Monday, January 31, 2011

a very special bundle and a lovely trip to brooklyn

First off, I am so excited to share the news that I became an aunt on Friday, January 28! Emily Marie was born in the wee hours of the morning after more than 30 hours of labor (officially giving my sister-in-law the distinction of the longest labor and "pushing" record in the hospital's memory).

She holds a very special place in so many hearts, as the first child, first grandchild, first great grandchild, and first niece on both of her parents' sides. I still cant wrap my brain around the image of my little brother holding his little girl. I cant wait to meet her in a couple of weeks and see the whole wonderful incomprehensible phenomenon in person when we head back to Maine and New Hampshire for a visit.

While my family back in New England was in the midst of the excitement of Emily's arrival, I was settling into a visit to NYC for a little bit of work and a little bit of play. I stayed with my good friend AYH in Brooklyn. I get to the city for these trips about twice a year for work and its always such a treat!

I couldn't believe how different all of that snow looked in Brooklyn and Manhattan as compared to how it would look in Buffalo.Teams of 5-10 friends could be seen everywhere trying to dig out cars, many of which were just nebulous curvy mounds of snow without an inch of the car showing underneath. In all my trips to the city in the winter, I have never seen this much snow there. As a guest not faced with all of the challenges it poses to daily life and city infrastructure, I was able to find it extremely beautiful. 

Whenever I visit NYC with AYH as my host and guide, I know I am in good hands. It was with her that I discovered an intense love for Peruvian food and St. Germain (sadly I cannot get the former at home, the latter, fortunately, I can) and that I actually like chicken liver, when done right (having Mike Psilakis prepare it for you doesn't hurt ... What's that you say? It probably wasn't him making it for me in the back? What kind of sick person gets between a girl and her humble fantasies involving celebrity chefs, chicken liver and pappardelle?).

As usual we did much catching up over food and drink both in and out, and laughed until my stomach hurt - why I love her so. It was a great visit, and I got to cross a few things off of my Brooklyn wish list.

[A confession, before we continue: Those who know me well may be surprised to hear me confess that I passed up several photo ops to share with you, and thus am feeling like a bit of a blog failure with this post. I know photos are very important to a blog. I love taking photos. So what happened? I wish I could say. But I resolve to get better with practice. For now, I hope the following images provide some visual interest - taken by me unless otherwise noted ...]

1. The General Greene Restaurant - dinner highlights from Friday night included a General Greene Cider (bourbon, apple cider, house-made ginger ale, orange bitter, fresh apple), a Gin Cup (gin, pineapple, mint, cucumber), organic deviled eggs, half chicken under a brick with rosemary shallot sauce, and their salted caramel ice cream.

Photo courtesy of pixonomy's photostream on Flickr

2. The Brooklyn Flea at Skylight One Hanson, Brooklyn NY. The Brooklyn Flea is 20,000 square feet of diverse flea market offerings and food vendors held in the former Williamsburg Savings Bank Building (now Skylight One Hanson). As noted on its website, the stunning building's "spectacular details and soaring 63-foot ceilings tell the story of New York’s past through iconography, mosaic murals, and sculptural reliefs."  

The flea market itself was kind of a tease, since I was limited to what would fit in my one free checked bag on JetBlue.  I am an extremely slow and meticulous browser to begin with, enjoying the taking-of-it-all-in as much as the thrill of actually finding something to bring home ... often much to the chagrin of who I'm with. So coupling the 20,000 square feet of goods, the gorgeousness of the facility itself and the gradual growing (and understandable) restlessness of my companion, I felt a smidge overwhelmed. 

I did walk away with an amazingly soft and heavy vintage merino wool tunic, a blue cheese and date scone from SCRATCHbread, a Thai-style hot dog from Asia Dog (my oh my ... Buffalo friends, you may be invited to an Asia Dog inspired bbq this summer!), a generous sampling of both McClure's Garlic Dill pickles AND Rick's Picks' Classic Sour pickles, Mean Beans and Windy City Wasabeans - weeping inside a little that I could not bring a jar of each home with me.

Photo courtesy of EssG's Photostream on Flickr

I would love to go back one of these days when Evan and I drive to the city for a visit, when I can set aside a few hours to give it my all, and we can pack the Element full of goodies.

