Saturday, April 27, 2013

She Told Me to Walk This Way

There is something about a mediocre eating spot that keeps us coming back for more. No, sometimes you want the best... and so I cook at home. ba dum pump...haa haa, little joke. No seriously, there are amazing breakfast joints in this neighborhood alone. But sometimes you find a good balance, some odd fit to your needs and even though the food is not amazing, it works. I wanted Mexican and it was super early, like 7:30am and I also wanted a little walk with the nut. I told him instead of coffee at home, lets just get out right away. So we ventured out to Clinton Hill and went to Castro's. They open at 8am and are happy to see ya bright and early. They're inexpensive and they remind me of the roadside food we had out in Arizona. There is a smoky good taste to much of it. The walk over was sweet and it really felt like spring. We caught a nice long stretch without having to share the sidewalk with the masses that would be awake in about two hours coming out in droves filling those same streets. So many blooming trees. Morning springtime in New York is like watching a 2 year old sleeping in it's little bed right before it wakes up and terrorizes your house. So calm, so beautiful...sniff sniff 'hey, what's that smell?' The food was really tasty and satisfying, not too heavy even though we over-ordered with the extra tacos. But who could resist, they were so cute and cheap! One was a chorizo and one was a spicy pork. Over all great choice. The whole experience inspired me to finally concoct this savory breakfast bar that I've been conjuring up in my head. P's been going at these peanut butter bars I've made consistently now for a few weeks. Such a great alternative and easy to eat on the go. We pay out the ying yang for these bars in the corner markets. I thought perhaps turkey jerky along with sun dried tomatoes to replace the raisins and spiced nuts might mix well with tahini paste to make a nice snack bar. P loved them! He ate the whole pan. Me, not so crazy for 'em but I really wanted to love them. They stuck together well and the consistency was perfect. I think they might come back around for an encore appearance at some point.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Now Would I Say Something That Wasn't True

If Mexican's invented pasta dishes maybe it would be something like this light pasta bowl with whole wheat and regular shells in with fresh tomato slices, cilantro, jalapeno and ground peanuts in just a bit of oil and vinegar. Actually, it was a mash up quickie recipe around the amazing Sauteed Beef Salad from Republic that has mint, scallions, sliced warm beef over cold rice noodles and rice vinegar, cilantro, peanuts, bean sprouts.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My World Is Empty Without You Babe

My two days off often happen during the week now, separate from P's during the weekend. Look, I'm not one of those girly girlfriends that needs her man around. I've always loved living alone and having all my personal time. I have my projects and for some strange reason truly enjoy myself even though I'm my own worst enemy. But somehow along the way and through the years I've changed up slightly. The thing is I don't need or even want P to be in the same room with me most times. He's too distracting and tends to have too big of an energy or presence for me to remain in my little zen mode. But he has got to be in the apartment somewhere in order for me to really enjoy myself and truly relax for some unknown annoying reason. Hopefully that doesn't sound too pathetic. On my first day off - no problem. I get all my chores and errands done, I clean up and have some alone time, writing, reading, zoning out, whatever. But then the 2nd day off is on varied days of the week. They're inconsistent and I notice I don't do great on those days. Two days off without time spent doing fun things that sometimes can only be done together really bites. That's too much time spent thinking. Too much time hearing the internal voices in your head putting a negative spin on just about every area of your life until you just can't bear it. Angst, nervousness, dread and other assorted phobias take over and pretty soon what should have been a great time to just kick it at home turns out to be a spiral staircase down to kookoo town. For me. Like with all my crazy, I try to self-manage. Idle hands are the devil's workshop? My simple fix is to keep it moving, cook something, write something, draw something, take pictures. This day I found a good recipe from the Neely's for a turkey meatloaf and it was fab. I also roasted my beets and served them with lemon vinieagrette, garlic and olive oil. I still can't believe how good those are and so simple.

