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A Riddle

15 Feb

A riddle for you on this Tuesday afternoon: what do a 17th century troubadour, a man in a banana suit and cookie monster all have in common?

The answer is they are all subway musicians! Over the past two weeks I saw the my 17th century friend uptown on the downtown one platform, strumming a guitar with a mead tankard hanging from his belt. The banana and cookie monster actually played a duet together in Penn station. In case you were curious, Cookie monster plays the xylophone and banana’s are fond of the stand up bass. (Actually, they were really good).

 

Just a day in the life of a commuting grad student. Another normal day? Doing lots of reading while your muffins bake in the oven.

 

These muffins are lightly adapted from The New American Plate’s Flaxseed Raisin muffins. I subbed in whole wheat flour, raw turbinado sugar, and added a 1/2 tsp of all spice. I also used plain yogurt instead of buttermilk. These will be my go to breakfast (or snack) for the next few days,  as I finish reading about cognitive flexibility in the drawings of bilingual children.

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11 Jan

Graduate school begins next week, and with it begins a disruption to my meals. It’s common knowledge among friends and family, that I need to eat and I need to eat often. But when I’m looking for a meal as I wait for a train or a class to begin, I grab the nearest palatable thing. This in no way means that something is something healthy.

I figure the only way to circumvent this issue to to do what all those magazines, books and blogs tell me to do: plan ahead.

Each weekend I plan on creating a list of recipes and meals that will either freeze or travel well, so that I always have something available. Today’s was a batch of Martha Stewart’s Apple Squash Soup. I had higher hopes for this soup, but a side salad and dollop of greek yogurt made it a much more respectable lunch.

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After several months hiatus from visiting a museum for pleasure, rather than work, I visited the Whitney to view their Edward Hopper show. Already a Hopper fan, I enjoyed seeing his work set among that of his contemporaries.

His works of solitude and isolation, commentary on the human condition, are somehow much more palatable than more contemporary artists’ reflections on the darker aspects of life. I may feel this way because his use of light, color and shape are more applicable to my personal work, but my friend MaryEllen and I left the other exhibits feeling more depressed then inspired.

Hopper on the other hand made me really focus on the way light fell on the apartment buildings as I walked to the subway. I earned more personally and artistically from just a few of his paintings than from every gallery I visited in Chelsea earlier that day.

Teamwork

4 Oct

Sometimes in order to get dinner on the table quickly, you have to enlist some help. This week’s slow cooker recipe, Thai Style Pork Stew, was made through the joint effort of two members of my household.

The previous night I made the teriyaki sauce. Yes, that’s right…I made some. Thanks to google and everyone who posts recipes online, I was able to make the missing ingredient. Then in the morning I threw in the 3 pork  chops ( slightly less than what the recipe called for; but it’s all we had. My grocery list planning was not up to par this week) and necessary ingredients.

Then after switching it to low, I ever so blatantly laid out the recipe next to the slow cooker with all the other ingredients that needed to be prepped AFTER it was done cooking. Thanks for picking up the hint Dad!

So far, this is my favorite slow cooking. The two chilis we tried were weak, and I still have to make my family’s favorite one. But this pork stew? Going into the recipe rotation.

Channeling Flatbread

27 Sep

What I am about to describe to you may sound slightly gross, but trust me on this one. Pesto, Red Grape and chicken pizza. Now, grapes may sound like an odd pairing for pizza but the heat of the oven really brings out the sweetness and they taste amazing with the other elements.

If you grill the chicken the day or night before when you’re making another meal, this pizza will take about 15 -20 minutes to make. Perfect “coming home to dinner after commuting” meal. It’s from a cooking light recipe, but you don’t even need a recipe to figure out how to make this.

I simply used a Boboli ready made thin crust pizza, topped it with pesto, shredded chicken, halved red grapes and cheese. My pesto was made the other day from my 2 foot tall basil plant (it was taking over my garden! my other herbs have barely seen sunlight all season because of the basil jungle), but store bought is just as easy to use. I used preshredded low fat mozzerella cheese, but freshly grated the parmesan.

15 minutes later, pizza!

The pairing kind of reminds me of something I would find at my favorite pizza place, Flatbread Pizza Company. But it’s much more convenient to make this rather than fly over 12 hours to get it.

Slowcooking and Tornadoes

20 Sep

Before I talk about my first experience with a borrowed slow cooker, I just want to tell my commuting story of the week. And I’m not talking about the 6 foot five man wearing a top hat I saw on the subway. For those of you not living in New York, you may not know we got hit by two tornadoes on Thursday. Specifically Brooklyn and Queens.

My experience on Thursday was similar to many of those packed into Penn Station. When I left work on Thursday, I noticed a greenish sky and saw lightening before jumping onto my subway across the street. I usually have a half hour to kill before my train to Long Island arrives, but EXACTLY when my train is supposed to arrive the boards go blank. There are no trains, and the station is turning into a sweaty mess with all the people crammed in there. Eventually we find out that trees fell across the track, eliminating service between Penn and Jamaica. This means NO service.