3. Stella Dallas Living - I think AYH said it best: "I just want to live in this store." What enthusiast of all things old-timey can resist floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves full of authentic vintage blankets, quilts and fabrics with an attached sliding ladder, old wooden boxes of grain and flour sacks and baskets full of dainty vintage handkerchiefs? Seriously. My visceral need to touch everything textile was in full effect. And there was a lot of it to touch. Fortunately for AYH, Stella Dallas's sister store 10 Ft. Single was next door, and she could entertain herself there while I looked at every single thing in Stella Dallas Living. There's a reason why I tend to shop solo ... 

4. Frankie's Spuntino - Ok, so this wasn't on my Brooklyn wish list, but it should have been. AYH's friend had her birthday party there on Saturday night, and I was lucky enough to tag along. We got the 3 course family style menu where we all shared an assortment of antipasto and crostini, cavatelli with hot sausage and browned sage butter, house-made gnocchi with marinara and fresh ricotta, and Frankies' Meatballs, which left me rethinking my general distaste for raisins and my old reliable recipe for meatballs. Carb-heavy heaven.

Photo courtesy of ZagatBuzz's photostream on Flickr

Places that remain on my Brooklyn wish list: Erie Basin and Fort Defiance, Kill Devil Hill, Artists & Fleas, Moon River Chattel, Holler & Squall, and the City Foundry.

Brooklyn and AYH, thanks as always for a fantastic visit. 

Til next time, 


Sunday, January 23, 2011

weekend recap

Not that there is a whole lot to report. 

As predicted we decided against heading to the Ellicottville Brewing Company on Saturday, as Evan was still under the weather. The weather which was cold cold cold this weekend. All in all, a great weekend to stay inside, which - except for a trip to Wegmans (our local grocery store) - is exactly what we did. 

Normally this would inspire an ambitious agenda of making things (new recipes, sewing projects, etc) but I'm sorry to say that I was feeling cranky and uninspired, and time was mainly spent on such uninteresting things as laundry, washing dishes and vacuuming. And making Evan tea (which is about the extent of my "nursing" skills). 

Fortunately midday on Saturday I got a call from my mom which put me in better spirits and reminded me that it was time to pop open a jar of pickled curried cauliflower and peppers for a taste.  And taste I did, if consuming an entire pint can be considered "tasting." 

They were intensely pickley, curry-y, gingery. In other words, dangerously addictive. 

Which brings me to something that may be too much information - but since I posted a link to the recipe I feel a sense of obligation to share. When I saw that the recipe called for twelve 1/2 pint jars last weekend I thought, "That's a ridiculously small amount of pickled anything. I might want to give these to friends, and wont it seem kind of miserly to give them a teeny jar with - what - 2 florets of cauliflower packed inside?"

Well. I now have a theory.  

About an hour after enjoying my pint of pickled goods I began to understand why the recipe calls for tiny portions. I think Mr. McClure knows that once you open a jar, you wont stop until its all gone, and will even find yourself googling ways to use the leftover brine. Even a pint of these precious pickled gems doesn't seem like enough when you've reached the bottom of the jar. And I think he also knows that some stomachs cant handle more than 1/2 pint of deliciously intense brine solution-soaked cauliflower in such a high quantity.

Moderation, friends - moderation. 

Buzzing around doing chores all day today, I finally noticed how bright and warm the sun room was around 3:00. Finally having furniture in there for the past few weeks has been wonderful beyond words. I decided to savor the remains of the day's sun with a cup of my favorite tea and catch up on some blog reading.

Before I knew it I was indulging in one of those perfect Sunday afternoon naps. When I woke up, it was getting dark, and time to plug in the mood lighting. 

So the highlights of this simple home-bound weekend really were the breaks in between being "productive." Stopping to smell the roses, if you will - or in this case, to taste the cauliflower and sip (and smell) the wild rose tea. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

pickled cauliflower and baby booties

My plans for the weekend. And maybe some beer brewing. Though Evan's impending headcold and a perfect storm of frightful winter weather forecasts (below zero temps, 35 mph winds AND 24+ inches of snow?) may prevent that last one from happening. 

Last weekend I made pickled curried cauliflower and I can't wait to pop open a jar this weekend to have a taste, and, if all goes well, share a few jars with friends.

cauliflower & peppers ready to pickle

I also have a sewing project on the agenda - these baby booties for my soon to be born and spoiled niece Emily. I can say this because no one in my family knows I have started this blog, and the odds of them running into this post are about as slim as our chances of heading to Ellicottville to brew some beer tomorrow. But they are a surprise, and I am so excited to make them. Lets hope my rusty sewing skills can do the pattern justice.

Since this blog is a brand new adventure for me, I am sure it will be on my mind a lot over the weekend which is sure to mean more posts. 

Til then!