Sunday, November 30, 2008

Butternut squash sweet potato soup

Here are the recipes for the greenbean salad and squash soup -- both of which turned out really good.

Green bean salad:
2 cups blanched green beans
1 cup of fennel, sliced thin
approx 1/2 cup calamata olives
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt & pepper
4 oz feta cheese
some lemon juice
2 slices of decent bread, toasted and cut into chunks

Toss all but the bread together and let it sit for a while, then add the bread. It was really good.

The soup was from the NY Times' fitness and nutrition section

The only thing I did differently was add some garlic and allspice, and some grated parmesan at the end. Really good. We had leftover soup tonight, with a spinach and grated carrot salad with a warm shallot/olive/cherry tomato dressing. And some feta thrown in. I had a ton of spinach from the CSA in the fridge, and was happy to use it.

I also spent the majority of teh day reading about survey design, and pre-coding survey instruments to allow for easier analysis and data entry after the fact. No small feat, that. It really is amazing how many details there are to figure out with this survey business. Aside from the conceptual issues of what to ask people and why -- and planning what to do with the data once you've got it -- there are a million details having to do with things like sampling, of course, but also formating, wording, placement of words on a page .... I'm having trouble getting through the conceptual things because I am a bit overwhelmed with the practical. But I have an actual draft survey (in brochure form, pre-coded) to work from, so maybe that's a start. I really, really, need to get to the data collection part, and fast. The survey methods book i am currently reading tells me that I am at stage 8 or so of a 12 step process. I had felt pretty much at step 2, so at least that's encouraging news.

Oh -- I have all of these pomegranates I need to figure out what to do with. i just don't really see the point of them. It's all seedy and sour, and hard to get at. Maybe puree it and make syrup or sorbet or something?

Friday, November 28, 2008

So I got less done at the coffee shop (Vivace in Capitol Hill's new location, which is pretty nice and has this separate glass-windowed marble countered room that is a self-policed quiet zone filled with stressed out people working on their laptops) than I hoped, and decided to just stop fooling myself and get the cooking that I want to do over with.

But first a bit on the work I am failing to get done. At the moment, I'm trying to write a survey for my dissertation, and finding it really hard. My research is on the federal "Section 8" housing voucher program. In a nutshell, very poor people--basically at the poverty line or below--get a voucher that they can use to find rental housing on the private market, and the government pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord on their behalf (the household pays 30 to 40% of their monthly income in rent, whatever that turns out to be).

My dissertation is about where these folks end up (i.e., good neighborhoods? "Bad" neighborhoods? All in the same neighborhood?), and why. A goal of the program is to give people the opportunity to move to better neighborhoods, but a lot of people -- about 1 in 5 -- end up in pretty high-poverty neighborhoods. The point of the survey is to ask people what they want to do with the voucher: where they want to go and why, and ho wthey approach the process of moving. I'm having trouble sorting through the issues to just get something written and done. In part because there are WAY more issues involved with putting a survey together than I ever anticipated, and many have nothing to do with the issues I am interested in researching, and more to do with the process of surveying people in a big, diverse, city. More on that some other time, or multiple times, most likely.

Before I left for the coffee shop, I started some bread rising -- from Mark Bittman's easy no knead bread recipe, which deserves all the word of mouth it has gotten. The bread was started because: 1) it is cold and gray outside; 2) I have bread flour and yeast; and 3) I have green beans from the CSA box and saw a recipe in some magazine for a green bean panzanella salad. You have to have bread for a bread salad.

Keep in mind that I already made a caramel pecan pie yesterday (2384756234765 calories per slice) that I am eating single handedly. But whatever. Why not have a giant loaf of bread, to boot. I am back on the stair-running food-diary kick, so I feel like I can get away with it.

Anyway -- I also have sweet potato, butternut squash and regular Russet potatoes (the damn CSA send me potatoes EVERY week and it is killing me). So a ginger squash soup recipe, also on the NY Times site seems like a good idea, too. No cream in it, and I can use my immersion blender, which is on my top 5 list of favorite things these days. But that will have to wait until tomorrow, I think, because Jake just got a call and it looks like we'll go get a drink with his friend Tristan and his very cool girlfriend Kate.

Recipes for all to follow soon.

Martha in Seattle!

This marks my first effort at creating a way to keep up with friends and family, and hopefully organize some of the random crap that clutters my head and desk. And to keep track of some recipes.

Being that I have not actually told anyone that I am starting a blog, and I have no idea how to edit the blog yet -- this is pretty much for my eyes only.

I anticipate several themes coming up quite frequently, and I hope to keep them somewhat orderly once I figure out how to work all of the tabs and buttons on the blogspot editing pages.

In no particular order:

1. Dissertation progress and housing issues.
  • This will most likely be for myself and of little or no interest to anyone but me, but I think it might help if I write it down.
2. Cooking, baking and thinking about food.
  • So recipes and food facts. I spend an inordinate amount of mental energy on food. You'll see. And I just joined a community supported agriculture delivery service, so am constantly battling the box of vegetables that arrives at my door every week.
3. Working out. I am a bit obsessive about this, too. It keeps me sane and lets me to pretty much do whatever I want in terms of Item 2.

4. The dog.
  • This will probably be many pictures of Rocky lounging, but possibly also snuggling with Jake.
4. Talking about Seattle
  • "Talking" was originally "Complaining," but I am trying to start off on a positive note. In all likelihood, this also involves missing New York, random great finds in Seattle, and trying to find things that I can get in New York.
So here it goes. At the moment I need to do some actual dissertation work so that I can justify spending more time doing things like thinking about blogs, but I will check back in soon.

Much love,