So what does a girl in this situation do? She meets up with her dad in a bar, her awesome boyfriend drives in to pick them up, they eat and drink…and then sit for four hours in traffic.If anyone is ever in a similar situation, the Pig and Whistle on 36th near 7th is a fantastic place to wait a Penn emergency out.

But back to the picture at the top of this post. I tried the all- american chili slow cooker recipe from Family Circle. I plopped everything in the cooker at 7:30 in the morning, and my mom turned it off when she got home at 4 pm. For the convenience factor, this recipe gets four stars. Flavor wise? 2.5. The chili was a little too thin for my family’s taste, and the fresh oregano added at the end saved it. Next time I would up the cumin, add hot pepper, and add another vegetable to the mix. So far I’m a fan of the slow cooker. I like coming home from work and having dinner all ready to go. It gives me time to exercise and socialize before going to bed and repeating my day all over again.

Emergencies

9 Sep

You know what’s terrifying for a 21st century girl? Spilling a glass of water all over her laptop, that was never backed up. Ooops. I decided to let my computer rest for awhile, which is why I haven’t posted recently.

While I was without technology, I baked some Maple-Date Bars . Technically described as a cookie, I used them as a substitute granola bar for my busy weekend. Yes, I’m a person who brings snacks in her purse. You never know when you need one. The bars are very sweet (the reason for  the cookie label), but since they were non processed and contained dates and oatmeal….I felt pretty good about relying on them for a quick snack when I wanted something substantial and sweet.

The only changes I made to the original recipe was substituting in turbinado sugar, and baking in a 9 x9 inch pan. I think if you had used the 9 x 13 inch pan, it would have made the bars really thin. Next time, I’ll use whole wheat flour as well.

Sneaky yet Delicious

3 Aug

Last night was the second time I made Baked Vegetable Lasagna, which my family refers to as sneaky lasagna. I like to think of it as sneaky yet delicious. The reason for the nick name is that the cheese layer subs out some of the ricotta for tofu, which I neglected to tell my sister the first time she ate it.

I do think the recipe could use a little more sauce, carefully rationing it is the only way to have enough for all the layers. And more vegetables! 2 zucchini and 2 bell peppers yields a slightly scant vegetable layer. I not only used 2 bell peppers, but 3 sweet peppers my boyfriend had left for me to use from his family’s garden. I also think that next time I’ll chop the zucchini, instead of strips. It’s a little hard to cut the way it is. Fresh herbs ( from my garden this time) also definitely helped the flavor.

Overall, this light lasagna is delicious despite it’s slight deceitfulness. You could be upfront about what the ingredients are when serving to guests, but what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you.

1-Cooler, 1 – Weekend

2 Aug

This weekend while I was away, I wanted to try out the August issue of cooking light’s “The Great 1- Cooler, 1- Weekend Getaway”. Having all my meals planned out for the weekend, and fitting them in one cooler, would be extremely helpful while I was dog sitting for a relative. I really did not want to scarf down all of their snacks while I was supposed to be dog walking, nor did I want to go to the grocery store 800 times when I was craving something.

So I packed my cooler and bag.

I jumbled around the order of their recipes and left a few out (Mostly desserts and drinks).

I do wish that they had listed the ingredients for their 3 make ahead items; I photocopied their list for shopping purposes and ended up forgetting some ingredients. They did a great job of using the same staples in a different manner, I never thought I could use honey and mustard so many times in a weekend. The only other flaw was when I had dinner guests stop by and had to go double my ingredients, but that’s not the fault of cooking light.  One of my favorite dinners:

Barbecue Chicken Sliders with Pickled Onions, Broccoli Slaw, and Grilled Corn with Honey Butter.

And by the end of the weekend, I had used up all my ingredients. No leftovers to worry about, just an empty cooler to throw in the trunk of my car.

Blueberries for Breakfast

25 Jul

Weekends for me are going to be Sunday and Monday. Today was Sunday, day one of my weekend, and Sunday is also brunch day. I decided to honor my favorite meal by having blueberries two ways. Belgian waffles topped with greek yogurt, white peaches and a berry simple syrup. Because I wanted to bake, I also made Martha’s blueberry muffins. Those are for breakfast tomorrow, but one just had to be sampled today.

Black & Blue

28 Jun

The title of this post does not refer to the injuries I sustain by walking into things on a daily basis. Instead it refers to berries, one of my favorite things about the summer season. For a family bbq, I decided to make a fruit galette and use up the entire carton of blueberries from the fruit stand. I placed my trust in Martha, her recipe for pate brisee, and the book’s beautiful photography.

I think I was too enthusiastic when pulsing the butter. Maybe substituting some of the flour for whole wheat flour wasn’t the best idea ( though I like the contrast of a darker brown crust with the purple berry juice). Or maybe some other element went wrong. All I know is that half my dough got thrown out when I tried to roll it out, and the other half put up a good fight. Eventually I rolled it into submission, and a little over an hour later, I got to eat this: