March 2, 2015
It’s March! So close to spring! Only 21 days! And this time next week the clocks spring forward! Extra day! It’s currently snowing like a bitch outside in NYC and a man hit me in the crotch with a snow shovel, so forgive me for counting the days until this garbage Winter is over, but I am READY for Spring.
True story though: I do this seasonal fear eating when the weather starts to change. At the end of September I eat as many tomatoes as possible. This past week, i’m trying to get all of the Winter foods in before it’s too late. I’ve had: ramen, pho, multiple chicken soup variations, chili, and a lot of roasted veggies. Currently eating: this big pot of baked lentils with merguez, parsnips, and kale. Still on the list: SOUP DUMPLINGS.
The onset of March also means that my experiment in austerity is over. I had some bumps in the road – there were a couple cab rides, a few meals out, and one MUCH NEEDED trip to the Russian Baths, but otherwise it was really awesome and really easy. I cooked SO MUCH. Awesome, healthy, frugal meals! For myself and my pals. I didn’t buy any physical things! I really still need pants but I made it through the coldest month ever in thick tights. #proud.
I had a good manic planning afternoon in an effort to rope my friends in to doing cheapie activities so that I wouldn’t miss out on fun.
First up was a big clothing swap at my place which was the most fun excuse to clean my closet ever. I spent Valentine’s day at work and then day drinking with my best gentleman pal which really set me up for closet-clean success. I was brave enough to strip down and try on every single thing I own to see what still worked, what could be taken in, and what needed a new home. So many babes came to my house! I made a great Mexican baked egg dish and Mexican spiced hot chocolate! Other lovelies brought homemade bread and the best brownies I’ve ever had in my life. We all laughed and were in various states of undress and wiggling into clothes all afternoon. I loved it, and I loved watching the clothes I love so much going home with rad babes who looked great in them. It also felt great to be around a bunch of awesome fat femmes and try on a bunch of sizes of clothing in my own house!
Obviously I needed a snack-centric event as well, so I goaded the girl gang into having a dumpling making party with me. Everyone brought a different type of filling and then we assembly lined the hell out of them to make a million. I ate all the ones that broke, and we all got some to take home for the freezer. We had spicy lentil, pork with ginger, garlic, and scallion, sweet potato with kale and paprika, and homemade goddamn CHEESE BLINTZES.
We gabbed. We laughed.We fried. (WAIT. MENTAL NOTE: WE LAUGHED. WE FRIED WILL BE THE NAME OF MY GIRL GANG LOVE STORY.) We steamed. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday. It also made me realize that i’m a crazy person and only happy when i’m being productive. Like, “Oh, hey we’re going to churn out hundreds of dumplings today instead of sitting around eating brunch and relaxing like normal weekend humans.” I guess i’m lucky that my lady boss friends are the same way and will go along with my camp counselor-like activity planning.
For March, i’m focusing on moving more. I agreed to do an African dance performance as a was of making myself go to two classes a week instead of one. Logic: I’m too afraid to look like an idiot at the recital so i’ll go to class more often to make sure that doesn’t happen. I also need to get my ass back in the pool so that when it’s finally warm i’ll be in good swimming shape.
Holler if you know anyone in NYC who wants to give me some swimming pointers! I need to nail down a kickturn!
October 4, 2014
I’m eating my delicious post-yoga breakfast in front of my rainy window writing this after having survived my first week on this $50 grocery budget experiment. I don’t know why more people don’t eat fried rice for breakfast, it’s awesome.
Mostly, it was awesome and easier than I thought.
+ I actually ate everything I bought! There are relatively no wilting vegetables in my fridge, and i’ve got just enough leftovers for dinner tonight.
+ I spent seriously less cash than usual.
+ I ate way more home cooked food than usual.
+ I realized that making due with what I have is a fun challenge, even if it sometimes feels like settling. Like, these zucchini pancakes would have been better if I had stopped off for a $9 wedge of Parmesan cheese to grate in, but they were totally delicious without that.
