southwestern slow roast

5.11.2019

So candidly this original recipe called for short ribs... but I'm on a budget. Short ribs feel like an expensive cut of meat. Now, I'll be honest if I was having a special guest over for dinner I might pull the trigger on a trip to Whole Foods for short ribs - but I'm less likely to buy them (or find them for that matter) from my local grocery store. While I was in the grocery store I did a quick google for substitute options and came up with beef chuck. I selected a cut style that wouldn't feel like beef stew and feel pretty great about it.

For a recipe like this, they can often all blend together. Like how can you always put celery, tomato and onion in a pot and it not taste the same? The answer in this case is tequila, chili powder, and beer. The end result of this definitely has a spicier kick to it. I'm a pretty gentle soul when it comes to spicy / hot seasoning but I could handle this. It feels very on brand for a Cinco de Mayo meal.

I served my meal over cauliflower rice to keep it nice and light. It was also the absolute easiest option. Other great ideas? Cauliflower puree, rice, grits, mashed potatoes... Pretty much anything would be good.

Here's how it goes.

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot or dutch oven. Season the ribs with salt and 1 tsp. pepper, then cook in batches – being careful not to crowd the pan – until browned on all sides (3 to 4 minutes per side). Transfer the ribs to a platter and repeat with the remaining ribs. Pour off all but a thin layer of fat from the pan.
  3. Add the onions and celery to the pan. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, until the vegetable are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add bay leaf, garlic, jalapeno, and chili powder. Cook for 1 minute.
  4. Deglaze the pot with tequila, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Cook for 1 minute, or until reduced to about 2 Tbs.
  5. Add all the ribs back into the pot. Pour the tomatoes and beer and 1 cup water over the ribs. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover, and put the pot in the oven. Cook, turning the ribs occasionally, until they are fork tender, about 3 hours.
  6. Transfer the ribs to a serving platter or dish. Let the sauce and solids sit in the pot for a few minutes to cool and with a shallow spoon, skim off as much of the fat as possible from the surface. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the lime juice. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Shopping List
48-ounce beef short ribs
olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/4 cup tequila
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
1 cup light beer
1/2 lime, juiced
Fresh cilantro, chopped

margarita macarons

5.10.2019

To continue on the Cinco de Mayo party.... I also made a margarita macaron. I figured if I was buying tequila, I might as well use it for two things instead of just one. As a result, we have these beautiful babes on a plate. 

It's been awhile since I made macarons. It always feels so arduous and rife with concern about the precision that is required. Macarons can so easily go wrong seemingly. You look like a lunatic examining the almond flour after sifting it. Turning the egg whites upside down to see if they are stiff enough. Whacking the pan on the counter so the cookies develop "feet". But it is all worth it when you take that first bite of a macaron.

A few notes:
- coconut v almond extract. I intended to do coconut but grabbed the wrong bottle from the cabinet. I truly think either is fine but the coconut will give you a much more distinct flavor. I wouldn't use vanilla, that's the only thing.
- filling. In the past I've done a couple varieties but I believe buttercream is the most ideal. It creates a bit of a heftier filling that is more visually appealing. 
- Cooking time. I had two sheet pans of macarons and slightly undercooked the first one. They turned out okay but the bottoms were a little soft. It's definitely a hard game because you see the shell developing a slightly brown color that you want to avoid. You can probably improve this with different placement in the oven.

