Friday, March 30, 2012

on kissing life right on the lips.

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this past saturday i woke up with a plan. i (read: my boyfriend) would build the new piece of furniture that had just arrived. but it wasn't raining like it was supposed to, it was warm and sunny. and i hadn't been to the farmer's market in oh so long because farmer's markets and winter winds do not mix. and i really wanted to go. so i jumped out of bed and out the door to get some milk. and it was beautiful outside. just gorgeous. a perfect spring day. i was rounding the corner of the park i live near and thought "wow. look at my life."
look. at. my. life.
i was walking without a hitch in my step. i was breathing in crisp fresh air. i was heading to the farmer's market. i was in new york city. i was pushing off things that could be done when it was raining, or at night, or just any other time, really. and i said to myself:
"don't forget this moment. when you are young and free and doing what you want. don't forget it. be grateful for this moment."
and i was just talking to myself. just talking to myself and going along my business, but when i told myself to be grateful it hit me like a ton of bricks: debbie can't have this moment. she can't put off chores and enjoy the sunlight and go to the farmer's market. she did. but she can't anymore.
funny, how our memories catch us off guard like that.
the next morning in my exercise class, which is always, always difficult, we ended with a two-minute plank (yikes). and the teacher, whom i love, said in the middle of the plank, "remember: you are privileged to be able to do this. not everyone is healthy enough to exercise. not everyone has capable bodies. i know you are tired, and hurting and frustrated, but remember: this. is. a. privilege."
perhaps she had known what kind of thoughts i had the day before.
but she's so right. the bad stuff we go through - i'm not talking about exercise here anymore - is a privilege just as is fresh air and sun on our faces. i want to take a bad day - at work, at home, with friends, with family - and remind myself it's a privilege to feel anything at all. and i want to keep pushing off chores for a bloody mary at noon with a view of the manhattan skyline. i want to run until i can't breathe. i want to skip the gym for dinner with an old co-worker. i want to curse a bad day at work and sip a glass of wine afterwards knowing that tomorrow is another day. i want to remember i am privileged to be here and to have an experience, any experience. because i can.
i really, really want to remember that.

"To look life in the face, always, to look life in the face and to know it what for what it is. At last to know it, to love it for what it is, and then, to put it away. Leonard, always the years between us, always the years. Always the love. Always the hours." -- The Hours

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

on a fancy loaf of meat.

meatloaf is a funny word, isn't it? to think about a loaf of meat. it's funny to me. yet, i love it. i loved it when i was little. i love a restaurant where my parents live that serves it. and i love this fancy variation:
say what?
yup, it's amazing. and i think a little better for you than normal meatloaf because it uses turkey. perhaps the pancetta cancels that out. oh well.
the recipe calls for whole milk but i only had skim on hand. it also, clearly, calls for pancetta, but my grocery store only had prosciutto on hand. prosciutto, pancetta - makes no difference. still delicious.
mix all of the filler ingredients together before adding in the ground turkey. to make it leaner i used ground turkey breast.
here is an example of how to lay down the prosciutto or pancetta. for the prosciutto, i laid down a piece perpendicular to where i was standing, and then formed a rectangle around the central piece, layering each additional piece.
while the recipe says you can just wrap up the loaf, i like to put a few pieces on top of the meatloaf to ensure that it covered by the prosciutto. after wrapping it up in the parchment or wax paper, i place it in a loaf pan to form it into that wonderful loaf shape. i then put the wrapped loaf back on the baking sheet and cook for 45 minutes. if you are using leaner meat, like i did, you can cook for a little less time to make sure it doesn't dry out.
and viola! there it is. when i make it for dinner i usually don't make it a sandwich, but i do serve with the arugula mayonnaise (which is so, so good). i put a few tablespoons of mayo in a food processor, along with a handful of arugula, and pulse it a few times. depending on the consistency, i add in a little more arugula or mayo. it should be very smooth and vibrant green.
this recipe is great for dinner, picnics, can be served warm, cold, any way really, and it always tastes fabulous. who knew meatloaf could be fancy?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

on the art of being lazy.

