Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Travel plans + traveling solo

10 Things to Learn about Yourself When Traveling Alone

I have also been researching some Spanish immersion programs in Latin America. I found flights, round trip, for $400 to $600 and a place in Honduras that's $800 for a month. I have also been reading about the Peace Corps (probably not for me), and contemplating all the possibilities and what responsibilities I have here that I would have to deal with (get out of cell phone contract, rent out apartment, etc.)

I got to go snowboarding today for the first time this season, I rented a helmet (at a mere $3/day) and it gave me the confidence to try linking my turns more and it was, in my opinion, one of my most successful days! I am now looking into where I can go for cheap in the NE when I get back... and hopefully I can get some friends to come along as well!

I'm not sure what will be happening in the next few months... let alone the next one month. I thought I knew what I wanted, then it changed some when I met him and now I don't know what I want. As many friends suggested, it's the perfect time to travel. I'm not really ready to commit to any specific career. I'm in a time of exploring. And that's ok. I am where I need to be. And everything is going to work out. Things happen for a reason.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The world is my oyster

What to do, what to do?

exploring my options, heading back to NY in a few days, going to pack up, sell some books, get rid of some possessions, finally get back my bottle deposits, etc. Move everything to my mom's house, go to NYC, sign up for some spring classes (hopefully hear back about the one job I have a chance of hearing back from with Habitat for Humanity) then figuring out what to do next. Travel to Latin America and learn Spanish? Go work on organic and farm in Italy or Greece in April? Road trip around the US visiting family? Apply to the Yestermorrow of Costa Rica for their internship?

My mom introduced me to insight meditation over Xmas and it has really been helping and I'm excited about living more in the present. I'm a very driven person and have always looked at the future and not really enjoyed the present. I'm excited about running, meditating, hopefully boxing and shooting again, exploring new neighborhoods in NYC, exploring the wonderful world of architecture in school and through informational interviews - to see where I fit into the scheme of things, and taking a step back from the career path I've been on for so long- to reassess and figure out what I really want.

I'm seriously considering a trip to Latin America. For $500 I can fly there, for $800 I can learn Spanish, get 3 meals a day and stay with a family in Honduras for a month. Immersion is the best way to learn, and that's way less than I spend on rent in NY. Hmmm, might have to wait until April... or even Jan 2011 if I get the Habitat job. So many possibilities!

The world is my oyster. I was handed lemons and now I am going to explore many varieties of lemonade, before I decide which kind to make.

Monday, December 21, 2009

So much to think about

I'm trying to figure out what to do next. I applied for a job with Habitat for Humanity that I really hope I get, which would give me time to be working and thinking about what I will do next. But I don't want to count my chicks before they hatch so I am researching school programs, Masters, Certificates, etc. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for. I really enjoyed the Green Remodeling course I took this summer at Yestermorrow. It made a lot of sense to me about building science.

I'm trying to figure out why I veered off towards Landscape Architecture... it made so much sense to me when I did it, but I was originally going to apply to Sustainable Architecture programs and I am ironically finding myself there again. Either Sustainable architecture or construction management. It's only been two weeks since I made the decision to leave Cornell, and had my heart broken, and trying to figure out what to do, where to go, especially in this economy, is exhausting. And I don't know how to turn my brain off and just deal with it later and enjoy where I'm at which is on vacation.

And none of this is cheap. To find a new person to take over my lease, pain in the butt in a city that is not NYC. To move all my stuff. I should just sell a bunch of my stuff. I have so many books, I don't even reference them all that often. I have a lot of arts/crafts/sewing supplies, those add up. I need to simplify my material possessions. I need to find a place to live where I can cook, and have people over to cook with. (Or maybe just go to friends' homes and cook for them...) I need to get my priorities back in line. Me, me, me, me. Career, school, home, food, exercise. I want to start running again. There's a half-marathon in NYC at the end of April. It is hard to apply for jobs when I don't have an address. I want a social life again. I am sort of beginning to understand what happened in the last few months with me, but now I need to figure out how to make things better.

I won't even be back in Ithaca for 2 more weeks, crazy! So much time. So much to do (I didn't pack a thing, and I will return with a day and a half to pack!) Hopefully sell some books, take my bottles back for deposit, etc. Pack my car with the things I want to have access too... probably drive to NYC in Jan, so I can drive to Ithaca if I need to... probably wait until A is back from Mexico to go back up...

Back to tv and school research and coffee with S soon in Eugene. Remember self. You are on vacation!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Portland is a foodie town

And I finally started to look into it. Last time I was in Portland with KE I really wanted to go out to a meal at one of Portland's well known foodie places but money was an issue so we didn't explore the food offerings. But now... I used my Xmas money that was supposed to be for our new years plans and I went out for dinner with my friend L and her new beau at Toro Bravo in NE Portland.

I had a few glasses of a tasty Rioja-- Bold and smooth. I forgot how much I like red wine, it had been so long! Why I do not know! Then I had a bacon wrapped date with an almond in the middle. I didn't care for the almond in the middle, but the date and bacon made a fantastic pair! I'm glad the waitress told us that there were almonds in the middle or I would have thought I bit into the pit! I shared some of L's salad that was quite tasty, as well as a squash ravioli thingy that was tasty with a little spice. I ended my meal with a flatbread with black truffle cheese and arugula. Oh my, that was good. I love cheese with the bitter bite of arugula. I wish I'd had that earlier in the meal. We were all too full to get a dessert but it was a delicious meal. I'm sure if I had less to drink and hadn't spent all the dinner time in catch up mode with L that my restaurant review would be much more interesting and wordy :P

It's about time to go to sleep... one of the benefits of drinking wine. Mmmm wine.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oregon, shopping and eating

It's so nice to be back in Portland. I still don't see myself moving back here, despite recurring 'where should I live' tests telling me Portland is the place for me. The economy. I don't have a network of friends here... I have a line of friends (2 people) and some family. Maybe when I fall out of love with New York City but, I'm just not ready to give up on NYC!

I have eaten more today than I have any day in the last week and a half, so that's probably good. I'm feeling inspired to start running. I want to find a race in NYC to start training for and, more importantly, find some people to start training with!

I did a bit of shopping today too, got some new skinny jeans, a sexy V-neck sweater, some white ballerina flats, and a couple black tanktops. I like black and dark clothes. Which is fine except my dad's two awesomest cats ever (Xena and Xerxes- who jump up on your lap when you pat it, come when you call them, and Xerxes curls up with me under the covers) are white Siamese cats. Black clothing's worst enemy!!

I also did some book shopping today. I picked up a couple books as gifts for my brother and his fiancee I think they are going to enjoy. I got a couple cover letter and resume writing books (and promptly applied for a Habitat for Humanity position- fingers crossed!!!!!!!) and a book recommended to me by my neighbor in Ithaca called The Beauty Myth. I'm looking forward to reading it but for now, I'm ending my night watching Funny People.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Interesting and thought provoking articles

Singles: Patterns of Pursuit Psychology Today

Sexual Energy and the Single Woman Psychology Today

The Art of Now Psychology Today

Travel to Create Your Self Psychology Today

I like this magazine :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

heading home-ish

I'm so glad I'm heading back to Oregon, I actually extended my stay so that I wouldn't be alone over New Years Eve (I'd had plans with KE). I'm freaking out about money because I haven't found someone to take over my apartment yet, so my next best bet is someone to take over in Feb, but this isn't the city- there aren't as many people constantly moving.

I'm trying to keep myself pumped about the benefits of being single now. I'm sad that this man who was so important to me won't be in my life anymore, but it work me up to the fact that I had made him such a priority and lost myself a bit. So now I am trying to find myself again. After my trip to Oregon, I'll come back and move my stuff to my mom's and then I don't know what. I might stay with her for a bit and drive back up to show the apartment, I might head straight to the city, I might do something else. Going back to NYC is my first instinct because that was home for the last 8 years. But the economy isn't great there for my field, but it isn't great anywhere. I took an online quiz again to see where I should live at findyourspot.com and Portland came up first, again. New York didn't actually show up on my list, I think because I checked the box for medium cities so mostly that's what I got. Providence was on the list as well and I like Providence but the unemployment rate there is really high, and that's where KE is from, so I don't see that happening. Albuquerque, NM was second on the list, but I'm not really into the SE... I'm a Yankee :P

Being single means I can focus on myself, rediscover the things that I like, go out and meet new people, things that I have done in the past and enjoyed when I was doing them before I met KE. There was life before him, there will be life after him. I'm so glad I'm going home to spend time with family. I'm a planner and generally make along term plan but at this point I don't have one. This is new territory for me. I'm also dealing with some personal stuff and may start to see a counselor after the holidays before I make any decisions about where to go or what to do. I've been following this path since like 8th grade when I decided my career path. I have always been driven in my career, but I have derived so much of my happiness from my work and I need more.

