Friday, October 30, 2009

Candy Corn

Happy Halloween Eve! If you're like me, you've been gnawing on candy corn for the past few weeks. There's a bowl in the office that I just can't stop sneaking into, I keep some in my foyer for visitors (ha, or me), and people just keep handing the stuff out!

Do I like candy corn? That's a good question. The answer would probably be no. Do I eat it anyway? Yes. Definitely, yes. Do I know what it is? No, definitely not. Candy corn is so mysterious. Is there anything real in that little colored triangle??

Maybe not in the ones we buy at CVS, but click here to learn how to make your own!

(Nope, didn't try it. Secretly excited to go on an 11 month candy corn diet.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Do you ever get home from work excited to make a nice dinner, but totally starving? And it'll be an hour before your dinner is ready? Plus there are nine other things you have to do before you can even start on dinner? And so you end up lurching for that leftover blondie or giving up on making dinner all together or snacking so heavily that by the time dinner is actually ready, you're not even hungry any more?

This is a chronic problem for me. I get home from work and am always, always hungry. It's an issue because I really love to take the time to cook dinner, and hate to spoil it because I'm hungry an hour too early.

Alas, I've been experimenting with snacks that are satisfying, easy to make/have around, and won't intrude on my dinners. My favorite so far is hummus. I whipped up a big batch earlier this week and have loved having it around. It's surprisingly easy to make, and definitely has a nice fresh taste when made at home. I love getting home from work, pulling out the tub of it and some pita chips, and snacking away as I organize myself and get ready to cook dinner.

Fresh Homemade Hummus
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 14 oz. can of chickpeas
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika*
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg*
1/3 cup water
juice of one lemon
5 tablespoons tahini (usually found in the peanut butter section of your grocery)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1. Rinse and drain the chickpeas.
2. In a food processor, mix the chickpeas and spices until almost entirely broken down/smooth. This will take a few minutes and sum pushing down of the sides with a spatula.
3. Combine lemon juice and water. While the processor is running, drizzle in lemon water.
4. Whisk together tahini and olive oil. While the processor is running, drizzle in tahini/oil mixture.
5. Pulse a few times until hummus is at desired consistency, and taste for seasoning. I added an extra squeeze of lemon and some more salt, but that can all be done to taste.

*N.B. The recipe called for cumin, a standard in hummus, but not having any, I substituted paprika and nutmeg. Worked out just fine!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes

What is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin? There's probably some technical divider having to do with the process of making them or the moisture or the crumb. In the case of these pumpkin cupcakes, however, I've decided that the only difference is the frosting. So this morning, I had a lovely pumpkin muffin for breakfast.

With Halloween approaching, it is clearly time to dust off the pumpkin recipes. If you read any food blogs, you've no doubt been subjected to many, many mouthwatering pictures of pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin cake, pumpkin whoopie pies, you name it! And hey, no complaints here, I love pumpkins. I jumped on the bandwagon this weekend and made these delicious pumpkin muffins (cupcakes), straight from a real pumpkin.

This was my first time making my own pumpkin puree. Most recipes that use pumpkins call for pumpkin puree, which can either be purchased in a can or made at home with a pumpkin. I thought I'd try the latter, and I am so glad I did! It was really easy and well worth it - I have plenty of puree left over to use in future recipes. The Pioneer Woman (whose cookbook comes out today!) has a great guide to making your own puree, if you're interested. High recommendation.

Don't forget to save the seeds. I toasted them in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon and paprika. Yum! Yes, this pumpkin recipe is like a gift that keeps on giving. And we haven't even gotten to the cupcakes yet!

Okay, on to the cupcakes (muffins). I had a little bit of trouble finding a recipe. I was using my mom's kitchen, so I had a lot of ingredients on hand, but I was surprised to find myself short for many of the recipes. Self-rising flour? Nope, sorry, Martha. Buttermilk? Nope, sorry Deb. Guess old-fashioned pumpkin cupcakes (muffins) aren't that common?!

