Archive for the ‘Just for Fun’ Category

Under Construction

I apparently am not as creative or original as I had hoped.  Let me explain.  It’s been on my mind for quite some time now that I’m not the best food blogger.  I don’t take great photos- combination of iPhone and really bad kitchen lighting make for sad looking food sometimes.  I also am clearly bad at keeping up with you folks- I have a lot of things in the queue, but they’re not very interesting and I’ve had a lot of kitchen fails lately.  I read a lot of other fantastic food blogs and sometimes it makes mine feel a lil’ inadequate. I have food blog envy.

Besides that I feel like there’s more to share- lil’ experiences around Boston- general life musings, my ridiculously fat & awesome cat.  So I’m going to switch gears and mix things up a bit.  For awhile I’ve been thinking that I should swing this into the more general category of lifestyle blog or whatever they’re called these days.  Which brings us back to the original point- I am not as clever as I thought.  I had grand intentions of telling you all this and slapping a funny “under construction” sign up.  Well.  Apparently so did everyone else.  I googled “Under construction” and yes most of the images were actual construction/industrial but a lot were website under construction or some riff on that.

Thus came Pinterest.  I just joined.  I’m obsessed.  There’s SO much pretty out there.  And that is where the above image is from, pinned by another Pinterest member by way of juicy-bits.typepad.com .  And, sidenote- when & if I ever have kids- this party idea is adorbs.

A new name and design have yet to be decided on, but I wanted you give you loyal readers, all 5 of you, an update on my whereabouts and of things to come.  So stayed tuned.


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A questionnaire

So.  This is old news, but.  Last week’s Super Bowl was less than super.  (Well, if you were a Patriots fan at least.) I was all ready, got the queso going, had on my Welker jersey and then watched the game slowly unwind against the Pats favor.  The other reason I haven’t yet posted about the big game was the emphasis every one puts on the the food- I mean- half the fun of the Super Bowl is the snacking!  I had a big menu planned, and boy oh boy, did it ever flop.  Ugh.  Not my best work, I won’t even bother sharing it with you.

In lieu of fun snacks- my dear friend C$, posted a fun idea… a lil’ blogger questionnaire.  (and PS Clare, you only posted 7 questions!!)

So here we go:

1. What are your feelings on walking as a form of transportation vs. form of exercise?
I love to walk when I have the time over public transportation or a cab.  As exercise- lately it’s about all I do, so yeah. It’s exercise.
2. Books that you wish you could read again for the first time?
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I love it.  LOVE.  I used to re-read it in college when I was homesick or in later years if I was really sad about something.
3. Favorite smell(s)?
Walking into my Mom’s house while she’s baking bread.  AMAZING.
4. Favorite silly song from childhood?
Skinnamarinky-dinky-dink, skinnamarinki doo (Spelling??)
5. Most favorite beauty product and why?
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.  My Mom taught me that moisturizing is V. important.  And for 55 she has great skin.
6. What friends had the best snacks/toys growing up?
Dang, I don’t remember.  My cousin’s place was always a good time, we watched the best movies. Goonies all the way.
7. What made up holiday do you wish the world celebrated?
Rex Manning day.  

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Not literally.  But that would be awesome!

Bri-guy & I have been doing our little tour of South End eateries and I was shocked to hear that he had not been (hadn’t even heard of!) Flour.  Oh Flour.  Such a fantastic bakery.  Thank you to Joanne Chang for following her heart (and gut) and switching careers. She runs a mean bakery! Great spot for a breakfast treat (sticky bun for a real indulgence) and a coffee or cocoa.  It’s also a great spot for lunch- a nice break during a stroll around the South End.

I have thing for the sticky bun.  I never thought I was into that kind of thing until I tried one- I forget when/where, but it was the best thing I had ever tasted.  They are notoriously popular as well, routinely selling out, so it always seems like a stroke of luck when there is a plateful in the case, and that of course you MUST order one because you don’t know when you’ll have another chance! I  had to show Bri-guy the light and introduce him to Flour. We got a sticky bun (duh) and a lemon-ginger scone.

The scone was amazing- light, and just the right crumb to it- scones can often be dry & dull.  The lemon was bright & vibrant and so refreshing.  The sticky bun was my personal heaven.  It really shouldn’t count as breakfast, it makes for a lazy morning/afternoon.

When the sugar high subsided and real hunger crept in later in the day, we were contemplating a late lunch somewhere…Picco- of course is an awesome choice, but I wasn’t quite in the pizza mood.  Since trying to lighten-up on the gluten & processed foods, I figured baked breakfast goods was enough for one day. I also know that Bri-guy had been wanting to try this Chinese place in the South End, and though it’s not normally my fave cuisine I was trying to be a good sport and suggested dim sum at Myers & Chang. (And yes, that is the same Chang- hence the title of the post-Joanne and her husband opened the restaurant together.) Bri-guy has been itching to go and I figured why not?  Especially when I saw they had specifically designated gluten-free dishes.  This was also my first shot at dim sum.  And gosh darnit, I loved it! We tried all sorts and there wasn’t a thing on the table I didn’t like! Who knew.

