Friday, June 29, 2012

on how i was the coolest person in brooklyn for a night.

well i don't know how to break this to you guys, but - i'm incredibly cool. my "cool factor", if you will, is at an all time high. i got a few friends to come with me to brooklyn (cool) to an obscure concert venue (cooler) to listen to a band only i knew (coolest). i mean - that's like 10,000 hipster points (a real thing, i checked). and i made sure to wear my cross-body bag purchased at a flea market. procuring items from stores with four walls is so very 1999. we don't like to do that in the hipster community (yes, i'm a card-carrying member).
the band? donora.
the venue? glasslands gallery.
the amount of people there? 40, give or take 2.
fans who were there for donora? 1. ME. (ok maybe others but they. don't. count.)
i know. impressive. impressive that i know about some tiny hipster band based on the amount of dance parties i've had set to britney spears music. but what can i say? sometimes i'm just really, really cool. emphasis on sometimes.
the best part about being the only fan in a concert hall of 40 people? getting your picture taken with the lead singer.
i definitely didn't freak her out with my level excitement. definitely not at all.
in all seriousness though, i have to thank my friends for coming along with me to an obscure, random show that went way past our bedtimes on a school night (i'm looking at you molly b!) seeing donora was a little like a dream come true, so i very much appreciated it. even if i did embarrass them with my dance moves and singing at the top of my lungs.
and if you want to check out the band, here's my favorite song from their first album and my favorite song from their second album.
does anyone else know donora? or a tiny band no one knows about but we should all check out? share below and have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

on community.

via here.
the spark for this post happened in italy, but the seed was planted a few months back when i saw some comment on a random site. in the tiny town we stayed in on our trip, we saw quite a few babies during the day, most of whom were with their grandparents, or what i assumed to be their grandparents. often when i go abroad i like to compare and contrast the culture i see to the culture i live in. not the country i visit or america. nyc is not representative of america. nashville wasn't, philly wasn't. we are a big and hugely diverse country. and sestri levante doesn't represent italy. but still. the differences are there. when i walk around nyc, a majority of the babies are looked after by nannies throughout the day and, of course, a few stay at home moms. and i see so many nannies, and i saw so many grandparents, that the difference was very striking, at least to me. and it made me wonder - is it that italians live closer to their parents - moving back home or moving their parents to them? is it that italians have babies later in life, when their parents are completely retired and can help around the house? is it that nannies in italy are just, in fact, really really old people?
the sense and definition of community is quite different all over the world. and as i thought about this i remembered that comment i read - a family who, along with a couple of neighbors, shared dinner duties during the week. they would go over to one another's home - one got monday, one got tuesday, one got wednesday - and all the families had dinner together. and usually when one hosted they had enough leftovers to heat up on thursday. and i think it didn't just save time, it built a community, which is something that really appeals to me. the sharing of responsibilities by like-minded members in your area could have immeasurable benefits. and that's when it hit me: i realized i was part of a virtual one. the blogging community is full of help - sharing recipes or how to style a leopard-print belt, sharing birth stories or how to perfect a job search, how to make your own detergent, how to give yourself a facial, what to wear on a job interview, where to go and what to eat when you travel to a new place. the amount of information and advice and sharing that goes on in the blogging community is exactly what i'm talking about. while mostly supportive there are, naturally, a few disagreements or snide remarks, but they pale in comparison to the good that's come out of this. so i wonder what it would be like if we all lived around each other? would it be so easy to share our tips and open up our lives? would we still realize these amazing benefits?
my friend's husband, who went to grad school with us, has a vision he shares with his other guy friends from school. it's called: "cul de sec". (i swear y'all. they are men and this is what they want in life). the cul de sac is a neighborhood where they all move back to in nashville and live next door to one another. married, single, kids, no kids - they don't care. they just want to live around each other. and of course i can see why. the awkward barriers of "would this person and i actually get along well enough to make this work" are down. they can ask for help and give help when needed. while we laugh at the "cul de sac", we also get it. because we want it too. my last year of grad school i lived a few floors above my friend - we cooked for one another, dropped in one another, borrowed sugar or an emergency safety pin. i know that proximity matters. the cul de sac makes sense that way - even if a friend lives a few streets over, it can seem exhausting at the end of the day to add in that extra time to go to and from their house. so our neighbors - the people right next to us and across the street - they're really the ones to build this community with.
so we'll see. now that i know this is something that interests me, hopefully i can make it a reality. what about you? do you ever think about the type of place you'd like to live in and a community to be a part of?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

on the best of the pastas.