Well, I was determined to come up with something. I finally found a recipe to work with and was very happy with the results. They were delicious frosted as cupcakes, and also un-frosted as muffins. Wright decided to make his even more delicious with a little extra decorating...

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Adapted from Thoroughly Modern Housewife, on
Makes 18-20 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1 cup pumpkin puree

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line muffin pan with paper cups.
2. Sift together flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
3. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Stir in the milk and pumpkin puree. Mine didn't look very pretty; it's okay.
4. Stir in the dry ingredients, mixing with a wooden spoon or spatula until just incorporated.
5. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake about 25 minutes.

For the frosting, I followed the recipe's advice and beat 8 oz. of cream cheese with 1/3 stick of butter, then slowly added 3 cups of powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. First of all, this is WAY too much frosting. Unless you are piping it on Magnolia's style, half that recipe. Also, only frost what you will eat at that time, because, well, you might want to try and pull these off as muffins.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Colors are changing...

As I mentioned earlier, we were up in the suburbs this weekend. Though I hadn't noticed any trees changing colors in the city yet (possibly because, well, trees are hard to come by), Autumn was in full swing just thirty minutes north! It was a beautiful weekend, right at that moment where the leaves are brightly colored but haven't started to fall off. Wishing this would last just a few more weeks, but I know it'll start getting cold soon!

Game Night Dinner

Wright and I were out in Rye this weekend. With a rainy day and a large kitchen on our hands, we decided to make a special Game Night dinner on Saturday, to eat while watching the Yankees game that evening. Ruling out hotdogs, we ended up deciding to make cheese steak sandwiches. (Not Philly cheese steak, as we were not going to be celebrating the team that the Yankees would potentially play in the World Series were they to win on Saturday.)

We learned from the meat man at the grocery that rib eye was the proper steak to use in sandwiches, so we asked him to kindly cut us some thin pieces. To further thin the steak, Wright pounded it before it was cooked.

We used a large yellow onion and sautéed it with peppers from the garden. Instead of the "classic" cheese whiz (apparently this is the classic? News to me!), we decided to just get some sliced provolone to top them.

Being a fan of Maine lobster rolls, I suggested we do a "top-loader" sandwich, rather than "side-loader," which ended up making these a lot easier to eat! We baked sweet potato fries to go along side and picked up some Oktoberfest-ish beer to drink.

Of course, after all of this excitement, the game was postponed until Sunday night, and Game Night quickly became No Game Night! What a disappointment! Still, the steak sandwiches were delicious, and the best part of all, the Yankees ended up with a victory last night.

The only problem is, we now have more game nights coming up with the World Series this week! And, let's be honest, one does not skimp on game night meals during the World Series. Big week ahead!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Irresistable Popcorn

I've written before about how there are some things that once you start making them yourself, you never go back to the package. For me, this includes vinaigrette, granola, roast chicken, marinara sauce, soup, and popcorn. Ever since we found ourselves in Maine on a rainy day a few summers ago, with only popcorn kernels and no microwaveable bags, I've been hooked on making my own popcorn. The flavor possibilities are endless, the fresh taste is unbeatable, and honestly, it takes the same amount of time as the microwave version. Seriously.

To make your own popcorn, simply heat up a large pot, cover the bottom with oil, and when the oil gets hot, pour in enough kernels to cover about 3/4 of the bottom of the pan. They should start sizzling. Cover the pot, and when you hear your first pop, start shaking. Within a minute or two, you've got fresh popcorn waiting to be covered in salt, sugar, rosemary, lemon zest, paprika, cayenne pepper, you name it! If you want to make kettle corn, simply pour in the sugar when you put the kernels into the pot. Use brown sugar for caramel corn. Try it, and I guarantee you won't go back to microwaveable.

There is one exception I will make to my popcorn rule. And that exception has arrived at my apartment every Halloween and Valentine's Day for the past five years. Popcorn Factory popcorn. This tantalizing popcorn comes in a large tin (thank goodness my parents sent a small one now that I'm living alone!) that is divided into four sections: butter, caramel, orange cheddar, and white cheddar. Don't even think about skimping for the three sections, you need the white cheddar.

