I have minimal expectations for my birthday… and every year is a still a disappointment, despite my minimal expectations. I have almost no expectations at this point in my life when it comes to my birthday, and somehow I still end up hurt and bitter almost every February 18th. I don’t ask for a lot… in fact, I ask for very little. I told my fiance exactly what I wanted, and he failed to buy me “Tiny Music: Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop” STP album. Instead, knowing that I love Depeche Mode (at least he got that right…), he purchased what he thought was a framed, signed photo of the band. A simple Google search of that shit brought me to the site where he bought it and it says in CLEAR writing, that the autographs are a copy. He’s a straight man… I can’t get too mad; straight men aren’t the most competent. He did buy me the correct Depeche Mode album (Violater), but now the brand new record player my parents got me for Christmas has a distorted sound. It worked fine last time I used it, which was earlier this week. Like, WTF? Can nothing ever go smoothly? It’s my birthday and all I want is to listen to the soothing, melancholic sounds of Dave Gahan’s voice and my fucking record player is slowing down the music, making it sound slightly demonic. The BPM setting is correct; I tried cleaning the needle, and that didn’t work. I ordered new styluses online, but they won’t be here for a week. I hope a new needle fixes it… it’s a great record player, and I’ve asked everyone in my family for new records for my bday – now I can’t even listen to them.
My fiance also failed to plan/book a dinner reservation for tomorrow (since of course, he is FUCKING WORKING today, on my actual birthday). Now, the only fucking restaurant I wanted to go to is fully booked. All I want are oysters and cocktails from Maison Premiere. It’s one of my favorites….it’s small, pretty, cozy, the food is great, the drinks are strong, but, no. Fully booked on a random Sunday in February. I considered Sel Rrose because they have oysters, good cocktails and a seafood tower, but I refuse to dine somewhere that charges $15 for fries. Lick my ballz.
Yes, there are toxic chemicals polluting Ohio and killing wildlife and infiltrating the water. Yes, Putin has decimated all of Ukraine and the threat of nuclear war looms heavy. Yes, there are toxic chemicals in our orange juice and microplastics in our blood streams and we are all going to get cancer. Yes, 30K people died in Turkey and Syria from an earthquake. Yes, children are starving to death in Africa and Afghanistan. Yes, people in Iran and Russian are being sent to jail and/or death for attending protests. Yes, we are in the middle of a mass extinction and experiencing a scorching hot Earth because humans are disgusting pigs and we all deserve what we have coming: DEATH. Death? I welcome it at this point, if it means escaping current society. But for fucks’ sake… I just wanted one day, MY day to go right. And all I needed for that were oysters and a Stone Temple Pilots record.
Like I said though, my birthday always sucks. In 2017, my parents were in town that weekend, but we didn’t even go out to dinner – we ordered in Thai food because my nephew was only a few months old and someone failed to get a sitter or just take one for the team and have one parent stay home with the newborn. My iPhone also shit the bed that year on my birthday night, and I had to go to Verizon at 7PM to buy a new one… which I then dropped in the bath tub (thankfully it was OK).
When I was in high school, my best friend forgot my birthday every year. It’s always the people that I think will be the first to wish me a happy birthday that totally forget. You’re an adult, set a fucking reminder in your phone like I do to remember friends and families birthdays. We are all busy adults, but you can set a reminder a year in advance. On that note, some online friends and people I’m not that close to remembered my birthday… so, that is something happy. Thank you people who actually listen to me and take note.
I want to leave this country. There is a new mass shooting every day, no one even keeps track or remembers them anymore. You could die anywhere, the subway, the grocery store, a movie theater, your office…. this is no way to live. The amount of garbage and pollution and toxic chemicals and plastics infiltrating all aspects of life. The Far Right and the Far Left are equally as bad at this point. Like, I am pretty liberal, but why are we banning words like “ugly” and “fat” in new issues of Roald Dhal books? As if kids are never going to hear these words and much, MUCH worse probably directed at them by some little shithead they go to school with. Why are people vilifying J.K. Rowling? She is not against trans people, she supports trans people and their rights, she said that women, natural-born women, deserve safe spaces like women only violence shelters that are exclusively for them. But no, we live in a lazy world where no one researches their news or facts. Not on either side of the political divide. I’m so over this nation and everyone in it. No one has a brain anymore.
I went to the Meat Hook to buy duck breast to cook for my cat’s birthday, which is tomorrow. I figure if I’m not having the perfect birthday, at least I can give him a great day. They literally had one duck breast left. So I guess it is truly just for my cats now. No duck breast for me or my fiance… for the best. I’m trying to go vegan (again/still), but I will allow myself bivalves since they don’t have central nervous systems, hence, why I wanted oysters for my bday.