one word: gnocchi.
the first time i had gnocchi was sometime around middle school - and i was a changed not a girl not yet a woman. anytime i saw it on the menu, i ordered it. i didn't care if it was good or bad, i wanted it. and finally, in my first summer home from college, i made it. potato gnocchi. it took hours and a potato ricer (i had no idea those existed) and all the strength my arms could muster. it was a one and done kind of deal.
that was, until i realized there were two kinds of gnocchi - potato gnocchi and ricotta gnocchi.
the latter is much easier to make, is smoother, less heavy, and doesn't take the strength of the entire "magic mike" cast in order to form the dough.
i followed this recipe this time.
the ingredients are easy to come by, but i used fat free ricotta instead of whole milk ricotta. i tend to stay away from items that are fat free - i'm wary of the chemicals used to make it fat free or it just doesn't taste good. but in this case the first concern is null - the ricotta is fat free simply because it's made with skim milk, not fabricated in a lab somewhere. secondly, we use the ricotta to influence the texture of the gnocchi, not to provide flavor - a perfect opportunity to take the calorie count down by substituting fat-free in my opinion.
mixing the ingredients together is easy peasy - next you have to roll out the dough. the recipe says to do so on a floured surface and with floured hands - let me say, use flour liberally. the dough is sticky, sticky, sticky. i floured my surface and hands multiple times - do not be shy with your flour!
so, roll out a portion of the dough into a long piece - about an inch wide. i made half of what the recipe called for and rolled out four to five pieces of dough in this manner. slice into pieces on an angle and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. i would say i made some of my pieces too big - and my some i mean 90%. depending on your tastes though, feel free to make the gnocchi as big or as small as your heart desires. cook the gnocchi in boiling water - it will be done when it floats to the top, about two to three minutes. any gnocchi you don't use can go into the freezer and be used for dinner later in the week. (tip: if you find your gnocchi falling apart or turning mushy in the water, refrigerate or freeze it for about 30 minutes before cooking - it will hold it's shape better this way).
and, like every other pasta, gnocchi is just a vehicle for the sauce - in my case, pesto. but, like every other pasta, it will pair with any sauce you're in the mood for - enjoy!

Monday, June 25, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

as you can see by my lack of pictures, it was a fairly slow weekend. the biggest excitement we had was going to the farmer's market to pick up some pesto that's been written about and raved about throughout new york. we had a bit of a taste, and let's just say - so far, we agree. after that we had a bbq lunch on the hudson river, before riding out a thunderstorm inside with an old movie and then a quick walk to the park when it was nice again. sunday brought us back to our old brunch place and another beautiful day before heading back to the city. i hope the weather, and your weekend, was just as beautiful.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

on diana in italy.

you know a good way to keep the memories of a vacation alive? a camera that gets it's film developed. here are some of my favorite pictures that we got developed from our diana camera. enjoy!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

on a farmer's market dessert.

while i love baking with all the wonderful fruit that summer gives us, the days are a little bit hotter and a little bit lazier, begging for a simpler recipe. after picking up some basil and strawberries at the farmer's market this weekend, i decided to see if i could find a sweet and easy way to combine them. and did i ever. you only need a few ingredients, and to pour those few ingredients into a bowl. easiest recipe i have ever made.
first - the most important step - fresh and delicious basil and strawberries.
combine strawberries, basil, sugar, balsamic vinegar, honey and pepper in a bowl. it's easy to make larger or smaller batches of this recipe - i went with smaller, obviously. i think next time i might reduce the sugar a bit, but other than that the proportions worked for me.
let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes, then serve by itself or with fresh whipped cream, ice cream or (in my case), frozen yogurt (i recommend vanilla-flavored). this is an easy way to use the produce of the season, and i see myself whipping this up a few times this summer. enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

for many reasons, this was a great weekend. i saw friends, family, laughed a lot and ate good food. but i also had some things hanging over my head, worrying me, putting me at unease. so i kept coming back to this post. reminding myself that even the not-so-good parts of this weekend i was lucky to have, especially since they were balanced out with so much good. i wore a great pair of shoes to work on friday. strawberries have finally hit my farmer's market, and i continue to love all the spinach and tomatoes and eating so much fresh produce. brian and i went to our favorite brooklyn brunch spot, followed by a stop at the flea market, and we feel in love with the fort greene neighborhood in brooklyn even more (especially the little girl giving away lemonade to dads for free). at night we went to see aziz ansari stand-up, and as a huge parks and rec fan, i was delighted. he was hilarious, to say the least. and then sunday brought some family time when brian and i left the city for my little cousin's graduation party.
another great weekend. even writing all of this out has made me feel better. it can be hard to have all aspects of your life sync up - sometimes parts of it needs more work, or sometimes everything is running smoothly. but remembering and taking joy in what is going smoothly and happily can always help refocus you. and with that - into monday we go.