There is something so mouthwatering about this pre-packaged, I'm sure extremely unhealthy popcorn. I was diving into the can last night before I could even take my coat off! I love to eat it "Chicago Style", where you mix the caramel and the cheddar (I recommend a ratio of one caramel to two cheddars). It is so embarrassing to watch me with this stuff - I'm like a vulture just going nuts over it, stuffing it into my mouth as fast as possible. Who am I???

Enough about my dorky eating habits. Please come over and rescue me from this tin.

Another Event to Stop by...

Madison Square Park is having a market event all month long, with gifty shops and various food vendors setting up on the west side of the park. It's daily until 8pm, and I'd definitely recommend strolling by if you are in the area sometime in the next few weeks. I picked up some delicious hot apple cider and apple cider donuts there last weekend, and am hoping to go back for some Fatty Crab or Hill Country BBQ this weekend! It's small, but worth a walk-by if you're in the neighborhood. Multiple walk-bys if, like me, it is your neighborhood.

For information, click here.

Reminder: Market on Sunday

For everyone in the New York area, I just wanted to remind you that the second installment of the New Amsterdam Market is being held on Sunday. If the weather is anything like it is today, it will truly be fantastic. This weekend's market is focused on meat and butchers, with lots of vendors and special events. Hope to see many of you there!

For pictures from last month's market, click here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Long Island Vineyard Tour

When I lived in Charlottesville, VA, we used to go wine tasting a fair amount. There are numerous vineyards in the area, and each one is in a more beautiful setting than the last. We're talking rolling hills, farms, mountains in the background, with decent wine to boot. Okay, there are some where the wine isn't exactly the best, but at the end of the day, who cares? It's a beautiful setting and the weather stays warm until November - what could be more relaxing than a free wine tasting (there is one vineyard that offers 11 wines to taste!) followed by a glass of wine and some cheese out in the country?

This weekend, Wright and I went on a vineyard tour of the North Fork, Long Island vineyards, with three wine tasting stops as well as visits to farms and bakeries. Picturing the two of us frolicking through the fall weather, picking pumpkins and sipping on wine, I was sold the minute I heard about it. Well, if any of you were in New York this weekend, you'll know that the weather wasn't exact the kind you'd like to frolic in. More like hide from. It was snowing in some areas!

With temperatures hovering around freezing, walks through the vines were not on the agenda. And let me tell you, the clientele at these vineyards were just a little bit different from the UVA student/Charlottesvillian crowd at Virginian vineyards. I'll be brief: there were no cars in these parking lots, only limos. Of the super stretch, tacky as possible (even one double decker that held 60 people!) variety. And the relaxing glass of wine? The vineyards were packed to the gills! The cold day was not going to stop these New Yorkers and their enormous bachelorette parties!

Okay, enough about the hilarity that is Long Island. I shouldn't be so harsh, because at the end of the day, the vineyards were of course beautiful and the wine wasn't bad. Of the three vineyards we went to, there was one that would definitely be worth a return visit - Peconic Bay Winery. It was our last stop, and was by all accounts the best. They had a live band playing in a heated tent, with fires set up outside in case you wanted to wander and brave the cold. The wine was delicious and the tasting was organized - we had a long table to all sit at, and a waitress came and poured each glass for us. This may not sound novel, but compared to the crowds at the place before this, it was a major treat!

We also stopped at a farm to pick pumpkins and - yes - go on a hayride! We got hot cider and lots of pumpkins, and enjoyed walking around, even in the cold. Our final stop was at Briermere Farms, where we picked up delicious fresh pies and a bag of apples. If you ever find yourself on the Northfork, this is a must! The smell of pies was heavenly, and we had trouble narrowing it down to two (we ended up with apple rhubarb and cherry raspberry). With wine and pie in tow, the drive back to the city was more than enjoyable, and a lovely end to a great day. It was a wonderful adventure and I have to give huge credit to the UVA Club for organizing such a great day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Though I tried to restrain myself from going to see the movie on opening night (I am not a fan of crowds or lines or hectic-ness), I could not keep myself away from opening weekend. Rachel and I may have had to order tickets online and climb over a few people to get seats, but look what else we got!

