Look! Brandi is giving away a complete set of West Wing DVDs here: http://brainyjane22.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/westwing/
September 26, 2011
September 21, 2011
Hey! Remember how I have a blog?
I made a meal last night that I really want to tell everyone in the world about (totally blog-worthy – ha!). Look what I made last night:
I popped out to the Hoboken farmers market with Eileen before the end of the work day to miss the crowds, and it struck me that it’s like the last day of summer almost!! So I picked up a million pounds of tomatoes, including two green ones, some corn, etc., and decided to make fried green tomatoes tonight. I found a suggestion on Chowhound.com to serve it with something called “shrimp remoulade,” which is something I have heard of on Top Chef but never made before. Apparently, this “remoulade” includes ALL my favorite flavors (many of which also happen to appear in my bloody marys coincidentally), and I couldn’t stop eating spoonfuls right from the bowl while I was eating it.
I already had a fried green tomato recipe I liked from the Cook’s Illustrated seasonal cooking guides I have. It basically involves dredging 1/4 in. slices of green tomato in flour, then in egg, and lastly in a cornmeal/salt/pepper mixture. Then you fry them 2 minutes on each side in veggie oil. The biggest secret/tip I can give you is to MAKE SURE THE OIL IS HOT. It needs to be 350 degrees, or when you throw a small piece of bread in, it bubbles furiously. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the tomatoes will absorb much more of the oil, and they will come out mushy and gross. Hot oil makes them crispy and delicious!
I found a cool remoulade recipe on NPR that suggested serving over shrimp. The base is very similar to cocktail sauce, but there’s a lot more going on there. It actually would make a really wonderful cocktail sauce variation. I might try Emeril‘s next time which looks similar but with different proportions.
Lastly, I knew this meal was truly meant to be when I realized I had a box of Zatarain’s jambalaya on hand, which went perfectly with everything. I have some other meal inspirations that will be fun and exciting, so I’ll probably be posting more soon!
April 13, 2011
I was so excited to learn this weekend that A Practical Wedding was going to run my Wedding Graduate essay this week, and the post went up this morning! I’m so honored and excited to be featured in a community I respect so much. Plus it’s fun to get to re-live that day, especially on chilly, rainy days like this.
April 4, 2011
Though I have visited both Germany and Austria, I have never eaten spaeztle. I traveled a lot in college while studying abroad but was constantly broke, so I guess indulging in culinary delights wasn’t at the top of my list like it would be now.
So Smitten Kitchen just posted a recipe and technique for making spaeztle, and my Germanophile sister requested that we try it out for Sunday Family Dinner. We decided to serve it with kielbasa, sauerkraut, onions, and peppers, which may or may not be traditional, but it totally worked. We followed the recipe and even let the batter rest for an hour before cooking, but the spaetzle didn’t come out in twirly pieces like I expected. It was a little more like the consistency of scrambled eggs when we first cooked it. We tried pushing the batter through a colander like Deb suggested but got better results pushing it though my wire skimmer (which is now still soaking in a bowl of water in the sink because it was so battery and difficult to clean afterward). We also tried browning all of it in the same non-stick pot we cooked it in, but it clearly wasn’t working, so we took most of it out and browned the rest in my cast iron skillet. So we dirtied another pan, but it browned up REAL nice and quick.
Here is a photo of the work in progress and then the fruits of our labor:
In conclusion, you should make spaetzle. I’m excited to order it the next time I have the opportunity so I can see if we came anywhere near close with this experiment.
In other areas of life, you should know that NPR is streaming all of Paul Simon’s new album on its site. I’m about 5 songs in, and it’s very Paul Simony, which I consider to be a good thing. Bouncy, weird noises in the background. Fun.
