Wednesday, October 26, 2005

We’ve had some great Sunday dinners at Lisa and Mike’s place recently. This past week we had a collaboration based upon what each of us had in our fridge. Lisa had a rib roast, which she served bloody rare – exactly to my liking. I made an awesome roasted chicken. The recipe follows:

The Best Roasted Chicken Ever with a Lovely Country Gravy

For the Roast Chicken:
1 Roaster 5 – 6 lbs., gizzards removed
1 lemon, halved
1 onion, halved
3 T butter
a few sprigs of rosemary
sprinkling of herbs de provence

For the Gravy:
Reserved Gizzards
1 Bay Leaf
A sprinkling of Herbs de Provence
2 carrots, halved
2 Stalks of celery, halved
1 large onion, quartered
Vermouth, white wine, or sherry for deglazing
2 T flour

Place oven rack on second level and preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lemon, onion, rosemary and butter. Season the cavity and skin with salt, pepper and herbs de provence.

Place the chicken in a 12-by-8-by-1 1/2-inch roasting pan, breast-side up. After ten minutes, flip the chicken so it is basically upside down. The breast should have a good crisp skin by this point. If for some reason it doesn’t, wait to flip until it appears brown and crisp. Roast it 50 to 60 minutes, ( 10 minutes per pound) or until the juices run clear.

While the chicken is roasting, make a quick stock by putting the gizzards, celery, onion, carrot, bay leaf and herbs de provence into a saucepan with a cup or two of water. Simmer for an hour or so, skimming fat. When done, remove gizzards. Chop liver into tiny bits and discard other gizzards. Chop one onion, carrot and celery, discard the rest.

Remove the chicken to a platter by placing a large wooden spoon into the tail end and balancing the chicken with a kitchen spoon pressed against the crop end. As you lift the chicken, tilt it over the roasting pan so that all the juices run out of the cavity and into the pan. Pour off excess fat from the pan and put the pan on top of the stove. Deglaze with vermouth, add flour and whisk so that there are no lumps. Slowly add the stock while continually whisking. Add the livers, onion and carrot and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce a bit.

Carve chicken and serve gravy along with it.

Seriously good comfort food.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The weather has been so depressing these past few days with incredibly gloomy days and lengthy downpours. My spirit has been lifted though by two wonderful things. First, our dear friends Lise and Richard will most likely visit us at Easter next April which will be a huge treat for both of us, and as an added bonus, they might be bringing Gulsemin, a lovely and absolutely hilarious French gal who works with Lise and is also a good friend of ours! The second mood elevator is that we have a booked a villa for a week next June in Cotignac, Provence with the same gang from last year. We really hit it off well as a group and thought if we tried to do this on a yearly basis, it would be a good way to keep our friendships with the Munich gang nice and fresh! This time we've splashed out on a more rural place with an outdoor kitchen and pool!!! Only eight months from now....

Friday, October 21, 2005

As mentioned, I am working for Tom this week. A pet peeve of mine is bad telephone manners. I just had this broad call and say “Hello, who I am talking to?” a statement which is wrong on so many levels. First, I was taught never to end a sentence with a preposition and second, I don’t think you should ever start a phone conversation by asking the person on the other end to identify themselves without first identifying yourself. I identify myself first and hope that they respond in kind and if they don’t, I find a more polite way of asking. Rant over.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I joined a new gym last week and have been going every weekday morning at 6:30 a.m. When I exercise in the morning, I get a real boost and it starts my day off in really positive way. Convincing myself to get out of bed is a job entirely, but I have not skipped yet! Taking control feels great.

The facility is fantastic. It's called The Philadelphia Sports Club and it is at the end of Kings Highway near Route 70. Three minutes in the car and I'm there. I really wanted to join a place so close I'd have no excuse to shirk! Anyhow, the gym is quite nice and EMPTY!!!!! Perfect for me. I like to exercise alone and quietly. I find that doing it solo allows me to focus better.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I took Henry to the veterinarian this morning. He’s been pissing in the house which is extremely odd for him. I am not sure if it is a flare up of the separation anxiety he experienced in Munich, or a urinary tract infection. The vet gave us some medicine and said to report back to him in a few weeks if the problem hadn’t gone away. It better go away. I love my dog, but I hate cleaning messes!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

As I said yesterday, I’m working for Tom for a few weeks and he wasn’t in for the most of the day. Bob and I spent a good deal of the day yelling back and forth about the WXPN countdown and discussing music in general. We’re the same age and share the same frame of reference and consequently feel nostalgic about the same music.

