Saturday, June 27, 2009

Duck Legs and Carrots (Page 398)

RECIPE #997

  • Date: Thursday, June 18, 2009 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I was looking for something to make from the Poultry section, and as I flipped by this one I thought, "Mmmm... duck. I haven't had duck in a while!" So I decided to try it out. I started by trimming off the excess fat from the duck legs, and rendering that fat on the stove top. Then I seasoned the legs with sea salt and pepper and then browned them in the rendered fat. I then took the duck legs out of the skillet and threw in some leeks, onion, and garlic and cooked for a few minutes. Then I added carrots and cooked some more. I seasoned the veggies and spread them in the bottom of a roasting pan. I added a bouquet garni of parsley, rosemary, and bay leaf, and I also added a jalapeno. Then I put the duck legs skin-side-up on the veggies and poured enough chicken stock in to come most of the way up the duck legs, while still leaving the skin exposed. I baked the dish, uncovered, for about an hour and a half. The duck legs turned out incredibly delicious. The meat braised in the liquid, leaving it moist, and perfectly prepared. Meanwhile, since the skin was just out of the liquid, it crisped to perfection. Brilliant! That skin was so, so delicious. My one complaint about this dish is that the carrots became rather overcooked, and the flavor of rosemary in the vegetables was overpowering. So while I absolutely loved the duck legs, the veggies just didn't do it for me. It's a minor sacrifice though for what my special gentleman described as the best duck he has ever had.

This recipe isn't online.

I am headed to Germany this evening for a week of math in the Black Forest! I am going to a conference taking place at a small institute nestled into the woods. I have been there a couple times before and it is very beautiful. I am looking forward to it, other than the travel required to get there. I really don't like flying to Europe. I don't like flying in general, but in particular I don't like flying through the night. I am too nervous to sleep on planes and as I get more tired, I get more unhappy about being on an airplane. It's not fun. Typically every summer I have one mathematical European adventure, but this summer has two in store for me (both of which I am looking forward to other than the traveling!) -- so I am trying to rally for two overseas airplane trips! Luckily today I am flying with a friend, which always makes things better.

This afternoon, though, I am enjoying a restful day in Chicago before my trip. My special gentleman and I drove up yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon I got together with my friend V to do some work. He and I had a productive afternoon and then my special gentleman and I went out to dinner with another friend, Alp. Now we are lounging around Brad and Deniz' condo after a walk along the lake. I need to finish a few things and then it is time to head to the airport. Next stop: Germany!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garlic-and-Soy-Marinated Pork Roast with Shitake Mushroom Gravy (Page 471)

RECIPE #996

  • Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2009 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: A

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. I started by marinating a pork loin roast for 8 hours in a mixture of soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, garlic, and pepper. Then I set the pork on top of some chopped onions in a roasting pan. I put a little water over the onions and then put the roast in the oven. I roasted until the meat was 145 degrees, then I let the pork stand for 25 minutes before carving. While it was standing I cooked thinly sliced shitake mushroom caps in olive oil with salt and pepper. Then I deglazed the pan the pork had cooked in with white wine, then reduced the wine. I added chicken stock then strained the sauce. I slowly added a beurre manie (READ: flour and butter smushed together), then the mushrooms, and simmered briefly. I seasoned the sauce and served it over the pork. How was it? Well my special gentleman ate in silence for a few minutes and then said, "I think this is the best pork loin I have ever had." It was good. Quite good. The meat came out flavorful, and very juicy. It was perfectly cooked. It was the sauce that made the dish stand out though. Although the sauce was quick and simple to make, it had great depth of flavor and was extremely delicious on the pork. The flavors in the sauce complemented wonderfully the flavors in the meat from the marinade. This sauce would have been very nice on chicken too, or just sopped up with a good piece of bread. It was a delicious pork dish. My only regret is that I didn't make it on a day when we had people over for dinner to share it with!

This recipe isn't online.