Cheers kids. This world is fucked, so take advice from a millennial such as myself and enjoy every day like it could be your last (because it could be). Don’t take anything too seriously because everything and everyone is/are always changing. You can’t control anything in this world apart from how you treat others and how you treat yourself.
Last weekend I visited a friend in Shelter Island; it was a brief but much needed 24-hours spent out of the city. We made an amazing dinner and had a very cold walk along the beach. If I was rich, I’d definitely buy in Shelter Island before buying in the Hamptons.
My friend is now out of the country for a few weeks so she gave me all of the veggies in her fridge to use up in her absence. Last night after my walk, I needed to cook, so I decided to make soup using all of the veggies I had, which all happened to be orange. I puréed the soup, and it turned out to be one of the best soups I’ve ever made – using a random mix of orange veggies. So here is the recipe for what I call “orange soup”. It’s also healthy and eats like a meal if you throw in some bread or croutons (I’ve also been on a focaccia making kick this week).
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 carrots (chopped)
2 orange bell peppers (chopped – make sure to strip seeds and white ribs)
2 large stalks of celery (finely chopped)
1 large sweet potato (peeled, and cut into small cubes)
1 large Idaho (or white/yellow variety potato) (peeled and cut into cubes)
1 box organic and free-range chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
2 TBS curry powder
1 TBS turmeric
1 TBS smoked paprika
2 Tsp cumin
1 TBS granulated sugar or honey
pinch of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup oat milk or dairy alternative of your choice
enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your large soup pot (1/4 cup?)
OPTIONAL (to serve): finely chopped spring onions and/or small dollop of sour cream
Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with olive oil and turn to low heat
Add in minced shallot and celery and saute on low heat for 4 min., stirring occasionally
Add in minced garlic and bay leaf, cook over low heat for another 2 minutes
Add in chopped peppers and cook over low heat for another 3 minutes
Add in entire box of stock, plus 1-1.5 cups water and turn heat to high
Add in curry powder, smoked paprika, and turmeric
once water is boiling, add in chopped carrots and potatoes and boil over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are soft (you can either test with a fork or sample one to make sure it’s soft)
Once all veggies are cooked through, remove bay leaf
Blend entire contents of pot in a blender over medium heat (you’ll likely have to blend 1/3 of the soup at a time, and add blended mix back into pot as you use a ladle to scoop out chunks to blend) ***It’s OK if the soup has some chunks – texture is good, mmm’kay, class?***
Once the soup is blended, continue to cook over medium-low heat and add in sugar, oat milk, salt/pepper, and pinch of cayenne
OBVIOUSLY you’ll want to taste your soup to see if it needs more of any ingredient
Once the soup tastes to your liking, remove from heat and serve in a bowl with finely chopped spring onions and/or a small dollop of sour cream
I love soup, but you all know this if you know me. I am a soup junkie; I could live on it. Maybe I would lose weight if I lived on soup…probably not though – that’s my luck.
I made mushroom barely earlier this week. I fucking love the combo of sour cream and dill (must be the 1/4 Pole in me) so I topped it with that. I am also a sucker for any soup that contains loads of fiber, because I basically consume 1/2 a jumbo-sized pot at a time, and need to make sure I’m going to lose the weight the next day (if you know what I’m saying). Barley and lentils are my go-to ingredients for soup. I’ve been itching to make a seafood chowder or bisque, but unfortunately dairy substitutes don’t cut it for those (in my opinion). They are also high in fat and calories due to the butter-flour roux and heavy cream content. In a perfect world, I’d be eating a thick, seafood chowder every day. Now I am sitting her dreaming of crab corn chowder…
I feel slightly better than I have been feeling since I finally have some fresh hair. My roots and whites were coming in strong. My natural hair is basically dirty blonde at this point in my life. I don’t know how I went from a red-headed child to this, but I don’t like it. I finally squeezed in a couple of hours for my fiance to dye my hair (yes, he’s better than most of the hairdressers I’ve been to, and free LOL).
My natural color at this point is the color of my eyebrows but with heavy white thrown in around the temples. Not a good look for me. Also, why the fuck are the white hairs a totally different texture than my other hairs? Like, they’re coarse and unruly… pubes coming out of my scalp. Sorry for that graphic image.
I really need someone to cook for. Maybe I should open a soup kitchen LOL.
I am sitting here on the night of January 4th, sober, bored out of my mind, hungry and depressed. Why can’t the beauty and magic of the holiday season last until at least February? January is the dreariest month…. the festive decorations come down, there are no more get-togethers and family dinners to look forward to (although not all of these functions are ones you may necessarily look forward to…); no more copious amounts of freely-flowing booze and platters of cookies and cheese. No more classic Christmas tunes and holiday cheer, no more pretty lights, and seasonal bouquets and boughs of holly to brighten up the ordinary and everyday spaces we inhabit. The fact that today was 64 degrees in NYC does not help – it just hits home that climate change has fucked everything up and we will likely never have real winters again. Don’t get me started….
I am going to try my hardest not to consume any alcohol until my birthday in February. It’s only been a few days without now and I am so fucking bored I am jonesing for a glass of wine right now (yes – being bored is an absolutely TERRIBLE reason to want to drink, which is why I needed a break). I also want to eat because I am bored. I don’t even think I’m really hungry right now… just fucking bored. I couldn’t go on my usual 2-hour walk tonight because of foul weather. I did start a new painting tonight, but it’s not bringing me the joy I anticipated it would; also, I needed the paint to dry before I could continue. Even my cats are bored. Sometimes I feel like I’m failing as a cat mom because I don’t get down on my hands and knees and play with them as much as I should. What I/they/we really need, is a house and a yard. This would surely keep all of us much more entertained and occupied.
I can’t even cook right now, which is my very favorite thing to do. My fiance is on a diet, the diet to end all diets. He’s not eating anything fun – no pasta, no carbs, no fatty sauces. How much time and effort does it take to make a salad or omelette, you know? Those take no time and effort. What I need are the challenging and time-consuming dishes. I can’t cook these meals I love to cook since he’s not eating them, and neither am I. His diet regime and fitness regime have put me into a very competitive place and now I am also determined to lose weight and get back on track. It’s all so boring… very, very boring. And the scale is fucking with me… I won’t go into details about my weight, but it just has to be wrong and it changes every time you step on it, even seconds apart. It’s whack. Also, I wear the same clothes as last year and they fit the same way they fit last year, and the scale is telling me I’ve gained 15 lbs since last year… this can’t be possible. I feel like I’m going crazy. I weighed myself on January first and almost needed to be committed due to the meltdown that ensued after weighing significantly more than I’ve weighed at any given point in the last ten years. A new scale arrived tonight, but it doesn’t work, so for now I have a cursed bathroom scale that clearly wants me to go mad. Maybe a frienemy I don’t know I have has done some voodoo spell and the possessed bathroom scale and my ensuing insanity is the result.
I had THE most boring NYE of my entire life this year. I stayed in, sad, lonely, depressed, and bored out of my mind. As usual, and for the 9th consecutive year that we’ve been together, my fiance had to work. I didn’t feel like going out and getting plastered or spending $300+ to get into a venue and buy party favors just so I could wake up hungover and poor on January 1st. Perhaps waking up hungover and poor would have been worth it though, because I sat home alone feeling sorry for myself. I was asleep before midnight, and my fiance came home from work at 3AM exhausted after a 15 hour shift and dealing with all sorts of drunken wrecks at his job. I don’t know how we used to go to after-hours at 7AM back in the day. I mean, at least back then they were actually worth the effort, the parties were way better and the party favors were way better. Everything today is a shell of its former self. Nothing has been good, fun or worth the expense since 2016.
I spent the week leading up to Christmas at my parents’ house with my cats (naturally, my fiance was working; maybe some day, before we are geriatric, we can have a single, fucking holiday season together…). I love being home and I love my family, but I think 8 days with my parents/family was just a bit too much. I know that said I wouldn’t, but of course I did end up binge-eating the entire time I was home. I ate from 9AM until I went to bed at 10:30/11PM each night, and this is not an exaggeration. I’m thankful to be back in my apartment with no snacks available or cookies of boxes of chocolate.
We had a white Christmas upstate, which was amazing. You know me and my love of snow. I wish the entire duration of winter could be filled with snow storms and a white blanket covering the bare trees and ground; winter is so ugly without snow. It was freezing cold for several days running (11 degrees), but that didn’t stop me from getting out for a daily walk! The sunrise on Christmas Eve was beautiful – mornings at my parents are just like I remember them as a kid: pink skies in the morning, snow on the ground, deer and birds in the backyard every morning and evening… It’s pure magic and peace.
I purchased a mini elliptical in early December, thinking it would help me achieve my fitness goals, but it made me gain muscle weight. My ass is like a horse’s ass right now. Like I can crack nuts when I clench my butt cheeks. Now, this is not me trying to brag, because if you know me at all, I am NOT into huge asses or boobs. That is not the body that I strive for or idolize like most of my female compatriots. I returned the machine to Target on New Year’s day, after the scale got me all sorts of fucked up in the head. When the cashier questioned why I needed to make the return, I told her straight up “I thought this machine would help me slim my butt and thighs, but I’ve gained muscle weight.” I’m sure her and her coworker talked shit after I left, but it’s true: not every woman wants a donkey-sized derriere! New Year’s day was my last day of drinking, since it was my day to celebrate the New Year with my fiance. We had a couple of drinks at Ludlow hotel (amazing and lovely, will definitely go back), and then we had dinner at St. Anslem. St. Anslem used to be great, but they switched chefs and it was a disappointment this time. I will just go to Quality Meats next time, which is what the original plan was that day, but then we decided we wanted to stay in Brooklyn. The prices at St. Anslem are the same as Quality Meats, and they don’t even have my favorite dish, steak tartare. What kind of self-proclaimed steak house doesn’t carry a staple like steak tartare?! The mushroom appetizer we had (because the one we wanted was sold out) was over-priced AF at $25 for 7 mushrooms. The mushrooms were gritty from being cooked on the grill and had no seasoning what so ever. They were tasteless. They also did not have any sort of steak sauce, but instead offered chimichurri… um, no thanks. The steak is now sold by the ounce there, and the giant T-bone in our steak was definitely the bulk of the weight. From now on, I am sticking with Quality Meats.
Happy New Year everyone! I hope it’s off to a good start…
Vacation was beautiful and I never wanted it to end… but here I am, back in NYC. Back to work, back to everyday reality in a city I have outgrown. New York is a young person’s city, or a rich man’s city. It’s not a good place for a person like me at this time in my life. I feel empty and lost here. I have a good job, but it’s not what I want to be doing. The few things I liked about this city when I was 26 don’t exist anymore. The nightlife isn’t what it used to be, the parties aren’t what they used to be, the places aren’t what they used to be, and neither are the people. I don’t know why anyone would ever want to raise a kid here, unless of course they were rich… but even then….When I moved here at 24, I thought I needed to be here in order to achieve artistically, whether it was writing or painting or whatever. Clearly, the entire world is now connected through online media, remote work, and no one really needs to be in one place to do what they love or achieve what they want with their career (unless they’re an actor or a musician maybe… but even then…this just ain’t it, kid).
When I walk the streets, there are only remnants and relics of the past that I once enjoyed and for a short time loved. Now, I walk the streets and instead of daydreaming about a future or life in the city, all I daydream about is being somewhere else. I day dream about Europe, a slower lifestyle, a smaller and cleaner city or even a small town in the countryside or mountains. I daydream about a relaxed pace of life, dinners with family and friends, clean air, a house with a view. This city has made me tired and sad.
Tonight I walked past a couple of baby/children’s boutiques with adorable winter sweaters and high-quality stuffed animals on display in the windows. It hit me that I am never going to have a kid. When I was in my 20s, I thought for sure one day I would have a kid, but now that I’m 34, I’ve realized it’s just not happening. I don’t feel sad about it; it’s my decision, after all. It’s just weird to walk around the neighborhood where I spent so many days walking around and hanging out with my then-infant niece and my sister, who was three years younger than I am present-day, back in 2012. My how the times have changed in these past ten years. How the city has changed; the world has changed. Not for the better.
I grow more jaded and cynical each and every day I am forced to live in this city. Maybe I would have had a kid if I’d been married by 30, and before the current state of world took a turn for the worst. Now I realize that to have a kid would be more selfish than NOT to. It just seems unfair that the world made my decision for me. If there wasn’t a war happening, daily threats of nuclear holocaust, and another climate catastrophe every day, perhaps I would have been happy to have a kid.
I am engaged now… finally, after 9 years as a couple. I likely won’t be married for another 2 years. I am in no rush – I mean I waited this long, didn’t I?! My family certainly seems to be in a rush; they keep expecting that I will have the wedding next summer (which is only 10 months from now). Not happening, sorry. Although, perhaps I should have it next year, because because who knows how things will be two years from now (given the current political climate, war, nuclear threats, global warming, and advancing age of all of our parents). Maybe this world won’t even exist next year….
I am lucky that I live where I do, as opposed to so many other places where life would be much worse off right now. This world is falling apart … I try to enjoy every day now, for what it is. I try to enjoy every day that I have to work, once I have some free time to myself and the work is done. I try to enjoy every weekend day I spend alone, even though my boyfriend is working – there are pleasures to be found in being alone. You never know what each new day may bring, whether that something is good or bad. So it is best to just enjoy each day as it is, even if it is not ideal. If these last few years have taught me anything, it is to appreciate the little things in life and the (hopefully good) people that you have in your life.
