November 2017: The Month in Tom and Holly

Life in Philly

This was my last month working in University City(!), so I did my best to savor the walk to work on the Schuylkill as well as all the food on the way. I made sure to sample all the breakfast pastries and sandwiches at Walnut Street Cafe, Res Ipsa, and Rival Bros (though I live near the latter, I probably won’t go there as often since it won’t be on the way to work anymore). I was fortunate to get to have lots of lunches and parties with work people, including at COOP, Zavino, Sabrina’s, Lemon Grass, and Sang Kee.

Farewell gifts from work

Finally, I had Thanksgiving Break and about a week off to finish the month. It’s finally feeling autumnal, though there wasn’t much in the way of fall color in the city. While my time off between jobs was far too short, it was a nice combination of relaxing and running errands that I normally don’t have time for when I’m working, plus a bit of personal care. I took my Kindle to the patio as well as to some parks and cafés. It’s hard to imagine you’re on the beach when you’re not, but that’s the mindset I tried to evoke.

Farmers’ Markets

We’re fully into Fall, and have embraced all the squash and apples that that entails. I always especially love our farmers’ market bounty the weekend before Thanksgiving and all the extra goodies we get for the festivities.


We went to a Thankgiving-themed wine class at Jet Wine Bar, which was enjoyable as always. Our favorites were the Domaine Plageoles Gallac Mauzac Nature 2015 and the Domaine de Botheland Laurence et Remi Dufaitre, Beaujolais-Villages L’Air de Rien 2013. The Tenuta la Favola Nero d’Avola Sicilia 2015 was also quite nice, not nearly as fruity as most Nero d’Avolas.

This month’s State Store wine club was another disappointment. The theme was South Africa, and I got a so-so sauvignon blanc and a pinotage. If this mediocrity keeps up I’m going to have to cancel.


We had two Thanksgiving meals, one for the two of us and one with Tom’s mother and brother. This year, we got all of our recipes from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. We also got some fantastic hard ciders from Ploughman Farm Cider.


  • Tennessee Cornbread Dressing with Sausage and Apple
  • Cider-glazed Root Vegetables
  • Braised Brisket with Apples and Hard Cider
  • green beans
  • desserts from The Baker’s Jar


  • We brought Squash Apple Gratin and an Apple Walnut Salad with gorgonzola and radicchio
  • Tom’s brother and mother made turkey, gravy, savory bread pudding, cranberry sauce, green beans, pumpkin pie, and coconut cream pie

Between both meals, the leftovers kept us going for most of the next week!

Dining In

We got exhausted with hunting down new recipes, so instead we revisited some past “recipe success”

Scallops with apple cider glaze

One new recipe we tried was the pasta e fagioli soup from Preserving Italy, which was absolutely fantastic. We will definitely have to make it again soon! Part of what made it so excellent was the “pesto abruzzeze” that was also in the book – as well as some really fantastic 1732 meats pancetta.

Dining Out

We got out to a few regular places as well as some other places where we hadn’t been in awhile:

Luke’s Lobster

We also got to try a few new places, which was exciting:

  • Keen is finally open! We’ve been waiting for this for years. We had some snacks and beers and really enjoyed the vibe at the bar. We look forward to going back soon.
  • We went to Second District Brewing on one of my days off and both the food and the beer were delicious. We will definitely be getting back there during winter break.
  • I tried the Turducken sandwich from Jake’s Sandwich Board, which was great. I definitely need to try more sandwiches from there.
  • I got takeout from Mama’s Vegetarian, and the falafel, hummus, and pita, were all deserving of the high praise.
  • I tried the new(ish) Rival Bros on Spruce Street – the food and coffee weren’t different from the one on Lombard, but it was nice to experience it in a somewhat bigger space.
Second District Brewing
Rival Bros
Mama’s Vegetarian


The canning season is officially over, so I didn’t do much in the way of preservation or other DIY projects this month. The Food In Jars Mastery Challenge was fermentation this month, but since I’ve been fermenting for over a year I didn’t feel obligated to participate. I did make:

  • pesto abruzzeze from Preserving Italy
  • healing bitters
  • fermented mustard greens
  • cranberry fruit paste – I used this recipe to use up some leftover cranberries. It didn’t set as well as my apple-pear paste last month – I think it may have needed to cook longer in the saucepan before I transferred it to the oven, as it just didn’t seem to want to lose all its liquid and was still kind of jam-like.
  • quark – I made this to use some extra buttermilk. It’s somewhere between yogurt and cheese, like sour cream but made with milk instead of cream. It was way easier to make than yogurt, so I can see making this as an alternative.

We didn’t open many of the preserves from previous months, but we did finally try my blueberry chutney with roasted chicken, which was very good.


  • Akata Warrior – this was amazing, I loved it. Tom helped me find my print copy of Akata Witch, which I plan to read (re-read?) soon.
  • Strange the Dreamer – wow! I am blown away by the imagination of Laini Taylor. Toward the end I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a standalone book or the first in a series, and… of course it turns out to be the first in a series, so I’ll have to patiently wait to see what happens next!
  • Provenance – this was also quite enjoyable. I didn’t realize it was going to touch so much on the events of the Ancillary Justice series. The main character had a serious case of imposter syndrome that was realistically portrayed to the point where it was giving me anxiety, which I have mixed feelings about, but overall, a great new installation in this universe.
  • Gemina – the second book in the Illuminae Files series. I got this in print from the library since the first book of the series was so frustrating to read on the Kindle. That was definitely the right choice as there are so many powerful scenes conveyed through the art rather than with words. This certainly encouraged me to continue this series whenever the 3rd book comes out, as well as to check out Illuminae in print to re-read it in its native format.
  • A Conjuring of Light – the third book and conclusion to the Shades of Magic series. It was a satisfying ending, but for some reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first and second books.
  • Oathbringer – the 3rd book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. Despite being a 1200+ page book, I found it to be not very substantial – kind of like the later Wheel of Time books. I might feel differently on a re-read, but I overall just feel like this entry didn’t move the series forward significantly. I also probably was less interested since the primary character this time around was Dalinar, whom I find to be a bit of a yawn.
  • Borne – Tom had checked this out from the library and recommended it – a very thoughtful and imaginative tale.

Stitch Fix

I got a great Stitch Fix and kept all 5 pieces:

Current Air Ghita Mini Pleat Bell Sleeve Blouse, Brixon Ivy Cyndi Lace Pencil Skirt
Leota Seraphina Cotton Blend Textured Knit Dress
Octavia Joyce Infinity Check Skarf, 41 Hawthorn Rayma Blazer

Last Month’s Update


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