Also for reference, here are the other macaroon recipes I've tried: raspberry with coconut filling, standard, and these award winning Christmas cookie variety.
  1. Set your oven to 375 F
  2. Combine your almond flour and powdered sugar in a flour sifter and sift until you have a nice, pretty pile. 
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat your egg whites with an electric mixer until nice and foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar until they develop stiff, glossy peaks. I added my sugar in 1 tablespoon at a time. If you think your egg whites are stiff enough, they probably aren't. Keep going. One blog I read said you should be able to flip your bowl upside down ... I make enough of mess in the kitchen without doing this step, but you get the idea.
  4. Add coconut extract and mix gently. If the mixture gets a little less stiff, just toss that mixer on again for a jiffy.
  5. After the meringue is stiff and glossy, you essentially get to mix it all up again - but none of that "folding in the egg whites" business. This is straight mixing folks. Add about half of the flour/sugar mixture and stir with your spatula until mixed. Then, add the rest and stir again.
  6. This is now a "crucial" part in the macaron process.... you need to stir until the mixture is even and smooth. A smooth mixer makes for good meringues and that is what this is all about folks. What you do is spread the batter against the sides of the bowl, then flip it back into the middle, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat times 15 or so times. Just like the flour sifting process, I thought this would be all phony and silly and not worth it, I was wrong. You can see the difference in the batter. Add in food coloring until you get the shade of green you'd like.
  7. Fill your "pastry" bag with the batter and squeeze it out gently into small circles on your parchment lined baking sheet. Note: the batter will settle a bit so, don't worry too too much about having a "tip" in the middle of your circle. Just try and keep your circles in similar small sized circles - about 1.5-2 inches.
  8. After you have filled you pan with little circles, whack the sheet against the counter several times. According to the post I read, "This will set the pied or little pastry lip at the base of the cookie (an essential for an authentic macaron)." Now, set the tray aside for 30 minutes to dry. You'll know they are dry when you tap the surface of the circle and it does not stick to your finger.
  9. Place in the oven for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn the sheet so that the front-facing macarons are now towards the back of the oven for an even bake. If after 14 minutes, they are still super-soft, reduce heat to 325°, cover in aluminum foil and bake for 2 more minutes. Watch them carefully.
  10. When the macarons are done baking, take them out of the oven and let sit until cool. When they are cool, they'll pop right off the parchment but they won't before then.
  11. Fill a new pastry bag with the filling and create about 1/2 inch dot on one macaron cookie, then sandwich another on top. Be careful not to squeeze the filling out on the sides.
  12. That's it. Now eat them... and store them in the fridge.
Making the Filling
  1. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, cream butter on high speed until light and smooth (about 5 minutes).
  2. Reduce the speed to low and add powdered sugar. Mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Add lime juice, zest, tequila and salt and mix on high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
Shopping List2/3 cup almond meal/flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
3 egg whites
5 tablespoons of white, granulated sugar
1 teaspoon almond or coconut extract
green food coloring

Filling
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp lime juice
1 Tbsp tequila
1-2 tsp lime zest

Coconut-Lime Pork Tacos

Yikes, it's been a small lifetime since I last popped in here.

I thought I had been cooking, but I guess I've just been eating a lot of basic things. Basic isn't bad but it's always nice to get a little adventurous. I'm always prone to be adventurous on a theme day. When I realized that Cinco de Mayo was sneaking up on me last week, I found a few things that would be fun to try.

Initially I was just googling "tequila" on my favorite recipe sites. I found one of my all-time favorite meals tequila fish. That was a good one. In the end, I landed on these pork tacos from Food52. They won me over with their leftovers appeal ... and the fact it was only going to take about 20 minutes of cooking. Not everything calls for a marathon chopping and stirring session.

These tacos could not have come together more easily. I was really intrigued by the different use of coconut milk as well. I'll have to keep that in mind going forward. The recipe overview indicated that this would take about 15-20 minutes and that was right on par. 

A few notes:
- original recipe // just called for slices of avocado on top of each taco. This is absolutely the easiest route to go - but! next time I might actually make a quick avocado crema or guacamole instead. It would just elevate the tacos a tiny bit and perhaps be easiest in the long run.

- taco tortillas // I found the smaller restaurant size tortillas at the local grocery store and really loved them. It was the perfect sizing. You could eat 3 or 4 of those little babes and still feel great about yourself. I opted for flour because that is what makes me happiest.

- Lime // The whole meal is great but just don't forget the limes. The little squeeze of juice is awesome.

- Leftovers // I proceeded to eat the meat as leftovers for about 3 days. It went wonderful with so many things included on top of naan like a pizza topping. I ran out of tortillas ... and it was quite great. Added mozzarella cheese and was not disappointed.
  1. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and a large pinch of salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until they’ve softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Push the onion and garlic to one side of the pan, and add the cumin, chili powder, paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Let sizzle in the pan until they’re toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute, then stir well until the onions and garlic are evenly coated with the spices.
  2. Add the ground pork to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, breaking up any large chunks of pork and stirring occasionally, until the pork is just cooked through. Season with salt to taste. Remove any excess fat from the pan.
  3. Add the coconut milk; simmer for about 5 minutes until thickened, then stir in the black beans, pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon lime juice and cook for an additional minute or two. Taste and add more lime juice if needed. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve right away, or cover the pan and let the pork gently simmer over low heat.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, divide the ground pork equally among lightly warmed flour tortillas. Serve with lots of avocado and other toppings of your choice.
Shopping List
1 pound ground pork
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pinch Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
1 pinch Cayenne pepper, to taste
2/3 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons pineapple juice
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, from 1 lime
1 15 ounce can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
tortillas, for serving
1 1 large avocado, diced
cilantro for topping

irish creme scones

3.25.2019

I stumbled across this scone recipe when I was doing some St. Patrick's day recipe searching. I was targeting a biscuit to go with our Guinness Stew... and this little gem of a scone popped up. The facts are obvious that I cannot bypass a scone recipe. I just merely needed a reason to make the scones.

