Thursday, October 23, 2014

What's for Dinner Tonight?

Dear Reader,

There are some days spent in Brooklyn where everything seems to just make sense. Work. All is well. Like putting that last piece of a puzzle together and looking with sudden clarity at the “big picture” – ohhh, so that’s what I spent hours upon hours sifting through cardboard cutouts for! All the good and bad had and to be had makes sense on this very day. 

I’m so very thankful for such days because it’s when I feel most grateful for my life and I certainly do count my blessings. This week, E and I went for a long walk through our neighborhood, hobbling through cobblestone streets and maneuvering through tourists admiring the NYC skyline (a picture never does it justice, does it?) and our conversations tend to always center around the same vibe. We are so blessed. Even when facing the worst of circumstances, I am so thankful to E for keeping my mind in a high spirited place filled with gratitude instead of resentment or disturbances of my peace. It’s in these moments where we are often overwhelmed with joy and with a real need to celebrate life.
And I have a tendency of celebrating such said life by throwing dinner parties.

Menu
Appetizer
* Fresh Ricotta Cheese – adapted from Ina Garten
* Bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes set on top of such fresh ricotta cheese and glazed balsamic vinaigrette  

Entree
* Mussels in white wine sauce – adapted from Ina Garten and Martha Stewart
* Well-marbled London broil
* Grilled asparagus

I won’t bore you with a long list of cooking instructions and recipes; instead I have posted the links above. But I will delve into the food shopping adventure we had, which, if it didn’t happen to me I’d be inclined to not believe it to be true.

E and I woke up early on Sunday morning, rolled around in bed for a few minutes since it’s just so hard to get out of bed on a weekend morning. After some diddly daddling, we got dressed and headed off to shop for our Sunday dinner and that is when our adventures began. As we were driving around, we noticed a butcher shop on Atlantic Ave. and decided to take a look at the meats. At this point, we weren’t planning on grilling any steaks, but I am always game to check out a specialty store and so off we went. It was beautiful. The space was large and cavernous, lined with wooden panels and you feel like you went back in time to … I don’t really even know when there was ever even a time of such butcher shop d├ęcor… but it felt good and it felt clean and it felt like what I imagined a beautiful butcher shop to look like only I never knew it til that moment. Our butcher, and all the butchers for that matter, was dressed in a plaid button down down shirt, butcher’s apron, perfectly coiffed hair, parted, and properly gelled. We asked to see the skirt steak, but he insisted on the London broil given how well marbled it was. And it certainly was. Speckled with the whites of fat from top to bottom, our mouths were watering just looking at this piece of art. His first question to us: “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” Me: “Mussels in white wine sauce.” Him: “Sounds amazing. Don’t forget the parsley.” Then with a flurry of instructions on how to cook this particular cut he recommended that we head on next door to get Maldon salt. What? “Maldon. The salt crystals are like snowflakes. Put it on either side of your steak and the heat will melt the salt into a casing, preserving your juices and flavoring your meat.” How can we say no? So with one piece of gorgeous London broil slapped on and wrapped in butcher’s paper, off we went to Cook’s Companion (our 2nd visit) where we requested the ever so important Maldon salt. “Where’d you get your meat….Dellapietras?” “Yes.” “Awesome meat.”  We nodded our heads in affirmation. Next we ventured to Fish Tales, probably the cleanest and most well organized fish market in existence and ordered 8 lbs of Prince Edwards Island Mussels. When we saw what 8lbs looks like, we went down to 6, then to 5.5. Still too much but more is better and so we said “Yes!” Fish monger: “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” “Mussels in white wine sauce”.  Fish monger: “Oh, you’ve gotta get your bread at Caputos.” Gasp! Yet another must have recommendation for our now very elaborate and ever growing Sunday night dinner. And like the eager and obedient students of this Brooklyn cooking excursion we were, off we went to Caputos with a bounce in our step, hands held together and kisses all around. Caputos looks like any other old NYC bakery, slightly yellowed and warm with naked loaves of bread and crispy crusts on shelves that have been around for decades. “Rustic, yes rustic bread”! Cut into thick slices to soak up the wine sauce….and we were done!

Back at home I struggled with draining the ricotta, my counter was overflowing with plates and tools and oh yes, did I mention the milk bread? Chop, and mix, and boil and knead, stir and whirl and grill and oil, a sip of wine here, a sip of wine there, friends come, we put them to work, and we come to the table, ready to eat, ready to laugh and ready to do exactly what we had come to do in life, here, and now. Celebrate life, celebrate friendships. Thankful for this day.


