(Fake) Chicken and Dumplings & Emotional Derangement

*** This blog previously appeared unedited and under the influence of wine. It has since has been edited (whilst sober and in a better state of mind)***

PREFACE: The current state of the world has been wearing heavily on my mind and my emotional well-being for quite a while now (CLEARLY), but things really came to a head after several glasses of wine a couple of weeks ago. Naturally, I decided this was the PERFECT time to write and publish a blog here on The High Heeled Cuntessa (and to be totally unhinged in my IG stories). I woke up at 6AM the next morning and quickly un-published the blog and then deleted all of my psychotic IG stories, as I lay awake in a state of regret, mortification and hanxiety (“hanxiety” = hangover induced anxiety). I am such a mess (and not even a hot one) sometimes.

I have decided I need to not drink anymore. Alcohol does nothing for me, and it never has: it doesn’t make me thinner, it doesn’t make my skin glow, it doesn’t make me happier (maybe for a moment, but then I have hanxiety for the next several days), it definitely does NOT improve my relationships…it is literally the Devil’s drug. If it is a special occasion (ex. a holiday or birthday celebration), I will allow myself 3 drinks maximum, but only if I am with people I know I will be controlled around (i.e. my family). Anyhow, here is an updated version of my unhinged post, complete with full recipe, which I was too sloppy to write out before.

Because I have finally realized how annoying it is to scroll through a bunch of bullshit when you just want the recipe, here is my recipe for fake chicken and dumplings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil and/or butter
  • 1 bag of Morning Star Fake Chicken Nuggets
  • 2 Potatoes (Yellow or White), washed and cut into cubes (no need to peal)
  • 3 Stalks Celery, diced
  • 1/2 Small Onion, finely diced
  • 3 slender carrots (or 2 large ones), diced
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Better than Chicken Bouillon
  • 1 – 1.5 Cups Whole Milk or Dairy-milk alternative
  • Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS Fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • salt and pepper to taste

FOR THE DUMPLINGS (because I’m too lazy to re-type):

https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/6900/dumplings/

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Make dumpling batter and set aside
  • Microwave frozen Morning Star nuggets for 2 minutes and then roughly chop each nugget into quarters and set aside
  • Prep broth by heating 3-4 cups of water in pot or sauce pan and adding in 2 TBS of Better Than Chicken bouillon; set aside for future use
  • Heat oil (or butter) over low heat in large sauce pan and add in onions; cook until they start to become translucent
  • Add in celery, granulated garlic, and fresh herbs and cook another 3 minutes
  • Add in flower (and additional oil/butter, if necessary) and stir for about a minute over low heat or until all oil/grease is soaked up by flour
  • Increase heat to medium and add in broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly (you’ll likely only need about 2 – 2.5 Cups of broth + 1.5 cup milk)
  • Add in 1 – 1.5 cups milk, depending on desired level of thickness
  • Add in chopped carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and frozen veggies, and season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring to a low boil over medium heat and boil until carrots/potatoes are tender
  • Add in dumpling batter, 1 tsp. at a time (I suggest making only 8-10 dumplings and saving/freezing the rest of the batter)
  • Cook covered and over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until dumplings are done
  • Gently stir in Morning Star chicken pieces
  • Serve and enjoy!

[INSERT LONG-WINDED CATCHER IN THE RYE TYPE, NIHILISTIC RANT HERE ABOUT HOW THE WORLD IS FUCKED AND EVERYONE IS FAKE AND HOW I’M NEVER HAVING A KID] (that sums of the gist of my prior blog…)

Me, with Mac in Cancun: My emotional support TY Beanie Baby. For Mac content, please follow @macandthefunkybunch on TikTok

Halloween has come and gone (I dressed up for myself and stayed home), my cousin’s wedding has come and gone, and now Thanksgiving has come and gone. I am on the straight and narrow until after the New Year (sober, eating healthy, getting 8 hours of sleep per night). Work has been slow given the current state of the economy and I fear for the recession and job cuts that are inevitably going to happen next year. Oh well, it’s out of my control; I can only work on myself, and that is exactly what I intend to do. I want to take Italian lessons in the new year so I can finally have a basic conversation with my in-laws. That will be my present to myself when (and if…) I receive my holiday bonus. Watch me get a Jelly of the Month gift certificate instead…. if you know you know, and if you don’t, please go watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation NOW.

Axl Rose, Circa “Patience” Music Video for Halloween. I have a soft spot for Axl Rose.

Came close, but my nose isn’t small enough…

I wish I could fix this world, but I can only fix myself and do good where I can do good. I will not let this world bring me down (I can do that myself with the help of alcohol and low self-esteem LOL).

I will continue to donate what small sums of money I can afford to donate to cats/rescue organizations in need and buy Christmas presents for underprivileged children, since I have no children of my own. I guess not having a mortgage or kids of my own allows me the financial freedom to help others, however small/insignificant my contributions may be. It feels good to help others, especially when I feel like I can’t help myself πŸ˜€ I certainly cannot help the world.

Had the whole plunge-pool suite to myself… just me and Mac. How romantic….

Thanksgiving was great, minus my four-day binge. I lose all self-control when I am home. I am now back in Brooklyn and determined to be the best me I can be… which means no booze and no binges, also plenty of walking (which is increasingly difficult to do, now that it is dark by the time my work day ends).

Looking forward to milking the holiday season for all it is worth. I already did my Christmas cards, although I haven’t yet started my holiday shopping as I am awaiting my bonus (or Jelly of the Month Club certificate…) to determine my budget.

I wanted to get a tree while I was upstate this past weekend, but that didn’t happen since my fiance left the day after Thanksgiving for work and I had to ride back with my sister’s family. Hopefully we can go cut down a tree this Sunday… I’m not sure where, but I refuse to buy a trash tree from the trash Home Depot near me this year, which is what we did last year.

I hope everyone (all two of you who read this + my loyal bot followers in India) have a peaceful and safe holiday season. Cheers.

Countdown to Italy: Linguine al Nero di Seppia

Sitting here in my apartment on yet another 98 degree day, waiting until the sun goes down and work is over so I can get out for walk. I had an entire entry written, including a recipe and all, but my 2015 piece of shit Chromebook refused to let me publish it when I tried hitting “Publish,” and then also deleted the entire entry, even though I had repeatedly saved it as I worked on it. So here I am, retyping it all… convinced the first version was the best and this won’t be as good as what I originally composed, since I am now angry and hurried. I make more money than I used to, and still can’t seem to justify buying a new $1,500 MacBook. So, I will continue to use this ChromeBook, a relic of 2015, a piece of technology that does me dirty every time I use it.

I am on a mission to lose 10 lbs. over the next five weeks, prior to my vacation. I WILL WEAR SHORTS and I WILL WEAR SUNDRESSES like a normal human – like a normal, average American woman – if it is the last thing I do. I am tired of hiding my lower body in black jeans on hot summer days, and I am taking action and holding myself personally accountable. I will reduce the size of my legs, and I will wear shorts with confidence.

I choose to focus on this seemingly attainable goal, since I am unable to control the political climate of this country, global warming, all of the helpless, homeless and sick animals I see on the streets of my neighborhood, and the out-of-control shootings and stabbings that happen daily here in NYC and also throughout the nation. I can only control myself. And so, I help sick animals when I see them, try not to buy single-use plastics, recycle, and try my hardest not to eat meat, which is easy to do here, but impossible to do when I visit my parents upstate, and now, I will try to lose 10 lbs. I can’t control the war raging in Ukraine, I cannot control the crimes committed in Myanmar by the national army (which I made the mistake of reading about yesterday), but by God I can call for help if I see a sick cat suffering on the street, and I can control the circumference of these thighs.

My neighborhood is trash… literally. Covered in trash and the people are trash. They get pets they don’t spay/neuter and then kick them to the curb when they get pregnant or, in the case of a male cat, start spraying. I wish I could abuse people the way they abuse animals. The sidewalks are a mean place around these parts, and the summer heat makes the psychos that walk these streets even more psychotic. I worry that I will die at the hands of a psycho due to gun violence or stabbing before I have the chance to get out of this God forsaken city. It is a legitimate fear. My fear of climate change that I cannot control is a daily undercurrent to all of my other activities and thoughts. Even when I am working or busy these days, I cannot stop thinking about how fucked the future of this planet is. There is nothing I can do though, apart from hold myself accountable for my own actions. I cannot control the people I encounter on the street though – and there are more crazies than ever before.

I want to leave this country, but mostly, I want to leave this city forever. I fantasize about going to Italy and not returning. Maybe we can buy a small property in Tuscany, and I can work remotely from another time-zone. Who has to know? Better yet, I would quit my job and just work on restoring the property and promoting it as a retreat and establishing a small farm-to-table restaurant. I can’t stay here any longer. Me and NYC are done. It has nothing left to offer me.

I wrote a recipe in my last entry that was deleted before I could publish, and now, I am too lazy to re-write it. Sorry. Here is a picture of the ingredients that I bought at Eataly though, and also a picture of my finished pasta dish:

It’s impossible to find/buy cuttlefish in this country, so rock shrimp had to do
lingue al nero di seppia (linguine with cuttlefish ink)

You can use your imagination and the picture of my ingredients above as a reference point if you want to make something similar.

I felt good about myself for .2 seconds after sweating out 2 lbs. in water weight during my 2.5 mile walk the other night.
I wish I had the confidence to actually wear shorts out of my house… I don’t like the sexual leering from men. I know I have thick legs and an ample ass…. but I don’t like people staring at it.

Five weeks until Italy. Wish me luck.

Curried Lentil Soup, Rescuing Cats, and Self-Improvement (or Sabotage?)

First and foremost, throwing this out here (more on my latest rescue mission below):

PLEASE HELP WITH THE RESCUE AND VETTING OF THE VARET ST. CATS!!!

For the first time in a long time, there is an actual recipe featured on this blog (scroll down, if you don’t believe me). I love cooking and I love writing as two separate pastimes, but writing down the recipes from my head is frankly, rather tedious and time-consuming, and I find no pleasure in it. I wish I had someone to take notes as I cook and then translate the process into instructions and a list of measured out ingredients (I don’t use measuring tools when I cook, and this is why I hate baking – precise measuring is required).

Christmas has now come and gone (how many other blogs have I started with these exact words?), and it’s almost February – one of my favorite months of the year. Christmas this year was pretty great for me – I was able to work from home the entire week between my nephew’s birthday on the 19th, right up until a couple of days after Christmas when I decided to curtail my binge eating and head back to the city (I ate non-stop for an entire week while I was at my parents’ house… and you could certainly tell). We had snow before Christmas, and after Christmas while I was upstate, but not ON Christmas, unfortunately. Christmas day was about 53 degrees and rainy (thanks, global warming!). I took both cats out for a stroll on their leash in my parents’ backyard to test out the snow – Peeper loved it and didn’t want to come back inside (despite the fact that it was cold and windy), and poor Tuna hated it.

Peeper enjoying the snow on Christmas Eve – I can’t wait to have a house and backyard some day so he can ejoy the pleasures of nature and the great outdoors more often

Christmas Eve dinner took place at my sister’s house. I made a delicious cocktail with a limited edition Hendrick’s gin, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and fresh thyme. After we came back from dinner, I helped my mom finish up some gingerbread man cookies and chilled. I did a whole lot of chilling for a week, which was exactly what I needed (maybe, without the sedentary days and non-stop potato chip consumption). I truly love being home – although maybe not for periods of longer than four days. Despite hating life in the city, I was itching to go home after a full week under my parents’ roof (no offense to my parents).

Christmas Eve cocktails: Hendrick’s Lunar gin, fresh lime, pomegranate juice, seltzer, maple syrup and a sprig of fresh thyme

I feel like every time I write a blog here I extol the virtues of being surrounded by nature and quiet, but if you are living in a major city and haven’t left your urban metropolis recently, I encourage you to do so. Especially if you’re stressed or suffering anxiety (or anger issues, like I do from time to time) – getting out of the madness of the urban jungle and listening to the sounds of birds chirping and silence at night is what we all need for a hard reset sometimes. Find the cheapest hotel or Airbnb you can and just spend minimal time there; take advantage of your family or friend’s offer to let you stay with them if that is an option. Even if it isn’t the “nicest” or “coolest” small town (lord knows my hometown in Chenango county certainly is no Woodstock or Hudson), getting out of the city is better than not getting out at all. I am hoping to go home next month, maybe after my birthday. I also think I’d like to go to a salon while I’m home and go back to red hair without paying a fortune in order to do so (I am so over being this blonde – it just isn’t me).

Mornings at my parents’ house

I am thankful that I spent as much time at home as I did this year. Usually, work and the combination of my boyfriend’s work schedule mean that I am never home for more than three days and do not get to see all of the family I hope to see while I am home.

My aunt and uncle’s Victorian style tree – always my favorite

My plan was to return to the city so that I could celebrate NYE here properly, since everything was cancelled last year. However, my plans were once again foiled. My boyfriend, who assured me he would be out by 12:30AM at the latest, did not get home from work until 3AM. Naturally, I was passed out on the couch, and he was exhausted from having worked a 15 hour shift. It sucks since we bought tickets to a party that only went on until 5AM. We decided to go out the next night, but that also turned out to be a dud. It was pouring rain, and the party we decided to check out at The Good Room in Greenpoint, turned out to be a gay party. We stayed 20 minutes before peacing out and going back home. Nothing against the gays, but it’s not really fun to be at a gay party unless you’re a gay man looking to get laid.