I could go on and on about vacation. I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate that I was able to take such a great vacation. I feel fortunate to have the boyfriend I have, the family and friends I have, and the in-laws I have. I am lucky to have all that I have in this life, even though I bust my ass for most of what I have… I am fortunate that things have somehow come together over the last five or so years to get me to the point that I am at today (not that most days aren’t still a struggle, but at least I’m not contemplating suicide as I do three nights of floor-set at Hollister every month and wonder how I am going to afford a dinner out for someone else’s birthday).
Instead of going into depth writing about my vacation, I’m just going to post a shit ton of photos that sum it up. We started in Venice, traveled to Tuscany with his parents for a week, hit up multiple wineries and medieval towns while we were there (Siena, Montalcino (the town closest to our lodging), Montepulciano, Pienza, etc.). My in-laws went back to Venice when we departed Tuscany, but we made several stops: Modena to see not one but TWO Ferrari museums, a night and a day in Milano (more on that later), and then we spent a night in Lake Como because we just weren’t ready to go back to Venice yet. It was all so fucking amazing, words cannot describe.
I wasn’t a fan of Milan – even though we were only there for 24 hours. The hotel we stayed in was cool – very modern with lots of fun art pieces and installations. It was also super close to the city center, which came in handy for me, since I spent a day alone wandering around Milan, while Christian got a tattoo by a famous Italian tattoo artist he was able to book last minute (don’t ask – I already had my ring at this point, so if it made him happy… whatever). I did 9 miles by myself that day, and realized that I could never live in Milan. The city is a mix of very old and very modern structures – it is almost similar to NYC in that sense, but obviously much cleaner and prettier. All of the women are emaciated (and I am not lying). Most of the women also seemed to be under the age of 30… I saw mainly students and young people while I walked around that day. But, of all the women I did see, old, young, middle-age… they all had some serious eating disorders. Like, most of them looked like they needed to be in the hospital… and I am NOT exaggerating. I felt like such a cow next to these women…. and I am not a big person. I don’t think I saw a single woman/girl who weighed over 95 lbs. I get that it is the fashion capital of the world, but holy fuck. My ego took quite a blow that day, and I couldn’t really enjoy food for the rest of the trip… I’ve never felt so fat in all my life as I did walking around Milan that day. I was really happy we decided against spending a second night in Milan and decided to drive to Lake Como, since it is only about 1.5 hours from Milan, and Christian had never even been, despite having lived in Milan for several years! It was worth it:
Before we ended up in Milan and then Lake Como, we had briefly entertained the idea of spending the last few days of our vacation in Greece. It just didn’t make sense to waste another day spent traveling or buying plane tickets just to spend 48 hours or less in Greece, when our time with Christian’s parents and friends in Venice is already so limited each time we are there. We decided to just go back to Venice so that we could enjoy the rest of our vacation and see his friends and spend more time with his parents. We made it out to Lido not once, but twice this time… both nights were a lot of fun… maybe too much fun. Thank God Lido now has electronic rental bikes, because when we were ready to leave each night, there were no Ubers to be had and we needed to get back across the Island to catch the ferry back to Venice proper.
I could post a million more pictures and tell a million more stories. I wish I never had to come home… apart for being reunited with my babies (my cats) and seeing my own family. I hope that some day very soon we can live in Italy or France… or somewhere else close by, where life doesn’t move at the pace of NYC and every moment doesn’t pass by in a blink of the eye the way life does here in New York.
I’ll leave you with the food highlights from the trip (since that is what this blog was/is supposed to be about):
Now that I am back in NYC and inspired by the skeletal women I saw in Milan, I am trying to get back on the straight and narrow (i.e. no meat, save for special occasions, minimal wine consumption (sure, Jan…), and healthier eating in general). Wish me luck! Venice is great since the cuisine is primarily seafood, but boy did I go to town on meat in Tuscany: you have to… it’s the Tuscan way (when in Rome, do as the Romans do, am I right?!). Anyhow. We are still waiting for a case of wine we bought at the castle winery to arrive. This is what motivates me. I’m not sure where we are going to store it in our 1-bedroom apartment, but I’ll find a way.
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:
You can use your imagination and the picture of my ingredients above as a reference point if you want to make something similar.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
Siena is truly a beautiful and small medieval city. I absolutely must return, hopefully sooner than later.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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:
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:
I’m too sad to write this recipe right now, so I’ll have to get back you in my next blog. Stay tuned.
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.
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).
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.
