Monday, May 31, 2010

In the Lap of Luxury

I'm back in Jersey City for Memorial Day weekend, trying to earn a few extra bones dogsitting.

It's been really nice, having time alone in a comfortable (grown-up) apartment, soaking up the gorgeous weather, and enjoying the breathtaking views of the city.

And of this lovely lady:

(The photo is an old one from when I took the tour with my dad a couple years ago, but you get the idea.)
Some of you may remember Max and Stanley, who are now like nephews to me. I agreed to sit for them even before I brought Sammy home. Still, I'm feeling a bit guilty this weekend going back and forth between Brooklyn and Jersey.

Do dogs consider sleeping in another dog's house cheating?

If only Sammy were here, he and the guys would be full-on buds.

And meeting this guy at the park made my day ( not a great phone pic, but note the swimsuit and socks combo).

Happy Memorial Day!

Big news, drumroll please ...

The following news should not be too much of a shock to most of you, but to me it is still raw and scary.

I'm moving back to California.

After four influential years trying to find my place in New York, my restless heart can no longer ignore the pull of the West Coast. I have wrestled with this decision for over a year, all the while wrestling with my love/hate relationship with Brooklyn.

This blog has made me truly appreciate Brooklyn for all that it is and all the challenges life in New York City brings. I have been kicked down. I have been blessed. I have grown. I have lived here, in one place, longer than anywhere else since high school.

It is the perfect place for antsy spirits. It has tried my patience, kept me on my toes, filled me with surprises and unpredictability, all the while forcing me to look inward and continue searching for what it is I really want.

And in that search, I have known deep down that I am a California girl, pasty white skin, neuroses and all.

As I work out the details of extricating myself from the city and starting my life over 3,000 miles away, I am saying my goodbyes to this wonderful, crazy place.

And trying not to freak out.

And though in two months, I will no longer be a Brooklyn tart, I will still be chowing down regardless and writing to tell you about it.

A new website to chronicle the next chapter of the adventure is coming soon! This site will now take a turn to honor the precious time left in New York City.

Store is Open for Business!

At last, I figured out how to set up my Etsy account. I'm inspired by the Renegade Craft Fair coming up in Brooklyn next weekend.

Click here.

More to come, including crocheted coasters and campy pottery. Take a peek and check out other talented crafters, artists and jewelry makers.

Word up to the handmade maidens and mates!

More info for the Brooklyn-specific fair:

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cooking with Sammy

Sammy isn't used to being fancy.

Or being dressed up.

Or homemade dinners and dog biscuits.

But he's trying to take it all in stride.

And I think he's happy to be a part of it all. Even if all I'm doing is making macaroni and cheese.

He may even like that more than being fancy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Un-Fried Chicken

I think some people are born with a friend chicken gene. I sure wasn't raised on it, but boy, has it had a force in my adult life. I'm sure many of you feel the same.

But what do we do when we have an inkling and the best chicken and biscuits place is closed (or in my case, two subway rides away and behind bullet-proof glass)?

Bake it!

Stay with me here, for those who haven't already left in search of a deep fat fryer.

This is super easy for meager kitchens. I used breadcrumbs and crackers for the breading, and yogurt with seasoning for the batter (buttermilk is best, but I thinned the yogurt out with a splash of milk). After marinading in the batter for at least an hour in the fridge, coat in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Give it a quick sear in a frying pan and bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes (keep checking, it really depends on the oven, the pan, and the chicken you use).

This is an easy thing to make for one person, though leftovers are great for mixing into salads and pasta.

I had mine with a spinach salad with goat cheese and goddess dressing. Sorry, Colonel, you're not invited to this one.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Time and Tempeh

I have way too many vegetarians in my life. I love every stinking last one of them, but they are a pain and they make me want to go on rabid meat binges after we finish meals. (I mean, how do they ever get full?)

Since I can't do without the meat and I can't do without them, I stay on the lookout for alternatives. Fake meat. It's just another unfamiliar and challenging ingredient, really. I hope it makes me a better person.

Voila, tempeh tacos!