Before wasting more money on party tickets for another party we wouldn’t stay at, we had dinner at Maison Premiere. That was the highlight of the weekend for me. They reopened a few months ago, having been closed for all of 2020 and most of 2021, and I was so happy to be back for the first time since February 2020 – it is one of my favorite Williamsburg staples. The atmosphere, small plates, and cocktails are the best (although the prices are not).

We sat at the bar – super cozy, although the service sucked on this particular night. I’m pretty sure the bartender/our waiter was drunk on the clock. I mean, I don’t care and I don’t blame him. Who TF wants to work the day of New Year’s Day? At least of the food was great!

The food was just as great as it has always been. I had the steak tartare (It’s my weakness and uncannily enough, my favorite food ever, despite my best efforts to NOT eat meat….). We also had oysters, mussels, and the cod toast (another favorite). This place is such a gem – I am so happy they’re back in business! Would definitely not recommend if you’re on a tight budget and very hungry though… there are much better paces to go if you’re ravenous or want to get lit (cocktails are too expensive to get lit here).

I try not to eat meat and usually succeed. The only exceptions: steak tartare is on the menu or I am at my parents’ house for more than 3 days…..

I am honestly kind of relieved that our NYE and NYD were so low-key. Every time I party now, I basically need a whole 48 hours to recover. Partying honestly isn’t as fun as it used to be – the prices they charge for tickets these days should honestly include a gram of the drug of your choice, since they are so fucking steep. I also think I have an allergy to alcohol. If I have more than two glasses of wine, I wake up looking like Charlize Theron as Aileen Wournos in Monster. I digress ….

My aunt and uncle gifted us a certificate for a shop in Greene, NY, that I had never heard of: Hymn & Hawe. I was expecting a gift store or some sort of country store akin to the Masonville general store (which I love), but my expectations were far surpassed upon entering the store. Not everything was necessarily my style, but they had a lot of very nice furniture at what seemed like very reasonable prices. They also had a really nice selection of art from estate sales, and we ended up buying both a print-on-canvas, and also a small painting of Venice! I definitely am looking forward to going back to this store, and highly recommend to anyone living in the area.

Snapped one final picture of our little tree before taking it down. The painting on the right is one of the purchases from Hymn & Hawe! Also, don’t judge the scratched up couch…. this poor couch is now 16 years old and has seen better days, but we are not buying a new one until we move. I will also make it a point to train the cats to NOT scratch the couch, once we have a new one.

I must say, I am very sad I no longer have my little Christmas tree to brighten up the apartment. I milked it for all it was worth, and left it up until a few days after epiphany. The poor thing was dry as a bone and shedding like crazy. I was truly tempted to buy a light-pink fake tree and decorate it for Valentines day, but let’s face it – this apartment doesn’t really have room to spare or storage space. Plus, I am against buying more plastic, if I can help it (although I think the concept of a pink tree is really cool, and the idea of a Valentines tree is still tempting).

Work has slowed down to the point where I am once again questioning the security of my position. There is truly no in-between for this industry: it’s either a balls-to-the-wall, 55-hour grind of a work week, that makes me feel absolutely psychotic and explosive, or it’s a radio silence, bare-minimum 35-hour week, that I treasure, since I can actually live my life, but also makes me worried I’m about to be “let go” at any given minute. A happy medium would be nice. When work is slow and I fear losing my job, I just make sure to tell myself to enjoy each day, since I am still able to get out for walks, cook leisurely meals, and chill after 6PM without my email notifications blowing up all night. Thankfully, the week of Christmas wasn’t crazy and I was able to enjoy my time home.

Snapped this picture from my apartment building’s roof one night between Christmas and NYE. There is something magical about a burning/vibrant sunset when it’s otherwise so cold out in the Winter season. I call this shot “Sunset over the Projects”

I truly love that week in between Christmas and the New Year – even though I haven’t had that week off since I was a college student of 20. I love that everyone seems to be in a happy, laissez-faire mood. No one at work is in a rush to get things done, everyone is happy and satiated from Christmas celebrations and the abundance of high-fat foods, sweets and chocolate in their lives. People are jolly and good-spirited. I wish every week could be like this week generally is. The world would certainly be a better place. I am happy January is almost over – it is the most depressing month of the year, once the Christmas decorations come down and everyone resumes work and daily life again. It’s also so dark and dreary in January – snow would definitely help to brighten the situation, but we haven’t really had any that has stuck so far in NYC. We had a snow the week after New Year’s Day, but it had melted almost fully by the second day after the initial snowfall.

Tuna, enjoying the fresh snowfall from the comfort of his favorite day-time sleeping spot

I am hoping that we have some more snow in time for Valentine’s Day (not that I celebrate) and/or the week of my birthday. I’m sure If I am able to go upstate following my Birthday, there will be snow – there usually is in late February/early March.

Other than working my day job (that’s how I like to think of my job… as a “day” job – it helps put life into perspective), I am currently focused on getting healthy (when am I not?) and also rescuing four cats that are trapped across the street. I’ve been coordinating with Greenpoint Cats and a couple of other local cat rescues to set things up, and we will be trapping them this weekend. Long story short (because I could certainly go on a rant of epic proportions right now), the cats are not and spayed/neutered and have never seen a vet. They are not exactly spring chickens either. These poor cats do not get direct sunlight and have lived their entire lives in the shade of a building and the confining walls of some shoddy courtyard where they are confined. I have no idea what the bottom/ground of this courtyard looks like, and I am kind of scared to find out (I hope it’s not cluttered with litter, garbage, broken bottles, trash, etc., but something tells me it is). They’ve also had litters of kittens that have died from lack of care and exposure over the years, and the worst part, is that they have to climb a 6-story fire escape (in all kinds of inclement weather) in order to eat. The guy who has been feeding them isn’t the one who brought them in – apparently the building super brought them in as rodent control for the basement of the building. I’ve been told that they have “access to the basement” (whatever that means), but I really do wonder how they get in and out and if it is at all warm in the basement. I highly doubt the poor cats have bedding down there.

Anyhow, we will be trapping them this weekend and then they’re off to see the vet on Monday. I started a GoFundMe to raise money for the cost of their vet visits/spaying/neutering surgeries, which will undoubtedly add up fast considering they are senior cats and have had no preventative care up until this point. If you’d like to donate, please see below link. All leftover donations go directly towards helping other cats in need.

IF YOU’D LIKE TO DONATE:

HELP MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF THE VARET ST. CATS (GoFundMe)

Here is one of the four cats that we will be trapping, vetting, and finding a foster home for
The very top fire escape (six stories up) is where these cats are fed. I’m not even sure how they make it up these iron ladders, but it pains me to know they have to make this dangerous climb in order to stay alive. Imagine if they were sick or injured and couldn’t make this climb? They’d sadly starve.

The shittiest part about living in a low-income neighborhood surrounded by projects, is the abundance of strays and the neglect/abuse of animals that seems to be rampant. I don’t care about the mentally ill, possibly dangerous homeless men smoking crack on the street, or the fact that gangs sell drugs on the street corner two blocks down, or even that someone was stabbed to death in a local deli a couple of years ago. I’m a grown woman with pepper spray, a taser, and a hot temper, and I can and will fend for myself. What I care about, are all of the animals suffering on the streets here, without a voice, with no choice in the matter of their circumstances, and their daily suffering, which is overlooked by almost everyone passing by. I know it hard for people to care about animals when they are struggling to feed and house themselves and their family and living in poverty. But it blows my mind that these people, the same ones who struggle to put food on the table for their kids and themselves, think taking in a kitten is a good idea. These kittens are the ones that end up un-spayed or un-neutered on the street 8 months later, when the family decides they can no longer afford to take care of it, or they abandon their 6-year old cat in a crate in the middle of winter, when the cat keeps peeing on the couch because it has a UTI they left untreated (don’t even get my started on the people who hoard animals, or get dogs they keep confined to a kennel). I know that people of all income brackets are capable of animal abuse and neglect, but it is way more prevalent in neighborhoods like mine, where the majority of families struggle to live day-to-day life and keep their human kids clothed and fed. There are stray cats all over my neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and most people do not bat an eye at their suffering, because they just don’t have the time, energy, or resources to care or help. Oftentimes, they do not even know that sources are available to help, at no cost of their own. Sorry… I could keep going, but I’ll stop.

This dress is currently for sale on my Poshmark, if anyone wants to buy. I bought it used on Tradesy, thinking it would be perfect for a NYE party, but clearly that didn’t go as planned. I also have a sensitive neck, and the choker-collar feels really restrictive ;p

Onto the recipe! Sorry for the very long-winded diversion…

CURRIED LENTIL SOUP (to feed the soul)

The soup so good, you’ll finish the pot in 2 days (at least that’s what I do… and then pay the ultimate price in bloating from the lentils)

Warning: lentils are high in fiber and therefore can make you extremely bloated (especially if you’re like me and finish the entire pot of soup in two days). I would not recommend eating this soup if you have a hot date the night of, plan to wear a body-conscious dress or crop top, or plan to have sexy times (if you know what I’m saying). The great thing is, that because of the high fiber content, this soup will also make you go to the bathroom (I don’t need to get into specifics), and you’ll have the flattest stomach ever after your morning coffee the next day. LOL.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups of dried red lentils (green lentils or French lentils could also work)
  • 2 medium-sized carrots (chopped)
  • 1/2 of a large white/yellow onion (finely chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
  • 2 stalks of celery (diced)
  • 1 pack of frozen spinach, or 1 box of fresh spinach
  • 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pot)
  • Approx. 4 cups of chicken, vegetarian chicken, or veggie stock (I use the “Better Than Chicken” bouillon and just add it to the boiling water!)
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 3 TBS (yellow) curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp granulated/powdered garlic
  • a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste (salt usually isn’t needed since the curry powder is salty and the stock may be salty if using bouillon as the base)
  • **Feel free to add in the following if you have on hand, or need to use up: Mushrooms, potatoes (1 or 2 max), arugula, any other veggie you think might go well!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Prep the veggies – Wash veggies where applicable and chop the onion, carrots, celery and mince the garlic (carrots and celery do not have to be chopped finely)
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over low heat, add in the onions stirring occasionally and cooking over low-heat until translucent and yellow.
  3. Add in the celery and garlic and continue to cook over low heat for another 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add in the dried lentils, the carrots, all of the veggie/chicken stock, and raise temperature and bring to a gentle boil.
  5. Cook at a gentle boil until the carrots and lentils are almost tender – about 10-12 minutes (I think?)… occasionally sample a lentil or two to see how tender they are..
  6. Once the lentils are softened, add in the crushed tomatoes and spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted (or, in the case of frozen, is no longer frozen)
  7. Turn down the heat and add in the spices – tasting as you go along to make sure everything is coming together nicely. You may need to play around with the ratio of spices (I do not measure with measuring tools – just taste testing)
  8. Continue to cook over low heat until the lentils begin to break apart (that’s how soft they should be!)
  9. Finally, add in the can of coconut milk, stir in so it’s incorporated, and if necessary, add 1-1.5 TBS of sugar and any additional spices you think it might need to reach its best potential
I usually use frozen spinach, but my local deli only had fresh
The onions and celery take way longer to soften than carrots or potatoes, so always saute these a bit before adding the others!
Seriously though – this soup is one of my favorites. It is rich and flavorful and vegan (without trying to be) as long as you don’t use chicken stock!

In other, more superficial news, I am so over my blonde hair. I thought it would bring me joy – it brings me none. I thought it would make me feel pretty – it makes me feel trashy. It’s been almost 2 months now since I bleached it. I think I will go back to a nice strawberry-blonde shade sometime soon. I just worry that my hair is not healthy enough to fuck with right now, since I’ve been experiencing a lot of breakage since the bleach. I was warned – I should have listened. Live and learn I guess, right?

I spent a good two hours trying on a number of dresses that have never seen the light of day in preparation for NYE. These poor dresses – won’t someone please take them out and show them a good time???!
Blonde, crispy hair, not a good look for me…I really miss my red hair. Also, be careful who injects you – I tried lip fillers for the first time in November, and had to have lumps dissolved this month, even though I paid standard pricing and went to a reputable place. Thankfully they look much better after they dissolved the lumps, but I would recommend a Dr. as opposed to an RN, even if all they do is inject… Dr./Board Certified Dermatologist pricing is really the same, as I’ve recently found out

I feel like having COVID and living through 2020/2021 in NYC had added years to my face, aesthetically speaking. I was tired of looking tired, even when I didn’t feel tired inside, so I decided to take time back (at least, aesthetically speaking, since we can never get that time back), and so I tried botox for the first time in November at the age of 33. It’s a decision I am happy I made – I no longer wake up with lines on my forehead that don’t go away during the day. And, despite the fact that I used to talk mad shit about girls with obvious lip fillers (*I regret having this attitude*), I also decided to take the plunge and try lip fillers in November. The real deciding factor in both of these decisions? EVERYBODY’S DOING IT. That sounds terrible – and who the fuck wants to be a follower?! Not me, although, I guess now I am to some extent… Honestly though, I live in NYC (I assume this is the same scenario with any major city) and *almost* EVERYONE from the age of 27 on is having work done, if they can afford it. Most people just don’t talk about it openly, but if you scroll back a few years on their IG account, you can tell.

