Friday, October 24, 2008

Packing My Bags

So we've decided to take our vacation without the laptop - totally off line for a week at the beach! This means, of course, no posts until we get back. I'll post pictures then :)

South Padre is very relaxed and casual in a beach bummy kind of way. No need to bring lots of clothes - just a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts. And flip flops. And sunscreen. You'd think my bag would be light, but those books are heavy :) Having wheels on your luggage really is the best thing since sliced bread!

Tonight I'll add my toothbrush, and go get a manicure and pedicure. It will be great to start vacation with someone massaging my hands and feet and making them look pretty :)

I am *very* excited to go! See you when we get back!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Vacation Reading in South Padre

Next week at this time I'll be in South Padre, TX. Woo! I'm ready for the beach, and the sand, and some relaxing down time. I ordered a bunch of books this morning from Barnes and Noble to test out the "Same Day Delivery In Manhattan" deal. My order went in at 7:15 or so this morning, and no books yet. Good thing I ordered early. (update - 6:68 pm - the books arrived! Yay!)

Here is what I'm taking - not sure if I'll read them all, but probably will and wanted some options incase one or more of them wasn't what I was in the mood for...
Most is new stuff I've never read before that may turn into an interesting series - or maybe not. We'll see.

Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie, Bob Mayer

Post trip notes: Finished this one on the plane (started it at home). Entertaining and humorous. I loved Cranky Agnes and her voluptuousness, cooking ablility - gathering her friends around, and her personal discussions with herself - as well as her relationship with the hitman :) Very much a sit back and enjoy the ride - no thought required.

Plum Lovin' (Stephanie Plum Series) by Janet Evanovich

Post trip notes: One of those series so many have read that I don't need to say much - just what you'd expect in a shorter version of the usual - Loved it :)

On What Grounds by Cleo Coyle, Cathy Gendron ( Illustrator) , Rita Frangie ( Designed by) , Kristin de Rosario

Post trip notes: Interesting story, though all the coffee facts interspersed in the story were sometimes a little distracting. I'd read the next one if I didn't have any of my regular faves.

The Outlaw Demon Wails (Rachel Morgan Series #6) by Kim Harrison

Post trip notes: I forgot this one on the trip - I'll review once I'm done.

Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta Series #1) by Patricia Cornwell

Post trip notes: Rick actually picked this one up when he was finished all his books, and the Tess Garritson. Hasn't finished yet.

Deja Dead (Temperance Brennan Series #1) by Kathy Reichs, Kathy Reichs ( Illustrator)

Post trip notes: I'm still reading this one - pretty good so far!

The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Post trip notes: Rick picked this up while we were still at SPI (he needs to bring more than 4 books next time). He thought the descriptions of how women were treated was disturbing. I didn't read this one yet.

Freakin' Fabulous : How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else by Clinton Kelly

Post trip notes: This is a hilarious afternoon read - I doubt those folks who need the grammar lessons actually understood them, but the example thank you notes were worth the price of admission :)

The One Hundred : A Guide to the Pieces Every Stylish Woman Must Own by Nina Garcia, Ruben Toledo ( Illustrator)

Post trip notes: Boring enough that I left this one behind as a contribution to the "library".

Sedona Method : Your Key to Lasting, Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being by Hale Dwoskin, Jack Canfield ( Foreword by)

Post trip notes: Light reading, but heavy exercises - still working on this and probably will for a while. Good to have some positive thoughts inserted along the way.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Suzee's Apple Crisp a la Dean and Deluca's

Yesterday, while making our way back from the park, we happened upon Dean & Deluca. I hadn't yet been in this landmark gourmet store, so I dragged Rick in (literally). It's a nice little store with beautiful produce, a fish counter, meat counter, cheese counter and a sausage and pate counter. Who knew there were so many types of pate in one place?

While looking at all the gorgeous Fall decorations (including a perfectly formed pumpkin that must have been several hundred pounds), Rick very sweetly asked me to make him an apple pie. I was up for that, but I would have to go the grocery store to get a crust. I was sure I had the makings for a crisp and I was glad when he agreed to apple crisp instead :) I picked out 5 big Roma apples thinking that would be perfect for my 8x8 square pan.

