Shamleless Plug

I'm embarking on a new part of my life that is happier and going in a direction! It's really refreshing.

I was married May 19th, 2012 to a great guy I met at the C.I.A and we're go excited to embark on a life together. He has as culinary degree to match my baking and pastry degree. It's going to be a Good life.

I hope you enjoy my thoughts on food and cooking. I am but a humble baker, who happens to love cooking and embraces the joy of food.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yoga

"I do yoga in the bathroom sometimes" My friend commented, out of nowhere.
"What?"
"I do Yoga in the bathroom sometimes, at work." she clarified.
"How would you even do that? Wouldn't it be awkward if someone walked in?" I asked
"No, it's just a one person bathroom, for customers."
"And why would you be doing yoga in the bathroom?" I wondered
"Cause hiding out behind the vanilla cakes in the freezer isn't doing it anymore." Sam said.
I didn't say anything, as I was digesting this information
"My boss yelled at me today for a stupid birthday cake. The order didn't specify a color for the writing. It literally said "Any color. For Girl" so I just ask Tammy which color was already in a tube for a girl, you know, rather than dirtying a bag AND saving time. She turns on me and huffs "What does the FORM say!!!?" I tell her, and I know I caught her, and she tries to back peddle and make me look stupid. This is the third time this week." Sam says
"Oy vay." I commiserate, thinking on my Extern days, and icing cakes. I shuddered, thinking of my extern bosses.
"So she gives me this whole speech about forms and customers and stuff, and I'm pretty annoyed at this point, so I'm like 'Look Tammy, I'm sorry I asked that question, but it said the color didn't matter, as long as it was for a girl.' And she tells me I'm giving HER attitude. UGH!! It was just ICING, goddamnit."
"How big is the freezer?" I ask. The freezer at my extern was gigantic. Like a maze of speed racks.
"Pretty damn big. About half the size of the back of the bakery. We only bake cakes once a week and freeze them all. And brownies, cupcakes, cannolis, eclairs, that kind of stuff. Bagels."
"So, you just stand there and cool off?" I asked
"Pretty much. It helps. It saves me the trouble from walking out. It's usually minus 20. The Yoga helps more. Deep breathing, or whatever. My yoga teacher'd be pleased." She said
"I'm really glad I'm not a decorator. The ones on my extern were awful."
"I mean, she's really uptight for a vegan. Most them are kinda like hippies." Sam said
"Vegan." I said, with a snort. "How does she run a bakery that isn't all vegan? Is vegan even big in Oregon?"
"I don't know. It's just a rumor. Maybe she's just uptight in general. Really intense"
"New job isn't going so well, then?" I ask
"You have no idea. Tammy is uptight and crazy, the other decorators are just as crazy or as fed up as I am, the back baking manager is bitter in general, I get sexually harassed daily by the oven guys. I swear..." she said, finishing the sentence saying something that sounded dark in French.
"Oy vay." I said again.
"But you have to admit, this sounds pretty funny. I want to put it on my blog" I say, clicking open a new window to post.
"Wait, what?" She said
"This is too good. I can write a book out of complaints my friends have in the food industry. I need to write this down. I'll change your name and everything. Make you my cousin, or something. I need to get back into writing, and my friends tell me such good stories" I said
"Always writing, aren't you?" Sam said
"In my head, yeah." I said.
There was a pause.
"I hate her." Sam said, quietly.
"I know." I said. I knew she was chewing it over
"Okay, go ahead."


Disclaimer: Names, locations, and personalities have been changed to protect my good friend. This not a reflection of herself, or myself, as she was just telling me about a bad week, and I was too amused by "Yoga in the bathroom" to resist. Disclaimer. 

Monday, December 7, 2009

Going to the City like a normal person

I haven't written in months, and it bugs the hell out of me that I seem to start every post with that very same sentence.
I don't know why I'm feeling so unmotivated. I need a fresh perspective. A trip to somewhere warm with good food. I'm not even going to talk about Thanksgiving. I don't feel like revisiting. I never know what to write about anymore. Sometimes I feel like I have a conspiracy going on against me. Big Brother is Watching, or something. Really, really puts a damper on anything interesting I might want to say. But maybe I'm just being crazy. Delusions of Grandeur or something. My life is pretty boring at the moment.
Or maybe I just don't have the heart anymore.

I visited my sister in the city yesterday. It made me feel incredibly normal. I know it's simple and silly for me to be excited about being so normal, but you know me. Normal for me is most certainly not normal for other people.

I saw her new apartment, which was cozy and cute, and checked out her neighborhood, which was overwhelmingly stuffed with restaurants, a meat market, and bakeries. A food lover's dream. If I lived near a meat market I'd never buy meat from Stop and Shop ever again.

We had lunch at Gina La Fornarina, a typically cramped place in the Upper East Side. It was jammed packed with people and servers in bright pink shirts. We managed to get seated quickly enough, I felt in the way and bulky as servers tried to bustle around customers waiting to be seated, their hands laden with delicious looking thin crust pizza, wine, and pressed sandwiches. Of course, everyone knows when a place is packed, it means the food is great. It was worth the bustle. Kelli and I shared a half of each of our pressed sandwiches. Kelli had a very tasty roasted veg and brie, and I had chicken salad. Both were light and crisp, but I preferred the veggie one over the chicken. The chicken was flavorful, but I like the flavor of roasted veggies and cheese. If I could get both kinds on one sandwich, that would have been perfection.

