Spring is here & grilling is everywhere. I can't turn on the television without seeing some kind of cooking segment or show about the great American pastime. I've found another draw back of living in the big city(there are lots). No backyard garden to plant fresh herbs & veggies & no place for a grill. I have thought about putting one out on my fire escape, but it's against the law. A piece of BBQ chicken straight from the flame may be worth a little law breaking, but the worrier in me stresses about burning my entire building down. I saw a HGTV show all about dry rubs & it sparked my interest. I did a little online research & found one that's very simple. I put it on a pork tenderloin & will let it marinate over night. Tomorrow I'll roast it, but the rest of you can slap it on your grill. Lucky dogs!!! Ingredients 2 TBLS ground pepper 2 TBLS paprika 2 TBLS onion powder 1/2 TBLS brown sugar 1 TBLS chili powder 1 TBLS salt 1/2 tsp ground sage 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Rub into meat or poultry. Place meat/chicken in a large ziplock bag & put in the refrigerator. Marinate for at least 6 hours.
I rented the movie Big Night to get inspired for my recipe tasting party(which is scheduled for June). I had not seen it in years & forgot how great it was. There's this scene at the very end between the two brothers where not one word is spoken, but it's the most telling & moving scene in the entire film. And the food - so beautiful! There's a class at the Culinary institute called Food from Big Night. They teach you how to make everything from the roasted suckling pig to the timpano(molded pasta with meatballs, eggs, salami & cheese)which was the centerpiece of the film. I'd love to take the course, but my family is from a different part of Italy so, none of those dishes are part of our heritage. I think I'm going to learn how to make cannoli's instead. My great grandmother used to make her own but that skill was lost over the years. Now my family buys them from their local bakery. It's time to bring back that tradition!
Spring is here & fellow bloggers have been showing off their fab gardens. Some of them are truly out of this world with water fountains, roses & ceramic fairies. Living in the city I do not have the luxury of a backyard to plant flowers or veggies. I have garden envy!! The best I can do is a window box with some fresh herbs. Last year basil & parsley grew very well & I loved opening the screen & pinching off some to add to a salad, pizza or homemade gravy. So, I headed back to the window with some seeds, soil & fertilizer & this is what I found.
This is not the first time I found some eggs in my window box. Two years ago I noticed that while the basil was flourishing, the thyme & parsley were not. I found sticks & dried leaves on top of them & I remember thinking - how did this get in here? I do live on a tree lined street, but I'm on the fifth floor, so I'm above everything. My question was soon answered when I saw 2 little eggs sitting upon a haphazard nest. I freaked out at first because I thought they were pigeon eggs. Living in NYC has not made me fond of pigeons, also known here as flying rats, to say the least. I soon found out that they were morning doves(part of the pigeon family but different). Tom & I began to watch with interest. The mom & dad(morning doves are monogamous) took turns sitting upon the eggs. We watched them communicate & they watched us open the window & pull basil leaves. After a while they didn't even flinch when we came near. Tom even touched them several times. Of course, the worrying Italian in me would yell for him to scrub his hands afterwards. "Birds are dirty!" I swear my grandmother's voice came right through me on that line. I watched the baby birds hatch & called Tom at work to give him a play by play. We watch the mother feed them until they were large enough to fly off on their own. It was like having Animal Planet right on our window sill! So now they're back, well, we're not sure if it's the same birds, but we are excited about their arrival. This time I'll take pics of everything & the herbs will just have to wait.
If I told you every time I had a brain fart we'd be up to at least 14 by now. Here's the latest. Tom is leaving Monday for a shoot in Amsterdam(lucky dog!) & he asked what I'd like him to bring back for me. A friend told me about a gorgeous sundress she saw on a lady here in NYC. The lady got the dress in Amsterdam at weekly crafts fair, so I asked him to bring me back something like that. A garment that's artsy & funky & unavailable to me here in the city. So he said, "How about a pair of hand painted, wooden, Dutch girl shoes?" And I looked at him & with much attitude said,"Those wooden shoes are from Holland, not Amsterdam. DUH!!!! It's as if my brain turns off for a split second from time to time. Is there any cure???
