Friday, September 28, 2007

A azing

Have you have ever been the receiver of that perfect corner piece of ooey gooey brownie, the one with the perfectly crisp edges and the melted center? Well, my friends, the invention of this marvelous piece of baking gold is here to guaranteed that you will never long after the 4 sole corner pieces again.

Behold, the edgiest brownie maker on the planet (and I'm pretty sure it'll make a mean lasagna in a couple of months):

Not only is this the only device for the perfect edge, it is also great for the myriad of taste buds in your house. This little number was dark chocolate with peanut butter chips throughout and an extra bonus of roasted pecans on half, for the hubby of course, leaving the other half pristine.

But don't thank me, talk to the folks at Baker's Edge for bringing us this glorious tool. And the recipe in the package isn't too bad either!

You say potato, I say poh-tah-toh CHIPS!

Mediterannean Cod with Pink & Purple Poh-tah-toh Chips

The fish is a take off on my traditional halibut, cod, flounder standby where I saute ribbons of onions and garlic with some fresh pepper, usually the small hot variety, then add chunks of tomato that become smashed and turn it into a "stewpy" sauce. This time I added thick slices of a fresh, sweet, red pepper that was begging to be eaten. (It was also yummy while fresh dipped in hummus while we waited for our starchy friends to finish cooking)

Close up of the Pink and Purple Potato Chips in all their crispy, crunchy goodness!

These guys were an impromptu delight. Usually the hubsband (yes I did mean to spell it that way, it's better than when we were engaged and I called him my financier!) likes the smashed variety with a bit of sauteed garlic and dill in olive oil.

This time I sliced them to boil them a bit faster, we were starving, and when they were about done (read: we had already snacked on everything not nailed down and weren't as ravenous) I transfered them into a nonstick skillet with olive oil then seasoned them with kosher salt and pepper.

And voila! An impromptu dish becomes a standby. Oh yes, my starchy friends, your days are numbered :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Standing Room Only

My original intention when starting this post, was to share with you the tight quarters from which we create meals. But a funny thing happened on the way to the dog park/farmers market yesterday morning and somehow these small digs are hardly worth mentioning.

Many of my new blogging friends have chatted with me *offline* about their beautiful kitchens, their lack of space, or have commiserated with me in a familiar dream-like trance about their "one day kitchen." That is in fact what motivated me to take this photo in the first place. However, my gripes and sarcasm about this lonely 25 inches of counter space (if that!) are hardly relevant now....

Yesterday morning was average. I followed my usual routine on market days, leaving a bit earlier for the run so that little Lola could get some exercise before we proceed to gather goodies from the farmers.

We arrived unceremoniously enough and while she did her stuff I took a seat next to a fellow pup owner. I commented on his darling dog.

"Surely she was a pit mix with that gorgeous broad jaw and stunning speckled face. What a doll! What's her name?"

"Funny thing" says the guy, "she doesn't have one yet."

We got to talking and it turns out he found her in Jersey City just two nights ago. As he tells it, she was being badly beaten by a group of kids at around 4 a.m. Between looks of disgust and despair I wondered what this man was doing out at such an hour, especially if he lives in the city. Which surely he must as he is at a dog park here at an early hour.

If you know me you probably know I like to talk. So I asked him what he was doing in such a bad neighborhood at such an un-g-dly hour. He shuddered and mumbled something I took to mean, "don't ask."

"All I know is she saved my life" he said, slowly nodding his head and looking at his cute new friend in awe.

Trying to make conversation I asked where he lived which prompted yet another heartbreaking comment, "right now? In cardboard."

Sh*t, there I go again opening my mouth. Can't leave well enough alone.

"My wife died August 10th and I lost it...." he mumbled something else and it was at that time that I could see that he was really hurting. There was something in his eyes that looked like the dampness of death had taken over his once happy heart.

He stared into the distance.

I could only speculate as to what he meant when he said that she saved his life. But it's not my business to speculate.

When he again turned back my way I quickly changed the topic. I learned that he was a well traveled and published photographer in addition to holding an impressive education with advanced degrees.

Here was this seemingly average man. Clean shaven, well dressed, sitting among other dog owners on an average morning at a neighborhood spot. Everything seemed average.

I told him I didn't want to be condescending but it would be an honor for me to give him some money for a good breakfast and a treat for his new pal which he promptly declined.

