When the Escape Becomes the Habit

I must confess that I have an addiction. An addiction that apparently only gets worse when schoolwork gets heavier and more hours are spent typing away. My addiction is eBay (of course). How tempting it is to turn off the brain for a few minutes to troll through screens listing items I feel I should probably have in my life. Add to this the thrill of the hunt, the need for constant vigilance and the bated breath of a bid put in last minute (and always with $.51 added! always!). The glory of an item won, especially at a ridiculous low price, keeps me coming back again and again. The question now seems, should I eBay, or finish this blog entry?

May I present to you my latest eBay purchase.

I've be wanting a caramel brown bag for awhile and I'm a sucker for tooled leather. Now bags and I have always had an uneasy relationship. As a messy person, I find it near impossible to keep one bag organized let alone have the ability to swap bags with any regularity. When I try, I always leave something behind and end up cursing, sans unlimited MetroCard, at the subway turnstile. For most of grad school I have survived throwing everything into my increasingly ratty Longchamp, yet with my new purchase I vow to keep things tidier and switch up more often. Now I wonder, how do my more organized friends do this?


Post-rewards with Pasta Carbonara

What is it about going to the doctors office that makes you want to have a treat afterwards? I think perhaps it is a result of a childhood spent getting a lollipop after every horrid shot. Yesterday I had an early afternoon appointment which coincided nicely with the last hour of the Union Square farmer's market. I bought spring garlic (which I have never cooked with before), a scallion cheddar scone (instant reward) and then happened upon a women giving free samples of bacon.

Now as an off and on again, pescatarian, I am currently very, very off. And bacon has always been my downfall. The bacon was cooked very minimally, floating in its fragrant grease. I had a sample, speared on a toothpick, and suddenly was in bacon heaven. It really was the best bacon I have ever had. Chewy, meaty, sweet and smokey. After a walk around the park, we had to go back and buy some even though for bacon it was pricey ($11 a pound!).

Now what do to with the best bacon in the world? I instantly thought of Carbonara. A favorite childhood dish of mine, I thought it would highlight the bacon and be an excellent post doctors visit comfort food. As there are many variations on Carbonara, I stuck with the one my mother made with the addition of fresh oregano. I cooked the bacon a little more then the woman at the market did and this was a mistake. Really, it is best minimally cooked. This is something that I have often had disagreements about (ahem certain college friends), but this recipe especially would be ruined by the charred taste of crisp bacon.

Pasta Carbonara
1 box of pasta (you can use a little less for more flavorful pasta)
1 lb. bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 gloves garlic
3 eggs, beaten
3 tbp. chopped fresh oregano
fresh pepper

Boil salted water and add pasta to cook. Dice bacon and saute for a few minutes until very slightly browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Add diced onions to bacon grease, cook for two minutes, and then add garlic. Cook for an additional minute, then add to bacon.

Meanwhile, when pasta is al dente, drain it and return to pot. Add in the bacon mixture and then the eggs and fresh oregano. Toss the pasta, the heat from the pasta and the bacon will cook the eggs. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper.


B & G

A few weeks ago, my friends Brandy and Greg were married. I met Brandy in grad school and we bonded working together on a formidable assignment that involved reading the New York Times everyday for months, clipping articles on information policy, long nights typing and editing and one particularly delirious day spent running around Williamsburg trying to find a coffee shop with the rare combination of wireless internet, ready electrical outlets and the benevolence to allow bleary eyed graduate students sit for hours. (Hint... Atlas Cafe and Eat Records always fit this bill.)

Brandy had just met Greg at the beginning of the project and it's been a pleasure watching their relationship grow and bloom. They are both amazingly fun and creative individuals with generous, open hearts. Their wedding represented this, held in a loft in Greenpoint and with a DIY attitude that allowed friends and family to contribute. I made a couple of dishes for the dinner and fittingly enough, used a recipe culled from the New York Times.

This feta torte is surprisingly easy to make, rich and delicious. It involves folding sheets of paper thin phyllo dough into a bundt pan and then filling the torte with a rich filling of feta, romano, eggs and herbs. Then you just tuck the edges over to make the bottom of the torte and pour melted butter over the whole shebang, letting it trickle down the sides and coating the dough. As the torte is traditionally made for Greek Orthodox Easter, it seemed fitting to be made for another, special new beginning. Congratulations Brandy and Greg!


Maps inspired by maps

Here are three maps that my friends made last night. I love seeing what parts people remember and highlight and what gets forgotten. Across the board, everyone knows the east coast very, very well.


Amateur Cartography

This is a picture that Adam and I drew of the United States. From memory! It's pretty hard! We forgot Wyoming and Minnesota and definitely made the east coast larger then life, but it was a fun project and all-in-all I think we did okay... though perhaps a fifth grader could have done better? More recent geography lessons? Next we're going to try South America or Europe.PS.... I'm baaaack. New computer, new scanner and ready for business.


Elk Preserve

Pennsylvania, 2008


It's Super Natural

Now that the holidays are over I've been focusing on my exhaustive list of New Years resolutions such as: drinking less, cooking more, tackling the new spring semester (despite my growing indifference to grad school), practicing yoga as much time and my body allow it and a bunch of new age crap that I'm too embarrassed to admit to in a public space.
My friend Jes introduced me to an amazing cookbook Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson (of 101 Cookbooks fame) which has definitely been inspiring me to keep up on the cooking resolution. Last week I made dinner for friends that included Quinou and Mushrooms with Cheese as well as Roasted Broccoli with Lemon. Both recipes were simple to prepare and used only (super natural!) unprocessed ingredients.
I was inspired to contribute my own recipe to the dinner. I was aiming for Brown Butter Maple Sweet Potato Hash Browns which turned more into mashed potatoes then hash browns. I need a potato ricer and some serious hash brown pointers before I attempt them again. Anyhow, here is the revised recipe. Enjoy!

Brown Butter and Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 large russet potatoes, cubed
1/2 cup butter
10 leaves of sage, whole
1 tbsp. maple syrup
dash of salt

Boil cubed potatoes until tender and drain water. Melt butter on low heat. Add sage leaves and let butter reduce until it turns into a dark tan color and is slightly foamy. Pore melted butter and desire amount of milk on potatoes and mash away.