After we ate, we walked down to Two Little Red Hens, an especially adorable bakery. The front was tiny, but any NYC Realtor would call it "quaint." And it was. They sold mostly cupcakes and various cake sizes, along with a few cookies sold by the each. They also had a few pies. Everyone seemed nice and it looked like it would be so much fun to work at a bakery like that. But I'm not a city girl. Kelli and I shared a chocolate cupcake with white icing. It was moist and tender, and the ratio of buttercream to cake was just right. The white buttercream was smooth and fluffy.

The cakes were beautiful. The sizes ranged form 4 inches to about 8 inches. All kinds of flavors and combination. Even the pies looked nice. Even though I work in another bakery, I am not the kind of insecure person to bash every bakery I come across in attempts to make myself feel better. I'm sorry, I'm just not that kind of person. Also, I happen to try and appreciate every bakery in its own way. If someone is THAT insecure, they have serious issues.
It was a very cozy place to sit and eat. I would have loved to stay and buy several of the bite sized cupcakes so I would be able to sample them all, but when I'm with family, I tend to show a bit of restraint when I eat. If I were by myself or my boyfriend, I know I'd have sampled about half a dozen of the tiny cupcakes and sat there stuffing my face with every item I could.
The prices were that of what I would have expected at a bitty Bakery in the Upper East Side that was not only tiny, but delectable. Everything looked reasonable for what you were getting and how nicely it was decorated. I really am envious of people who have that skill. I lack it so badly I worry if I even belong in any bakery at all. I guess I ought to make that a Resolution of sorts, maybe take a class in the winter.

After the bakery, we hopped a subway into Midtown, where the contrast of Kelli's area and the center of the city was most obvious. You could barely turn around in the city, where as in Kelli's area you were pretty much free to walk around the streets without being run over by tourists with three diaper bags and a stroller.

Somehow we managed to get to Rockefeller Center, and to the Saks Windows. We perused the store, I was laughing at the handbags going for 2 grand, and the furs going for 5 grand,  as well as a simple sweater going for $450. We hurried towards Grand Central ,where I hopped the train as close to the front as I could, and I was off for home.

I'm really looking forward to heading back to Kelli's apartment sometime soon, because every restaurant looked as good as the last and there were so many different types of cuisines I'd never get bored. And seeing my sister would be nice, too. :p

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pizza Frit

Being 7 and the idea of a pizza frit the size of your head is a reasonable feat. When you're 23, and the size is so massive it's not only bigger than your head, but spilling over the plate, it's nearly unfathomable how you will ever finish every bite. But God help you, you're going to try.

This weekend was the St. Ann's Feast in Norwalk. My grandmother, for I'm not sure how many years, or even decades, was apart of the St. Ann's Club, and the fair was my most anticipated part of my summer. I remember rides, cotton candy, and massive puffy flats of fried dough drowning in sauce.
The smell of the raw dough as it touches the vats of hot oil makes me think of my grandmother in the back. Rolling out dough from a batch that took up the entire row of long tables,  carefully frying it up, or saucing it. I'd get so excited when I saw her, waving enthusiastically and calling "Grandma! Grandma!" as she worked with ladies her age who looked familiar, but nameless. Nothing would tear me from that fried dough. Not cotton candy, not rides, not even the promise of going on a ride with my siblings, would make me give up that oily, incredibly messy sauced bread.
Fresh out of the fryer, it would be put on a plate and sent to the table across from it, where it would be powder sugared or sauced to order. Then it would be covered in parm if sauced and brought still screaming hot to my tiny 7 year old hands.

They were always so big. I was amazed at the size they would be able to roll them. It made me dream of my future as a baker.
We'd find a seat at the tables set up under tents, with the plastic table coverings. Almost always we'd find an uncle or two milling about with their own fried dough. By the time you sat down, the smell of fried dough and hot oil had been following you into the parking lot, into the grounds, on line, and now, in your hands.
If you weren't hungry when you parked, you were hungry now.

Eating a pizza frit is somewhat of an acquired act. There's no right or wrong way, really, as any method results in requiring a dozen napkins. But no knives and forks allowed. No way. The method I've picked up over time is ripping out the crispy edges (The eye in a rib-eye, if you will), and dipping it in the cheesy sauce. You work your way around, ripping bigger and bigger portions to keep up with the soggy cooling dough. Until you have a cooled center you can fold like a slice of pizza and stuff in your mouth whole.
But by the time you reach the saucy center, which by now is most likely soggy and cool, your stomach tells you "I am STUFFED!".  And your brain tells you "I don't think so. Keep eating."
You push the limits of your stomach with pizza frits. Too much is never enough. As good as it is burning hot and crispy, it is equally appreciated in its cool sog. No second thoughts. No "Jeeze, gotta hit the gym tomorrow" It's a yearly indulgence.