i recently posted this anecdote on another blog and decided it was too good not to share here.
via here.
when i was a little girl, the second child of my parents, my mother took me to the doctor for one of the many check-ups little children require. it was at this appointment that i was given the denver developmental screening test, which is a basically a checklist of sorts in making sure one is growing and developing normally. since my mom had already done this with my sister, she was aware that the "correct" answer, or the response you want to give the doctor for these questions, is "yes".
problem was, a lot of the answers for me were "no".
the biggest issue was that i wasn't walking yet. nearing the age of two i could not yet walk. and barely crawled. my parents say that mostly i just sat up, put one leg out in front, and scooted around on my bum everywhere.
a problem indeed.
in the next few months my parents brought me to psychologists, psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, and everything in between. no one seemed to have an answer. everyone suspected cerebral palsy, but none of the tests came back totally positive for that either. my parents were recommended to one last, final doctor, who spent an hour or two with me before calling in my parents to her office.
first, she told them i was very intelligent - i had put all the blocks into their correct color groups, all on my own (wouldn't worry about it).
second, she told them i had very tight muscles - i used to pick things up with my hand basically shaped like a claw. i can demonstrate the claw motion for you when we meet. the doctor said they needed to work on relaxing and stretching out my muscles.
but, third, and final, was her real diagnosis.
basically, she told them, your baby is lazy.
with an older sister who loved pushing me around in a stroller, and parents who carried me around because, hello, who can resist these eyes, i basically figured out i didn't really need to walk. i could get people to do it for me. and therefore i was lazy.
diagnosis: lazy. intelligent. but mostly lazy.
if this was not a sign for my future, i don't know what was.
the cure for a lazy baby with tight muscles, according to the doctor, was to lay me on an exercise ball and roll me forward so i could stop myself with my arms (if laid on my tummy on top of the ball), or with my legs (if laid on my back on top of the ball). my father took it upon himself to run through these exercises with me every night when he came home from work (and if i wasn't asleep).
more than once he rolled the ball way too quickly, and my mom would hear a huge crash, followed by lots of sobbing.
that, of course, helped create a whole other set of issues. aside from the laziness.

Monday, March 26, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

after an early start to the weekend i was eager to continue the fun. when i came home on friday the boy and i made a beeline for an italian restaurant near me and scored a table outside for an early dinner. i pass by this restaurant every day, envious of the amazing dinners everyone is enjoying, and always wishing he lived here and we could just pop in when we wanted. so it was my dream date and it was very awesome to make it happen. the rest of the weekend was filled with the regular weekend activities: sleeping in, a trip to the farmer's market, an afternoon at a rooftop bar in brooklyn, household chores and catching the hunger games movie. i hope y'all had as much fun as i did.
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Friday, March 23, 2012

on starting the weekend early.

for christmas i gave the boy two tickets to a black keys concert in madison square garden, and last night we got to redeem them! to say the least, having him here on a thursday was a very exciting thing indeed. so i put on my best hipster outfit, ate a meal of a burger and fries, and head to the garden to rock out (my first concert in madison square garden! eep!) it was a wonderful night and i'm looking forward to the weekend continuing...once i get home from work today. i hope y'all have wonderful weekends, too!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

on turning your kitchen into a french bistro.

i was at the market last week (please note the use of the word "market" to sound more worldly, thank you very much), picking up my regular piece of salmon, when i noticed bags of mussels being sold for five dollars. two pound bags at that. but mussels! i mean, those are fancy things you only get when you go out to eat. but, au contraire (again, please note my haughtiness), after a bit of goggling i found that mussels are not only inexpensive but easy to make. and so i scrounged up an easy recipe from the dependable food and wine and came up with:
with spring starting and summer around the corner, i couldn't have found this recipe a moment sooner. all in it takes about six minutes to make (!), and i paired it with some french fries (thank you freezer section of trader joe's) and garlic mayo. it's not the healthiest recipe, nor will it do wonders for your breath, but it's the most fun i've had in the kitchen in a long time (yes, that deserves a #shitgirlssay).
if your store doesn't sell bags of mussels like mine, you can simply pick them up at the fish counter. about a pound a person is the way to go. as you can see, whenever i cook with wine i always use a cheaper bottle, referenced by the "two buck chuck" cork.
sauté the garlic and shallot for a few minutes before adding the mussels. a minute after adding the mussels, pour in the wine and cover the pot. i recommend using a large pot (unlike me), because it provides the mussels more room to spread out and come into contact with the heat. after about five minutes they should pop open. i fretted that mine weren't opening due to the small pot i used, but then - boom - all of a sudden they all popped open. if a few don't open discard of them - prying it open and insisting on eating it will make you sick. some mussels don't open, so don't worry about it.
stir in the butter and parsley with the sauce left in the pot, and pour over the mussels when the butter has melted.
serve with the garlic toasts mentioned in the original recipe, or some easier to make fries and garlic mayonnaise like i did. about one tablespoon to one minced clove of garlic and a dash of salt will give you the perfect garlic mayo.
bon appetit!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

on a long lost love.