Between me and my special gentleman at least one of us has moved during the summer every year for the past 12 years. In other words, we have both done a lot of moving. And now we are moving again... My lease on my current apartment ends in August, and since I am staying in Bloomington next year, I had planned to stay in my apartment. But last October (yes, ten months before my lease ends) the leasing company demanded to know if I was going to renew. I told them almost certainly I was. The only ambiguity was that I was considering applying for a job in Michigan (which I did). I figured even if I managed to get the job they would probably let me defer to finish my postdoc (which they did), but you never know for sure. So I didn't want to sign a lease until the winter, when I would know more. Note: even if I couldn't have made a decision until, say, February, that still would have been six months before my lease ended! But, no, the leasing company couldn't wait, so they leased my apartment out from underneath me. And, as I expected, I was able to defer my new job and I am staying in Bloomington next year. But now I have to move. Grrrr.... I love the apartment I live in now, so it's extra infuriating. I like my new place too, and it's very close (only a block or two away), but it's frustrating having to pack up everything and move!

My special gentleman is moving to Michigan in the fall and we have an offer out on a house, so I thought when I moved apartments we could move most of our stuff to the house in Michigan and I could just take a few things with me. But we are still waiting to see if we will get the house, which means that now everything needs to go to my new apartment. But the new apartment is much smaller (since I thought we would also have a house and hence most of the furniture would go there...). So I don't know where all of our stuff is going to go! We are currently renting two storage units -- one in Bloomington and one in East Lansing -- but thy are both full! The move isn't happening until the middle of July, but I am about to leave town for 2 weeks, so that means the time to pack is now. I was standing in the shower yesterday, dreading the moving, and I had the thought that someday soon my special gentleman and I will live together, in a house. We won't be renting any apartments or any storage units. And we won't have to move for years and years. That will be so amazing! That thought gave me some peace. The end of the moving is near!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Passover Sponge Cake with Apples (Page 711)

RECIPE #995

  • Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

I waited until right before Passover to attempt to make this recipe, figuring then I would have the best chances of finding matzo cake meal. As it turned out, I couldn't find it even then, so I had to order it. By the time it came I was in the midst of getting ready for the wedding and I forgot to make it. It was the first thing I made when we got back from our honeymoon though. I separated 6 eggs then beat the yolks with some sugar for a long while, then added some lemon zest and lemon juice. In a different bowl I beat the whites with some salt and sugar until they formed stiff peaks. I folded matzo cake meal and potato starch into the yolks, then folded in the whites. I layered this batter in the pan with sliced apples and cinnamon sugar. Then I baked until it was cooked through. This cake was perfectly fine. It indeed had a very spongy texture: light but a little bit chewy. I liked the layers of cinnamon- doused apples and the apples were nicely cooked. My real complaint was just that it was dull. There was no punch to it, and consequently my special gentleman and I each ate a piece and then weren't too interested in eating any more. It's in the freezer now, and I am sure there will be a night a few weeks or months from now when we will dig it out and think, "Ooooo.... cake!" And we will be happy it's there.

The recipe is here.

Every semester I think, "This semester I am sure I will be traveling less than last semester!" I enjoy the traveling of course (well, not the traveling itself, but I enjoy being in other places and seeing people, giving talks, etc...), but in the last couple years it has gotten a little out of hand. In the summer, though, traveling is less stressful because I am not also teaching. Somehow when I first thought about this summer I thought my special gentleman and I would spend most of our time at home in Indiana, relaxing and getting work done. That vision, though, has changed. The summer so far has been pretty eventful. In May I only traveled two weekends, but we were getting ready for the wedding, which was a fair amount of work. And at the end of the month, of course, we had a lot of visitors! We left almost immediately after the wedding for our honeymoon, and returned home at the beginning of this week. Now, here comes the crazy part. Next Saturday I leave for a week in Germany for a conference. I fly back the following Saturday and my special gentleman and I will drive directly from the airport to my parents' place in Wisconsin. We will be there for a week, during which time my parents are throwing a small, "Yay marriage!" party for us, and we are also attending Melanie and Daniel's wedding (and many awesome pre-wedding activities!). We will drive back just in time for me to move apartments (long story -- I wish I didn't have to move!). We have three or four days at home to deal with the moving, then we are headed to Ohio to my special gentleman's parents' house. They are throwing us a reception to celebrate our marriage and then we are spending the week with them. We fly straight from Ohio to England, where my special gentleman will be working with a friend in his research area. After a week in England we are flying to Norway, where I am speaking at a conference. Then we fly home, where we will be for three days before we fly to California for a reunion with the swim crew (and to meet it's newest addition: baby Cate!). By the time we get back from that, my special gentleman is supposed to be in East Lansing. Our house still hasn't come through, and because we have been waiting for it, we haven't yet found him a place to live there. So who knows how that will go!

