Homemade œufs en meurette

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Spaghetti rusticana at Victor Cafe: sausage, braciole, meatball

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January 2016: The Month in Tom and Holly

Life in Philly

It was cold at the beginning of the month, and I was LOVING the fact that it still hadn’t snowed, but then at the end of the month we got hit with Winter Storm Jonas and had over a foot of snow. Yuck!


Auntie Life

I decided to give my beloved alphabet puzzle to my niece Sophie, who turned 2 this month. While packing it up, I found the artist mark showing it had been made in 1974!



We took the train to Boston for the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Although we were there for work, we managed to get in many non-work-related meals, as detailed in our blog post. Aside from work and food, I found the conference personally enriching in a number of ways, including getting to see some people I hadn’t seen in a long time. I also enjoyed experiencing Boston without any snow! We stayed near Chinatown, so it was cool to explore that part of town as well as parts of Back Bay, South End, and Beacon Hill.

Boston Common

Farmers’ Markets 

We missed a few markets due to the Boston trip as well as the market being canceled the week of the blizzard, but we’re still making the most of our market trips even though it’s winter. We’re back to getting most of our veggies at Fitler Square since Highland Orchards has the best selection in winter, and the addition of Birchrun Hills to the Rittenhouse market has been a real treat.

Dining In

We started the new year by making a cassoulet, which was wonderful. A few other highlights this month include:

Smoky Minestrone with Tortellini

I’ve also been trying to make various types of grain bowls to take to work for lunch. Several of these have been great (if not so photogenic):

I also made my first batch of hummus!

Dining Out

Buckminster’s is one of our new favorite neighborhood places; we went there twice this month, once to try brunch, and once for some pre-dinner drinks. We really loved the bologna and cheese sandwich!

Bologna and cheese at Buckminster’s

We also made it back to Cheu Noodle Bar, where we were long overdue for some noods. In addition to our usual broccoli, we enjoyed the sweet potato rangoon and yakisoba.

Sweet potato rangoon at Cheu Noodle Bar

We had a lovely date night at Brigantessa, where we enjoyed a broccoli rabe and white bean pancotto, wood-grilled pezzente sausage, and a very spicy calabrese pizza. We saved room for dessert because this seems to be the one place in Philly where we can finally get vin santo with biscotti!

Vin Santo with Biscotti at Brigantessa

Finally, we went to Cafe Lutecia for weekend brunch for the first time (usually we go for weekday breakfast), and were thrilled with all the extra brunch specials. I got a Parisienne omelette loaded with brie, and Tom got a “French BLT.” This place is such a neighborhood gem!

French BLT at Cafe Lutecia

DIY & Bitters

My awesome cousin Jenny got me a fermentation book for Christmas, so this is my new thing for this year. I had to wait until I got back from Boston to begin any projects, but I started things off with a batch of yogurt. There are a few methods for keeping the yogurt at the right temperature while it ferments, but I decided to keep things foolproof the first time around and use the “yogurt” setting on our multi-cooker. It came out fine, but next time I would cook it a little longer as well as strain it using the “Greek” method.

homemade yogurt

I also started a batch of sourdough starter with mixed but ultimately unsuccessful results. It started bubbling after a few days, and I was thrilled! However, about a day later it deflated and I couldn’t get it started again. I gave up and tried to start a new batch, and the next batch never got going, either. All I can conclude is that it was simply too cold in our apartment (this was right in the middle of the snowstorm). I will try again once the weather warms up.

Finally, I tried my hand at a simple farmer’s cheese. This was easy and delicious! I can’t wait to branch out into other cheeses, as well as to simply be able to make my own cheese anytime I need fresh ricotta.


This month I read Wizard of Earthsea and Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin, which Tom had gotten me for my birthday. So far I’m finding the Earthsea books interesting in the aggregate, but the individual books aren’t engaging me very much.


As mentioned last month, I ordered a StitchFix for the end of December in hopes of getting some winter clothes for the conference in Boston. I did get a few keepers, including a lovely cream-colored sweater and a black cardigan. I tried ordering another fix before the conference but missed it by a day or two, so I didn’t get the box until after I came back. From the second try, I got a colorful striped sweater, an awesome knit blazer, and a great infinity scarf. I think I’ll call it quits for winter and wait until Spring for another fix, but… we’ll see how I feel next month.

Bonay Fringe Detail Cardigan and George Herringbone Infinity Scarf
Briello Cowl Neck Sweater
Borrego V-Neck Sweater and Kokkola Textured Knit Blazer
Borrego V-Neck Sweater and Kokkola Textured Knit Blazer

On SuperPlus Eats

Last Month’s Update