If this isn't a quarter-life crisis, I don't know what is. These decisions aren't cheap, but figuring out myself and following my dreams and trying to be happy... are things worth splurging on. It is, after all, just money. (Hopefully I feel this way when I'm job hunting for months.) I just have to remind myself that this is a phase. I will find a new job, I will figure out my path, I will learn to enjoy the journey and take pressure off the destination, and eventually I will find a man who wants to share the journey together.

I have been exploring working abroad, Outward Bound courses, entry level jobs in NY, taking a road trip, sustainable jobs, reading up on the economy, career path options, selling my car, finding a new tenant, exercises in personal exploration and positive thinking. Oh and trying not to plan.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making lemonade, finding the silver lining in a broken heart

I just drew this trying to do some art therapy for myself...

Moving away from learning to be cheap my recent decisions will not be cheap at all... except hopefully in the long run. Last weekend KE and I broke up. I spent a lot of time thinking and talking to my mom and I was telling her how I was not happy at school. I have been less and less passionate about my career path. After my summer at Yestermorrow I went straight into school without time to process how the experience changed me. In part because I don't feel solid in my program and in part because I wanted to be closer to KE I said I wanted to move back to the city. KE decided that he needs to focus on his career fully which means no time for me. I am devastated, dropping weight like crazy for lack of appetite and still planning to move back to the city.

I emailed everyone I know, I have a couple friends I can stay with while I look for a sublet apartment and a new job. I believe that KE and I will be friends but I need to really take a break in order to be ready for that. I still want him to be a part of my life, he was my rock for the last 6 months when I went through a lot of change. Now I need to be my own rock and face change again. Luckily I have many great friends and very supportive family. I have already had offers of places to crash all over the country. I am taking this opportunity to really reevaluate my own career goals. I lost sight of my goals because I had KE and he became my goal. I had my eggs in many baskets and then suddenly I had one basket and it was him and he wasn't ready for it. This has been easier than the last break up, I have grown a lot and I am both dreading and looking forward to even more personal growth to come in the months ahead.

For this move I will be traveling light. I will put all my things in storage near my mom's house, and coordinate my move with her move (again!) so that we only rent one truck. This way we can also help each other move. I will keep my car at her house in DE and come up to NY with what I can carry in a backpack and a duffel bag. I have already contacted friends and gotten a couple offers of places to stay while I look for a sublet, which is near impossible when outside the city. I am going to push this time of change for myself and try to move to an area that is outside my comfort zone. I lived in the Pratt area for 8 years and it is what I know. I am going to try living in Manhattan. Even if that means more money and less space. I am also going to do what I was doing in my last between relationship time: self improvement. I want to say yes to going out. I want to be more involved. If I am living in a small apartment I will go out. If I start out with just a few months sublet I can see how this new approach works for me.

I will also be job hunting. Part of why I am leaving this prestigious school is the cost of the school and the benefits I will gain that require the degree I'm working towards just don't add up. After my summer on a construction site, where I was working with my hands, and I loved it. I have learned through my limited work experience I need an office that keeps me busy, especially with a variety of tasks or else I tend to get bored. I like working with my hands, I always have. In my free time I sew and bake and do crafty things- like a card cut out of paint chips with an exacto knife. Precision and detailed work. In architecture school I was well known for my detailed models and love of tweezers for assembling them. I need to do something using my hands. If I can't do it for my main career at least I can find a job where I am on a construction site, and over see schedules, planning and coordination. These are things I do in my spare time for myself. Right now, however, my plan extends until Feb. Move to NY, find a job. In December I will be reading a couple books to help me think about the kinds of jobs I want to apply for and to work on my cover letter writing skills. This trip to Oregon couldn't come at a better time. Xmas with family at the beach house will be comforting. Although the wedding weekend that I'm about to head into might be a little rough. Friday bachelorette party, Saturday bridal shower, Sunday wedding. But if I remind myself that I'm not ready, but like the last breakup, I want to do new things, get a hair cut, dress up, make myself feel attractive. Perhaps a ladies night out is just what I need.

This has been an exhausting week, and it hasn't even been a full week yet. I had to come home and de-KE my apartment, I have gifts for him for Xmas that are now sitting in a box making me sad. I understand his reasons for not being able to focus on a relationship but that doesn't make it hurt any less. I hope that he figures out what he wants just as I hope that I figure out what I want.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But don't just make regular lemonade. Think about how you can make better lemonade. What can you do to improve your lemonade? I am working on improving myself so that my next relationship will be even better because I will be stronger and remember keep my eggs in more than one basket.

Sigh. I'm looking forward to going back to the city in part to go to museums, maybe practice some more drawing, that was one of my favorite things in Rome was all the drawings we did. I need to get out more and being in school does not lead to me getting out more, it leads to me retreating into my hermit shell, having KE made that feel like it was ok but it really wasn't.

Time for yet another cup of tea.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Yeah, so... when I'm depressed I don't eat. 3 days and I've hardly eaten anything (fully dressed I weight less than I did after Thanksgiving. Now is not a good time for food in my life.

A big change behind me over the weekend (hence the depression). Big changes ahead... tbd planning in process, lots of thinking to do and some reading of some hopefully helpful books.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Brown Rice Chronicles

I made brown rice yesterday:
1/2 c long grain brown rice
1c + 1/4 c water

boiled covered until the water was gone

crunchy rice NO GOOD

I made brown rice today:
1/2 c long grain brown rice
2 cups water

boiled uncovered until the water was mostly gone

RESULT: It's goo. I have successfully made goo (KE must be so proud)

Tomorrow I will try again. Hopefully I'll get the hang of this brown rice thing, I still have a large bag of it!

I made this rice to go with curry, my new favorite cheap meal! So good and it tastes just like it does from the Thai places in Brooklyn!

Pineapple & Broccoli Red Coconut Curry
1 brick of tofu- pressed 1 hour and then fry (use a nonstick... I learned the hard way that stainless steel just doesn't work)
approx 1 Tbsp oil
1/2 onion chopped small,
3 spoonfuls Thai Red Curry Paste
1 cap coconut milk
3/4 c broccoli (if it's frozen, heat it up in water for a bit and drain before adding to curry)
1/2 c pineapple tidbits
Splash of fish sauce
Prepared Brown Rice

1. Prep Tofu and set aside.
2. Cook onion and olive oil covered to soften a bit (learned form watching Julia Child made French Onion Soup- on my list to attempt this winter!)
3. Add curry paste, stir around, add broccoli, stir some more. Add coconut milk and pineapple bits and sprinkle of fish sauce and simmer.
4. Add tofu and simmer a bit more til reheated.
5. Serve over brown rice (hopefully you know how to make it... or you buy the instant stuff... which has a better success rate!)

Monday, November 23, 2009


I'm finally using the last of the pasta I bought at Costco, hooray! To get more variety in my diet I am going to try eating different grains now- focusing on rice and Asian style dishes. I got a brick of tofu with which to experiment. I didn't know you were supposed to press it until KE showed me when he prepared tofu for dinner one night. I don't recall eating a lot of tofu growing up, so I'm not very familiar with how to prepare it. (Specifically how to get it to be like the tofu I've had at restaurants.) Tofu is one of those mystery ingredients I want to learn about. With winter break approaching I am getting excited for the culinary experiments - especially while staying with KE. Somehow it's easier to cook for 2 than for one... especially when you don't like left overs (like me).

I also purchased some Thai curry paste and a can of coconut milk. I'd like to try to make a curry dish with rice, veggies and tofu. I read in my big-ass sauce book about making a Thai curry and it's pretty simple, so long as you have the ingredients. In looking at what to make for my pre-thanksgiving I was evaluating my pans and I think I need a new 2-QT saucepan. I use it frequently and the non-stick coating is scratched pretty badly. I'd like to get a nice stainless steel one. I got rid of all my other nonstick pans and while cleaning them is a little more work, I like not worrying about flakes of teflon in my body :)

Tomorrow is Pre-Thanksgiving, I'll be sure to report our menu and how it went! (There's only 3 of us and my mom and step dad aren't picky, so I'm going vegetarian, and it will not be a feast, to prevent us all from overeating, a family tradition.)