"I'm not working my dog at the run. Let's be dog run friends."

Ouch. I get it. I said goodbye and that I hope to see him tomorrow (today), and I bound towards the market with Lola.

My eyes were a bit wet as I realized that

....I had a wallet with some (trust me not lots!) of money,

....I was going to gather more (not that we need for anything) food to make for our family,

....I would take that food to our home (not too big but certainly a fine place to rest our heads),

....I would speak to my Mom on the phone, my sister over IM and my dad through email, and hubby about a zillion times...just to say I love you.

....later tonight I would make dinner (or as luck would have it, have dinner made for me) with my darling husband.

It is so easy to get caught up in the 'woe is me' syndrome which most likely results from our feeble attempts to keep up with the joneses (or in our case multiple gazillionairres living next door!). I know we all know this, and probably talk about it all the time, but I just had to write this down if only to remind myself. If only so that the next time I complain about something in my life I could look back(or someone out there could kindly refer me to this post) and remember to be thankful.

So who am I to complain about my small kitchen when it overflows with enough fresh and frozen produce to support a small army if ever Armageddon should come?

I'm thankful for my tiny apartment that is under 600 square feet and the kitchen that only one person can walk into at a time. I'm not thrilled that our only source of light (5 small windows) faces 4 walls and a public restroom, but it could be worse. It could really always be worse.

All I know is that now I will always carry a $20 with me in a little envelope with his name on it. Just in case.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sensuous Home

As luck would have it, I married a pretty talented guy. He not only puts out all sorts of fires each day at work, but he's pretty handy at home too!

This semester will find me at the university until 9 each night, which means starting dinner when I get home at 10 is not an option. Unless...

You have yourself a miracle husband.

In this case I have found one, and no ladies, he is not for sale. You might hear me gripe about him on occasion, but that is truly a result of his unfortunate membership to the genus of male. Again, not relevant here.

The irony of this story being the phone conversations we share while I either prepare to teach or begin my journey home which usually include the playful "sensuous home, why don't you see what we have in the fridge that could turn into an edible dish." So there you have it. My titles are usually relevant, if not overtly so!

The highlight of this meal was his creative interpretation of one of my all time favorite side dishes. Well, there are two here, but I'm focusing on the israeli couscous because I'm sure you've had it up to here (too bad you can't see me gesture to the sadly short top of my small 5'3' frame) with zucchini and eggplant.

If you have never experienced this savory side dish, do yourself a favor and run to your local food mart of choice and demand that they begin carrying it. Niceties aside, this stuff is quite spectacular! Although I do endorse kindness to strangers. Again, another post.

Israeli couscous is simply larger sized couscous. But the addition of size gives way to richer, more pasta-ish consistency, and man does it pick up flavor. We treat it like orzo or arborio, cooking it in stock.

But the thing that makes these guys sensational is if you sautee some garlic and onions in olive oil and then add the israeli (sometimes called middle eastern) couscous to the mixture and toast them before adding liquid.

It literally seals the deal that you will find yourself with an incredible dish. I have tossed in shitake mushrooms, bits of pancetta, whatever is on hand.

So there you have it. Tip of the day: Run out and find yourself some israeli* (middle eastern, mediterranean, whatever!) couscous and try it tonight. And if you're really nice, share your results!

Happy eating :)

*if you care. the reason i so staunchly stand behind the title of israeli couscous is because this supposedly 're-branded' invention by israeli's originated from sephardic jews and frankly, i didn't feel like calling it sephardic jew or heeb-couscous.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We've gone cake crazy!

note the dense milk chocolate, gooey brown sugar, toasted pecan bits and dried cherries as they take this simple zucchini cake to the next galaxy of goodness...

Toasted Pecan, Cherry and Milk Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ever since the advent of our zucchini bread creation, we have been adapting, modifying and just plain loving the heck out of the combination of moist zucchini, brown sugar, and all the accoutrement's that take this treat from a bread to a cake.

This weekend found us in dire need of a sweet treat to break our fast, and this little number came in handy as it helped empty the fridge and satisfy our sweet tooth, and was concocted in under an hour.... kind of!

