Welcome Home Week, Continued

Last night was night three of Welcome Home Week.  We had Roast Chicken, which I make almost weekly, so I was happy to hear it was missed.


In case you can’t read my serial-killer handwriting, that menu reads:

Boshetto Tartufo with Truffle and Fresh Pear

Lemon Roast Chicken with Potatoes and Arugula

~~ Intermission for Bedtime (For Those Under 5-years-old) ~~

Berries with Chambord and Vanilla Cream

with Talisker (& Reading)


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I’ve made lots of roast chickens (or is the plural chicken?) and I’ve learned that separate salad plates when you have all those great juices are just a waste of dishwasher and table space.  I always make a very lemony vinaigrette with this and drizzle it over the top of the chicken, potatoes and salad, but it’s the mixture of the vinaigrette and pan juices that makes the “sauce”.  I’ve also learned to cut the potatoes into rounds, or “coins” because they lay flat on the bottom and sides of the cast iron and get brown and crispy more evenly than wedges.

When I plate the chicken, I just cut the breasts into thick slices and lay them on the salad and potatoes.  This chicken feeds my family of four very well.  There are never many leftovers, but I do save what’s left for chicken stock.

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For dessert, we skipped the Berries with Chambord and Vanilla Cream and just had a little bit of the Talisker with a dramatic reading of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Scotsman’s Return From Abroad”.   My husband is not Scottish, but it’s hard to find a poem titled, “The Part English and Part Italian’s Return from South West Asia,” so we made do with what was on hand.

– Catherine

Welcome Home Week


My husband just returned from a two-month trip for his job.  I didn’t mention it until now because of a little policy we call EnFamSec (Encyclopedia Family Security).  As I’ve mentioned before, my husband is a hard-bound encyclopedia set salesman and often has to travel increasingly longer distances to find a customer not ruined by the internet.  If you’re reading this, you’re obviously NOT the ideal customer, but I hope you can appreciate that he and other “Warriors of the Hard Copy, Static Information Age” are trying to harken us back to a simpler time.

Imagine your young children, happily “paraphrasing” a static, immediately outdated synopsis of the Titanic, or the history of the waffle cone at the kitchen table, prattling on about their hopes and dreams and the interpersonal dynamics of their social circle instead of cloistering themselves in their room to do their homework on a computer, far from your gaze and reach.  Think about all the time we could return to middle school teachers by giving them essays and reports that were all mined from the same, limited resources.  We could give teachers their evenings and weekends back and restore the family unit!  And, let’s face it, Chinese hackers target the Wall Street Journal, not the Encyclopedia Britannica.

Just some food for thought.  Now, some thoughts about food:


To welcome him home on Monday, we had a family favorite, Chinese Five Spice Braised Pork, which I’ve written about here and here.  And, because the food provided for the Encyclopedia Corps is not heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables, last night I honored a request for a “Big Salad”, by making a semi-custom Cobb Salad.


I say semi-custom, because we deviated a little from the classic Cobb salad components by adding hearts of palm and replacing the traditional blue cheese with Feta, which my girls prefer and we don’t mind the difference.


The rest of the week will be filled with more welcome home favorites.  Come back!  Unless of course I’ve convinced you to get your information exclusively from encyclopedias from now on…

– Catherine

Sausage and Lentils



This is something we eat quite often and both Catherine and I have tried to post this recipe several times but we can’t get a good photo.  Sausages don’t photograph well.  I won’t try to pretend that these could make the cover of Vogue but at least they don’t look like they are on a fast track to the wastewater treatment facility.   Slicing the sausages to serve seems to help.

This is a great winter meal that comes together pretty quickly.     It’s warm and savory and so good.   I like to serve it with a spinach salad.  -Andra

Sausages and Lentils    serves 4

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 carrots, diced

1 Red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced

4 large leaves of swiss chard, chopped into bite sized pieces

2 cups of chicken broth

2 cups of water

2 cups of lentils

2 teaspoon of dried thyme

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

8 sweet Italian sausages

Heat the broiler to high.  Place the sausages on a rimmed baking sheet and pierce with a knife so that they don’t explode while cooking.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large saute pan.  Add the onions, carrots, and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent.   Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and stir until the garlic is fragrant.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add the lentils, broth and water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

While the lentils cook, put the sausages under the broiler for 6 to 7 seven minutes until browned on one side.  Turn and cook for an additional 6-7 minutes. Once brown all over, remove from the oven.

Add the chopped swiss chard to the lentils and cover for about 5 minutes more until the swiss chard is wilted.  Remove from heat and stir in the red wine vinegar.  Taste for seasoning and serve with sausages laid over the top.



Guys DO make passes at girls with mustaches


We hope you have your Valentine plans ready to go for tomorrow.  There is nothing worse than being that guy or girl running into CVS at 6:15 p.m. on February 14.  The card selection will mostly be wiped out and your only option will probably be a Valentine’s day card for your great-grandmother or  “from all of us” to your boss.  And a tube of toothpaste or a box of condoms doesn’t send a message of love.  Well maybe it does, but probably not the way you mean it.  Or maybe that is what you mean.   In any case, we would like to offer a card that you can use if you find yourself in a pinch.  This poem is an original, written by my husband.   Now I can truly call him a warrior-poet.   (If you use it, please give props where they are due.)

I found the mustache mold at Michael’s and used Wilton candy melts and lollipop sticks to assemble what I hope will be the most original Valentine’s Day sentiment in my son’s classroom.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go clean out my bathroom of any hair removal products.  Apparently, I don’t need them anymore.

– Andra

Programming Alert: Walking Dead returns February 10. Have a zombie plan. That’s it. Just wanted to make sure you were aware.

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