Basically this summer is CRAZY! Luckily it is crazy in a super fun way! All of these trips should be great, and for the vast majority of it my special gentleman and I will be together (which is a nice way to spend the summer we got married!).

I would say, "Well, things will probably calm down in the fall!" But they probably won't. I am teaching 350 students in the fall and my special gentleman and I will be living apart again. So I think it will be more than a little hectic! It is times like these that I think, "Thanks goodness we don't have kids yet!" I can't even imagine!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Coeurs a la Creme with Blackberries (Page 837)

RECIPE #994

  • Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Brian, Emilee, Sam, Teri, and Terry
  • Recipe Rating: B

My brother Spencer and his girlfriend Ellen got me coeur a la creme molds as a present this past Christmas. I was super excited, as those molds had been sitting on my Gourmet Project Wishlist for quite some time, and I just couldn't find them anywhere. You might be thinking to yourself, "What are coeur a la creme molds?" Chances are, you've never seen one. They are small ceramic molds, in the shape of a heart, with holes in the bottom. It's like someone took a ramekin, made it heart shaped, and then poked a bunch of holes in it. This item has limited utility. Many things you would make in a ramekin, even if you wanted them heart-shaped, would leak out the holes. So, the molds are very specific to this dessert, which isn't a popular one in the US, and hence I couldn't find them anywhere! Ellen found them though, and I had been waiting for a special occasion to try them out. When my parents and Emilee, Brian, and Sam were here before the wedding, I decided to give them a try and make this recipe. I started by beating together cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, and lemon juice. The Book then directs you to "Force mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl." They make it sound easy but in reality this was a HUGE pain. The mixture was very, very thick, and hence it was none too happy about going through a fine sieve. The Active Time for this recipe is supposedly 15 minutes, but that step easily took 15 minutes by itself. Once that was done, I lined the molds with a single dampened layer of cheesecloth, then I put the cheese mixture into them. I put them in a shallow pan in the fridge overnight. I made the topping by mashing blackberries with sugar, then adding more whole berries, creme de cassis, and lemon juice. I let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. I unmolded the coeur a la creme onto plates and topped with the berries. This dessert was a little odd. Obviously it was delicious, but it was so, so rich. It was like biting into a heart shaped blob of cream cheese. The one thing that was remarkably nice about this dish was the texture. Apparently forcing it through a fine mesh sieve was worth it because there was an incredible lightness to the texture, that did a bit to counterbalance the richness of the ingredients. The berries were also a lovely complement to the cheese. This was the type of dessert where the first bite was amazing, but then it was so rich that after a few bites I didn't want to eat it any more.

The recipe is here.

One more post about our honeymoon trip! Throughout our honeymoon, I was on the lookout for wildlife. I really wanted to see a moose (and eventually I did see one -- unfortunately it was dead by the side of the road). Even without a live moose sighting, we did have some funny wildlife moments. When we visited Yellowstone, we happened upon a small traffic jam. This was especially odd because Yellowstone was practically empty the day we were there. So what caused this traffic jam?