So here is one more reason not to fret over the abundance of zucchini this time of year. Firstly, because they freeze beautifully after being grated which secures this number in seasons to come. Secondly, this is an ideal way to incorporate veggies into your diet. (Okay so maybe that's cheating a bit with all the added sugar.) And last but not least, it's a fun way to empty your cupboards of leftover bits of walnuts, pecans, almonds, dried fruit, fresh fruit, caramel bits, or chocolate in any form.

I would offer to share a slice of this heaven but it disappeared before it had time to cool.

Maybe next time?

Happy eating!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Simple end of summer side dish....

Okay, so clearly you weren't intrigued by my poetry. I get the point, stick to the food lady!

In case you haven't noticed, fresh corn is at it's peak about now and it's really reasonable to buy by the boatload. But what to do with all that creamy sweet cobbed corn? Why create many mini meals and side dishes and PLEASE don't forget to freeze some for later, you will thank me I promise :)

Once off the cob, this corn turns golden brown and begins smiling with the addition of some fresh rocambole garlic and olive oil. You can either remove it from the pan to make the risotto, adding it in later, or you can just make it all at once which gives the corn a velvety texture.

Either way, this is a simple and satisfying side dish. But top it with some grilled shrimp, tuna or a piece of roasted chicken and you will hear crickets at dinner!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sweet days are made of these:

This is a day in the life of us.

Wandering through the city streets you might think natures' gone,
But if you look closely you just might see that really it's all 'round.

The city delights even the cynics with authentic treats abound,
Making even the most civil animals nothing if not spellbound.

Slowly soaking up the sights you just might find a treat,
Even though we're city folks we still enjoy fresh eats.

We might not have your typical parks with trees and grass a plenty,
But our pups enjoy a dip in the pool and it doesn't cost us a penny!

Nature is truly alive and kicking in our metropolis,
You just have to keep your eyes alert and surely you'll see our bliss!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Have you ever?

Today was perhaps the highest holy day of the year for us. Being quasi-observant, we decided to fast and so spent the whole day wandering the city, including the farmers market, somewhat masochistic of us if you ask me, with a few minutes towards the end of our day at a makeshift temple filled with other famished followers.

Again I digress! You aren't surprised, are you :)

The reason for this pithy post may seem futile, but I just HAD to share with you the mind blowing taste of food after a day of not eating. Perhaps it was the particular fresh pink ping pong tomatoes (if you can find these locally stock up...they are seriously like crack!!!), crunchy kirby's, sweet bi-colored corn, salty sheep's milk feta or any of the other goodies gathered from today's market. What I do know, is not only are fresh, local ingredients better tasting, but after a day of longing they are absolutely sublime.

Maybe if we all took a day to pause and appreciate what is on our plate before we scarf it down we would be better able to taste the countless hours of effort that contribute to each tiny morsel.

So come on, jump on the john deere, er..., band wagon. Shop locally once a week and tell me if it doesn't make all the difference.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inspired by Alice: The greenmarket challenge

This mornings walk through the farmers market was both ordinary and extraordinary. After watching Alice Waters' video on the NYT this a.m. (thanks Em for keeping me in the know!) I noticed my own peculiar shopping pattern as I wander through stalls smelling, tasting and generally relishing each mornings finds.

In honor of Alice, and the fact that going green is good for so many things, including your health, wallet and your altruistic tendencies, I present you with a challenge: How far can you stretch your green by going green?

This mornings shopping trip found me full to the brim with heart healthy eats! My shopping bag (imported from our trip to Paris) is full of seasonal treats that won't break the bank:

So not only are you supporting actual people whose lives are dedicated to providing quality nourishment to you and your family, you are saving green when you shop green.

My challenge to you is how far can you stretch a budget? For starters I will share with you my food finds from today. I spent $34.60 and came home with everything on this table:

See! You can save green while shopping green.

I don't know about you, but if I were to walk into a Whole Foods or even a shoddy Food Emporium, there is no way I would walk out with: a dozen organic brown eggs, a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes, an avocado squash, 5 ears of corn (FIVE for $2),a bag of mixed organic lettuce, two cousa squash, three red bell peppers, 1 lb. of lima beans in their shell, 3/4 lb. organic yellow wax beans, a 3 lb. butternut squash, and two freshly baked round challah's for tomorrow's break fast.

So what do you say? Can you make it a point to go to one farmers market in the next week and see how far you can stretch, say, $30?

