Friday, August 28, 2009

give this thingamabob a test

so the guys at the 405 club mentioned that tumblr is supposedly awesome. i do like that they have more design options, so i set up i'm importing my blogger stuff to there, but hopefully both sites will stay active. not that i particularly NEED two separate blog URLs.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


Sometimes you just have to quantify exactly what it is you're doing when you're unemployed.

For example, this week has been generally insane and that wasn't expected.

Sunday: worked from 1:30-7pm for the cosmetics packaging lady.

Monday: went to the post office, went into the city to Union Square simply to enjoy the greenmarket and get some groceries. came home and made homemade ricotta and then turned that into a ricotta zucchini "cheesecake".

Tuesday: Went into the city to work some via Cosi WIFI. Got a text from cosmetics woman asking if I was available at all that day, so went back to Brooklyn and worked from 3-6pm. Then, came back into the city for Twestival meeting. It was almost 10pm before I got home.

Wednesday: The 405 Club had a picnic in Central Park from 1-4pm. I ended up being there until 6pm, and then that evening, my brother and I went to dinner in Fort Green.

Thursday (today): Got up, stayed home to be productive and was so. Went into the city to do one of my two or three 'required' volunteer shifts for my CSA. Was in the city from 3-6pm, and ran back home, dropped off my veggies, left again to go to the "Non-Motivational Speakers" event held by Gelf Magazine. My favorite Big Gay Ice Cream Man was one of the speakers, so that was the initial draw, but it was just a cool evening. As I tweeted, the three guys speaking presented this fascinating view of Manhattan and Brooklyn, both past and present.

And this morning, off and on from 8am-1pmish, this was my "Got Done" list I made after:
Emailed resume to woman I met yesterday at 405 Picnic (she's forwarding it on to a friend)
Typed up Twestival meeting notes (4 handwritten pages)
Filled out my profile for Twestival (questionnaire thing)
Sent a follow up email regarding a job possibility I had been contacted about by a recruiter last week.
Sent cover letter/resume to Gilt for PT job
Sent emails to 2 celeb publicists for Twestival

So, in reality, no, I haven't really gotten many job applications out there lately. That's the reality. But I haven't been hating my life totally like a good bit of July and August. The cooking competition totally spurred me on to just doing. More. Shit. (No matter what.) Twestival is awesome - the people I'm working with are great. I wish there were other "fashion" people at all working in the team of volunteers, but if nothing else, I have some great friends and personal recommendations from voices outside of my industry.

I was going to be all linky with my post, because I know they're handy, but damn I'm tired tonight. I ate Hormel Turkey Chili for dinner tonight (at, oh, 11pm) if that tells you my exhaustion level!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Glorious Bounty

Yes, this is a incredibly cliche but insanely appropriate term for this week's CSA share!

Starting at 12:00 and going clockwise, you have kale, 2 ears of corn, 2 lbs of summer squash, white and red peppers, 3/4 lb yellow cherry tomatoes, 10 oz of purple and yellow beans, either 2 or 3 lbs of tomatoes and a honeydew (or similar?) melon. Gorgeous! And think, I paid $225 for 20-24 weeks of this. Ok, this is the start of the really large, fantastic shares. But, in the cost scheme of things, I have to say that my CSA is a GREAT deal.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A recap of Saturday

The lovely Cathy from Not Eating Out In NY - where I heard about Saturday's competition - did a recap of the day on her blog. For anyone that's interested in seeing what delicious eats we had, or seeing the recipe for some awesome pork buns and tomato consomme, give it a whirl. Everyone out there Saturday was damn talented.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lovely soup creation...

A recipe for you! Pictures will come sometime in the future - my card reader is still MIA and Fuji uses stupid XD cards. My brother has a multi-card reader, but it reads everything BUT XD.

Anyway, here we go. I scaled the recipe down as best I could - the original made somewhere near the 150 oz mark, so I'm a bit unsure of how much this batch makes. I would definitely double it if you're cooking for a group, but if you want to test it out for you and your significant other, roommate, friend, give this scale a shot.

Chilled Strawberry Watermelon Balsamic Soup (also known as Kickass Soup!)