Friday, November 20, 2009


My mom and step dad are coming up for an early Thanksgiving, because I wanted to spend T-day with KE (aren't they understanding parents :) )

I'm trying to keep up with my decision to be vegetarian outside of the house, my first test was Turkey at today's Landscape Architecture department Thanksgiving Feast. As the first test... it was pretty easy to pass up. And I wasn't saying to anyone's face so no feelings were hurt (that's one of the food issues that causes weight gain especially in the holidays as I recall from a certain 4th of July). There was stuffing that tasted like it was flavored with ramen packets, there were two types of yams (one of which was a little chunky and very tasty!) there were mashed potatoes that were "meh" and there was broccoli that I had to restrain myself from taking too much. I think it had garlic on it but whatever it was... it was tasty!

I'm still excited to read my new book on how to become vegetarian. I want to make sure I still eat well or rather... that I DO eat well.

I was looking through my spending and I spend more money on food than anything else (after rent). I have been more careful with how I spend money, because I really don't want to waste food. I bought a large tub of strawberry Stonybrook yogurt. And it is disgusting. I've purchased the little cups and they taste fine but this one tastes like it was flavored with melted down plastic strawberries. It's horrible! So instead of saving money by buying the big container, I wasted money because I cannot eat this yogurt. It is so frustrating. I also purchased a loaf of sourdough but then didn't eat it that night, or the next night then the next night it was stale. Ew. I stuck it in the freezer hopefully I'll be able to do something with it, what I don't know.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, but not as much as I am looking forward to Xmas, when I won't have final projects due the following week! I am looking forward to family time at both holidays, I love family time, especially over food. As long as I remember portion control it will be a great weekend.

As far as exercise, I did finally get dumbbells to exercise with, I haven't had a chance to exercise yet. I have Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. I did it one day (without weights) and I was still sore. I really want to do it 30 days in a row. Hopefully to start soon, like after he semester is over. I don't think I will be reaching my goal by new years. I finally stopped buying the mint M&Ms which will help I think. Sigh. 'tis the season to gain weight.

Mid October... sigh. Seriously need to get back on track. I was on the right track in mid October.. weddings. That's when I had two weddings to go to, with tasty food... and open bars :) I think trips to the city hurt my weight. Visiting friends, going out to eat. When I am at home, I don't go out to eat. I'm trying to eat more veggies. I stopped myself from buying pasta so I can start eating more rice. I'm trying to use what I have at home but I've also realized that I need to try to experiment with my cooking a little more. I love the staples I know how to make but if I am expected to feed additional people later in life, I'm going to need some variety. Not everyone is happy with a loaf of bread and cheese or steamed broccoli and pasta and cheese for dinner. Oh, and I think I eat too much cheese. I need to work on that.

So... how to eat well, enjoy variety, and have some experimental meals. I picked up some coconut milk and Thai curry paste... I have some tofu, I'm excited to experiment with it. To report back soon!

I made gingersnaps yesterday (97 of them!) this was the recipe. I baked them for about 8.5 minutes, They came out thin, flat and chewy. Just how I like them! Somehow they weren't as tasty fresh out of the oven but the next day they were super tasty. Very ginger-y. I wish I had some peach sauce and vanilla ice cream to accompany them!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Cheap food

The cost of food has been going down since the start of the industrial age. Please look at the increasing cost of medical care. See anything fishy? They are pretty much inverse. As the price of food went down, and cheaper calories from added-value foods were made more readily available people began consuming more and more... crap.

This is the topic I am obsessed with: food access, local food economies, food availability, changing the subsidy structure of the US.

A tasty dinner

What a tasty dinner.

Double cooked brussel sprouts ($3 for the whole thing, eating about 1/3 of the package)
roasted red pepper and tomato soup ($1.50, eating half of it)
sourdough grilled cheese ($3.75 loaf of bread, eating 2 thick-ish slices and a bit of cheese off a 2# block of Cabot Seriously Sharp. Cost... 8.99/lb)

Halve brussel sprouts then steam. Make grilled cheese sandwich using, remove when done and sautee brussel sprouts in pan (using a little extra fat. Olive oil or butter, I used butter this time but usually use olive oil). Heat up soup. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired. Serve. Dip sandwich in soup. Smile at your tasty meal :)

Man oh man. I love brussel sprouts cooked this way. Steaming makes them soft, sauteeing gives the the little burn-y spots that taste so good.

I should not have bought the mint M&Ms... sooo good,

Sunday, November 8, 2009

quick dessert

I have lots of frozen berries, and a bit of Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream (so good!)

In a small saucepan heat up, some berries, a splash of rum and heat until boiling for a little bit. Pour over ice cream and eat! Mmm. No need to add extra sugar like the compote recipes tell you too. Unless you want juicier berries.

Meat - This omnivore's dilemma

I'm contemplating giving up meat. I've been reading a lot about how meat should be eaten in small amounts, which I already do. And eating meat takes a larger toll on the environment than a vegetarian diet. My family was pescetarian growing up, after a certain age. I would eat chicken at friend's houses and restaurants, but I'm realizing now that logic is backwards. At a restaurant I can't know where the meat is coming from and being a compassionate carnivore requires knowing the origins of your meat.

Also I just wasted $9 of free range chicken because I didn't use it fast enough. I didn't even prepare it. I just bought it with plans to prepare it, then froze it then thawed it and somewhere in that process it went bad. And that pisses. me. off. I was all ready to make it and it had gone bad. Wasting food is one of my issues- I have a tendency to waste food. It's an issues I've been trying to deal with since living alone where I no longer have the excuse that my food was moved and is hiding behind my roommate's milk...

I got a book, The New Becoming Vegetarian, to read before I make the decision final. I do like meat... and I have no idea how to cook tofu. But I was vegan for 2 months back in '07 and that was fine- the only reason I came out of it was because I missed cheese.

It's also cheaper to eat vegetarian, at least, when you choose meat like I do. Sustainable/free-rage/local meat is expensive. I have no desire to eat the cheaper corn fed of questionable origin meats with lots of antibiotics.

One of the big things is getting enough protein, especially as I am trying to work out more... uh, in theory... but rice and beans is supposed to be a complete protein when eaten together. I made brown rice and mixed it into my chili. It was soooo filling.

I shall keep you posted on the transition!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The quinetessential city dwellers fireplace

1. install greasemonkey,
2. install Loopy for youtube
3. go here and click 'loop' (bottom right) then go to fullscreen mode
(remember to adjust the time on or disable your screen saver)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not sure what to do with what's in your fridge?

This website, My Fridge Food, gives you recipes based on ingredients you select. If you already have a list of what's in your pantry, this will help you figure out what your options are for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Side note

I'm famous! Well... it's my 15 minutes of fame. I'm quoted in the NY Times Magazine from October 4th, 2009, from my time at Yestermorrow last summer.

I will also being doing a presentation next Friday about the project we did this summer at my university.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I made chili yesterday! I froze 2/3rds of it in smaller containers so that I can thaw it in the fridge and not let it go bad. I have realized I need to use my freezer more.
I'm frustrated because I purchased a small-ish bunch of asapragus a couple days ago, I stored it upright in water like you are supposed to. When I went to eat it for lunch today the tops were soggy and stinky. One more entry to the food waste journal.
1 bunch of asparagus $2.80
I'm guessing that frozen vegetables might be better for me because of my inconsistent rate of eating them. I ate my farmer's market broccoli in time. I'm still working on the bunch of kale I bought a week ago.

I think I'm going to make some hot chocolate... so my milk doesn't go to waste too. I thought I'd make some tapioca pudding, but I don't have any tapioca :( I could have sworn I had some in my pantry when I left my stuff with my mom... mom? did you take it!? And now I don't want to spend the extra money on that luxury (I'd rather spend it on some nice dark chocolate). For now... homework and Mexican hot chocolate!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Quick dinner

steamed summer squash (some lil' fellas I got at the farmer's market last weekend)
pasta (I bought a whole bunch of pasta at Costco during the summer, still using it up, wishing it was whole wheat though...)
Cheddar cheese (I get flack for this all the time, because I put cheddar on everything, even spaghetti with marinara sauce, but it's so so good!)