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)
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 🙂
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Large, tubular pasta (paccheri or cannelloni work best)
1/3 cup good quality ricotta (or smoked ricotta)
1/2 pound ground sausage (or meatless sausage)
2 cups fresh spinach or arugula
Container of Mushrooms (baby bella), coarsely chopped
1/2 medium sized white or yellow onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. butter (or butter substitute)
2 Tbs. flour
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 cups Whole milk (or milk substitute – I used oat milk)
1 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
coarsely chopped fresh basil or parsley
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
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)
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)
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
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.
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.
My birthday has come and gone, and once again I didn’t don any of the sexy dresses I have been stockpiling over the last year. I have probably purchased upwards of six dresses (on sale, of course) at this point, because they were heavily discounted and I was looking forward to a future date when I could finally get glammed up and wear one in public (instead of the confines of my own apartment). Buying all of these tight, short, plunging-neckline dresses has honestly kept me sane and motivated throughout the last year that the world has been mostly locked down and we’ve all been looking forward to brighter days. Needless to say, we aren’t quite there yet. If I had celebrated my birthday in the city with my boyfriend, I probably could have worn a more scandalous dress – it also didn’t help that I celebrated the day of my birthday upstate with my family. I was definitely not about to rock a bodycon dress and thigh-high boots at Remlik’s in Binghamton, NY with my parents and my sister’s family (more on Remlik’s below… it is my new fave).
It was so nice to be at my parent’s house for almost a full week, even if I was still technically working (I was lucky for once, and work happened to be very slow that week). I had to go upstate early (before my boyfriend and I had our mini-vacation in New Hampshire) to drop the cats off at the cat lodge, since they don’t do pick-ups or drop-offs on Sunday. I also had Monday, February 15th, off for President’s Day, so it was my only day to travel up without work interfering, and the only day my boyfriend could drive me, since he works all three weekend days.
I was happy to find plenty of white snow on the ground when I arrived upstate, and plenty more that would fall over the course of the next five days. I fucking love snow… probably because I don’t have to shovel it (which, truth be told, I actually enjoy doing since it is a good upper-body workout) nor do I have to drive in it. Anyhow, because work was slow, I was able to get out for daily walks and enjoy some time with my family. I celebrated my 33rd birthday at Remlik’s in Binghamton. I would highly recommend to anyone in the area. It was my first time there and I chose it specifically because I knew they had a raw bar and sushi. The oysters were awesome (when are they not?), the cocktails were lit (I tried three), and the food was great. The place was also really pretty and cavernous inside – dark wood, huge bar, good lighting. The ambiance and service were amazing – our waitress was super nice and accommodating to my niece and nephew, and the music was right up my alley (they played Massive Attack, Moby, and Depeche Mode… I mean, come on….(and yes, I am perpetually living in 1997)).
After five days of almost continual snowfall, half-assed bird-watching, and gorging myself on the copious amounts of food available in my parents’ fridge and cupboards (dude – they have a whole drawer just for chips…), my boyfriend picked me up on Sunday afternoon and we made the six and a half hour drive to North Woodstock, NH.
We stayed at The Woodstock Inn Brewery, in North Woodstock, right at the foothills of the White Mountain range. I stayed here a handful of times as a child on family vacations, and was really happy to be back as an adult. The place is better than I remember it. I think the part I honestly enjoyed most, was just being off work for a full week – shutting my laptop, ignoring emails, not having to answer to anyone. I really, REALLY needed that. We stayed Sunday night through Thursday morning, and in those four days we really didn’t do much besides eat, shop and chill. Honestly, just what I needed. I never chill…. ask anyone who knows me (*unless I’m in a highly intoxicated state of being).
The drinks and food onsite were good – they offer a really great deal to guests wherein breakfasts are totally free, and I’m talking FULL, AWESOME breakfasts (crab Benedict, omlettes, fresh waffles, etc.). I normally do not even eat breakfast, but I’m certainly not going to say ‘no’ to crab and eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce and a bloody Mary at a more reasonable hour of 11am. We would be full until dinner time after those breakfasts, so it worked out perfectly.
If we had gone in the Summer or Fall, there would have been significantly more to do in the way of physical activity and outdoor activity (hiking, etc.). We could have gone skiing, but didn’t plan ahead, and to be honest, I have never been skiing, so I would need some classes (to be even more honest – I have no desire to ski, although maybe I would like it if I tried it). Instead, we enjoyed good food, the scenery, and each others company (to the extent possible, since my boyfriend was still answering phones and emails for the better part of each day 🙂 #cheers).