Earlier this week my brother-in-law helped me with a house project and it felt like an appropriate thank you... along with a bottle of Jameson. I managed to whip out this batch of scones in the time it takes to preheat the oven. The recipe ends up being almost a half batch of what I would normally make but it was a good experiment.

Notes:
  • Yield // only 8 smaller sized scones. If you want anymore than that, you should double the batch for sure.
  • Milk // I had leftover buttermilk from my holiday recipes so I obviously used that instead. There is absolutely no downside to using buttermilk in scones... or any heavy, fattier milk really. 
  • Glaze // Since the alcohol does not cook off, the glaze is literally pure sugar and booze. Yes, it is about a shot glass worth but maybe keep that in mind when you are serving to people that are either children or do not drink.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 cups flour and sugar. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or fork until pea-size pieces form. Add the milk, irish cream and mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently knead until dough begins to form a ball, approximately 3 - 4 times.
  3. Gently pat dough into a 1-inch-thick circle. Using a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out scones. Combine the scraps and repeat, patting out and cutting to make 8 scones. Transfer baking sheet lined with parchment and brush with the egg. Sprinkle the tops with the sugar.
  4. Bake the scones until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. 
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the Irish cream and sugar until smooth. Drizzle the mixture over the room temperature scones.
Shopping List
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons chilled salted butter cut into cubes
1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
1 large egg beaten to blend
1 tablespoon Sugar (topping)
Glaze
1 tablespoon Bailey's Irish Cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar

Guiness Stout Cake

I thought this cake seemed like a great idea from the name. A Guiness cake? perfect for our family St. Patrick's Day dinner. Plus, I had 5 Guiness in the house and this called for 1 and the stew I made needed 4. I am a big fan of finishing things off. It's why I can't open a box of Goldfish or bag of bbq chips. There is no stopping me once I start.

This cake got pretty rave reviews. I did immediately ask everyone if the frosting looked like the top of pint of beer ... like the instructions told me to. I do not believe I was artistically successful, but the cake tasted good. The consistency skews more dense than light, but that goes with the cream cheese frosting nicely. My brother-in-law made an oreo mint pie as well. The actual best combination was his mint with my chocolate. True home run.

I would absolutely make this cake again another time. It comes together incredibly easily and quickly. You probably have all the ingredients already except the Guiness... unless you are my grandfather in which case you most likely always have it. Lastly, I can also testify that it tastes great as a breakfast food. I ate it in bed on Monday morning while watching the news. I'm not clear on the real difference between chocolate cake, scones, and muffins... and I truly do not care.

Here's how it goes.
  1. Grease a 9-in. springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat beer and butter until butter is melted. Remove from the heat; whisk in sugar and cocoa until blended. 
  3. Combine the eggs, sour cream and vanilla; whisk into beer mixture. 
  4. Combine flour and baking soda; whisk into beer mixture until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Remove sides of pan.
  6. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and cream; beat until smooth (do not over-beat). Remove cake from the pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake so that it resembles a frothy pint of beer. 
Shopping List
1 cup Guinness
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup baking cocoa
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

TOPPING:
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream 

Guinness beef stew

3.18.2019

The name of this recipe might lead you to believe there is Guinness in it. And boy is there ever. Normally when a recipe calls for liquor or beer, it's just a part of the ingredient list. But there is more beer in this stew than there is beef stock!

There is a whole lot of chopping in this recipe. I doubled the batch because (1) I love leftover and (2) we were having family over for the big day. That meant I was chopping: 2 lbs beef, 8 carrots, 8 celery, 2 onions, nearly 2 lb mushrooms, and 6 garlic. But it was totally worth it. After a couple hours simmering on the stove, this was a wonderfully tender and flavorful stew.

One of the worst parts about coming to my house for dinner is that as soon as you finish eating, I make you critique the meal. It's a real joy. But how am I supposed to improve and make amazing things if I don't know how you feel about the mushrooms?