Quite a simple dinner.

Oh, and fresh mint tea: fresh leaves of mint and hot water. So tasty and supposedly helps aid digestion! It also takes me back to morocco (minus the dirt and sugar commonly found in the tea there... and fewer leaves because I just have the one plant- and I want it to last ). This is totally my new favorite. I think it's better than green tea.

I might have some ice cream later. I probably shouldn't have bought the ice cream, but I like it so much! Maybe a milkshake, I need to use my milk before it goes bad.

I'm looking forward to doing a bit more cooking this weekend (amidst prepping for my midterm). It feels so good to make food. I miss having people to share it with though.

*Sigh* moving/long distance relationship/new town

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Working out at home

I recently stumbled upon this website, exercise.tv, because I was looking for exercise videos I could get for FREE!!!

I just tried this free cardio kickboxing one and I really enjoyed it! (It helped me feel warm in my cold apartment!)

They way I got myself to finally do it (I found this site several weeks ago and didn't do anything yet!) I set a timer for time I coudl do work and then when the timer went off I got my workout clothes on and moved my chair aside and did the workout in my office/living room. I feel pretty pumped and it's nice. I miss exercise. I used to do a boxing class at the gym across the street form my work and I loved it. I'd never done kickboxing before, I'm sure my kicks aren't as high or as properly formed as they could be but I think if I continue to do this video I'll get better.

I'm excited about this! I also got Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred workout on my netflix cue, should receive that real soon and then decide if I want to purchase it.

Some things to try for to convince yourself to exercise
(good luck remembering them, try writing reminder notes, and setting alarm reminders for workouts):
  • take note of how great you feel at the end of a workout and remind yourself every time you don't feel up to working out
  • bribe yourself for workouts. Every workout is $1 towards new lingere, every workout is $1 towards a new book, every workout is $1 towards your next vacation. Get creative, think about the things that will encourage you the most
  • Write notes to yourself (I have one on my mirror that says "DON'T BE LAZY, work out, go for a run, don't forget to stretch")- it all depends on how you talk to yourself :P
The workout I just did was only 22 minutes. It is totally possible to make time for that in the morning before breakfast. Now that I did my exercise for the day, I'm going to make dinner! Yay!

Eating well on a downsized budget - NYTimes article

Eating well on a Downsized Budget By JANE E. BRODY, March 2, 2009

"So let’s welcome back to the American table meals made from potatoes, eggs, beans, low-fat or nonfat yogurt and milk (including reconstituted powdered milk), carrots, kale or collards, onions, bananas, apples, peanut butter, almonds, lean ground beef, chicken and turkey, along with canned or frozen corn, peas, tomatoes, broccoli and fish. For nutrient-dense beverages, Dr. Drewnowski suggests 100 percent fruit juice blends and fruit-and-vegetable juice blends."

yay, I have and have been eating most of these things!

Farmer's market trip

Rainy days are my favorite for farmer's markets, fewer people and still fresh tasty local produce! I went to the Farmer's market today with $22 in my pocket for food for the week (in addition to my 2.5 hour grocery shopping last week) and this is what I came out with:

$6 Rosemary plant
$2 4 ears of corn
$1.5 pumpkin
$6 1/4 peck of Ginger Gold apples
$3 large bunch of kale
$1.5 quart of small squash
$2 head of broccoli

All local, fresh, in season, some of it organic (but I didn't,honestly, check that).

So meals for the week might include:
baked apples for dessert!
Roasted Acorn Squash (from last week's grocery store visit)
Potatoes (past farmer's market seconds at $1.5/pound!) with rosemary and kale
Steamed broccoli with elbow noodles, cheese and pepper
Sauteed baby squash and kale
Roasted Pumpkin soup

I finally bought bread last week which took forever because I didn't want it to have sugar in it. I finally found a loaf of organic bread with honey sweetener. I am still trying to avoid processed sugar. I bought a small amount of maple sugar at the co-op ($3 worth, a tiny little bag when it costs about $13.50 a pound!) in case I need to sweeten something. I also have honey from my summer in Vermont, honey from my brother in Oregon and maple syrup from Vermont (but that's mostly reserved for acorn squash!). I have still been thinking a lot about making bread. I also have a bunch of plums I bought last weekend that I might make a baked good with... I'm really feeling the baking jones. Need to make something!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Latkes to warm my cool fall apartment

The air is cooling off and it's been a bit windy today, time to close the windows! I am debating weather to bake or fry my latkes, olive oil is good for you so if I don't use too much it's probably ok. Having the oven on would heat up the house a bit though... hmmm... I'm going to make the mixture first and the decide how best to cook them.

Latkes (how I make them!):
3-4 russet potatoes
1 onion
2 egg
1 clove of garlic, pressed (or diced as finely as you can get it!)
4ish Tbsp white whole wheat flour
salt to taste
olive oil for frying

1. Clean potatoes and grate with a coarse grater into a big bowl. Sprinkle with salt, let sit while you do the dishes. Come back and squeeze out excess water from grated potatoes.
2. cut onion into small pieces (I like smaller pieces, some people probably like bigger slices of onion. Just don't make them too big or it will be hard for the latke to stay together during cooking.)
3. Stir together egg, garlic and onion in potatoes, add a little salt. Slowly add flour, but don't let it get too dry!
4. Using two spoons or your hands, form little pancakes, don't make them too thick or the centers will be undercooked. If you are frying and the latkes are a little too thick, you can put a lid on the pan and sort of bake them while they fry. Or if you want to bake them make them pretty thin and then flip them over part way through cooking (as suggested by this google search result for baked latkes).

Serve warm, with apple sauce, or sauerkraut, or slices of fresh apple, or sour cream, or salt!

Friday, September 25, 2009


Oh Chow and Bon Appetite, why do you taunt me so with your tasty sounding dishes and beautiful food porn?!

Trying to figure out what one thing I want to make this weekend from a fancy recipe. Probably something apple based cause it 'tis the season and I LOVE APPLES!

The local apple I got is called Paula Red, it's the best apple I remember having both baked apple and fresh with peanut butter. Mmm, mouth watering, back to the great recipe hunt!

New cookbook!!

I just received my copy of Baked, I'm so excited to make something out of it, everything looks amazing!!
The brownies look good, the pumpkin chocolate bread, the coconut snowball cupcakes, the sugar cookies decorated... and especially the grasshopper cake (mint and chocolate!!! YUMMY!)

Actual cooking experience to be blogged later :)


I have this internal debate. Mostly it stems from the relationship of time, money and exercise. My school is located at the top of a hill at the base of which I live. It takes me about 25 minutes to get to class and probably a little less to get home. When I finish class at noon I want to go home and make lunch but I also feel encouraged to stick around on campus. On Friday nights there is a grad school happy hour at 4, and I haven't really been around most Fridays to check it out but if I walk home am I really going to walk back? In undergrad I was in studio all the time, it was also 5 minutes away, and I didn't have space to work at home. Now it's a uphill trek, I have an apartment all to my self and a room with a table to work on. I can also cross my legs under my table at home which I cannot do at my table in studio. A negative.

If I stay later than class, and didn't bring anything for lunch because I wasn't planning on staying there is also the debate: do I purchase food which will most likely be disappointing, or do I go home and plan to come back?

Coming back to studio after 5pm means I could park for free on campus (without a permit) and drive up here. It was nice when I did that on Wednesday for class because I went to the library afterward and then didn't have to carry all the books downhill, but it took about as long to get here as it would have to walk because of all the pedestrian traffic.

"Le sigh."

How to try to be a part of the group, and still get work done in a comfortable setting, and eat good food (which seems to mean that I made it or it's from one of my favorite restaurants in Brooklyn!).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall dessert, finally, baked apples again!!!

Baked apples are probably one of my favorite desserts. Especially with vanilla Ciao Bella gelato, however I don't have that. I do have some whipping cream so I'll probably whip some up (assuming it's still good, the sell by date has passed, and I don't know how long it stays good after that).

I'm not sure what kind of apple I got but it's flesh is pure white and it tastes like real apple. It is the best apple I've had in a while. I love apple season!!!!