for my 18th birthday, right after i had graduated high school, my boyfriend gave me a first edition copy of "the sound and the fury", my favorite book by my favorite author. it was a sweet gift, and a thoughtful one. it is one of the few gifts from i've kept from a love i've moved on from. i was recently cleaning out my desk when i happened upon it, and took a moment to read the note he had written for me, which started with this quote.
"there is no frigate like a book to take us to lands away. nor any couriers like a page of prancing poetry. this traverse may the poorest take without oppress of toll. how frugal is the chariot that bear the human soul." -- emily dickinson
and with that he wished that i would enjoy the journey, the book's story, many times.
as i read this, almost ten years later in my tiny new york city studio apartment, i wish i could tell him, and my younger self, about all the journeys i had enjoyed since then. that while innocence is beautiful, it is not life. i had yet to experience a broken heart, or fall madly in love, travel to a foreign country, hear about the death of a friend, drink a glass of wine, break the standards i had set for myself, spend a whole day wandering a city i lived in, or wear a smashing, truly smashing, pair of heels. i want to tell them both so badly about all of these journeys and more. but i can't. and in my memory they both go on - my younger self thanks him for the book, they begin to eat dinner - oblivious to all of the painfully exquisite life that is waiting for them. and i know it is better that way. for them not to know. they'll get there one day. and they'll live it one day. and for as transporting as words and books can be, there is nothing better than that.

Monday, March 19, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

we celebrated st. patrick's day in style this weekend, with a trip to the parade followed by a family party filled with corned beef and cupcakes (no cabbage, oops!) we traversed all over the city to see friends and eat good food, with a stop along the way to watch vanderbilt fall to wisconsin by three points (a low point of the weekend). sunday was low-key, with a delicious brunch followed by some lazy time on the couch. all in all it was a good weekend, mainly because it was filled with family and good friends. nothing rounds a weekend out better than those two things.
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Friday, March 16, 2012

on a few dianas.

we got back our film from new orleans (my last post about this, i promise!) and i thought it would be good to kick off the weekend with them. hope y'all have a great one!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

on removing asparagus from the recipe.

i despise asparagus. des.pise. and i know many people out there love it. but it comes in a close second to brussels sprouts in the category "green things that ruffle my feathers". (and yes, i know some crazy people who love brussels sprouts. to those people i say: i seriously doubt your american citizenship). but growing up in my house we had few sprouts and lots of spears of asparagus. at the age of ten i struck a deal with my parents, a deal which is still in place to this day. it's basically my treaty of versailles if you'll allow me that grossly exaggerated metaphor. and the deal is this:
when asparagus is served at the dinner table,
colleen is to eat three,
and only three spears of asparagus.
no more. no less.
no guilt trips.
no punishments.
to this day my mother "forgets" when i come home to visit, makes asparagus and has the gall, the absolute gall, to say "i thought you loved asparagus?!" i have promptly told her that she better watch it or i'll put her in a home that is not ranked favorably with the better business bureau.
just joshin'! (maybe.)
which leads me to this recipe. it sounded so, so delicious. but roasted asparagus with my pasta? no thank you. until i read the footnote - you can substitute broccoli - my favorite of all the vegetables! i was thrilled. and so i present penne with roasted broccoli and balsamic butter. it's kind of healthy but it does use a whole stick of butter so...i don't know. but it is delicious.
what i like about this recipe is that all of these ingredients are pretty much staples, except the broccoli. just pick some up at the store during the week though, and you're set. i first put my broccoli in the oven at 400 degrees with some salt, pepper and olive oil and didn't have to think about it for a bit.
next, i reduced my balsamic as the recipe instructs while my water boiled. i would recommend *not* doing this. it reduced quickly and even after you take if off the heat it continues to do so and thicken into a syrup. i would say that once your pasta is cooking, start reducing the balsamic so it's timed better.
so reduce the vinegar and then add in a bit of brown sugar and pepper as the recipe instructs. and when the pasta is done cooking mix it all up, along with some shredded parm and the butter.
if you must know, it is delicious paired with a glass of a light red wine. i figured you'd want that piece of information.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

on bright and brighter.

spring is here and i have been bombarded with catalog and catalog of beautiful and bright new things. while i've been in desperate need of a new wallet for awhile (seriously, it's embaressing) and am seriously considering #7, most of these are just pretty things i will admire from afar. i think accessories are a great way to add color and follow some of the bright, (in fact, very bright), trends of the season. they don't have to break the bank (looking at you #6 and #10!) and can be worn many times over with multiple outfits. while some of these choices do break the bank, i couldn't help myself. what's your favorite?
spring fashion

Monday, March 12, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

we had a decidedly low-key weekend, as you can see in my four (!) pictures. after the excitement of new orleans, we spent much of the weekend watching basketball and eating foods that contained little to no nutritional value, like pork hash and a breakfast calzone. we even got to share some of the day with chloe the cat, who after an hour or so of mischief called it a day and promptly went to sleep. best of all though - vanderbilt won it's first sec basketball championship since 1951. cheering them to their victory was definitely the highlight of the weekend. here's to march madness and all the craziness it brings!
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

on the consequences of being a woman.