I have always liked the shape of my lips, but in recent years (maybe the past 5), I feel like they’ve deflated significantly (kind of like how a helium balloon looks, 5 days after the party has ended), and they look perpetually dry, even when I am quite hydrated. The only time my lips have looked truly luscious in recent years, is after a night of drinking and/or high sodium intake – I would wake up and hate that the rest of my face and body was bloated and puffy AF, but I’d admire how full and pouty my lips were. I feel like it’s still taboo to some extent, to talk about shit like this (that’s why I’m writing about it here, where only a select few will read). But, if you know me and see me regularly, you can probably (scratch that: DEFINITELY) tell when you see me (in person), that they’re bigger… so I thought I’d just throw it out here (for anyone who reads this). It was actually kind of another spur of the moment decision (kind of like this blonde hair… I told you, I am clearly going through some sort of crisis…), but one that I do not regret. I had them done at JECT when I got my botox.

I should have taken into account how long I’d be bruised from the ordeal – I had them done the Saturday before Thanksgiving, and they were still bruised and swollen AF when I had to go home and face my family five days later. Naturally, I had to admit what I had done to my sister and my brother, who both separately confronted me. My parents played it cool, but my sister told me that my dad separately brought it up to her and my mom, saying “I think she may have had her lips enhanced.” Apparently my mom, ever oblivious, replied “You know she always likes to over-line her lips, Tom.” This actually makes me chuckle, because that much is true. I spent the ages of 19 – 28 over-lining my lips in an attempt to make them look bigger, before I realized how obvious it looked in broad daylight, and then stopped doing any sort of lip color altogether until now. Side note: you can totally get away with over-lining and clever lip gloss placement in a dark restaurant or nightclub, or even a photo, but in real life and in natural light, it looks not-so-good (especially up close).

Anyhow, after the swelling went down (which literally took a full 2 weeks for me), I had a couple of unsightly lumps which were a dead give away that I’d had injections, and also made me super self-conscious when talking with people. I went back to JECT and they dissolved the lumps (free of cost, since it was their fault), and I am now completely happy with the results. I am happy that my top lip no longer completely disappears when I smile (which is honestly probably part of my endearing charm to those who know me (JK), but also something I’ve been self conscious of for most of my life). I am also happy I no longer feel self-conscious when my face is in its natural, resting bitch face, which always gave my mouth a particularly stern and thin appearance.

Anyhow, I feel lucky to be in a place in my life where I can finally afford to finance these endeavors… I probably would have done this years ago if I wasn’t struggling financially. I hate myself for giving into the pressure, but at the same time I feel so much better when I wake up and assess my face each morning. I wish I didn’t care so much, it goes against all of my feminist ideals… but I always have cared and sadly, I always will.

Another beautiful (to me) dress that has never left the confines of my closet. Won’t someone please think of the dresses?!
This For Love and Lemons dress is still waiting for its moment to shine. I wish I was a kept woman or a lady who lunches – someone who never had to worry about going to bed to wake up and work a corporate job ever again. I already help people and animals in my spare time. Imagine all the animals and people in need I can help if I’m not depending on a 9-5 job to pay rent/bills??? I think that is my true calling – that and somehow combining my love of food and cooking. Maybe I can open a restaurant where half of the proceeds go towards local rescue groups. I just need the initial funding…

A Much Needed Vacation, New Beginnings, and Fish Chowder

As per the norm, it has been far too long since I wrote a blog (not that anyone gives a shit or looks forward to these blogs…). My vacation has come and gone, and it was honestly the best vacation I’ve ever had. I wish it had never ended and that I was still in Italy, but here I am – back in Brooklyn and back to work. On the upside, I came home to a new Job lined up, and which I have now been at for almost three weeks – so things are improving for me in that area of life.

It was so nice to be back in Venice and to see my boyfriend’s parents after three very long years, as well as his friends. It was also nice to be able to travel, after not being able to do so for over a year and a half as the result of COVID restrictions. It certainly was a hassle getting multiple COVID tests before flying out and again before flying home, making sure the carrying around our vaccine cards, negative test results, passports, and the additional documentation required (something akin to a “Green Pass”) in my purse at all times, but it was worth it.

Wishing I was still here…
The Grand Canal at night: so beautiful it seems like a fairy tale

While we were in Venice, the highlight (apart from seeing his parents and friends) was the cicheti and affordable wine. We went to town on both… how could you not?! I think the hardest thing since returning to the US, and more specifically returning to NYC, has been the memory of such affordable food and drink when a glass of wine here will set you back $15. We drank good-quality wine for 3 Euros a glass, and filled up our stomachs on delicious food for less than 10 euros a piece. It is a travesty that dining out or drinking in NYC will set you back over $100 on a night out.

First cicheti stop of the trip. This picture is from the first cicheti bar we went to the afternoon of the day we arrived, and it did not disappoint!
Wenice is another one of our favorite cicheti bars – the ambiance isn’t the greatest since there is limited seating, but the food cannot be beat. The Seppie al nero and seppie in umido (pictured to the left above) are out of this world.
Seppia on polenta squares at another of our favorites: SEPA. I think we must have gone to this bar 5 times over the course of our time in Venice.

I developed a bit of an obsession with seppia (cuttlefish) this time, if I wasn’t already slightly obsessed before, and I don’t just mean eating them. I bought a little cuttlefish (seppia) pin from SEPA, and, as Venice is known for the Murano glass, an adorable little glass seppia. I saw it in the window of a shop and just couldn’t resist!

My new seppie friends

As Venice is on the water, there is no shortage of seafood everywhere you go, which suits me well, since it is what I love to eat. There are cuttlefish dishes galore, mantis shrimp (which are different and more delectable than regular shrimp), prawns, fish, sardines, scallops, octopus, clams, etc. offered on every menu. It is food paradise for a seafood lover like myself.

This plate had a bit of everything and was so good that it cannot be put into words. The owner of this bar ^ is actually the son of the owner of another restaurant on Murano that Christian’s parents love, and which we went to for lunch one day.

The original plan was to spend the last four days of our trip in France: we were going to fly from Venice to Nice, rent a car, and drive to Paris over the course of three days. That was going to be one hell of a hassle, with days that would require 5-6 hours of driving in order to get us to the towns we wanted to visit and eventually put us in Paris the night before we flew home. We decided to nix this plan, and instead spend a couple of days in Tuscany. This made way more sense since we already had plans to visit a friend in Bologna. We changed the plane tickets to fly from Venice to Paris on the last day of our vacation, since we still needed to fly out of Paris.

My boyfriend’s parents were nice enough to let us borrow their car, and we drove to Bologna to visit our friend, before driving to the Chianti region of Tuscany for two nights. It was so good to see our friend in Bologna and catch up, even if it was only for one night. The hotel we had was amazing – a huge suite with a full kitchen and a huge bath tub in the bedroom. It is a shame that we didn’t spend more time in the hotel room, as we were out most of the night! After one night in Bologna, we set out for Chianti.

We are definitely going back to Giovanni’s place in Greve in Chianti – it is hands down the best Airbnb we have ever rented (and for the most affordable price too). This is the charcuterie board he bbrought us upon or arrival, together with the two bottles of Chianti that were produced from his vineyards!

We are now ruined for life after paying only $135 for a night at Giovanni’s agritourismo (farm/vineyard/lodging) in Greve in Chianti. I was expecting we would be staying in a small cottage, but the 300 year old stone house could have easily accommodated 10 more guests. There were four bedrooms, and three full bathrooms – I think my jaw dropped open when I walked in and saw the place…

We were on the upper level of this 300 year old stone building.
The view out of our kitchen window

Not only was the house itself amazing, but the property was situated on a hilltop, surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. There were only a handful of other guests, so it was super quiet and peaceful. Giovanni gave us a tour, the history of his vineyard and the property, and was beyond accommodating and gracious. He gave us recommendations for dinner as well as suggestions for how to spend our short stay in Tuscany.

The vineyard towards sunset
The pool, which overlooked the rolling hills and vineyards
Hot tub with a view!

I don’t think that I have ever felt as relaxed and at such peace as I did during my time in Tuscany. The land, the scenery and the local way of life are such that it is impossible not to live in the moment and to appreciate all that surrounds you, in terms of nature, beauty, and good food and wine. I am considering moving to Tuscany in the next couple of years, if I can save enough to buy a property. I have never felt so inspired to GTFO of NYC as I did while in Tuscany.

More sunset views

My only complaint about my time in Tuscany, is that there are no options for vegetarians or really even pescatarians. And if you happen to be a vegan? Fucking forget about it! When in Rome do as the Romans do, right? While in Tuscany, eat as the locals eat. I went TO FUCKING TOWN eating meat while I was in Tuscany. I mean, how could I not? I ate more meat in three days than I had eaten in the past three years while I was Tuscany. Popular dishes were bolognese, ragu, rabbit, wild boar, beef (and tartare… my favorite), pasta, pork, etc. There was nary a vegetable to be found on most menus, apart from ordering as a side dish. I ordered a salad one night as a side, hoping to get some fiber into my system, and the salad consisted of three leaves of lettuce, a pickled slice of pepper, one cherry tomato, and a smoked herring and huge piece of goat cheese. Needless to say, my digestive system was beyond fucked up after a few days of living on meat and carbs and wine. I was severely bloated and uncomfortable for the remainder of our trip.

The trattoria we ate at on our first night in Tuscany. This was located in a tiny, little hillside town. They had outdoor seating across the street, which is where we ate, and the food was incredible. I didn’t want to be the asshole American taking pics of their food, so we have no pictures from most of our dinners.

After our first night in Chianti, we did a short day-trip to Siena. I loved this little city, and the few hours we spent there were not nearly long enough. I definitely need to go back!

The main square where they do the Palio di Siena horse race each year (apart from the last two years, thanks to COVID – way to break 400 years of tradition…).
Sadly, we did such an abbreviated tour that I didn’t go into any of the museums or churches or even read up on them.

Siena is truly a beautiful and small medieval city. I absolutely must return, hopefully sooner than later.

A foodie’s dream… and also a meat-eater’s paradise! Was eating meat and breaking my practice of *mostly* avoiding it worth it? Hell yeah it was… even if I ended up unable to go to the bathroom and looked 10 months pregnant.
I think I had tartare three days in a row. This one from a small restaurant in Siena was by far the best out of all of them. It was so incredibly good…. that just seeing this picture and remembering it makes me want it right now.
Me, in my element on the streets of Siena.
We saw this little yellow Fiat coming and had to snap a picture. The guy driving even slowed down for me to take the pic! ha!

We originally planned to stay just one night in Tuscany, but while we were in Siena, we decided to book another Airbnb and stay a second night, as we were loving it all so much. The second Airbnb, while still cheap compared to American standards, was slightly more than the cost of our first one, and not nearly as nice. It was still beautiful – don’t get me wrong. I guess our standards were set too high by comparison of of Giovanni’s place! The second Airbnb was also an agritourismo (working farm – lodging situation), not too far from the first place. It was much more rustic, and a lot smaller of an apartment, but the views were (once again) breath-taking.

View from the second Airbnb in Chianti. The pool was lovely, but way too cold to actually swim in… not to mention all of the mosquitoes hanging out in the shrubs surrounding it! I got so many mosquito bites on this vacation….
Had to take a self in the bathroom of our first Airbnb… the lighting was too good not to. I also ended up living in this dress for the rest of the vacation after my time in Tuscany (wherein I gained 10 lbs of bloat in my stomach from my all-meat diet).

After our trip to Tuscany, we headed back to Venice for a few more days with my boyfriend’s parents. I finally visited the INSIDE of St. Marco’s cathedral. This was my fourth trip to Venice, and the first time I saw the inside of the cathedral, as opposed to just the outside. Needless to say, my mind was blown by the beauty, the history, and the age of the artifacts.

San Marco’s cathedral in San Marco (St. Mark’s) Square.
Inside the cathedral
These are the original bronze horses that adorned the outside of the cathedral. They were built in the 1st century BC… over 2000 years old. Isn’t that nuts?! Apparently, when they were new, they were so bright when the sun hit them that they blinded people who stared too long. They were scratched up intentionally to prevent the sun’s glare bouncing off of them!

As our last few days in Venice grew close to ending, we became sad at the prospect of returning back to NYC, but determined we needed to make the most of the time we had left. This included nightly walks and wine, more cicheti and dinner with my boyfriend’s parents.

Last cicheti crawl of our time in Venice. I will have to go back to this place – it was so SO good.
Also from our last day in Venice, the canal was a bit smelly, but very picturesque. haha

As always, it was very sad leaving Venice and leaving behind Christian’s parents. I hope we can go back early next year to visit. We flew to Paris the day before our flight back to the U.S., so we still had one night in Paris to look forward to, even though the post-vacation blues were settling in fast and we weren’t even done with our travels yet….

The sun coming up over the Laguna as we booked it in a water taxi to the airport. I think it was like 6:15AM…

When we arrived in Paris, we were exhausted from our early morning flight and general lack of sleep. I was also bloated AF and unable to go to the bathroom, which put me in a rather sour mood. I’m sorry if that is TMI, but my diet of wine, meat and not enough water or fiber truly had me fucked up. The hotel room in Paris was more than our Airbnb costs combined, and so tiny it was a joke. We put our stuff down, refreshed, and headed out for a full day and abbreviated tour of the city.

I had seen the Eiffel Tower the last time I was in Paris (also a 24 hour stay), but I did not go up. This time, we climbed the stairs to the second level! The views were incredible and it was great exercise, to say the least.
View from the second level

Paris is a beautiful city, but it is huge and clearly impossible to thoroughly explore in such a short time frame. Prior to our flight from Venice to Paris, we were on the fence about how to spend our very short time there. We did the Louvre last time (which takes up a full day). Versailles is on my list of things to see, but unfortunately that would have required a FULL day. I also considered the catacombs, and dancing on Jim Morrison’s grave. I think next time I’ll have to dance on Jim Morrison’s grave….

