Monday, September 28, 2009


I really didn't mean to drop off the face of the earth. If you're one of my coworkers, you know I haven't. In fact, you may want to see less of me. But if you're my husband or another loved one, you might be convinced that I have. Not so.

Where have I been? For nearly a month now, I've been a one-woman team, and it's going much better than I expected. My flash drive has been indispensable, and Ian has been extremely understanding when I have to sit down at my computer to push through a few more Word docs before bedtime (thank you!). We've interviewed several great candidates for the vacant editorial assistant position but haven't decided who'll make the round-two cut -- I'm hoping to make an offer by mid-October...that still seems like a long way off. At least I'm never bored at work!

I'm making a conscious effort not to go insane. When I need a break from the constant stream of content, I take a mental getaway to the cottage pictured above. It was once Washington Irving's home; Ian and I passed by a few weekends ago when we were hiking in the Hudson River Valley. The house is called Sunnyside -- wouldn't it be cool to have a house with a name?! -- and it felt so bucolic, and so, so calm. Time seemed to slow way down there, like I could have just sat and existed, or watched boats sail past on the Hudson, or journaled, or danced barefoot through the garden. This is a place where people can breathe. I feel relaxed already.

Do you have a place like that?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

girls' night

One of my closest friends from back home, April, was in New York this week. I "picked her up" after work on Friday, and the two of us went out to dinner in my neighborhood so she could see our apartment. We had a great time reminiscing about old times and talking about the future...namely, the baby she and her husband, Scott, are expecting in January! April and I don't talk very often, but when we do it's as if we saw each other yesterday. So grateful to have friends like that. Our evening together reminded me that I should get in touch with some other long-lost friends. I hope you'll do the same!

Monday, September 14, 2009

hidden treasure

If you ever find yourself in Morningside Heights, keep your eyes peeled. On a little street just off Broadway, you'll find my favorite restaurant: Pisticci. Since we discovered it in 2006, we've taken nearly all our visitors there, but I've never blogged about the place, only the people we've eaten with. I thought it was high time to share.

Since he started working there a month or so ago, this is where Ian spends two days and three evenings a week -- but that's okay because they have a really open family policy. I try to visit about once a week, and I've even made friends with some of the other employees' mates. The place is so homey and warm. And the food is delicious (my favorite is the namesake pasta, Penne Pisticci). I wish I could figure out how to make their fresh tomato sauce...but then I guess I wouldn't be tempted to go there as much anymore!

The quaint exterior (notice how the entrance is at the garden level -- it adds to the cozy factor)

The handsomest bartender ever (he loves that he can wear a hat -- I see a few more in his future)

Click here to see Pisticci on the news!

What's your favorite restaurant? Why do you like it?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

a spin on shakes

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a Here on Earth podcast all about milkshakes. Jean Feraca was interviewing food writer Adam Ried, who's just written a cookbook devoted to none other than shakes. The podcast stuck with me, so I finally gave in and made a batch for dessert.

Several of Ried's concoctions sounded delicious, but one in particular caught my attention: a Mexican chocolate shake. This isn't the typical mixture you'd find at an old-fashioned soda includes cayenne pepper, an ingredient that appears in the ancient Aztec chocolate recipes. Unfortunately, he didn't divulge any recipes on the show, so I had to figure it out. One tip he mentioned turned out to be the key: Instead of using chocolate syrup, he uses chocolate sorbet for its ultra-concentrated flavor. Here's what I came up with:

Mexican Chocolate Shake
(serves 1)

1/3 cup vanilla sorbet
1/3 cup chocolate sorbet
2 Tbl. milk
Splash of vanilla
A few shakes of ground cinnamon
A tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1) Combine ingredients in glass and blend with an immersion blender (or combine in a blender jar), pulsing until smooth.
2) Enjoy.

They turned out pretty darned good. It won't become my all-time favorite, vanilla, but it was a great dessert after chipotle chicken fajitas!

Here's what I was thinking about a year ago: a few of my favorite things.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So Ian and I finally ventured inside our neighborhood's new Whole Foods store, something we swore we'd never do. We'd subscribed to the "whole paycheck" moniker that people (even many around here) use. But we were amazed to find that it wasn't a rip-off. In fact, it may be the most reasonably priced grocery in our neighborhood. Of course, some of the specialty items were insanely expensive, but they're specialty items. I was particularly excited about the fruits and veggies, and Ian loved the beer selection. He bought a can of Dale's Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewery. I'd been craving lemonade and we found a bag of lemons for $3. Bingo.

Fresh-squeezed lemonade is so quick and easy. I learned how to make it when I worked for my Aunt Ces at her coffee stand, Cespresso. Every Saturday all summer long, I'd squeeze lemons for a constant stream of farmers' market and art fair customers demanding our lemonade (and coffee and mochas and iced chais...). It was the best.

I happen to like the tart stuff, so here's how I put it together. If you like it a little (or a lot) sweeter, you know what to do!

Fresh-Squeezed Lemonade
(serves 8)

10 lemons
4 squeezed lemon halves
2/3 cup sugar

1) Chop lemons in half and juice them using a citrus reamer or a fork (just jam it in there and twist). I squeeze them over a mesh strainer set in a 2-cup measure. It keeps the seeds out, but a bit of pulp does get through. If you like super-pulpy lemonade, just scoop some out of the strainer. Otherwise, discard the pulp and most of the lemon halves once you've got about 1 1/2 cups of juice. You may have to clean out the strainer a few times depending on how zealously you squeeze.
2) Toss four squeezed lemon halves into a 2-quart pitcher. Add the sugar. Pour in lemon juice and top with cold water until the pitcher is filled. Stir well.
3) Serve over ice. (Garnish with lemon slices, mint leaves, raspberries, gin, whatever's on hand.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

sheep may safely graze

Happy September! I'm glad that, even though school has started again, the days aren't getting chilly too quickly. (However, I am excitedly preparing for soon as I finish this post, I'm buying this and a coordinating fleece zippy jacket to wear under it...I can see myself practically living in this!)

Anyway, yesterday was gorgeous: It was a sunny 80 degrees made comfortable by a light breeze. Perfect weather for heading out to the Central Park Sheep Meadow so Ian could grade his first batch of papers and I could try to finish World Without End (I didn't quite get there -- only about 80 pages to go). We brought our big wool picnic blanket and respective reading materials, stopped off for some sandwiches, and found ourselves a spot under a huge tree. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

How are you enjoying this Labor Day weekend?

Here's what I was up to last year.