I'll leave you with a simple summer/fall lunch menu that is as comforting to eat as it is to look at and hope that some of you will join my challenge to save green, shop green and join the locavore club:

Homemade bread topped with miniature red heirloom tomatoes (remember this post?), organic mesclun, asian tofu, cherry tomatoes and a sliced pippin apple. Not too many instructions, slice and place...and enjoy!

Welcome home!

If anyone out there has been reading my ramblings and would like to see what I mean when I talk about our 'little' farmers market here in the center of the universe, I urge you to take a look at this clip of Alice Waters as she greets many of our favorite producers and takes you on a beautiful journey of the Union Square Greenmarket.

You can find the permalink here.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

color me lucky.

Just realizing that although I haven't posted in a few days and although the posts from our recent Europe adventure fall towards the bottom of the page I have started carrying my camera with me around the city.

Truth is, while this culinary twist has certainly proven to be a super hobby, we are still planning on leaving this beautiful metropolis affectionately called the big apple and frankly, I want as many memories as possible. If I can't have my 'dream-come-true-raise-my-kids-in-a-brownstone-on-west-11th-street' life I sure has heck wanna have some great stories, photos, and thoughts to share with our kidlets one day about our wacky life in downtown Manhattan.

In honor of our beautiful city, which in my humble opinion gives Paris a run for it's money, I will share with you not only our kitchen creations but also shots from around and about the place we currently call home.

This will be my living memoir to the city I love, and it will keep me honest by guaranteeing that I post regularly about all things beautiful about NYC.

I hope you enjoy the ride.

*this shot was taken last Sunday walking north on Lafayette @ Bleecker. we were coming home from the Apple store where I bought my new macbook. hooray for apple :)

Monday, September 17, 2007

You say cannonball, I say Kugel

When it comes to the literal translation of Kugel the jury is out. Some say it's germanic for square, while others say think it comes from a word meaning cannonball or ball.

What I do know is that apparently the Kugel, a traditional Jewish dish seen at nearly every celebration from Rosh Hashana to Passover, has enjoyed a long and mystical history.

So what looks like a less than perfect concoction of noodles, sweet cheeses and dried fruit was actually once the hallmark of the holy sabbath meal, the pinnacle of the eating experience. In fact, it is said that the presentation of the Kugel during the meal is when the Rebbe had the power to bestow health, wealth, and even conception. Who knew?

It looks like this less than photogenic yet tasty dish is further proof that you can't judge a book by it's cover!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Still Life with Eggplant

Yesterday's farmers market journey was more of a relaxing stroll then a mere conquering of a 'to do' list. I thought I would share with you some organic delights from my favorite farmer.

She is not the most pleasant, in fact, some might say she borders on rude. But, what her courtesy lacks in kind, and her produce lack in size they surely make up for in taste. I know her only as the 'organic-veggie-lady-next-to-the-amazing-fish-mongers" but to our taste buds she is queen. You may recall our Gulliver's Salad from a few posts back? Well that delicious purple cabbage was her doing and boy was it delicious! The 'bowl' from the salad was perhaps my favorite part!

Tonight may find me making a lovely babaganoush, courtesy of this veggie queen. Something to slather on thick slices of grainy bread to add depth to roast turkey and fresh greens. But for now I will just sit back and admire the still life, with eggplant!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Challah back*

So sometimes the darling hubby is not interested in inviting over a gaggle of our favorite friends to entertain and feed. Not because he doesn't love them but more because he ends up doing dishes due to our lack of modern day appliances.

But I digress... I do have a secret weapon to guarantee a 'yes dear' every time and it generally involves parading possible leftover concoctions darling dearest might enjoy if said party were to take place!

Et voila! A dinner party is created and leftovers like this delicious challah french toast is created.

The beauty of most celebrations is that they include that slightly sweet, soft and chewy delight called challah. The french have their brioche, others may call it egg bread, but it is really only authentic in my eyes if it is challah! Hey, a girl can have an opinion, right?!

This leftover loaf affectionately called 'waves of goodness' by the photographer (that would be the darling husband):

....made an outstanding matinee this afternoon as brunch:

Unfortunately I forgot to photograph it once the cinnamon powdered sugar was added. We literally inhaled it tout suite! I assure you it was as delightful to look at as it was to consume.