+ All those food bloggers who have their shit together and swear by Sunday meal prep are totally dead on. Coming home to a bunch of half started meals seriously took the pressure off.
CAVEATS + ADDITIONAL SPENDING:
+ WINE! How did I not budget this in. Whatever. I need wine to live. I’m giving myself a $20 budget for this a week. I spent $18 on a perfectly delicious 2011 Bordeaux this week and braised beef with it and drank the rest.
+ Chocolate. Sorry, not sorry. I needed this. It was $3.49.
+ Meals out. I had one lunch and one dinner out. Which feels pretty good for someone who was doing way more than that previously. I think that’s a general rule i’ll try to keep. I spent $32 on those.
+ Sometimes eating leftovers sucks, no matter how good they were the first time around.
+ I didn’t really think about how eating chili for four days in a row would effect my guts/butt. I’m eating a lot of beans and veggies these days so, i’m feeling jet propelled.
+ I’ve had some kind of monster sinus thing all week, so sometimes I really just wanted a bowl of hot spicy thai takeout for dinner instead of cooking.
WHAT I MADE:
+ Chili with turkey, beans, sweet potato
+ Salad with olives, hard boiled eggs, tomato (2)
+ Braised beef with onions over roasted butternut squash
+ Garlic roasted brussels sprouts
+ Kale and eggs
+ Roasted chicken thighs with kale, chickpeas, wine, mustard
+ Fried rice with broccoli, peppers, egg
+ Zucchini Pancakes with spicy paprika tomato sauce, egg
(This was absolutely the best thing I made all week!)
1 large zucchini, grated, salted, and squeezed (like really, really squeezed)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 clove grated garlic
salt and pepper
Mix that batter together (it will look loose) and shallow fry in oil of your choice. I just plopped big teaspoons, and then flattened them with the back of my spatula.
I cooked some crushed tomatoes down with vinegar, paprika, and chiles, and put the cakes right on top. And then on top of that a crispy fried egg, because duh.
September 28, 2014
I am lucky enough to have a great, tiny farmer’s market 2 blocks from my new digs in a little park. It’s quiet and full of good dogs. No one is reaching over you for squash. There are ice pops, and good meat, and flowers, and organic veggies. It’s on a Sunday, and it’s made my Lord’s days really awesome.
There’s something awesome about the potential energy of a big bag of produce. Like endless possibilities for the week ahead. I spend the rest of Sunday afternoon tidying the kitchen and cooking and prepping food for the week and listening to nineties hip hop. It’s a great ritual.
Except, sometimes, like with anything great, I have a tendency to over do it. And then i’ve spent $90 and I have a house full of wilting flowers and a bunch of squash shriveling up in the crisper that I didn’t quite get to.
So, i’ve challenged myself to spend $50 on Sunday and that’s it. No popping into the fancy bodega for a few ingredients I missed on Wednesday. Just me, my $50, and a pretty well stocked pantry. (Pantry includes: cooking oils, bulk grains and nuts, and a pretty well stocked spice rack.) I aim to have lunches and dinners all set for the week. Breakfast is usually a yogurt or some oatmeal at my desk.
Full disclosure: I am going on about 8 weeks of working with a nutritionist. I am (mostly) avoiding processed food, including processed wheat products. Also, not eating thing with >10 grams of sugar.
Here’s where my $50 went this week:
FROM THE FARMER’S MARKET:
– a head of broccoli
– two orange peppers
– 3 onions
– 1 head of garlic
– 1 bunch of kale
– 2 little bunches of tatsoi
– 1 big zuchini
– 2 little sweet potatoes
-1 medium butternut squash
– 1 bunch of pink dahlias
– mixed salad greens
– brussels sprouts
– 5 apples
– 1/2 dozen eggs
– 3/4 pound of grass fed stew meat
– two tomatoes
FROM THE GROCERIA:
– greek yogurt
– 3 cans of beans
– 2 big cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
– organic chicken thighs
– ground turkey
– 3 bottles of seltzer
– ice cream bars (fuck off, ok?)
