Showing posts from April, 2012

Revisiting Lunch and Breakfast Ideas

Now I have talked before about not having good breakfast ideas (I'll still maintain that cold pizza is the king of breakfasts), and the slightly depressing thing we all do which is eat lunch at our desks. I quickly learned at my first Archives internship working at the show Democracy Now! how prohibitively expensive it was to go out to Quizno's for a sandwich everyday. You really want something cheap, healthy, and tasty that won't make a mess. Now some of you out there may offer up a sandwich, but a whole slew of not very exciting elementary school sandwiches with soggy bread ruined that option for me.

Let's revisit breakfast first. I listened to an interview with the woman who runs Tastespotting on, and I got really into Tastespotting this weekend. It is so much better than Pinterest because it is carefully curated. Tastespotting can give you some great ideas. Have you ever thought of eating a breakfast salad? Have you thought about eating quinoa for bre…

Hancock Shaker Village and Cafe

My friend at work was telling me about the baby animals at Hancock Shaker Village. She also said the cafe was amazing, so I really wanted to go. I loved seeing the baby animals in past years at Indian Ladder Farms, but my husband was not as impressed (though he may deny it now - in his defense it was a cold and rainy day that I wanted him to stand around and listen to me say "look how cute the little baby ducks are!!"). So it was good my friend Elizabeth agreed to go with me. Here is the part where I say to you "Look how cute the animals are!!" Here is the Round Stone Barn that holds the animals:

 Then we went to the Village Harvest Cafe. My friend really recommended it, and they grow their own vegetables so it sounded like a great choice. Here is the menu.

I had the "Open Faced Roast Beef on Grilled Farmers Bread with Shaker Mushroom Sauce, and Crispy Shallots", and lots of hazelnut coffee that I really enjoyed. The mushroom sauce was very flavorful and …

Homemade Pasta

It has been a long running joke between Scott and me that we have too much pasta. He ate pasta a lot more as a bachelor, and I have always felt like we had pasta coming out of our ears, pasta falling out of every cabinet, pasta taking over our lives. So I put it all in airtight containers and mason jars, and then he said he didn't know how long to cook all of it because they weren't in their boxes anymore, so now we just have tons of pasta we don't use. He used to love Raffetto's in NYC, and never stopped talking about how he could not find a place to buy fresh pasta in Albany. So partially as a pasta joke, and partially for practically reasons, I bought him a class at Different Drummer's Kitchen for Christmas to learn how to make fresh pasta. Then, we had a coupon to Different Drummer's that we got from having our wedding registry there, and with that we purchased a pasta making machine.

Pasta making turns out to be the most fun ever. I used Mario Battali'…

Albany Restaurant Week: The Brown Derby

I am generally not a fan of "restaurant weeks,"  which are theoretically a good deal but in my experience tend to offer 1)a prix fixe of the least interesting items on the menu at only a marginal discount (and if, like me, you generally are indifferent about and skip dessert, no discount at all) or 2)reduced portions of the least interesting items on the menu.   But our friend Jessica R. was organizing a Restaurant Week outing and there were a couple good options (although I agree having it at a tavern sort of defeats the purpose.)   So we decided to try the Brown Derby, which we had wanted to visit for a while but hadn't yet.

The meal was very good, and epitomized what Restaurant Week can be at its best.   It was, first of all, a genuine bargain, a three-course meal that certainly didn't skimp on portion sizes for less than the usual price of the entrees alone.    Even for those of us who can almost always take or leave the dessert, that's a good deal.   But it&…

Hattie's Restaurant, Saratoga

Today we went to Hattie's Restaurant in Saratoga. Scott wanted to buy some music, I like PaperDolls, and we both enjoy the Saratoga Salsa and Spice Company (and Marie Sharp's hot sauce they sell there).

So first of all, this place is adorable. They have roosters everywhere, including on a large shelf across the top of the walls. I took a picture.

My grandmother was not from Lousiana, (she was from Detroit), but she definitely had a very similar aesthetic including the red check tablecloths and roosters everywhere. I don't mean to brag, but my grandmother had a lot more roosters than they do. I, too, have adopted the rooster interest, but I like to think of it as "French Country". I couldn't find a picture of her roosters or red checked tablecloths, but the wallpaper here, the curtains, and her awesome lipstick can give you an idea (also you can tell how much fun it was being around her by the look on my face).

Anyways - on to the chicken. It was named best f…

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Tonight we had a very healthy dinner of cod with lemon quickly sauteed and roasted purple potatoes. We also had some Benzinger white wine, where we visited on our honeymoon. Then I started paging through some cookbooks for dessert, since it is the weekend after all. Check out carrot cupcakes above from Ad Hoc at Home (one of my all time favorite cookbooks).  Things I think about this recipe:

There is no beating cream cheese frosting. Seriously, is there anything better? No, I don't think so. Oh my goodness.What is the difference between cupcakes and muffins? I didn't find my paper baking cups until after I was baking them, and my husband was shocked I was just baking them in my muffin pan that I had rubbed with butter and drizzled with some flour. He said he thought the difference between muffins and cupcakes was the paper baking cups. I think the difference may be the texture. You can just yank muffins out of the pan without losing half of it, but cake you want to get it out …

Civil War on Pinterest

Now, I realize despite Pinterest's total addictive quality to a certain type of woman that not everyone knows what it is. The Brooklyn Museum Shop is on there, and when I tried explaining to our shop manager what the site could do and why she should get on there too, it didn't go very well. "Strangers can discover a cake I made last July and 300 people read the post in one afternoon!" Now that is power.