This morning I started peeling, coring and slicing. Hmmmm.....these are pretty big apples. I filled a bowl with water and started looking for lemon juice. Hmmm don't have any - no lime juice either (how did that happen??). I just tossed the apples in the plain water. By the time I was done there was no way they would fit in the square pan, so I moved to the deep dish apple pie pyrex. Once I got them all in, I started thinking maybe I should have used the 9x13. They were piled so high I wondered if the topping was going to stay on.

I had taken out the stick of butter a while ago, so it was room temp. Normally I would work it in cold with a pastry blender, but now it was too soft for that. I mixed the butter and flour well and cut in the sugar and stirred in the oats. I had looked for my brown sugar, but couldn't find it so I used white. And I just totally forgot the cinnamon on the apples.

Despite all the mistakes, the apple crisp was still tasty :) The topping was more cookie like than crisp like, but Rick liked it :)Here is the recipe - you can leave out my mistakes :)

Apple filling
6 cups apples (pick a nice cooking apple - the tart ones are best)
water and lemon juice
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon
2T sugar
1T butter (for dotting)

1/2C chilled butter
2/3 C Flour
2/3 C Brown Sugar
2/3 C Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

Preheat the oven to 375.
Peel, core and slice the apples. Put the cut apples in a bowl filled with water and a couple teaspoons of lemon juice.

Prepare the topping. Cut the butter into the flour. Cut in the brown sugar, and stir in the oats.

Drain the apples and toss them with the cinnamon, and 2T sugar. Put them in the pan and dot the top with butter. Sprinkle the topping over the apples. Bake for 40 minutes or so.

Top with vanilla ice cream if you are feeling decadent :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brunch at The Uptown

On the way back from the park, we stopped at the Uptown for Brunch. I was thinking they are on the sunny side of the street so it could be fun to sit outside or maybe just inside near the open doors. It's very cool how the outdoor seating becomes part of the dining room as the big wall of windows is folded back opening literally the entire wall. It was too cool, though, and that big wall of windows was closed :( But, the Brunch menu - woo!

Brunch is $15.95 at the Uptown, and it includes 2 drinks (either Bud Light, Bloody Mary or Mimosa) as well as food. There are about 20 items from which to choose including the usual eggs benedict and omlettes, as well as sandwiches and a big burger.

Rick actually ordered the burger with cheese, lettuce and tomato. It comes with fries but they will give you salad if you prefer. I tasted it - very good.

I was bad. Really bad. I had croissant french toast stuffed with bananas. That is how they describe it on the menu. But really it's stuffed with something akin to bananas foster - sauteed with butter and sugar. It's copiously garnished with fresh sliced strawberries and blueberries, and comes with a side of maple butter and real maple syrup. Be careful when eating this one - they are made to order and that banana mixture stays very hot for a very long time.

This is where I'm sure my Mom will want to come when she visits us in the city. She may even have a mimosa :)

Saturday Afternoon in Central Park

What a beautiful day. We finished our chores around the house and decided to go to the park to read a little bit and enjoy the sunshine. I thought about taking pictures on the way over on 91st street. There were beautiful brownstones, each with their own stoop, all decorated for fall. One entrance actually had stuffed blackbirds wired to the wrought iron rail. Very eerie!!

We made it to the entrance of the running track - a beautiful memorial is here. Rick was happy to take a seat. His sneakers were not working very well today.

We walked around in the park and enjoyed the day - it was a little too cool for sitting around for long, and we decided that lunch was important. On the way back I snapped a couple of shots of the tiny gardens on the side streets - all dressed up for Fall. Very pretty :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Dollar Menu at Papaya Dog

This week I treated myself to the .99 cent special at the Papaya Dog on the way to work. 2 eggs on a roll. They automatically come over easy :) for .75 cents more you can have cheese. This has to be the best special in all of Manhattan - the 2 egg on a roll sandwich is all of $1.07 including tax.

Very tasty in the morning, and a good for you breakfast :)

Maybe I'll add a picture later :)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Revel - a restaurant in the meat packing district

While in the Meat Packing District for the Food and Wine Festival in New York City, we needed some dinner!! I'll admit - I made reservations via Open Table at Paradou, but we walked by and were a little scared. We stopped next door and were quite pleased with the space and the food!