1 lb container of strawberries
7-8 oz watermelon juice
4 oz balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp orange zest

Hull and rough chop the berries. If you have a blender or food processor, the berries will probably fit in one batch. I personally was using my magic bullet, so I had to split each container into two batches. Anyway, once pureed, pour into a fine mesh strainer and push the berries through. Yes, it's another step, but I reluctantly did this and was so glad I did. The soup is fairly thin, so you want it as smooth as possible. For the melon, it's basically the same process. I'm unsure how much watermelon it takes to make one cup of juice, but I used about 1.5 small watermelons to get ~45oz.

Mix up the strawberry puree, watermelon juice, vinegar and zests. Taste first before adding any sugar - depending on the quality of the fruit, the soup could possibly be sweet enough. From there, I would add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar in at a time and taste test. You want the soup to be sweet enough, because the vinegar has its strength, but it's not sugary sweet, just fruit sweet. (Does that make sense?) The confectioners sugar will dissolve fairly easily, but you can always use a hand mixer to make sure it's all dissolved.

Side note: Another way to get the sugar well dissolved is to take a bit of the soup out, into a separate bowl. Mis the sugar into this liquid with a whisk until smooth, and then add back to the main batch. Very similar to how you add cornstarch to a dish.

I don't think you will need more than 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) sugar, if that, but again, best bet is to add in small batches and taste.

The soup is done! Put it in your refrigerator until it's cold, and serve cold. It's nice as is and great with vanilla ice cream. You can also serve mint yogurt sauce with it, as I did. Recipe follows.

Mint Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup yogurt (whole milk or low fat could work)
mint simple syrup to taste

This is an easy sauce - throw the yogurt in a bowl and add the mint syrup to taste. My syrup never quite "syruped" for me, and I also used the hand mixer to mix it up, so this sauce is thin. This was an accidental move on my part, but with the thinness of the soup, this is actually perfect. You want the yogurt to have a nice minty flavor, and it's best to just drizzle a little bit on top of the soup. Keep this cold, obviously!

Enjoy! This soup is great for these hot, humid August days. And don't let the 'soup' label fool you - think of it as an ice cream topping or even a drink mixer. Can you imagine that with vodka and some club soda, or even lemonade? Yum! That was a common theme yesterday - one girl's spicy gazpacho would make a great Bloody Mary, my soup, etc.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Today was exhausting. In that crazy, invigorating way. I found out when I got to the event that it was outside. Yes, out. Side. In direct sun, for four+ hours. Great for a chilled soup, no?

To cut to the chase, I did not win/place. There were three honorable mentions, 3rd, 2nd, first, and popular vote. And there were 12 competitors total. I definitely made way too much food, spent way too much money, blah blah blah. But, the day just.... well, it sorta rocked. Seriously awesome people competing and tasting, a general vibe of a strong community, love for food, and admiration and respect for each other.

But, as I'm vegging out tonight, supposed to be washing dishes and such, I just wanted to throw up a few memorable quotes/moments from the day.

"Do you do this professionally?" To hear this question not once but at least a few times was sort of surprising. I feel like SUCH an amateur, so that just felt like a huge compliment.

"I've got to tell you, the sandwich is good. But the soup? It kicks ass!" Yes, that soup kicked ass. It really did.

And, a summary of a conversation I had with Matt Timms, who does these awesome food "takedowns" that I've never heard about. And that I will probably start doing. We were talking, and he asked me if anyone helped me, or came with me today. As I started telling him nope, I just sort of leaped in head first, etc, his response was so... positive? So much like "Damn, girl, you rock to do this solo, first time around." He's basically really encouraging, and that's an awesome type of personality to be around.

And that's the thing... Everyone there was encouraging, warm, and it seems like a true community. It wasn't that overbearing welcome, that smothering effect. Just a happy, cool crew of (mostly) Brooklynites and food enthusiasts. Yes, twas a fine day in Greenpoint.

it's 1am

soup is a little over halfway done - berries are pureed, vinegar is added, a bit of watermelon has been added. gotta zest a few lemons and oranges, maybe juice an orange or two, add sugar, and maybe puree some more watermelon. (i need to have at least 150oz, preferably a bit more. right now with the berries, watermelon, vinegar, i'm at about 138oz. but i would rather err on the side of more than enough soup.)

i made a mint simple syrup that i'm gonna mix into yogurt and put just a teensy bit on top of the soup (hopefully) to add some creaminess, body, and another nice flavor to go along with the vinegar and fruit.

all the bacon is baked. i'm worried that it's way too greasy, (basically, i don't have enough cooking vessels to properly lay slices out to drain.) EIGHT packs of bacon.