So here was some of the feedback. But since I wouldn't expect anyone else to make a double batch of beef stew, my notes will be inline with the single batch:
  • More onion // Agreed. I would probably go up to 3 onions in the next batch.
  • Less mushroom // Agreed. The original recipe called for a full pound of mushrooms. I would probably cut this back to 1/2 pound if you just slice the mushrooms. If you chop them more finely, then I would go up to 3/4 pound. 
  • Pepper // My dad loves pepper. I still don't have any in my house. There is no good reason for this - but yeah, I'll put it on the grocery list.
  • More beef // I think I ended up using 20% more than originally called for in the recipe. This was mostly fine until we got to leftovers. There wasn't any beef left. I think the next time I would probably go for 1.5 lbs of beef and perhaps reduce the size of the chunks as well to spread it further.
Here's how it goes.
  1. Brown the beef: Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in batches to brown. Remove from the pot and set aside on a plate.
  2. Sauté onion, garlic and celery: Put the Dutch oven back over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and celery and sauté until tender and lightly colored, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the beer: Stir the tomato paste into the onion mix in the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Pour in the Guinness - careful, it will foam. Add the minced sun-dried tomatoes and simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid has reduced by half, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and cook: Add the potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and beef stock to the Dutch oven. Add the meat back in and stir well. Add the bay leaf. Firmly cover the Dutch oven with its lid and let simmer until the meat is tender. I didn't keep track of time super well but it was between 2 and 3 hours. 
  5. Rest? I read in the original recipe that giving the stew some time to rest will make the beef more tender. So I cooked for Give the stew some time to rest before serving. I prefer to let it cool almost completely, then reheating it to serve. But even a 10 minute rest will make the beef a lot more tender vs eating straight out of the oven.
NOTES
To make this in an electric slow cooker, follow the recipe until step 4. Transfer the beer reduction, meat, vegetables and stock to a 6 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours.

Shopping List
1 tablespoon oil
1 pound beef chuck cubed
2 medium onions cut into slim wedges
3 cloves garlic smashed
4 large celery stalks sliced diagonally
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 12-oz bottles Guinness beer
4 large sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil drained and very finely minced
1/2 pound small-medium floury potatoes peeled and roughly cubed
1/2 pound small-medium waxy potatoes roughly cubed
4 medium carrots cubed and sliced diagonally
3/4 pound brown button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf optional
Salt and pepper to taste

corn chowder

3.11.2019

It's been awhile since I've made a soup. At one point it felt like it was the only thing I whipped up in my kitchen. There are 45 soup recipes on this website but, they started to all feel like the same thing. Chop carrots. Chop onion. Chop celery. It has been enough time that this soup felt like a refreshing change - also it is totally different. This was my first ever chowder.
I'm not a big clam chowder fan - but I do love a corn chowder. This soup came together very easily although it was far more chopping than I've done in recent months. The flavors are obvious and by no means bland. I'm a salty person but the cajun inspired flavors here help to reduce my desire to add salt. Feels like a good win for my next blood test.

A few notes:
  • Corn // Corn is out of season right now in the Northeast. While the grocery store had corn on the cob, it felt wrong to buy it. I will absolutely make this recipe again when corn is in abundance. There is something very appealing about seeing the chunks of corn stuck together after you've cut them off the cob.
  • Potatoes // I didn't peel my potatoes. Why add an extra step when you don't need to? I didn't notice any impact in my soup.
  • Vegan // The original recipe called for vegetable broth and I substituted chicken since it is was I had on hand. If you want to stay vegan, you can with just one easy switch.
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop one of the red potatoes in half and carefully place into the pot. Allow potato to cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of frozen corn to the pot with about 5 minutes left.
  2. While the potato is cooking, saute the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut oil to a large pot, along with the other diced potato, chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cumin. Heat to medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Place half of the kernels in a blender, along with the cooked potato. Add the coconut milk and water (or broth) to the blender, and blend until completely smooth. This may take two or three rounds of blending.
  4. Add the remaining corn kernels to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and pour the blended corn/potato (chowder) mixture into the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until potato has softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and taste chowder. Add sea salt and Cajun seasoning as desired. 
Shopping List
4 ears corn shucked (or 2.5 - 3 cups frozen)
2 large red potatoes peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
1 large white onion
5 cloves large garlic minced
3 large carrots peeled and chopped
3 large stalks celery chopped
1 large red bell pepper cored and chopped
1-½ teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup canned coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth

very delicious blueberry cake

3.10.2019

Ok - this picture doesn't exactly look like a success story. Where are all the blueberries? In the bottom of the loaf. Not the best. But, I'll do better next time.