Friday, April 19, 2013

It's More Than a Feeling

Today was the day after the terrorist incident in Boston. I regretted turning on the news this morning because it was a day off. It was hard to turn something off that was so important and impacting so many people. On the other hand, why am I watching play by play? This is not affecting me directly. Actually, there was a very slight chance that it just might affect us here in New York. There was concern it was part of a larger ring of conspirators. Perhaps they were on their way to New York at this moment. There is some fine line between just going on and enjoying your day and tuning in for the long haul that I often get caught between. Obviously the story couldn't be more compelling and certainly more interesting than anything I had going on that day. This was something that I have never seen before, nor may again (hopefully). At many points in the day you felt as though you were going to witness something spectacular on tv even though it may be horrible and sad. This was a young boy (in my mind). Not a grown adult who's lived and made clear choices (which he is). This was someone's younger brother and a kid that dances funny and probably spends time loafing and being silly. In between real action, my thoughts began forming scenarios. This kid is gonna be dead by the end of the day most likely. People are building up loads of hate right now and that is never a good thing. This is not going to help the profiling argument. People have been hurt very badly and a small boy has died. I pull out from that picture and I realize we've been hit again in America, something everyone has sort of been holding their breathe about since 9/11. It's gonna happen again, but when? And here it is, happened. Pull out from that and look at this boy that seems so normal, cute, almost a little hipster. How the hell could he be the face of terrorism? Has he even grown a beard yet? How could he feel that strongly about anything, let alone sacrificing his life for a cause. I find myself wanting to mother him and shake him, tell him to 'stop doing that!'. But it's not funny or cute or good in any way. It's a sad day. It's a bad, sad and ugly day. I go from being an idiot, pissed off that this is happening on my day off to being so grateful that more people weren't hurt. So humbled by all these brave policemen and people that choose to get involved and protect us. They don't know what lies ahead this day but they're moving forward with procedures and maneuvers. Will they go home to their wives tonight? Is it their day off tomorrow? And on a lighter note, God bless 'em but Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly, may not be the best team to watch for serious event coverage. But even so, I liken it to being at my Uncle Junior's house say during a tornado. And for some reason I can't remember but this may have actually happened. On a rare chance I may have been dropped off at my Aunt and Uncle's house with my cousins that lived right up against the railroad tracks and right next to the Hassen Barrel Company on that tiny back road in the old neighborhood by St Andrew's. I remember feeling I couldn't trust my uncle to protect me when the storm started because he'd be that big drunk on hard liquor, crazy eyes and Frankenstein walk. But it was a fun enough place to be with all the other kids running around and Aunt Sylvia would most likely make some good grub before things start swirling around. No memory after that except that we watched the Alamo the movie and they all laughed because I asked who won.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I Feel That Ice Is Slowly Melting

I'm not sure how fast it actually happens but it feels like there is one week in the spring when you wake up and the trees have bloomed. Maybe you see the blossoms beginning to bud for a week and then all of the sudden the sun is just dancing on this marvelous tree that screams LIFE! Some years like this one, the tree half blooms and then directly turns green. But after the winter we've just had, I believe everyone is super grateful to see any signs of spring or freshness, flowers, buds, sun, green. Anything relating to warmer weather really. Today was one of those days where you realize we have changed seasons, even though winter wants to hang on to our ankles. It may still be cold and windy but we've taken a turn. I could not wait to get out of work and breathe in that fresh air. I also could not wait to make these two salsa tostadas with ground turkey and black beans. I've had about as much lettuce as a person can eat this week at work, so instead of piling them high as usual with my iceberg, I instead added avocado to my homemade salsa verde and then added a fresh pico to the top. I sprayed a mist of Olive Oil using my Misto sprayer and baked the corn tortillas on my pizza stone to get them nice and toasty. Super refreshing and right on time! A very spring meal. Then I took a tip from my good friend Willie the cat and laid on my bed in the sun to soak up all that glorious nutritious warmth!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Hey Lady, You Got the Love I Need

Spring is taking her sweet old time getting here this year. Doesn't she know how much we all desperately need her? When she showed up all sun drenched and vibrant on this day, all was forgiven. Even the tree outside that I could have sworn was almost bare two days ago was beginning to burst with it's white flowers. Dang this town really cleans up well.

