Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Recap

Actually, it's a week recap. We went to DC on Wednesday to visit friends and take the kids to the National Zoo. First of all...the trip there sucked. What, you ask, bad weather? Oh, no. Just BAD KIDS. Road trips are the only thing I don't love about my Volvo Wagon. There are just not enough degrees of seperation. Actually, I think BabyBoy would be fine but BabyGirl nagged the ENTIRE time and when we didn't indulge her, she picked at him. UGH!
We got there and hung out with my Dad Wednesday night. He has a corporate apartment in Manassas so we stayed with him. Took the kids to a Japanese restaurant. Hilarious. They were really good and we had a lot of fun.
Now, just in case you don't know, Manassas...NOT EVEN CLOSE TO DC. We left the apartment at 10am Thursday morning to avoid early morning traffic. We finally made our way to the Zoo at about 11am. Parking lots were full. NICE. So we parked behind the zoo on a neighborhood street that had two hour parking. We just figured we'd suck up the ticket and hey, atleast we didn't have to pay to park. I had to push the double stroller with a 40 lb. five year old and a 35 lb. four year old because Dr. Daddy had both carpel tunnels operated on last Tuesday. Great exercise. Needless to say, the double stroller has now been passed on to my dear friend so that she may someday walk her ass off. Literally.
The Zoo was fun but not as great as I expected. I've been told the Carolina Zoo is better. The kids had a great time, though, and that's all that matters.
We fought rush hour traffic to get from downtown DC to Alexandria where my friend lives. Now, admittedly, I have a bit of a potty mouth. It seems to have gotten worse lately. At one point in traffic I yelled out "What the F*CK are you doing?" to the person in front of me. At which time BOTH children started SINGING in unison "What the F*CK are you doing, what the F*CK are you doing?" Dr. Daddy was smart enough to keep it zipped at that point. I'm sure he was just DYING to criticize that whole catastrophe.
We finally got to Shannon's house and had fun playing with baby Abby. The most adorable baby ever. BabyBoy instantly became a Wii addict. I must admit, I kind of enjoyed the tennis myself. After dinner, it was ALL THE WAY BACK to Manassas.
Then, the next morning we headed East again. This time only as far as McLean, where we met Shannon and Abby at the most amazing park ever. Clemyjontri.It was amazing. The kids had a blast and afterward we headed off to my favorite lunch spot, La Madeleine. After that, we were on the road home.
The weekend was busy with birthday parties and the local garden tour. The homes were fabulous and I had a great time working as a "tour guide" at one of the homes. It's always fun to get new ideas for decorating and floral design.
Saturday night we had our cocktail club and our supper club. Luckily, they were right across the street from one another. Our supper club had a french theme. I was so excited that we seemed to have the best food ever! I took this wonderful dish from the Barefoot in Paris Cookbook.

Beef Bourguignon
Copyright Ina Garten, All rights reserved

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup Cognac
1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
1 can (2 cups) beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen whole onions
1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced
For serving:
Country bread or Sour Dough, toasted or grilled and rubbed with garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, optional

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley.

And now, the photo recap...


Preppy Engineer said...

Precious photos. I especially like the one of Daddy and Daughter!

Kate said...

Too cute! Love their matching outfits in the first photo.

I love just walking around the National Zoo when the weather is nice. It isn't the greatest zoo but you can't beat the fact that it's free!

Belle in Bloom said...

Your children are adorable! Looks like a great trip. I passed on the Volvo for that very reason. You wouldn't believe what I'm getting ready to buy instead...

I'm Just Beachy said...

Oooo! La Madeline is so good!

cancersucks said...

Great pictures and recap! La Madeleine was one of my favorite restaurants when we lived outside of Dallas. I long for my Volvo wagon....three car seats just didn't fit in there..maybe when we are retired!

Nelly said...

OHH MY GAHHHH. Obsessed with your children. (You know this already!) -- Loved the pics and glad ya'll had fun.

PS: your dad called me a sassy wench this weekend? Im not sure how to take that?

Renee said...

Google Reader told me that I should check you out, based on the other blogs I have subscribed to. And it (he? she?) was right - you're great! I loved this description of your weekend in the DC area - I grew up in Fairfax (just moved away in 2005). I had never heard of that park in McLean, but I checked out the link and it looks SO fun! We're heading up to DC (from Houston) on May 17 and will spend a month there visiting our families (my people are in Fairfax still; hubby's are all in Alexandria) and I am totally going to check it out. I agree with you that the National Zoo is not the greatest - doesn't the whole thing seem to be uphill? And besides the pandas, there's not much that's unique about it. I'm looking forward to taking my kids to a few Smithsonian museums this summer - we were there last year too but the kids were a little young to enjoy the museum thing. This year I'm thinking that at least my 2 oldest (ages 6 and 4) will get something out of it. Okay, I'm rambling. Just wanted to say hello and that I love your blog!

-Renee (aka The Renee) :)