Meyer Lemon & Lavender Marmalade, plus Another Birthday

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When life give you lemons, or your husband brings home a large bagful from his lovely co-worker's tree, you clear your Saturday afternoon, and make marmalade.

It might have been wise to follow a recipe, or stay close to the oven, but, I'm not always wise. Sometimes, I'm lazy, and often impatient. In my opinion, this marmalade came out better than the tangerine version. I prefer the sourness and texture of this marmalade. It's not as sweet, and because I tried multi-tasking, it's also a little burnt and has a deep amber color. See, there's a positive in there. Actually, it didn't burn too much, just a bit, and I kept these "extra flavor added" jars for myself.

I don't necessarily have a recipe to share, I kind of improvised. But here's a little something for you. I first made a lavender simple syrup. Then I sliced lemons for a long time. Then I cooked the lemons with the syrup, added more white and brown sugar, added orange zest, let the mixture come to a boil, cooled it a bit, let it boil once more, and canned several jars. It took most of the afternoon. But, when you spread the stuff over an English muffin with cream cheese, you realize it's just ONE afternoon, and enjoy the lemony goodness that is this marmalade.
Today I am also celebrating another birthday. It feels like I just had a birthday. I remember blogging about it. I remember the cocktails and my fancy gifts. But, taxes are due again, so I know that time is here -- taxy, birthday time. 

This year, a group of us gathered for a Chinese seafood feast, where I had almost everything from the sea. It was delicious and fun, and most of my friends were hung over. What are friends for if not showing up at to your birthday brunch looking queasy and begging the waiters for water? 

At brunch there was a very large Lazy Susan at our table, and it made me miss our friend, who is still, somehow, voluntarily living in Texas. We had officially renamed the Lazy Susan to Lazy Tillman, and I realized it's been many years since Lazy Tillman had celebrated my birthday with me. I was a little sad thinking this as I devoured the delicious lobster that must have weighed at least 10 lbs. But, there was much food to be eaten, so I put the sadness aside.

Today when I arrived home, a gift was waiting at my front door. A gift from Texas. I was hesitant. Lazy Tillman is known for getting me two things 1) her art, which I love and 2) weird stuff, she knows I will not love. There was no art work in the package. Instead there was this dandy Alamo apron. Remember the Alamo? I now will. 

I've been in a new job haze these last two weeks, soaking up the beauty that is Caltech. I've patiently looking forward to our Hawaiian escape later this month, where I get to celebrate for realz, by showing up to brunch hungover. Just kidding, I'm adult now!
So here's a goodbye to 30, and a warm, sunny welcome to 31. (Today is officially the gloomiest day on record for my birthday; it's been raining and feels like fall, my favorite season. Thank you weather gods, you know me so well.)


Curried Mussels on St. Patty's Day

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When I think about St. Patrick's day, drunk, loud douche bags come to mind. That and our first-kiss anniversary. Who celebrates first kisses? We do. Because the husband made it a big deal (and because we like celebrations). That day, I received my first four-leaf clover and was taken to the most romantic place in Whittier, the barefoot boy statue/pond outside the library (which I hear now lives in some storage unit). There, at 14, I was tricked pretty good with that clover magic, and here we are, 16 years later, enjoying curried mussels and sharing our special day with drunk bros everywhere.

The husband has been pretty consistent with his annual four-leaf clover St. Patty's gift. But, the last few years, it's been tough. Four-leaf clovers are apparently hard to come by. I've never found one myself, but I have heard stories of five-hour searches. So this year, I told the husband he can skip the clover. If he wanted to do something for five hours, the garage needed a good cleaning. But, when I woke up that morning, a clover was waiting for me. And I was glad for it.
We started our day with brunch at King's Row in Old Town Pasadena, where I had chicken and waffles and a spicy Bloody Mary.

Then we visited our friends, who purchased a house nearby, and strolled around South Pasadena. We picked up mussels on our way home, and I steamed them with coconut milk and curry paste. We made salad with lettuce from the garden, and opened some fancy white wine. 

The mussels were delicious, with lots of garlic, lemongrass and Thai basil. If you've never cooked mussels this way, it's easy, and takes about 20 minutes. A quick meal, that's also fancy. Serve them with crusty bread, and be prepared to be impressed with yourself.
The husband made a new friend, Gina. 
Garden greens.
And here's to another 16 years. 


Crab Stir Fry

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When you tackle the first round of Spring cleaning projects, you need a reward. I knew before the cleaning had begun that my reward would be crab. 

We took a quick trip to Fish King and came home with cooked crab and oysters. I wasn't sure what to do with an already cooked crab, but thanks to the internets, got the idea to do a Chinese-style stir fry, with loads of garlic, ginger and scallions. Combined with lemongrass, soy and oyster sauce, the dish came together quickly and this was some of the best crab we've ever had.
 I served the crab alongside an arugula, fennel and orange salad.
Oysters and Rosé to complete the meal.