This year I am sorry to report that I could not finish my pizza frit. Matthew, who was the least Italian at our table, finished his before anyone. I feel like I barely qualify as Italian as it is, being only 1/4.

I feel like an intruder in my own dead Grandmother's Italian fair. But all cultures eat and are loud, so naturally I must belong. We eat, we drink, we talk, and we eat. A tradition of every culture I am apart of. From my grandpa's southern roots (and pulled pork; a food stuff I can eat in every way imaginable), to my grandmother's Italian ones; where it's really quite impossible to cook pasta sauce for four people or less.

But hearing all the familiar noises, the familiar tents selling Sausage and Peppers, pizza frits, ziti, pastries, and beer. And the tents selling a lot of chotzy stuff with Italian colors and stuff that screams " HEY YOU! I'M ITALIAN!!!", made me feel at home and reminded me of my Grandmother. I probably have just enough Italian blood in me to pass as one at my local fair.

After we ate and sat with my uncle and his wife, my sister was wondering if the pastry stand had Italian ice, and if I had cash on me. We were in luck, because I did.
My sister, Matthew and I made our way through the hustle and bustle to the pastry stand. They were a simple set up, a drink case filled with pastries, and a large Pepsi display tub filled with Italian Ice. An old man, an old lady, and possibly a grandson, no older than 13 were running the stall.
The boy filled the lemon Italian ice in small paper cups, stuffing it as full as he could, compressing the ice crystals. The tiny waxy paper cup was heavy with ice.

I began to lick at mine, squeezing the cup gently to break up the crystals after each taste. And the effect of the flavor and temperature was instantaneous. It was tart, cold, sweet and deeply refreshing. There were bits of lemon peel and one or two seeds. It was the faintest tint of yellow.
So many foods make up summer for me. Things I truly need to have to feel like I'm experiencing summer. Shaved Italian Ice at my grandmother's old Women's club festival is standard.

Foods like this make me nostalgic. I miss being young. I miss being young and on the rides. I miss eating a pizza frit and not worrying about it. I think above all, I miss being young and with my grandmother, back when she was younger, active, and the best pizza frit fryer the fair had.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Sesame Chicken

I don't know a single person who doesn't like Asian food.

Matt and I had been craving it for a few days now, and yesterday we decided that it would be okay for us to go out to Fuji, in Darien. They reopened this year after a long renovation. I haven't been there since a surprise birthday party when I was 17, so I had been waiting for Matt to be around so I'd have someone to go with me.

For starters, this place has a sushi bar and a large hibachi area. It has all a large selection of Japanese and Chinese food. Anyone can find something they would enjoy.

At our last trip, I had Wok Seared Steak, while Matt had Tangerine Beef. They gave us this simple but pretty damn perfect bowl of onion soup. Broth and onions. Hot, savory, salty, perfect.

My steak was tender, sweet and savory and very good. A big portion, also. I could have done with more vegetables. But the steak was delicious. Matt's tangerine beef was sweet and crispy. Also a big portion and also could have done with more veggies.


Last night, Matt ordered the Chicken Katzu and I the Sesame Chicken. This time, they gave us Miso soup and an iceburg salad with that orange colored ginger dressing which is just so tasty and delicous, and I wish I knew the exact name and brand they use so that I may go out and buy a vat of it.
The simple Miso was hot and tasty, and served its purpose of waking up my appitite and satisfying Matt's hungry one.

I was getting excited for Sesame Chicken. The fried "Chinese" food is not something I let myself indulge in more than one a month, so when I really want it, I go for the good stuff, the kind in nice, clean and quality restaurants. Places like Fuji. I love the crispy, I love the sauce, I love the sprinkle of sesame seeds. It's addictive. And bad for you.
So when my plate came, piled and mounded high with the saucy crisp stuff, I wanted nothing more than to fall face first in my plate and not come up for air until it was medically necessary.

But I had chopsticks. Which would slow me down considerably, God help me.
As you probably know, I have fairly poor motor skills. So managing chop sticks is something I only get right about 1/3rd of the time. But, if you put it in perspective of weight loss, would slow me down enough so I wouldn't overeat.

I picked up my chopsticks and tried to nab a piece of chicken. My sticks pushed it around the mound before I finally successfully picked up a sauce drenched chicken piece. I actually was able to hold it long enough to make it to my mouth. And it was exactly as it should be: The sauce was thick, sweet, and slightly gingery. The chicken was moist, tender and crispy.

I was stil struggling to use my chopsticks properly. Matt placed my fingers in the right places. but I wasn't able to move my fingers in the right way. The waitress came over and asked if I needed a fork, or "kid's chopsticks" with a laugh. Teasing me in a friendly way, or what I hope was a friendly way. But I had too much pride to ask for a fork, or God forbid, the kid's chopsticks.

I kept eating my chicken slowly, but managing the chopsticks in a way that worked for me.
My rice was in a separate bowl, and easier to eat with chopsticks, bowl close to my face, and scooping with the chopsticks.

