Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New York Moment

There are countless times where I have had the "I am so lucky to live in New York" feeling: When the trees start blooming in April. When you finally see flurries from the first snowfall through your fogged up window. While walking down one of those streets uptown and day-dreaming about the gorgeous brownstones. When you feel the warm breeze rustle your hair as you sit outside eating great food, drinking wine, and laughing too loudly with you friends. While watching the sky turn pink, purple, and gold as the sun sets behind the glistening buildings.

And then you have that other feeling. The "only in New York" feeling. Again, many times, that is a great feeling. Like, only in New York could you be walking around Columbus Circle and be surprised by a pop-up troupe of singers from The Metropolitan Opera who start regaling you with pieces from Rigoletto or La Boheme. But yesterday during my morning commute I had one of those other "only in New York" moments.

If you commute, you know there is a set of certain spoken and unspoken rules. If you see something, say something. A crowded train is not an excuse or opportunity for sexual harassment. Don't listen to your music on speaker. Don't hog the railing. Move all the way in. Don't have loud conversations. If the car is empty, you are not lucky; a pungent homeless person has taken up one end of the car, and you're now stuck trying to breathe through your mouth until the next stop.  And when it comes to finding a seat? It's every man/woman for him/herself.

Well, yesterday, as I settled down into my coveted seat on the crowded E train and cracked open my book, I heard that distinct click-snap of a nail clipper. Obviously, my initial thought was "Thank God that is nowhere near me". But damn those MTA acoustics because as I turned my attention back to my book, in my peripheral vision what did I see but the silver gleam of what could only be a nail the hands of...the person sitting right. next. to. me. WTF?!

1. Who thinks to themselves, hey, you know what? I don't have time before I leave my house, but why not capitalize on my commute time and kill two birds with one nasty stone? Oh who, you ask? The guy sitting right next to me, of course.


So, as I sat there debating whether or not I should give up my prize seat (I still had FIVE stops to go!) and imagining those little clippings of dead hair (right? nails are made of hair?) invisibly flying through the air landing all over me, I just shook my head and inadvertently caught the eye of the person sitting in front of me. And we both kind of just rolled our eyes, shrugged, and then chuckled. Because only in New York, right?

P.S. I did not give up my seat. And it took him the whole 20 minutes to really get his nails to their perfect shape and size. I know. Gross.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let's Bake: Alfajores Edition

One of my favorite memories is when I would go to the library with my mom, head straight for the "new arrivals" and grab a huge stack of books to try and read by the due date. Remember when the daily charge for an overdue library book was a nickel? Now it's like a $1 and it's insane.

What do overdue library books have to do with baking? Well, basically, what I'm trying to say is that....this post is long overdue.

There are a lot of different Peruvian recipes that I lust after and I constantly convince myself that one day I will be able to recreate them and not have to travel down the South American coast to curb my cravings. Well, finally, around Valentine's day (I told you this was WAY overdue!) I decided to take a stab at making alfajores. I was extra inspired when my roommate's mom took the time to surprise us with fresh dulce de leche and shortbread cookies when we went down to Nashville for a quick visit.

If you remember, the first step was preparing the dulce de leche. I took the "easy" way out and boiled three cans of condensed milk for about 3 hours. Constantly checking that the water level never went below the height of the can (on its side). I made 3 cans, because it's always good to just get a few out of the way so you don't have to waste time/gas next time around. Anyway, the condensed milk goes in all gooey, sweet, and creamy and comes out golden brown and ready to be spread on cookies, cakes, etc.

Condensed milk + boiling for 3 hours = Delicious Dulce de Leche 

Normally, when I take on a task like this I give my nanny a call and ask for her advice. Along with her positive reinforcement she usually likes to slip in an easy-to-use option just in case I'm feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of failure. She told me that I could use any recipe I found online or Pillsbury Ready-To-Use Pie Crusts.

When in doubt, use an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin!

I ended up trying both options. I had to give these out as V-day gifts, so I needed a back-up plan just in case my cookie dough did not come out as desired. I used this recipe from

1 1/4 cup corn starch
3/4 cup flour
4 oz butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Unfortunately, I do not have pictures of the dough. But it was crumbly and not user very friendly. At first I tried flattening the dough with the "rolling pin". Wasn't happening. Then I tried to roll balls of dough, but when I baked them they did not flatten and were too dense. So, I ended up having to push the rest of the dough together into a make-shift log and cutting slivers and praying that they didn't crumble before hitting the cookie sheet.

