Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary NYC!

Ever read through old journal entries and think, "Wow, I was such a lame seventh grader!" I did. And history repeats itself as I look over the entries that made their way through the first couple weeks of my New York City residency. What a loser! Having a tough time with the move to NYC, what a joke! It's like looking over the time I cried into my journal because I got picked on during a field trip. Instead of FML, how about a little SIU - Suck it up!

The move did grate on me. A lot. It took much, much longer than anticipated for me to feel comfortable in this city. But now I do, and it was worth it. It was worth it for the Crumbs cupcakes, for the dinner at WD-50, for the wine and cheese bar on 52nd and 9th and for even the occasional P.J. Clarke's sliders. I look back and I see that I wanted to find a favorite coffee place (El Beit, N. 9th and Bedford), farmer's market (Union Square) and brunch (Bouchon Bakery). Now I have; now I'm here.

I'm in a new apartment, picked mostly for it's spacious kitchen and not so much for the five flights of stairs I have to climb to get to said kitchen. The first Duane Read just opened in Williamsburg giving me a place to (gasp!) buy Lean Cuisines for lunch at work. By no means do I qualify as a local, but at least I don't feel out of place.

And when the hipsters still shun me because I don't own a fedora, at least I know where I can get a damn good cocktail (Hotel Delmano). Kisses NYC, looks like you're stuck with me, for now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sappy Apology to My Many, Many Fans

To Laura and my mother,

Please forgive me for not updating sooner. If you notice the date of the last post, you will see that it not-so-coincidentally coincides with the week I started working full time again. Now that I have a real apartment (more on that later!) I shall do my best to redeem myself.

For instance, right now I am eating a delicious soup/pasta (I didn't buy enough broth) and later tonight I plan on roasting a chicken with a citrus stuffing and sage. Sage! There, that should tide you over until I sit down to write again.



Monday, October 20, 2008

Why do tomato-based sauces comfort me so much?

I always forget how tired working full-time makes me. Let’s take today as a ‘for instance.’ After a day/night of utterly emotion draining activities (the Browns lost) I woke up this morning and scrambled to get ready. I should note that I list myself among the world’s top 50 worst morning people. Getting out of bed every morning challenges me more than most people’s relationship with their parents. My parents are great. My mornings are vicious. So after the heroic effort I put into just crawling out of my queen sized cube of love, I was seriously annoyed to find that I had sliced my pinky toe wide open. Honestly, who does that?

In the small pool of blood gathering at my right foot I could see my fatigued face. No, I couldn’t, but that was probably the only good thing that had happened so far because I don’t look that great when I’m fatigued. After mopping up most of the runoff, I threw a Band Aid on and shoved my foot in one of my tighter shoes, hoping the principle of how bandages work would apply to stilettos. I apologized to my roommate for ruining her cashmere sweater that had been lying at the foot of the bed and had become my impromptu mop (I’m not that big of a bitch, it was hidden underneath my shoes and already had gotten a torrent of blood on it before I realized what happened).

Once in the office, as usual, time went pretty quickly. I know this is the second piece in a row with the tone of “whine” but I will take a break to acknowledge that I am really lucky to have a job I love. Still, the learning curve of a new job takes a toll and by 7:30 or 8 my head hurt so badly I had to finally call it a day. Or maybe it was the effort of staying warm since no one can figure out how to work the heater in the building. It’s not a very traditional workspace.

Also – I saw Andy Roddick’s fiancĂ©e, Brooklyn Decker (ironic!), in the office today. I was, frankly, a little disappointed when I realized who she was. The only reason I put it together at all was because the designer that’s using her in a campaign was complaining about Brooklyn having bad skin and rationalized the extra photoshopping work with the fact that she’s kind of famous. Still, self-esteem dictates that I still had to self-loathe for about a half-hour after finding out a really hot girl came into the office, even though said hotness might be more digital than I previously realized. Self-loathing/fighting the urge to self-loath is tiring too!

What the hell does this have to do with tomato sauce? Well after finally arriving at my apt around 8:45 pm, all I wanted was chili. Or spaghetti. Or spaghetti with faux-meatballs. Or lasagna. I did end up going with the chili inclination, but any of the options above would have worked. I don’t know why, and this isn’t the first night this has occurred. I’ve been boiling so many noodles Dr. Atkins is rolling in his grave. Spices, shredded cheese, and sour cream call to me more than I ever knew they could – as long as they are surrounded by piles of the sweet acidity of crushed tomatoes.