Happy eating!

*I cannot take credit for this adorable post title. When I was working at a non-profit several years back they had a challah making workshop that was adorably labelled 'challah back' and so I credit an old friend "A" for her creative naming of the workshop and her unknown contribution to this post!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Jack-O-Lantern Soup!

If you are feeling extra adventurous this turkey day, may I suggest taking a nod from BK and making your own creamy, luscious, local, pumpkin soup in it's own shell?

Scared? Don't be! Follow a few simple steps when making this lovely dish and your taste buds and dinner guests will fight over who gets to thank you first!

In order to get all of the pulpy goodness from this sugar pumpkin (yes, there is a difference. a sugar pumpkin has more flesh, is sweeter, and makes a lovely presentation piece) you should probably find a glass dish that fits the base of the pumpkin, for when you are scraping out the goodness from inside after it has been roasting for a while. That way you can finish the soup in a pot on the stove and then place it back in the pumpkin for serving. Totally not a fake's as authentic as the fresh sage you use to garnish!

We served this for our big dinner last night and the complete silence was all the feedback I needed to know I had a winner. So go ahead, go pumpkin picking for a purpose this year! I promise you will thank me.

Now please excuse me while I lick my bowl...

A Bone to Pick

Forgive me as I drag my soap box out from hiding...

Before I post about our culinary feat last night, I had to share my disdain at todays news. If any of you are die hard patriots, read no further. For those of us who think that our president has severely abused his power, take note.

Apparently this is not news as this is the 50+ time this has happened since we have engaged in this senseless war, but I was thoroughly disgusted at our government to find out that a soldier who recently died in Iraq was awarded citizenship posthumously. I am constantly disappointed in our country and it's sloppy policies, but come on! How could we allow someone to go to war for us without awarding him his rightful citizenship BEFORE his death?

What kind of a country are we that we will use and abuse our citizens without granting them their rightful position as Americans? This is not the America I signed up for...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Over the top

This time of year is all about seasonal eating, and that means apples and honey in our household about now! In honor of the festivities I have decided to make a caramel apple tart for our guests who will be arriving in exactly 7 hours (mental note: get off the computer and get into the kitchen!).

The highlight of todays post is prominently featured above. In all it's glory, in all it's natural beauty....behold, homemade caramel. Mmmmm.....

The tart? That's another story. Hardly food porn, but quite tasty (hey, that apple was already falling up, ahem, out!).

Still in the pan:And a close up in case that wasn't drool worthy:

More posts to come of our fabulous fall meal. The menu is as follows:

Sweet pumpkin soup, served in the pumpkin (fingers crossed on this one!)
Thyme, rosemary and sage roasted chicken
Braised brisket with red wine reduction and onion glaze
Couscous stuffed white bush marrow squash infused with coriander & cumin
Roasted, grilled garlicky corn
Mom's famous kugel, the remake with dried cherries, apricots and cranberries
And for dessert...well you can guess what that will be :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Easy as cheese

Have you ever made something so easy, so simple, and yet so delicious, that you were almost embarrassed about how wonderful it turns out for the amount or work put in?

Greek Caprese: Grilled Haloumi and Cherry Tomatoes
Well this little duo over here is a new twist on the caprese salad that is sure to delight any lucky consumer. We like to make this for guests as it is an easy finger food and it's always the first to go at any dinner party/picnic. And since the summer is drawing to a close and those tomatoes are so delicious right now I just had to share.

The simple ingredients are haloumi cheese (I was sold at first bit) and tomatoes of your choice. Yes, you can substitute cuke, peppers, sauteed eggplant, whatever! Really there is no way to mess this one up.

If you are not yet familiar with this cheese, it comes in a lopsided chunk somewhere between feta and mozzarella in your dairy section. It's called 'the grilling cheese' because it holds up to the hot pan and does something is able to sear the soft cheese on the inside while creating a nice brownish crunch on the outside.

This one is so simple it doesn't get it's own recipe page.

Greek Caprese Salad, or something like that

1 package haloumi cheese
1 container grape tomatoes (sub veggies in here)

Slice cheese into .5 inch slices and place in a hot pan over medium high heat for 2 minutes per side, or until it turns golden brown on each side. Do not remove it early, be brave, it will be so worth it.