via here.
i'm confused.
and, really, i don't mean to political here. and i don't think this post is. i usually use this blog to write about what's on my mind or happening in my daily life. and well, this has recently been running through my mind lately.
as i'm sure many of you know, there are quite a few debates going on in the country about contraception. and this post isn't really about that. i'm sure we all have different views on contraception and sex and marriage and babies and everything in between. and this isn't about that. it's about how people are talking about those issues.
i've noticed that rush limbaugh has called women who take birth control "sluts" and "prostitutes". and a rick santorum fundraiser said that women need to hold aspirin in between their knees to prevent pregnancy, i.e. keep their legs closed. and the ny times has taken polls to see how many women have used birth control.
and this is where i'm confused.
does it not take two people to make baby? did i miss a crucial lesson in biology? are women spontaneously able to become pregnant?
because many men sleep with women on birth control. know they're partner is on birth control. like that they're on birth control. think it's fine that they're on birth control. are they not sluts? do they not make the prostitute cut?
and why are we the only ones tasked with holding the aspirin in between our knees? are men not responsible and tasked to prevent sex or pregnancy or both? are we saying that men are such wild animals, with no self-control, that if any woman gives them an opportunity to have sex they'll take it? why are women the only gatekeepers of sex? why do we think so lowly of men?
we poll women to find those that have taken birth control and again - doesn't a partner consent to this? if a man didn't approve of this medication, wouldn't he ask the woman to stop taking it? or refuse to sleep with her on moral grounds? shouldn't the poll ask - who has used or consented to the use of birth control in a sexual situation?
and finally, there is a law that they tried to pass in virginia. the law would require a woman to get an invasive ultrasound before receiving an abortion. and i ask - why isn't the father required to be in the room and see the image too? i know sometimes abortions are decided by the mother and the father has no say. but many, many fathers have a say and many consent. why aren't they in that room? why aren't they also made to look at the image? why aren't they mentioned in the law?
as i said before, i am incredibly confused. in the many opinions i've heard in the news - conservative, liberal, independent, fox news, msnbc - never do we talk about a man's role in all of this. and yes, i understand. they don't swallow the actual pill. the effects of pregnancy are most acutely felt by the woman. some women make decisions and never tell their partners. i get that. but...a lot of women do tell their partners everthing. and i'm confused as to why we don't question and judge the couple's decisions and only the woman's.
has this bothered you or have you thought of it this way? am i completely wrong? are you not wanting to read something this heavy with your morning coffee? lay it on me thick. i've got all day.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

on new orleans: what to eat.

from the moment the plane touched the ground, i was ready to eat in new orleans. literally. i made a reservation for two hours after we landed. no wasting time here!
first stop was commander's palace in the garden district for lunch. we ate in the garden room (be sure to request this!) and enjoyed their three-course $32 prix fixe. they also have a $16 and $22 two-course prix fixe, along with an a la carte menu. best thing though? 25 cent martinis at lunch. if you want to be a lady who lunches and get some bang for your buck, this is the spot.
that night we went to galatoire's with my parents (and i wore my favorite outfit of the vacation, just a little fyi). it was quintessential new orleans and great food. they let you bring in your to-go cup from whence you came (which, is like, amazing and so weird), and ask if you prefer a certain waiter due to the large amount of regulars that frequent this place. the fish here is divine, but no need to be a fish lover - i heard the steak was great, too. for a true taste of new orleans fine dining, this is one of the places to be.
down the road is arnaud's, where the bridal luncheon was held, and also where the mardi gras museum is located, mentioned in my post yesterday. on bourbon street like galatoire's, it has similar food and ambience. a huge restaurant made up of a maze of rooms (at least the upstairs), it's a great place to have a group meal if you come to new orleans with some friends or just a one on one date.
for something more casual head to pat o'brien's for new orleans' signature drink, the hurricane. one of these is best enjoyed after a delicious burger from yo mama's, which is across the street. the menu is crazy and i went all out - the peanut butter bacon burger. you may think i'm crazy or pregnant, but i assure you i'm neither (well, definitely not the latter). it was so, so, good. try it when you go, or any other crazy combination they come up with. be warned, the bathroom contains some, shall we say, adult images, so this may not be a place for kids (or at least make them pee somewhere else). i told you this city had character, right?
the stuff i didn't get to? green goddess, mother's, central grocery and herbsaint. green goddess for an off the beaten path breakfast, including black truffle grits that my friend tina indulged in, mother's for an over-priced but delicious po' boy, central grocery for a true new orleans muffelatta and, if there's any money left in your wallet, a nice dinner at herbsaint. a little more quiet and focused on cuisine then say galatoire's or arnaud's.
basically, you can't go wrong in this city. here's to going back one day and doing it all over again!
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