Baked apple for me (for one :) )
1 apple (in a tall ramekin) cored (I left the skin on, but I wish I hadn't)
some butter
some oats
some raisins
some cinnamon
some sliced almonds

set oven to 350 degrees
bake for 30 minutes

mix up all the stuff except the apple, keeping the butter in little cold chunks, and pour into cored cavity of apple in ramekin

top with ice cream or whipped cream or yogurt or sour cream

Budget woes or The conscientious eater - what can I eat?!

My budget is small. Not by the standards of some, but compared to what I'm used to from when I was working full time in high end projects in New York City (where the cost of living is also higher). Getting used to this is hard. To be invited to go somewhere for a weekend throws my gas budget way out of proportion. I was living the last month like I wasn't on the budget that I am an it's frustrating to see that at the end of the month I haven't paid (or received) my gas/electric bill yet and now I've spent my September money and so that will have to come out of October, along with October's gas/electric. I also have 2 trips planned to attend weddings one of which we will be staying in a hotel. Time to buckle down more than I have been. When grocery shopping I have been price comparison shopping and opting not to get things that are not in season.

I spent 2.5 hours grocery shopping because all my learning about the food system is making it even harder to shop. I see fresh strawberries that are organic and I get excited until I walk up to them, realize they are from California, a wave of guilt rushes over me and I pass them by. I walk to the freezer and look at berries and I don't know where they are from and I think about if they are from California as well all the energy it takes to truck frozen goods across the country. It makes me wish I'd been here in the summer to get my own produce and freeze it/preserve it. My goal for next summer is to U-pick a lot and preserve as much as I can. Canning, filling my pantry and freezing, filling my freezer (it's supposed to be more efficient when full anyhow). I'm only feeding myself so a freezer and cupboard full of preserved food ought to last me a while. I asked a professor of mine if he could teach me next summer how to preserve things and he said he will.

So, before next summer, I need to:
- save money to buy more food than I need in the summer
- read about preserving
- scout deals on jars for preserving
- figure out if I'm going to plant anything and what I want to pick and preserve (Pesto, tomato sauce, fruit, veggies, pickles, sauerkraut, etc.)
- hit the library, cause I can't afford to buy the books that I want!

Argh. Money. I have some food in my pantry so I will probably be having rice and beans and using the things I have in my freezer like that pound of ground beef from the farmer's market. My biggest fear is wasting food. Making a bunch of it and not finishing it and letting it go to waste. That's been one of my biggest hurdles, and I no longer have the excuse of roommates moving my food in the fridge (which tends to lead to me forgetting about it). It's all me!

I've also been keeping close track of my spending by keeping receipts and obsessively checking my mint.com account. I did start using my credit card again, so that I can get Amazon rewards, to buy books I need for thesis research and cookbooks. But still trying to make sure that I can pay off the credit card as soon as I get home- no balances carried over. (Making my credit card work for me). I also need to figure out how to save some money every month for bigger purchases like a flight home at Christmas time, postage for mailing New Years cards (cause no one's getting an actual present, unless it's home made and made from things I already have).

Ok, this is too much stress talk before 9am. Must study a bit before climbing the hill to school. I have a free bus pass but am enjoying the daily exercise (with the exception of arriving to school sweaty and then getting cold because I'm sweaty!). Come winter time though, we'll see if I feel the same.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kitchen ballet or sea scallop dinner.

2 oz whole wheat spaghetti (1/8 of a box) $1.50 or so for a box of spaghetti
1/3 head of broccoli $2 for a head
4 sea scallops ($10.99/lb I got 8 for just under $4, about 50 cents a piece at Wegmans)
1 clove garlic
olive oil
Parmesan cheese
ground black pepper

(wish I had: fresh lemon juice)

How to do it seamlessly (a kitchen ballet if you will...):

Start water for pasta, put pasta in when boiling. Dice clove of garlic and broccoli. Heat up saute pan with olive oil, put broccoli into the pasta water, put garlic in saute pan. When oil is sizzling, set sea scallops in (make sure there is oil right where you set them). Pull broccoli out of pasta water with your trusty kitchen tongs, shake off water and plate. Flip sea scallops, hear them sizzle. Check that pasta is done (hopefully it is by now). Pull out of pot with tongs (or strain if you must) and let water drip off a bit before plating. Sprinkle Parmesean and pepper onto broccoli and pasta, plate scallops, grab toasty garlic bits and put on pasta and/or broccoli. If you have lemon juice (why, oh why, didn't I buy at least one lemon yesterday on my 2.5 hour grocery shopping trip!?) put it on now (you lucky so-and-so). Dive in!!!!

Smoothest meal I ever made!

A couple pieces of dark chocolate for dessert (though I probably should have waited a little bit before eating them!) I'm also realizing I need to get wine. Red and white. Probably in a box so that it keeps longer because I never finish a bottle of wine on my own (though I would if I made sure to cook with it, I was told that red wine makes homemade tomato sauce even better!)

I finally bought a loaf of bread

Ah, the sweet simplicity of a peanut butter and jam sandwich.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back from a weekend away... no new groceries

Breakfast was... uh... some OJ, I forgot if I ate anything else.
Lunch was leftover black bean chili I made last week
For dinner: camping casserole: 2oz cooked pasta, 3oz tuna packet, thin slices of cheese and ground pepper. I would make that differently if I had some broccoli I could have cooked and could have stirred that in, alas my only veggies are a cucumber and some frozen peas and I wasn't really feeling the frozen peas tonight.

This leads me to: meal planning and grocery shopping tonight! (After catching up on some work, I'm glad the grocery store is 24 hours.)
One thing I noticed is that I need bread! I have peanut butter and black raspberry jam but nothing to eat it on and BP&J is a great quick lunch.
I need toilet paper...

I've been wanting latkes for a while so I will pick up some ingredients. I've also been thinking about trying to make something new at least once a week from one of my cookbooks. I generally make the same stuff over and over with little variation and I want to learn to cook more things. I've got my index card ready for making my grocery list, and my cookbooks are out and ready for me to meal plan as soon as I finish this bit of homework...

Time Out!

Later: Grocery store tomorrow night, too sleepy and need to get to sleep- didn't get enough sleep last night!

Friday, September 18, 2009

In Brooklyn = ethnic food!

Indian food for lunch!
So apparently I don't like Mango Lassi that much... it's kind of sour
Tikka Masala, with rice and Naan
That's $20 out of my food budget for the month but soooo worth it.

I also splurged today on some books, one that I think will be really helpful for my thesis research: Hungry City and a copy of the current issue of Threads Magazine. I have some sewing projects on the board for a couple events in October and I'm always looking to learn better tailoring techniques. I splurged a bit on books the other day and today but I should be good with plenty to read now!

And tonight, Italian with my man, celebrating my birthday (a little late... part of the LDR deal).
Yay Brooklyn, back to lunch and studying!

Thursday overview and start of Friday

My breakfast was a small glass of OJ and the last of my hard boiled eggs. This was insufficient to get me through beyond lunch. My stomach was even gurgled outloud during class! Then on campus I grabbed a sandwich: $3.11 for rye bread, mustard, lettuce, tomato, cucumber and provolone. It was tasty and filling enough but I needed something sweet. I walked up to the Ag Quad and there was a fraternity sponsored farm day going on! There were cows and calves and sheep to pet. One big cow with one one of those hatches to get into its rumen. It was in a large pen with a grid painted on the ground for cow-pie bingo- you win if it poops in your square! There was a stand of free apples from the Cornell, I had one yellowish green one that was really really tasty. Then I spent $1 to get some Cornell Dairy chocolate ice cream and off to class I went!

After class I headed home and drove to Brooklyn where I joined my boyfriend for dinner at his friend's house. They made an amazing dinner including the most elaborate salad I think I've ever had. It had beets, endive, some other kind of lettuce, goat cheese, orange wedges, a tarragon dressing and probably something else. It was soooo good! Building up salads is fun, I haven't been much of a salad eater lately but I definitely have had salad phases. The salad was followed by pasta with homemade pesto, seitan (which was way tastier than I expected, not sure how they cooked it but yum!) and halved cherry tomatoes. For dessert there was some chocolate tasting- an apricot milk chocolate and a cherry dark chocolate and homemade coffee and chocolate ice cream. Quite the feast!

Now I am off to get my morning bagel so that I am appropriately hungry when lunch time comes around for either Thai or Indian food... I haven't decided yet! Oh the tasty choices in Brooklyn, mmmm

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An uneventful day in the life of food, evening edition

Before I went to my evening class I grabbed a little applesauce cup. I used to buy the applesauce jar but I never, NEVER ate all the applesauce before it went bad. So I stick to the small cups so I have it when I need it (I use it for baking and pancakes instead of oil).

