Archive for ‘Musings’

May 17, 2013

Making it Through Winter

With late April days dipping down into the 30s, we wondered if spring would ever come. Well, it finally has. Windows are opened at night, puffy coats traded in for light jackets, and the earmuffs are stored away. (Okay, it was 43 degrees on Tuesday so the earmuffs snuck out for a one day appearance, but they’re back in the closet now for good.)

Outdoor seating is popping up cafes everywhere. Some NYC restaurants brave even the snow and declare year-round outdoor seating is doable even without heat lamps. (I’m talking about you, Sidewalk Cafe!) The rest of ‘em whip out the tables and chairs when it feels like it’s time to eat al fresco. Seeing more people on the street and leaving work while there is daylight makes the days much brighter.

Despite what felt like an endless winter, I managed to stay more active than usual. I’m proud that this is the first winter in nine years that I didn’t gain 15 pounds over the dreary, frigid season. While I could have done better, I did well enough. I attribute it to a few things, each of which took way more effort than it sounds like:

October 7, 2012

Clinton Street Bakery Pancakes

These not-so-ordinary pancakes come from the Clinton St. Baking Company Cookbook – a gift I received from Mike two Christmases ago when I first moved to the city and lived on St. Marks Place. Since we started dating, we made a ritual of going to this tiny restaurant three times every February to experience the special flavors of “Pancake Month.” A simply ingenious invention by the owners to drum up business during their slowest time of year, Pancake Month now draws flocks of people for banana pancakes with bavarian cream and toasted coconut, or our favorite, a short stack studded with chocolate chunks and fresh raspberries topped with raspberry-caramel sauce.

This lazy Saturday’s homemade plate of pancakes were a celebratory stack, a labor of love. Typical pancakes are not very time intensive. Throw a couple ingredients in a bowl while the pan heats up, pour ‘em on, and behold: pancakes. Clinton Street-style pancakes, however, with their eleven ingredients and folded whipped egg whites managed to make a sinkful of dishes… along with some of the lightest pancakes on the planet.

February 27, 2012

The Princess Half Marathon

I can’t believe I actually did it. Considering everything that has happened since signing up for the race in October, I’m still slightly unsure that was me crossing the finish line.

I’ve mentioned a few times that I, the non-athlete, have had a few spurts of dedicated exercise throughout the past year. Some were specifically dedicated to running, but life took some serious turns in December and I was never able to complete my training as planned. I found myself working two jobs and struggling to find time to eat breakfast and dinner, let alone run or write. Everything was going to calm down soon, but the time when everything would shift gears coincided with the weekend of a race for which I’d already registered.

I seriously considered bailing. When I told people why I was headed to Florida in a few short days, friends and family fell into two camps. Some said, “There’s no way you can do this. You haven’t trained, you’re going to hurt yourself. You just aren’t capable of completing 13+ miles.” Others said, “Eh, you’ll be fine. You’ll be surprised what you’re capable of if you don’t give up. Just do it, you’ll really be okay.” Most of the people who thought I’d be okay never saw me run. Trust me, it isn’t pretty.

Until I got to Florida, I didn’t have time to weigh my options. I accepted everyone’s opinions (usually with a smile), stored them in a little piece of my brain, and carried on. There were more immediate issues at hand that needed my attention than $150+ in non-refundable fees.

And then it was here: Race Weekend.

January 8, 2012

Memory Lane: Chard and Beans

I’m back home in my cozy New York apartment after six hours in a cramped airplane middle seat with no TV.  So much for choosing the airline with personal TVs that puts “You Above All.”  On the bright side, the lack of DirecTV gave me some time to take a few naps, do some puzzles, and clean up my computer’s hard drive. Wow, that sounds super cool. Really though, it needed to be done. I haven’t organized anything on my computer in years. I found pictures of old dishes I considered writing about, task lists I wrote on some of my busiest of days, screenshots from various research endeavors, old papers from school, and snapshots from special occasions. It turned out to be a fun trip down memory lane, looking back in the kitchen of my old apartment and visits to places around the world.  After a weekend full of sharing old stories with my family out in California, and now again simply looking at some old computer files, I’m reminded that stories don’t always have to be shiny and new to be exciting.

So, for a series of ten posts, I’m going to take a step back into 2010 and 2011.  Whether it’s from trips I’ve taken, restaurants we’ve tried, or some food we cooked up in the kitchen, I’ll share some of my fondest food memories not-yet-shared from the past year and a half. To kick it off, I’m starting with my absolute top go-to recipe.  One that I almost can’t believe has never made it’s way on here, but I sort of can because, after all, this is not purely a recipe blog.

Memory Lane #1: A Recipe  – Chard and Beans

The photos below are from my first week in the new apartment.  If you look in the background you’ll see our entryway mirror still on the ground, not yet hung up on the wall.  I’m sure I made this dish because between our repainting, rearranging, and redecorating, it was so easy to whip up and the beans make it a really satisfying meal.

My first attempt at this recipe happened when we got Swiss chard in our CSA pickups last winter.   I found a recipe online, and modified it a bit because (1) I’m personally not a great fan of garbanzo beans and (2) I didn’t have any green onions at the time.  The aromatic lemony sauce that forms from wilted greens, shallots, tomatoes, and lemons is one that I adore, and I can easily eat this dish every week.

First up, put a couple of drops of olive oil in a pan with a diced shallot or two and some halved little tomatoes.  I only use 2 or 3 grams of oil, but you can use more if you like. I’ve used a whole tomato and diced that instead of the little ones too – either way works.

Let that cook for five minutes or so until it becomes fragrant and the shallots are turning translucent.

December 20, 2011

More of Life’s Surprises (and some Peanut Butter Truffles)

It’s been a wild few weeks over in this household. Christmas shopping is thankfully done, presents wrapped, holiday arrangements are made, new jobs started… Oh, had I not mentioned that yet?

Crazy as it may seem, I had the perfect job come knocking on my door at precisely the right moment.  If you’ve been following along with me for the past six months, you may have picked up that I’ve been doing a bunch of freelance work for some great non-profit organizations while I figured out what I want to do for the next five years of my life.  (Thinking beyond five years is just plain silly at this point.  Really, did you know you’d be where you are five years ago?)

And finally, I found it.