so i'm gonna finish up the soup tonight, for sure. i'm afraid to put together any sandwiches too soon for grease factor. basically, i need 21 sandwiches - 20 to cut into eights for the general public, and i'd prefer to give the judges fourths. if they get eighths though, not the end of the world.

the other concern, besides finishing, is getting there. because of the sheer amount of food, i have a feeling i'm going to have to call a car. which is the last thing i want to do. blah.

i'm tired, and i feel like i need coffee and a gallon of ice cold water. (which i don't want to drink.) gotta get back to the soup, and hope that all comes together by 12pm tomorrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Musings from an entrepreneur's daughter

I was walking in Manhattan, on my way to pick up my CSA share for the week, when my brain started wandering. In that urgent desire to write out what I was feeling, thinking, I actually stopped in Starbucks after the pickup, still in the city, to get my laptop out and write. Sometimes, I just know that if I don't get it out right now, it may disappear. And I don't think my brain benefits so much from these lost thoughts, bouncing around in my skull.

I don't consider myself a potential entrepreneur... Not even with this little experimental proposal. I don't have the true spirit of one, I don't think. Or maybe I don't have the balls to be one. I just know that if it ever happens, it's going to be when I am far more financially secure, when I am more experienced... when I'm an adult and not just feeling my way into it. Now, that could easily mean that it will never happen, but I always keep in mind that my father was in his late forties (probably more like right at fifty years old) when he opened the market. Anyway, tangents are my middle name, but me opening my own business isn't the point of this.

As I get older, I regularly realize small aspects of my personality that reflect what I grew up with to a tee. Things no one else may connect, but to me, it's oddly fascinating. How genes are passed, nature vs nurture, blah blah blah, have always intrigued me in a superficial way. So what's a better study than yourself? Anyway, as of lately, I've noticed how the way my father runs his business and the way his customers treat him are completely a part of how I treat business owners. While nothing is ever 100% true, if you're a small business and you do what you do well, I'm going to be a damn good customer. If it's possible, I love getting to know business owners on at least a slight personal level. I like connecting with people, and I obviously feel slightly knowledgeable in how it is to own your own business because I grew up around it. And because it was the only source of money in the household, the status of the store was news to know.

My dad's customers are pretty amazing. They constantly bring him food – homemade usually, or some interesting something or other they may have bought. There's art, trinkets, cards, just stuff. Ways they show their appreciation. I'm 99.9% sure that anything in the store that's 'plaqued' – newspaper reviews – customers did for him. Because my dad, while he is proud, is not overt. He's more of a subtle boaster - “Oh, it's just my little ol' store, nothing special.” When,you know it is something special and he damn well knows it.

As I spend more time in New York, and try to get to know businesses, cafes, restaurants, food carts, and I make connections with owners, I see the way my father's customers treat him coming through. My prime example of late is with the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. From day one, when I heard about him, I couldn't help but love it. Rainbow cone logo? Flamboyant and fun? C'mon, you've got your number one fan here. While ice cream is not what I should be eating, I still feel a camaraderie with a venture like this, and a desire to support him, even if it is not strictly financial. When you meet a business owner like Doug, who is a friendly, fun, creative New Yorker, you want to see them succeed. So, little things my father's customers do, I see myself doing. During one of my “I just must bake” fits, I took him some of the results. And then, I heard via Twitter that his truck was featured in the September issue of The Advocate (and that he didn't have a copy of the magazine yet). I was already in the Union Square area, so, even though I'm technically broke, I decided I would swing through Barnes & Noble and pick up a copy for him. One of those things where I know, being a business owner, and having a truck to tend to, that you don't have the time to go get something like that the days you're working. And your days off? It's called bed.

It's the small things that I really love doing for people. Surprises, things that make people smile because it's simply unexpected. And they're simple things. Things that so many people don't do anymore, which makes you value them even more. Yeah, I guess it's not just something I do for business owners I like, but more so for friends. I think that is something more people should consider these days – places you frequent, do you think of them as friends, or just another person you cross paths with? While I know every business isn't small enough to chat up with the owner, these are the places I love. I don't always get to do so, either because I'm feeling shy, rushed, or generally out of it. But in a giant city like New York, being able to connect with someone, even just the owner of your favorite market or your barista, on a more personal level is a great feeling. Yes, you can be a regular in this city!

[P.S. It seems like every post just gets more and more verbose...]

[P.P.S. I'll try not to gush about BGICT more... I realize my last post mentioned him too... teehee.]