But I read on Jezebel yesterday that not all the Pinterest power is being used for good. This is not surprising since I saw pro-anorexia videos on YouTube years ago. Maybe Instagram is next.

What is interesting is all the backlash on the site itself. Here are some good ones. And a story on Business Insider. Another story on Jezebel. A selection of some of the pins. And finally, Huffington Post. More of the anti-pins here.

My favorite was this one:

Now, you can't police the internet. I wrote about pressures to lose weight while I was planning my wedding. I also wr…

All Good Bakers Wheat Loaf

Now, it is well established in the 518 blogosphere that All Good Bakers is delicious. We've got derryX, the From Scratch Club gals, Albany Jane, Jen is Green, DelSo, Capital to Capital - just to name a handful. Scott and I also tried their foods before at the Albany Wine & Dine Festival.

From my point of view, I'm not so much in the market for baked goods as I am usually looking for friends who I can drop off rugelach or cakepops at their houses because I have made too many of something that sounded interesting. It is funny that baking things has pretty much become my hobby considering that I'd probably be fine with a diet of oatmeal, chicken noodle soup, penne alla vodka and BLTs. Most nights I'd rather have a small bit of sherry before bed than a slice of anything sweet. But, my interest in baking has grown so much in recent years that I have a couple of times read Dorie Greenspan in the bathtub. I think that says it all right there. Baking things makes your hou…

TWD, Baking with Julia: Lemon Loaf

As part of Tuesdays with Dorie using the book Baking with Julia I made the lemon loaf. My husband has just chimed in that "It is not too sweet, the use of real lemon really makes a difference, and it is a perfect snack". I agree. It is good for breakfast, good for a snack, good for inviting your friend over for a spot of tea and a screening of "Murder She Wrote" (hopefully one of the ones that take place in Cabot Cove). It is very versatile, and somewhere between a dessert and a breakfast item.

Here is some chatter about the recipe. One issue that I can address is the one of cake flour. I did not find cake flour in my grocery store. So it is a good thing that my kitchen companion Joy the Baker explains in her book how to replicate cake flour when you cannot find any. "Set a fine mesh sifter over a medium bowl and lay a piece of wax paper on the counter. Put 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour into the sifter. Add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the flou…

April Food Swap

Today I went to the food swap with the From Scratch Club. It was extra fun because author Alana Chernila was there and spoke about her book The Homemade Pantry. She spoke about the connection between politics and food, and it was very interesting. My friend Jessica came along with her fabulous lip balm made from Lloyd Spear Honey, so that made it even more fun.

I made hot sauce from an Emeril's recipe I found online. It was green though, like the green jalapenos I used. I bought the jars and labels at Brooklyn Kitchen when I went down to see Joy the Baker.

Check it out:

I brought the chips for sampling. People apparently thought it was super spicy, including Albany Jane who totally turned me down for that reason. Check out what I got this time!

Garlic croutons, which was the item I wanted the most during the sampling period - totally delicious! Beef jerky (here is the beef jerky maker's blog). I also got a beautiful lavender body powder that you can use as a dry shampoo or jus…

Hawaiian Themed Cocktail Party

This post has a soundtrack.

Now, of course I think it is fun and totally healthy for couples to socialize with other couples. But if you don't think it is neccessary, and also totally healthy for people to also have separate friendships, then you should go read some Rachel Bertsche. It just kills me when I hear people say they force their husbands to go outlet shopping with them - that is why you are supposed to have girlfriends - girlfriends who would love to go outlet shopping! Instead, you see the guys sitting outside the dressing room, totally bored to tears.When I hear someone say their boyfriend is their best friend, and then totally demonstrate that they don't think their friendships are a priority through their behavior, it kills me, but I also think it is not good for their relationship in the long term. Your boyfriend does not want to go shoe shopping with you, and he really doesn't want to analyze "Real Housewives of Any City". Rachel Bertsche says …

Cafe Capriccio: Easter Edition

We wanted to do something nice for Easter dinner, so we decided to visit one of our favorites. It's always nice to be back to the Grand Street landmark, and while perhaps because of the holiday most of the familiar faces weren't around our server Charity was excellent. There was an Easter prix-fixe that was tempting, particularly since one of the entree choices was lamb with artichoke and fennel. But we both decided to order a la carte.

For the appetizers, we went with Italian classics. We split the greens and beans Passannante, which we had never had here before although it's one of my favorites. It was divided into two portions for us:

A very nice balance between firm white beans and butter greens, with a tasty broth. We also split an even more banal appetizer, a caprese salad:

This is all about the ingredients, and given how rare it is to get tasty, juicy tomatoes at this time of year it was a godsend. The homemade mozzarella is also terrific.

For the main cou…