Monday, June 29, 2009

An All Local Affair

So I've never really been against the local food movement. In fact, I think I've always thought it's a pretty neat thing. However, it's not until recently that I've really gotten into the whole idea and grasped the importance of it.

It's odd to me that living in New York, as far as possible from the rolling green pastures of farm land, I've become much more attached to the idea of eating local, sustainable food. At my previous job I definitely stopped by the farmer's market every now and then, but now, as it's summertime, and I work literally 50 feet from the market and walk through it everyday, I find it something that's become a regular fixture in my food buying.

I really wanted to join a CSA this year, as I saw all the fun Minneapolis people had last summer. However, I wasn't aware you apparently have to sign up months in advance. Unfortunately, all the fun was sold out in the ones near us. Boo. Oh well. However, I still have the market, and have pledged to get at the very least all of our produce from this lively greenmarket each week. At least for the summer. Then we'll see how long I can fair on potatoes and apples.

I've also been reading The Omnivore's Dilemma these past few weeks, and have been completely fascinated by it. I highly recommend it if you haven't read it already. I hardly ever read non-fiction, but this reads like a novel. I am equally horrified and amazed and what goes into the food industry and every thing surrounding it in this country. It has also made me give some serious thought to how and where and what I want to spend our food budget on.

So, in honor of my new effort to try and feed Alex and I in a more environmentally friendly, sustainable way, and being inspired by Kate over at Les Images Petites, I decided I was going to fix an entire meal from local ingredients. Hence, our lovely Friday night dinner. Although I didn't get things like olive oil and flour from local sources, everything else that I could I purchased from the Farmer's market during my lunch on Friday afternoon, so it was fresh as could be! I have to admit, I like the fact that scallops are local here! That's one thing for sure NYC has over the midwest!

The Menu:


Fresh pesto with an organic french baguette, tomato slices, and fresh hand made cheese.


I would also like to note that I am addicted to these tomatoes. The vendor is an adorable little Asian woman who put out free samples a few of weeks ago. I had one, and then four, and have bought her tomatoes virtually every Monday and Friday since. They are amazing.

My pretty fresh herbs! Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary.


Some tasty Cabernet from a local Long Island winery.


Mixed greens with fancy cheese, tomato, and homemade lemon-dijon vinaigrette.


Scallops prepared in olive oil, butter, garlic, and shallots, oven roasted potatoes with fresh thyme and rosemary, and steamed broccoli



Shortcake with whipped cream and juicy strawberries and raspberries for dessert

All in all very delicious, and actually pretty simple to make! I will definitely be attempting more all local dinners!

As a side note, while we were cooking, a thunderstorm was pouring outside. About half way through baking the shortcake, it stopped, and the sky was absolutely amazing. Alex and I both ran outside for a few minutes to take some some photos and admire the few.

This is straight out of the camera. The sky was that colorful!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gold Coast Triathlon...or Sort of.

One my goals for this year was to run another triathlon. I hadn't competed in a race since before the wedding, so I figured it was high time I tried another one. Alex and I did a 5K in March, but I really wanted to try another triathlon, so, way back in winter I signed myself up for the Gold Coast Triathlon in Long Island, mostly based on the fact that it was sprint distance, semi close to Brooklyn, and had a reasonable entry fee... (Triathlons can get expensive!!)

This Sunday was the big day, so I rented a car and Alex and I headed out to Long Island, Port Washington to be be specific, to give it a go. (Alex was a very good supporter, not complaining once about having to get up at 5am. :-) ) The weather has been TERRIBLE in New York as of late, so I was pretty worried that I was going to be racing in the rain. And, that ended up pretty much being the case, it was pouring as we drove out there, boo.

It only took us about 30 minutes to arrive at the race site, which looked like it would be a beautiful beach on Long Island Sound, had it not been for the crappy weather. As I walked my bike to the transition area, a guy on a golf cart came by letting us know that the swim portion of the race had been canceled, the beach was closed by order of the Department of Health. Apparently due to all the rain we've been having and all the run-off, the water had exceeded safe levels of bacteria. Gross. The race would now be a duathlon, meaning a run, bike, run, rather then swim, bike run.

Needless to say, this sent me into a nervous fit. What? No swim? The swimming part is kind of why I do the race in the first place. And the entire reason why I don't get my butt completely kicked in these races. I am actually a decently fast swimmer, the other legs, not so much. Now I would have to start with a run AND finish with one? This didn't sound like a good idea to me.

I honestly contemplated heading back home and curling back into bed. However, after a couple minutes of nervous deliberation, I decided, well, I was already here, had paid my fee, what's the worst that could happen? I decided to set my goal at finishing the race, and leave it at that.

At the end of the day I made it! Though I have to say, it was HARD. I don't think I'd ever do a duathlon again, but it was certainly a good exercise in mental toughness. The second time through the run, my legs have never quite felt so much like bricks of lead, but I kept on trucking, and made it to the finish line. Quite proud of myself, I might add. I was nowhere near the front of the pack, but finished in under two hours, and ran the whole way!

Coming in after the bike.

Attempting a sprint to the finish.

Proof I made it.

I did it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Now, I have proof of my street cred.

So, a friend of ours just posted this photo from their visit with us last October on facebook, and I couldn't help it, I had to repost it. Apparently, this was taken on a street in my neighborhood. I'm now on a mission to find out where.

My Secret Love Affair

I'm not going to lie. It's not really that secret. But it's love. That part, I know.


I walk through the Union Square GreenMarket almost every day on my way to work. And a few weeks ago, as I was strolling on my merry way, I noticed the berries. The succulent, beautiful, fresh juicy strawberries. The first day or two they had a stand or two of them, and they were just much too pricey.