After our second abbreviated tour of Paris, I decided I much prefer Venice, although as my boyfriend kept pointing out, they’re two totally different cities and vibes and therefore cannot really be compared to each other.

Naturally we were both miserable to return to disgusting NYC and our even more disgusting Brooklyn neighborhood. I also returned to a life in which I am still helping the two street cats I rescued back in May. Somehow I am still involved fundraising and bringing them to vet appointments. The end does seem to be in sight, however. Gracie (the more feral cat that went to live with her feeder), is going for her dental extractions next Wednesday. Naturally, I somehow find myself (once again) responsible for catching her from under the bed at her home, taking her to and from the upcoming appointment, and for raising the funds to cover the appointment. All of this after I threw down my own cash and time for the vet appointment I brought her to this past Saturday.

Honestly, I cannot wait until she is done with this appointment. I hope that not only will she feel much better, but maybe she will become friendlier and happier in general. I’m also hoping that this is the last I will ever have to be involved with either cat.

If anyone reading this has it in their heart (and pocket) to kindly donate $10 or $20 to her upcoming appointment, it would be BEYOND appreciated, and you will go on my list of real-life heroes. Below is a link to her GoFundMe:

DONATE TO GRACIE’S DENTAL:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-gracie-get-a-dental

I did have a couple of great things to keep me motivated and to look forward to after returning from my vacation. Apart from my new job, which has been great so far, I went home the first weekend of October to attend my Aunt and Uncle’s annual “family picnic.” It is always so nice to see my family – at the end of the day, I always know my family has my back and wants what is best for me. I am thankful that I am so close with my family…. they are not perfect (who’s family is???), but they are supportive and they love me (I think…), and sometimes in this crazy fucked up world, their love and support is what I need to feel OK when shit hits the fan in other aspects of my life.

Anyhow, I digress. Here are some pics of my aunt and uncle’s cozy cottage on the Susquehanna river, and shots from the BBQ.

Would it be a blog if I didn’t throw in some selfies? It would be, but not my blog. Here you go:

vintage shirt stolen from my boyfriend (ex?)
This was taken before vacation. I was really feeling good about myself. I wish I felt this good every day….but then it would be all over for you bitches (JK)
My dad sent some haddock home with me last time I was home, so I made this awesome chowder.

FISH CHOWDER

I’m too sad to write this recipe right now, so I’ll have to get back you in my next blog. Stay tuned.

Vegetarian Polpette and Vacation Plans (that had Better Not be Cancelled)

I probably start most blogs off by saying this, but HOLY SHIZZLE – can you believe it’s already mid-August?! I can’t… wasn’t it just February?!? I swear, time flies when you spend every day working just to pay rent and bills.

My dad is turning 70 next week, but we will all have to celebrate next month, since my parents leave for their vacation that day. I’m really happy they’re going on a vacation – they deserve one. We all do at this point. I am going to see Korn on Tuesday, so that’s also something to look forward to. I’ve only been waiting for this concert ALL summer. The last band I saw before the pandemic was Korn in August 2019, and they’ll be the first band I see… well – I guess the pandemic is still happening so I can’t say “after the pandemic.”

Speaking of which, we are finally going on a well-deserved and much needed vacation in just three, short weeks. We will finally be able to visit my BF’s parents for the first time in forever, and will be traveling to Venice on September 5th. We are then flying to Nice on the 15th, renting a car, and road-tripping to Paris. I have literally been living, I repeat: LIVING, for this trip. We booked for September thinking that things (the pandemic, COVID, vaccination rates) would only continue to improve over the summer. Now that Delta variant has reared its ugly head, I must admit that I fear the worst – foiled travel plans, another lock-down in Italy, curfews, restrictions, etc.

I swear to God, I will swim the Atlantic if I have to. In the event that our vacation plans are ruined or put on hold YET AGAIN, I will likely want to die anyhow, so I’ll just take my chances of swimming across the ocean and being eaten by sharks or drowning; which ever comes first. Fuck it. What will I have to live for if this trip doesn’t happen next month?! My cats and my family, I guess. But I will be one miserable bitch. And yes, this is my jealous side showing itself, but after everyone else I know took their vacations this summer and was able to travel, if my plans get fucked-over after everyone else had a break, I will be pissed. Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to this. I have a lot to be thankful for, I know this. But at the same time, I haven’t been to the beach, a pool, or a weekend away once this summer (*weekends spent at my parents’ house don’t count). I haven’t worn a swimsuit once, and I haven’t been in a hot tub since last Fall. I’ve just been working non-stop and walking 5 miles daily to feed my sister’s cat for the last three weeks; I’ve had only one day a week off with my boyfriend (sometimes not even that…) since last Spring – he probably needs this vacation way more than I do. I’ve been mentally checked out for the last three months… call it ‘burnout’, call it ‘not giving a fuck’ – I just really need to get away.

I’ve been busy trying to figure out how I will get the required PCR test with results back in the 48 hours before I board the Alitalia plane for Venice. In addition to requiring vaccination to travel to Italy, we need to present negative PCR test results. I also have to drop off my cats at Misty Ridge Cat Lodge upstate. I think I’m going to get tested early Friday morning, and then I’ll drive my cats to my parents’ house and drop them off on Saturday and then take public transit back to NYC. Everyone is worried about me driving home – I relinquished my car back in 2012 when I moved to NYC and my boyfriend has only owned stick-shift vehicles up until this year, so I am very out of practice. I’m basically like Mr. Magoo behind the wheel. I think it’s my vision, honestly…. I mean I’m not the worst driver, but I do suck. Driving isn’t my strength. It’s going to be stressful and exhausting to swing it all, doing all of that rushing around and traveling before our flight on Sunday, but I will reward myself with copious amounts of vino and cicchetti upon arrival in Venice.

I’ve been daydreaming of drinking wine in a vineyard in Provence, doing a cicchetti/wine crawl in Venice, visiting a friend in Bologna, and seeing the south of France. Naturally this daydreaming involves fantasies of all the outfits I will wear. I hope I actually wear all of the dresses I’ve purchased specifically for this trip… I feel like I over-pack and then end up in the same pair of jeans every time I go away. Let’s face it – it’s more practical to wear jeans when you’re being a tourist and walking 6 miles a day.

My sister has this dress in grey, and it looked so good on her that I had to buy one of myself! It was like $30 on Amazon.. I hate that I supported Amazon with this purchase, but I truly love this dress. It will be perfect for dinners out. I still can’t decide if it gives off fairytale princess vibes, or Manson family recruit.
Not sure if this will get worn on vacation… but surely to a party (IF I ever party again…). If anything comes in the way of our travel plans/vacation, I’m going to treat myself and go on a week-long bender.
It’s a romper, which I LOVE – I feel like it just allows more freedom and less worry about the wind blowing it up and exposing my cheeks. I think that’s part of the reason I rarely wear dresses – I love them, but hate feeling like I need to constantly be aware that nothing is getting exposed when I bend over, etc. I also love that it’s a halter and backless – super flattering!

Now I’m just waiting on a new pair of Superga platform sneakers to arrive for my trip. I have been averaging about 37 miles a week (walking) these past two months, and I burn through sneakers like crazy. I hate it – it makes me feel very wasteful, but I literally run them into the ground. Having a go in the washer isn’t going to save them when they have holes burned through the rubber soles, you know what I mean? I got a nice discount on Superga’s website since I signed up for emails though… so I don’t fee terrible about what I spent.

I think our balcony garden peaked earlier this month – we harvested the large eggplants, the Japanese eggplants, four peppers, and the cherry tomato plant was producing about 8-10 ripe tomatoes a day. It’s just been so ungodly hot, that now the plans are kind of fried, despite watering them. There are still a lot of green Roma tomatoes though that should be ripe in another couple of weeks, and the basil is still growing like crazy. Last year we were lucky enough to still have cherry tomatoes ripening into late October! Global warming, am I right? (don’t even get me started on global warming…. it’s been one of my biggest sources of anxiety lately).

The cherry tomato plant is a winner again this year… if I ever have a yard/proper garden, I’ll definitely plant a lot of these.
Our lone pepper plant produced about 4 bell peppers!
We got two, medium-sized eggplants off of this plant. There are a couple more little ones – let’s see if they keep growing though. This heat has been devastating…
So many cherry tomatoes! We did manage to grow a few very tasty San Marzano’s, however, a lot of them had a weird brown/rotted tip and were inedible… such a disappointment

It’s been extremely hot here in NYC, so I’ve mostly been sticking to meals that do not involve the oven or multiple burners going at once. I did make some awesome polpette a couple of weeks ago (I dare say, the best batch I’ve ever made), using Field Roast vegetarian sausage. If you’re curious as to exactly what polpette are, and how they differ from regular meatballs, you can read all about it in this post from 2019. The recipe in the past post also uses real meat, if that is your jam.

These were literally so good I couldn’t stop eating them…. and it shows. I wanted to upload a cross-section of the polpette, but I’m not very technology savvy and therefore cannot figure it out… sorry.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 Idaho potatoes (these will be cut up, boiled, mashed and seasoned)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 4 Field Roast brand “sausages” (I prefer the Italian Garlic and Fennel ones)
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano
  • 1/2 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 3 brown eggs from free range chickens (1 egg goes into the Polpette mixture and otthe other two eggs are whisked and use for breading purposes)
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped parsely
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil (for frying)
  • 1 jar quality marinara sauce for dipping (Rao’s marinara is perfect)

DIRECTIONS:

  • Use the potatoes to make mashed potatoes (cut into large chunks, and boil in salted water until penetrable with the tines of a fork… usually 15-20 min)
  • Drain the potatoes, reserving 1/3 cup of the potato water to be mashed with the potatoes
  • Go ahead and season the potatoes as you normally would – I prefer a generous amount of vegan butter, salt, granulated garlic and pepper. Mash away! Once mashed, set aside.
  • Finely dice 1/2 of a yellow or white onion
  • In a medium saucepan, heat 3 Tbs. of olive oil on low heat and add in the onions
  • Chop the sausages into a rough/crumble consistency and add the crubmles into the saucepan with the onions. Cook over low-medium heat for 3-4 minutes and spoon mixture into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add in about 1/2 of the mashed potatoes (the other half can be eaten as is, or used in another recipe)
  • Add in 1 egg, the seasonings (granulated garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper, the chopped parsley and fresh basil), 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, and 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • Thoroughly mix everything together using your hands, and roll into meaball-sized balls (*you may need to add more breadcrumbs depending on the consistency)
  • Set the balls aside and prep your breading station:
  • Whisk 2 eggs together in a bowl
  • In another bowl, add in the remaining breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, 1 tsp. of granulated garlic, and some dried oregano and mix together
  • In a large saucepan, heat 1/3 cup olive oil over low-medium heat
  • Take each ball, dip into the egg mixture and then gently roll/coat in the breadcrumb mixture and add into frying pan
  • You’ll want to gently turn the balls every 1-2 minutes so all sides achieve the same, even golden-brown color
  • Each ball will probably need a fry time of around 6 minutes or so, just remember to keep track of which balls have just gone into the pan, and which ones are finishing up and need to come out of the pan (assuming that your pan will not be big enough to fry all the balls at once)
  • Heat up the marinara sauce in a separate saucepan and serve on the side of the polpette once warm. Garnish the polpette with fresh basil or parsley and a sprinkle of grated Parm! Enjoy πŸ™‚

Now I want to make polpette… perhaps that will be my Friday night excitement. Here are a couple of pics from a walk I took last week – the sunset was beautiful. I kind of wish I had made it to my boyfriend’s venue prior to sunset, since I would have had an even better view from a skyscraper!

Lower east side, Rivington Street. I wish the to-go-drinks were still legal, because I really wanted to stop by Verlaine for a cheap lychee martini….
crossing Houston

Time is Flying: Dinner Ideas for Hot as H*ll Summer Nights

It’s already the middle of July, and Summer is half over. The Korn concert I’ve been looking forward to is a month away, and our vacation to Italy and France is less than two months away. Time really flies by when your sights are set on the future and you forget to live in the present. Although it is sometimes difficult to live in the present when every day is the same as the last, and you spend the majority of your time working, running the household, and making plans for a much more exciting and enticing future event. It always seems that the fun things you have planned will never come to fruition when you’re in the thick of it – slaving away at a job that barely makes ends meet, running the daily gamut of errands, chores, housework, and daily activities that are anything but relaxing or fun. Alas, one day you blink your eye and an entire month has passed and the thing you looked forward to for what seems like forever, is happening in three days! That is always how it goes.

Speaking of time flying by, my niece just turned nine last week, my dad is turning 70 next month, and I am officially looking like a middle-aged adult at the age of 33. It’s funny (no, it’s really not…), but I feel like I woke up one day just looking old. They say that you’re as young as you feel – I feel like I should still look 26 in that case. I don’t know if it was the stress from 2020 or what it was, but I used to look young for my age, and now I am convinced I look five years older than I actually am… and it really seems to have happened overnight. All I can keep thinking of is the Hemingway quote from The Sun Also Rises, in regards to my rapidly aged appearance: “gradually, then suddenly.” In the book, that line is in response to someone asking the character how he went bankrupt, and his answer is “gradually, then suddenly.” However, this line is eerily spot-on when it comes to how I’ve ended up here – looking old overnight, with fine lines that seemingly came out of nowhere. How did I go from looking younger than my age to how I look right now? I’ll tell you how: gradually, then suddenly.

