Archive | January, 2012

#febphotoaday

31 Jan

Getting to the office a bit early today following an early morning spin class, I spent about 30 minutes going through my Reader.  And post after post, like this one, I read that it’s apparently National Wedding Month.  Not of much interest to me. but do what you will with it.  But what I was interested to see on a number of blogs I follow was this, February photo a day challenge (#febphotoaday).  Using the list as inspiration, the objective is to snap a picture daily and post somewhere you can share with others.  My plan is to post here each Saturday during the month of February.  Should be a fun challenge!

Separately, last night I continued this silliness of picking my mani color based on the name of the polish.  Continuing last week’s theme (“Things I need in life”), I went with Essie’s (To Be) “Island Hopping”.

And following a conversation with one of the girls yesterday, I’d like to start with Seychelles please…

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6 things I was able to “see”

30 Jan

The girls and I “toured” the Dialog in the Dark exhibition this past Friday night, which started with the five of us seated in a dimly lit room that slowly turned dark.  Equipped with a walking cane but not our sense of sight, we entered an environment intended to simulate New York City.  Guided only by our inexperienced attempts to maneuver the cane and our guide’s voice, the evening led us through artificial yet realistic versions of Prospect Park; a moving bridge; grocery store; pathways and streets; subway station and actual train; and finally Times Square.

I’m so glad the girls and I did this!  And here are six things our tour guide Romeo reinforced for me during our 60 minute tour:

1.  We are indeed our own entertainment.  In response to the guide’s introduction of “Hello,  my name is Romeo”, we simultaneously responded with some variation of “Oh yeah it is!  Woo!  Yeah Romeo!!”  I think Romeo further appreciated when, two minutes into the exhibition, trying to adjust to the darkness, one of us asked: “What?  My natural beauty doesn’t glow?”  Dead serious tone.

2.  We’ve proven time and time again that we can get through anything.  This time around it just happened to include accidental (or not so accidental) ass grabbing, especially by one lady in particular.  Raaawr!

3.  Times Square is the devil’s playground.  Tourist are his toys.  The S train is his mode of transportation.  Further, this city must be full of weirdos.  I don’t want to know why Romeo felt it necessary to remind us that we would be down two senses – do people regularly think licking something in the exhibit space is a good way to make their way through…?

4.  I personally left the experience with a throbbing headache.  I quickly realized it was a result of straining my eyes, ineffectively and unsuccessfully trying to adjust to the darkness.  Certain things in life are just completely out of our control.  No matter how hard we fight against it.

5.  When we asked Romeo at the end of the tour if there is anything he absolutely cannot do on his own, his response is a lesson for us all: “No”.  (Although he technically prefers to take someone with him when he goes clothes shopping!)

6.  Leaving your comfort zone, inhibitions and preconceived notions behind – all of which the exhibition encourages – can be an incredible experience, especially when you’re with those you trust most in the world.  With or without the sense we all rely on most.

Maiden voyage

28 Jan

My mom gave me this gift last month for Christmas…but it came with a disclaimer.  As in, she outlined in writing (in my Christmas card) that my Zoku’s “maiden voyage” was to be alcohol free.  Of course she didn’t say “alcohol free” but instead, (and my girlfriends will appreciate this…) made a reference to “my type of iced tea, not yours!”

So with this consideration in mind, my Zoku Quick Pop Maker produced these puppies earlier today, made with Tropicana’s Trop50 orange juice and pomegranate blueberry juice (meaning each popsicle only has about 15 cals!)…

And I’ll admit it…MOM…they were pretty good even without the “iced tea”.  Next on deck?  Mimosa Pops and and Berry Mojito Pops!  Obviously…

A big bowl of comfort

26 Jan

I posted this picture of our first winter snowfall this past Saturday on my way to meet my brother and his girlfriend for brunch.  We left The Smith almost three hours later following a 35 minute wait for our table, a spicy bloody with olives and pickles at the bar, and (for me) salmon benedict with the hollandaise on the side (delish!)  I’ve lived in the city long enough to have known better than to expect the same picturesque winter scene post-brunch.  No, instead I found myself meandering through sidewalk puddles and jumping over corners that looked like this:

and this:

But I had no choice.  Sure, I had substituted a side salad for the home fries but regardless, the thirty block walk home was my penance for that hollandaise sauce.

Less than four blocks into my walk home and I knew I wanted to get there and stay put for the rest of the day.  It was just that cold and gross out.  I’d been flirting with the idea of this recipe for a few weeks but hadn’t been able to find any time to get down to business with it.   Once home though, weighed down with bags of ingredients, I was actually thrilled for the weather outside…it was suddenly the perfect excuse to hole up alone, cooking and drinking wine all evening.

The results were this!

Potato, Cheddar, and Ale Soup 

(source: The Crepes of Wrath)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large Idaho potatoes, diced and separated (skin on or off, whatever your preference)
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 12. oz Ale-style beer
  • 3/4 cup shredded jack and cheddar cheese (or whatever you like/have), plus 1/2 cup for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • a big handful of pretzels (for garnish)
  • sour cream (if you like)

1. Set a large pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil once it’s hot. Saute the onions for 5-7 minutes, or until soft, then add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.