However, last week, the price came down and nearly every stand has them on the table. As I passed by one of the stands, I could actually smell them, fresh yummy strawberry smells. I literally walked past, and then turned around, and they had me. I bought a box, went up to work, and accidentally finished all of them before noon. Opps!


I've had strawberries before, good ones even, but I haven't had fresh from the farm berries before. (Now, all you kids who are cool enough to have picked berries actually from a farm yourselves, well, you're just much cooler then me.) These are seriously the best strawberries ever, and I love them. And I bought more, and now am addicted. Thus, the strawberry shortcake.


I have to say, this was a mighty tasty recipe, and was pretty simple as well. I just had to make hard boiled eggs, which, oddly, as I hate them, have never made before. I didn't do anything to the berries either, just sliced them and threw them on top. I also used the leftover cream to make real whip cream, which was delicious. And reminded me of my grandmother. She's the only one I can think of who I've seen actually whip cream, and I have so many fond memories of baking and making real whip cream at Grandma's.

Chicken Gyros

I was so very excited to make these. Mostly, I was really psyched to make the pita bread. I have no idea why. I guess I'd never really made any sort of bread and I don't have a stand mixer, which most bread making requires. Hence, when I saw I could actually make the pita bread, without a mixer, and Alex and I usually love gyros, I jumped at the chance. Annie at Annie's Eats where I got this recipe, raved about them, so I was more excited.

However, I'm sad to say, this might be one of the first recipe reports on the blog, that, well, wasn't that good. Basically, it was kind of like grilled chicken with yogurt sauce. Which is fine, if that's what you want, but it wasn't anything at all like the chicken gyro's I've had in New York, or from the all fabulous Holy Land in Minneapolis for that matter. It was, quite simply, very plain. And we added lots of feta cheese and other fixings.


Now, before you go all crazy and say, But wait! Your gyro isn't even on a pita! You'd be correct. That's because, in all my excitement, I forgot to read the entire recipe for pita bread. This stuff takes a LONG time. So, we were much too hungry to wait. I did have the leftovers in a pita the next day though, still, grilled chicken, not gyro chicken.



I will say though, this was the best pita bread by far ever that I've had. So that part, at least was a success. I finally finished making them at like 11pm, so, though dinner was done, I did get a very tasty dessert. Behold, the clearly authentic, pita and nutella! Yum! :-)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

BAM Souq Festival

This past weekend I headed out to another festival at BAM, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the same place that held the Dance Africa Street Fair 2 weekends ago. This week they are having a Muslim culture festival and put on a Souq as part of the festivities. A souk is basically a market place, Emily and I made our way through lots of crazy ones in Morocco.

Though this one, being as that is was held basically in a parking lot, couldn't compare to the real thing, it was still fun to walk through. It was also a much nicer day this time around and I managed to get a few pictures.


They had some fun dancing as part of the cultural portion.




Arts and Crafts.



Perfumes and oils.





After the souk I made my way over to Fort Greene park and enjoyed a nice walk and some time in the sun!


Although I am certainly getting to like New York more and more as time goes by and finally starting to get a feel for things, I still think you can only have so much concrete, so many taxi horns, so many breaths of bus exhaust before you really can use an escape. A chance to remember what quiet sounds like, what clean air smells like, what fresh, cool creek water feels like on your bare feet.

This weekend my lovely friend Louisa provided me with such an opportunity. Little did I know, small town USA, with its cute little houses and little tiny shops was just a short train ride away.

We boarded New Jersey transit (though we ended up in New York) from Penn Station early Sunday morning and headed off on our hiking outdoors adventure. Forty five minutes later or so we got off in Sloatsburg, one stop past Suffern for all you Sex and The City fans, and headed on our way. A short walk through town and we found our trail and headed off into the woods.



We spent the day hiking through Harriman State Park, which was beautiful! We hiked along this lovely little stream that reminded me a lot of Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis. and then made our way to a huge lake. I was almost tempted to go for a swim, but didn't quite take the plunge.


We had a little picnic by the lake and then made our way back to the train station, stopping along the way for a much deserved ice cream and nice cold beer. Back in the city by about 6:30, still not believing how different things are just a train ride away!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Anniversary Picnic


This weekend Alex and I celebrated our one year anniversary! Hard to believe how fast the year has flown by and how different are lives are now then just one year ago!


To celebrate, rather then a fancy dinner, as we're going to Boston in July kind of as an anniversary trip, we decided we'd just have a fun picnic. This plan semi worked. I was all excited for picnicing, and perhaps got a little over ambitious with everything I wanted to make. Second, we slept in MUCH too late to get an early start. Finally, after we finally made it out the door, we were running late, which was stresful as Alex had to get home to study for an exam (BOO summer class), we got to the park, had food for half an hour, and then got rained on! Crap. Oh well, it's the thought that counts right?

In any case, the food WAS really good, it's just too bad we couldn't enjoy it properly.

The food:
Chicken Cashew Noodle Salad
This is from one of my new favorite food blogs! She's got lots of tasty stuff and nice photos!


I made this with regular oranges as our grocery doesn't sell mandarin oranges. This salad was delicious! Even better for many days this week for lunch, this recipe makes a TON of pasta salad. Be forewarned!

Mango salsa chicken sandwiches.


I used this recipe as a guideline, but nixed the red onion, used half roma tomatoes, half cucumber, though less then the recipe called for; and only half a jalapeno. It was delicious. Sorry mom.

And finally, fresh baked cookies, mom's oatmeal chocolate chip and The Chewy! I have to say, I never really make just plain chocolate chip cookies, but The Chewy was pretty freaking good.



Additionally, there was enough leftover mango salsa to have it over salmon for dinner that night, which was really delicious. Coincidently, this is almost exactly the same meal we almost chose for our wedding dinner. Except, this was way better then the kind we tried at our venue.