Matt's chicken katzu was a large portion, probably two cutlets, piled on top of each other. His rice and sauce was in separate bowls, and somewhere under the pile, was some broccoli.

The chicken was crisp and light; Matt's only complaint was that it was fried in the same fryer as fish probably was.

As we ate, the Hibachi table had a family. The Hibachi table is something I'd like to experience with everyone at work, because the chefs are not only friendly and outgoing (and handy with sharp objects and things that flambe), but also use severely outdated lingo, which is hilarious to me; "Go! Go! Power Rangers!!". "Who let the dogs out!?" "This is the bomb!", etc.

My overall opinion on Fuji is the portions are large when it comes to meat; both times we've eaten there we've both gotten large portions of meat. But if you're like me, who likes copious amounts of vegetables with her Chinese, or like Matthew, who likes a decent portion, I suggest asking for extra vegetables. I'm sure they will be happily accommodating with any such requests.

Overall Info
  • Dress Code- Casual/Dressy Casual
  • Price Range- Apps- 10+ Entrees 10-25+, Hibatchi 16+
  • Menu- Varied; There are many Japanese, Chinese and a few Curry items to choose from
  • Service- Good
  • Good for anyone; dates, familes, parties

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dundee

"Give me something to write about."
"Spam." He said. I rolled my eyes.
"No. Try again."
"Lightbulbs. No! Specialization"


I had two beers tonight, and feel like writing while I still feel uninhibited. None of Matt's topics interested me. So I'm writing. About whatever.

But right now I'm going to blog about this beer. Dundee Honey Brown. The honey part had sold me initically. But then I got a good look at the label. A quirky bee, with a band drum, and a pint. In love. I love the 'beat of your own drum" ideal. Then I read the back of the label:

"What's supposed to go in beer? German purity law say you're only allowed four ingredients. But this is America....The land of civil disobedience, and footballs that don't roll like the rest of the world wants them to. So we decided that for Dundee Honey Brown we'd add a fifth~ a touch of pure honey. Granted, that's a little different. But we figure you can be like everyone else or you can be yourself and drink something unique."

Ain't it the truth? This beer, my friends, is me. It's me. From the quirky bee, to the differentness. And I am sold.
I'm looking at the other brews, and am delighted by the quirkyness. I am looking forward to getting a craft sampler this week.
...........


Oh, and the beer is pretty tasty too.


Here's what the site has to say about their wheat beer: "Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Hollow Earth Society. Members of the Spanish Inquisition. All convinced they were blessed with the gift of clarity. And proof that clarity might be overrated."
Am I a little weird to be sold by beer with quirkiness. Maybe. But I think I'm okay with that. But I dig beer that's just mellowed out. Beer that doesn't take itself too seriously. Or too loosely. I'd never drink a Bud, or a Coors, or a Miller, or whatever watered down crap mass America tends to veer to. Mass produced crap isn't my bag.

Something like Dundee speaks to me.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wholefoods Excursion

I woke to a wet and miserable day, but I felt excited with anticipation. Today I was going to Wholefoods.

I finally arrived at about 11, just as it began to drizzle. I nearly tripped on the curb. But I was there. When I walked in, a display right at the entrance caught my eye. For a second, it looked like a cheese rind, and I thought it odd to display cheese (unless it was hard) in such a food safe inappropriate way. But it was just "bulk soap" at 14.99/# Bulk Soap. Bulk. Soap. I've always loved the word "bulk" Bulk candy, especially. The soap smelled wonderful, but I was overwhelmed with colorful fruit and good smells.
Instinctively, I began in the middle, before turning and doublebacking to my right, where one end of the store was. It was prepared foods, the bakery, salad bar, hot food bar, deli, and such. Wonderful smells of foods of different countries of origin wafted to my nose and surrounded me with deep feelings of warmth, comfort, and disarmed willpower.
When I was wandering back to the main part of the store, looking at packaged stuff that I wasn't sure was local, organic, or whatever ("Everyday Marshmallows"? Did you open a bag of Jet Puft anbd put them in a plastic box?). I saw the soup again, and finally saw the types of the day. I saw "Roasted Corn Chowder" and was sold.

I kept wandering aimlessly and shyly, as if I'll be caught: "Hey! She's an impostor! A non vegan isn't allowed to buy SOY NUGGETS! Get her OUT!!"

After wandering isle after isle, I ended up with popcorn cakes, local BBQ sauce, Annie's dressing, soy nuggets (YESSS!!!!), corn, Kashi kid's cereal and my soup.

With my aimless walking, I passed by the Bulk isle several times, and finally stepped into the great mecca of whole food. What first caught my eye was JELLY BEANS! I looked at the ingredients, and they were all natural. What caught my eye second was the price: 7.99/#. Wow, okay, just going to get a sprinkle here. I was a little surprised to see the jelly beans. The night before, I had wondered what I planned on getting at Wholefoods, as I didn't exactly have a list. My reaction was "Jelly beans." And there they were.
Then, I saw diced dried pineapple. at 2.99/#, which seemed pretty reasonable. It then hit me: I can make my own granola mix!!! I got dried papaya, and the highest protein granola I could (something with soy in it.)
When I first walked into the isle, I saw bins of peanuts. For peanut butter, apparently. For people to grind at home? How odd. Then I noticed it was fresh ground peanut butter! Seeing Honey roasted peanuts for grinding, I could not resist.
I flipped on the switch and heard the grinding and peanut butter ooozed out. I ground my OWN peanut butter!! It was insanity. And very tasty: gritty and just a little sweet, and peanutty.