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

...I think I'm crazy.

I'm not sure what has gotten into me today. Really. But all of a sudden, I just had to, HAD. TO., sign up for this cooking competition: the Souperdouper Soup Kitchen Sandwich Special.

Do I make sandwiches at home often? No, not really at all. Maybe a quesadilla every once in a while. Do I make soups at home? Not in the summer, and in general, it just depends. I read about this a few days ago, and it piqued my interest. But then, today, I was reading about the prizes, and all of a sudden, I had to do it. But it's not even about the prizes. Yes, they kick ass, but it was just this uncontrollable urge.

And then, the brain started churning. Ideas... ideas... Sweet and savory combinations are sort of ruling my palate lately, and the idea of a hot soup now that summer has finally smacked us in the face didn't seem right. I just recently had saba, a sweet, balsamic-y vinegar, and blueberries, and adored it. I also just bought a (ok, inexpensive) bottle of balsamic vinegar. Strawberry balsamic soup? But what to pair it with... I wanted to keep with the sweet and savory theme because I don't think an all-sweet or all-savory sandwich would work with a fairly sweet soup.

And, of course, the same person that introduced me to saba and berries once again popped into my head... The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.... His choinkwich ice cream sandwich (chocolate cookie, chocolate ice cream, caramelized bacon 'wheel'). What about a bacon and nutella sandwich on sourdough bread?

So... decadent, yes. Yummy? I hope so. Since the competition is Saturday afternoon, I don't have much time to test it. (And don't really want to overly do so.) But, I think the sandwich needs a little something else along with the bacon and nutella to make it perfect... I'm thinking of possibly rubbing the bacon with a little chili powder to give it just a teeny bit of heat. I'll probably bake it, and hopefully get it nice and crispy/chewy. What does the culinary world out there think about just a teensy smear of a mild goat cheese on the sandwich? I think it needs something in there to pick up the flavors, and to go along with the soup. Thin slices of tart apple?

Suggestions and recipes are totally welcome!!!

Now, how to estimate how much food to buy. (Yes, this is silly, since I am unemployed, but I just. Gah. Had to do it.) Basically I need a bite of food for 150 people - 2oz of soup each and somewhere between 1/4-1/8 of a regular size sandwich. Christ. I just realized... That's still about two GALLONS of soup. About 19 sandwiches... Um.... what did I get myself into?!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

An interesting Saturday...

So, to paraphrase my friend Sara, "Ah, you're not truly broke in NYC until you pose as a nude model." Aaaand... guess who is just that broke? A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a listing on Craiglist (in the 'Creative Gigs' section) calling for non-traditional models. Women with scars, extra weight, really anything or everything, for torso modeling. At this point, I was a few weeks post-unemployment and in the "Seriously, just someone pay me for something" mode. I saw $15/hour and got in contact with the artist. Her suggested date for meeting was today, August 8th.

Now, even though I know my parents are being (generously) financially supportive, so I could have easily backed out of the gig, for some reason I just didn't think much of it. And I'm not even sure why. But this seems to be a recurring theme. I headed down to the Sunset Park area of Brooklyn - a slightly sketchy looking, industrial area - mainly sketchy because of the industrial factor.

After meeting her, I found out that the artist, Clarity Haynes has been doing life-size female torso illustrations for quite a few years now. Before arriving at her studio, I really had no expectations. I definitely did not expect to be interacting in a sort of societal experiment, a study of how we perceive our bodies, and how the rest of the world does. Clarity has done a lot of drawings of breast cancer survivors, with single and double masectomies, along with many other generally interesting female bodies (and "plain" ones too, heh).

I feel like I was oddly displaced from the situation. I wasn't emotional, really, but I appreciate the whole message and purpose of her work. Taking my shirt and bra off in front of a person I just met, and then basically getting paid to have a four hour conversation while sitting topless? Oddly easy for me. It was nice - we're both intelligent people that can talk about lots of different topics. But, the ease is also where the displacement comes into play. It's real, but for such an emotional person, I wasn't really affected in the way that I think a lot of women are. When I look at the drawing, I see a body that I don't really care for. But, neither do I hate. There's no specific, strong emotion related to that drawing. In the long run, I am happy that I did it. And if she wants to do further work, I will definitely model again. To be a part of something a bit bigger than me; to have my 24.5 year old torso preserved in charcoal and paper (currently) is odd and unique. So... yeah, that was my interesting Saturday. My brain sort of perceives today in a choppy, disconnected manner, so I apologize for the choppy, disconnected writing.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hobo Tuesday!