Revel had a nice covered garden for dinner - it usually opens at 5:30 for dinner, but since we stopped by at 5:00 they stopped everything and served us :)

We started with cocktails. The server suggested the Pummello Martini and I agreed. Wow it was tasty. Grapefruit vodka along with grapefruit juice according to the server is what made this fabulous cocktail. Something tells me they left out the secret spice :)

The birdhouse was made from wine crates and attached to a tree in the middle of the dining room, which was in the "garden". So pretty.

Rick and I both had the filet mignon - a nice piece of meat, and I was surprised to see that Rick had to cut away fat and gristle. I ordered mine medium rare, and it really came almost medium well. Only a little pink left. The steaks were served in heated cast iron pan, and this further cooked the steaks, but the heat was needed because the steaks were luke warm. It tasted good so I just ate it. He had the Pomme de Terre for a side -thin layers of potatoes with cheese and a cream sauce, also served in a cast iron dish. I had a side dish that isn't on the menu on the web - roasted beets with stilton cheese. Oh Yum! The beets were cut in a jullienne, the bottom was crispy and the stilton salty. A nice combination :)

Chelsea Market and Rachel Ray!

After our wine tasting at Del Posto, we took the time to visit the Chelsea Market. I'd compare this to a Fanuel Hall in Boston - lots of great places to get food (not quite so squishy which is NICE!), and unlike Fanuel Hall, lots of stores with amazing ingredients!!!

Right up front we found Rachel Ray signing autographs. It was about 4:30 and she was on schedule till 5:00. I did't think we could get through the line for a signed book, so we didn't wait. I was able to snap this quick photo!

Visting the Chelsea Market looks a little like this:

We visited Buon Italia, a gorgeous Italian Market with more types of olive oil than you count. These crates are all olive oils.

I stopped into The Lobster Place - Rick refused - too smelly - I found lots of great fresh fish. We were planning to go out for dinner so I wasn't interested in actually buying something, but I was interested in understanding what I could get there. LOTS OF GREAT FISH!! I would be able to get Chilean Sea Bass for less than I could have in Portsmouth, but at the same price as Cod. Kinda funny:)

Great foodie experience! I got some cook shaped pasta, and an interesting chocolate for later :)

Food and Wine Festival - Ruffino Wine Tasting

Today we made our way to the meat packing district to attend the Ruffino Wine Tasting as a part of the Food and Wind Festival in New York City. We bought tickets back in June. I knew this was one of those things I wanted to attend. Heck - if I still lived in Portsmouth, I'd want to come just for the weekend!
This wine tasting was at Del Posto. A beautiful restaurant with a gorgeous private room in the basement. We got there about a 1/2 hour early. I wasn't sure what to expect since usually activities in NYC are pretty well attended, and I didn't want to be in the back of the room. We sat up front and were greeted with eight gorgeous Sangiovese wines from Ruffino - vintages 1985 to 2004 - the special reveserve gold.
Adolfo Folonari was the speaker - the CEO of Ruffino Wines. He gave us a complete history of wines in the Tuscan area of Italy, and the family history of Folonari and why he was the CEO of Ruffino rather than Folonari. He suggested we start from the oldest to the youngest. Initially I thought hmmmmm.... that's strange ......... But after tasting I do appreciate why. You taste from the more delicate to the more strong. the older Sangioveses were delicate and the younger ones were strong. I think after 10 years, I really don't prefer these wines - they are not nearly as nice. Which I suppose is good since I no longer have a wine cellar!!
I very much enjoyed this wine tasting, and we headed over to the Chelsea Market (just across the street) after. A very fun time!!!

Working in Manhattan

So, I'm not going to publish the name of my company, but if I were in a cube near a window, here is what I would see:

In real life it looks more like this:

I told you Macy's was right across the street - here it is :)

Given the current business environment, I'm not sure how long I'll be here, but it's nice to have a pay check for now :)

Thursday, October 9, 2008


My cousin Judy just posted the answers to these questions, and invited others to do so as well. I figured I'd give it a try. You can too :)

7 Things I plan to do before I die

  1. Live a life where I can have coffee with a friend at the spur of the moment
  2. Go on a week long retreat
  3. Bicycle in wine country in France
  4. Sing in a cocktail lounge doing old blues standards with my friend Sherry
  5. Host a pig roast/lobster bake and cook the whole pig/lobsters/clams/corn with help from family and friends
  6. Record a Christmas CD
  7. Guide a teenager when they are exploring who they are - enought to make a difference, but not so much as to irritate their parents.
7 Things I do now
  1. Exploring New York City!
  2. Working hard.
  3. Guide adults when they may benefit from a new perspective
  4. Reading lots of Fiction
  5. Blogging!
  6. Looking for fun employment
  7. Meeting lots of new people

