Monday, December 31, 2007

Home Cooking

It is so COLD!!! I have been freezing ever since I got home. No one in California keeps their heaters on. My room is an ice box. To remedy this situation, I have tried to make myself as fat as possible by cooking and baking as much as possible. I have been a sautéing, baking, stirring madwoman since the moment I stepped into my house. I forgot what it was like to have tons of ingredients and utensils readily available, and I have gone a bit crazy. Luckily, my family has gone a bit crazy with the entertaining, so I make food for the people that come over to our house almost daily. Right now, I am really into biscotti and crumbly cookies, as well as quick-cooking vegetables (as always). I discovered that the sautéed sweet potato in a veggie stir fry with a little bit of ginger and garlic salt is just delectable.

 
 

I was so proud of myself on Christmas: I made two different reduction sauces. The first was a maple glaze for my sweet potatoes, which came out okay. I tried to pour it before it had reduced enough, but managed to salvage it. The second, an orange buerre sauce, would have been great had I used unsalted butter and shallots like the recipe asked for. It ended up tasting way too buttery, but the thickness was great.

 
 

I have also been experimenting with melting chocolate. It started with a batch of biscotti that I made on Christmas Day. I thought, why not try dipping these in chocolate? I did, making them quite delicious. I then started trying to make a glaze yesterday for the cake that I made for my sister's birthday party. I figured out that adding milk to chocolate makes it thicker and adding butter makes it thinner. I feel like Paula Deen with all the butter that I have been using.

 
 

So today I was very proud of myself for going butterless. Vegetables made up a large part of every meal that I had today. I had an egg white omlette for breakfast, a grilled vegetable salad for lunch, and vegetables, rice, and seared ahi for dinner. Mmmmm…all I need for happiness in life is a sauté pan, a knife, a fork, and a farmer's market.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to Ventucky

It is nice to be home. I have already gone through a slew of emotions, and settled on something relatively anti-climactic. I spent my first two days home bombarded with family, which left me on a definite high. All those days I spent sad for a moment or two missing my family were not for naught. I actually do enjoy their company. In the last couple of days I have reevaluated my life, AGAIN (uh-gain, like a Canadian).

New York has made me elitist and a bit ethereal. It has been good to come home and realize that not everyone lives that way. Life goes on here just exactly as it was before--the same haunts, the same people, the same life. In being away from that for a while I have come to appreciate why some might prefer such a lifestyle. The suburbs make a little more sense to me. But at the same time, I can now definitively say that I am an urban girl.

I have done nothing today but drive around and go to megashops like Kohl's and Target. Ugh. Makes me remember why I left. But then again, I have also gone to Peet's, Mavericks, and Peter's house. All things that I love and have sorely missed.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Coming Home.

I am hoping that by spending two hours on my computer while sitting at the airport, I will be tired enough to sleep through my flight. I got at grand 3 hours last night (if you could call it a night), and woke with a splitting headache worse than the one that I went to bed with. I was then ripped off royally by a cabbie with bad hearing, though I didn't complain too much beyond stiffing him on tip, since most of the extra fee he charged for getting the terminal wrong and making two stops was picked up by the girl that I was sharing the cab with.

I can never get a full blog entry written because every time I sit down these days I start clicking. Clicking here, clicking there, making my way through the foodie blogs, researching my foodie interests, writing Spec emails. Restaurant Week is coming up. It will actually be going on during my birthday, which I am VERY excited about. That also means that I need to whip my food writers into shape before we even get back to school, because the week we get back it is off and running with daily updates.

But first I need to focus on going home. I am so excited to be going home to see my family, but the last couple of days that I have had in the city have really made me take into account how much of it is in me already.

"Most human beings are driven to seek security and comfort. But there is another group that can only thrive on change and the unexpected of New York."
--Cathleen Nesbit

I am one of those. Now that I have been there, done it, there is no turning back. As I was walking through Soho with Vesal yesterday, the subject of coming to Columbia came up. It turns out that both of us knew. Just a few days in the city were enough to convince us to pick up and move across the world (the country, in my case) for the allure of the city. Going home is a little scary. It is not really scary, but I wonder what to do if there is no subway to take, no city to absorb, no grand art to explore in those precious moments that I have between school and Spec and life. How do I refer to locations without the grid system? What to do when things can't be broken down into tiny neighborhoods to be explored and talked about? The hottest restaurants, clubs, and theater aren't within a 5 mile radius anymore? Tragedy.

