Friday, September 17, 2010

Past Few Days

This has been a pretty laid back trip which is good with me. Jenny is already on maternity leave so we've been able to do what we do so well, just hang out.

Wednesday I went for my long walk. I have several walk/hike paths that I like to do when I'm here: one is hiking the gorge, one is about a three mile walk and the long walk is about 4 miles. Jenny lives in the mountains so each of the walks/hikes involves some serious climbing but most of all the long walk is killer steep uphill. I wish I knew what the actual inclines are but suffice it to say they make me work, hard. The long walk is so steep uphill that the first quarter of the walk takes me to the top and the remaining three quarters is down hill, maybe one third and two thirds but, something like that. I was a little frustrated with myself for how slow I had to take it going up the hills but as I climbed I began to remember that this path is so steep that I always have to take it pretty slow. Just when I thought I couldn't take it anymore I reached the top and started the descent. I love to jog downhill. Laugh if you will but my jogging pace is most people's walking pace and jogging downhill uses muscles that jogging on a flat surface doesn't use. I found my pace right away today and it felt great. I jogged about 1.5 miles which I was very pleased with given that I haven't jogged in 4 months. It also felt great to find my pace so quickly.

Thursday I got going early and went to Manor in the morning then the latterie in Blonay then spent the afternoon cooking.

I had a brisket from the farm which I cut in half.

One half went into the fridge with a steak sauce marinade. The marinade (really more of a steak sauce as there is no acid) recipe came from my friend Dave. He used it a few weeks ago on a hangar or flank steak which he then grilled. It was amazing. So anyway, I emailed him for the recipe but I had almost none of the ingredients so I did a lot of improvising. I used about a half cup of ketchup, a tablespoon of worcestershire sauce, sliced ginger (in place of horseradish) a few splashes of soy sauce, a tablespoon of course mustard (in place of Dijon style) a tablespoon of honey, paprika (in place of ancho chili powder), salt and pepper. I am going to try grilling the brisket mid-rare over charcoal tomorrow. I have read mixed things about how brisket eats at a rare temp and I am curious to see how it works out.

The other half of the brisket got rubbed with paprika, salt and pepper then went into a pottery roasting pan with an chopped mix of fresh mushrooms (a mix from the store with a bit of everything: chanterelle, shitake, morel and cremini), a can of chopped tomatoes, about 2/3's the can worth of water, three cloves of garlic and a sliced small hot red pepper. This all got covered with foil and went into a 300 degree oven for about four hours then out of the oven to cool and into the fridge over night.

Once the brisket was taken care of I made two batches of crust and quiche filling. One batch of crust is for a double crust apple pie that I will make this weekend and the other batch will make two quiche, one for while I'm here and one that went into the freezer along with filling so Jenny can have an easy meal when the baby arrives. For the quiche filling I used the same mushroom mix as I did for the brisket but for the quiche I quickly sauteed them on a high heat, set them aside then slowly caramelized an onion. The mushrooms, onions and some cubed fresh vacherin were added to eggs along with a bit of milk, salt and pepper. I've never cooked fresh vacherin so we'll see how that works. I've actually never had fresh vacherin until this trip. Though vacherines are some of my favorite cheeses I didn't know they were eaten in their fresh state. The texture is somewhat like tofu and the taste is very mild, almost like cream cheese but without the slight tartness.

Once I cleaned up the kitchen Jenny and I headed to Vevey to meet a group of her friends for a pizza dinner. There were about 12 or 14 of us (all ex-pats from various countries) and we had a great evening.

Today Jenny had a morning appointment with her midwife and while she was there I had a quick visit to the brocante that I like. After I picked her up from the midwife's we made a stop to get some art supplies for Nico then went to the Hermitage museum in Lausanne to see an Edward Hopper exhibit. I thought it would be neat to see his work in a European exibition and it was though I wasn't thrilled with the way the show was hung. The Hermitage has gallery rooms on four floors. Some of the notable pieces that I think strongly exemplify Hopper's esthetic of portaying that something about America in the 30's and 40's in that sparse, pared down way, were hung in the basement while the first floor had a room and a half of his works from Paris which are somewhat impressionistic and not strong (IMO) relative to all his other works. I thought it was interesting that these paintings hung on the main floor.