Dinner table.
London Broil from Butcher at Dellapietras
  1. 1.3lb cut of well-marbled London Broil
  2. Brush on good quality olive oil
  3. Sprinkle generously with freshly ground pepper
  4. Sprinkle generously with Maldon sea salt
  5. Repeat to other side
  6. Take a cast iron skillet or grill and leave on high heat for 8-10 minutes. Be very very careful as if this skillet slides off your stove or if you touch it, it will burn your flesh into oblivion. 
  7. Grill for 3 minutes each side
  8. Grill for 1 minute each side
  9. Take the steak off from the grill and leave it on a cool surface to rest for 10 minutes
  10. Slice and serve.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fake It 'Til You Make It

This is one of the many mantras in my life. I won't bore you with the others but I'm sure they'll peep out once in a while. Lately, a lot of people in my life have been in a transition phase of their lives, myself included. Change and I don't do well, unless it's completely by my own choice. I remember when my dad told me that we were moving from San Francisco to New York, I was devastated and refused to accept it. At 13, such a move can be traumatizing. But he made it clear that he was leaving with or without me (obviously with), so none of my pouting was going to change the situation. In fact, I remember him saying, as he looked at me through the rearview mirror of our really awesome Toyota Cressida, "You are so resistant to change and you're life is going to be pretty rough if you don't start getting used to it". True story dad, true story.

Oftentimes at my job, I'm faced with very overwhelming and foreign tasks, with high expectations and tight time frames. I used to handle these situations better my first year, since I was "allowed" to make mistakes. My second year, I was a complete wreck. I would cry in my office, call my husband sobbing, and cry at home. I'm so glad that time has passed. Now, in my third year, I've come to accept that I'll get these hard tasks, and there is nothing I can do about them but try my best. So what do I do? I smile, be calm, and say "Great, I'll have this to you soon." I'm sure the girl in me is having an absolute meltdown, but perception is everything. So I've been saying this mantra more and more. I'm faking it til I make it. 

It's been doing wonders for my wardrobe, since retail therapy seems to be my outlet.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Working on the Weekends Suck

I think on my top 10 list of things I absolutely abhore is working on the weekends. It actually and physically upsets me to have to work on the weekends, unless, of course, it's due to my own diddly daddlings. I think there are only a few things worse (excluding catastrophes or the real tragedies of the world) than getting that Friday afternoon call with a assignment that just has to be done by Monday morning. Sigh.

I recently made a switch within my department to the corporate side of things. This is great news because I wanted to switch to corporate and I really really dislike legal writing. But the flip side of that is what I'm doing now, which is massive amounts of diligence on things that I do not understand nor can summarize.

The good news is, the Husband and I made a trip to Ikea yesterday and not only did we spend a gaggle of money, but we were finally able to put up the new bookshelves! He will be building the dresser today. The bad news is, we have a lot of junk and now with our extra storage space gone, I'm not quite sure where we will hide everything. To be continued...


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Remodeling

I love interior decorating. I don't really know where it comes from, but I was obsessed with Domino Magazine when it was in circulation and wanted to cry when they stopped (they really shouldn't have, I think that was an awful call by Conde Nast). I think it has to do with my never ending need to nest. I lived a large part of my post 17 years old life not really feeling like I had a home, or a place to call my own, and now, when I get the chance I try to make my space my sanctuary (sort of). I used to live in a room at my dad's friend's apartment during my college summers and I just hated that unsettled feeling. Like, huh? I'm living out of your friend's family's apartment? So I literally tore down everything on the walls, plastered any holes, bought new shelves and curtains and just went to town.

Needless to say, after moving in with my wonderful husband, the itch is back, full on. We put the redecorating off for a few months since we didn't really know where we were going to end up, but life is too short to keep waiting, and it literally affects my insides. Here are some of our recent purchases.

Petrie Sofa from Crate and Barrel in super large. My 5'11 husband can lay down flat on it and still have room!

Colette King Bed from Crate and Barrel. Again, huge. Why we have furniture for giants in our Brooklyn apartment is beyond me. Thankfully we have a fairly large 1 bedroom that we get for a steal, but if we ever have to move, we're in trouble!

The Circle Rug in Platinum from West Elm. We were able to get this one on sale, but Oliver the cat has been going nuts on it! Pretty soon there will only be patches of grey.

The Ion Glass Round Coffee Table from West Elm. We saw this at the West Elm in Dumbo and semi fell in love with it. But it was $299 and felt small, not exactly worth the money in my opinion. In my head I had a round dark wood table in mind. But we went to the West Elm outlet this weekend and found this table again for $135. I couldn't decide so the husband pulled the trigger on a final sale and voila! It's beautiful.

Super duper cute curtains from Target. We have sheer white curtains in between the two grey panels above since our windows are quite wide. I almost paid 3 times the amount for West Elm ones, glad I waited!

Next is the Billy bookcase from Ikea for the living room. I'm REALLY excited about this one. It's black/brown.

Also need this 8 dresser Hemnes drawer from Ikea for the bedroom.

And...I just saw these lamps that I love on Rue La La. No, Sharon, no!

