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Aren’t these Thom-Cord grapes gorgeous??!!

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Thom-Cord grapes

www.em-i-lis.com

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The gramps picked Jack and Ol up at 10 this morning and headed off to the Nationals’ last home game of regular season. The boys were dressed in the “official Nats uniforms” they got at Nats camp this past summer and the plan was to go early in the hopes of getting an autograph voucher. They missed that but romped delightedly on the stadium playground for hours and ate a wide array of ballpark food.

So much in fact that pretty much as soon as Jack stepped in tonight, just after 6p, he threw up everywhere. Horrid, stinky piles of what looked like upchucked chili. Maternal adrenaline is a good thing because that was disgusting. After the first hurl -on our bedroom floor- he managed to get his pants off. Then, rolling around the carpeted hall, moaning about how he would NEVER eat junk food again unless it was a holiday, he booted for the second time. Between that one and finally taking his shirt off and making it to the toilet, he asserted that birthdays do not count as holidays, a declaration I found baffling.

Poor kid. I drew him a hot bath and got him some seltzer and a couple Tums. When I asked him what he’d eaten he replied, “two hot dogs, Dippin Dots, cotton candy, Orange Crush…” It was revolting, but I dare say he’s learned his lesson. He actually learned it once before, during his 100th-day-of-school celebration when he was three. He ate about 400 chocolate chips. When I picked him he said he felt awful and furious and would never overeat dessert again. He hasn’t even come close, until today, which I think was really just way too much crap in way too short a time. Like I said, I think he’s learned.

In the meantime, I went to the farmers market and then spent several hours cooking and having a solo dance party/concert as T had to work. It was great. I made a double batch of spiced rhubarb-apple butter and some roasted tomato jam, froze a bunch of fresh raspberries and shelled a ton of borlotti beans. I can never get over just how pretty they are.

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borlotti, a cranberry bean variety, beans

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happy canning lady fridge

Peach cobbler has been calling my name, and since I had to use up a half-dozen from last week’s market, I decided to get right to it. That’d make a fine dessert for dinner. We had some King salmon I needed to use, and I’d bought some gorgeous okra and arugula this morning too. An embarrassment of riches, really. And the foundation for quite a fine meal.

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grilled okra

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arugula, avocado and parm salad with lemon and peppery oil

I love grilled okra, especially when you’ve got a steel bin full of good wood chips adding a bit of smokey flavor to the chopped pods. I’d tossed these with olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and salt, and then later, T made a drizzling oil spiked with chili powder and champagne vinegar that was awfully nice.

I oven-roasted the salmon but first spread some fresh rhubarb-apple butter on top as salmon and apples go so very well together. Sa.tis.fying!

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roast salmon with rhubarb-apple butter on top

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peach cobbler (if you try that recipe, add a little extra sugar and some cinnamon and cardamom to the topping!)

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After snarfing breakfast (fried egg on toast) so as to get J to Tae Kwon Do on time and then snarfing lunch (avocado, peppery olive oil and chevre on olive bread) so as to get to the gym on time, I patently refused to do anything but enjoy dinner. For the boys I made grilled salmon, pasta aglio olio, broccoli and oranges, and later for us, tomato and white bean soup with olive croutons and two cheese-grilled cheeses with Iberico ham.

You simply cannot go wrong with any of these items. Plus, in making the soup, I christened my new pumpkin cocotte. I am smitten with it. Completely so. And no, skeptical husbands out there, it is not difficult to clean.

The soup included a whole bunch of basil and a pinch of saffron, a fair amount of garlic and a Parmesan rind. Tomatoes, white beans, olive oil and some peperoncino rounded things out, and the garlicky olive bread croutons were a delightful topper.