Bison in the road! There were lots of bison on the hill next to the road, and then there were two bison just walking down the road, leading a line of cars. It was pretty funny. Most people stayed in their cars, but a couple people were standing in the road to get pictures. This seemed like an especially bad idea given all the warnings in the park about how many Yellowstone visitors were gored by bison last year! They look harmless enough, but apparently they aren't always too friendly.

During our 4000 miles on the road, we drove through many areas where there were road signs saying "Open Range." Indeed in many of those areas there were cattle grazing very near to the road, and occasionally they would walk across the highway. Somewhere in Utah, though, we came upon this guy, who wasn't walking in the road, he was just standing there.

We figured he would probably move out of the way eventually, but we were wrong. He just stood there and stared us down until we went around. As we drove around him, he gave us a not-so-nice look!


Besides the bison and cows we also saw many, many deer, elk, antelope, and a variety of rodents we couldn't identify. No live moose though. Maybe next trip!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Beef Tenderloin with Cornichon Tarragon Sauce (Page 416)

RECIPE #993

  • Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Brian
  • Dining Companions: Emilee, Sam, Matty, Teri, and Terry
  • Recipe Rating: B

I picked this beef dish to make when Emilee, Brian, Sam, and my parents were visiting a few days before the wedding. Brian really did most of the work on this dish. I seasoned a center-cut, tied, beef tenderloin, then Brian browned it. We then put it in the oven to roast. Meanwhile, we combined shallots, white wine, and minced tarragon and simmered it until it was reduced. I then beat together butter and mustard in a mixer. Brian thinly sliced some cornichons, and we added the cornichons and some cream to the reduced shallot mixture. Then I whisked in the mustard butter and seasoned the sauce. Once the beef had cooked and rested, Brian sliced it and we topped it with the cornichon sauce. This beef certainly tasted good, but I wouldn't make this recipe again. Beef tenderloin is incredibly delicious, and browning and roasting it is a lovely way to prepare it. The sauce didn't do the meat justice though. For one thing, it was too thin. The main problem was the flavor though. The cornichons were just too overpowering. The mustard tarragon sauce would have been nice without the addition of the cornichons, but as it was it had a sour flavor to it that wasn't so nice. It was also odd having the cornichons in the very thin sauce. After saucing the meat it looked like beef with pickle slices on it -- it was not terribly appealing. The dish would have been better with a simple pan sauce.

The recipe is here.

We are back at home after a fantastic honeymoon! The last few days of our trip were awesome! On Thursday we drove from Northern Utah down to Moab, Utah. That afternoon we did a 7.5 mile hike in the Canyonlands National Park. It was AMAZING. The park was really deserted -- we didn't see another person for five miles during our hike. Lizards? Yes. People? No. One thing that was spectacular about it was the silence. Very few things can live in that type of desert environment, so it was incredibly quiet. The views really made the hike though. We stopped on several occasions to just sit and enjoy.


The hike had the most difficult rating in the hiking guide to Utah we were looking at. At the start I thought, "This isn't so hard!" But it turned out that a good chunk of the hike involved scaling up and down slippery rock. I was only scared at one point, when I was climbing up a nearly vertical face of rock and didn't have a good hold with either foot or either hand. Luckily my special gentleman was behind me and caught one of my feet! Here's a picture of me climbing down some rocks:

The other thing that made the hike tricky was that it wasn't super well marked. The trail was marked with cairns (piles of rocks) that are meant to tell you where to go. On more than one occasion we found ourselves surrounded by rock, looking for piles of rocks to tell us where to go! Eventually we found our way!

After our day of hiking in Canyonlands, we returned to Moab. The next morning we hiked at Arches National Park. We hiked the longest trail in Arches, which is about 6 miles. Here's Matt at the start of our hike:

It was pretty hot that day in the desert, and eventually I needed a little break:


After our hike at Arches we drove to Colorado where we stayed at a spa in the mountains for a couple nights. It was so great to be at a spa after two weeks on the road, doing lots of active things. The spa was incredibly gorgeous, and we relaxed! We sat in the three outdoor hot tubs. We swam in the salt water pool. We got massages. We went to an aerobics class. We sat in the steam rooms. It was great -- an absolute perfect end to our trip.