Blueberry distribution aside ... this cake is incredibly delicious. That might have something to do with the amount of sugar and butter or just magic. The original recipe called for a bundt cake but I wanted to stretch my work a little further - so I opted for two loaf pans. Also, the bundt cake was going to take like 90 minutes to cook... and I didn't start this until 9 pm.

There really isn't a whole lot to say about this except that it tastes wonderful and you'll enjoy it. I made this along with a batch of pan monkey bread for an event my dad was hosting. Although monkey bread is delicious, this blueberry loaf was dominated within an hour.

Although this loaf is great with or without a glaze, I definitely recommend whipping one up. I made mine extra thick with only buttermilk and powdered sugar. The wonderful thing about these simple glazes is that you can adjust them so easily. Too thick? More liquid. Too thin? More powdered sugar.
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease your chosen pan or pans and dust with flour.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and buttermilk, alternating each, until all incorporated. Finally beat in the lemon zest before turning the mixer off. Use a spoon the stir in half the blueberries.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining blueberries over the top. 
  4. Bake for 45-60 mins [2 loaf pans] or 60-80 minutes [1 pan], until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Allow it to cool for at least 20 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. 
  6. For the glaze, whisk the buttermilk and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Drizzle the glaze over the cake.
Shopping List
For the Blueberry Cake:1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose Gold Medal Flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons
1 pound fresh blueberries

For the Buttermilk Glaze:3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup powdered sugar

Sausage and Fennel Ragu With Gnocchi Alla Romano

3.04.2019

I believe this dinner falls perfectly into the Sunday Dinner category. I was in the market for a multi-step meal to spend a little extra time on. While this is definitely multi-step it is quite straightforward. The most challenging part was finding semolina flour.

I have been consciously trying to eat more vegetables and less red meat in my diet - although this meal does not reflect that. But given that each day I'm shoving two clementines in my face and perhaps some healthy grains, I'm feeling like progress is happening. Although this original recipe calls for hot italian sausage, you could substitute ground turkey but would just really need to compensate with other spices. The meal is really not spicy but just has a great meaty flavor without turning into a chili. It sometimes feels like anything with meat is two steps from being a chili.

A few other notes:
  • I'm not sure I agree that the "toppers" should be called gnocchi. Even my mom was like "oh really? I thought gnocchi was different". It feels like gnocchi and a polenta had a baby. They are quite good though. Very light, good flavor. 
  • Serving size / The recipe says this serves 6-8 people. It absolutely does not. It serves 4-5, maybe 6 if someone isn't hungry. I invited 4 people over for dinner and am thankful that 2 did not come. 
  • Extra Gnocchi // I had a whole lot of extra gnocchi that I never got to stamp out and put on the dish. that being said, it would have been nice to have them as extras on the side. If you make this dish, I would just cut out all the gnocchi rounds and then toast them up on a cooking sheet in the oven. Easy peasy.
  • Tomatoes // I'm not a huge fan of cooking with whole tomatoes. I don't enjoy breaking them down with a spoon like everyone tells you to. Next time I would probably go with a different variety like maybe diced tomatoes. I like the heft and structure the whole tomatoes gives you but they were just an obstacle.
Here's how it goes.

GNOCCHI
  1. Spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper, then spray again.
  2. In a 6 quart heavy bottomed saucepan, bring milk to a simmer. Slowly whisk in semolina flour, then add salt. Whisk thoroughly to be sure that no lumps form. Cook, stirring constantly until, the mixture begins to pull away from the side of the pan, about 10 minutes. Add 6 tablespoons of the butter the parmesan cheese and stir until well incorporated and the butter has melted. Whisk in the egg yolks off heat, stirring until combined.
  3. Pour the semolina into the pan and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula. Cover and chill for at least two hours.
  4. Once firm, cut into 2 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a sturdy kitchen glass. Set aside while you make the ragu.
RAGU
  1. To make the ragu, preheat the oven to 450˚F. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling with the back of a fork, until it is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Remove and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet and set over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to break down and turn golden brown. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat all of the vegetables. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let the tomato paste cook for about 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with chicken stock (or wine if you prefer), scraping up any brown bits that had formed on the bottom. 
  4. Let the stock cook until reduced by half, then add the Peeled Plum Tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with the back of a spoon or a fork and cook until the mixture reaches a simmer. Add the reserved sausage back in, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and top with the Gnocchi alla Romano.
  5. Melt the remaining butter and brush the tops of the gnocchi with it. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then place in the oven (on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any drips) and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Shopping List
GNOCCHI
6 cups whole milk
2 cups semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, divided
2 egg, yolks
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for sprinkling
Cooking spray, as needed