For dinner I made blackbean chili nachos by lining a pan with blue corn chips, piling the chili (made yesterday) on, heating at 350 for about 8 minutes, taking out, adding grated cheese, and heating ntil the cheese was melted. It was pretty tasty though maybe a little too much food!

It was suggested to me to include the price of making meals... I had begun this at the beginning of hte blog but was unsatisfied with the pricing. Some people divide up how much of a package you used. Like say you used 1/4 of a box of pasta and that pasta cost $4 so it says in the recipe financial analysis: pasta $1

I don't really see it that way because once I buy the pasta it's in my pantry and I only really account for purchases based on newly purchased food for a specific recipe or set of recipes. I'm not totally sure how to deal with this just yet, but attempts will be made. Another thought is just to look at what's in the pantry and how much I spent for the week and then follow with what I made that week using what's in my pantry. I'm proud of myself for not going to the grocery store this week and working with ingredients I have. I grew up in a Costco household so I am used to always having lots of food on hand but as a lone apartment dweller it makes less sense than the family of 4 pantry logic.

There will probably be some dessert later (after laundry and flashcard studying)... I do have whipping cream that expires on the 13th... and some defrosted berries I didn't use yet.... and some chopped up dark chocolate... hmmmmm

10:15pm, just home from doing laundry, got in minutes before the rain started! Yay! Had a soda and the sugary coating made my throat feel much better! I think I might be too full for my dessert though...

An uneventful day in the life of food

Running late this morning for lack of sleep. Throat is feeling dry and scratchy, for the 3rd day in a row but so far that is the only symptom. A glass of orange juice as a poor excuse for breakfast calories and a walk up the hill. Two big ol' mugs of tea and a walk downhill home.
I'm hungry. I spot my car, I remember I have some road trip snack left in the back seat.
If you like Cheetos and cheese and crunchy pufy things that have nice texture and tasty flavor then I highly recommend these chip. I can not get enough of them! One thing i think is especially neat about them is that they don't have wheat! They are corn meal and rice flour based (gluten-free!) and real cheese and whey and buttermilk (boo lactose intolerance).

My absolute favorite chip (at present), which I constantly tell myself is the last time I will buy them, but it never is...

Before attacking dishes I had some cheese and then made some pasta and started chowing down on the leftover tomato sauce I made last Monday. Then I started writing another blog post I had an idea for and in doing the online research for that I learned that pasta sauce shouldn't be kept after 5 days. It's been about 10. Now I've sort of lost my appetite for eating what's on this here plate. Good thing I have brand new chili for dinner and I keep my fridge a little colder than average which I'm finding is keeping my veggies crisp a little longer. So after I throw out this plate of pasta... time to figure out something else to eat. Oh! Leftover hardboiled egg with salt! I'm not the biggest fan of lots of yolk (unless it's mixed with mustard) so I tend to not eat te whole yolk, but I love the texture of hard boiled egg whites!

That's all for now until dinner... which will be black bean salsa chili, possibly made into nachos over top a bed of blue corn tortilla chips... Fancy, I know :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

dinner: other half acorn squash and mustard lover's deviled eggs

My dinner was the other half of acorn squashed, baked with maple syrup and butter. Then when I was still hungry an hour later... I hard boiled some eggs (thank you Joy of Cooking, they came out to perfection!!!) and made my mustard lover (mayo hater) deviled eggs. Very very, incredibly simple.

Hard boil eggs (take eggs out of fridge, put in pan, cover with 1 inch of water, bring to big bubbled boil, turn off heat, cover and let sit for 17 minutes (covered!) Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and run under cold water, or set in bowl with cold water. Tap egg on a plate to loosten shell alll over. Breaking it up into little pieces (while still attached to membrane below). Then peel off off the shell and membrane. Hopefully it comes off smoothly, it did for me today!! I always love when that happens. Then! Cut the peeled egg in half the long way, dump egg yolks into small bowl, mix in a couple heaping teaspoons of dijon mustard, mix together, put back into eggs sprinkle with paprika and eat! (There's no serving here when it's just you!)

Wash down with a beer :)

My dessert is a little bowl of frozen blueberries, I love the texture of frozen blueberries!

TO prep for tomorrow and the rest of the week I put some frozen berries in a bowl in the fridge to hopefully thaw a bit for tomorrow yogurt. Yogurt with only frozen berries (as opposed to just fresh or fresh and frozen) was too hard and thick to make in the blender, hopefully this will help. I'll find out in the morning!

I also made some blackbean salsa chili, a recipe given to me by my friend Erin who made it up. It is fantastic! satuee 1 onion + 1 cove garlic, pour in 1 jar salsa, 2 cans beans, sprinkle with some frozen corn. Proportions are up to you. Serve with cheddar cheese and blue corn tortilla chips. I like to sprinkle the cheese on top and then dip my chips, Erin likes to put cheese on the bottom of the bowl and then put chips in and crunch them up. So for meals the rest of the week I have leftover spaghetti sauce (to be eaten tomorrow before it goes bad!), black bean chili, yogurt, a cucumber, possibly spinach (it was starting to smell a little funny), too many lemons and 2 granny smith apples. My goal is to not need to go to the grocery store (or go out to eat) before I head back to Brooklyn again on Thursday evening. I think I can do it!

Cheers to frozen blueberries and beer!
Time to do some homework, good night!

I said no outloud, in my head

to cookies! My instructors on tuesday and thursday provide snacks to keep students from passing our or eating inedible berries on plant walks. Today I told myself not to have them because I will feel gross after eating them and they won't help me to reach my fitness goals. I stuck to the food I brought foe myself today minus one big pretzel stick.


Remainder of vanilla yogurt

Plain yogurt (switching because of added sugar in vanilla flavor)

frozen blueberries

Frozen blackberries

Tossed in blender eat with sprinkling of grapenuts



Fresh tomato eaten straight-up

One ounce seriously sharp cheddar


Tbd when I get home but will definitely include the other half of the acorn squash!

I have also decided to get a pedometer- I have been climbing the hill every morning and tromping back every afternoon and I'm quite sure I'm putting on some miles over the week. Oh and this morning I was down two pounds! That makes healthy choices a little more encouraging when you see numeric results!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Movie: Our Daily Bread

I watched Our Daily Bread last night. It was a narrator-less film which made it all the more startling. It is filled with the sounds of machines, young chicks, squealing pigs. It shows, without comment, the inner workings of industrial agriculture systems. I highly recommend it. If you can, see it before Food Inc. Without the commentary you can get ideas before you hear anything form the filmmakers. It's available on Netflix.

Simple but tasty dinner: brocolli and acorn squash.

Broccoli appetizer and squash main course:

Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds and strings, place face up in pan drop in a pat of butter and some maple syrup and bake at 400 degrees for an hour.

While that's cooking and you are hungry and waiting:
Chop up some broccoli and parboil it (I won't be steaming anything until I get steel wool to clean my steamer sized pot) (get your water boiling, drop in the brocolli, then strain before it starts to lose it's bright colors! Toss with juice of half a lemon and fresh ground pepper and eat while waiting for acorn squash!

It's like dessert, with the butter and maple syrup. Sooo tasty! Probably could have cooked just a little less to avoid the extra burning... but still, tasty!

I'm contemplating documenting all my meals with at least a description of what I ate. I think it will be interesting to follow (for me at least!) especially in regard to my interest in slimming down. I've also been cooking at home way more than I did in Brooklyn, I think in part because I miss Brooklyn food and have been disapointed with everything I've gotten here and just wished I'd waited 'til I got home to make something that I knew would be good! I have several cookbooks to work from, and several I'm eying. Wish me luck and feel free to leave comments, especially encouraging ones!

Again, Acorn squash... so good

Addendum: Plus a bottle of Brooklyn Lager, my carbs of choice :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to use the last 2 zucchini and 3/4 of an onion?

Spaghetti sauce! A quick dinner and the long simmer time gave me plenty of time to do my reading homework!