On Sunday we had a lovely lunch with our friends James and Laura in Denver, then we hit the road. We made it home last night, not too late. Now it's back to real life!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Onion and Bacon Tart (Page 71)

RECIPE #992

  • Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Emilee, Brian, Sam, Terry, and Teri
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I made dinner for our pre-wedding visitors a few days before the wedding. This was one component of that meal. I started by making the dough. I proofed the yeast in water and honey. Then I added flour and salt and kneaded it in my stand mixer. I let the dough rise for 4 hours. Meanwhile I made the topping -- I cooked chopped bacon and a little water until the fat was rendered. Then I removed the bacon from the pan and used the bacon fat to grease a baking sheet. I cooked onions slowly in butter, with some caraway seeds, salt and pepper. When the dough was ready, I spread it out on the greased baking sheet, spread it with a mixture of creme fraiche, thyme, and salt, then topped it with the pieces of bacon and carmelized onions. I baked this in a hot oven, on a pizza stone which had been heating in the oven for more than an hour. This dish was not at all what I expected ("tart" is definitely the wrong word for it -- there was nothing tart-like about the dough), but it was delicious. Honestly, you can't go too wrong with dough topped with caramelized onions and bacon, and this dish was a lovely rendition of that concept. The creme fraiche mixture was just barely detectable in the end, but it added a touch of creaminess that worked well. The dough had a great texture to it -- I think cooking it on a pizza stone contributed a lot to that. And the flavors of the onions and the bacon were, of course, delicious. It wasn't the most attractive dish, but it tasted great! Everyone seemed to like this dish quite a bit.

The recipe is here.

Hello from Utah! Our honeymoon trip continues to be awesome. On Sunday we drove from Wyoming to Utah. When I was making reservations for our trip, I had thought it might be nice to rent a house for a few days in the middle -- hotels get old after a while. The house we rented looked nice online, but it is even better than we expected! It's on a tiny island in a river that runs through a canyon. The house is the only thing on the little island, so we are surrounded by a beautiful rolling river. Here is a picture of my special gentleman standing in front of the house, on the footbridge that you cross to get to the front door.


And here's a picture of my special gentleman standing in the "backyard," which is really a beach, a fire pit, and a place to play horseshoes!


The inside of the house is really nice too! Despite how nice the house is, we have still been out exploring the area. Yesterday we rented all-terrain vehicles and rode on an ATV trail through the Wasatch Mountain Range. My last experience with an ATV was more than 15 years ago, and it ended badly (I still have scars!), so I was a little nervous about this. But it was incredible! Driving the ATV was super fun and the views only got more and more amazing as we rode higher and higher. Here's a picture of us in our gear:


My special gentleman and I decided to share one ATV and take turns driving. This, I think, was a bit of a mistake, as being on the back of the ATV was much more frightening than being the driver! We only had two close calls though, and both while I was driving. I tipped the ATV twice, but managed to catch it with my foot both times before we fell off. Unfortunately, one of the times I tipped it, I was driving through a river, so I ended up very, very wet when I used my leg to catch us! My special gentleman and I laughed about the fact that I tipped it and he didn't. Either I am less cautious than him (which seems highly unlikely!), or I'm a worse driver! I think the real answer is that I drove the roughest terrain... at least that's what I'm telling myself! Here's a picture of me on the ATV:

Today I woke up tired and wanted to do something a little more relaxing. So we went out on a beautiful lake in a canyon and paddle-boated and kayaked. Basically we boated out to the middle of the lake and then took a nice nap on the boat, soaking up the sun and enjoying the amazing views. After our day on the lake, we went indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golfing. It was odd, but fun!