Wait, what? Hah, I decided to participate in Tight Ass Tuesday. (Definitely check out the link - we've got ourselves a pretty entertaining writer over there, in my opinion.)

This month's theme was spiiiicy! And when I think of hot food, curries are what hit my brain first. I did a sort of bastardized Indian/Thai eggplant red curry that is well... I've made better, but it works for today.

Pictures, you ask? Yeah, I took some pretty ones Tuesday night, all garnished with green onions, cilantro and crushed peanuts. But, I've been incredibly disorganized lately, and thus I cannot find my card reader. Whoops.

This can also be known as CSA Curry, or "Whatever is about to die" Curry, because if you like curry, you can pretty much put whatever vegetables you like in it. I was also going to add ground turkey (possibly eliminating the $5 price limit), but it turned into a zombie on me. Quite the bummer, considering it was money lost and carnivorous (poultrious?) cravings unsatistfied.

Kick-Your-Tight-Ass Eggplant Red Curry
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 inches ginger, grated or minced
1 pound eggplants, sliced or cubed, whatever
some carrots, sliced
1 tiny bell pepper (about 1/3 size of your typical grocery store pepper, in my case)
1 super hot serrano, or a few serranos, thai chiles, jalapenos, pick your poison
about 1/4 can (2 tbsp?) red curry paste
1/2 can coconut milk (I used light, but I know some people consider that blasphemous)
optional garnish stuff: 1 scallion, sliced thin, some cilantro, crushed peanuts

If you're a sane person, unlike myself (and if you're reading this from TNS), I recommend making rice to go with it, especially since it's vegetarian, and hot. You need some filler.

Now, do as I say, not as I did (that's why the curry wasn't... spectacular. My technique was off on Tuesday.)

Fry up the eggplant until soft in a bit of oil. If you have a big wok, please use that. Otherwise, just use whatever will hold the eggplant. You may have to cook in two batches, which I would normally never recommend, but I do. My eggplant was crowded and I think it steamed too much.

Anyway, sorry, I ramble. Fry up the eggplant, set aside. Throw the onion in the skillet and cook till a bit softened, maybe 5 minutes. I recommend adding the carrots 3 minutes in, and the bell pepper a minute after. Add the garlic, ginger, diced peppers, and curry paste and let them fry a bit, 30 seconds. You'll be able to smell when they're good. Turn the temperature down a bit and add the coconut milk. Mix everything up, and toss in the cooked eggplant. At this point, just let it cook up until the eggplant is the doneness you prefer, and that the flavors have sort of gotten into the eggplant.

This made a big potful, for me, but since it's vegetarian, I'm counting it as three (I lied before) servings. Most people can eat a lot, if they're not burning alive.

A note on ingredients, cost, etc:

The eggplant, carrots, bell pepper were all from my CSA box or my parents' garden. (some eggplant from them) So they were small, baby eggplants, baby carrots, and that's why the pepper was so teeny. It also made the meal incredibly cheap - I pay $225 for 20-22 weeks of vegetables, and the vegetables were probably a third of my weekly pick up.

The serrano (it maaay have been a jalapeno, it was also from my parents' garden) had turned from green to red, sitting out for at least a week and a half, accidentally. So the flavor was intense. Normally, I would use two peppers at least for a curry.

The curry paste is a small, tuna can size container that I get at a Thai restaurant in Chelsea Market. $0.85 for at LEAST four dishes worth of curry paste. I adore the red curry, and I own a can of the green curry paste but have yet to try it.

Because the CSA is so affordable, and I know not everyone uses that, I used the prices from Fresh Direct (which seem vastly overpriced) as recommended by the TNS blogger.

The final run-down on cost:
1 lb eggplant - $1.69
1 white onion - $0.45
carrots - $0.50
1 tiny bell pepper - $0.25?
1 super hot jalapeno - $0.25?
4 cloves garlic - pantry staple
2-3" piece of ginger - pantry staple
~1/4 can curry paste - $0.25
1/2 can coconut milk - $0.50
1 scallion, cilantro, peanuts - these are staples for me, and optional.
rice - $0.75 - optional

$3.89 or $4.64 with rice, aka $1.29 or $1.54 per person!

Pretty damn affordable, and quite a spicy eat! Hopefully pictures will appear in the future...