After walking up and down the isle, hoping I didn't miss anything, I decided I was here much to long and headed to the checkout....but first, some crusty bread for my soup? Or perhaps a salad?
I opted for a salad, with a tong of romaine, and a tong of spinach, and a spinkle of mixed greens.

I grabbed one of their big Wholefoods bags and got in line, after I was checked out (being sure to actually pay for said bag) I got into my car a few seconds before it began to pour.
I couldn't wait another second. I found my bag of just a sprinkle of jelly beans and popped one in my mouth.
My reaction was instantanous: The shell was thin and gave away easily. The jelly was sweet, and the flavor tasted like it came from an actual fruit. I can only distingush two or three flavors, but I am sold on these 7.99/# jellybeans. They are very much worth the hefty price tag. Also, they are the small jelly bean sized, so you get more bean for your buck. They taste a little like the gormuet jelly beans we used to get at Easter at Stew Lennords, but all natural.

I drove home in the rain, and heated up my soup, and put my new honey mustard dressing over my salad. The soup was full of corn, potatoes, onions and peppers. It was creamy, warm and delicious on a wet gray day.

All in all I spent about $35, but everything thus far has been tasty and well worth it (well, except for the pop corn cakes, as I was expecting something like rice cakes...but they are tasty when dipped in BBQ sauce). I'm looking forward to another excursion very very soon.

I am considering going back just for the jelly beans Tuesday.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hollow Leg Syndrome

It's the start of a new season. So, of course, as usual, I am starving.
Whenever a new season starts, well, at least the transition from cold to colder and colder to warmer, I feel like I can't consume enough calories.

I'm not scarfing down nearly as much as I usually do. I think when winter started I inhaled hundreds (if not a thousand) of extra calories a day. But it was much different then; Last winter, I was, of course, up to my elbows in overtime. Working a normal day of 12 hours and my longest day being almost 18. So I hardly noticed when I had a second or third (Who am I kidding, how about 'fifth or sixth') chicken finger or some other kind of bad for you, trans fat laden fried food (I remember leaving work at 5:30 pm, after being there since 3 am, and getting several items from Mcdonalds and scarfing it down before I even reached the highway).

But at the same time I could really stand to shed a pound or five. I made the grave mistake of trying on a pair of jeans at Old Navy, and they barely went past my knees! They were my size, but their jeans have never really fit me since I hit puberty and they have so many different styles, a size is never the same size in each style. Still, it made me so depressed I very nearly bought Soy Nuggets at Trader Joes....Which I'm kind of considering getting...Mmmm...soy nuggets with Bbq sauce......Really! They are really quite tasty!

Anyway....I've been eating a lot of jelly beans, and crackers and cookies and I really wish I had better will power. Maybe I should chew gum, drink more water, or do something to control my eating habits. I can't wait for nicer weather, and warm days so I can go for more walks and feel like I'm taking control of my health.

While it may cost a little more, I really ought to invest in foods that are actually sort of good for you, like minimally processed items: preservative free/cane sugar granola bars, grainy cereal, even soy nuggets. The kind of stuff one finds at Trader Joes. And drinking green tea. More salads. Less junk.
I say that. I've said that in I don't know how many posts. But this time, while I may fall of the horse and fail, it's almost summer, and it's going to be a busy one, and if I want to look good and have energy, I need to make changes now.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cadbury creme filling fizzle.

Cadbury creme eggs don't hold the same appeal as they used to. I'd buy a dozen and eat one a month till the next Easter (which I might do again this year, just for kicks).

But now I'm nibbling at one, and I don't feel like I love it as much as I did. The ooblecky tacky filling is creamy and thick and sugary, which is tactfully(?) pleasing. The mild milk chocolate that melts with it adds another depth of flavor and sweet.

The orangey yolky center that marbleizes with the rest of the white rouses feelings of nostalgia, and I love the way it melts on my tongue, but it fails to light the fire that burned in my soul for candy like it used to.

Maybe it's because I'm 23, and appreciate the Slow Food Movement, and organic and local and stuff made in small batches, and those small companies (all of the above in certain situations, of course). A Cadbury creme egg that is now owned by Hershey isn't going to do it anymore. I like things like potato chips made by some company in Idaho, or cane soda, or produce from a farmer's market or naked beef from Stew Leonards.

I guess I'm sort of a food snob......... But not really. I just like to eat a variety of delicious things, and a variety of junky food. But if I'm going to eat something that tiny that has 150 calories, I damn sure am going to thoroughly enjoy every mouthful.