Remove cheese from pan, slice into smaller pieces if you are toothpicking it, as seen here, pick up a rinsed cherry tomato with a toothpick, then this incredible cheese, and reward your efforts by being the first to try!

It is also lovely with a nice heirloom tomato slice if you keep the haloumi in whole slices a la caprese.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Irony doesn't even begin to describe...

If ever there was an example of full circle, today would be the day to exemplify it.

I have been writing this post in my head and my heart for 6 years. I am writing from my heart which means I want the world to read it, but I want no one to read it. I'm scared to share with you who I am, but I'm proud to tell you of who I have become.

Six years ago today I was one month unemployed. One month prior I had a high paying job in the advertising world and was only moderately concerned about the dot combustion that was going on in the world around me. I was living with a significant other who was nice, but far from perfect. I dreamed of being a professor, teaching people, learning, growing. But my friends were all industrious, money making, too smart to go back to school and waste their time thinking instead of making a million before 30.

Six years ago today I was silently watching the days go by, enjoying the 405 club, in no rush to find an new gig or a new me.

Six years ago today I woke up to my boyfriends mom screaming on the answering machine, "LINDSAY, WAKE UP!!!" I always liked his mom but today I was starting to rethink that.
Cuddling in bed with little Smokey, I groaned and grabbed the phone.

Thank goodness, because that was the last human contact I would have for 8 hours.

Forgive me if I drone, but typing this is therapy. I digress...

Six years ago I sat on the phone with a hysterical mother, not mine, who was worried about her son, who took the train to work each morning to what used to be the tallest buildings in New York City.

Still groggy from the pitcher at Malachy's the night before, I reached for the remote and was quickly bound into an Armageddon not conceivable by the likes of Stephen King or Jerry Bruckheimer.

Did I mention that she was the last voice I heard for 8 hours?

I did speak to her for long enough to find out that her son, my boyfriend at the time, was alright. I heard that he had found a land line as all the cell service in the city was out, and that he was trying to make his way out of the mess downtown. I said goodbye so that I might call my parents, but when I went to pick up the phone again it was dead.

No dial tone, no busy signal, nothing. Air.

It was me, Smokey, and two plumes of smoke drifting high above the city. It was a heck of a first day for Paula Zahn. I remember thinking that over and over again, with my head stuck out the window watching the smoke rise and wondering if he would ever make it home.

I must have paced that block over a hundred times that day. At one point I turned off the t.v. but was so afraid of the silence I had to put it back on.

I stood on the roof to see the plumes of smoke, at this point the towers had collapsed.

Was I really awake? Please pinch me. Is this really happening? Please g-d tell me it was all a bad dream, that I had fallen asleep in a staff meeting and would wake up gainfully employed in a healthy, happy city.

No such luck.

To tell you of the horrific sight would be reliving something I don't think any of us want to think about. I will tell you instead of the sight that no one in the outside world was privy to. I will tell you about the droves of zombies that started making their way uptown that morning, or maybe it was afternoon.

At one point as I paced the block I noticed two people walking north, standing next to each other, covered in dust, wearing suits, wearing silence. Marching in step, in silence, in company, alone.

Soon there were more. Men and women walking strangely, silently, north. Away from the debris, from the Armageddon, from this dream that would surely be over as soon as someone might pinch me.

The moments that follow blend into one another although they felt like eons as I awaited his return home. He did return home, hours later. Unscathed, unharmed, untouched. Perhaps it was then I knew that he was certainly not the one for me.

I digress...

The days and weeks that followed found me at the Armory instead of the unemployment office. Instead of interviews I was serving bagels for breakfast and pasta for supper to the national guard and the relatives of the 'missing.'

Maybe this is really where it all started. Not maybe, definitely.

Standing in the kitchen at the Armory I was cooking along side the sous chef from 11 Madison and Tabla. By the hour the trucks appeared. City buses were filled with hungry men in fatigues, vans pulled up with the most notable chefs in the city. The chefs from One if by Land brought their famous lobster bisque just as the local Domino's sent in another 50 pizzas.

I climbed over barriers to bring bowls of warm soup to the police at the barricades, dropped off pies to the men in fatigues gathered at the door, got yet another pot of coffee for the mother sitting defiant of the fatigues and police, certain that her son was going to turn up.