I don't totally get what tempeh is. I had to google it, like so many things in my life (a few months ago I even had to google Lady Gaga). It's a soy product fermented into a cake form, but you can crumble it up and pretend it's ground beef, which I did. (Incidentally, tempeh is sometimes referred to as a "meat analogue," which I find funny. It puts a little more distance between the meat than to call it a substitute.)

Would you believe tempeh has its own website? There is even a recipe to make your own tempeh, but I'll have to wait and try that when I am really trying to put off doing something important.

No offense, I have the utmost respect for the convictions of vegetarians and health-buffs- I simply don't have the discipline for that kind of lifestyle. I applaud you if you can stick to it and find balance with a diet that doesn't include meat. I simply couldn't do it.

I cook tempeh in a skillet just like ground beef, but I keep adding a few tablespoons of water at a time to soften it up. It actually does work as a pretty good substitute and can help you out in a pinch when you are cooking for someone who is a vegetarian with a wheat and dairy allergy (one step away from being a vegan).

It's actually pretty darn good when cooked with the right amount of seasoning. Okay, I'll keep working with it and stop grumbling when I have to skip meat now and then. Really, though, can we stop referring to it as an analogue and call a spade a spade? It's a substitute.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Give Cheese a Chance

Last Wednesday, I stumbled upon this article about raw milk sales being legalized in Wisconsin.

So what?

If you're asking that question, perhaps you have never been exposed to the world of raw milk cheese. In that case, yeah, big deal.

For the die-hard cheese heads and dairy enthusiasts out there, this is really good news. It means we are one step closer to legalized production and sales of raw milk cheese. I'm not clear what the phobia of unpasteurized milk is- there have only been two reported deaths in ten years as a result. With cheese production, unsafe milk with the wrong bacteria won't coagulate properly anyway, which is easier to identify when the milk is unpasteurized and in its natural state. It also has far more nutrients than pasteurized.

As far as unpasteurized cheese goes, there are simply no words. It just tastes a zillion light years beyond what you can get in the store. I still dream about unpasteurized Camembert I ate in Brittany, which would often become the main part of my meal.

Hope this spreads to the coasts soon. Leave our milk alone!

Again, find the yahoo article here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kindred Spirits are Awesome

Is it May already? What? When? How? I've been eating dust the last couple weeks while chasing after Sammy. I know there were blossoms all over in McCarren Park in Greenpoint, but it's kind of a blur.

I'm just coming out of hiding from the weekend. I've been busy. Reading. A lot.

The author's name is Georgia Pellegrini, she calls herself the Girl Hunter ... and she's awesome. In a shrinking world oversaturated with blogs, it is amazing to find fresh, edgy food writing with a philosophy behind it that I completely agree with.

She's a cute blond with a shotgun and she's not afraid to use it- only her blog is not about being a blood-thirsty carnivore, but about taking an honest approach to food.

"Hunting is not about male bonding in the woods anymore… it’s about understanding how to participate in nature, how to hunt for food, take only what you can eat, use every part of the animal and treat it with respect all the way to the plate," as she explains in my favorite post of hers here. (Though I'm still making my way through them all- hence, my absence.)

"Women are the cooks in the world, despite what you see on cooking shows. So why shouldn’t they be the hunter/gatherers as well? And understand that ingredients come from nature, not a Styrofoam wrapped package in the meat section of the grocery store."

It's all good stuff, but I don't want to cut and paste the whole thing. Finish reading it! And for more awesome stuff, here's her food philosophy.

I found out about her from a post she wrote on the first great chef I worked for when I lived in California and the organic farm he and his wife lovingly tend (Zin Restaurant and Eastside Farms for those of you lucky enough to find yourselves in Healdsburg). She totally gets them. I totally get her.

Georgia travels the globe covering food adventurers and pioneers in the slow food movement. She also shares a lot of kitchen wisdom with her adorable Italian grandmother. And she has a hunting/cooking show on ESPN. She's awesome. Did I already mention that?

Check her out. If you follow me, you should definitely follow her. If you don't follow me, then do that, too.

It's nice to know there's a no-fluff, real-deal food bloggess out there. Thanks for keeping it real, GP!