While I can't imagine living anywhere else in America anymore (though I am not ruling out Europe), I am very excited to go back home. I am so excited for Christmas. I have been going to the Christmas markets, attending holiday cooking classes, watching the city magically transform into winter wonderland, and listening to carols endlessly on Ruckus since Thanksgiving. The only thing I am missing is my family. And now that they are less than 12 hours away I can feel my spirits rising even higher.

And I sit here thinking about what I have written and realize that it is just horrible writing. 5 AM is not my peak I don't think.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Scenes from a Day on the Town

So basically I spent the last two days doing nothing but exploring the city by day and deep-cleaning my room by night. As the days on the town produce much more interesting pictures, I tend to favor those ones. I am running late for my last day on the town before I return to suburbanville, so I shall refrain from commenting for the moment. Just take in SoHo shopping, the Met, the terrible, disappointing cupcake from Cupcake Cafe (never again), and the cute little subway creatures. As well as my foray into the world of nannies to fight to get a second with Santa.





So yesterday I started out at the Met, spending a good two hours in the European painting/impressionism wing with my trusty and nerdy audioguide (notice that THAT picture is not up here). I then booked it downtown for lunch at Better Burger, which is indeed Better than any other burger place I have ever been to before. The Karma Ketuchp is spiced with indian spices and makes my knees go weak. I would eat it plain (and do, on occasion). I also spent a little bit of time with the Santa at ABC Home and Carpet because no one is too old to get a free lollipop. While waiting for Santa to get back from his break, I headed over to the Cupcake Cafe on 18th between 5th and 6th. TERRIBLE. I repeat, TERRIBLE. This beautiful picture is nothing more than a ruse. I got a maple walnut on a recommendation from the guy behind the counter and found the cake cold and bland, as well as the frosting too melty and not sweet enough. I went back and get another one. Chocolate this time, to the same result, if not worse. $5 down the drain, though I will make sure that I, nor anyone that I talk to about this, ever goes there again. I was horribly upset. It almost ruined my day.

So I got out my anger by going kickboxing at the NYSC with Diana and her trainer, Abel. AWESOME. And yes, all of these capitals are necessary. I did some heavy-duty punching and kicking, and I am definitely still feeling that circle of front kicks around the room.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Craziness

I'M DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Foodie-in-Training

Walking around campus today is somewhat depressing. Only the sad stragglers who still have one more final to go are left, looking exhausted after two weeks of nonstop studying and Butler-squatting. It is eerily empty, with the happy, finals-are-over(!) people packing up and heading home.

As I am one of the stressed-out stragglers, I cannot achieve my goal of turning Cosmo Shane into an amazing second-hand culinary experience as I taste my way through my final week here. However, I can plagarize from the article that I ran in the Spec the other day as a preview of the food writing that I plan on doing in the next couple of weeks when I have nothing but RELAXING to do!

Your Final Chance to Eat Well This Semester
By Shane Ferro
PUBLISHED DECEMBER 17, 2007

Walking through the annals of Butler Library is enough to make anyone sick at heart, but for a foodie, it’s an absolute tragedy. So, all you hopelessly stressed pre-meds, listen up—making it through finals does not mean your body has to deteriorate from a diet of Red Bull and late-night snacks. Have a little water. Maybe some green tea. A banana.

According to the American Dietetic Association, the majority of a person's diet should be made up of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fat free or low fat milk. Lean meat or other protein sources such as eggs and nuts are important in smaller quantities. This is not always achievable in the hectic life of a college student on a finals schedule, but it is not impossible.
Surprisingly, caffeine should not be overlooked in the diet of any college student. A cup of coffee or two a day may actually be good for your heart, and Red Bull does contain several functional ingredients, such as pantothenic acid, an antioxidant, taurine, which helps to boost metabolism, and three kinds of B vitamins. Yet neither coffee nor Red Bull has any actual nutritional value. Vitamins and minerals are essential to your body's functioning, but supplements can never make up for actual food.