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tomato and white bean soup with saffron and garlicky olive croutons

Meanwhile, a grilled cheese sandwich is always made better by being served alongside a bowl of steaming tomato soup. This duo can be as basic as a white bread-American cheese griller with a cup of Campbell’s or as fancy as a multi-cheeser on artisan bread dunked in a vessel of just-crafted tomato bisque. Tonight I slicked slices of seed-heavy harvest bread with good butter before sandwiching them around shavings of both extra sharp white cheddar and black pepper-Parmesan as well as a paper-thin slice of Iberico ham from the farmers market. These were off the hook.

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cheddar and black-pepper Parm grilled cheese with Iberico

And dessert was The Knick, one of the best episodes yet. If y’all are not watching this excellent, engrossing show, you must. I wait for it with baited breath-anticipation every week. Clive Owen is too hot to be real. Mon dieu. Meow!

Speaking of meow, look at my doll-baby laundry cat. Look at the rear paws- could you die?!

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laundry cat

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I have not had as much fun as I did last night in a long time, at least as long as my 38-year-old-after-3-glasses-of-wine brain recalls (I’m vague today; let’s just say that.) But I am clear on how seriously I enjoyed my hours with Shawn last night. Stoli, you’re the best.

We met at Ghibellina, grabbed the last two seats at the window looking out onto 14th Street and basked in the crisp air of a gorgeous evening. Shawn and I both believe that restaurant designers who make their establishments’ front facades able to open -via huge windows, garage-type doors, etc- are the best.

My friend, Ralph, co-owner of Ghib was shocked to see my out on a Thursday. I know, it’s rare. I’m livin’ large. I even splurged for a cab there and back (actually, because I hate 90% of DC’s cabs with the fire of 1,000 suns, I took an Uber on the way down which was so pleasant and cheap, and then, because three glasses of wine, I got all confused about pinning my position and so took a cab home, and I wondered the entire way if the driver had just moved to DC five minutes before picking me up. He literally seemed to have no idea where we were or where we were going).

But I digress.

One of my favorite of Shawn’s peccadilloes is that he can’t eat and drink at the same time. I mean, he can, but he does not in any way enjoy doing so. His palate gets all confused, and it’s just no good. So, he drinks his beer(s) (peccadillo 2: he only drinks beer) before taking even a bite. I, myself, do not want to do this nor do I feel it would ever be a smart decision for me unless I wished to immediately be drunk and unable to taste the food I ordered.

And I really wanted to taste it because I was starving and had chosen the olive & artichoke pizza that I love at Ghib. I started in as soon as mine arrived. Meanwhile, Shawn’s Margherita just sat there staring up at him, surely thinking, “What the eff is wrong with that guy?” Indeed, both our waitress and Ralph came over at different points to subtly ask just what was the matter.

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Ghibellina’s olive and artichoke pizza

“I told y’all he cannot eat and drink at the same time,” I said as Shawn ordered another beer. Translation: that pizza would have to keep on waiting.

The waitress looked slightly sad (because really, the pizza was getting cold) but was supportive in saying “I mean, I do eat our pizza cold all the time, but it’s better hot.”

“But just wait until I do finish my beers,” said Shawn. “I will WOLF that pizza down like you have never seen.”

That happened, and it was with unprecedented speed and efficiency. He could be a competitive eater.

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Ghibellina’s Margherita

Now, I’m going to tell you a story that I feel is the sad sister of my Cat That Once Was tale. Shawn gave me his permission, even though his emotions are still a bit raw. Head’s up, a beloved dog dies. But, get that out of the way and steel yourself because, as with the aforementioned cat, elements of the story are hysterical.

Three years ago, Shawn decided to get a dog. He’d never had a pet but always wanted one. He mentioned this plan to a friend who then showed up with a dog approximately 20 minutes later. The pup, a Boxer-Boston terrier mix, was about 18 months old and had been rescued from an abusive home. Shawn took to him like white on rice (he sort of had to what with the immediacy of the delivery and all), and he and Macho were inseparable. Shawn even let Macho put his “dirty, NY paws” on his pillows. The magnitude of that cannot be overstated.