I had been seeing recipes for baked eggs in tomato sauce in my mindless web food browsing, a couple of times actually. Figured that was a sign to try them soon. Seems like the variations are endless. Fresh herbs, a ranchero type sauce, maybe adding cheese. Anyway, I'd make a good batch of fresh roasted tomatillo salsa that needed a good home, so the idea was born!

I had some leftover dryrub bbq chicken meat so I sauteed that first with onions and strips of corn tortilla, then laid down the sauce and gently cracked the eggs over that and baked for about 10 minutes on 350.

Out of the oven I topped the pan with green onions, cilantro and a smattering of Cojita cheese.

This goes into the unwritten cookbook. Baked food for me, is becoming something to raise up my arms in praises for, a southern Baptist-style worship type thing. I do it silently and in private, like a good Catholic would of course but inside I'm bouncing around resembling someone who is happy.

Hell if I didn't know better I'd say this breakfast and the promise of spring has made my miserable, grumpy, naysayin', crinkled up old heart almost feel awake again.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Every Girl's Crazy 'Bout a Slow Baked Ham

Got a ham for Easter, but no time to make it for the actual event being that I've failed completely in life and work at a menial retail job for a ten year old that looks like the Pink Panther and schedules me for every holiday.

That's okay, Miss Houston assures me they can't take away my dignity. So the next best thing was to slow bake it all night long so we get the sweet smells drifting into our sleepy souls during slumber. And then upon awakening peeling back that foil to reveal what's gonna be the best breakfast ever!

Oh my gosh. I thought pork shoulder aroma was amazing. This is that and Christmas morning! I mean this, for me, was it. And you know I didn't even have to do a rub or a glaze. It was all just the pig in a heavy pot with foil over it. Easiest recipe ever!

There were pieces that were caramelized and stringy like pork, parts were sweet and juicy like ham, some pieces were a tiny bit fatty and super soft.

We fed from it all week like lions.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

One of These Nights

You know all those Grill Mate Seasonings that you see in the grocery stores and if you're like me you say, 'uh, no thanks I'll make my own'? Telling yourself they probably taste artificial and are filled with bad things., maybe if you're feeling a little less inspired one night, I'd encourage you to pick up McCormick's Mesquite seasoning.

Tonight after work I was faced with pork chops and no particular big ideas. I'm in a tiny Brooklyn apartment with no chance in sight to ever grill. I miss those tastes.

Add a little orange juice and a squeeze of lemon after a good snowfall of this stuff, a hot oiled pan and I had myself some perfectly seasoned blackened pork chops that could have come straight off the grill! Giant flavors and very real. I loved it!

As the kids would say at work, 'Good on you McCormick!' for keeping up with the upgraded tastes of your customers. America's tastebuds are growing up and you have been there with us!'

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ahaaw, Love to Love You Baby!

I've never been so excited about a vegetable as I am with Bok Choy. And I've gotten really enthusiastic about Broccoli Rabe, Asparagus and Artichokes. I love them and will continue to adore and eat them. Is this different? I can't even pinpoint why I love it so much. There is something in the biting into it with that liquidy burst of semi-bitter weird texture that seems fortified with goodness. My body craves whatever that is.
I'm so amped up I need to share all the info I found on the net ( of it's benefits:

Bok choy is one of the popular leafy-vegetables very low in calories. Nonetheless, it is very rich source of many vital phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and health-benefiting anti-oxidants.

100 g of bok choy contains just 13 calories. It is one of the recommended vegetables in the zero calorie or negative calorie category of foods which when eaten would add no extra weight to the body but in-turn facilitate calorie burns and reduction of weight.