Sure, there were subtle signs here and there that I was getting older over the last 10 years or so. My skin texture changed and became rougher, I lost some baby fat in my cheeks, I don’t look so hot waking up the morning after a night of drinking or no sleep anymore, unlike my early twenties when I looked just fine the next day. Then, before I knew it, suddenly the fat pads under my eyes seemed to all but hollow out (now, when I smile, I get huge bags under my eyes that make me look like my 73 year old uncle), my forehead suddenly has horizontal lines that don’t go away, even when my face is relaxed, I’m losing volume in my lips and cheeks, and I just kind of always look tired (even on the RARE occasion when I actually got a full 8 hours of sleep…).

I’m not trying to complain (even though it is most definitely coming across that way right now). I generally like the way I look, but fucking shit! I feel like I went from looking 27 to looking 36 in a year’s time. Things have gotten so bad, that I have vowed to quit drinking and partying altogether in order to save up for botox and a laser treatment. I am not even joking – it makes way more sense to stop squandering money I already don’t have on shit that makes my life worse off in the long run. Every time I want to buy wine, go out for cocktails, or spend a night at a rave abusing my body with mind-altering substances, I am going to take that $50 or $100 or $200 that I would normally blow on crap, and put it into a savings jar for future cosmetic procedures. I probably should have started doing this two years ago…

I have also vowed to start exfoliating every day, which up until this week when I decided I want botox, was not something I did regularly. It will be way easier to complete step 2 (exfoliating), since I will also being doing step 1 (abstaining from alcohol), which as we all know, makes a person very lazy when it comes to nightly skin care routines.

It’s been really hard to save money lately, not only because I live in NYC and a large chunk of my salary goes towards monthly rent and the cost of living, but because I feel like every month there is a birthday, holiday, etc. that I end up spending what would otherwise be my discretionary income on. Seriously – I feel like I rarely spend money on myself, and when I do, it’s Forever21 clothes because that is the only thing I can financially justify. I feel like I’m always spending money that could be put into my savings on family member’s birthday’s, dinners out to celebrate said family member’s birthdays, my cats’ expensive prescription food, or the occasional night where I actually go out and be social (which is maybe twice a month, but I always go all out, since I don’t go out often and probably feel the need to make up for lost time). It sucks – I need more money. Plain and simple. At this rate, I’ll never be able to save for a house or a move across the Atlantic. I can’t even save for a fucking botox consultation at this rate!

I kind of feel like I went a bit overboard in my last entry on here. I was feeling pretty feisty when I wrote it, after a 45 hour work week and a bunch of other factors that contributed to my higher-than usual stress level. I hope no one reading this was offended (I don’t know why anyone would be, but you never know). I feel bad I bitched about the endless saga of the stray cats I helped rescue and get off the streets. Things have finally calmed down. I actually fed one of the cats while her owner was away for the weekend (that’s the more feral of the two, that was adopted by their long-time feeder). And, thankfully, the older cat (who currently has a foster mom) is doing much, MUCH better. She uses her litter box like pro now, and finally has been granted free reign of the apartment, as she is getting along better with the other resident-foster cat, and stopped trying to climb walls and windows!

I’m sure everyone reading this will understand how stressful life can get at times, since it gets that way for all of us, but it always seems to be that one last straw that breaks the camel’s back. I was just barely holding my shit together, working a crazy work week, NOT getting out for exercise or fresh air (which is even more important for me to do during a crazy work week), and feeling sorry for myself because everyone I am close to hasn’t worked for the past year and a half and they all get to go to the beach and take naps during the weekdays, while I’m stuck in front of my laptop. I was also feeling sorry for myself, because my boyfriend and I are like two ships passing in the night. We don’t have weekends together, evenings together (we eat our dinners alone, at separate times), we rarely have holidays together, his job keeps him from attending every family get-together and birthday I celebrate with my family upstate, and we have opposite schedules so we are both always tired – him because he works 12 hour days, 6 days a week, and me, because I either wait up until midnight each night so I can see him for an hour before falling asleep, or because my sleep is interrupted when he gets home from work at 2am and I’m already asleep on the couch. Now that I’m writing this, this is probably why I’ve been looking so old lately… stress and lack of fucking sleep.

I also started feeling sorry for myself, because everyone else I know seems to be getting married, buying a house, or having a baby (not that I want a baby, but still….) and humble-bragging about it on Instagram. This, in turn, led to feelings of being fucked over, because everyone else gets to have a shower thrown for them when they complete these “life milestones.” Since I’ve never completed any of these so-called “milestones”, I’m always the one buying the gift for said shower, and never the one BEING showered. I know that sounds petty, but it kind of sucks sometimes. When will it be MY turn to have people throw a party for me? When will it be my turn to create a registry and get a bunch of fucking gifts for my house, just because someone finally put a ring on my finger? I don’t know. But between 45 hours of working at a job that does not fulfill me, just to make ends meet, seeing another smug couple humble-bragging about buying a home or spending a weekend away together on social media, while I never having a single fucking weekend off with my boyfriend, and then receiving texts containing sad and upsetting news about the cats I gave my all to help, really put me over the edge. It’s OK though; I’m back on track now. I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself when I am in an able body, of sound mind (…. that’s actually debatable), in good health (as far as I know), I’m smart, funny, and I’m capable. Everything else is just crumbs.

You wanna’ know how I got these bruises? (said in manner of the Joker)… honestly? I don’t even know, but I haven’t consumed alcohol in over a week, so they certainly weren’t from getting sloppy drunk.

Speaking of being back on track, I’m also back in the office a few days a week. Yes, I know I said I would have a new job or end my life before I ended up back in the office, but here I am. There just wasn’t enough time to find something better, and I have things to live for – my new goal is a new job when I come back from my vacation in September. Bring back in the office hasn’t been bad so far, but then again, it’s only been two weeks, and a lot of people are still out, which means I don’t have to see them. It is nice to have a reason to get my ass up and into gear so early in the morning. Because I hate taking the subway so much, I’ve also motivated myself into walking to work. It’s really hard to do since it means getting up and out of my apartment much earlier, when I could just sleep an extra hour… but it’s worth it. It’s also nice getting my exercise in before the work day starts – this way, even if I get blindsided and have to work overtime, I already got out for fresh air and physical activity.

In addition to planning the itinerary of my impending vacation, at decided I needed to order a few dresses for the upcoming trip. Enter ASOS…. they have the biggest selection of clothing imaginable and a nice spectrum of pricing to accommodate every budget:

This orange tie-dye dress was my favorite out of the three dresses that I ordered. It’s a maxi, which is a style I usually avoid because I fear it makes me look even shorter than I already am. However, this one is exceptionally flattering on my upper body and the color also worked in my favor
I always avoided the color orange – this is my first article of orange clothing, and it is so complimentary to my coloring that I may need to reconsider this color in the future. P.S. Peep Tuna in the background… ha
This mumu style frock is being returned tomorrow. It always looks great on the model (of course it does – they’re always like 5’9″ or taller with chicken legs…), but it never works on my body. I had to try it anyhow, because I loved the color and the eyelet trim. Oh well, more money in my pocket I guess … all $30. LOL.
This little frock, I was very excited for. Based on the online photo and model they showed it on, I thought it would fit perfectly. It was slightly too large, however. ASOS carries a lot of styles in petite sizing, but this dress is not one of them. I considered returning it, but I’m glad I didn’t, because sizing it down was pretty easy. I had to shorten the straps, take in the waist, and take up the hem, but the material is patterned cotton, so it wasn’t too difficult to do. Just time consuming (what isn’t?).

Once again, the temperatures here in NYC have been in the high 80s/low 90s, with humidity levels upwards of 75% each day, rendering it too hot to run the oven or do much cooking in my apartment. I should just post a good salad recipe, but I don’t consider throwing together a salad a recipe. I guess in lieu of a recipe, I’ll provide a few suggestions for things I like to make or throw together when it’s too hot to turn on the oven!

Hot Weather Dinner Ideas:

  1. A hearty salad (should have a source of protein to add substance, whether it’s chick peas, tofu, chicken, fake chicken, shrimp, or another kind of bean)
  2. Taco salad
  3. Non-meat tacos (**the fake meats they have cook super fast either in a microwave or a few minutes in a saute pan, so minimal heat is required)
  4. Caprese salad
  5. Ramen (this is not a toilsome soup that’s going to keep you chained to the stove for an hour, since instant ramen cooks in like 3 minutes). I suggest adding in some fresh veggies (bok choy, mushrooms, canned baby corn), diced tofu, and if you’re not vegan, boil a hard boiled egg in the same pot you cook the ramen in.
  6. BLTs (with real or fake bacon) – also works well with avocado or smoked salmon in place of the bacon.
  7. Tomato sandwiches
  8. Grilling the entire meal (veggies, potatoes, protein) … unfortunately I don’t have this luxury since I don’t have a grill here.
I made this Cobb salad last week when it was 90 degrees using Morning Star buffalo “chicken” bites, blue cheese dressing (sorry, it’s real blue cheese), etc.
These are my fake bacon BLTs from a few weeks ago – super fast and super tasty for a weeknight dinner or lunch
These tacos were a hit! Super fast and easy to prepare since the toppings are not cooked. I just sauteed some fake meat “beef” crumbles in a saute pan, and of course the tortillas need to be toasted a bit, but it really doesn’t require much heat output at all
Instant ramen, jazzed up with fresh veggies and an egg – literally takes 5 minutes to cook. Just beware of the sodium content!!!!!

Gnocchi, Eggplant, and the Daily Grind

OK – I think I just figured out how to add a caption again..

Apparently I can’t add captions to photos anymore… either that or the ChromeBook from 2015 that I use to write these posts hasn’t allowed for whatever updates I need to write captions, due to a software upgrade. Just another aspect of my existence that’s fallen behind the times and cannot be updated due to lack of funds. It’s whatever… I’ll spend the rest of my life using my discretionary income to buy birthday presents, help street cats, and buy wedding shower gifts for people while I remain struggling and wearing clothes from Poshmark and Forever21 (remember when I vowed to stop buying fast fashion? Yeah… If I made more money, maybe I could have kept that vow). It’s a fate I’ve come to accept. This is my purpose on life… to stay poor and serve others.

I’ll never own a house, I’ll never have kids (largely because I don’t want kids, but I also can’t afford them), and probably never get married at this rate. If I do get married, I’ll be so old that I won’t even be able to wear the sexy wedding dress I always imagined myself wearing – I’ll also need a “The Swan” level makeover prior to my wedding, because in addition to already needing botox and fillers (but not being able to afford them), I’ll also most likely require a breast lift and lipo by that point in my life. I’m fucked. Fucked financially, fucked in the head… you name it.

The only things I’m currently looking forward to are a Korn concert in August, and a trip to Italy and France that we are planning for September. I will finally see my boyfriend’s parents and his friends for the first time since 2018, and I will finally see the South of France, which I’ve wanted to visit for basically forever. I’m enjoying planning this vacation… however, it means I have to be even more careful with my already-limited discretionary income. I mean I don’t go out much, but when I do it somehow ends up being a $100-$200 evening… EVERY TIME. This is probably why I now only go out once a month…. Fucking Uber prices are out of control these days. I should honestly just delete the app and take my chances being assaulted as a drunk woman on the subway next time I’m out. I spent fucking $57 on an Uber from midtown Manhattan back to Williamsburg last Saturday. I could buy a week’s groceries with that.

Can you tell I’m in a great mood today? πŸ˜€

The other thing which has become the bane of my fucking existential existence, is that I am still helping the stray cats that I already busted my ass to raise money for and help off the streets. There is literally only so much I can do as one person, without extra cash to spend on two extra cats. I hate promoting the GoFundMe I created… it feels like begging, and that is the last thing I ever wanted to do. I basically spent 9 months of my life starving (legit… starving) because I didn’t want to ask my parents for help when I was working as a server and not even making enough money to pay my rent (which was only $650 back then….). Like, if I’m not even OK asking for help when I need it myself, how do you expect me to keep asking for help for two cats that everyone now thinks are “all good” just because they’re off the streets and in homes? I do what I can… but what I can do never feels like enough. I really thought my part would be done after the cats were off the street, in homes, and had their initial vet visits… now I get daily texts about one peeing outside of the litter box and the other one hiding under the bed. I sometimes think I did more harm then good. I guess this is why you shouldn’t meddle in other people’s business. Maybe these cats were better off on the street, and for my own selfish reasons, I couldn’t bare to walk by and see them living like that. Maybe they were happier… I don’t know.

Seriously though… I’m only living for this Korn concert and trip to Europe right now. I don’t care about dinners out, parties, drinks with friends… I just need this trip to Europe with the boyfriend I basically see one day a week. I’m over everything. I need a legit vacation, and I need time off with my boyfriend and no one else.

Sunday cheese board – I don’t think we had cheese in months! I couldn’t even finish my glass of wine because I was so fucking hungover from the night before… I am literally never going out again.

I’ve given up on the goal of finding a new job before July 6th, when I have to start going back to my office in midtown 2-3 days a week, but my new goal is to have a new job lined up when I get back from my vacation in late September. I think it’s doable – I just need to find the motivation to do it. I mean, more money is my primary motivation… but it’s so hard to find time and willpower when you’re already in front of a computer for 8 hours a day for work.

