Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fishy Plans for Nursery

I love it when inspiration strikes. 

The other day I was skimming the Garnet Hill catalog when I came across this cheerful fish pattern.  As I've been posting, I'm on the lookout for nursery inspiration of the sort that is gender-neutral, doesn't scream "baby", but is visually stimulating and appropriate for young children.  I think I may have really scored here.

Right now, plans are to use the sheets to make drapery and pillows.  My initial thought is to paint the walls in an imperfect, variegated stripe incorporating the fish colors plus white, and perhaps paint enlarged versions of the fish on one wall.  Then I just need some type of solid colored bedding and voila, kids' room accomplished! 

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Quick Post: ABC Poster Cool Yet Adorable - The Holy Grail!

In my search for nursery decor, I came across this ABC Animal Poster at for $50. 

It comes in three colorways - mainly pink, mainly blue, and this gender-neutral orange and green version (may coordinate well with the hippo bedding from Target...)  I just wish it were bigger because I think it would make a great statement in our nursery.  Still, maybe it would be good for a smaller wall somewhere. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Shrimp and Corn Chowder - Cozy Meal Alert!

Sometimes I'm moved to post about a recipe when it's really good, really easy, or in this case, both.  I found this one in Real Simple this month and it sounded straightforward enough for even me to follow (explanation a few paragraphs down.)

There were very few ingredients I had to venture beyond my scheduled trip to Aldi/Trader Joe's for, but nothing particularly obscure.  Fortunately the one other supermarket I visited had good looking fennel as well as the clams and clam juice I needed.  Aldi had the shrimp (frozen) for $3.50 and I think they may have paid me to take the package of frozen corn.  (Normally I don't eat that much corn because it's not super-high on my list of nutritional veggies, but sometimes you have to make an exception.)  The leeks I got at TJ's, pre-trimmed and cleaned, which was helpful because, having never cooked with leeks before, I wasn't sure how much or how little of them I was supposed to use. 

Anyway, here is the recipe with a few minor adaptations.  Each time I try to follow a recipe, I'm reminded of why I don't bake very often.  With a recipe for cooking, if you screw up, it's usually still going to taste okay but just a little different than what might have been originally intended.  With baking, if you mess up, it's just not going to work at all.  And for some reason, I'm incapable of following a recipe precisely. 

Last night I added 4 cups of milk instead of 3, for no reason - just because I read it wrong - and also chose not to buy potatoes at any of the three grocery stores I went to because they weren't in the recipe.  I thought to myself, multiple times in each of the stores, "it's funny - it's a chowder and it looks like there are potatoes in the photo of the finished product, but there just aren't potatoes called for in the recipe, so I'm not buying them." 

Well, when I went to make the soup, I realized that there were indeed potatoes listed right there on the ingredient list and the soup was going to be lacking some serious heartiness without them.  Why hadn't I just bought a couple, just in case?  I have no idea.  I had to send my husband out for some on his way home because I was convinced the soup would just not be filling enough without them.  Happy ending, but yet another demonstration of my inability to follow directions.

In any case, this recipe is obviously pretty foolproof and I highly recommend it!

Shrimp and Corn Chowder with Fennel

• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 2 leeks (white and light green parts), chopped
• 1 fennel bulb (and green stems**), chopped
• kosher salt and black pepper
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 8-ounce bottle clam juice
• 1 small can clams in clam juice **
• 4 cups whole milk **
• 1 pound potatoes (2 medium potatoes), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 3/4 pound cooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp
• 1 16-ounce package frozen corn**
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• Juice of one lemon (at least 2 Tblsp)
• bread, for serving (optional)


1. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes; stir in the flour.

2. Add the clam juice, milk, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and corn and cook until the potatoes are tender and the shrimp and corn are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Serve with the bread, if using.

Salt to taste while cooking

** Changed from or added to original recipe

By Kate Merker, February 2010