Don't you all just love receiving unexpected, inspirational emails from friends? You know, ones that have funny quotes, or a poem or words of wisdom from a well known figure. So why then are there little chain letters attached to the end of them?! Chain/email letters are evil! Last night after a long, long, day at the restaurant I came home & took a quiz sent to me by a friend. It was all about dreams, wishes & even the Dalai Lama was mentioned. I felt pretty good once I read my results until I came to the part that said - IF YOU WANT YOUR WISH TO COME TRUE YOU MUST FORWARD THIS QUIZ TO SUCH & SUCH NUMBER OF PEOPLE/S. Now, I've read a couple of the Dalai Lama's books & even went to hear him speak last summer in Central Park. We're not friends or anything & I don't know him personally, but I just don't think he wants his name attached to any kind of chain letter. I get them from well meaning friends all the time. Even my mom sent me one once. It was something about women being fabulous. It said something like; SOMEONE OUT THERE THINKS YOU'RE GREAT! NOW SEND THIS TO 5 FEMALES IN YOUR LIFE WHO ARE WONDERFUL, TOO. Ha!!! It's a chain letter, though disguised a bit. Remember when we were young, before the internet & emails, & we'd get one of these buggers in our mailbox? There was never a return address & sometimes it didn't even go through the postal system. My mother & I would kind of freak out over them. Who sent us this & why? What did we do to deserve this? We would throw them away, but everything that went wrong for the next couple of days was attributed to the nasty letter. So, if you love me, like me or respect me, or even if you feel none of the above, please do not send me anything that I have to forward to any other being in order for it to come true. Yes, I'm a little superstitious, so chain letters do stress me out! Whew!!! I'm glad I got that off my chest. I hope all of my dreams still come true. Knock on wood.
There's nothing like garden fresh cucumbers & tomatoes dipped in hummus. Pretty much any fresh veggie works with it as well as warm pita bread. Hmmmm. I found this recipe on line & modified it a bit. Enjoy. Ingredients 2 cups canned garbanzo(chick peas) beans(save some of the liquid) 1/4 cup tahini 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/2 tsp salt 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 TBLS olive oil 1 pinch paprika 1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped -Put 1 can of beans with liquid into blender/food processor. Drain second can & add. -Mix in tahini, lemon juice, garlic & salt & blend till smooth. -When ready to serve drizzle with oil, paprika & parsley.
Several months ago, I received an invitation from Jes to join a Journal's Journey. The basic concept is this; Jes designs the book cover & the first page & then she ships it off to the next person on the list(there are 18 of us total). That gal designs her pages, puts them in the book & sends it on it's way & so on & so on. Once everyone has contributed the journal will become the proud possession of one of the participants. Believe is the first, but 17 more are to follow, until we all have one of these gems to call our own. Yes, it is a long term commitment. The sky's the limit as far as content & there are some very talented women in on this project. This weekend was my turn & it honestly couldn't have come at a better time since I was stuck in the land of self doubt. I was truly inspired by the photos, drawings, collages, poetry & sheer creative love & energy that was contained in this little book. We do have our own website, but I'm showing my entry right here. Partly, because I'm having problems posting them on that site(Photoshop & more than basic computer knowledge is needed to do so) & I also want to share it with you, my friends. I'm hoping it may inspire you(as it did me) to maybe start one of your own, paint a picture, build a castle in the sand or anything that involves fun & creativity.
Do you ever have days that are just loaded with self doubt? They come on suddenly & knock you off of your feet. That little voice inside your head just won't stop yapping. "Who do you think you are trying to write a cookbook? You're no food expert or chef. So many people food bloggers know so much more than you. Getting incorporated! What for? Do you really think you'll actually make any profit!? Trying to trademark an idea - it's not going to sell!! BLAH, BLAH, BLAH...." So that was yesterday for me. I was feeling pretty crappy, not a nice word, but fitting. Then Mr. Postman rang my doorbell & handed me a couple of unexpected packages. I have to tell you - they turned my mood right around. The very talented & very busy(she's moving to a new state) Giao sent me this for my BDay. I loved everything!! I can't wait to take the handmade tote out around the city!!
The artistically gifted Jes sent me this. Could she find a more perfect book for me? I can't wait to crack it open & test a recipe or two.
Thank you Giao & Jes for making my day. And thank you all out there for your comments, suggestions, stories & friendship. There are days when I truly feel overwhelmed by what I'm trying to accomplish & think of giving up. You all keep me going! I'm so blessed to have so many smart & talented women in my life. I hope to meet all of you in person some day.
Tonight is the Duran2 concert & I'm giddy with excitement. To get in the mood I played their new CD, Astronaut. It's pretty good. Tom made a screen saver of them. He likes to change the one on my computer from time to time. He'll put up pics of us, monkeys, etc. One night I came home from work & Rick Springfield(a.k.a. Dr. Noah Drake from General Hospital) was up on the screen. That came about after watching VH1's I Love The 80's. I probably said something like, "Hey Rick Springfield was really talented. He wrote his own songs & could play the guitar. He was like a genius compared to some pop stars of today." Well maybe not a genius. Anyway, back to Duran Duran!! I'm playing Rio right now. Yes, vinyl, in all it's scratching, hissing glory. I've got to get ready now. I was thinking of going to show totally 80's style. You know, big teased hair sprayed with Aqua Net, a bedazzled sweater with Linda Evans shoulder pads & stretch jeans with scrunchie socks pulled over them. TEEHEE.... Just kidding!!
Momma & I have been talking about what recipes we will cook the next time I come to RI. Top of the list is her escarole & bean soup. I haven't had it in years, but it truly is a classic. I want to serve it at my recipe tasting party(still no name) in June so, I better get my ass to my grandmother's house to learn her version of it.
When she heard about my interest in that recipe she said in the funniest voice ever, "You know that you'll have terrible gas after eating it, don't you? I told her that I wanted to serve it to about 8 people at my party & she laughed & told me to open lots of windows & have plenty of fans ready to move the air around. Our conversation went down the toilet(pun intended) from there. My family always talks about gas, farts & the like even at the dinner table. Our secret is out! Thank goodness that Tom's not easily offended because on his first visit with my relatives he awoke to Momma's twenty questions, "Did you sleep well? Was it warm enough in your room? How do you like you eggs? What do you put in your coffee? Did you move your bowels today? Honey(my grandfather) bring down the prune juice! Tom hasn't pooped yet!" Being raised around all of that probably explains why I absolutely love toilet humor. I think it's the most hilarious thing in the universe. Tom also has quite a fondness for it, which may be one of the reasons why he fits in so well with my family.
Hi all. Well, I must admit that I haven't cooked in days, because I've been working so much. The last recipe tested was chicken soup on Tuesday. It came out great, but it took hours to make. Now I understand why my grandmother made huge quantities of certain recipes & placed half in the freezer. I ended up with 2 & 1/2 large bowls so, we have enough for at least the next few months.
Yesterday we had a wine tasting at the restaurant. I worked till 4 am then had to be back at noon for the damn thing. Yes, it was very informative & all, but I was exhausted. That may be part of reason why I ended up so inebriated from the equivalent of one glass of wine. That & the fact that I'm already a light weight. I got trashed! How sad is that? After the meeting I did a little shopping. I do not recommend shopping while intoxicated. The fluorescent lights really do a number on you. And this morning I looked at what I bought in a bit of horror. Did I really buy a bright orange jacket & a brown leather belt with rhinestones on it? Thank God I can return them.
Yesterday was my B-Day & it was a good day. I worked my lunch shift & came in to find a present from my coworker & good friend Alex(also an Aries) in my locker. It was a very generous gift certificate to the Culinary institute. They have amazing classes. I'm thinking of taking the Italian cooking technique course. At our pre shift meeting, Stacey & Lija(2 cool chicks) brought out a giant fortune cookie with a candle & the staff broke out into the happy b-day song. The cookie is stuffed with white & dark chocolate mousse. Now that's the way to start your special day - chocolate for breakfast.
I finished work at 3pm & stepped outside into the most beautiful day. The sun was shining & it was warm with a slight breeze. A perfect shopping day! I hit some stores & found a couple of bargains & then headed home to get ready for my date with Tom.
We had reservations at a place called Peasant. We first heard about it on The Food Network's Best of show. Well, they were so right about this place. The restaurant is long, narrow & romantically lit. Very rustic chic. The focal point is the kitchen which is accented with golden lights & just peeking out behind 3 exposed brick arches. Much of the food is cooked in a wood burning oven. The entire menu is in Italian & boy, was I rusty. Our waiter happily went over everything, but she had a strong European accent so much of it was lost in the translation.
We ordered a pizza margharita & an arugula & blood orange salad as starters. Both were so good. The pizza had a delicate thin crust & the sauce was light & tangy. The mozzarella was so fresh as was the basil. Tom said it was the best thin crust pizza he's ever had & he's somewhat of an expert in that field. Same goes for the salad. The arugula was perfect. Not even a slight hint of bitterness. I ordered lobster risotto for dinner & Tom had an osso bucco of beef. I didn't taste the meat(I'm not a big fan of it) but Tom was ooohing & closing his eyes while he chewed (like he's in ecstasy) so that's a good sign. Huge chunks of lobster meat graced my risotto as well as just the right combo of Parmesan & cream with hints of black peppercorns. We had a flourless chocolate cake for dessert that was so dense that it was basically fudge. HMMMM! More chocolate! Yes, I did go off of my sugarfree diet yesterday, but it was my B-Day, so I'm allowed.
My B-Day present, besides the dinner, was a gift certificate to La Perla for sexy lingerie & tickets to see Duran Duran next week at The Garden. DURAN DURAN!!! Our seats are on the floor so I'm going to try to run up to the stage & tell (or scream) John Taylor that I love him!!! I hope Tom doesn't mind.
There continues to be many frustrations and/or obstacles in trying to perfect family recipes. Some are beyond my control like the meatballs. I've been making them ever since Momma sent me the recipe about 5 years ago. Tom & friends have tried & liked them, so I checked it off as completed. Then I went to RI about a month ago to spend a day cooking with my grandmother. To make a long story short, mini meatballs are added to her chicken soup so I whipped up a batch. She took one look at them & told me that I added way too much parsley & who told me to do that? I showed her the recipe in her handwriting & she laughed & said it was a mistake.
Another thing that's been happening may be more in my control. I have so many memories associated with much of these recipes. The warm & fuzzy feelings I get just thinking about some of the food may also add to what the flavors are like in my mind. What I mean is, that some just don't taste as good as I remembered. It reminds me of when I first entered college to study fashion. My roommates & I discussed movies that we loved & that inspired us creatively. A bunch of us mentioned Mahogany with Diana Ross. The costumes were amazing! Then we watched it again, 10 years later. Let's just say that movie and the costumes did not withstand the test of time.
This weekend I made stuffed mushrooms. I was going to marinate them but changed my mind. Besides, I was going to a party & stuffed mushrooms were always served at family festivities. I followed my mom's very tradition recipe which is chopped onions, garlic, & mushroom stems all sauteed with breadcrumbs & butter. I added Parmesan cheese, but would like to try something a little stronger next time. Maybe some imported provolone. My mom told me to add a little water to the baking pan, cover & steam them for 15-20 minutes. Actually, she's from RI, so R's are dropped. You know, moth-a, fath-a, wat-a. So I cooked them until the "wat-a evap-arated" And guess what? They were mushy & not good. The stuffing itself was tasty but as a whole, this recipe was not successful. So, I think that I have to add my own flare to this recipe to make it better. I may have to do this with a number of dishes while still trying to maintain their integrity. I don't want to change them so much that my own family won't recognize them, but some need a bit of improvement. Why do I have guilt over this revelation? Will the Italian-Catholic guilt trip ever end!!??
The first half of my day was spent waiting for the cable company & guess what? They never showed. I phoned them & they said that they tried to call me last week to reschedule, but couldn't get through. Of course you couldn't get through you buttheads! I still have the ancient dial up system. That's why you were coming to my house - to install DSL!!! JEEZ!!! O.K. I feel better.
I'm asking for any suggestions.....Wow! I've been seeking lots of opinions lately. Am I becoming too needy? Anyway, I truly value your thoughts & such, so I'm putting this out there. I need a new tagline. This site has evolved & the old one just doesn't seem to fit anymore. Yes, I do discuss the making of the cookbook, family & food. But, there's also other recipes not related to the family cookbook, crafts & daily inspiration (otherwise known as venting). So I'd like the tagline to encompass all of that, too. Momma also saw my site for the first time on my last trip to RI & was very offended by the -losing her appetite- part. "What?! Do we make you sick to you stomach or something?!" she said.
Any suggestions, insights and/or opinions would be greatly appreciated. If your tagline is chosen, I will send you a fabulous, handmade, delicious prize!
Courtney sent me the cutest little Easter basket filled with all of her favorite childhood candy. The Haremail program was a success!
I didn't work at the restaurant last night, instead I took a block printing class. We carved into carrots & other things & made our own stamps. I was so creatively inspired that I came home & made cards well into the night. So, fellow Snail Mailers, if I owe you a card, it's coming soon!
I'm sorry this is so brief, but I'm going to a party tonight & I'm bringing the marinated mushrooms & I have yet to start them. Have a good weekend!!