As in other Brassica family vegetables, bok choy too contains certain anti-oxidant plant chemicals like thiocyanates, indole-3-carbinol, lutein, zea-xanthin, sulforaphane and isothiocyanates. Along with dietary fiber, vitamins these compounds help to protect against breast, colon, and prostate cancers and help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" levels in the blood.

Fresh pak choi is an excellent source of water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin-C (ascorbic acid). 100 g provides 45 mg or 75 % of daily requirements of vitamin C. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.

Bok-choy has more vitamin A, carotenes, and other flavonoid polyphenolic anti-oxidants than cabbage, cauliflower, etc. Just 100 g of fresh vegetable provides 4468 IU or 149% of daily-required levels vitamin A.

Pak choi is a very good source of vitamin K, provides about 38% of RDA levels. Vitamin-K has a potential role in bone metabolism by promoting osteotrophic activity in bone cells. Therefore, enough vitamin K in the diet makes your bone stronger, healthier and delay osteoporosis. Further, vitamin-K also has established role in curing Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.

 Fresh bok choy has many vital B-complex vitamins such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish.

Further, this leafy vegetable is a moderate source of minerals, particularly calcium, phosphorous, potassium, manganese, iron and magnesium. Potassium is an important electrolyte in the cell and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for the red blood cell formation.

So far, it's even inexpensive. You could do a completely vegetarian dish with thick black mushrooms and rice in an oyster sauce. A favorite dish of mine at Ollie's Noodle Shop. It went just right alongside my breadless Greek patty with tomato, Feta Cheese and Onion on this night.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Misty Mountain Hop

My sister R is an exceptional cook and a modest baker too. She has all kinds of professional food experience going way back. She actually worked for my mom and dad for years. She even started a whole separate restaurant with my mother that did kick ass business until the GE Factory shut down across the street. That restaurant was super cute and had a warm inviting vibe for all the fellahs gettin' off work. But she also worked in fancy downtown restaurants making high end food.

R is closest in age to me, two years older. We shared a fierce healthy sense of humor from a very young age. I probably was a bit more enamoured of her but I was the 'little bratty sister'. I liked her all to myself, chasing other kids out of the yard and being a bit resentful of them wanting to come play with us. I never truly appreciated the concept of sharing. Ever since we were tiny she loved the mountains and nature. I dreamed of living in New York, getting all my ideas of life from movies. Now, she's out in Colorado enjoying those mountains, fishing, gardening and nature in general. She makes hand-crafted jewelry out of pretty rocks that she's found herself. Beautiful inexpensive gorgeous pieces. Take a look.

I've been in New York for about 17 years. City mouse and country mouse. Unfortunately our youth, teens and tweens were complicated and we drifted a bit apart just trying to make our way through time on our individual life rafts. We were drifting fast in the deep waters of the Midwest in the 70's. I remember at 9 she came to me with her new BFF Trudy. Trudy was blonde, funny and had every intention of having fun. Of course I resented her. R told me basically that she was gonna 'grow up' now. She had a 45 record case that we stored our Barbies and their entire line of clothing in and she dumped that thing out right then and there. Her childhood retirement ceremony if you will. Harsh, I thought. I found it very troubling back then and did everything I could to keep up with her newfound worldliness. Most seemed to revolve around boys, pot and drinking. Drugs followed very shortly. I was way over my head and she was too but soon I also found a partner in crime to share 151 proof rum with before grade school and then everything else snowballed from there. Let's just say issues were formed before we both hit double digits. Much of the rest is kinna fuzzy. But now we're both sober and much clearer. We never completely lost touch, she was always a very strong support system for me. Through the last probably 9 years we've reconnected strongly as friends and adults. We've been exchanging ideas and all things food daily for a long while. I like to send her food porn and once in a while she'll send me something she's cooked up too along with great scenic photos. Someday it would be a dream come true to have a business together out there.

Minus the bear. I'm deathly scared of brown bears.