After the museum we headed back to Vevey and had massages: Jenny a back massage (while laying on her side) and me a foot and leg massage. I love foot massages and wish we had a place in Cleveland that understood the reflexology and foot massage. The foot massage was wonderful and one of the most relaxing massages I've had. I really went to another place and floated around in peacfulness for about an hour. Jenny treated me as a thank you for the party I had for her when she was home in the spring. That was a nice treat and a nice thank you! I am still hoping to get to Geneva before I leave for a repeat of the foot massage I had last year. It was different from today's massage in that it was more intense work on the foot muscles and pressure points. After being on my feet all summer for often 12-14 hours a day I have wayyyyyy been looking forward to having this particular foot massage again.

We came home and had the roasted brisket for dinner. I was pleased with how it turned out and Jenny and Nico were too. I love cooking for them as they are always very appreciative of my cooking.

We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching videos on the computer.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day One and Two

I landed in Geneva around 9 AM Sunday and took the train to Montreux. Jenny met me at the station in Montreux and I cried and cried when I saw her pregnant belly. It's hard to describe how it feels to see my sister pregnant. I never really imagined either of us having kids and now that she is on the way to that it's kind of strange to see her pregnant. I am so excited for her and she looks incredibly beautiful.

She was adorable getting in and out of the car.

I got to feel the baby move. I thought I wouldn't be able to stop touching her belly but really what it is is that I can't stop staring at her.

Yesterday we hung out around the house for a while. I fought taking a nap. I didn't sleep on the plane as I usually do so I was way having a hard time keeping my eyes open.

We ran out and got a nightie for her for when she delivers and then went to a little Thai place for dinner. When we got home we watched an episode of Weeds on my computer and I went to bed before we could start the next one.

Today I got up at 9 and went to the market in Vevey to get lake perch for a fish fry. They had no lake perch and there were far fewer vendors there today than there are on Saturday so I headed home without any goodies.

I cleaned out the fridge and defrosted the freezer as I usually do when I come visit. After that I went to the farms to get meat for the week and veggies and milk. I adore the milk we get from one of the farms here. The milk comes from Simmental cows, a variety commonly used for dairy in Switzerland. I would say the milk is similar in taste to the Holstein milk but while I don't love Holstein milk I love Simmental milk. The raw Simmental milk from this farm seems a bit sweeter than the raw Holstein milk I've had from a few different farms around the Cleveland area. That difference may in large part be from what they cows are fed (these are all pasture) but I think it is also just a difference between the cows.

For dinner I made simple pork chops that I browned in a pan then finished in the oven and sauteed red cabbage with onions and sauteed pumpkin.

Jenny and I watched two more episodes of Weeds after dinner and are now eagerly awaiting the next available downloads for the upcoming episodes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dust Off The Blog

Wow, it has been over a year since I last posted.

Steve and I have enjoyed some travelling together and had other fun adventures in the past year but I neglected to record them in my travel journal.

I've never been good about keeping a journal... how many times as a young girl or young woman did I try keeping a diary...that always lasted about 2 or 3 days.

Well, here I go again.

I want to be more diligent about recording my/our travels and adventures for myself. Having the blog to look back on gives me a way to relive and enjoy our past travels that relying on my memory does not allow for.

Today marked the first leg of my vacation travels.

I spent the morning making 100 jars of elderberry and elderberry/verbena jam and syrup then I finished packing for a week in Switzerland to visit my sister and 12 days in Italy and a weekend in Cincinnati for my cousin's wedding.

I left Cleveland shortly after 2 PM to drive to Cincinnati. The idea is to fly in and out of Cinci so Steve and I won't have to get in the car and drive down here the day after we return from Europe. The added bonus is that I get to spend this evening and tomorrow morning with my Uncle Jack. I'm looking forward to seeing my cousin Craig, his wife, Gretchen and their son Ben tomorrow. Unfortunately, Hanna won't be here too as she is with her mom for the weekend.

Uncle Jack made a lovely dinner and we sat and visited like we haven't done in way too long. I know the wedding weekend will be hectic so I am appreciative of this time for the two of us.

After the frenetic pace of making pies all summer this respite is already much appreciated.