Tomorrow is our last full day in this part of Utah, then we are headed south to visit Canyonlands and Arches National Parks!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Mexican Corn Soup (Page 86)

RECIPE #991

  • Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Emilee, Brian, Sam, Teri, and Terry
  • Recipe Rating: A-

A couple days before the wedding I wanted to make a dinner from The Book for our visitors. This was the soup I made with that meal. I started by cooking garlic, onion, and jalapenos in oil, then adding cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper and cooking a few more minutes. Then I added carrots and celery, cooked them for a few minutes then added chicken stock, water, and corncobs (with the kernels removed). After cooking that for a while, I added some of the corn kernels and cooked until the kernels were tender. I removed the corncobs then pureed the soup. To get it extra smooth, I forced it through a fine mesh sieve. Meanwhile I cooked the remaining kernels in boiling water until just cooked and I roasted red peppers in the broiler. I peeled and chopped the red peppers and added them and the corn kernels to the puree. The Book suggests serving this soup at room temperature, but I found it to be very delicious served hot, so that's what I did! This soup was quite good. The texture was perfect -- it was mostly smooth, studded with perfectly cooked corn and bites of roasted red pepper. The flavor was also lovely. The essence of the corn came through beautifully while the spices and aromatics gave it a good depth of flavor. It was a lovely summer soup that everyone enjoyed!

This recipe isn't online.

Hello from Wyoming! My special gentleman and I are on our honeymoon road trip! I admit, I was mildly dreading the 23 hour drive from home to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but actually it ended up being super fun. Bits of the drive were dull but for the most part, the scenery was beautiful. The last 7 or 8 hours of driving were in the state of Wyoming, and it was gorgeous. I also learned that I am excellent at predicting the weather in Wyoming. For instance, when the picture below was taken, I predicted heavy rain, straight ahead. And I was right!

After a few days of driving, we arrived in Jackson Hole on Thursday. Yesterday we started our day with a 9 mile hike in the Tetons. It was incredibly gorgeous. Here's a picture of me, from where we started our hike:

And a picture of my special gentleman a couple hours into our hike. The one downside of hiking with a marathon runner is that he never gets tired! About three and a half hours into the hike I was getting a little bit weary, but he was still suggesting ways to extend our route. We had a great time in the Tetons!
Today we had planned to go whitewater rafting on the Snake River, but when we realized that the high temperature was going to be 45 degrees and it was going to rain all day, we reconsidered our plans! Instead we spent the day at Yellowstone, which was really spectacular. We had planned to spend only half the day there, then come back to Jackson Hole and go to the rodeo, but Yellowstone was so huge and so magnificent that we ended up spending the entire day.

Tomorrow we are leaving Jackson Hole and heading to Utah! It's sad to be leaving Wyoming so soon -- there are a bunch of things we wanted to do that we didn't get to -- but I am excited about Utah!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Chicken Soup with Almond Matzo Balls (Page 123)

RECIPE #990

  • Date: Friday, May 8, 2009 -- 7pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: C+


I made this soup several weeks ago. I started by making the matzo balls. I mixed together eggs, vegetable oil, matzo meal, coarsely chopped almonds, chopped dill, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and chicken stock. I chilled the mixture for a couple hours, then formed it into little balls. I cooked the balls in simmering water, then put them in a pot of chicken broth and simmered. This soup was a disppointment. I didn't find these matzo balls to be nearly as good as typical matzo balls. The addition of almonds was ok, but it gave the matzo balls a bit of strange crunchiness that I didn't like. The seasoning was very offputting -- there was just too much cinnamon and dill. The matzo balls were also unusually heavy and dense. To top it all off, this recipe allowed for store-bought chicken broth. There are recipes in The Book which demand homemade stock, and this should certianly be one of them. So much of this soup is just plain broth that it is silly to use crappy canned broth. In summary, this recipe was not my favorite and I certainly won't make it again.

The recipe is here.