Speaking of work, I had to run a collateral errand for the first time in over a year and a few months, and it was kind of nice. The client was so desperate to have someone sign pages in front of me, that they paid for a car service to pick me up in Brooklyn, drive me to two towns in Long Island, and then back to the office in Midtown. I was bitching about the absurdity of it all the night before, but it was really nice sitting in a luxury SUV for three hours, and getting paid to just ride around collecting and dropping off signature pages. I think I could do it more often….

I was feeling good about myself after styling my hair for the first time since early 2020… had to take some pics, naturally
I must have a crop top for every band I like at this point….
My zit comes back in the same place every single month…there must be some sort of underground oil well on my face there. that releases oil when the estrogen starts flowing… LOL

It has been hotter than hell in NYC this past week – about 90-91 degrees every day for the last four days with 82% humidity… absolutely foul. I know people always bitch about how they can’t wait for Summer to come when we are in Winter here. I am not one of those people. Winters here are not even that brutal, but summers sure as hell are… especially in the last several years. Global warming is increasingly evident here. Since it has been so damn hot, I have been avoiding cooking anything that involves the oven or multiple sauce pans of boiling water on the range.

Before the heatwave arrived last week, I decided to take advantage of a nice 78 degree evening we had, and make gnocchi, since it involves the oven and I wanted to make one good meal before I swore off the oven for the next five days. I based the dish I made on one that a little, Italian restaurant in Alphabet City (East Village) had, once upon a time, when they were still open.

My sister was the one who introduced me to this restaurant – I remember going when I was a student at FIT, with my sister and mom and brother-in-law. I think I also went a couple of times after that. I just looked the restaurant up, and they opened in 2000! Apparently, they’re still open and they are now located in Tribeca! Who knew!

I remember they moved to Williamsburg for a brief time in 2013 after the lower East Side location closed, and I took my boyfriend to have dinner there after raving about the place for months. Sadly, when Max existed in Williamsburg, it was not as good as I’d remembered it to be. The food was mega salty and their was a lack of ambiance and coziness that the restaurant in Manhattan had had. Anyhow, they had this amazing gnocchi dish with roasted eggplant, and their marinara sauce was to die for! I feel like I ordered that dish every time I went to the lower East Side Max. And so, having picked up two nice eggplants from the deli last week, and needing a plan for them that was NOT eggplant parm (I was not about to bread and fry shit that night… that requires a very particular mood), I decided to recreate this dish!

This is a picture of the dish, as taken from Max’s website… I cannot believe they still exist! I will definitely have to check them out in Tribeca!
If you’re not going to make homemade sauce (and I sure as hell wasn’t, since I was making homemade gnocchi!) , I highly recommend Rao’s… it’s pricey and a bit salty (if not slightly diluted) but it tastes homemade!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large eggplant (or two smaller ones)
  • 1 jar of quality marinara sauce (Rao’s isVictoria brand)
  • 1 package bocconcino (mozzarella balls) **OPTIONAL
  • grated Parmigiano to top the dish, and for the gnocchi
  • fresh basil to garnish
  • olive oil
  • FOR THE GNOCCHI:
  • 2 large Idaho potatoes
  • 2 cups flour ( 1.5 will go directly into the gnocchi mix and rest is for kneading and dusting the counter top, etc)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 1 tsp. salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Set oven to 400 degrees
  • Wash your potatoes and pierce them with a fork in several locations around the potato, rub in oil, and set on baking tray
  • Wash eggplant and cut into small cubes
  • arrange eggplant on same tray as potatoes, coat in olive oil and sprinkle with salt
  • put tray of potatoes/eggplant into oven to bake: the eggplant can come out after 20 minutes, and go into a saucepan, the potatoes need to bake about 45-50 minutes (total), so they will go back into the over after you move the eggplant to the saucepan
Sorry for these snaps from Instagram. I try to make it a pint to take regular pictures on my phone, but I often end up posting videos of the process to my Instagram stories, and then have to take screenshots for the blog!
  • After 20 minutes at 400 degrees, the eggplant will be transferred to a large saucepan on the stove, over low-medium heat (make sure the saucepan is coated with olive oil!)
  • Cook the eggplant over low heat for another 4 minutes or so, and then add in the entire jar of sauce, along with maybe 1/4 cup extra water, and continue to cook over low heat until the eggplant is very soft (it should already be fairly soft after the oven)
  • Once the potatoes are done baking (you should test by sticking a knife into the potato), slice the potatoes open length wise and let cool for a minute, or just until you’re able to handle them without burning your hands
  • once you are able to handle the hot potatoes, use a spoon to scoop out the inside of the potato into a large mixing bowl (you want to make sure you avoid getting the skin into the gnocchi mix)
  • Add in about 1/4 cup grated Parm, 1.5 cups flour, salt, and the beaten egg and mix away! (you can also add a couple tablespoons of olive oil, or even cold water, if needed!)
  • Mix all of the ingredients together to form a soft dough
  • add more flour if necessary (a bit at a time) – the dough should not be sticky or tacky
  • lightly flour the surface on which you will be rolling out the dough, flour the dough lightly and cut into four, equal sections
  • working with one section at a time, roll the dough into a rope that is about as thick as your thumb
  • Next, take a sharp knife and cute the rope into 1 inch sections that should look like little pillows
The little pillows I am referring to ^^
  • I like to lightly flour the gnocchi at this pint, before I make the fork imprints
  • after the gnocchi has been cut into these little pillows, you will use the tongs of a fork to gently imprint the top … this helps sauce stick on them, although this step can probably be skipped if you’re in a rush for time or just not feeling the extra effort
  • Set aside the finished gnocchi, onto a plate or board, where they can later easily be transferred to a pot of boiling water
  • complete these steps with the remaining three pieces of dough (don’t say I didn’t warn you – it literally takes FOREVER… this is definitely a dish to impress or show your love to someone)
My babies!
  • now that your gnocchi are waiting, start a pot of heavily salted water on high heat and bring to a boil
  • You should also turn the oven back on, to 380 degrees (you’re going to finish the dish in the oven after all ingredients have been added)
  • add in the fresh gnocchi once the water is boiling – because they are fresh, they will only take a minute or two to cook
  • you’ll know they are done, once they float to the surface of the pot
  • using a slatted spoon, scoop the gnocchi from the surface up and into the saucepan with the sauce and eggplant
  • Once the gnocchi has been added to the sauce/eggplant, you’ll want to throw in a handful of the little mozzarella balls, transfer the saucepan (as long as it doesn’t have any plastic!) directly into the oven, and bake for about 6 minutes, or until mozzarella is melted
  • Serve in a bowl and top with freshly grated parm and fresh basil for garnish
This is definitely a dish to steal a man (or woman’s) heart)

Enjoy!!!! πŸ™‚

Update on the McKibbin Cats and a Scallop Dish to Impress

A dish to impress someone special – scallops and wild, black rice over a roasted red pepper, tomato bisque

Before I dive into the recipe for the above pictured dish, or bore you with the bullshit of my life, let me first provide an update on the two, local street cats I’ve been busting my ass to help get off the streets.

The two McKibbin Street cats that I’ve basically been working a second, full-time, non-paid job to help get off the streets… hopefully it will all be worth it

If you’ll recall from my earlier post(s), or if you follow me or my cats on Instagram, you’ll know that my current life mission has been helping these two cats that live a few streets down from me. It has honestly been more work, effort, time and emotional taxation than I initially assumed it would be – first reaching-out to, and now coordinating-with various local rescues and the cats’ long-time feeder to help them. My goal is and was to have both cats see a vet, and then be placed together with a foster, adopter, or perhaps sent to live the rest of their days in a cat sanctuary or a bucolic barn setting.

I thought that once I found a local rescue group willing to assist, my job would be over, but I’m actually doing almost all of the work. Finding a rescue group that was able and willing to help literally took about two months of back and forth Instagram messaging with upwards of five different rescues. Greenpoint Cats (@greenpoint_cats) said that they would help trap the cats, extend their rescue discount at the vet they use, and also now, they’re saying that they can also try to help find a foster or look into other placement options. This is extremely helpful, since I don’t know where to begin.

The crappy part of all of this has been the fact that it is “kitten season” – the time of year when litter after litter of homeless kittens and pregnant mothers are found on the streets, in abandoned buildings, delis, etc.. Obviously, local rescues are inundated with calls to help rescue these kittens and pregnant moms, and they’ve been taking priority – which is understandable. There have also been a lot of abandoned cats and pets that people call in and need to be rescued immediately from terrible situations; cats found in cardboard boxes or cat carriers, just left on the street scared and in their own filth, cats seen being kicked out of cars on the highway… people honestly disgust me. Don’t even get me started though…. it makes my blood boil.

Since all of these rescues are non-profit organizations, they rely on donations from people to help vet the cats they take in or find that are in need of medical assistance. I’m not sure why I assumed they’d be sitting on a pile of cash and ready to cover vet bills, but they aren’t, and so it was suggested I start a GoFundMe to help pay for these two cats’ vet bills. There is no way I make enough money to cover their expenses by myself, after all, I have two cats of my own, rent, bills and lot on my plate as is. I WISH I had funds to help random stray cats, and every other animal in need, but sadly, I do not. And so, I swallowed my pride and started a GoFundMe.

If you are reading this right now and you’ve already contributed, thank you again. Thank you, thank you, thank you – you don’t know how much I appreciate the fact that someone else cares!!! If you are reading this and you are my friend in real life and have not contributed, please do so. All I am asking for is $5 that you might otherwise spend on booze, drugs, or takeout food. I’m not asking for a large contribution, as I know everyone is struggling right now, and everyone has their own priorities (which are clearly not the same as mine). But seriously, if you consider yourself my friend, you will know how important this is to me, SO PLEASE DO SOMETHING TO HELP πŸ™‚

DONATE NOW TO THE MCKIBBIN CATS GO FUND ME BY CLICKING HERE

Anyhow, I digress. I never realized how annoying and time consuming it would be to start and run a GoFundMe and acquiesce to asking family, friends and social media friends to contribute. It feels similar to begging, and I am not a fan. A lot of people have surprised me by donating and sharing – people I don’t even know in real life and am only friends with on Social Media. So, here is an extra thank you to them!!!! It has really warmed my heart to see how generous people you don’t even know in real life can be!!! I am truly grateful.

Coordinating with the cats’ long-time feeder has also been stressful. She means well and has already been doing a huge part by feeding these two cats over the last 6-7 years. There used to be a colony of FIVE CATS! Can you believe it??? She was the one who initially coordinated with ASPCA to have them spayed and neutered and has been feeding them twice a day, every day for the last several years. That is serious work – not to mention emotional heartache every time one of them gets sick or the weather turns bad and she cannot bring them in. Several of the cats have died over the years, and now just the two remaining girls remain – it is my goal that they can spend the last years of their lives comfortably and without worry or stress or struggle.

We have finally set a date to trap and bring them to the vet for checkups, vaccinations, etc. Both cats will be brought to the vet in DUMBO by me, on Friday, May 28th. I’m hoping that neither cat needs extensive work or treatment. I’m also praying neither cat is FeLV positive, as their feeder assumes that they are (the other cats in the colony that passed away were positive).

After we better know the condition of the cats’ health, we will be able to better understand what kind of living arrangements they will require or what would be the best option for them. No matter where they go, we want to keep them together, since they’ve been friends and each other’s support all these years on the street. Finding a foster is going to be hard since they are two older cats, one of whom is friendly and one of whom is almost feral. If you are reading this right now, and you live in the tri-state area and either you or someone you know would be happy to foster or adopt both cats, please reach out to me!!!! I would literally be willing to drive the cats upwards of 100 miles in any direction if we can find a good fit.

Anyhow, that is my update on the McKibbin cats. I’ve probably been putting in an average of 2-3 extra hours each day promoting the GoFundMe, talking to and coordinating with the rescue and the cats’ regular feeder, and thinking of ways to find these cats a home. The individuals for whom this is a full time or part-time job (working for the local animal rescue groups) do not get nearly enough praise or reward for all the good they do in this world, and I’m slowly learning how fucking hard this work is. If anyone out there helps animals in need, thank you for what you do – you’re making this world a better place and making a huge difference in their lives.

I finally spent some quality time with my boyfriend last week – not only was he off on Tuesday night, but he was off *some* of the day on Sunday… hallelujah
If you know me, you know I love disco balls: this is from the lobby of 55 Water Street, Brooklyn

My boyfriend was off on Tuesday night last week, and we were able to get in to one of our favorite places for dinner: Cecconi’s DUMBO! What a treat! We hadn’t been in a couple of years, I think – the last time was definitely before Corona times.

The restaurant is so romantic – beautiful, dark, classic and cozy. The perfect spot for a dinner date, or for a small family dinner. I really need to bring my parents here next time they visit. The food was great as always – cooked to perfection (or, not cooked, in the case of the salmon tartare), and the cocktail I had was delicious. Needless to say, I am looking forward to next time! The building that the restaurant is in (55 Water Street), is also really cool – there are some fun shops and now the building has an accessible rooftop!

I’m always trying to capture the mood of a place when I snap a picture like this, and I always fail miserably. Please google pictures of this place – you’ll want to go. The bar is huge and beautiful, they have low-lit chandeliers, velvet chairs, and windows looking out onto a patio and the Brooklyn Bridge.

My boyfriend was “partially” off on Sunday, which is definitely better than the usual 14-hour, 12pm – 1:30am shift he has been doing for the last 4 months. Sunday used to be our day off – the only FULL day off we both had – where neither him nor myself was working. I really miss being able to go out late on Saturdays, sleep in late on Sundays, and take a drive together or do something productive with our day together. Alas, we still had to go into Elsie for several hours this past Sunday, but I got a couple drinks out of it, so I’m not complaining. I also got to check out the new rooftop he helped open, the Glass Ceiling Nomad.