– soy noodles
– 2 lemons
Geez. Typing that out and seeing it makes me realize that’s a ton of food, and I feel awesome about that.
MEAL PLAN FOR THE WEEK:
– a big pot of chili with turkey, beans, and sweet potatoes
– braised beef with roasted butternut squash, kale
– roasted chicken thighs with tatsoi, fried brown rice
– shaved brussels sprouts salad with apple, lemon
– salads w/ hardboiled eggs, tomato, olives
– eggs with zucchini pancakes
September 20, 2014
Yeah, it’s been a while. You know how it goes. So many things happened! Like, the worst winter of my life! Seriously, that shit was whack.
But, the spring and summer were better.
I moved! To a great little railroad apartment in the still Polish part of Greenpoint. I immediately ripped apart the entire tiny kitchen and reorder it to my liking. It’s sunny and small.
I ate a lot of good food. Some that I made. Some that my friends made. Not a lot that stranger’s made. I ate this food on the beach and on lakes and around my new dining room table. Some that a private chef made while he listened to a table full of women talk serious trash. My best friend got married and I catered cocktails and sides for a hundred people.
I started taking care of myself. Like, seriously. I finally figured out that my love of swimming translates into real physical activity. I started swimming laps at a public pool overwhich the sun rose. I’m starting to get neck muscles. I’m drinking less and sleeping more. I’m working with a nutritionist. After six months of feeling so, so bad, i’ve started to feel so, so good. And if i’m being honest, it’s the first time in my life that it doesn’t feel like a phase.
As the summer ended I moved the laps indoors to a beautiful 1920’s bath house. My best mornings involve a swim, a Blue Bottle coffee, and a ferry ride across the East River. I will be able to swim a mile by next summer, mark my chlorinated words.
February 20, 2013
As of the publishing of this post, i’m halfway through my 21 day adventure in abstinence! I’m alive! And fairly well, I must say. I only cheated once, when I drank a tiny tin cup masala tea with milk in it, because I didn’t have the heart to send it back!
I wanted to check in, and give you all some of my more successful recipes for tasty vegan grub!
Mind. Ok. I wasn’t really prepared for the caffeine headaches. I will say that. I likely should have weened myself off instead of going cold turkey. I had gorgeous blood orange tea while a friend drank a flat white, and I wanted one so bad! Also, I formally disagree with anyone who has suggested there is some kind of mental acuity associated with hunger. I miss things (good bread and cheese seem to top the list), but that’s to be expected, and I spent about 45 minutes salivating over the St. Anselm menu yesterday. But going without has helped me realize that I should stick to eating the best bread and cheese if I love it so much, which doesn’t include deli egg and cheese sandwiches on hard rolls. Dealing with the stress of work and life without a glass of bourbon (or four) to come home to has been a challenge, one that i’m better off for attempting. I am astounded at how productive I can be in a weekend sans-hangover.
I made myself these avocado chocolate mousses to celebrate making it through my first week!
Recipe, here, except I used unsweetened chocolate.
I’m lucky to have a cohort in cleansing, Ms. Katie Hards, who has been great! Supportive without taking this ish too seriously!
BODY. I seriously feel awesome. I have a crazy awesome amount of energy. I’ve been moving more – from walking home from work to taking dance classes. Samba this Saturday was really a blast. It was fun, and a serious workout shaking it to live drummers for an hour and a half. My pants fit better, and it seems like I lost about 8 pounds in the first 10 days, which is crazy.Also, my skin looks fantastic.
WALLET: In Week One alone I saved $50 by bringing my lunch every day, and an estimated $120 on bar tabs. BUT there is a definite time cost incurred to prep all that delicious grub.(This is a huge problem I have with the USDA’s Thrifty Food Plan. Eating cheap AND healthy can be seriously time consumptive. Luckily, I really like doing it. Getting my mis-on is serious therapy for me after a long day behind a computer. I also spent more on groceries than usual, and got a mani/pedi on Saturday, because, duh, TREAT YO SELF.
