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Friday, October 19, 2007

productivity: pending

Can I tell you, I cannot WAIT until this weekend. I mean, aside from the fact that it's a weekend and I get to sleep more than usual, we're going to do something totally different from the norm: we're going to WORK ON THE HOUSE!

I KNOW! I can't believe it either. Don has been plotting and planning, so I'm assuming he's got a list of things to work on. I only care about one of them: the kitchen. We had to take the countertop that he built down for the HVAC guy, because one of the vents goes right under it and there was a radiator there, so HVAC guy needed easy access to the radiator to move it out of the way and install the vent. So we took down our countertop, but as we all know it took QUITE A WHILE for the HVAC guy to finish. Our microwave has been on the floor for WEEKS. The door-opening button is probably half-dead because I took to kicking it open instead of bending down to push it. Yes, I'm lazy.

Anyway. We finally get to re-install our countertop, which means the microwave will be in its place and various other things can be moved off of the main countertop, which gives me chopping space again. And let me tell you, I made a variation on this recipe last night and there was a lot of chopping involved. It wasn't fun with no counter space.

So I'm excited, because we're going to put the countertop back this weekend. We're also going down to Alexandria to help paint Lindley and Raymond's study and test out a mystery painting tool for houseblogger reviews -- stay tuned for that post.

Our next step is to put in some temporary electrical on the first floor. I don't know how much of that we'll get done this weekend, if any, but it's awfully nice to have it on our shoulders instead of somebody else's. Now, if stuff doesn't get done, it's our problem and not anybody else's. And we're in a lot more control of when things DO get done. I think Don's waiting to see what the weather's like this weekend before he decides whether we'll work on the electrical or get a few winterizing things done outside while we still can. But the kitchen is SO happening.

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables
(adapted from Ina Garten's recipe of the same name)

1 yellow bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 red onion (mine was fairly large)
4 small portobella mushrooms (Safeway is only carrying dwarf ones these days for some reason)
3 tablespoons olive oil (-ish -- it's not a precise measurement)
2-3 garlic cloves (I cheat and use the pre-minced stuff in a jar; one teaspoon is about one clove)
1 teaspoon salt (a good sprinkling -- you don't really need to measure)
1/2 teaspoon pepper (same)
1/2 pound orzo (orzo is a rice-shaped pasta; you could probably use something else if you wanted but try to use something small so the pasta doesn't overwhelm the vegetables)
4 scallions, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or julienned
8 ounces of feta cheese

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop peppers, red onion, and mushroom into approximately 1-inch pieces. Think "rustic". Put chopped vegetables onto a baking sheet, and toss with oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Roast vegetables for 40 minutes, until browned. Turn once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, make the orzo as directed on the box (it's generally 'boil for 7-9 minutes'). Drain.

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk to create the dressing. In a large mixing bowl, pour dressing over pasta while it is still warm and mix.

Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta and mix, then add the minced scallions and chopped basil. Mix.

Dice the feta into approximately 1/2 inch cubes and add to the bowl. Mix carefully so as to crumble the feta as little as possible.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Notes: This salad is seriously excellent as leftovers -- it chills very well. It might be good with parsley or lemon zest added for a little additional zing, but I made it as written and it's awesome.

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