3/4 onion
2 small zucchini
1 clove garlic
1 large can diced tomatoes
2 oz. spagetti noodles

  1. Chop the onion into tiny pieces (or whatever size you like really- I like my onion small, I really don't like big chunks of onion, layers still nestled together, in my spaghetti sauce)
  2. Saute the chopped onion and garlic until the onions are light brown and translucent, toss in the zucchini and saute for a bit until they start getting light brown spots and pour in the can of chopped tomatoes.
  3. Keep at a simmer for 45 minutes, stir occasionally- don't worry, all that liquid will cook off- you'll see!
  4. Prepare pasta according to the directions serve on a small plate with warm sauce and some grated Parmesan on top!
  5. So tasty :) enjoy!

  • measure your pasta on a digital scale. It keeps portion sizes under control, which saves money because you are getting all the servings out of a box of pasta rather than half the servings :P
  • You could probably put pretty much any vegetable in this sauce. I've used carrots in the past, celery would probably be good. Chunks of squash perhaps? Anything that sounds good sauteed with tomato!

Side notes!

I realized today that it's been 2 weeks since I went out to eat/ got take out. I think I'm going to try the whole month- with the exception of when I go visit Brooklyn these next two weekends. If I can just eat at home I will save a lot of money. Especially if I don't over purchase and make sure I use everything I have! The list of the contents of my fridge is slowly shrinking but I really need to be more careful next time I go grocery shopping. I need to start meal planning!

Also, I planted some dill and leafy greens and one of them sprouted today! My basil is slowly coming back to life, I think I will bring it inside so I remember to water it more often. My mint is growing again! Also need to bring that one inside.

And I love my new cast iron pan. I also bought a cast iron dutch oven!! Very excited to use it to make stew when it starts getting colder!

Happy cooking!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What to do with broccoli stems and other bits of veggies?

I followed the advice of a friend on facebook and also this video tip from Chow and popped them in a bag int he freezer. I should have some decent vegetable stock this upcoming soup season!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How I spent my summer

I don't remember if I ever posted a link to the blog for my summer project... so here it is!
I was in Warren, VT at Yestermorrow doing a Natural Building Intensive. A 12 week course in which me (and the 9 guys!) and our instructors built a timberframe and strawbale building. I learned a lot about building science, construction methods, construction site management and about myself and how I am in community and social situations. It was an amazing experience and anyone who is able to participate is a lucky soul!

A day at home

I made scrambled eggs with spinach and cheddar for... brunch :) And then I sauteed 3 little zucchini and a tomato and mixed with rigatoni for dinner, making enough to have it as a cold pasta salad tomorrow.

Tomorrow I'm having a little get together. I just got here but I met my neighbors and a friend's girlfriend and invited them all over for a little potluck! Not sure what I'm making yet, but I want to make something using things I already have (of which there is a list on the fridge, to remind me NOT to go grocery shopping again, because I love shopping for groceries!)

(the little asterisk means it's in the freezer)

One of the things I did today was watch the rest of project runway season 5, disc 3 (still have some catching up to do, and I don't have cable... or a TV, so I'm always a season behind!). So I started draping with fabrics I already have. I'm so not allowed to buy anything except for notions I need to finish a garment! So I played with some draping, not sewing anything yet- I have a few patterns I want to make and I'm still a little intimidated by draping and making patterns from draping because I'm all self/book taught and in the past it hasn't gotten me too far with draping... hopefully that will change!

Pretty elementary, but mostly fun to work on! (Though I really should have been reading, grad school is a lot of work!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Oh basil, the headache you cause me

I went to the farmer's market and basil is spendy. I really wanted to make fresh pesto! Then one booth had these pre made pesto kits with basil, already picked off the stem and the garlic and parsley. It just needed a couple more ingredients to be set. I was psyched! I bought it on Saturday... come today when I finally make time to make the pesto and the basil has all but turned completely black. So I love the "pesto pack", only $6 when a bunch of basil is $4 and won't get you the 3 cups this bag has. But I've learned... pesto must be made with the freshest of basil!

Pesto-less lesson learned :(

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting settled in my new place

The move is complete, I've met several of my neighbors, been to the farmer's market, Wegman's grocery store (24hrs! yay!) and wal-mart and now it's time to get back to blogging about learning to be cheap.

Some thoughts on setting up your apartment and how to do it cheaply.
  • Share- ask your neighbors if they are interested in sharing wireless internet- if they already have it even better- you can check the strength of the signal.
  • check craigslist for furniture or look up cheap ways to make your own. I went with the classic 70s style shelves because it's just me living here and I could carry each of the components individually.The black felt is to protect the recently refinished floors (and to prevent a heart attack in my landlord should he see concrete blocks on his floors!).
  • Unpack your kitchen and bathroom first- make a list before you go shopping for things you absolutely need. If there is a category of things you would like but could live without for a while save them for the next month. I didn't do this and spent way too much in my first month here. In the end I decided not to go back and get the paper towel holder, just one more expense that could be done without.
  • Take notes when you grocery shop. In Ithaca there are farmer's markets, a co-op, and a grocery store (that offers organic stuff, not so much fair trade, and is open 24 hours!). I have saved all my receipts so I can compare the costs. Tomatoes are cheaper at the farmer's market (for now) than at the big grocery store, same with potatoes (I got potato seconds for $1.50 a pound!). I am also comparing the costs of bulk pastas and grains. I'm not just comparing costs but also eco-footprints. I prefer to buy local because local food supports local farmers and I <3>
  • If your apartment doesn't come with things you are used to, like a microwave, toaster or toaster oven- try going without for a while and see if you really really need one. I don't have a microwave but reheating food in a skillet tastes far superior and I'm learning to use my broiler to quickly toast/melt things (nachos!)
  • Get an EZpass! Now that I have an actual address, I'm ordering mine I already have two trips to NYC planned and the ezpass will make the drive quicker, probably save gas from not slowing down and then accelerating and I will get discount rates on my tolls. How could I not get one!?
A couple foodie-on-a-budget tips:
  • Make your own salad dressing. It's super tasty and you can experiment with mixtures. My recipe is as follows (quantities vary): dijon mustard, pressed garlic (or finely diced), lemon juice from half a lemon, fresh ground pepper, olive oil. Mix together and keep in a container with a lid. It will get a little solid in the fridge but when it gets to room temp it will be runny again. You can make it as thick or thin as you like depending on how much olive oil you add.
  • If you have some ingredients and want to make something specific browse the web for recipes that use only things you have in stock, that way you don't have to make a special trip to the grocery store (so long as you keep your staples stocks) and you get what you wanted. I believe the phrase is "have your cake and eat it too"!
  • leftover roasted potatoes could be remade into mashed potatoes (really easily), add some roasted garlic to give your potatoes new flavor!

This was my dinner, reheated roasted potatoes (with way too much oregano, gotta watch that pour spout!) and romaine lettuce with my homemade dressing. I also had some guac-salad with nachos earlier today. I love having my own kitchen!

Tonight I am making an apple bread using this recipe. I changed it to make one loaf, it's just me and I don't want too much bread! I think it could potential make a phenomenal grilled cheese sandwich- granny smith and cheddar are a great combo! I will have to taste the bread before I get to excited. It had all good reviews which is a good sign, I did make some changes though. No sugar was added, I used white whole wheat flour, instead of oil I added a 1/2 cup of no sugar added applesauce. I poured a little olive oil and agave nectar in when it needed more moisture. I If this bread doesn't spread too much it could probably be made as a free-form loaf.

This could totally be made into whatever shape you wanted. The dough was super thick, it didn't rise/spread much at all. It's really tasty and hearty. I think it would be great with some whipped cream, a glass of milk or some vanilla gelato! Warm it's pretty good because of the soft apple chunks (I put in like 2x the amount of apple it called for). It's not overly sweet, would be a good hearty breakfast bread, possibly with some yogurt.. ooo or peanutbutter!

Go forth and create!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cheap seafood dinner

$3.50 for four sea scallops
Local tomato
Zucchini from farmers market
Lemon juice

Cut tomatoes in half, lay face up on rack over cookie sheet (line with parchment for easier cleanup) drizzle with olive oil and pepper. Put in oven at 350. For 1 hour. Sprinkle with salt when they come out of the oven.

Cut zucchini in quarters lengthwise and then in half. Sauté with a clove of garlic when lightly browned swirl pan to recoat olive oil, set scallops in pan and sear on both sides. Plate and squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the scallops and a little salt on the zucchini. Yum!