View from the outside terrace at Glass Ceiling Nomad – this was taken right before it started raining… luckily it stopped after an hour.

After we left Elsie, we enjoyed a late and quiet dinner at my favorite Brooklyn/Williamsburg sushi (Japanese Tapas, rather) spot of all time: Bozu.

Bozu is a Williamsburg institution – the place has been open since 2004, before all of the yuppies, wall street douche bags, trust-fund-wanna-be-artists, celebrities and models invaded North Williamsburg and ruined its vibe.

It’s technically a “Japanese tapas” place, but they are known for their sushi bombs (“partyboms” on the menu), which do not disappoint and which I order EVERY SINGLE TIME I eat here. I’ve been going here since 2008. I FUCKING love this place, although right now, they have a limited drink menu. I’ve really been missing that lychee martini and the blood orange cocktail they used to make.

They do still have their tofu salad, which is made with silky tofu they make in-house, and some delicious zucchini that’s been marinated in a soy based dressing. I truly hope this place stays open forever. It’s one of my favorites and holds a special place in my heart. Honestly, the prices are not bad either. The partybomb comes with 12 huge pieces of sushi and is pretty filling for two people to share along with a couple of appetizers thrown in!

Clearly I was a bit buzzed when I snapped this photo on the way out of Bozu. LOL. I only had a glass of wine with dinner, but I’d had a few drinks over the course of the afternoon while I was waiting for my BF

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know what you’re thinking after reading this caption: that I said I was done drinking. I totally am! On WEEKDAYS. I’ve realized that I feel a lot healthier, mentally stable, and productive just by avoiding alcohol Monday – Thursday. I’m not going to go cold-turkey on weekends – it’s just too difficult and restrictive. I cannot imagine going to a rooftop or a restaurant and not allowing myself one or two drinks. I mean, WTF??? Unless someone has a serious problem abusing alcohol or they are totally allergic (which, by the way, I think I am at this stage in my life… oh well) I don’t see why they need to restrict themselves to the point of a total teetotaler.

I’m still trying to walk a certain number of miles each day (2-3 is my weekday goal) and do basic floor exercises at home. I feel so much better emotionally, mentally, and physically when I am not completely sedentary in front of my work laptop and iphone all day. It just isn’t healthy to NOT be moving. In order to encourage and motivate myself to work out, I invested in an adorable new workout outfit:

Not only am I obsessed with the colors and how perfectly this hand-dyed ensemble fits me, but it also smells HEAVENLY. You can check out her Etsy shop here:

SUNSHINE HONEY EARTH – the perfect shop to find a hand-dyed gift for someone special or just for yourself! She also makes hand-dyed cloth towels, lounge sets, etc.

The colors are so fun – and I usually don’t do colors… but for workout wear? Hell yes.

In other news, we are slated to go back to the office on July 6th. If you know me, you probably know I’d rather die than go back to the office, that is not an exaggeration. I really need to start looking for another job, because I refuse to go back to the office. Life has been so good without the addition of 2 hours added onto each workday, spent in transit and riding the disgusting, fucking subway.

In fact, the subway is still so dangerous, I am not even comfortable riding it twice daily, 3-5 days a week. There are still slashings happening every single day in the subway and on the subway platforms, and they happen during broad daylight. Does my company really want to put hundreds of commuters at risk by exposing them to that?

Not only am I totally against riding the subway twice daily for the purposes of work, but I honestly do not know how I got things done when I had to spend 7+ hours of each day sitting in my Manhattan office, and the extra 2 hours running to and from and riding trains to go there and then go back home again. I still average only 6.5 hours of sleep a night (on a good night), because there is just so much to do in a 24-hour day. I’m writing this at 12:30 am right now, because by the time I finished taking care of everything I needed to tonight, it was 10:30 pm.

I don’t know how I managed to look after and care for my cats, keep a clean apartment, run errands and pick up groceries, cook dinner, take care of myself, have any sort of discretionary free time to write, etc., and manage to sleep at least 6 hours a night when I was commuting and working in the office. No wonder I was burnt out all the time and frazzled. I don’t know how I did it all before, and I honestly do not want to go back to that stressful lifestyle. The best thing about working from home has been the extra hour of sleep each morning, being able to run an errand or grab groceries when work is slow for 30 minutes, exercising on my floor when work is slow for a few minutes, and just doing all of the other shit I used to have to wait until 6:30 pm to do each night after I finally got home from work. FUCK THAT. I’ll do whatever it takes to never go back to that office…

Anyhow, I digress…..

Now that you’re all caught up with the cat situation and on my relatively boring existence, here is the recipe you’ve been waiting for. This is the perfect meal to cook for someone special, someone you’re trying to impress, or just for yourself because you have time on your hands and you deserve it! This is also my least favorite part of every blog, because despite the fact that I live for cooking, writing out a recipe and directions is really tedious and boring.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound of fresh or frozen sea scallops
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 TBS butter
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine or rose (you’ll need 1 cup for the rice, and 1/2 cup for the bisque)
  • 1 box seafood stock, or bottle of clam juice
  • 1.5 cups of wild, black rice
  • 2 cups of chicken (or vegetarian – chicken) stock** I make mine using “Better Than Bouillon” “No-chicken base,” but boxed stock works just as well
  • large dollop of sour cream or a few Tbs. of heavy cream
  • Freshly chopped chives (to garnish)
  • sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  • *If you DO NOT have a gas-burning range, you’ll need to start with the roasted red pepper in the oven: heat oven to 400 degrees, brush pepper in olive oil, and roast pepper for 20 minutes on one side, before flipping to the other side and roasting for another 20 minutes.** Set pepper aside once roasted.
  • In a medium sauce pan, heat the olive oil over low heat
  • Peel and smash the two cloves of garlic and place into the pot of oil, cooking for a minute and stirring occasionally
  • Add in the dry rice, and coat with oil, cooking over low heat and stirring for two minutes, raise the temperature of the burner to medium
This rice is full of fiber and has a nice flavor and aesthetic, but it takes a full hour to cook
I prepare this rice the same way I would a risotto, adding a cup full of liquid at a time, however, I cook most of the moisture out when all is said and done, so it isn’t as wet as a risotto would be
  • Add 1 cup of wine and stir, cover and let cook for about 1 minute
  • Reduce heat back to low, and add in 2 cups of the clam juice (or seafood stock); stir and cover until most of the liquid has been absorbed, checking on the rice and stirring occasionally to see if more liquid is needed
  • For every 1 – 1.5 cups of liquid, the rice takes about 15-20 minutes of cooking over low heat to absorb the liquid
  • Once the stock/clam juice has been absorbed, add in 1 cup of water at a time, intermittently stirring and keeping covered to make sure it is being absorbed and more liquid is not needed
  • At some point, taste the rice to see if it needs any salt or pepper
  • You will know the rice is done once the grains have expanded and it is edible (you don’t want the rice to be hard). Take the pot of rice off the heat and set aside.
Roast the red pepper over a low flame (only applicable for gas-burning stoves).
  • If you’ll be roasting your red pepper over a gas flame, grab some tongs to assist. Roast the pepper over a low flame, turning every couple of minutes.
  • If is OK to leave the pepper on the cast iron burner for a minute or two (without holding it with the tongs), so long as the flame is very low.
  • Once the pepper grows soft and blackened, you’ll know it is thoroughly cooked. This process takes about 20-25 minutes.
  • Take your roasted red pepper, and slough off the blackened/charred skin, before cutting into 1-inch chunks.
Sorry my pictures suck – I screenshotted videos from my Instagram stories! If you check out my Instagram highlights, I have videos illustrating this recipe.
Here is the roasted pepper, charred bits sloughed off and cut into chunks
  • Next, you’ll want to prepare your chicken (vegetarian-chicken) stock, if it is not coming directly from a box
  • Heat up 2 cups of water over medium heat in a small sauce pan and add in 1.5 tsps of the ‘Better Than Bouillon’ and stir until dissolved
  • Empty the stock into a pyrex measuring cup or small bowl; you’re going to use the same small saucepan to make your bisque
I love this shit. It tastes just like chicken stock, but it is vegetarian. Please note: it does not taste like the weak-ass veggie stock that comes in a box and tastes nothing like chicken stock. This is the real deal and a perfect substitute
  • Next, you’re going to heat up the 1 Tbs. of butter in the same sauce pan you heated up your stock in, over low heat
  • Add in the chunks of roasted red pepper, and 2-3 Tbs. of the tomato paste and stir together over low heat
  • Add in 1/2 cup of the wine, and stir
  • Add in a 1 – 1.5 cups of the stock and stir; you’ll want this mixture to remain fairly thick
  • Pour the contents of your pot into a blender, and blend on medium
  • Add the blended contents back to the sauce pan, and add in a few Tbs. of heavy cream or a generous dollop of sour cream and stir over low heat
  • Add in a pinch of cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste
  • Feel free to add more liquid (either stock or cream) if needed, until the consistency is that of a thick soup, if it is not already
  • Set aside the bisque
The key to a good pan-seared scallop is to pat them completely dry, and, as I only recently found out, always cook them in cast iron (the stainless steel just doesn’t yield the same results)

  • Next, you’ll want to pat your scallops dry with a paper towel, and sprinkle with salt and pepper
    • In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 Tbs. butter over medium heat
    • Once the butter is sizzling, add in your scallops, and cook for about 1.5 – 2 minutes on each side, until they are golden brown
    Seriously, I cannot stress enough the difference cooking the scallops in a cast iron pan made
    • Set the scallops aside, and re-heat the bisque and rice (if necessary)
    • To plate: put a ladle of bisque onto a plate, a pile of rice slightly to the side, and arrange your scallops around the rice.
    • Garnish with freshly chopped chives and enjoy!

    Paccheri, Saving Cats, and the Welcome Return of Low-Rise Pants

    Last Sunday’s dinner. My entire life is dedicated to working a job to pay the bills, cooking, and worrying about cats… whether my own, or local strays.

    If you came here for the recipe, scroll down…. because I’ve got a lot to say that isn’t about pasta.

    I feel like it’s the Fall of 2011 again, because I am currently obsessed with looking after a couple of homeless cats in need, and the thought of saving them is currently consuming almost every waking thought. I don’t know why I get so obsessed with these things from time to time.

    It’s literally like the year that Bijou, his sister, “Pot Pie,” and his mother showed up in my parent’s backyard when I was living at home after college, and my entire life’s focus and goal became saving those cats. After we were able to live-trap them and get them spayed/neutered, I built a shelter from scratch using a large, dog kennel, tarps, and my own, down coat. This shelter not-so-lovingly was soon referred to as “tent city”, and my dad, mom, and sister were all pretty appalled by the situation happening in the backyard, since my homemade shelter stuck out like a sore thumb when you looked out the living room sliding door. I must admit, it was pretty trashy looking, but it was functional and kept the cats warm and dry.

    I remember coming home from work and checking on the cats to make sure they were all accounted for and using the shelter and had been fed. The only thing I would look forward to after each and every miserable shift at Hollister in Binghamton, was coming home to check on and take care of those cats. I even bought a fucking electric blanket that I made my parent’s keep plugged in on the front porch all winter long, and I turned the Adirondack chair into a secondary shelter for them – covered in blankets and sheepskins, with the electric blanket underneath.

    I literally cannot stand to see or be aware of an animal in need or distress. I don’t give a fuck about most humans – judge me however you want. Unless a human is a baby or a child in a fucked up situation, they can ask for help and they have unlimited resources to get help. Animals are defenseless and at the mercy of humans who either are kind enough to help them out, or ignore them and let them suffer.

    I am imploring anyone who is reading this right now, to ask around and see if anyone you know would like to take in a street cat as a pet, or knows someone who can help get them homed. I’ve reached out to several local organizations, but most of them are TNR (trap/neuter/release). They all seemed happy to hear the cats were spayed and had a regular feeder, but told me in order to have them fostered out, we will first need to know if the cats are friendly.

    I met the cats’ feeder, an older lady, who “claims” that she feeds them twice daily. I have reason to believe her claim is bullshit though, since I now make the effort to walk by the parking lot where the cats live, twice-daily, to check on them. I also bring food and fresh water to feed them if I don’t see evidence that they’ve already been fed. At least I know the cats are both spayed, which she also told me, since they have the telltale clipped ears.

    I left laminated notices on the the community garden next to the parking lot where the cats live, to see if the people gardening there would be ok with me placing a shelter for the cats in the garden. The garden is really shitty and adorned with crappy plastic lawn ornaments, etc., so I don’t know why they’d be opposed to me placing an nice, cottage-style cat lodge there. No one has responded to my post yet though, and I am getting more and more disturbed.

    I will literally go on a fucking hunger strike if I need to, in order to get these cats the help they need. I am willing to throw down $200 of my own money to buy shelters, but I can’t just buy shelters and place them behind a gated garden without someone a) letting me into the gate, and b) ensuring they will not be thrown out.

    Today, I saw the older, mangier looking cat sleeping on a discarded pillow that made its way under the front of a truck parked in the parking lot… it fucking broke my heart. I cannot let these cats go on living this way, when my own two, spoiled cats are fat, happy, warm, healthy and loved. I would take the cat in myself, but I have a one bedroom apartment and two male cats, so bringing in a third just isn’t going to work.

    This is the cat I worry about the most – she is much older and unhealthier looking than the second one who lives here
    This is the younger, healthier looking cat. She seems much more skittish and has not let me pet her.