.....But I guess I do savor every little bit of that tiny egg. It's chocolate, it's creamy fondant (one of my most favorite things..in the bakeshop there were buckets of it and I would sneak it all the time) and it's seasonal. It was apart of my childhood, and sometimes things like that makes you feel good and happy in a way that nostalgic things do; it satisfies a tiny part of your soul.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Breakfast

Today I planned on waking up early, making coffee and just enjoy having the first floor to myself before my siblings woke up and my parents came back from being away.

I had decided since I didn't get my sausage biscuit from McDondalds at Matt's Graduation, that would be what I would make.

It took me awhile to settle on this idea. As I would have to run out and get. sausage. But I decided I'd settle on bacon if we had Bisquik. We didn't have any Which meant I'd have to run to Trader Joes. So I might as well get the Morning Star vegan sausage patties there as well, (don't knock it, they look good and their Griller's Vegan tastes like a hamburger) because I've yet to see real sausage patties at Tjs, and it would be an acceptable alternative.

When I got there, I went to the frozen section and located the Morning Star area. They had the burgers (good with chipole mayo), the "buffalo wings" (Why?), the bacon, and the sausage links. But no patties. Surely this was some kind of mistake. I lifted every box, hoping for a stray sausage pattie. But there were none. Given, it was about 5:30 pm, but surely they restock?

I would have been more annoyed, if I weren't so amused by the irony.

I picked up my box of multigrain baking mix and wandered, thinking about my next move.
But after browsing the bacon, and the soy-sauge, I finally left with Baking Mix, Home Browns (the hash brown style found at Mcdonalds), a box of Vanilla cookie Trader Joes Oreos, and Whoopee pies (the last two being a compulsive move). Damn you Trader Joes for enticing me to veer from my list and buy another item!!!

This morning I woke up at 7, my head thick and my vision blurry. I got up and laid on the couch, watching an infomercial for "YOUR BABY CAN READ" because I was too thick with tired to change the channel...even with the remote sitting at my head.

Finally, I willed myself off the couch to prepare a caffinated crystal light packet, which brought me around a little bit, enough to start making my breakfast.

I brushed three hash browns with oil and threw them in the still cold oven, and turned it on. I formed my cold, last night prepared biscuit dough into three rounds and put them aside. After putting the bacon into the oven, I got my eggs ready.

Once the bacon came out, swimming in its own fat (Mmm, bacon fat, could there be any better fat?), I poured a little of the remaining bacon fat into the pan intended for my eggs. This was something Matt always did when we would cook breakfast together on the weekend. But I suppose when you're eating the bacon with the eggs, you can't really tell that the fat is in it, but I like the concept anyway.

My entire breakfast came together nicely. My coffee was pleasant enough, better than at work, but my biscuits rose a bit too much to accommodate eggs, cheese and bacon into an open mouth. The bacon was crispy, and my hash browns crunchy.

I'm still tired, and now very worried, because I just found a letter for myself from I don't know when about my other student loan, which was due YESTERDAY, so I want to run to the post office, but am trying to make myself realize it doesn't matter when I go, because there's no post today anyway.

I don't know what the deal is with people trying to make breakfast fancy. All you need is a little breakfast meat, some bread, a potato product and an egg, and you have a very Americanized breakfast. Fatty, greasy, bad for you, but once in a while it is entirely delicious.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pop Tarts

The first (and only) rebellious thing I ever did as a college student was buy S'mores pop tarts.

We never were really allowed pop-tarts growing up. The non-frosted fruit ones were barely allowed for breakfast as it was, so chocolate or frosted anything was certainly out of the question. We were strictly a strawberry or blueberry kinda family.

For some illogical reason, in my mother's eyes, the Toaster strudels were a better option, perhaps because there was marginally more fruit filling and they were warm/flaky with a cream cheese icing. But they are essentially the same thing.


I jealously coveted the other flavors, like chocolate, S'mores and the weird berry flavors of the time. Even raspberry frosted with sprinkles was off limits.

I sometimes dreamed of all the food I wasn't allowed to have growing up. All the food I could buy when I was on my own (candy, sugary cereal and possibly Kid tv dinners). I clearly remember when I was very young being in a car with my mother, driving in Rowayton, and saying how I was going to buy bags of candy when I was on my own. "Oh yeah?" She said, "You'll look like this." And puffed her cheeks, which made me laugh.

So, the first week I settled into college, I went shopping with my roommate, or perhaps a new friend. We were wandering down the cereal isle, and packages caught my eye. Pop Tarts! No, wait! S'mores pop tarts!!! I snatched a box, and tried to justify the purchase to whomever I was with, because I felt silly buying food intended for children.

When I got back to the dorm, I opened the box and peeled open the sliver package eagerly. I inhaled the graham crackery scent, the crackly chocolate frosting, and signed contently. It smelled so good. Finally, I took a bite.
It was sweet and different. Vertical stripes of chocolate and what appears to be marshmallows. It was slightly gooey.

It was an affordable luxury, 2/$3. But I didn't buy them again. Being a college student, I worried about money and saving it for school supplies and substantial food.

But now that I am a college graduate with a job, I've found other affordable luxuries. But I still like Pop Tarts.