The movie was wonderful and thoughtful, funny and emotional. It was what I'd hoped for, and I left the theater feeling very content. And childlike.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ah, the weekend...

Mmm... it's finally Friday afternoon. Rain may make the day seem slow, but my boss brought in Magnolia cupcakes, so it's going pretty well so far, if I do say so myself.

Sorry for the lack of posts this week, but I've got some things on tap for the weekend that I hope will inspire some blog action. Wright and I are going on a triple date tonight, and I hope watching the Yankees win after that. Tomorrow we're headed to the North Fork for a vineyard tour with UVA alums - pumpkin picking will definitely be involved. And Sunday I've got brunch with friends and a very important movie to see.

Have a great weekend!

Rainy Day Comfort

It was about 3pm yesterday, as I was staring out my office window into the dismal rain, that my friend Liz emailed, looking for a chili recipe. Before I could even hit reply, I'd decided that I, too, absolutely needed to make chili for dinner. It was one of those nights.

There are many great things about chili - it's ability to freeze, the fact that it tastes better the next day, it's combination of so many delicious flavors, it's heartiness, I could go on forever. The greatest thing about chili, though, is how comforting it always is. There is something so filling and soothing about it - perfect for a rainy Thursday night.
My go-t0 chili is based on a recipe my cousin sent me a few years ago. It is loaded with three types of beans but light because it uses ground turkey instead of beef. Plus, it doesn't take seven hours in a crock pot - it can easily be made on a weeknight and is still super flavorful. Last night I covered it in cheese and ate it on the couch - I almost forgot about my freezing walk home in the rain.

The interesting thing about chili is that there are so many different ways to make it. My mom makes a delicious Cincinnati-style chili, that goes on top of angel hair pasta. My godmother makes a no-beans chili that is divine. No matter how you make it, though, chili is always at least one thing: comforting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flower Arrangements

I have a wonderful foyer in my apartment. It is perhaps my favorite part about my apartment - since it is a small studio, the foyer really makes it feel more spacious, and I don't feel like I'm staring at the front door while I'm trying to fall asleep. I've set up a table with various books and frames on it, as well as a place for keys and mail. I also love the idea of having fresh flowers here - a tall vase adds a little balance and is a nice welcome for anyone coming to visit (not that I have that many visitors - my apartment is too small!).

So I've gone through various stages of flowers, picking out beautiful ones at the farmer's market on Saturdays (a great spot for flowers - not only are they local and fresh, but you have a wide variety of price points to choose from with so many vendors). Sometimes it works out wonderfully: the flowers arrange themselves nicely in the vases I have, they last all week, and they look beautiful. Many times, however, they do not: they get moldy in the water, they die right away, my arranging skills are a disaster, etc.

But, this has not deterred me. I will learn. Not sure how yet, but for now I've been trying out some different varietals, talking to the farmers, and getting advice from Mom and friends. Soon, I hope to be able to arrange flowers as beautifully as the ones in these pictures, but for now, a little experimentation never hurt anyone. It's the only way to truly learn, right?

All images from Saipua. Any tips on flower arranging welcome!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pear Tart

Over the weekend, I made a wonderfully simple pear tart, and it was immediately screaming classic. The preparation and completion could not have been easier, and the flavors were divine.

Wright and I were immediately drawn to the juicy, sweet pears at the farmer's market on Saturday. With plans to have friends over for dinner that night, I quickly scooped up four pears and, perhaps too hastily, decided that I was making a pear tart. We spent much longer deliberating on the rest of the meal (we ended up making fresh butternut squash ravioli), and come 5pm, I realized that I hadn't even started to look for a recipe for the pear tart. I was eager to used my new tart pan, but the tart wasn't exactly going to make itself.