Friday, June 15, 2012

on lately.

i have this post i really want to write. and i really want my reader's thoughts. but lately i've been thrifting. and running in central park. and having long nights filled with laughter. so i haven't written that post yet. i'll get to it eventually. i feel like i've been spending my time wisely all the same.
hope y'all have wonderful weekends!
best find ever?

i am lucky.
and so was my tummy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

on a resolution.

last year my resolution was to indulge my creative side a little more and...start a blog. as we can see, that has been going pretty well. not as in - i'm an amazing blogger known throughout foreign lands and far and wide, but as in - i did it and have continued to do it and toodle doodle doo. everyone let out a slow clap for me.
so this year i decided to do another actionable resolution. and that was to send a card to brian once a month. this is, hopefully (fingers and toes crossed), our last year long-distance. like 99% sure it is. and to make the not best situation better, i decided to have fun with it and send him little reminders of how much i appreciate him. i mean, who doesn't like a random piece of mail? i'm pretty sure he's onto me by now, so i want to post some of my favorite cards that i have found. since this has been such a deliberate process, i decided to give some support to the handmade community and only buy cards from etsy. below are some i sent and some of my favorite finds. some are funny, some are heartfelt, some are crude, some are touching. i love them all.
pic name pic name pic name
pic name pic name pic name
pic name pic name pic name
and lastly, it started with a card from this shop and led into a print for my friend getting married and then a print for myself. if you love reading, this is the shop for you. it's pure awesomeness.
pic name pic name pic name
even if the year ends with us in the same city, i think i may keep this up. sure, it's cheesy to send a card to someone you see every day, but stopping for a moment and collecting your thoughts to tell someone how much you appreciate them, cheesy or not, is always worth it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

on a one pan recipe.

i meant to share this recipe with y'all in the winter (i suppose it's more of a winter recipe), but after making it again last night i was reminded why it's such an awesome recipe all around.
1) it uses one pan
2) it involves kale, and when you cook kale at home, you look incredibly cool. trust me on this one.
3) it's tasty as hell.
the ingredients are below - obviously chicken is an ingredient too, but i didn't want to put the raw chicken next to everything else before i started to use the cutting board. safety first in this house!
first, slice up the potatoes and onion real thin, and de-stem and de-rib the kale and tear the leaves to be smaller, if you want. the latter takes the most amount of time. and by that i mean five minutes. it's so nice that there's just slicing in this recipe - no dicing, cubing, quartering. easy peasy.
sprinkle with olive oil and salt, then layer these ingredients into a large pan - i made half of what the recipe called for and still the kale seemed overwhelming. like any green, it reduces a lot when cooked, so don't be afraid to cram some more in there (or worry about it overflowing - show the kale who's boss!) i also like to layer the potatoes on top so they crisp up better when cooking in the oven.
lastly, season both sides of the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. layer on top of the kale/potato/onion mixture, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit. remove from the oven and remove the foil (carefully, lots of steam will come out!) and cook for about 30 minutes more. my oven is not reliable so i cooked for about 20 minutes. and with that, you're done. it's an easy dish to put in the oven when you get home from work, or to feed a crowd, or to make leftovers. the ingredients are simple, the prep is simple - it's just an all around easy, tasty, healthy recipe.
one of my favorites - enjoy. even if it is summertime.

Monday, June 11, 2012

on my weekend in pictures.

after all the travel of last week, we aimed for a low-key weekend (which i started a bit early on thursday). a friend and i went to check out the brooklyn winery - and i can say i was duly impressed. if you were a tourist i would put this on the list for things to see that are off the beaten path. just one subway stop out of manhattan, this winemaker/restaurant buys grapes from around the country and makes their own wine. on thursday they released their new wines and all of the ones i tried were awesome - again, highly recommended (plus, the food was great). and, because this is brooklyn, wine is served in a beaker. ahhh, brooklyn. you never cease to amaze. after that i went upstate to visit brian on what turned out to be a beautiful weekend. on saturday night we saw dave matthews, and being a summer concert i wore my cowboy boots around all day. before the concert we ate some homemade pulled pork - this was the second summer we used sherri lynn's crockpot pulled pork recipe - and the second summer we loved it! the concert was great, and sunday we just lazed around until i had to come back to the city. and with that, back to work we go.
a sea of lighters.
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