Naturally, the pictures I’m posting here aren’t doing any of these views justice. If you’re looking for a drive-able destination with some new scenery and you like mountains and/or snow, I would really suggest looking into a mini trip to the White Mountains. Especially if you like skiing/snowboarding – so many resorts and slopes everywhere. While we were in ski country, I attempted to find a ski suit for my weekend excursion to the Poconos with two friends. Needless to say, it didn’t happen, since I was looking for something along the lines of THIS but could only find, expensive, boring-ass ski wear in all of the shops. There was no way I was about to drop good money on some ugly crap that I would never wear. I ended up finding a ski suit from ASOS for a heavily discounted price that I wore last weekend in the Poconos, where yet again, I ended up not skiing… go figure….
We actually lucked out with the weather while we were there, because after the first day of crazy snow, the remaining days were fairly mild for this time of year (high 30s). I really didn’t want to come back to NYC, which is what happens every time I go away, but I was happy to be reunited with my cats after a several days away from them.
I really am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after my time at home and my time in New Hampshire. I hadn’t had more than a full week off of work since early August when I went away with my family, but that trip was without my boyfriend. We haven’t had more than a couple of days off together, since I don’t even know when… one of us is always working and we have opposite schedules. It’s honestly been forever. I feel slightly more prepared to push forward and tackle life again. Before this trip I was in a rut and started to have that “fuck it/this/everything” attitude. I couldn’t make myself focus or give a shit about anything, including my job. I’m feeling revived though…. not totally, but much better off than I was before this trip.
Got a bit derailed there for a while, regarding the last several blogs… but hey – isn’t that how life goes? What fun would life be if you never derailed a bit? Good to stay on your toes and take the punches as they come… or something like that.
I am finally back to write about food/cooking after writing about my personal life, the quarantine, fictional characters by the name of Indigo, and whatever else I felt like writing about for the last several blogs.
It’s not that I haven’t been cooking – I have been… it’s just that I don’t ever use precise measurements when I cook, and so when I think about trying to transpose the recipe as into written word, it’s a bit daunting trying to mentally compute the measurements of each and every ingredient I used. In other words, I’m fucking lazy sometimes and it’s difficult to transmit what’s in my head into words after another long day of being me.
If you know me, you also probably know that I’m obsessed with soups, both making them and eating them. Split pea is one of my favorites, and the one I make is vegetarian, but would otherwise be entirely vegan, if not for the finishing touch of crème fraîche! I also want to apologize for the lack of ‘process’ photos for this – I actually made it for lunch while I was “working” (aka working from home, aka my laptop is open and minimal work is coming in)… so I failed to take or post any pics and videos for the ‘gram.
1 and 1/4 cups of dried, split peas
2 medium-sized carrots (chopped)
1/2 of a large white/yellow onion (finely chopped)
4 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
2 stalks of celery (diced)
1 medium potato (Idaho or russet)
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your pot)
4 cups (one 32 oz. carton) of vegetable stock (**can use chicken stock if you’re not opposed)
2-3 cups water (depends on how thick you want your soup to be!)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp granulated/powdered onion
1 tsp granulated/powdered garlic
a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
YOU WILL NEED A BLENDER OR IMMERSION BLENDER FOR THIS RECIPE
TO FINISH (OPTIONAL):
Small dollop (a generous teaspoon) of crème fraîche or sour cream
Crackers, croutons, or a side of toasted baguette… I used the below bruschetta toasts, which I’ve really been digging lately:
Prep the veggies – potato, carrots, celery should be washed; carrots should be chopped (relatively small pieces), onion finely chopped, garlic finely minced, potato chopped into cubes, and celery chopped.
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.
Add in the garlic and continue to cook over low heat for another minute or two.
Add in the split peas, all of the veggie stock, and a cup of water – raise temperature and bring to a gentle boil.
Cook until the split peas are almost tender – about 25-30 minutes (I think?)… occasionally sample a pea or two to see how tender they are..
Once the peas are almost tender, add in all of the other veggies (chopped carrots, celery, and potato), and then add in another cup of water.
At this point, I add in my spices – add in the granulated (or powdered) onion and garlic, celery salt, a generous pinch of cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, black pepper and some salt.
A TIP: Taste-test to see if anything more is needed spice/seasoning-wise. I honestly never measure my spices or salt/pepper when cooking – I start with a reasonable amount and add more as I go along. This way you can achieve your desired taste, spiciness, level of salt, etc…. it’s always better to start with too little than too much!
Continue to cook over medium heat (or at a low boil) for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check to see that vegetables are thoroughly cooked (soft) by sampling. Once the potatoes, carrots, celery and split peas are all soft, it is time to blend!