Recently, I've found Pop-Tarts with whole grains. Shockingly, they come in Chocolate Fudge. Which is a chocolate pastry, with fudge, with chocolate frosting. With whole grains. And Fiber. Surely this counts as a breakfast item when paired with a fruit smoothie. I like these better than the S'mores one, unfortunately, to write this post, I went out and bought a 12 pack of S'mores pop tarts (Always a deal finder, I bought them on sale, they were $1.74!) So, I'm stuck with a lot of Pop-tarts. Which I'm either going to try to be okay with, or maybe unload some on my boyfriend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

$6 Budget

I've decided to allot myself between 6-$7 a month for whatever I feel like eating. It could be anything from Mcdonalds, Duchess, diner, Wendys or Chinese. Even those marshmallows at Tj Maxx. Whatever little treat I'd like.

I decided to do this because, I thoroughly enjoy fast food and other takeout, but never really wanted to put forth the effort of procuring it. Also, I thought whatever I spent on it would eventually add up to other, more useful things, like fuel, clothes, and groceries.

But I think a little splurge now and then probably wouldn't hurt. And, if I let myself have a little something now and then would probably keep me focused on being healthier. If I let myself have that little budgetary splurge, I am probably less likely to use it.

I'm allowing myself to spend this money in any amount I like, whether I do it about 5 times at 1.12, or twice a month at about $3.

Or maybe that should be spent on something more splurge worthy. Like candy or all natural shampoo from Trader Joes (I am quite fond of "Christopher's Jellies")

So, we shall see how this works out. I already spent $4 and some change at Wendy's the other week, so I'll have to wait till March to invest a little cash in a little splurge that makes stuff like 4 mile walks, fruit smoothies, and Emergen-C more bearable.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Butterscotch pudding

I had a sudden craving for butterscotch pudding sometime earlier last week. I had seen a top comfort food list on AOL, and butterscotch pudding topped it.

I was a fan of all things pudding growing up, but butterscotch was my favorite. I have vauge memories of sitting on my very old and handed down Whinnie the pooh blanket, Swiss Miss Butterscotch pudding in hand and watching Raffie on Nick Jr, as a very wee one. So when I saw a recipe for it, I was excited.

I remembered the deep butterscotch flavor (which is hard to describe), the brownish orangish color. The smooth consistency. I was craving it enough to go make it that night.

But, I set my expectations too high, I am sorry to say. The recipe was simple, consisting of heavy cream, whole milk, brown sugar, cornstarch, butter and vanilla. It came together well and I like the consistency of the pudding, but the flavor was absolutely lacking.

I'm disappointed. I should have added more vanilla and brown sugar, because, now that I look at the recipe, called for dark brown sugar,and we've been a light brown sugar kinda family. Maybe that was the case. My mother makes her own vanilla, and it's only been sitting for a few months, so maybe I should have added more.

I personally, did not like the pudding. I'd make it again, but modify the recipe for more sugar and vanilla. So let this be a lesson. When something calls for a particular crucial ingredient, you should really use it. Light brown sugar isn't a substitute for dark brown sugar, and next time I'll have to remember that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

S+P Oyster Company, or "Top Ten Meals of My Life (so far)"

When Matt and I walked out of the planetarium at Mystic Seaport, it was snowing. Which wasn't at all a big deal, I wasn't altogether concerned about it until I began to drive in it. I realized later on I'd be driving in it, and hoped the plow would have gone through by the time we went out to eat.

Matt and I weren't sure where we'd go for dinner. He had seen a nice looking place up on a hill we'd try out. By the time we were ready to go, it was still snowing, and wet and a little icy.

I got into the car and stated that I was nervous about driving. Here I was, in an unfamiliar town, in the dark, in the snow, in heels. And I didn't exactly know where I was going. Ookay! We slowly made our way to the alleged restaurant on the hill. It turned out to be a restaurant at the Mystic Inn, which appeared to be closed. I went up the windy, snow covered hill to discover this.

Now where do we go? I'd sooner eat takeout from a fast food place than drive around blindly. But we decided to drive around a bit, I was sure something would turn up in this cute town.


Out of the dark snowy night, I saw twinkle lights on a housey building on the water (like a beacon from God!). A restaurant! Quick decision! I turned in.

It was the S+P Oyster Co.! We parked and glanced at the menu next to the door. It looked good, I barely needed to read it to find a few things I'd like. We made our way in and got a table. It was a little quiet, but full. Dim, but not too dark. The atmosphere was comfortable. The menu was full of seafood, meats and pasta.

Our server, Robin, came to us and wrote her name on the white paper covered table with a pen. Which I thought was an interesting way to get your name across.

Matt and I ordered wine (Sav Blanc, Root one) while we looked at our menus (I was seriously considering a drink drink, but then decided I'd probably be better off with wine). I finally decided on pork tenderloin medallions with apples and rosemary, mashed potatoes and green beans. Matt got a broiled seafood plate. I can't really comment on that, since I am not one for shellfish. Sorry, New England.

My wine was summer. Peachy, crisp. It was summer in a snowstorm.