CULTCHA: I’ve been trying to keep busy, but work is kind of starting to get a little crazy town, so I don’t have as much free-time as I thought I did. I saw Toro Y Moi with Wild Belle on Valentine’s Day with my favorite lady, who made me a great dinner. Going to a concert sober was pretty interesting. I was able to stand right up front because I wasn’t concerned with being near a bar! The dance classes count as culture, right?
The Grub. Ok, so my cookin’ has been on point! I ususally have a green juice or oatmeal for breakfast, a salad or leftovers for lunch, and then concentrate on making myself really nice dinners. Here are two especially good ones, with recipes! You’ll notice that they have a lot of the same ingredients, cause I made a huge pot of black beans and a big bowl of cashew cream last week!
Click through for recipes!
February 14, 2013
Everything you ever read on the internets about starting a cleanse revolves around getting prepared, about easing into it, about getting your guts and mind ready to start this elimination endeavor.
You prepare your way, Gwyneth Paltrow, i’ll prepare my way, ok?
How did I prepare to take three weeks off from booze, coffee, meat, and dairy? I ate and drank all those things, in the best combinations ever, with the best possible company. My pre-cleanse weekend was pretty fantastic.
Let me elaborate:
Friday: As Nemo threatened to blizzard all over everything, I was able to scoot out of work early and somehow throw together a last-minute dinner party. My friend Kate, who is mentioned here probably too frequently, says that if “Speed-Entertaining” were an Olympic sport, i’d be GOLDEN. She and her beau, Kevin, who happens to be an incredibly generous wine representative, trudged through the snow with a few other friends to eat homemade chicken pot pie and imbibe on Kevin’s AMAZING leftover wine from tastings that day. We ate, and drank, and laughed, and watched all of these amazing videos of Nina Simone. My favorites were from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival.
Saturday: There must be something to the theory that good wine does not give one a hangover, because after the serious wine-o session mentioned above, I managed to peel myself from bed, grab a latte, and get to Central Park before 10 am – before the throngs of sledders and their parents. I walked around for a few hours, in sheer wonder of how beautiful and quiet the few inches of snow had made everything. It was glorious. People were smiling at one another. I SAW NUNS SLEDDDDDDDING. The sky got big and blue, and the sun got warm.
Ok, Saturday was the only day I actually did anything to prepare for the week-ahead. I dropped a hundo at Fairway on fruits, veggies, bagged beans, whole grains, and pantry staples like olive oil, cider vinegar, etc. I also cleaned the shit out of my fridge! AND reorganized my spices, and finally put them in their proper homes – these adorable little glass containers that have been in my pantry for six months!
Sunday: I ate tacos for breakfast. Smoked meat tacos. Two kinds. I met an old (great) friend at Briskettown for brisket and pork belly tacos, and what felt like endless cups of Blue Bottle coffee in great enamel mugs. Good food, good chat. Then I drank a million big beers in a big sunny room, with a big group of good looking people I adore. I tasted all of their sausages. Last hurrah, GO!
So, now that i’m three days in, caffeine headache in FULL EFFECT, would I have done anything differently to prepare?
Yeah. Getting home Monday night at 7:30, HANGRY, to a refrigerator and pantry full of whole foods that needed real prep to get turned into dinner stressed me out a little bit. My go-to move would be to eat a half a baguette while dinner was cooking. This was not an option! I ate a few almonds, drank a big glass of water and went to town prepping not only dinner for that night, but staples for the rest of the week, as to not put myself in that hanger-pickle again.
I’m going to post some recipe highlights from Week 1 this weekend, but quickly, let me just say that this huge pot of black beans has been the tastiest, saviest experiment this week. Don’t tell anyone this, but I buy canned beans, usually. I know – dried are cheaper, and more delicious, but they take forever. I rarely plan that far in advance, but I thought this would be my chance to experiment. SO I tried this no-soak recipe from The Kitchn. AMAZING. A bag of beans, covered with water, 1/2 an onion, some garlic, and some cumin cooked in a dutch oven for an hour and a half, and then BOOM- BEANS FOR DAYS. My whole house smelled amazing, might I add.