Also a tasty drink with leftover lemon juice; add water and a couple raspberries . Squish the raspberries beyond repair and drink up! I'm trying to avoid adding sugar so I thought I'd leave out the simple syrup or honey or maple syrup and it tasted fantastic! I think ot will be my new fave... Perhaps with buy water when I'm craving fizz!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

About to come back from a summer of uninspired meals

Grad school is about to start. The budget is still smaller than I'm used to but the desire to eat well has grown exponentially because I just saw Food Inc. It was infuriating, frustrating , though provoking and inspiring. I'm going to try to eat on a budget but eat well. I've already decided that I want to reduce my sugar intake and no HFCS so this will mean some alterations to recipes and seeking out alternative sweeteners. I already know about honey, agave and applesauce but I'm also thinking about how I read that most recipes had a lot of excess sugar in them. So I'm going to try to wean myself off sugar, eat well and still within budget. The most encouraging part is that I will have a whole fridge and freezer to myself so I look forward to trying some preservation techniques.
I hope that anyone who reads this blog regularly or in passing will leave encouraging comments and think about how they are voting with their money.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How to eat your veggies, the no fuss method!

Get veggies from fridge, chop up and sautee with garlic.
Serve with lemon juice, pepper or cheese on top. It's so tasty!
Pair with pasta or a beer for carbs (I chose beer tonight :) )

I haven't been saving too much money, still spending abotu $100/week on food. But it's still cheaper than the $25/day meal plan!

I'm busy with my school blog at the moment, so thoughts on food are trailing behind as I'm sucked into busy-ness

Friday, May 22, 2009

What to do with dried out garlic bread? Savory French Toast!

I picked up a loaf of roasted garlic bread the other day but failed to store it in a ziploc bag or the fridge so it got too stale to snack on. There are two things i know stale bread is good for: croutons and french bread. I also have a bunch of dried rosemary from my mom's garden so I decided to make a savory french toast with the leftovers for KE and my dinner.
  1. Slice remaining bread in 1" thick slices
  2. break 3 eggs into a bowl that is big enough to accomadate one slice of bread, whisk in ground pepper and about 1 Tbsp dried rosemary
  3. Heat a skillet with olive oil, soak bread in egg mixture, flip to get both sides, and cook so both sides are light brown
  4. Top with a veggie or sauce. We used some left over grape tomatoes, sauteed in some olive oil to soften and put ontop of hot french toast.

  • KE wanted some balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes, to make them a little more tart and savory
  • I had considered a broccoli puree on top of the french toast - or perhaps some sauteed greens? the tomatoes were good but there could have been more veggies on top!
  • I would totally make this again with fresh bread, not just dried out bread! There are probably other spice and herb combinations that are fantastic as well.
  • With a few more veggies on top this is a pretty healthy meal: grain (bread), protein (egg), veggies (whatever you put on top).
This has been one of our more successful experiments, yay!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How not to buy a car in another state and then exchange it between family members

Why are state-to-state transactions so difficult!?

My mom lives in DE, she bought a car in MD and didn't pay sales tax because Delaware doesn't believe in taxes. She bought the car and put both our names on the title. Lesson one: don't do this.

If you are going to buy a car and give it to your child who lives in a different state (especially one with tax/higher tax) this is what you should do:
1. buy the car in your name in whatever state
2. get the title in your name in that state
3. sign the title over in your state to your family member, in that state
4. have that family member request a new title in his/her state- if it is gifted in the other state and you have a title you shouldn't have to pay sales

What not to do:
1. sign your name and your giftee's/daughter's name on the title
2. register the car in your state
3. take the car to NY with only the giftee present at the DMV
4. have to get the other person to take a trip up to your state in order to show proof of ID and sign the paper- oh and pay NYS sales tax because the NY residents was on the original papers
5. be told the credit card machines aren't working (and you are going to owe more than $500- who carries that much cash? or a check book unless you expect to use it?!
6. have the credit card machine work (thankfully!)
7. get plates, get emissions testing and wait for new title in about 3 months

Ugh. What a frustrating experience! Ready to leave the city where hopefully things will be clearer.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A healthy and quick lunch

My dad worked at home when I was in middle and high school and on occasion if I was home, I'd make some lunch for us. I went to make tuna salad one day and we were out of mayo so I substituted Dijon Mustard. It was... AMAZING and I haven't gone back since! No mayo for me, just mustard :)

Pita tuna melt
(makes one serving)

  1. Rip 1 whole wheat pita in half and place on plate with ripped sides out (somehow ripping the pita tastes better to me than cutting it. That one I cannot explain!)
  2. Empty tuna can 5oz/packet 3oz (dump out any water) into a bowl
  3. Add about 3 Tbsp mustard of choice (deli mustard has 0 calories!) and stir. Put into pitas, keeping open sides out.
  4. Slice cheddar cheese (1 oz = 1 serving) and place in each sandwich half.
  5. Microwave on high for 1 minute, remove and flip sandwiches over (bottom side will be a little bit soggy, but nothing too bad)
  6. Stick sliced cucumber and grape tomatoes into one sandwich half right before eating (it will keep your veggies cool and crisp if they aren't sitting in the freshly nuked sandwich.)
  7. Enjoy!

This is my go to lunch at home generally. It's quick and tasty and I love open face tuna melts! Oh yeah, yay mustard! My condiment of choice :) I would have put up a picture but I ate it before I realized I should be blogging it!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Never rent a 16' truck in NYC and other lessons learned from moving out

A 16' truck is a commercial vehicle. No one at the rental place told me this when they said "well it's the same price as a 10' truck". It is not the same price. On the Verezano bridge alone I paid $20 to get through, I had to take truck routes and pay truck tolls. There is no parking of commercial vehicles in residential neighborhoods overnight (a $65 ticket). So while the price at budget was the same as a 10' truck the price within the city and the reality is that it cost more than that. On top of that, it was a huge pain to drive in the city.

Now I am staying with KE and trying to get started with my fitness regime I was so excited to have the time to implement. So far, it hasn't been going as well as I'd hoped, but I'm working out my eating plan again and trying to figureout what to eat that's healthy and cheap before I head off to an unknown kitchen this summer. I did pick up one thing at Wal-Mart for the summer though: a mini food processor. It holds 1.5 cups and I look forward to making fresh pesto! I may even get some potted basil plants to keep in VT. When I get there and check the lay of the land I'll know more about that.

Back to diet planning!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Meat on the cheap

Sometimes you just need to do a little reading to realize the strange sounding cut of meat is totally edible and worthy for more than feeding to the dog.

Check out this NY Times article It May Be Cheap, But it's Also Tasty

I don't cook much meat and I tend to stick to chicken and fish, but in preparing my mole dinner I compared prices and while I like getting chicken breast fillets, the cost difference for thighs (which the recipe called for anyhow) was about 2$/ pound in savings! Next time I want to try something new perhaps I'll peruse the cheaper cuts of meat.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

To Make or to Buy?

Slate beat me to it, I will still explore this topic as I planned, but it's an interesting read.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brooklyn Homestead is online!

We are selling chocolates through Etsy! Please take a look at our shop, Brooklyn Homestead.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Slow times for blogging

In the throes of packing (yes KE, throes) and getting ready to move. My kitchen is packed up in part so that I can make sure that all my stuff is clean when it goes into boxes for 3 months. I'll be staying with my mom for 1 week then with KE for 3 weeks then I will be in Vermont, using a shared kitchen with unknown amenities. I plan to live off things from the farmers market cooked in an Alice Waters sort of way. I am bringing the following cookbooks to Vermont:

I will be on a 3 month hiatus from baking. It will be rough but I mostly have faith that I can handle it! I will also be training to run because I am going to sign up for 2 races in Ithaca int he fall (a much better time for races than the February one I flaked out on because it was like 2 degrees and I knew I'd hurt myself if I breathed in that temperature air. So KE stayed in bed - he was supposed to run too!).

I hope you look forward as much as I do to my baking free summer of fresh food experimentation! I think it will be a tasty and exciting time. I will probably bring my blender/food processor thingy too, for the making of smoothies and pestos. Fingers crossed for garlic scapes!

Get ready for a link to purchase chocolates as well, Brooklyn Homestead is almost up and running for our first batch of handmade chocolate truffles. This along with moving has been quite the busy time. Tonight is of course seafood night (Wednesdays for me and KE for the past 2 months). He has been kind enough to take the wheel of making dinner while I pack, so I don't know what we'll be having! Last week it was bay scallops!