day before, I have memories of my mom cooking some elaborate meal or making wedding cakes for weddings she was actually attending and being barely conscious for the actual event.  I wanted to relax before everyone came over and I also had an apple pie to make too.  I am so glad I did it the day before because on Friday night I was exhausted!  The recipe can take 4 to 5 hours to make and cook (it took me just over five) and some of it is down time, but I one of those crazy cooks that likes to clean as I cook so I didn’t have as much down time.

I had a little trouble finding the exact type of meat that the recipe calls for.  I needed 4 lbs of chuck roast cut into 2″ cubes.  I went to a few places and most of them had non-chuck roasts cut in 1″ cubes or worse they wouldn’t specify the cut, it would just have the cryptic “for stews” label.  I went to a bunch of places but I ended up at Iowa Meat Farms.  They actually asked what it was for and checked with the guy who teaches the cooking class there to see what I needed.  I was thankful for their attention but she must have forgotten about the 2″ cut requirement because she cut them into 1″ pieces.  Oh well at least it was the right type of meat.

I think it turned out pretty well, though it was very torturous on Friday night to have the house smelling so awesome and not be able to enjoy it.  I was nice and made a small tasting for Honey (I got to try it throughout the process).  We didn’t have any leftovers so I assumed it was good.  I will admit I was a lot more self-conscious about this meal because it was my first try but now I feel like a pro. By the way I really didn’t get that “feeling” that some people get when they cook it.  Some people describe that they really felt Julia in the room, helping them out.  I was questioning Julia’s sanity and odd commitment to such specific instructions.

Sprinkle meat with salt, pepper, and flour-toss…put in 450 degree oven for 4 minutes…take out and  toss with more salt and pepper then put in oven for another four minutes…then put oven heat down to 325 and cook…..

Wow.  You could tell the woman had done her research.  

I made garlic mashed potatoes as a side with Octana’s help and then guests brought yummy appetizers, the salad, and wine.  I had hoped to have a Black & White dinner Party only using those colors as decorations but I seemed to have miscounted how many surviving black and white plates I had left (my sink is brutal on everything).  I kept the rest of the decoration Black & White but the plates were our every day plates.

But my favorite part of the meal was the view.

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Happy Birthday to an Awesome Lady!

I forgot to mention that today is Octana’s Birthday!

She is one of the most incredible women that I have ever met and deserves to be publicly celebrated.  I’ve known her for almost ten years and her energy for life has only gotten stronger each year.  She has one of the biggest hearts that I know and the depth of her love and devotion to the people around her is immeasurable. Her strength, her creativity, her determination, her sense of humor are all admirable and one can only wish to aspire to her level.

She is an amazing, beautiful woman that you can call yourself lucky to know. =)

Happy Birthday Queen J, I hope this year and all of the ones after give you the greatest joys and happiness that you so richly deserve.

Love,

Melly

Tuesday Mornings Well Spent

A couple of weeks ago while I was scanning the front page on The Huffington Post website I saw the story of a dog who had been abandoned by his owners in the most horrible way possible, but who is now healthy and happy thanks to the work of a humane society.  I chose to view the photos (which were hard to look at) but I wanted to see what progress he had made.  It was incredible to see what a difference a year had made with proper care and love from the staff of the Humane Society.  I began thinking about all of the times I have thought about volunteering at an animal shelter but never quite got the juevos to actually do it, this time I did.  A few moments later I found myself opening a new tab and doing a search on local Humane Societies and Rescue Organizations.  I found one that I liked and had good reviews…I went to their volunteer page…I emailed them….they got back to me…I now play with kitties on Tuesday mornings.

Last Thursday I went in for my training at one of the adoption centers.  They rescue animals around the greater San Diego area, get them healthy and strong in foster homes, and when they are ready they are moved to an Adoption Center. While they are there volunteers come for several hours a day and socialize with them.  This means they are out of their cages playing in a larger space with toys, each other, and the volunteer.  In addition to the adoption services they also do Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services to help control the feral cat population.  So I am helping by answering customer questions and playing with kittens and cats for four hours each week.  Actually this week it was 4 hours and 45 minutes, they had been napping and woke up just before it was time to put them in the cages, so I let them play outside a little longer.  I tormented Honey and Birdie by sending pictures of kittens throughout the day, so now I’ll torture you guys.

It’s not all glamorous of course, I have to clean up kitten poop, wipe fluffy butts, and keep a record whose doing what (gastronomically and behaviorally) .  They are very careful about sickness and keeping the animals healthy, if a cat has illness symptoms they go to a vet and then go back to a foster home until they get better.  This way they get more personalized care and it prevents other kitties from getting sick.  Some have survived some pretty horrible ordeals but you wouldn’t know it, they act just as rambunctious and silly as any other cat I have ever met.  You can really tell they have been loved and well cared for since they have been rescued, which makes them so easy to love and adopt.

On Thursday I met six cats, four day later five of them had been adopted.  I met five more new cats on Tuesday but my guess is by next week I won’t be seeing everyone again.  It is a kind of of happy dissapointment because I know they are in homes with new families but I wish I had more time with them (a few have made an impression).  On Tuesday the black kitty in the picture above, who is very talkative yelled at me when I started playing with other cats after her, apparently she claimed me as her own.  After everyone was back in their cages I let her sit in my lap while I finished up the paperwork for the day.  She’s so sweet that I think she will probably find a new home by next Tuesday.

So far I like volunteering there, believe it or not I don’t have the strong impulse to take them all home with me.  I enjoy their company but I am happy with my kitty dynamic at home.