Also, I picked up some “dazzling” white Corelle dishes for the old kitchen so we don’t always have to use the nicer place setting dishes when we’re just eating a slice o’ pizza or, in my case, dozens of pickles. They have an outlet store in the Jersey Gardens mall, so they were 40% off! I’ve been on the lookout for something more casual, but all I could ever find at places like Target is melamine, which is supposedly not dishwasher or microwave safe (though I know for a fact that the dishes at my mom’s house that we’ve eaten off of for 20 years are melamine, and we microwave them all the time — keep this in mind when I contract some sort of terrible disease later on). The Corelle seem to be best for this. They come in lots of designs, but I’m now convinced that food looks most appetizing on a plain, white plate.
We’re off to Louisville on Thursday night for a wedding. Hopefully I take pics so I can share all the delicious bourbon and BBQ with y’all when we return.
March 24, 2011
I’m in total denial about the weather the past couple days. I’m basically walking around with my hand over my eyes (what snow?) . We are not clearing our front walk because there’s nothing there but the usual trash from the darling children traveling to and from the school next to us in their normal violent yelling/fighting/playing manner (seriously, I’m almost positive they think our front porch area is actually a trash receptacle.)
Things were CRAZY last night. We had so many different types of things coming out of the sky: snow, rain, hail, lightning bolts, etc. I bought a couple of cheap summer dresses online at Old Navy in defiance of this weather and refuse to use a hat and gloves, but why am I still wearing socks and my heavy coat?????
Anyway, I’m going to Grapevine, TX next week, so that should be a nice change of pace.
After I got home last night, I cut down, roasted, and shredded 6 .75 lbs of pork shoulder with onions, garlic, oranges, cinnamon, and salt. This taco party is happening, people! Then I made BLTs for dinner because I was so tired from making all the pork. Pork pork pork!
We’re still plugging away with The Wire. Matt has gone from “I can’t follow anything that is happening” (last night) to “I really like The Wire” (this morning before we left the house).
News alert for anyone like me who loves a good period piece with a strong female lead: HBO is airing a mini-series remake of Mildred Pierce, starting Sunday, and starring the great Kate Winslet! How cool is that??? Watch it, and then let’s talk about it with me over margaritas, vinho verde, and other summer drinks. No, I don’t get HBO, but I do have my ways …
March 23, 2011
I’m sure you’ll all be thrilled to know that my bike ride home was really nice, lovely, and incident free. I’ve been enjoying having more time with Matt this week. He’s been able to get home by 7 or so, and it’s like seriously the best thing ever. We had a long stretch of him not getting home until super late every night, so if anything, it’s made me appreciate it more when we can have quiet weeknights together.
We’re really enjoying our condo and loving transforming our place and putting our personal touches here and there. Over the past few weeks, we bought a new arm chair to finish off the living room area, installed new pendant lights for over the island and kitchen fixture, and I covered the pillows that came with our couches with Claire. I’ll post photos and info on the pillow covers later, because that was a WORTHWHILE project. Any pillows I remotely liked were $50+ seriously! I was able to cover these for probably about $6 each, and I was able to choose the colors fabrics I liked. I even did a burlap pillow, which isn’t the softest choice but looks really rustic and cool.
Last night, we watched the Wire and then the Garfield Thanksgiving special on You Tube. I always need to watch something lighthearted before going to bed if we watch something gritty and terrible. I also made oven spare ribs with broccoli and mashed potatoes with this recipe. Usually when I make oven ribs, I cook them first covered in foil and then take the foil off for the last 30 min or so. Martha told me to cook them the entire time uncovered, on a baking sheet with an wire rack. This is the way to go people!! The ribs developed a thick, delicious crust all the way around, and the fat sort of dripped away from them. I’ve NEVER had oven ribs this good before.
Matt agreed. He couldn’t believe how good it was and was like, “This is so delicious I need to call someone.” He ended up taking a photo instead, which I’m including below. Matt has a weird Polaroid-type filter on his camera that usually makes photos look vintage and cool, but in this case made my meal look funny and like something this guy would eat:
I’ll work on my plating skills, I promise!
March 22, 2011
Rode my ole’ bike into work today! I need to fine tune the route because I was trying to stay on the waterfront walkway but somehow ended up in the middle of construction as well as back on the “mainland” somewhere around Newport PATH. There must be a better way! But it was such a pretty, sunny morning, and the skyline and water were glistening. I tried to take a photo but then realized I forgot my phone this morning, so maybe another day.