Starting late lunch off right with scorpion bowl for 2

Spicy papaya slaw

Pork dumplings

Sweet potato fritter

Rice noodles & chicken

Hot chicken wings

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Fancy Dinner Fail

Epic Fail.

This is a sad story.  It’s like I’ve just learned that Santa isn’t real.  I wish I was exagerrating, but I’m not.  I nearly cried at the restaurant out of disappointment and shear embarrassment.

I happened to have a gift certificate for a restaurant group in Boston and Bri-guy had an Open Table check, so we had $100 to fancy ourselves up.  Where to?  Mistral!  I’d been once or twice with my Dad ages ago and had great meals. I was so excited to go again and was tempted by the Dover Sole on the menu.

I’ve been curious about Dover Sole Meuniere for ages.  Its one of those classic french dishes that is the epitomy of good eating and luxury.  Ever since I read My Life in France by Julia Child I’ve been even more curious and excited to try it.  She shares a story in the book about her first meal (sole meuniere) in France as she  & Paul first arrive, and it is the best meal she has ever had.  I wanted that.  I wanted to be wowed.  For the first time I had the opportunity to try it.

The caveat- the “market” price.  And the grand total for this evening’s sole?  $60.  I kid you not.  Flown in daily from England. So I’m thinking, “We have $100, when am I ever going to have this chance, I’m going for it.”  I asked the waiter, is this really the best thing on the menu, I explained I’ve never tried it so I don’t know what to expect etc etc.  He said yes, it’s the most popular and he’s only had it sent back once or twice, and if I don’t like it, he’ll take it right back.

It looks pretty...

Well dear waiter,  I just made your story three times.  Ugh.  I never, EVER, send anything back.  I felt like such a brat, it was terribly embarrassing, but, though lovely, (I died over the copper roasting pan it was served in), I just didn’t like it. And for that much money it needed to be the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my 28 years on the face of this planet.  It just wasn’t.  So, back it went.  It was just off, maybe my piece had a bad case of jet-lag or something.

I didn’t want to have to wait for another entree so I just ordered a caesar salad.  And of course ate off of Bri-guy’s plate too.  His duck was delicious, not amazing, but it was good.  Luckily, I still had a good experience.  We had a fun night, the appetizers were great- tuna tartare (I tried my “no thank you” bite) and crab ravioli (so good!) and honestly, that caesar salad was the best I’ve ever had.  Ha.

What have we learned?  There are some things in life I just don’t like.  I don’t care how pricey it is or “how good!” everyone says it is, I just don’t like it.  I’ve been a picky eater most of my life, but have expanded my palate by leaps and bounds by cooking for myself and trying to new things with friends in the past few years.  Yet there are still things I can’t seem to ease into- most of it has to do with texture (sushi, tuna tartare, most anything that is squishy or odd & chewy).

And there are flavors, even in the best preparation I don’t like- olives, capers- you get the point.  Bri-guy & I had a conversation on the walk home after dinner about what makes a fancy restaurant- you know, what’s in a name, reputation, food quality.  It’s clear that people go to Mistral to be seen.  It is a scene- the people watching was amazing.  But they’re not necessarily a discerning clientele, they go to spend money because they can and they aren’t really concerned with how good the food actually is.  Don’t get me wrong, Mistral has an amazing product, but for the price, to me it should be better.  This is where the Boston restaurant scene fails.  Some of the best food is in lesser known spots, and not even in Boston- but across the river in Cambridge.  I suggested to Bri-guy that we expand our horizon and hop across the river for some amazing food, so hopefully more of that to come!  For now, I’ll be happy that I got to try something I had been wanting for a long time, and I got it for free. (Yes, that lovely waiter left it off the check, we left him a nice tip.)

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Hello my loves!

I hope everyone had a lovely holiday, and has lots more to come in the New Year! I’ve been a busy little bee, working away at the cube and over at Williams Sonoma.  I sadly did not have time this year to bake the holiday treats I normally love to, but I was able to enjoy some of our family traditions and some new additions.

The Christmas weekend was a blur and I can’t believe it’s come and gone so quickly.  La cucina made out well- new drip coffee-maker, a Cuisinart Waffle iron, and some fun other goodies including those magnetic salt & pepper grinders for the fridge!

I was back to a busy week at work and was trying to get together easy, tasty, and healthful meals.  A side that my cousins’ wife Ro cooked up at Christmas was delish- it was a zesty quinoa pilaf- so I decided to recreate it, and serve it alongside some grilled chicken.  This was my first foray into quinoa.  I know, I know, I’m late to the party.  I was surprised by how much I liked it!



The week has been hard at work, so I’ve been cherishing my downtime at home.  The other night after another draining day at the office I wanted to curl up with something comforting.  But, I didn’t want to have to make another big trip to the store and be cooking for hours.  Luckily, I had sausage still- all I needed to do was defrost- it was the apple gouda sausage that I first enjoyed a few weeks ago.