After a morning of debating music, we then had lunch together yesterday. The conversations we have really run the gamut and are always lively and always interesting. Yesterday’s topics ranged from the band The Foo Fighters to Randy Cohen’s “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. I love having freewheeling chats about everything under the sun. I love going aimlessly from one subject to the next.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I’ve been having a blast listening to WXPN’s 885 ALL TIME GREATEST ALBUMS list, compiled by a listener survey. They are down to the last ten albums and I’m curious as to which will be the number one. As far as I am concerned it should be “Blood on the Tracks” by Bob Dylan, or my other extremely sentimental favorite “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen. We shall see. In the meantime, it’s fun listening to them while I work for Tom replacing Jeannette while she gets married.

Speaking of which, I’ll be here for two and a half weeks. I love being back here. I love my buddies – Bob, who will be my new boss starting in January; Jason, who is a pal; and Danny, who is as nice as can be. I also adore Tom, who is one of my favorite people around and has become a really dear friend. Despite our obvious political differences, we have a great relationship. I really love him, trust him, and am comfortable revealing myself to him and know that he feels the same. We both know where “the bodies are buried” in each other's lives so to speak and that gives us a huge level of comfort and is a never ending source of private laughter between us!

In other news, Chris and I are getting married on December 28th while his family is visiting from England. After much discussion this past year, we’ve decided to keep it extremely small and intimate with only our families in attendance. It was a tough call, but once we invited one friend, it was going to get out of control. I’m sure our friends understand and give us their love and support. Joanna has already started on the dress hunt, saying she needs to be involved in some way! In all honesty, she was the hardest for me to exclude given the extremely close nature of our relationship these past years, but she was sweet when I told her about it. I would really expect nothing less from her. She’s been a great friend. But Chris was adamant about all or nothing and in the end, I totally agree with him. I am as far from being a blushing bride as one could possibly be and I didn’t want a bunch of hoopla. We love one another and want to make a commitment in a very simple way.

P.S. I plan to update this on a daily basis from hereon.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

It's three hours before the party and I am completely knackered (British slang for tired and exhausted). I still have a wicked head cold that is doing a number on me. But despite several blips such as an all day funeral yesterday and the electric company mistakenly cutting our power yesterday, all is going well!

Yesterday was the quintessential day from hell. My aunt Rita died. She was married to my mom's brother Vincent, and she was a really nice lady. Anyway, her funeral was yesterday. First, at 9:30 a.m., we went to the viewing in one of those places on Funeral Row on Broad Street in South Philly. Afterwards we went to the church which was also in South Philly. Then we trekked through Southwest Philly to the cemetary and afterwards back across the city to another place for a luncheon - by which time it was 3 p.m. and we were all starving. The luncheon was punctuated by my 77 year old mother's anger at her 80 year old sister. Nice. My mom is dead right on this one, but I do not think a funeral reception is the place to vent your hostilities and Gina, Lisa and I all told her so. She managed to behave herself though I do think it took everything she had in her. I was imagining a senior citizen's rumble in front of a coffin.

After that, my mom went home with my aunt and uncle and Lisa, Gina and I went to 30th Street Station to pick up Chris, who was coming back from D.C. The traffic was a nightmare and it took a long time to get home. Chris and I got back to our place around 6:30 to find our electricity had been cut off for nonpayment, which was wrong! I started hyperventilating but managed to pull it together and call PSE&G to find the problem had nothing to do with us. We had to prove we bought the house on August 9th by faxing our settlement sheet to them. Off the three of us (me, Chris and Henry) went to Tom's office. I got a really nice gal at PSE&G and schmoozed the hell out of her and after she was satiusfied that we are the new owners of this house, she managed to get the electricity turned back on within the hour. They apologized when they came back and we breathed a sigh of relief!

I've just showered and am going to take a nap and chill out for a few hours before the party starts. Hopefully, I'll update this in the next few days with some drunken party pics!