Using an immersion blender or a ladle to move soup into an actual blender, blend around 2/3 of the contents of the pot of soup. This creates a rich, thick puree, but also leaves some chunks of veggies for texture and aesthetic. When blending the split-pea soup, I try to avoid ladling the carrot pieces into the blender (some are obviously fine), in order to achieve added color and texture to the finished soup.
Continue to keep soup over low heat once fully blended, add in more seasonings if necessary.
Serve hot, with a small dollop of crème fraîche and some crumbled crackers/croutons/toasted bread.
And now for the pasta dish! This one was a hit – I topped with bacon for the BF and ate mine without, but it was every bit as flavorful!
Pasta of your choice (I prefer an egg noodle fettuccine for this dish, since it is lighter and holds the sauce well)
3-4 strips of bacon, roughly chopped into bits (*this is optional)
1 bundle of asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces (make sure to chop off the ends of the stalks and discard, as the base is very woody/fibrous)
3 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
4-5 tablespoons of olive oil (enough to cover the bottom of your saute pan)
2 Tbs. butter (***if you opt not to use the leftover bacon grease)
1 cup half and half
1/4 cup water (*more or less depending on how thick your sauce is)
generous pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
freshly shaved/grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to finish
For the pasta: fill a large pot with water, add a generous amount of salt, and set on high heat to bring to a boil.
In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over low heat, and add in the chopped bacon. Cook over low-medium heat until desired level of crispiness. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside in separate bowl.
You can use the bacon-grease/olive oil in the saute pan as it is, if you’re OK with eating bacon – it will add more flavor to the sauce. If you’re not OK with eating bacon, you’ll have to start with a fresh saute pan and olive oil.
Add the chopped asparagus to the saute pan, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. You’ll want to cook the asparagus like this until it is fairly tender, but not mushy. Add in the minced garlic after the asparagus has been cooking for about 6 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Once the asparagus has cooked for about 10 minutes in the saute pan, add in the half and half and the water and bring to a low, rolling boil. Cook for an additional 10 minutes in the liquid, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is very tender.
Add in the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Now that the asparagus is tender, you can either pour the contents of the saute pan into a blender, and blend on low, or, you can manually mash with a fork or masher (this is what I did). Mashing by hand leaves more texture and visible bits of asparagus so sauce is not a complete puree.
Once you’ve mashed down the asparagus, you may find the sauce is too thick and you need to add a bit more water or half and half! You should also taste test to see if more seasoning is needed.
Once you’ve achieved your desired level of thickness and taste, add in the butter, and stir until dissolved. Leave the sauce on the lowest heat setting, so that it remains warm once pasta is done.
Once your pot of pasta water is boiling, add in pasta and cook according to time suggested on pasta box.
Drain the pasta once finished, and add to sauce, gently stirring/tossing to thoroughly coat the noodles.
Serve on plate with freshly grated parm, and top with bacon (if desired)
PHEW! Writing these recipes really does take a lot more brain power and work than actually cooking them!
I’m thankful that it’s Friday, so I don’t have to be on high alert watching my emails or glued to my laptop for the next couple of days. I think the rest of the weekend is going to be cold and shitty, but honestly I don’t care… I’m kind of happy. I’m definitely not feeling confident enough to wear summer clothes at this point, following almost 8 weeks of quarantine (aka binge-eating), so the cold and rain is a welcome relief… not like I could go out looking like a THOT anyhow since all bars, restaurants and clubs are still closed until further notice. You hear that? I’ve got a few more weeks to shape up… literally. LOL.
In other news, I was tired of all of the white hairs springing up around my temples, and couldn’t possibly wait another month (or longer) to have a professional cover them. I’ve never used dye at home before, and usually only get lowlights/highlights once every 4-5 months. I was really overdue for some lowlights, and couldn’t bare the sight of the whites any longer, so I took a bold step and purchased custom dye from eSalon. I was always scared to try anything with my hair at home because of lack of experience, but also I have a fear of burning off/chemically frying my hair to the point of no return. My boyfriend assisted, and the result is pretty decent, in my opinion.
What else can I say… not much is new, if you know what I mean. I’ve got my daily routine down pretty pat at this point. Work, walk, work, car ride, cook, TV time, sleep. Sometimes I’ll throw in a walk before work to spice things up, or if work is slow, cook in the middle of the day.
I hope you’re all still staying safe and sane at this point. I’m running out of inspiration for recipes since I’m kind of just over everything. If there’s anything you want to see me cook or try my hand at, feel free to email me or DM on Instagram. I’m always excited to try cooking new things (preferably without meat – but open to seafood)! #Cheers