I made italian sausage, pepper, eggplant, and onion pasta last night, and we watched the Big Love ending. Cozy! Its so hard for long-running shows to tie things up neatly (Hello Lost!), and I think this was a good ending I was satisfied with. Then we watched Seinfeld like we do every single day. It was the one with the big salad – SO GOOD! One of the side plots had to do with a stationery shop guy being obsessed with Elaine so Jerry was taking his calls, and Jerry’s delivery on the other end of the phone is HIlarious. “Oh I don’t know … WHATEVER.” I can do it better in person.
TV Club does these recaps of Seinfeld episodes that are so funny and right on. If you’re a Seinfeld nerd, you gotta read ‘em.
I bought a big pork shoulder at the store and want to make carnitas and salsa verde and have a taco party, but I don’t know when I could do it or if anyone even likes that idea. Pooooor meee.
March 21, 2011
Sooooo lovely people. I’m happy to share that my bike is fixed! Matt had bought the bike knowing that it had a couple of potential problems, but the seller couldn’t fix them immediately, and he wanted to have the bike in hand to give to me on my birthday. We were able to find the bike people through Craigslist again and were happy to find that they live in JC only about half a mile away. We dropped off the bike Saturday morning, and the nice lady dropped it off at our house, fixed and riding beautifully on Sunday morn. Matt and I took it for a 6-mile loop with Kyli in Liberty State Park yesterday to test it out, and we have no issues.
So the good news is that we have an awesome bike hook up now. These people buy and repair old bikes, and build new bikes out of various parts, so Matt is “commissioning” a bike from them with various specs and a specific price range. If anyone is in the market for something used or needs repairs, I can give you their info.
Bad news is that it’s chilly and rainy first day of spring, so the biking to work endeavor will have to wait until the weather clears up.
Things I’m really into lately:
- Spring food. Mike and Claire came over last night for Sunday dinner, which was great. Pork chops, rice pilaf, and apple sauce (with this recipe) hit the spot for something filling but not heavy. I’m not really sure if that’s considered spring fare, but I’m getting tired of heavy winter food and am trying to switch things up as much as possible. Any ideas? It seems like the only spring food blogs can think of involve peas, which I like but won’t eat every day. The tomatoes have been starting to taste a little better, and I think the farmer’s markets are coming soon. For some reason eggplants have been nonexistent lately, and the ones I can find cost $5/lb.
- Tunics. Since Christmas, I’ve been on a tunic-buying spree. Especially when the shoulders are cut squarely and the neckline is tailored cleanly, I love a good tunic! They’re so billowy and comfortable and good for dressing up and down. J Crew has been pretty dependable. Just got the one pictured below last week and I’ve already worn it twice.
- Landmark Loews Jersey City – OK this is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to. Its a preserved old movie palace that is now run by volunteers. It’s a venue for concerts and other events, but at least one weekend per month, they show a variety of movies, generally fitting in with a theme. The tickets are ~5 bucks, and it is SO much fun to see old movies here with sometimes more than 1,000 other people. We’re going to a showing of Beetlejuice this coming Saturday (so cool, right??) and then getting Indian dinner nearby after.
Catch ya later!!!!!!
March 17, 2011
Hey guys! It’s meee!
Every year, without fail, winter sends me into the doldrums and causes me to seriously question everything in life and if it will be like this forever: dark, cold, depressing, etc. Then, like flipping a switch, Daylight Saving time renews me completely. There IS hope for the world. Life DOES go on after leaving work for the day! So I’m back and ready to type away in my reliable little blog.
I think it must be a similar situation for most people, because EVERYONE on my facebook news feed is completely freaking out about the fact that it’s St. Patty’s day. I think this has more to do with the fact that it’s a high of 64 today and sunny than their love of the holiday. It occurs just at that time that everyone is switching back into happy mode, so they’re being possibly more enthusiastic than they would be if it was two months earlier.