7 Things I can't do

  1. Sleep through the night
  2. Control my %^$#ing PMS
  3. Stay focused enought to be a programmer
  4. Run a marathon
  5. Touch my toe to my ear
  6. Do laundry on a weeknight (now anyway)
  7. Fit in a size 8

7 Things that attract me to the opposite sex

  1. Big broad shoulders
  2. Kind thoughts and intentions
  3. Letting me organize life, and taking control when I really want him to
  4. The horizontal mambo
  5. Letting me have the big half of the closet
  6. Eating anything I cook and saying thank you for cooking it
  7. huge hugs and kitty paws

7 Things I say most often

  1. One day at a time.
  2. It never gets easier than it is right now. (though this sounds pretty pessimistic, I actually say it when I'm committing to something new and positive)
  3. Would you like to...... (insert chore I'd like done by someone else here)
  4. You want anything while I'm up?
  5. Want to go out?
  6. Do you want me to pick anything up on the way home?
  7. I love you.

7 Celebrities whom I admire

Ok I don't really admire any of them. They make me crazy.

Play if you like - let me know if you do :)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bella Cucina

Tonight I came home and felt like a real New Yorker. I emailed Rick and suggested stopping at Bella Cucina on the way home. I've been having pasta cravings, and I figured they could take care of that.

What made me feel like a New Yorker was that after work, on the way home, I swung into this cute Italian place (that sports the same curtains I used to have in my house in Portsmouth) and sat at a 4 top in the middle of the dining room. It was pretty quiet around 6:30. We ordered drinks and looked at the menu. Rick had an early bird special - a garden salad to start and a slice of lasagne. I had a pasta craving as I mentioned, and red sauce wasn't doing it. I ordered the carbonara - yes I know - calorie city only beaten by Fettucini Alfredo. At least it has protien from the eggs :)

This is a place where you feel comfortable coming to eat alone, as well as meeting friends. One guy yells across the dining room (not really that big) "Hey! How can you be late? You only live around the corner!" He was probably 70 or so, and the seniors had a big table set up for them. It was cute.

But the fact that I didn't have to go out of my way for dinner - on the way home, no cooking, no cleaning up, and just what I was craving. That felt like a NYC benefit to me :)

OK now I need the chick to clean my apartment, and the chick to do my laundry.......

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Tuscan White Bean Soup

We stopped at the Food Emporium after brunch and got some navy beans, and I found a beautiful slice of parmesean reggiano, and I got a packet of kielbasa (yeah, not Italian, and I thought maybe I won't use it in this dish, but I had a craving). And I found a nice fresh loaf of crusty bread. The Tuscan dish I'm trying to emulate has a good dose of extra virgin olive oil, and I have that in the pantry.

I was reading some health magazine and it was talking about salt. I was shocked to see how much salt is in canned beans - even if you rinse them like I do, it's like 1/2 a day's salt in one serving, which by the way is a 1/2 cup! So, that's why I'm going with dried. I sorted the navy beans and just used the directions on my package (only $1.79 - what a bargain!). I put them in a pot with some water, and brought it to a boil, took it off the heat and let it soak for an hour. After the soak I ran water around the pan and rinsed the beans, and refreshed the water in the pot.
I added a couple bay leaves, and simmered the beans for another 90 minutes. In retrospect, I would try them and see if they are cooked in an hour. I think they were over cooked at a total of 90 minutes.

I chopped 2 fat vidalias I had in the fridge, and caramelized them, and added them to the pot. I peeled and chopped a pound and a half of carrots, fried then up and added them to the pot. I added Thyme, Garlic Powder and Oregano. Don't forget to pluck out those bay leaves - I read somewhere cooking bay leaves with beans are supposed to help if you get gas from beans.

I did end up frying up some of the kielbasa, and added it to the bottom of our soup bowls. I ladeled the soup over them, and drizzled olive oil over the soup (not as much as they did in the show though!). I have to say - I was very surprised at the flavor added to the dish by the olive oil drizzle. I used my veggie peeler to put some curls of parmesean on top, thinking it would make it salty enough, but Rick did add more salt. While making the soup, I used my grill pan to make toast with the crusty bread.