ALSO you can get nightly photos of my dinners over on my Instagram.
Or follow my tweets, which are the most positive after breakfast, and whiniest around 5 pm when the caffeine headaches are the worst!
February 5, 2013
Dear readers, I’m hoping that by this time next week I’m not standing on a street corner, yelling out in hanger, or curled up under my desk, shaking, from caffeine withdrawals.
I’ve decided to take 21 days off from the things I love the most (namely, beer and beef), and clean up my eating/drinking act starting next Monday. Why, you might ask, incredulously with eyebrows raised as many of my loved ones have? A number of reasons.
But first, the rules:
1. Dollar Dollar Bills. 2013 is my year to get my shit together, financially. Bourbon is expensive. 5 bourbons are even more expensive. The cab home from Brooklyn because you’re too tipsy to take the subway is expensive. Pasture fed short ribs are expensive. Being a lazy bum and eating shitty take out for lunch is expensive. I figure if I can focus on feeding myself good, healthy, home cookin’ and cut out my bar tabs I can save myself an average of $80 – $120 a week. (Oh my God, I am just looking at that figure and thinking that’s a vacation or two a year in savings.)
2. Pep in the Step. I felt like I was going to puke on the sidewalk the other day when 3 out of 4 of the escalators up from the center-of-the-earth- hell that is the 63rd Street F station were out. Not cute. I think I used school as an excuse to eat whatever I felt like, and to not move as much as I should. That’s over now, and I have “time”. Time to cook, time to walk home from work, time to hit the gym. I feel a little bit sluggish. I feel really sluggish when I have a hangover and lay in bed all day on a perfectly good Saturday eating Annie’s Mac and Cheese and watching every episode of Breaking Bad.
3. Cultcha. I have an incredibly fulfilling social life, filled with friends that are smart and funny and good-looking, and are excellent dinner dates and drinking buddies.I think meeting them for a beer or a burger will be the hardest part of this adventure. New York City as a place supports my two inherent genetic traits: workaholism, and alcoholism. I think focusing on activities that aren’t centered around booze or meat for a little while will force me to see more of the city – to see films, performances, etc. I’ve got two concerts, African dance classes, a knife skills class, hopefully some volunteer work and maybe an Opera planned for the next couple weeks.
4. Vanity. I’m fat. That’s not going to change. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to ditch my favorite jeans because they are currently too tight. I saw this picture of me from when I worked on the farm. I was still fat, but I felt strong as hell, and I felt the best in my body I ever have. Also, look upon that sweet tan! Also, PBR in hand, duh.
In preparation for the weeks ahead, i’ve been cooking myself boss dinners each night, with enough leftovers for lunch, so that I can get back in the kitchen swing, and think about portions.
Mustard crusted pork chops with kale and apple hash with thyme.
Garlicky Kale Linguine with lemon and Parmesan.
OH ALSO, SHOWER BEERS. (I’ll miss you.)
So follow along these next few weeks! I am bad at commitment, and half a lush, so I don’t underestimate the challenge ahead of me. Don’t give me cheese, even if I call you crying in the middle of the night, ok?
January 25, 2013
Kids! It’s been a while, aye? You were missed.
Here’s a rundown of the past 4 months, replete with Instagram evidence.
Hurricane Sandy. Even now, months later, I find it hard to find the words to describe the way Sandy felt. The way I felt watching my hometown, and across the bay neighbors take one on the chin, hard. How coming back to New York via car service, at midnight, to half the city’s lights out felt. How the survivor guilt set in as I made my way to the Upper East Side while my parents were without heat for weeks, knowing the homes and businesses of friends and relatives were destroyed. How kind of amazingly fun being holed up at Aunt Sue’s, stocked with PBR, camping gear, and firewood was,until we found out just how bad it was down south. How no one really understood what it meant to see Seaside’s amusements in the middle of the ocean, or washing up on shore felt. How thankful I was that everyone I loved was safe.