RAGU
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 lb hot italian sausage meat
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper, To Taste
crushed red pepper flakes, To Taste
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (28 ounce) can Peeled Plum Tomatoes

brown butter miso mac and cheese

2.22.2019

One of my intentions of 2019 is to waste less food... so what does that mean for right now? I'm putting miso in just about everything. I purchased the miso for the miso banana bread and now I'm intending to use every last drop of it.

I had all the ingredients for this dish for nearly a week but just never quite got the drive to make it. I had the same feeling the last time I made mac and cheese from scratch. It feels like a lot. Make the pasta. Make the roux. Melt the cheese. But it is not. It's very easy. I was eating incredible homemade mac and cheese before I knew it.

Candidly, I skipped the whole crunchy panko topping step too. I was so hungry and once I tasted the cheese sauce there was no stopping me. That being said, this would be unstoppable if you could make it through to the end. Crunchy mac and cheese topping can cure everything.

A few things:
  • Pick your pasta // You might as well pick something that is fun - but also that grabs the cheese a bit. I was at Trader Joes and they had Gigli - which is hard to describe but a little extra special. Nothing the matter with rotini, macaroni, or rigatoni.... but it cost about 50 cents more and was 200% more fun.
  • Cheese // Original recipe suggests a blend of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère. While I was at Trader Joe's over the weekend, they had a cheddar + gruyere blend on the shelf. I'm all about keeping things easy so I went for this one. Added bonus? It cut the recipe cost in half. Buying one cheese versus two.
  • Brown the butter // This was an unintended bonus. I hadn't planned for this but browned butter adds such a great flavor - especially when combined with the miso.
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil. Add your pasta and cook until a minute or two shy of al dente (do not cook it all the way to al dente!). Drain (don't rinse) and set aside.
  3. In a large pan, heat the butter until it melts. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly to break up any clumps, for a minute or two.
  4. Whisk in the warm milk and bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This can happen very fast.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 cups of the cheese and miso paste.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
  7. Pour the pasta into a greased baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese and the panko.
  8. Bake the pasta for about 25 minutes. The pasta should be bubbling and the breadcrumbs should be browned.
  9. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve.
Shopping List (serves 4 hungry people, 6 non-hungry people)
8 ounces dried pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk, warmed slightly
2 1/4 cups shredded cheese (I like a mix of cheddar, Pecorino, and Gruyère), divided
1/4 cup sweet white miso paste, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

miso banana bread

2.21.2019

I'm not really a banana person but I do love banana bread. It's like a sneaky, potentially healthy breakfast dessert. I saw a reference a couple weeks ago to miso banana bread. A miso banana bread feels like a lifetime of difference from the other variations like: nutella, peanut butter, chocolate, or just straight up banana bread.

I've only bought miso paste one other time in my life and it turns out I never wrote up the recipe. I think it was something like a miso carrot soup if my memory serves me. I know very little about buying miso paste except that there are different colors. The original recipe called for white paste, but Whole Foods was out of that... so red paste it is. For what it's worth here are the differences according to kitchn.com:
  • White Miso: This miso is made from soybeans that have been fermented with a large percentage of rice. The miso has a definite sweet taste. It’s best used in condiments like mayo or salad dressings, or in light sauces.
  • Red Miso: This is also typically made from soybeans fermented with barley or other grains, though with a higher percentage of soybeans and/or a longer fermentation period. The deep umami flavor of red miso can overwhelm mild dishes, but is perfect for hearty soups, braises, and glazes.
Based on that, hindsight might have been to wait for white miso paste to be available.... but too late because I already baked the bread. It is so different - and great. It is hard to describe the difference in flavor but it is rich and the opposite of a sugary quick bread.