Once the cookies are baked, the rest is easy. Spread dulce de leche in between two cookies - like a sandwich. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top (with a sifter). And voila!

These are the thicker cookies
Round Two: Thinner cookies
I didn't end up using the pie crust cookies, even though they were cute and heart-shaped. The dulce de leche is so sweet that it has to be paired with a cookie that has barely any sugar in it or else you'll be on a major sugar overload!

I got these cute heart-shaped cookie cutters from Party City!
It's all about presentation, right? :)
Even though there were a few bumps along the way, I was happy that I got over my fear and just tried my best. They may have been a little weird looking, but everyone loved them and that's the most important part!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Technology is hard

A lot of times the reason I don't post in a reliable way is because the pictures I take are always on my phone. I could probably figure out how to have a cloud thingy or just email myself the photos but for some reason I get major anxiety about the pictures being too large and not going through which then means I have to break up the photos into multiple emails, etc, etc. Aka ridiculous reasons that I should be embarrassed to share. So, instead I'm writing this on my phone just so I can share last weekend's fun-filled adventures.
Last weekend I had a fun, spring-y weekend and even had a nice little sunburn on Monday morning - a badge of honor from my brief but enjoyable time outside. I went to a fundraiser at my high school on Saturday night, and had fun in Brooklyn on Sunday visiting with my friend and her new baby, eating yummy donuts and pork buns at Smorgasburg and celebrating my friend's belated bday on her rooftop.

Johnston Jubilee, fundraiser, with my sister
View at Brooklyn Bridge Park
I can see up the Brooklyn Bridge's nose!
Glamour shot!
Doughnut Plant  - yum!
Hot and Steamy!
Red Coconut Curry Chicken and Braised Pork Belly
Brooklyn Roasting Company
Street art
View from my friend's rooftop! 
I love this city.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

G-chat Witticisms

Conversation between my ex and I on g-chat:

Me: Are we playing with fire? Talking about kissing?
Ex: We are ALWAYS playing with fire.
Ex: You and I are pyros
Me: Pyros for love.

Stitch that on a pillow.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Circus Freaks & Geeks

In all my teenage angst I forgot to tell you about my super awesome date with bachelor #2 last weekend!

So, let's start at the very beginning. A while back when I was confused as to whether or not he was interested in being more than just friends, he excitedly told me about a Groupon for Cirque du Soliel's Totem. Me, being the modern woman I think I am thought, sure, why not? Let's go "as friends" while rubbing my hands together maniacally thinking, he. will. love. me.

Okay, okay, not SO crazy, but I did think it would be fun to try and be friends with him. I mean, if anything, he's a hot foreigner, and he probably has hot foreign friends, so win-win situation here, amirite ladies????

Well, as you all know from my vague declaration last week, he does like me and I wasn't totally off base when I was catching those vibes from him. (AKA we went out dancing one night and let the rhythm take us over and totally made out and have been seeing each other for the past four weeks - except for that sabbatical when I tried having something real with bach #1 - what a mess)

Where was I? Oh right, so we bought these tickets to Cirque du Soliel when we were just friends, a month in advance (yikes!), and were lucky enough that things didn't crash and burn before then and I'm happy to say that we had a GREAT time!

Waiting to go into the tent!
We weren't allowed to take photos inside so I have no proof, but the show was pretty spectacular. It was supposed to be a "fascinating journey into the evolution of mankind". So there were a lot of natural elements and ethereal music. They had unicyclists, aerialists, and high-brow clowns, but my favorite parts were those with the couple performers. The amount of trust and synchronicity that is involved when hanging a billion feet in the air was mind-blowing!

After the show we went out to dinner and ate very delicious ceviche (a typical Peruvian seafood dish made with fresh raw fish, citrus, hot peppers, etc) at some hole-in-the-wall restaurant out in Queenz. Talked about music, art, and all in all had a wonderful time.

Things I do when I'm waiting for someone: Read a book, catch up on emails, and, obviously, stage a mini photo-shoot
That's the thing with this guy. There may be some things that are not ideal, but it's not serious. It's totally carefree. And most importantly, fun. Why can't all dates be like this one?