As Shawn came to find, Macho had a heart condition and also a manic love of the doorbell. He went positively apeshit when the doorbell rang, quivering with glee and suspense. Who would it be? A new friend? The anticipation was equal parts exciting and awful.

“Macho, calm down! You’re gonna kill yourself one day.”

Friends, I fear you know where this is going.

One day came. Shawn was flying home from LA and checked his messages when he landed. A 911 from the dog sitter: “Shawn, please call me ASAP.”

Because they weren’t phone friends, Shawn called immediately and with dread.

The doorbell had rung, Macho thrilled with delight and then, like those fainting goats, he froze, keeled over and was no more. Legs straight out, stiff as a board.

Obviously this story is heartbreaking and tragic, and Shawn is in serious mourning. But we did have to share a series of guffaws over the repeated warnings to Macho and his fortune of dying suddenly in the midst of sheer happiness.

I offered to give Percy to Shawn, but he turned me down.

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coupon + a year of wanting this = Em owns it

To be fair, I’ve been coveting this since last September, so I felt I’d pondered the decision long enough. I LOVE this pot and cannot wait to use it. I’d do so tonight except that I get to go out to dinner with one of my favorite friends who I rarely see and who lovingly pushed me into creating Em-i-lis. Shawn, it’s T minus two hours until I hug you like a loon. I’m calling an Uber for this, man! I met Shawn fourteen years ago when I started work at Columbia, he was in my wedding and truly, I adore him.

How good does this banana-chocolate shake look? I was felled by a migraine early this morning and this sounded medicinal and appealing. Banana and chocolate are an epic pairing. I love the combination!

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banana-chocolate shake (made with almond milk and a bit of powdered espresso)

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I am feeling pretty excited abut the fall produce rolling in. The lima beans have continued to hit the spot, and yesterday I roasted some gorgeous carrots and rutabagas. They looked nearly neon, and I love the prominent rings decorating the carrot interiors. Root veggies drive me wild.

Last night’s dinner was a recipe of mine that has been going gang-busters on Pinterest for the past month: Caribbean Sea Bass. Chilean Sea Bass (I always get Marine Stewardship Council-certified because for a while the future was looking bleak for these fishy friends), which is not really a bass at all -but rather the Patagonian Toothfish, a cod icefish- nor necessarily from Chile- is so delicious. It’s buttery and delicately steaky and holds up nicely to a range of seasonings.

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Caribbean sea bass, roasted carrots & rutabagas

This simple recipe utilizes honey, pineapple, habañero, scallions and avocado, a pretty, fragrant, zingy combination that pairs nicely with the fish’s texture and flavor. Healthy and delicious!

I roasted salmon with whey, salt and pepper for the boys and then topped it with capers: they went nuts, and I can see that we’ve passed the point of a half-pound being sufficient to feed them. While they ate, I finished up the apple strudels that Jack wanted to bring to his class today. They were so pretty, and I’m sad to say that the photos of them were erased from my loaner phone when I returned it today. My iLemon was irreparable, so they gave me a new one. Not a 6, folks; they’re not that generous. But I’m pretty darn satisfied with a new phone. In any case, no pics of the strudels unless you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I also managed to give away the rest of the olive oil cake; it was so good, but I needed to part ways.

Look at this cat- he is so handsome and curious and charming.

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Nut really wants the fly up there!

Tonight, dinner starred another uncomplicated dish: Chicken with Garlic, Capers and Oregano. My sister made this for us in Florence and we devoured it so enthusiastically that she sent me the recipe. Grazie, grazie. Mamma mia, it’s divine. We had leftover veggies and I also made one of T’s favorite recipes, Couscous with Celery, Parsley and Red Wine Vinegar. It’s an Amanda Hesser recipe that I discovered while reading Cooking for Mr. Latte when we lived in Amsterdam. For many years, it was a staple side dish. Then, for no good reason, I stopped making it and tonight decided to remedy things. It’s fab!

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chicken with capers, garlic and oregano

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