The sausage went on the grill pan, the peas in the steamer, and the potatoes in a pot.  I thought it was a very British meal- reminds me of a pub meal I had in London a couple of years ago.  It was exactly what I needed.  (Yes, the wine in the background didn’t hurt either.)

I may or may not have gone a little overboard with the mashed potatoes- but I couldn’t help myself.  I’ve actually been eating very well lately, (still trying out the gluten-free thing for the most part.)

This weekend is New Year’s- I’ll have to come up with a good resolution by then.  I’m keeping it low-key this year, I may grab a drink with a couple of friends early, but I really want to stay home and cook a delicious meal on New Year’s Eve- really treat myself and relax.  And I promise to have more recipes next week.



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(we’ll get to tastes later, this is after all, a food blog.)

The holidays are finally in full swing around these parts!  I don’t know if it’s the warm weather, or the lack of a Christmas tree in my apartment, but I haven’t yet gotten into the holiday spirit.  Which, some of you may know, is really weird.  I love Christmas.  And not the the crazy family get-together and exchange presents part, but the holiday season- the music, the decorations, the lights on the trees, sending cards, all of it. Love love love Christmas.  Two of my favorite things are the annual trip to see the Boston Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker, and Christmas peeping around town- seeing how people have decorated their apartments & condos.

As for the Nutcracker, I really enjoy the music component, I’ll listen to it at home wrapping presents or baking cookies, and I love the ballet- it’s so elegant and those dancers make it look so easy!  But one of my favorite parts is one that you might not get unless you’ve been to the ballet- I love the sound of ballet pointe shoes on the stage floor.  They make this tap-tap-tap that I absolutely love.  It’s weird, I know, but I have supersonic hearing, I hear everything- sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse.  Anyway, my lil’ golden retriever style ears pick up everything and that tap of the shoes on the stage when there’s a lull in the music is just the perfect addition to an already amazing tradition.


And decorations… well, they do it right here in Boston.  In my neck of the woods, Beacon Hill, every year there are greens & red bow on all the lamp-posts.  All of them.  Volunteers decorate at the beginning of the month and they stay up until New Year’s.  It’s such a nice touch, looking down the block at the old lamps and their holiday cheer.  I highly recommend a stroll through this ‘hood this time of year.  City-living certainly doesn’t always mean getting a good does of holiday decor, at least not on the outside- you won’t see apartment blocks competing for who has the most lights, but there are subtle touches people add.  This morning, when I went for my walk, I decided against my usual Charles River route (thought it was too cold & windy) so I opted for a walk through the Back Bay.  (And the real reason I did this was so I could take a peek at what the fancy people were doing to deck their halls.)

My oh my did that decision pay off!  One of my favorite streets in Boston- Marlborough St.- had things done right. Geez louise I wish I had brought my iPhone to take photos for you all!  There were trees in the windows, wreaths on the doors, decorations on the small patches of “lawn” that some of the homes have, it was utterly enchanting and a great way to start my day.  Then, then there was Santa.  As I was on my return back up Beacon Street I was startled by a life-size replica of Santa in a window.  Where most people might place a tree, there was a rather, dare I say, creepy, Santa in the window.  Not my favorite.  Not as creepy as a mall Santa, but still.

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What’s better on a Friday after a long week than dinner in with some wine and someone to snuggle with?  Not much I tell ya.  Last week at the cube was epically exhausting.  I was beyond stressed to the point of not even being angry or annoyed with work, just absolutely numb.  So when Friday came around and Bri-guy and I were thinking of what to do, he knew just what I needed- nothing fancy, just some quality down time.

I decided the least I could contribute was the meal- since food and what I’m going to cook takes up about 80% of my daily thinking.  Bri-guy wanted to grill of course, and it has been unseasonably warm lately.  I decided to combine two of my favorite things then, grilled steak, and tacos.  This baby marinated all day in the fridge:

Flank steak, with garlic, onion, cumin, salt & chili powder & oil


Then it was time to get the shells and the fixin’s ready.  (Side note: crunchy tacos probably aren’t the best for steak, but, they are my fave, so I went with it.)

Corn tortillas, fried up until crispy

Now, I was also trying to be resourceful and use up a few things, so instead of crunchy lettuce, we had brussel sprouts slaw,  But instead of the apple, I went with a carrot this time.  And you know what, it was pretty good.

Cilantro, salsa, homemade guac, and brussel sprouts slaw


The taco all ready to be topped (though the guac is underneath

The meal & the company were just what I needed.  Even got my first seasonal viewing of Love Actually!  The only thing there was too much of was wine.  Whew.

Saturday was an epically bad hangover.  I mean, brutal…  not even this thing could help:

TBS Burger from The Butcher Shop


I could only manage about half, and it was dang delicious.  Perfectly cooked, topped with a bit of cheese and caramelized onions, I will definitely be going back for another one of those, though hopefully not hungover next time.  Ugh.

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