Everything I found seemed too complicated for these delicious pears - almond fillings, cranberry sauce, roasted figs, etc. I was on the hunt for the simplest recipe I could find, one that would allow the pears to shine on their own. I also didn't want anything too heavy - with ravioli on the menu for dinner, it had to be a refreshing dessert.

I ended up adapting Alice Waters' recipe for apple tarts. It was perfect, and I am already planning another tart this week!

Pear Tart
Adapted from Alice Waters

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
3 tablespoons chilled water
4 pears (make sure they are juicy and sweet)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup sugar (for glaze)
water (for glaze)

1. Make the crust by combining the first three ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Add butter and combine with your hands, until there are only pea-sized chunks. Add the chilled water bit by bit, until the dough comes together (you may need more or less). Knead dough once or twice to make sure it is combined, then form into a disc, wrap in plastic and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
3. Peel pears, placing the peels in a small saucepan. Slice pears about 1/4 inch think.
4. Once dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface into a circle an inch or two wider then the tart pan. Place into pan, pressing lightly into the corners, and letting the extra hang loose.
5. Arrange the pear slices in circles (start on the outside) inside the pan - no need for perfection, this is homemade! Fold the excess dough over the edge of the pears.
6. Brush the top of the tart with the melted butter and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, turning it halfway to make sure it bakes evenly.
7. While the tart is baking, make the glaze by adding the 1/2 cup of sugar to the saucepan with the peels, and adding enough water just to cover (if anything, go for less water than more water). Bring to a boil and let simmer for the remainder of the baking - about 30 minutes.
8. When the tart is finished, the crust will be golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the glaze (strained) on top.

Friday, October 09, 2009

First Fall Soup!

As luck would have it, I received a beautiful butternut squash in my CSA yesterday! I was so thrilled to not only be able to use some of the chicken stock I'd made the night before, but also to bring out my favorite kitchen tool: the immersion blender.

I've mentioned before my love for this blender and making soups, but I, unfortunately, took a break from soups over the summer, it being too warm out to have a large pot simmering for hours in a small studio apartment. So I was thrilled to get soup season started last night.

The hand blender makes soup SO easy to make. It will turn simmering vegetables into beautiful, creamy soup (even without cream!) in less than five minutes, without the hassle of working in batches or transferring to a blender or letting it cool before you mix. Simply remove your soup from the flame when the vegetables are soft and the flavors are melded together, insert immersion blender, and voila! Creamy, beautiful, flavorful butternut squash and apple soup. Adjust the seasonings, add a dollop of half and half if you're feeling indulgent, and serve.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


There are some things in cooking that once you learn to do them yourself, you never go back to store bought. For me, vinaigrette is definitely one of those things - I haven't bought dressing at all since I learned how easy it is to make an array of flavorful vinaigrettes. Other things that fall into that category include roast chicken, soups, and tomato sauce (I do still buy vodka sauce - not sure why). Others may have crossed off ice cream once they bought ice cream makers, or bread once they mastered the art of baking it. One thing that people always talk about falling into this category, but hasn't quite yet for me, is stock.

Homemade stock, apparently, is much, much better than store-bought stock. This is constantly pushed by almost all chefs, and I totally understand. It has less sodium, no preservatives, and you can control all of the flavors. So I started making homemade stock. It's really easy - forgo any super exact recipe, just put a chicken carcass (leftover from the homemade roast chicken!) into a large pot with whatever you have on hand to enhance the flavor - onion, lemon, thyme, rosemary, carrot, etc. and fill it up with water (investigate a few recipes to get a sense of good flavor enhancers if you're not sure). Bring the whole thing to a boil and let it simmer for as long as you can - I try for like four hours.

Spoon off the grease from the top of the pot, and pour it (once cooled) through a strainer (you may want to remove large items like the chicken carcass before doing this, of course). I then pour it into two cup measurements, and into carefully labeled freezer bags. Who knows what you'll think that mysterious bag is when you find it in 6 months!