    Anyhow, enough about the cats. I will find a way to help them, whether it’s a shelter or helping them to be vetted and fostered out.

    It was a rainy walk home to Brooklyn from Manhattan last Sunday.

    Last Sunday, I was doing my usual walk home from Elsie Rooftop back to Brooklyn, when I was suddenly inspired to stop by Eataly and spend money I shouldn’t be spending on overpriced pasta.

    The night before, I was scrolling through the ‘gram and saw an upright, tubular pasta dish that this Italian food blogger/cook I follow on Instagram had posted, and I felt the urge to make something similar. And so, in the pouring rain, I stopped by Eataly Flatiron for the key ingredients – a large, tubular pasta that could be stuffed and baked in an upright position, and a good quality ricotta. I was pleasantly surprised to find Eataly was not as busy as usual (I guess because of the rain), so I had time to meander the aisles and find the perfect ingredients without feeling stressed.

    I have probably said this before, but I wish I could live in Eataly. I miss sitting at the wine bar though, which is still closed do to the COVID bar restrictions
    I purchased this large bag of paccheri for $11. Because each noodle is so large, a little bit goes a long way. You only need about 6-7 noodles per serving, so I will be able to create two more dishes with this same bag.
    I found a smoked ricotta in the cheese section, which I have never tried before, and couldn’t resist.

    Have I ever mentioned I hating out these recipes from my head, and that’s why I don’t do it as often as I should? LOL. I know this was supposed to be food and recipe blog… I love cooking, but man do I hate taking the time to type out the recipe.

    The Morning Star brand sausage patties are my favorite fake-sausage alternative for when you need crumbled sausage

    INGREDIENTS:

    1. Large, tubular pasta (paccheri or cannelloni work best)
    2. 1/3 cup good quality ricotta (or smoked ricotta)
    3. 1/2 pound ground sausage (or meatless sausage)
    4. 2 cups fresh spinach or arugula
    5. Container of Mushrooms (baby bella), coarsely chopped
    6. 1/2 medium sized white or yellow onion, finely chopped
    7. 1/3 cup olive oil
    8. 2 Tbs. butter (or butter substitute)
    9. 2 Tbs. flour
    10. 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    11. 2 cups Whole milk (or milk substitute – I used oat milk)
    12. 1 tsp. granulated garlic
    13. 2 tsp. dried oregano
    14. salt and pepper to taste
    15. pinch of nutmeg
    16. coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley

    DIRECTIONS:

    • If using the recommended Morning Star Sausage, cook for 1.5 minutes in microwave, then roughly chop into crumbles and set aside
    • Heat about 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low heat in a large saucepan, and add in the minced onions. Stir occasionally until translucent.
    • Add in the chopped mushrooms, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft (8-10 minutes).
    • Add in a 2 Tbs. of butter and let melt
    • Add in 2 Tbs. of flour, to form a roux
    Pictured here: the onions and mushrooms in the roux (butter + flour)
    • Gradually add in milk or milk substitute, increasing the heat to medium.
    • Stir continuously, and add in the grated parm and the seasonings (it should go without saying, but taste your sauce to see what it needs more of)
    Add the milk slowly, as you want the sauce to be the right consistency – it will get thicker after the cheese is added in as well
    • Once the sauce seems to be the proper consistency, stir in your sausage crumbles (or, if using real sausage, your ground meat), as well as the fresh arugula or spinach
    • Continue to stir over low heat until spinach/arugula is cooked and meat is cooked through (if you are using real sausage)
    The finished sauce
    • Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil, and once boiling, cook the pasta to the al dente specifications on the the bag or box
    • Once the pasta is cooked, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside
    • Heat oven to 350, and butter a casserole dish or dutch oven
    • Using a ladle, cover the bottom of the casserole dish in a layer of sauce… this will be the glue into which you’ll be able to stand the cooked noodles upright
    • Arrange the pasta noodles standing up
    • Once the noodles are organized and covering the floor of the dish, use a pastry bag, large ziplock, or a small teaspoon to fill the noodles with the sauce mixture
    • Bake uncovered for 25 – 30 minutes
    • Plate noodles standing in upright position, and top with ricotta and fresh basil or parsley
    Voila!

    The whole time I just spent typing up this recipe, I was thinking of those cats… I’m telling you, I won’t rest until something has been done and I know they have a home or at least a safe shelter. I can’t sleep or relax knowing they are three streets down without a soft and warm place to sleep.

    Found these Free People jeans on Poshmark for $30

    In other news, I probably should stop buying things I don’t need from Poshmark. I mean I found these awesome bell bottoms, but I also bought some heart shaped sunglasses I probably don’t need and might never get a chance to wear.

    Time to go cook tonight’s dinner and brainstorm ways to save those cats. I might just go hang out around the community garden tomorrow and see if I can find a person to talk to about putting a shelter there.

    Cheers fam.

    New York is Dead… for Now

    It’s true what they say, New York is dead. It’s not just dead… it’s a dirty, dangerous, ghost town, where crime is rampant, garbage is everywhere, and storefronts and restaurants are empty. Everyone with money left – they went to their houses in the Hamptons, or bought a house upstate. Others, who are not rich, but lost their jobs in the pandemic and couldn’t possibly continue to pay NYC rent, also left. They went back to whatever hometown they originally came from – either to live rent free with their family for a while, or if they could afford to do so, they made the move to another city or town somewhere other than here – perhaps to a city that is still alive with a hospitality industry that hasn’t been totally SHIT ON by the Governor. I’m still here, because I can’t afford to move (yet), and also because my job is based here (even though I work remotely, and pray we will be able to continue to do so for the rest of eternity). My boyfriend’s job is also here, and sadly his is a job that cannot be done remotely (restaurant/hospitality industry). If I had the money or option to just pick up and leave, believe me, I would have done so years ago… I’ve wanted to leave NYC for the last three years, but these past 10 months have been the nail in the coffin, my friend.

    I’ve lived here since 2012, and before that, I did two years of college here from 2006-2008. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen the city so dirty, run-down, dangerous, or deserted as it is right now. Everyday, random people are getting slashed on sidewalks, pushed into oncoming subway trains, randomly attacked at subway stations IN BROAD DAYLIGHT, etc.. I’ve never been scared to ride the subway alone – especially during rush hour or in broad daylight (apart from when a terrorist attack happened elsewhere and made me dwell on an attack happening on the subway…). Now? I avoid the subway at all costs unless I’m with my boyfriend. I had to take it the other day to run an errand for work, and during rush hour, RUSH HOUR (8:30am) the train was totally deserted and the stations were totally deserted, save for a few homeless people. It’s eerie, and straight up dangerous. There’s not a soul around to see you if you get attacked or hear you scream for help. All of Chambers St. station in lower Manhattan was TOTALLY empty.

    In the past 6 months or so, the times I do ride the train, what I see is tragic. There are more homeless people than ever before – also a lot of criminals and mentally ill homeless people, and also criminals that have been released from prison due to COVID. People who commit violent crimes are being released back onto the streets… and it shows. I’m not saying that the homeless people are the issue – although it’s clear HOMELESSNESS itself, IS an issue. It’s the violent, psychopaths starting fights and carrying knives that I’m talking about. The shit I’ve seen in the last few months, I have never ever seen before in my years in NYC… and believe me, as someone who rode the subway everyday and used it at night… I’ve seen some shit in my years (a guy masturbating into his coat, had my ass grabbed on a crowded train, people riding the train in underwear, people having psychotic breakdowns on the train, a fight on the platform… the list goes on).

    A month ago, I was traveling back to Brooklyn from Manhattan with my boyfriend and I saw what appeared to be a homeless man, robbing another homeless man, who was either dead or hopefully just knocked out on drugs and in a wheelchair. I have seen junkies shooting up heroin on the stairs of subway stations at 5pm, making no effort to hide what they’re doing and had to step around them to exit the station. There are no cops to be seen anywhere these days. There used to be officers randomly patrolling the subway stations at all hours of the day – but especially the busy stations (Union Square, 34th Street, 42nd Street/Times Square) and especially during rush hour. Now? I never see a single officer. Like who would I even report what I saw to (in the case of the dead/drugged up homeless guy)? Who would I scream to for help if someone tried to assault me?

    I’m not even scared to ride the subways because of COVID. I’m scared because of the lack of people, and the growing increase of subway violence. Just a couple of weeks ago, some guy was punching/beating up women at a subway station in Bushwick, not too far from my house. The attacks were happening around 8pm… a perfectly acceptable time for a woman to be riding the subway alone. Not that that should even be a FUCKING THING – “an acceptable time” for a woman to ride the subway….. Women should be able to safely ride the subway at any time of the day or night by themselves and be and feel safe. What I’m trying to say, is that it’s not like the attacks happened at an off-hour, like 2am. After six different women got attacked by the same dude and at the same station, they finally caught this asshole. I hope he stays in jail for a long time and doesn’t get released back onto the streets because of COVID. I never thought I’d have to anxiously wait up for my boyfriend every weekend when he comes home from work, alone, at 11pm and on the train. But I do worry – it’s fucking dangerous out there. We both have pepper spray key chains now, but I’m not sure what good that will do if a psycho with a machete shows up in your subway care and no one else is there but you and him.

    There are straight-up tent cities/homeless compounds sprouting up everywhere – under the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway), on sidewalks, wherever. The trash removal and city cleaners have all experienced cutbacks, so there are just piles of trash and litter EVERYWHERE. I’m honestly not sure how the MTA is even going to survive since no one is riding it, apart from a few essential workers. The city is in legit shambles. SoHo, the mecca of tourist shopping, is also ghost town USA. More than half the stores are gone and the spaces remain empty with “For Rent” signs in them. I honestly don’t know how the city will ever recover from this. I don’t think it can.

    And if all of what I’m saying here has you thinking about the rebuke Jerry Seinfeld wrote in the NYTimes regarding New York NOT being dead, I’m pretty sure that mega rich asshole wrote that think-piece from his multi-million dollar estate in the Hamptons… not sitting inside his NYC townhouse while trash bags piled up on the side walk and a homeless person took a dump on the sidewalk. Furthermore, unless you currently still live here, you have no fucking say.

    I’m convinced all of the people who left have most likely realized they’re much happier wherever they went to – paying less rent, lower prices for groceries, people are pretty much nicer and more friendly everywhere else, and enjoying all that fresh air and more space. The only reason I ever came to NYC was for the job opportunities, culture, and nightlife. Now, that’s all gone. Why would I continue to live here as long as I can keep working remotely for the same company? Why would I choose to pay $2,350 a month for a 1 bdrm. apartment in a crappy neighborhood, when I could be putting that down on a mortgage for what is essentially a mini-mansion anywhere else in the country? Paying $20 for a fucking cocktail I can get for $9 anywhere else in the country? So I can have bragging rights that I live in NYC? I don’t think so….

    Anyhow, darling, this blog has totally evolved from the food blog it was once supposed to be. So, on that note, here is my recipe for mushroom carbonara (vegetarian, but not vegan):

    MUSHROOM CARBONARA

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1/3 cup olive oil (plus 2 TBS. more to finish)
    • 3 Portobello mushrooms
    • 3 eggs (I try to buy my eggs directly from a farm where I can see the chickens in action – I know this isn’t a possibility if you don’t live near any small farms, but please splurge on your eggs, and at the very least please make sure they come from cage-free, free-range, humanely raised chickens)
    • Linguini or spaghetti
    • Fresh basil (finely chopped)
    • Fresh parsley (finely chopped)
    • 1/2 small white or yellow onion (finely minced)
    • 4 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
    • 1 cup of good-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano (finely grated)
    • 1 lemon
    • 1-2 tsp. dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. Smoked paprika (*optional* – adds a nice smokey flavor, similar to bacon)
    • Salt and black pepper
    • 1/3 cup pasta water (taken from the pot of boiling pasta, when it’s almost finished cooking)

    DIRECTIONS:

    1. Wash and chop your mushrooms and set aside; finely chop onion and garlic
    2. Heat olive oil over low heat in a medium-sized sauce pan, and add in finely chopped onion; stir occasionally over low heat until soft and translucent
    3. Once onion is soft and starting to yellow, add in the garlic and cook for another minute or so, being careful garlic does not burn
    4. Add in the chopped mushrooms, dried oregano, salt, pepper, a generous pinch of smoked paprika, and cook over low-medium heat for about 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked
    5. Add in the chopped basil, cover, and turn heat to lowest setting (or off if your stove runs hot and will continue to cook)
    6. Prepare large pot of water (heavily salted) for pasta, but setting on high-heat and bringing to a boil
    7. While you wait for the pasta water to boil, beat together the three eggs, 1/2 cup Parmigiano, and juice from 1 lemon until you have a thick, rich “sauce”. Set aside
    8. Once the water is boiling, cook your pasta per the timing directions on the box (you’ll want it to be al dente)
    9. While the pasta is cooking, I will usually turn the heat back onto low (if I turned it off) to make sure the mushroom mixture stays warm; this is also when you want to use a ladle or measuring cup to extract and set aside 1/3 cup of the pasta water
    10. Drain pasta once it is done cooking, and then add it back into pot along with some extra olive oil, egg mixture, 1/3 cup of the reserved pasta water, an additional 1/3 cup of grated Parmigiano, and the chopped parsley
    11. You’ll want to taste-test now, to see if more pepper, salt, or fresh lemon might be necessary
    12. Mix together until the pasta is well coated and mushroom mix is uniformly distributed, and serve topped with an extra sprinkle of parm and fresh parsley!

    Cheers.