2. Add 1 diced potato and brown a bit. Stir to prevent sticking, and add the beer and broth after about 8-10 minutes. Let simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or so, or until the potatoes are tender. Fill a small pot with water and add the other diced potato. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Drain and set aside.

3. Use an immersion blender, regular blender or food processor to puree the soup until smooth. Add in the salt, pepper, paprika, and apple cider vinegar and blend. Then add in the cheese and blend. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Return to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Stir in the other diced potato.

4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with crushed pretzels, cheese, and sour cream. Serves 2 for dinner, 4 for an appetizer.

Just three key learnings from novice me!  First, I think I over-simmered the onions and potatoes in the broth and ale (step 2) slightly because the mixture was thicker than I had anticipated.  I also used 75% reduced-fat cheddar later in the recipe which led my “soup” to a consistency that would probably better be described as a stew.  Second, if you’re going to crumble pretzels as garnish, or serve with crackers, cut the salt in half.  The pepper and cayenne are season enough.  Finally, if you’re going to invest the time and effort into making this soup/stew, I highly recommend you double the recipe so as to emerge from your kitchen with more than just enough for two dinners.  Of course, I can’t testify to how well it will freeze…but definitely worth a shot.

Inspired by the smell of my kitchen (or maybe my second glass of wine), I also baked a loaf of bread while I was at it.  Yes, random.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Banana Bread

(source: Chef Marcus Samuelsson)

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup mashed banana
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 medium zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup chocolate chips, raisins, dried fruit, nuts, or a mixture of any of these

1. Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a standard-sized loaf pan.

2. Beat together the eggs, honey, banana, brown sugar, and vanilla until well-combined.

3. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Mix into the egg/banana mixture just until combined.

4. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips, just until combined.

5. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let rest for 20 minutes before removing from the loaf pan.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

I’m generally not a fan of chocolate chips, raisins or nuts in baked goods so I threw two handfuls of dried cranberries in instead (and no, they’re not “practically” the same thing as raisins).  Regardless of what final ingredient you decide on, you’ll be eating what I originally thought of as “one tiny loaf of bread” for days…but that’s not a complaint!

On the topic of recommended recipes for comfort food, I thought I’d throw out this recipe for Orecchiette all Norcina as well.  The recipe is this blogger’s take on the creamy mushroom and sausage pasta dish from Landmarc Restaurant.  I made it a few weeks ago when my brother and his girlfriend came over for dinner.  I didn’t take any pictures (because I was meeting her for the first time and didn’t want her to think I’m a freak…) but go ahead and imagine that my dish looked just like this.  Really, I won’t mind.  In all honesty though, it was – in my opinion – absolutely delicious.  Highly, highly recommend you try it.

Bon Appetit!

Little “luxuries”…plural

23 Jan

I was busted by a colleague earlier today for saying “Having your laundry done and takeout delivered are two small luxuries that I find essential.”

She responded, “Wait a minute!  Last week it was your mani/pedis, massages and Brazilian waxes!”

Okay, so technically my list of little “indulgences” is a bit longer than originally reported…but it’s not as though I’m cruising through the Caribbean every three months.

I did treat myself to a mani/massage on the way home from work tonight though.

It seemed essential.

Oh, and remember when I used to pick my pedi color based on the name of the polish?  I’m back to that silliness…

Current theme: Things I need in life.

Current mani color: French Affair.

Let it snow!

21 Jan

Our first snowfall of the winter is officially here!

The early bird catches the attractive men…in the stairwell

19 Jan

I say that I am traditionally of the belief that if I am going to get stuck late at work, it’s going to happen regardless of what time I arrive.  So rarely do I drag myself out of bed much before 7:45 am, heading out the door by 8:45 am and arriving at the office by 9:05 am.  If I’m completely honest though, I just say this to make myself feel better…because the truth is that I am an utter failure when it comes to being a morning person.  I’ve tried for years to be the type of person who jumps out of bed, energized to start my morning but I just cannot move past my addiction to the snooze button.  I regularly lie there thinking about how I should get up and get to work early but instead I nap between 9 minute snooze button-induced alarms.  This situation takes a dire turn for the worst during the dark, cold winter months when coaxing myself out of bed becomes a useless endeavor.

Amidst a very busy week at work this week, I found myself literally dreaming about the office last night.  I kept waking up throughout the night, half asleep but ticking through the “to do” list for today.  So, needless to say, when my alarm went off at 6:40 am, I couldn’t have gone back to sleep if I wanted to.  (Sure, probably not the healthiest way to develop this ideal habit of mine but it worked nonetheless today!)  Anyway, by 7:30 am I found myself pushing open the door to stairwell W on the 24th floor ready to head out.  And then it happened.

I officially found the attractive men in my apartment building.

They take the stairs at 7:30 am.  Floor 11.  Floor 8.  Floor 5.  Floor 2.  Hello gentleman.

Now it has yet to be seen whether this is actually enough to get me out of bed early tomorrow…or Monday…or Tuesday; however this little tidbit certainly can’t hurt the cause, right?