When our meals came, I had to take a picture. I begged Matt for his camera, and finally he obliged . I picked up my fork and cut a small sample of the pork. And was lost in a food daze. I put down my fork.
This is too good to eat." I gushed. So, I picked up a crayon and began taking notes. Shamelessly. I took short worded notes, that are illegible to me now. I ate slower than I ever have, savoring and experiencing every tender bite of my meal. I gushed and was completely absorbed in my meal. I could barely talk to Matthew or even acknowledging that he was even eating with me, until I suddenly snapped back into reality and asked him how his meal was. He said he liked it, and pointed out a few things ideas he liked and wanted to remember to borrow them when he opened his own restaurant at some point in his life after graduation. (Ooh! I forgot to mention the bread with an olive oil balasmic dip; an idea he wants to borrow, along with a few other things...that I don't remember)

He also gave a look around. "You know," he said "I can see a few reasons why this is a great restaurant."

"How?" I asked, so enamored with my meal I wasn't aware of anything past my plate and glass of wine (which was- and I'm quoting myself "A pair so perfect not even God could wish for anything better"...But maybe I just have low standards when it comes to wine pairing. If I don't shudder at every sip, I consider it a good pair...Actually, I fall in love pretty easily with any crisp Sav Blanc)

"Well, it's snowing, the economy is terrible, it's the slow season and there's only three or four empty tables." He said. I looked. It was true. The restaurant only had a few tables open. And more people kept coming in.

I nodded, commenting how this is a great restaurant and how glad I was that we happened upon it (and really, isn't that how you find the best places to eat? The stuff blogs are made of) Then I went back to my meal.

I was agonizing over what was in the sauces. I knew one was garlic and possibly shallots, and the other was bright orange, sweet and slightly citrusy. Matt figured it was oranges, but I wasn't sure. All those different flavors on one plate? I had no idea what it was, only that somehow, it went with everything. My greenbeans were crisp and cooked just how I like them. My potatoes were dense and tender, the pork, sweet and savory, perfectly cooked and balanced in flavors. (I was worried there'd be too much rosemary, an herb I've come to dislike with my mother's overzealous use in past meals)

It was surely the best meal I have had in a long time. Probably top ten meals of my life (at this point in time). I was engrossed and enamored in it.

I still needed to know what was in the mashed potatoes! It had this sweet to them that I could not put my finger on. When Robin came by to see how everything was, I asked her what was in them. She replied quite smartly with the standard ingredients (half and half, butter, milk, salt, pepper) and "something else they wont tell us" Lies!! You know you know whats in them! I'm sure it's apples. I'm sure it is. It's something I wouldn't expect, yet logical. I also loved the fact that she told me they piped them. Because I already knew that. I wanted to say "I swear I'm not an insane foodie! My boyfriend and I have degrees from the CIA and I swear I'm not that nuts!!!" But I didn't.

I finished my last few bites and sipped the last of my wine. Matt asked me if I wanted dessert.

"Do you want dessert?" I replied, knowing the answer.

We got dessert. He got bread pudding and I got Tiramisu.

I wasn't disappointed. It was mousse like: creamy, airy, light, but full bodied in flavor. I began to gush again. I can barely put this into words. Usually I gulp down food and dessert. But this meal made me stop and slowly savor each and every bite.

It took me an hour and a half to eat two courses. I barely was aware of time. I was barely aware of anyone. I was aware enough of my boyfriend to have conversations, but it was mostly me gushing over my meal.

Apparently, the bread pudding was quite tasty as well, in case you were wondering. The bread appeared to be processed into breadcrumbs, and lended itself to a more pudding like texture. I'm not one for bread pudding, but if I was, I'd probably prefer it made this way.

So, after an hour and a half of gastronomical pleasure, we left. I carefully ripped my notes off the table and stuffed them in my purse. Matt teased me, saying if I wanted to be a writer of such things, I'd need to learn how to remember everything. But personally, if there are in fact crayons and paper on the table, I'm sure as hell going to use them.

I was so glad we happened upon this restaurant. I couldn't dream of a better meal or a better place to go with my boyfriend. I know not many people read this blog who are also happening to go to Mystic, but if you are in Mystic, you have to have a meal here. I can't say much more than that.

S+P Oyster Company
Dress: Casual/dressy casual (But I wore a dress and heels, and I didn't feel out of place in them)
Price: Moderate, with entrees starting at about $12.95 up to about $30.
Food: Excellent
Service: Also quite excellent. I liked that Robin, our server, knew some locals who sat near us and asked if they wanted their usual. (I dig that stuff)
Menu Selection: for a seafood place, great. Enough for seafood affectionato, but a land lover would have plenty to choose from.
Right on the water, so it's very pleasant and pretty, especially when its snowing


See the perfect cookedness of the pork? The color of the red potatoes? (AH-HA!!! Could it possibly be CHICKEN STOCK!!!? Edit: Matt told me probably not.) The Apples!!? Perfection on a plate. OOh! Oooh! And I got a green bean surprise under the pork. It made me happy. =)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mystic, and S+P Oyster Co

Went to Mystic with the boyfriend, more on that and the best meal I have had in QUITE awhile coming up later.