Perhaps I first fell in love with food then, when I found a way to nourish these broken people the only way anyone could. Food and conversation.

No one was going to bring back their sons or daughters. No one could bring back their father or sister. But someone could nourish them while they sat, and mourned, and hoped. I wanted to be that someone.

It was also around this time that I decided to do something different with my life. Something with meaning. Something so great that if it were me who was stuck in that terrible place I would be able to leave this earth knowing that I did something that was important, if only to me.

I took a job in real estate to pay the bills. It was disastrous, but it helped me move out of the bad living situation, get a place of my own, and begin to pave the path to my future.

That fall I applied and was accepted as a NYC Teaching fellow. Funded by the Americorps grant, teaching fellows are pulled from all walks of life to teach in the most needy schools, in the most dangerous neighborhoods, and do the unforgiving job of teaching the youth who have otherwise been left to their own vices.

I was lucky to be placed in one of the more charming schools, but man were there some bad places to be...

I remember my first year teaching, the two year anniversary of the day my life really began.

While the kids stood to say the pledge of allegiance I turned my back to them and cried.

I cried for the people who senselessly lost their life. I cried for the stupid government who were taking even more lives so senselessly. I cried for the people who I served bagels to for breakfast and the police who looked at me strangely when I tried to explain how great it was that they were having world famous lobster bisque from One if by Land. I cried for my broken relationship.

I cried in thanks to g-d for giving me a chance to do something good. Something important, if only to me.

To digress... It was the summer before this first year of teaching that I took my first of several trips to Israel. The trip that introduced me to my besheret, my one. The summer when I came to find the real important things in life. The summer when I came to know that the only things worth living for are not really things at all, but people.

In the years I was blessed with my teaching job I saw more ways in which I could be useful. I had always dreamed of going to school for a doctorate but never thought myself capable, smart enough, good enough.

I mentioned the man I met in Israel? He thought I was capable of this highest distinction. He lent me the support I needed and held my hand while I trembled through the entrance exams, personal statements, rejections, and acceptances.

It has now been a while since things first transpired. Nearly finished with the doctorate I am more full than I could have imagined. I have found friends and soul mates. I have found inspiration and gratitude. I have overcome the biggest hurdle that ever held me back, me.

So today I sit in front of my computer. Typing for you, for me.

Six years ago today I thought all I had were pipe dreams.

Six years ago today I thought I would never actualize these fantasies.

This afternoon I teach my first Master's course after many years of hoping, and dreaming, and working, and crying, and learning.

Today, six years later, I have come full circle.

We have all had personal journeys that bring us to who we are today and I am so very proud of mine. If I had several days I could tell a deeper tale, but this is enough therapy for one day.

I cannot wait to see where I am six years from today. But for now, I am just so darned grateful to be where I am.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Feels like fall

Remember these little guys from a few weeks ago?

Well tonight they made their big debut as part of a very fall friendly side dish of sauteed delicata squash, cranberry beans, rosemary and sage.

Delicata Squash and Cranberry Beans with Sage and Rosemary Olive Oil

This was our first experience with both delicata squash and cranberry beans and what a marvelous introduction it was! Too bad I destroyed the tenderloin in the process of babysitting them. Oh well, no one is perfect, especially not yours truly.

The squash was sweet and tender, almost like a combination of sweet potatoes and gnocchi, while the cranberry beans were very starchy and nutty. The sage and rosemary were added to some garlic and sauteed in olive oil for the base of the squash and cranberry beans. The sage compliments squash so beautifully and the rosemary adds great depth.

All and all a great first attempt at both of these fall treats and a promising beginning for our fall cooking.

I couldn't figure out which picture best portrayed this evenings creation, I personally like the one below, but G likes the others. What do you think?

Now off to a puppy playdate before the VMA's. Happy Sunday and may you have a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

When I'm feeling under the weather the last thing I want to do is make a healthy breakfast, but that would be so inconsiderate of dear hubby who has been working hard all week.

In honor of him and his hard work I like to create an empty-the-fridge, filling-to-the-soul, chock-full-of-vitamins breakfast creation that incorporates all of his favorite flavors and helps me to get rid of the bits and pieces I have accumulated throughout the week.

Et voila! The $20 omelet is created. He calls it the $20 omelet because I like to add a dollup of salmon caviar to the top to make it extra special.