If the thought of drinking water sounds like a sleeper, try the bubbly kind. Both Morton Williams and Westside Market—as well as various vending machines on campus—carry flavored seltzer water. "Rather than popping open a can of soda, which is packed with empty calories and sugar, which can send you on a downward spiral of mood swings later, opt for sparkling water. You'll feel like you're getting a treat, and your body will, too," says life coach and Mensa member Elizabeth Scott.

The basic fact of the matter is that you’re going to crash at some point, and the better you take care of your body, the more likelihood that such a crash will happen after your last final and the ensuing party. Here are some basic study-types that could use a bit of nutritional guidance.
If you are:

The Butler camper — Go out to Westside or Morton Williams and buy yourself some decent food, since you obviously think you’re entitled to leave your stuff everywhere and have it be there when you come back as if you paid rent on the place, anyway. Invest in some apples, which are natural energy boosters, some sliced deli meat or Tofurky for some protein, whole wheat bread, carrot sticks, hummus, and some yogurt. Maybe even some granola. Please avoid anything with onions or garlic for the sake of those around you.

The vegan — Hit up the greenmarket, and stock up on fruits and vegetables. Go and buy yourself some mixed nuts. Red Bull is vegan, as well as Kosher and Halal.
A kid who never leaves his or her room — Look up some decent takeout menus online. Order yourself some sushi from Suma or a sandwich from Subsconscious on Campusfood, and you never have to leave your building. Attempt to get something more than red meat and cheese on white bread for an even more balanced meal. Skip the coke and go for an orange juice.

A hipster who doesn't eat — Take a break from starving yourself for a week just to get through finals. Eating celery or cucumbers and salsa has about 10-20 calories per serving. Crystal Light makes energy, immunity, and hydration powders. Try Snapple Noni Berry or Asian Pear. Go for 2% milk in your coffee. Have a cracker.

A food snob — order from Westside Market. They deliver.

Hungry — This is the time when you should just suck it up and head to John Jay. Invest in a couple of large plastic containers, and go to town. Fill 'er up, then take the food back to your hole in Butler and hoard.

One of those people who eats out of vending machines — Go for a little balance. Have a granola bar, and maybe some juice instead of soda once in a while. Choose the pita chips over the Lays. Splurge for the tiny bags of dried fruit.

Eating exclusively out of the Butler Café — Go for something more substantial that a cinnamon roll, a bagel, or a Pepsi. Try a juice and a Clif bar. Or, better yet, a salad and one of the delicious Eli Zabar sandwiches. And get some green tea rather than coffee every once in a while.

Determined to keep yourself awake for 72 hours without thought to your physical state — By all means, drink 5 Red Bulls per day, live off simple sugars, surround yourself with empty cans and Blue Java cups, stop showering, stink up an entire room in Butler causing everyone around you to relocate, and become a complete hermit with no friends. But at the very least, drink some water, invest in some gum and deodorant, and promise yourself a big salad with vegetables and protein after waking up from your post-finals comatose state.

Bored and unfocused — Try chewing some gum. Not only does sugarfree gum freshen breath and help prevent tooth decay, new research suggests that it may also help relieve nervous tension, as well as help keep you alert and focused, according to the American Dietetic Association. Just be sure not to be one of those annoying people who chomp away with their mouths open while other people are attempting to study. Keep your mouth closed while staying minty fresh.

Looking for even more advice, or just another way to procrastinate? Try some of these helpful websites:
http://startcooking.com/blog/303/10-Tips-for-Healthy-Eating-During-Examshttp://www.eatright.org/http://stress.about.com/od/lowstresslifestyle/a/stayingfit.htm
Editor's Note: For those living on the Amsterdam side of campus...we owe HamDel our lives.

Should you wish to see the comments, try clicking here.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Terrible, terrible. I have been foregoing blogging for studying (gasp!), as I am now deep into the throes of finals week. What is even more terrible is that I got up early this morning to study with my friend Diana and nothing was open! No oatmeal OR coffee! It is like people around here don't expect college students to be up at 8 AM on a Saturday morning or something. We finally found some oatmeal at the cafe down the street, but it was watery and nowhere near the yummy goodness of the campus cafe's thick oatmeal with self-serve raisins. And I just had to wait for my coffee, as it is below freezing today and a little windy and I did not quite feel like making the trek to Starbucks.