That's all folks. I'll post pics of our digs once we're done remodeling. Hopefully that won't be TOO long.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day!

How was everyone's weekend? Mine felt surprisingly productive. Call me crazy, but I appreciate productive weekends a lot more than I do relaxing ones. The type A in me (which I stubbornly deny exists) was very proud. Worked late in the office on Friday, did some work on Sunday and today, did the laundry, re-did a part of our living room (namely curtains) cooked some food in bulk for the week, went grocery shopping and bleached the crap out of our vents and windowsill. Whew! Also took a trip to the lower east side and visited the Tenement Museum. I've been wanting to go for over 4 years and it was nice to finally make it. Warning to anyone who takes the tour inside the apartments - it gets really cramped really fast. I almost had several heart attacks because it was so hot and muggy and a woman literally ran out because she was going to pass out!

I made some cous cous today using Paula Deen's recipe. Since I only had about 50% of the ingredients, I improvised. It came out so yummy, even the husband loved it! This says a lot because he is an extremely picky eater and does not like to eat any meal without meat involved. This is definitely a summer-must dish and great served cold. It cools down a hot summer day and is perfect for lunch for tomorrow, or even a picnic dinner at night. Next on the menu of summer dishes, chick peas salad!

Here's this weekend in snapshots:


Dinner with my brother in soho.


The Tenement Museum gift shop.


Whole Wheat Cous Cous from Trader Joe's. I highly recommend!


Final product! Olives, cucumbers and tomatoes (missing feta cheese and parsley but it's fine without).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faithfully Forgetting

It's been one of those days, well to be quite honest, months, where it's getting harder and harder to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I remember back in college when I was pledging for a pre-law fraternity (yuck, I know) and after a series of ridiculous and humiliating acts that I hope to never repeat, we had to slog our way through a mud filled tunnel. Clinging on to the "walls" of what felt like a huge tin can with only a few flashlights to guide us, not to mention white flip flops (why oh why), we finally made it to the end of the tunnel where a group of "brothers" stood waiting for us, each holding a lit candle, repeating the pledge in unison and welcoming us into the brotherhood. This was followed by loud congratulatory applause, wooping and yay-ing and slaps on the back. And I remember thinking....wtf. I just did WHAT, for THIS? Why? Why did I just go through months and months of memorizing the greek alphabet, family tree lines, and absolutely ridiculous verses? Why did I wake up at 4 am, then 5 am, then 6 am, driving to the local Denny's each time and taking photos in front of the huge clock to prove that we showed up on time. This didn't help me to get into law school, and about 80-90% of the people who joined never went to law school. So why did I do it? I did it because I felt like that was what I was supposed to do. It was the cookie cutter thing to do. The 1+1=2 thing to do. And starting from the first day of pledging, I began my journey to becoming an attorney.

I don't regret it, I like being an attorney and I'm grateful for my job (even if I gripe about it). I'm in a good place, especially given the current economy. And I say this to myself, everyday you are blessed, you are blessed, you are blessed. But sometimes, I wonder where this journey will take me next. Was I meant to stay a big firm attorney, with the nice office and endless supply of office supplies? Do I move on to help others and work at a non-profit? I have no idea, but, as I have heard before, sometimes it's about faithfully forgetting the "everything you worked for" and giving yourself a chance to do the things you love. Letting go of all of the hard work you put in and doing something just because you worked so hard for it. It's about not letting your past, no matter what trials you have overcome, hold you down to a future you don't see as yours. Sometimes, it's just about doing something because you want to.

I am a firm believe in going through the tough times and working for something, because that's how you build your confidence. You get to look back at all of the things you have overcome and know that you can do it! To some extent, life is a bank that you fill with experiences, and it gives you something to rely on during the times you're not sure of yourself. But, I'm learning now that it's about forgetting the things you went through not because they weren't worth it, but because it shouldn't dictate your life, and putting faith in yourself, your bank, and knowing that you can face what is to come next.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lovin' My Blogroll

I have a morning ritual which starts with a hot cup of coffee in one of our many mugs (my husband loves to collect mugs from every city we visit) and reading through my favorite blogs. This is the perfect way to start everyday and inspires my many likes. Here are a few that I came across this past week. Color me obsessed!

The photos in this blog are so beautiful - whimsical, vintage and romantic. Plus, I love following Bethany on her  new journey with her new husband! Click here.
I follow Michael on Pinterest and love all of his pins! As an innkeeper and lover of all things charming, I will take lead from this guy any day! Click here.
Love this girl's sense of style. This is a great lifestyle blog to follow, filled with beautiful and inspiring photos. Click here
I love the idea behind this site (and the site itself)! It provides amazing career/life/finance/personal/travel advice for the every girl. I wish I had a site like this in my early 20s, but it's still helpful now! Click here.