Click here or on the the bold label for recipe.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Eye Spy...

With my little eye.

Something that gave me the need for these:

I woke up Wednesday with the chills and other fun accompaniments to the friendly first week of work, really need my energy, have so much to do, but i will take you down anyway cold :(

Take note: this is what happens when you feign illness Mr. Silverstein!!

p.s. this photo is courtesy of my talented hubby. nice work darling.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Where's the beef?

Defeat! I admit it. Day one of late class and not a post to be found around here...

No new news of the creative concoction as a result of the delicata squash I uncovered at the farmers market this morning...

No photos or words to describe the comforting aroma of spicy turkey stuffed cabbage I plan to make for dinner one night this week...

No description of the almost certain fiasco that will ensue when I decide to try my hand at canning (probably this weekends activity and PLEASE feel free to shed pearls of wisdom before I infect anyone with ill packaged cans of tomato sauce!)...

Nope, just me asking nicely that anyone who drops by take a look at my more interesting posts like those about our recent trip to London, Paris, Dublin or Galway.

Or perhaps you would like to see how colorful your dinner could be by taking a look at my interpretation of Gulliver's salad. Or perhaps you need some inspiration to spark a culinary fire, in which case may I suggest you take a look at our adventures in homemade cheese?

Either way, there are certainly posts more interesting than this where I'm doing something other than wishing for the scratchy throat, throbbing head and cabbie strike to subside.

Maybe you really didn't mean to stop by anyway and would rather visit my friend David who always has something new to report, or maybe you want to be inspired to really create something in which case I recommend you see the fabulous AmandaJean. Or you could do what I always do and just drool over the creations of the talented Tartelette.

That should keep you entertained for a while, or at least until I can post something more inspiring!

Until then...

Paris: How do I love thee? Let me count thy ways. Part II

Ever since our return from this great city, it has become apparent that I could honestly create an entire new blog dedicated exclusively to this magical place.

If the theme to my first post was the grandiose, then the extraordinary in the ordinary seems to be a common theme here.

So without further ado, I leave you with the last installment of our travels through Paris. I can't wait to return and add to this thread. Until then...

I love the colors in which you dream:
And the beauty in your everyday:

The colorful storefronts:

...and the mouthwatering:

The cozy cobblestone street:

Your rich history:

Your cast of characters:
The feeling that I've somehow been here:

The classy way you get around:

The simple beauty around every corner:

Your delicious street food:

And your inviting local produce (oh what a menu I could make):
And the hidden charm behind every doorway:

This is Paris, and this is surely why the world continues to have it's greatest love affair with her.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Do I have to?

I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay,

"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.

My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?

My leg is cut, my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.

My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.

My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.

My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.

My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.

My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.

I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?

What's that? What's that you say?

You say today is---Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

-Shel Silverstein

It's not Saturday, it's a real deal school/work/wake up early day and I wish you the very best dealing with it.

I sure need all the encouragement I can muster about now, apparently so does little Lola :)

Monday, September 3, 2007

It is easy being green!

Ever since my friend Em bought me THAT book, I have been highly concerned with creating meals with fresh, local, organic, ingredients.

Now I've not gone off the deep end to swear off flours, grains, rice, essentially the carbs we need that aren't always ground nearby. And I'm not entirely dedicated to eating potatoes all winter.

However, what I am concerned with is supporting local farmers and eating as much local produce when it is at it's freshest. Which is precisely where this delicious, hearty and healthy dinner fits in.

Every bit of food on this plate was caught or raised within a 75 mile radius of our home and it includes fresh veggies (tomatoes, red pepper, onions, garlic, thyme, new potatoes, dill) and protein (fresh Atlantic flounder, local eggs).

Even if you can't buy everything from a farmer, eating foods when they are in season brings a whole new meaning to fresh. In fact, it might find you enjoying a veggie previously sworn off, probably from childhood, and probably because you attempted to eat something like asparagus in the middle of December.

Again, I'm not proselytizing here because we will HAVE to eat veggies this winter and we don't exactly have a root cellar in our 3rd floor apartment in the the middle of NYC. You see, the neighbors below might have complained. But with a head towards being more environmentally conscious we will savor healthier foods when they were meant to be enjoyed and that means better eating!