On a happier note, yesterday I officially finished my first two college classes. I turned in my final Uni Writing essay, then took the dreaded Lit Hum final (the reason why I have been foregoing blogging). I am feeling generally confident about both of my final grades.

I also went to Diana's apartment with her last night on 97th and Broadway, which was AWESOME. I forgot what it was like to be in a home with drywall and knicknacks and warm light rather than cinderblock and gross tile and flourescents. It was nice to remember what it is like to live in civilization. Actually, my dorm is really not that bad. I am becoming better friends with a lot of the people that live on my floor, and I have started utilizing the kitchen in the basement a lot more. On Thursday, I made gingerbread cookies and chocolate cupcakes for our holiday secret "solstice" (Santa) party, which made me quite happy. I forgot how much fun it is to cook. I am hoping to use some more of the ingredients that I have left over and make chocolate chip tomorrow.

I have decided to be productive and go back to studying.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spec dinner and FOOD!

I have a Lit Hum final in two days, which I really need to study for. So I am going to go to SoHo this afternoon and do a restaurant review, instead. In my defense, I happen to do my best reading on the train, and SoHo affords me quite a few stops with which to do this. It is all part of the life of the food editor, which makes me oh-so-excited. I was at Spec dinner last night with all 200 or so staffers of the Spectator, and I just couldn't stop gushing, in between my staunch defenses that, "I'm NOT leaving news!!"


Being Spectator food and drink editor means that I am in charge of making sure the paper is put together and edited one of the 5 nights of the week, as well as making sure that there is content for the food section 3-4 times a week. I have to come up with ideas and edit all of the stories that run for food. I am also going to start running an article in our Thursday magazine every other week. Basically, now that I have risen up in the food chain (haha, just got that joke after I already wrote it), I have more delegation duties than writing duties. Hooray for all the ASB I did in high school!


And hooray for Spec dinner (and not quite knowing how to use the flash on my camera in that last picture)!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Broadway and Sugar



Somehow, between turkeyshoot (Spec editorship selection process), term papers, and finals, I am finding some way to find some fun in life. The cute school children are my little Peace by Peace kids, who I teach conflict resolution to on Fridays in Harlem. Last night, I snuck out of the library for a few hours to go to Avenue Q, which gave me some much needed comedic relief. The best relief, however, came while I was walking through Times Square in the rain in my heels without an unbrella: I got the call that I am the new Food Editor for the Arts section of the Spectator!!!!! If I had any time left before class I might take the time to explain that. I'll save it for later though.
The last pictures is Sugar Cafe, which along with being "Sugar," served me one of the most amazing salads I have ever had today for lunch. pached pear, goat cheese, tomatos, and rasbery vinegrette. I was in heaven. More on food later...

Monday, December 3, 2007

First (Real) Snow

I woke up to a flurry of snowflakes this morning. I will have to say that it was a little bit magical. I had to walk from 72nd to 59th street because of the never-ending weekend service changes on the 1 train, and my need (desire) to get to holiday treats decorating class at Williams-Sonoma in Columbus Circle. It was a bit nipply, but the fresh snow on the ground made for a beautiful city scene for 13 blocks. Espeically around the tree in Lincoln Center and down around Central Park. It also made going inside even better. :)

After learning how to use royal icing in about 50 different ways, I headed outside to the Christmas market across the street. The scene was truly a movie moment, as it had started snowing again, everything in the market was decorated Christmas-like, and there were people walking around with hot apple cider and gingerbread men. That experience pretty much made my day (all of which, from that point on, was spent doing spec and/or work).

All of the holiday cheer and general excitement around the city still gives me a pang or two of homesickness now and then, but I am really enjoying my experience. I have found my Spec niche as far as Turkeyshoot goes, so though I am busy, I am happier, and in some miraculous turn of events, I actually studied quite a lot this weekend and am feeling fairly prepared to go to class tomorrow. My preparation tonight gives me time to go check out the markets again tomorrow for the article on Holiday food in the city that I am running later in the week.

I think I hear sleigh bells ringing...ting-ting-tingiling-too...wait, that is just a cab honking.