Anyway, welcome back to me.
As a treat for you all, I would like to discuss my dinner from last night. I’m all out of meat, and since there isn’t a way for me to obtain any during the day while still being lazy (aka the Korean markets don’t sell it), I was wracking my brain for something to make that didn’t feature pasta, which we have eaten for the past few days now.
Well let listen up kiddies: Do you like tomatoes? Spicy? Gooey poached eggs? Healthy dinner? Middle eastern fare?? I have the thing for you: shakshuka. It’s all of these things, plus it’s fun to say! This was a cool dish that I’ve never had before and will likely make again when I’m going for meatless. I also had toasted pita and an israeli salad on the side, and I felt great about myself while we ate it. You should make it too! I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen here.
Last item of business is that Matt got me a great bike for my bday a couple months ago, but I haven’t yet been able to ride it due to the aforementioned characteristics of winter plus all the snow we had for approximately 5,000 days. OK so picture this: it’s a nice morning — clear skies, mild temps. I’m dressed for early spring with jeggings, a flowy, pioneer woman-esque top, and flats with no socks! I decide to finally take the ole bike out to ride the 3 mile route into work along the Hudson River. Exercise AND saving money AND enjoying beautiful conditions. What could ruin that? Unfortunately the answer is a loose chain and a bent wheel fender.
Just as I was getting to the waterfront, the chain popped off. Like a pro, I flipped it over and eased it back on but only got a few feet further. I tried once more before realizing that I was going to be super late getting in to the office and that my hands were completely covered in grease and bleeding in one spot. A nice young man stopped and gave me his Dunkin’ Donuts napkin, which was a life saver, so I could wipe off as much of the grease as possible, but my dreams of gliding up the river were destroyed. And not only could I not ride the bike, but the back wheel only rotated about half the time, so I’m basically PUSHING the bike up the river to the closest light rail station. I was greasy (literally), sweaty, and mad. This was a sad situation. I’ll have to get it tuned up and try again later. Thankfully I have the upcoming spring weather to fuel my determination to overcome these challenges!!!
January 5, 2010
I think it’s important to set realistic resolutions or goals and to not be too hard on oneself. That’s why mine may seem a little wimpy to you, but whatever. I want to set myself up for success, people!
1. Eat a smaller breakfast. I tend to eat a lot of bagels, and that’s just too much to often. I want to mostly eat reasonable-sized and generally healthy breakfasts and lunch, and if I splurge, go all out at dinner (like Mark Bittman). This is in an effort to lose a little weight before the wedding. Nothing drastic.
2.Try steel cut oats. From the way old Bitty talks about them, it sounds like they are God’s gift to us.
3. Finish my new quilt by my wedding. I finally finished the wall hanging I talked about here. OK, so it took about a year and a half. So what?? It was hand pieced and quilted, and it’s beautiful, and I love it. Here’s an iPhone photo:
Claire thoughtfully gave me all new Civil War fabric (aka my favorite kind of fabric) to make another patchy quilt by hand, and I want to have it complete by August.
4. Plan a wedding and get married. Ha ha!
5. Buy a condo. Ha ha ha!
6. Say “twenty ten” intead of “two thousand and ten.”
Those are all totally doable! I feel like I have so much stuff going on that I don’t really need to make piddly old resolutions.
I also just want to point out that I accomplished essentially all of my goals from last year:
- I finished the aforementioned wall hanging, though technically this was on Jan. 1, 2010.
- I did really well with savings throughout the whole year, which is why I’m able to accomplish goal #5.
- I read the books on conversation, and I made concerted efforts to be less awkward, to ask people questions about themselves, and to be generally charming.
I’m going to make this for dinner tonight. Mmmmm two of my favorite things. Fennel AND tomato! Maybe I’ll get some CRUSTY bread as well. The best is the kind with a really hard crust that hurts the roof of your mouth with a really chewy interior that has huuuge holes you can stick your finger in to. Here is where you can find that bread.