Tuesday, August 27, 2013

on my weekend in pictures.

this past weekend we celebrated my birthday - as you can see, lots of sweets were involved. my last birthday before the big 3-0. whew. but i think my last year in my 20's will be a good one. i mean, look at all the donuts i started it with! how could it not be, ya know? since it was my birthday weekend i got to do many of my favorite things - and yes, as brian has discovered, i've decided to just declare the whole week my birthday week. it doesn't really change much, it's just when i decide not to do a load of laundry i justify it with being my birthday week instead of being tired. see, not so much of a change. but this weekend brought lots of good food, and relaxing, and having friends over for brunch - which involved lots of champagne and cake and donuts and it was good. i hope you all had wonderful weekends as well - the august weather has really been tops here in nyc, so i hope it's the same where you are. and please, by all means, enjoy my birthday week - the laundry can wait.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

on an italian dream.

so, we got a new camera. correction. brian got a new camera. however, he's letting me play around with it on my recipe posts sooooo - i hope you find these posts more appetizing and easy on the eyes. in fact, i hope you find most posts like that as we take it out more. secondly! this recipe used three types of cheese - three! granted they're the italian cheeses i grew up on and mostly tasteless but still...let's have a moment of awe for me.
moving on.
when brian and i got back from virginia it was a pretty nasty day - grey, cold, rainy - the type of day where you want an easy, but comforting meal. even if it is the middle of august. when in that situation, always turn to the italians. in this case i turned to them and found this baked penne with sausage and creamy ricotta (the recipe tells you to make the ricotta, we just bought it fresh from the grocery store). in addition to what's listed in the title, you'll also need a 28-oz can of crushed or pureed tomatoes, ground fennel, a bay leaf, sugar, mozzarella, parm, and the usual suspects: garlic, salt and pepper. 
after frying the sausage with a little garlic (we used sweet italian sausage), add the water, tomato puree, bay leaf, fennel and sugar - bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. in the meanwhile, boil your penne until al dente.
let's have a word about seasoning while we wait for that to happen.
this recipe only calls for 1/4 tsp of ground fennel - miniscule compared to the amount of other ingredients, it seems like one you can skip. and since the store only had fennel seeds, and i don't have a grinder, it seemed we would do just that. but when missing a spice i always use google to find a substitute spice, if any exists. as luck would have it, i had anise, often used in the place of fennel, thanks to this duck recipe. not as common as fennel but, naturally, i had it. and, naturally, that little 1/4 tsp elevated the whole dish. each bite i could taste the little sweet/licorice/tartness (it's a hard flavor to describe, but a good one). moral of the story: spices can go a long way people, let's not forsake them.
when both of those are done, remove the bay leaf from the sauce, then add the sausage to the penne with a slotted spoon, along with a cup of the tomato sauce. pour the penne into a baking dish, top with the remaining tomato sauce, and dollop large spoonfuls of the ricotta on top.
fold the ricotta in gently - then top with the pieces of mozzarella and parm. 
bake for 45 minutes in a hot oven. 
let rest of 20 minutes (the hard part, i only let it rest for 10 because, come on!)
serve with a little side salad. delicious and it makes a lot of leftovers (if you're not feeding a lot of people), making some lunches and dinners an easy reheat for the rest of the week. have fun cooking and enjoy!

Monday, August 19, 2013

on my weekend in pictures.

this weekend brought brian and i back to virginia to plan more of our wedding, including participating in our tasting, which, obviously, was the best. while running around from appointment to appointment made for quite a hectic schedule, when you get to eat three pieces of cake at lunch it seems to ease the stress. this was our second time visiting our venue and we are so, so excited - the people who work there from the food to the views are incredible. it made us so excited for the actual wedding, the way we're already so excited for our marriage. the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, eating lots of bbq, visiting a vineyard (of course), and hanging out at a neighbor's house for a jam session. it was all very lovely and very southern and, of course, we can't wait to go back. only 82 days...but who's counting ;)

Monday, August 12, 2013

on my weekend as a woman.