As I’ve never seen a Dr. Phil on this topic, I’m at a bit of a lost for an explanation. So I’ll just eat my left-over chili all week and tie-off when it’s time for another hit of those red spheres of goodness. Any tomato recipes, please pass them my way. And if you’re standing in front of my spaghetti, get out of my way.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Settled in to Brooklyn - Finally.

If you couldn't tell from my first couple of entries, my transition to life in New York City has been rough. Coming from Chicago, I expected to have an easier time - one big city to another. Comparing the city of Chicago to the city of New York is like comparing crab apples to macintoshes, as far as big apples are concerned. Immediately I became so overwhelmed that I attached myself to my boyfriend. The only place in the city I had any familiarity with was his apartment, so I found it hard to leave even to venture back onto the unknown couches of my own loft.

But slowly everything changes. Actually, in New York, I suppose everything changes quickly. Either way, that change came by way of my boyfriend's tough love. He has this horribly annoying way of telling me things I hate hearing, but that I desperately need to understand. While sobbing to him that he hadn't been considerate enough of me and my huge life change, he told me that maybe this was a tad over-reactive since I had only been in town a week. As usual, he was right (we like to switch up the gender roles by having him be right all the time instead of me. Guys - I feel for you).

Taking responsibility for myself and my state of mind was exactly what I didn't want to do. I wanted to lie on the couch and close my eyes and hope that life would figure itself out for me. So I had to take baby steps. The following week I picked myself up and started to explore stores around my apartment. Retail therapy is not a misnomer. At my mother's urging I took yoga and pilates classes. I went out with my roommates one night. I applied to a job and got an interview. I met up with an old friend.

You don't read my writing to hear me whine about life. Though the internet makes that readily available, I aim at a higher purpose for my readership. You read my writing because a.) you are my mother or her very wonderful friends, or b.) because you love food as much as I do and expected me to start writing about wonderful New York restaurants.

I live to serve!

As I toiled away at all these life changing moves, I also ate! Of course I ate, how else would I deal with it all. What did I eat, and more importantly, what do I recommend?

I do not recommend Burrito Bowl on a Sunday night after a day of drinking screwdrivers and Coors Light watching football. This little combo also led to the sobbing, tough love, and revelation about my situation though, so maybe a little gastrointestinal queasiness helps occasionally. Of late, I have also rediscovered Thai food. Not exactly in the aforementioned category of revelations, I know, but after a summer of bi-weekly Thai Aroma, I didn't wanted to even sniff a plate of pad thai. Right down the street I've found multiple Thai places with $6 lunch specials! Made even more affordable when split between two people. Yes, I have become that cheap.

My kitchen presents its own problems. Not only am I sharing it with 4 other girls, but, well, see for yourself. It's not pretty, but it's all I've got.

My brief foray with a dishwasher already seems ages ago, and the cuisine gods laugh at my lack of counter space. Still, I've persevered in the form of beans and rice, potato soup, and lots of hummus and pita. After my first real grocery store run today, I can't wait to start making the basics again - faux hotdogs, spaghetti, and sandwiches with tofurkey.

So what ultimately led to my pick-me-up? A little time, a little love, and a little success - I got the job!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gorgonzola and Scallions and Egglplant, Oh My!

Bonus! Free print-out activity!

After a week of adjustment I'm ready to break out the pots and pans from their boxes. A new spin on things while I wait for more emailed recipes for the cookbook: I'm cooking some completely original dishes. Honestly, minus lunch time George-Foreman paninis, I very rarely try dishes that don't have some authority behind them. But I can't very well write a cookbook without this expertise now can I?

Why do I usually stick to recipes? Much like color by numbers, the final project usually comes out better when I follow a professional's orders. It's time I break free of those numbers and lines though and start thinking for myself.

Plus, I don't think I'll be able to garner much respect if I keep churning out the equivalent of the colored in Mr. Tooth. So I'm on to bigger and better.

I don't expect to start out with the mashed potato version of Starry Night on my first go, but if I can let go of this artistic metaphor, I will still produce something tasty enough to make my roommates happy. This is how we get better, right? By trying new things, by branching out on our own. Maybe I will have to donate my first efforts to the dog. Eventually I hope to serve my cuisine to those with more refined palettes.

Just wait, for one day you'll be knocking down my door for the secret to my eggplant glaze. I'll just wink at Panther and keep on cooking.