So, as you can see, making it is really simple, and I've gotten into the routine of doing it every time I roast a chicken. The thing is, though, that one doesn't tend to roast many chickens when it is summer. So I hadn't made it - until last night - in about 4-5 months, and therefore had (eek!) gotten back into just buying store-bought stock. Could I tell the difference? Nah. I probably will the first time I make soup with my own stock, but I certainly survived the summer. Maybe it's because my stock isn't a perfect recipe, or even the same recipe each time. Who knows. At the end of the day, I went to bed last night with an apartment smelling of delicious flavors and a freezer full of stock, ready and waiting for winter soups to begin!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Future of Magazines: Gourmet and Lonny

I've been thinking a lot about the folding of Gourmet magazine. Of course we've all been hearing about the troubles of the magazine and newspapers industries, but this news is particularly worrisome to me. A lot of the magazines that have been closing were small publications, newer titles, or very niche-driven, so when you see a long time magazine that has been a mainstay in its industry for over 70 years fall, it is kind of shocking.

Gourmet was certainly never my favorite food magazine, but I read it just the same - it had smart editorial, interesting restaurant and travel reviews, and gorgeous pictures. It was a classic for high quality food reading. Hearing all the discussion this week about magazines like Everyday with Rachael Ray taking over the business... eek!

While I'm no expert on the industry, it seems to me that we may be headed in the direction of the new Lonny magazine, which just had its premiere issue come out last week. Lonny is a design/lifestyle magazine that is entirely online. I was sort of weirded out at first - an online magazine?! I'm not usually a fan of reading things on the computer, but after visiting the site, I was hooked. They did a really wonderful job with making it easy to flip through, with high quality pictures that look just like a physical magazine. Plus - and here's the real kicker - if you see something you like, you just click on it and it links you to the website! Genius!

I really recommend you take a look at Lonny. Who knows if this is the future of magazines, and hey, I don't even know if I want this to be the future of magazines, but it is a smart and innovative publication that I think is fascinating.

First picture, August 2009 Gourmet cover; All other pictures from Lonny Magazine

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Now that it's Fall

I thought I'd share a little fall twist on my go-to fancy leftovers dish, the tartine. Ingredients include oat bread (toasted), sliced mushrooms (sautéed), sliced yellow onions (caramelized), and gruyere cheese (grated). If you happen to have made this dinner last week, you'll have everything stocked in your fridge. All of the prepping is simple and can be done simultaneously before the even easier assembly:

First, the sautéed mushrooms are placed on top of lightly toasted bread.

Then comes the caramelized onions. You can see that I was getting hungry and didn't caramelize to their full potential. It happens.

Lots and lots of cheese comes next. Plus a little salt and pepper, maybe some thyme if you've got it on hand. Into the broiler...

And out comes a delicious dinner! Perfect for eating right off the cutting board and getting you in the mood for fall.

Monday, October 05, 2009

The High Line

On Saturday night, I finally made it to the High Line - a new park created on the old high line train tracks on the west side of Manhattan. I've been meaning to get there for weeks but it always seemed like a hassle, and the first month it opened there were lines and well, it just didn't happen. It seemed like it wouldn't happen Saturday either - it poured rain the whole day, and it wasn't until about 6:30 that we realized it might actually be a possibility.

Though we didn't make it in time for the sunset, it was a beautiful night up there - not too crowded and pleasantly humid from the day of rain. We started at the top and walked down it - definitely the recommendation, as it gets more interesting further down. The whole thing was pretty neat and very easy. We only spent about 30 minutes walking it, and we stopped a number of times. My favorite parts were when we were right next to the river - what a pretty view on a clear night!

I apologize for the fuzzy pictures, but we only had our phones with us, and it was, as you can see, dark out. I'm really looking forward to going back during the day and particularly for a sunset, so next time I'll bring a real camera. I'd recommend a real-life visit anyway, so I hope you get a chance to take the stroll. Maybe not the end all be all of city parks, but certainly an enjoyable walk on a nice evening.

What's My Age Again?