I served this fabulous dish with a recommended chianti classico from Mister Wrights Wines next door. I'll admit, I paid more than I usually do for wine, but wow - really tasty :)

Cilantro's on Saturday

We puttered a bit this morning and then went out for a walk and lunch/brunch. Brunch is a national pasttime found in Manhattan - I think because everyone sleeps in on the weekend :) I wanted to hit the grocery store on our walk as I watched a Samantha Brown Weekend Getaway on TiVo and it was on Tuscany. I was craving a nice bean stew with some crusty bread for dinner (more on that later). And we figured we'd hit the Barnes and Noble on 86th as it's bigger than the one on Lex.

We went to Cilantro's on 2nd Ave between 88th and 89th, and it was quiet when we got there - only one other table was occupied. Rick was in the mood for more breakfasty type food, but I was up for lunch. Rick ordered a breakfast burrito, and it came with a glop of what I think was supposed to be hash browns. Hmmmm. Rick said they were cold. Hmmmm.

I ordered a brunch special as well - a fish burrito and there was a salad on the side. Sorry yours wasn't so good Rick, but mine was really good :) The fish was blackened with a nice warm chile spice - it wasn't so hot that you couldn't taste the fish, but it was enough to season the entire burrito. It was filled with fish, white rice, black beans, pico de gillo and sour cream. I think if I made this at home, I would take the chill off the sour cream before putting it in the burrito.

Rick ended up getting some hot sauce, and according to him, cold potatos taste good when they have hot sauce on them :)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Oh Crap.

I forgot to buy my father a birthday card until today, and his birthday is on Sunday. It's too late to mail it now, so I have to wait until tomorrow. I haven't been good with the family holidays - I feel like there really is no way it could be this late in the year - maybe since I wasn't working for a while, my stride has been broken. Gotta get that back.

I was just talking about the time he showed up at my condo one morning unexpectedly (and since he lives in Pennsylvania, you can appreciate this) and very early ( I was still in my bathrobe, but thankfully not still in bed) with one of those white plastic buckets - the 5 gallon variety. Layered in the very bottom of his bucket was just enough sour red cherries to make one pie. He picked the weekend right - it was Father's day weekend - and as soon as I opened the door, he asked me to make a pie. What could I say but 'OK'?

I don't have a cherry pitter and I've never pitted cherries. Nothing like a little cherry hazing to know that if you ever have to do it again, you'll get a cherry pitter. I used my little paring knife and cut the flesh off those nasty little pits. At this point I was really glad Mom likes blueberry pie. Sort 'em and toss 'em in the crust - done. I guess I was thinking of blueberries when I made that pie.

I brought the pie to my brother's house where the 'rents were staying and the Father's day BBQ was happening. After dinner I started doling out the cherry pie. My Father loved his piece, and my Mom and brother said they liked it too. I was looking forward to trying it as I spent so much time pitting those damn cherries. So, after serving everyone a slice, I served myself and took a nice big bite.


They lied!

This pie sucks!

I made it like a blueberry pie - only a 1/2 cup sugar - not like a rhubarb pie - a heavy cup of sugar - which would have been more appropriate.

very sour.

He said he liked it (course he always said he liked my burnt chocolate chip cookies when I was a teenager, too).

Now I just need to remember to call on Sunday. Happy Birthday Pa :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Suzee's Spice Oatmeal Cookies

When I went home one night, I thought to myself, should I make cookies for people at work? Some times they are well received, but other times they are marking you as a supporter and not a strategist. My boss, a guy, made cookies literally the next day and passed them out to his friends. I got a taste, and I told him about this recipe.

This is Rick's favorite - he would love to have these every night :)

2 sticks room temp butter
1C packed brown sugar
1C ganulated sugar
1 lg egg room temp
1t vanilla
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
1 t ground ginger
1 t cumin
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cayenne pepper
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 C flour
3 C oatmeal
1 C cinnamon chips

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter and both sugars until mixture is light.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add spices and baking soda, then stir.

Gradually stir in flour.

Stir in oats and cinnamon chips.

Drop dough by teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 minutes for each batch.

Let cool for 1 minute and transfer to a cookie rack to cool completely.

Cinnamon chips can be found at King Arther's flour website