My special gentleman and I are married! Our wedding was on Saturday -- the whole weekend was just wonderful! In fact, the whole last week has been awesome! I'll write a few posts about the wedding (and soon I will have some pictures!), but everything went better even than I could have planned. The festivities started last Tuesday when my best friend Emilee, her husband Brian, and their 14-month old son Sam flew in. They stayed at our apartment with us all week, which was great fun! My parents also arrived on Tuesday. On Wednesday my mom, Emilee, and I did many wedding related errands, and Wednesday evening we all ate a big dinner together from The Book, then had some flights of scotch at a local bar. Thursday was wedding cake assembly day! (Yes, I made my own wedding cake!) I had made and frozen the cake layers in advance. On Thursday I made all the frosting, and assembled and decorated. It was awesome to have the moral support and help of my friends. A cake that big needs to have some wooden dowels and cardboard rounds inside it for structural support, and Brian helped out a ton with that. He's an experimental physicist, so he and my special gentleman worked together to make sure the cake had structural integrity. While I was whipping up batches of frosting, Brian was carefully sawing and filing wooden dowels to the exact right height. It was great fun! I ended up being super happy with both the appearance and the taste of the cake (red velvet cake with white chocolate cream cheese icing) -- I will post pictures as soon as I have some! Brian took a wonderful series of cake building pictures from the beginning of the assembly to the end of the decorating. After the wedding cake fun we finished up some more errands then went out for tasty Indian food. Friday the real festivities began! We had a "rehearsal dinner" in a beautiful outdoor area at the student union. We ate hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, baked beans, etc... it was just what I had a taste for! We had rented out a bowling alley, so after dinner we bowled, drank beer, and ate popcorn. I had an awesome time and I think everyone else had fun too!

I was up early on Saturday I was so excited! We had the wedding ceremony in our apartment, so Saturday was a busy day of setting up the chairs, decorating the apartment, doing some final cleaning, and getting ready! Luckily, I had tons of help! My mom, my aunt Julie, and my cousin Anne arranged all the flowers. Emilee, Brian, and my special gentleman helped set up all the chairs. Chris and Deniz helped with cleaning and decorating. And Vero and Philippe prepared delicious cocktails to be served before the ceremony! I wasn't too stressed out until it was time to transport the cake to the restaurant where we had our reception. It was 9 layers high and I was worried it wasn't too stable! I carried it, walking very, very slowly for the one block from my apartment to the reception site. I had a small entourage of friends around me and lots of people standing in the street starting! I was so, so happy when the cake made it in one piece! The rest of the day was filled with my hair and make-up appointment, getting dressed, etc...

The ceremony started at 5pm and it was just how I had picutred it! Emilee officiated it and she did a phenomenal job! It was so special to me to be married by my best friend, and she was just wonderful. Rachel, PJ, Juice, and Spencer did readings for us, and Matt and I exchanged vows that we wrote ourselves. Paul played the guitar beautifully as a musical interlude during the ceremony. Sam was our flower boy/ring bearer and he was incredibly cute. I was so happy that we decided to do it at home, and I couldn't have been happier with how it went. After the ceremony we headed over to the restaurant for a delicious 4 course meal and a late night of dancing and partying. The whole night was so fun!!

On Sunday morning we had brunch with the guests at the bed and breakfast where everyone was staying. We said goodbye to everyone, then went home and took a long nap! After we woke up, Em, Brian, Sam, my special gentleman (I mean, my husband!!) and I went hiking in a nearby state park. Then last night Brian made us a delicious dinner and we all went to bed early. Em, Brian, and Sam headed back to California today and tomorrow my husband and I are off for our honeymoon. This evening we are just relaxing at home, cleaning up, and being happy.

You know, everyone always says something will go wrong when you get married. But really, nothing went wrong! I guess that is one big advantage of keeping it very small and very simple!! It was exactly what we wanted! I will post pictures soon -- Brian and Chris both took pictures all weekend, and I have already seen some of them and they are amazing!