I turned 27. Sandy tried pretty hard to ruin my birthday, and failed. I had planned on a huge dinner at Edi & the Wolf with a gaggle of friends, which in the face of zero subway transit and widespread power outages seemed impossible. But then, party Gods be praised, the 6 train opened up from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and the restaurant’s owner called me personally to ask if we could make it in for dinner. And so we ate, a smaller group than planned, trudging past the exploded ConEd station, as the hum of generators filled the streets. It was beautiful – the wine, the candles, the company. And that’s how I crossed into my rock and roll suicide year – grateful for good friends and good food.
Beer. I fell in like with a beer nerd. I started drinking all kinds of crazy and beautiful beers. Beers aged in bourbon barrels. Double and triple IPA’s. Smoked beers. Beers on cask. Strong Ales. Coffee stouts. Thick, dark, hardcore beers. Beers with great names – Brown Shugga’, Old Curmudgeon Ale, Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’, Panty Dropper Ale, Mama’s Lil’ Yella Pils. I learned so much, in great beer bars and shops. I will always pledge allegiance to the bourbon flag, but this fall into winter has been really wonderfully brew centric.
Giving Thanks. I kicked off the holiday season at a huge, incredibly relaxed pot luck. All I had to do was wake up and make stuffing, drink beer, and kitchen dance with my mom. there was a bonfire, great cocktails, a zillion little kids, and plenty of good food. The weather was warm. My little brother towered over me.
Look. I had a lot of great #outfits. My awkward grow-out hair found it’s way into neat a neat little bun. Blouses got witchier. Lipstick got gothier. I found that one way to feel in control of my otherwise insane grad-school, full time job life was to feel like I looked together.
I fucking finished grad school. I presented a final project that I was really proud of – a business expansion plan for a food-centric branch of the accounting firm I currently work for. I got great feedback from my peers and advisers. I made my parents proud. I celebrated with oysters, fried chicken, and champagne with two of my favorite classmates/ladies. My adviser gave me congratulatory M&M’s. I finished with a 3.76. I am a master of Food Systems. I can breathe.
Celebration. I threw a really amazing party. Stocked bar – pomegranate bellinis, celery gin rickies, mulled cider. Good snacks – lamb meatballs, scallop and grapefruit ceviche, blue cheese shortbreads. So many guests that I adore. Visits to the roof. My new (old) punch bowl. Dance party. I was reinvigorated as a hostess. I could not have been happier.
New Year. I rang in the new year with one of my favorite humans. We ate ramen, made a dinosaur cake, listened to records, and drank a few beers. It was quiet, and perfect. There is no greater sense of self-righteousness than being clear-eyed and hangover-free on New Years day in quiet NYC streets, and in beautiful art installations.
Cook. I started cooking with consistency. For myself. For others. For and with lovers. It feels good to be back in my tiny kitchen – punching out semolina gnocchi, deglazing pans, making soup for the work week’s lunches. I missed cooking for people that I love. I am looking forward to lots of hearty Sunday suppers around my little table.
So! I suppose this means i’ll be around these parts with greater frequency.
Talkin’ snacks and sass at all of you fine people.
Keep an eye out for next week’s post on the best ladies weekend ever in New Orleans, and the ways in which we attempted to see and eat NOLA right – balancing the classic with the new.
And now for a moment of zen: my perfectly organized, and recently stocked bar.
June 1, 2011
I’ve been away from my new garden for a week. I hope that my roommates/family watered all these little guys, and gingerly sprinkled them with chili powder,
as I do, to keepthe insane suburban squirrels at bay. It was really hard to judiciously split up my tiny garden box space. I went with sun gold tomatoes, a few beefsteak varieties, cukes (who when trellised use minimal space) , patty-pan and zucchini squash (who I think I can train over the side of the box to save space), fresh greens, and herbs and jalapenos in little terracotta pots along the outside.
Stay tuned for my blubberly, “I-was-in-Northern-California-for-a-week-and-i-ate-like-a-queen-and-i’m-renewed-and-incredibly-disappointed-to-be-back.” post!
For now, check out my baybays.