Wright and I have a funny connection with the band Blink 182. It goes back to Wright being a 16 year old growing up in Florida, who loved wakeboarding and punk rock bands. One of his favorite bands, Blink 182, was little known outside of the punk rock circuit, but had put out a few albums and young Wright had gathered up his friends to drive to Ft. Lauderdale to see them play for a group of 300 teenagers like himself. Soon after, however, Wright gave up his love for this band when they "sold out" with more pop-ish music and ended up becoming famous, with videos on TRL and 12-year-old girls -- here's where I enter the story -- buying their CDs and thinking they were oh so cool. I, the 12-year-old girl from the suburbs, was exactly who Wright blamed for ruining his favorite band.

Long story short, I do in fact own two of their CDs (well, they are somewhere in my old bedroom) and Wright still smiles when he hears the songs he used to love so much. So yesterday afternoon, Wright was skimming through Time Out New York and saw that Blink 182 was playing at Madison Square Garden that evening. He was instantly sold. I was not.

Come 8:15 pm, I was desperately trying to ward off the inevitable. We roasted a full chicken for dinner and it still didn't deter him. Finally, I sent him off into the night to see if he could find a deal on two tickets through a scalper, and then, and only then, could he call me and I would get in a cab and meet him there. Twenty minutes later, I found myself watching one of the Fall Out Boy band members getting his head shaved during the last song of their opening set. I was in for it.

To paint a little picture: The Garden was packed. Sold out and filled with 12 to 16 year olds in skinny jeans, black converse sneakers with neon laces, and Blink 182 and/or Fall Out Boy tshirts. I was in loafers, skinny jeans (1 point?), a white oxford and a blazer. And halfway through the concert - while plugging my ears due to the unbelievably loud music/crowd - I realized I had pearl earrings in as well. This is a true story.

Once Blink 182 got going, it really was a pretty fun show. I knew about 5 songs, Wright knew about 6 (apparently they've released a few new albums - every time we'd look at each other quizzically, the audience would be singing the loudest). But the songs we knew were really fun, and they even played two songs from those early albums that Wright loved so much.

There were three major accomplishments:
1. The encore was fantastic - highlighed by the drummer, Travis, going wild while he and his drum set were lifted into the air and twirled around the room, at one point even being turned horizontal!
2. Wright decided he'd done something very unique: seen Blink 182 both at age 16 and age 26.
3. The ultimate: I got to sing along to "nobody likes you when you're twenty three!" at the ripe age of 23.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Suburbs

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. And by suburbs I mean total and utter suburbia, a simple 35 minute train ride from Grand Central up to a tiny town packed with houses that - gasp! - have yards. It was quaint. Idyllic. Picturesque. Suburban. (Try not to associate it with that Leo and Kate movie, Revolutionary Road, ok?)

Anyway, I've since moved into Manhattan but my parents and brother still live in our house in Westchester. It is wonderful to have a home - and by that I mean a real house with a real sized kitchen and actual bedrooms with doors - so close by. It was particularly welcome in the warmer months, when an escape from the perpetually humid and smoggy streets of the city is beyond necessary. While it's easy to complain that the proximity requires me to be looped in to family events all the time, it is well worth it to have family so close by.

This weekend, Wright and I will be house-sitting with Bowen out in the suburbs. In the summer, this would mean endless grilling, tennis, pool time, and in general just soaking up the sun. Now that autumn has quickly taken over, however, those activities have quickly been crossed off the list for the weekend. The problem is, though, that even though it's chilly out (ugh, I did wear tights today!), the leaves haven't changed yet. So raking leaves and jumping in the piles is out as well. And it's supposed to rain.

So, the question is, just what will we do out there this weekend? We're so used to running all over the place in the city, seeing this exhibit, exploring that farmer's market, visiting this new store, eating at that restaurant, that a weekend where we're not busy seems unfathomable. Is it pathetic that having nothing on the schedule tomorrow is stressing me out? (Yes, it is, and you can tell me that.)

Anyway, we'll see what happens. I think the most important part will be to force myself to relax, sit down, enjoy a book, make an attempt at baking. Doesn't that sound quaint? Suburban? Yeah. We'll see.

Have a great weekend,