this past weekend, brian went out of town for vacation with his family and i stayed behind, seeing as i don't have enough vacation time to do both that and a honeymoon. i know, rough life.  yet, as someone who lived on her own for six years and loves her lady friends, i'm not going to lie and say i wasn't just a wee, tiny bit excited to be on my own (the novelty wears off after one day but still, it's the truth). naturally, tina and i did what any self-respecting new yorker would do and we headed to the burbs to shop at the mall and eat at cheesecake factory. to those of you that live in the burbs, you might think this is the dumbest thing you have ever heard. if you have lived in new york for years, you might be sighing wistfully - those are the people that get me. we had a great girls day - we shopped, we ended our afternoon with a glass of wine, we brought back large pieces of cake to the city for dessert and ordered in sushi as we watched episode after episode of sex and the city. i mean, we hit everything on the checklist of benefits to being woman in one day. and it was delightful.
the next day, after going to a morning gym class, i wandered into bed, bath and beyond. while i knew what i wanted, as often happens when one is in a store with approximately 2,000 kitchen items, i browsed around. it was a slow sunday in the summer, i had nowhere to be, just wandering around for a bit before i went back home to finish up some projects due at work this week. as i was contemplating the fifty cutting boards in front of me, a man complimented my work-out gear. you know, bonding over under armor.
so after exchanging awkward pleasantries i wandered off into another part of the store. after two minutes he appeared at the end of my aisle, and i pretended not to notice until i needed to get past him. oh, you again! how funny! and naturally as, i passed him, he lost his footing and brushed against me, if you know what i mean (and if you're a woman reading this, you definitely know what i mean). i rushed off to the fine china section and within another two minutes he had sidled up next to me to check out various china storage options. because what young, single man is his 20's isn't worried about how he is storing his fine china. as i walked over to sales associate, to simply ask them to talk to me for a bit because another customer was making me feel uncomfortable, a part of me inside boiled over. i hate being a woman sometimes. i hate it with every inch and fiber in my body. i innocently wanted to wander around store, unbothered, and now i was darting from department to department trying to avoid unwanted attention. brian does not have people follow him when he shops. brian does not have strange women brushing against him. brian does not feel physically threatened by the opposite sex. and sometimes i just hate it. sometimes i just wish i was a man.
this past week in new york a news story ran about a guy, singing on the subway for money, and threatening to kiss a fellow passenger if people didn't receive his music well. threatening in that funny way, but also kind of awkward way where you're like...wait, is this guy seriously going to kiss this woman? and before he finished the song, as the video of a fellow passenger shows, the woman he threatened to kiss bolts off the train at the next stop. a comment on this news article was from a man, stating that it made him realize how he just could not relate to women at all. he wondered - what is it like for someone to just announce to strangers they're going to kiss you? the commenter explained how he never has had someone made him feel uncomfortable about what he wears, or what he looks like, or felt sexually threatened. the experience of a woman, as portrayed through this video, to him was so far beyond anything he had ever experienced. and reading his comment stopped me in my tracks a bit. when i read the story i was thought to myself: yeah, and... what woman amongst us hasn't had a strange man make her feel uncomfortable and nervous and like she needs to leave a situation? and his comment made me realize how utterly wrong and absurd that is. and yet i don't see it changing anytime soon. gender and biology and things ingrained into our dna thousands of years ago are not just habits we break.
of course all of this complaining is nothing compared to the truly disturbing acts against women. i'm not the high school girl gang raped in her school yard after a dance and left to die under a picnic table. i'm not the 16-year-old girl raped on top of a brooklyn brownstone and, when my attacker is finished, thrown off the four-story roof onto the pavement below. i'm not the central park jogger, brutally gang raped and beaten and left to die in a bush during an evening run. but that's what it is to be a woman. it's why we're told to carry mace, and rape whistles, and look over our shoulder, and not wear skirts too short at night and not walk down dark streets alone. in every city i've ever lived i've known where the hotel nearest to my apartment is located, in case i'm ever followed home or feel unsafe. the way i figure, a hotel lobby always has someone in it who can help you, is well-lit, and there's clear access to a telephone to call the police. most people won't follow you in.
i guarantee you none of my male friends has ever had that thought cross their mind. ever.
most times, i am delighted to be a woman. i revel in it, i think we got the better end of the deal, and i think it is a privledge. but i often wonder what it's like to be man. i often think it's easier, right or wrong. sometimes at work i pine to be a man. as i debate whether or not to have children, i wish i could be on the other side. where having a baby doesn't mean sacrificing your body or years of your career.
mostly, yes, i'm happy to be a woman. but it's funny how a stupid, silly incident in a store can just make the anger flow out of you. one tiny incident can just make you so fed up with the whole thing. i calmed down as the day went on, came home and did my work, ended my day with a glass of wine, an episode of the real housewives of new jersey (no shame!), and some leftover cake. and, of course, i've blogged my thoughts. to a community of other women who support me, listen to me, and tell it like it is. it's one of those things that makes it feel like being a woman is a privilege, and it's something to remind me to never give up, and to keep fighting the good fight, no matter how steep the road may be. and no matter if that road rises to meet you, sometimes, in a home goods store.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

on my weekend in pictures.

this past weekend was a fun but uneventful one. we went shopping for our wedding bands, always an exciting task, but much more importantly, netflix posted the first half of season 5 of breaking bad, just enough time to watch it before the second half of season 5 starts this coming weekend. sorry wedding bands, but you are not as exciting as that. breaking bad is, hands down, the best show to ever be on television. i say that as a mad men fan, a lost fan, a diehard office fan (though, to be fair, comedies and dramas can't really be compared). there will be times where you will have to fight through nausea/close your eyes during especially gory scenes. but the writing, the acting, the storylines, the character arcs, aaron paul's pretty blue eyes - trust me people, it's all worth it. if you don't watch breaking bad and have netflix, i strongly, strongly recommend you rectify the situation. and then - AND THEN - we went to brighton beach on sunday. one of my favorite things about living in nyc, and perhaps the case can be made for most east coast cities, is how accessible the beach is to us. brighton is the easiest beach for us to get to - around 45 minutes on the subway - and so far it's my favorite. cleaner than the others, a bit quieter, and of course the russian culture makes it quite interesting (brighton beach is heavily populated by russian immigrants). naturally, we had a beer at tatiana grill when we needed a break from the sun...which is next to tatiana restaurant, and tatiana porch and tatiana bistro. they're pretty into the name tatiana you might say. it was a great way to spend the first weekend of august, and i've already made brian promise me we'd head back there on labor day. hope you all had great weekends and are making the most of the last month of summer!

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