As of now I've made this recipe twice. First time? The original recipe called for just one big loaf - which I did.  It requires such a long cooking time that the top gets a little bit more toasted than I'd like. Candidly, I found a few spots in the bread that could have been cooked longer too. Second time? Split the batch into two smaller pans. Total win. The cooking time is about half (50 mins or so) and completely cooked through.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour a 10-by-5-inch metal loaf pan. In a bowl, using 
a fork, mash 4 of the bananas until chunky. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter, sugar and miso at medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. At low speed, slowly add the buttermilk, then beat in 
the eggs 1 at a time until incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas; the batter will look curdled. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Scrape into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 
90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool on a rack for 30 minutes before turning out to cool completely.
Shopping List
4 medium overripe bananas
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white miso
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs

chorizo and potato stew

2.10.2019

I'm always in the market for a new soup that doesn't feel like something I've made before. Soup is incredibly versatile... but sometimes it does feel like all the recipes are the same. Well, this one is different. Very different.

I came across this recipe from Bon Appetit in early January but finally got around to making it. What took so long you ask? Buying chorizo. I was attracted to this soup because it just seemed hearty and flavorful and totally different. It is absolutely all of those things - and more. 

I absolutely love it when I've just finished making something... go to take a taste of it... and and subsequently knocked off my socks. Is that an expression? But when I put the spoon in the broth, I was blown away by the rich, salty flavor. It made immediate sense why the original recipe suggested including sour cream. It's a phenomenal neutralizer and refreshing.

Let it be known that the two keys to this recipe are: (1) chorizo and (2) paprika. 
  • I first used chorizo in a soup back in 2012 by accident. It was a very happy accident and what really drew me to this recipe initially. Finding chorizo was not super challenging but it was more expensive than I wanted to pay. So much so that I half'd the recipe just to cut down on costs. I am just one person, so it's fine. But yes, you absolutely need chorizo for this. No substitutes.
  • Paprika. I've only ever used paprika in small amounts. Recipes normally call for a "pinch" of it but this recipe calls for 1/3 cup! Here are all the other times I've used paprika, just a friendly fyi.
  • Bonus? I crisped up the potato skins leftover from peeling the potato. It was a really wonderful touch and super easy. 

  1. Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pot when the bacon is beginning to brown but not yet crisp. Approx 5–7 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
  2. Add onions to same pot and cook, stirring often, until golden and softened, 8–10 minutes. Then add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. 
  3. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. 
  4. Return bacon to pot and then add potatoes, chorizo, mushrooms, broth, paprika, and cayenne. Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down to just a simmer. 
  5. Let the stew simmer for about 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Soup is done when potatoes are tender.
  6. Divide stew among bowls and top with sour cream, dill, and a few grinds of pepper.
Shopping List
6 bacon slices, chopped
2 medium sweet onions, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2½ lb. russet potatoes, peeled, cut into ¾" pieces
2 lb. smoked Spanish chorizo, cut into rounds, halved into half-moons
1 lb. button mushrooms, cut into ½"-thick wedges
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup hot smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
2 cups torn dill

funfetti scones

It was my mom's birthday last week and that obviously necessitated a fresh batch of scones. As a family, we default to funfetti on a regular basis. It seemed only natural to make some funfetti scones.

Do you want to know the trick to funfetti? There is none. It's literally just sprinkles in whatever you were already making. A little disappointing right? But that does make it very accessible and easy for people to try. The only thing to take note of is that you don't want to stir too much after adding the sprinkles because it can sometimes make the color bleed. The point of funfetti is not to make tie dye cake, it's to see the funfetti.

I have two methods for making scones. Dairy free with coconut milk or frozen grated butter. I went with this vegan, dairy free scone version for a couple reasons. It is the fastest and the easiest. But, the frozen butter scones are absolutely the best. You can't beat the layers that result from the frozen butter and the folded dough. Next time, I'll try the funfetti scones that way.
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. 
  2. Combine coconut milk and coconut extract; drizzle over flour mixture and fold in just once or twice - then add in the sprinkles. Combine all ingredients until flour is incorporated and a shaggy dough forms. 
  3. Divide dough in half and turn out on a lightly floured board. Use lightly floured hands to pat each half into a 6-inch circle. Cut each circle into 6 wedges and gently pull apart. Use a spatula to gently (again) place scones on the baking sheet.
  4. Chill baking sheet in the freezer for 20 minutes while preheating oven to 425°F. 
  5. Brush scones with coconut milk and bake for 16 minutes. Cook until tops are set, edges are beginning to turn golden.
  6. Let scones cool / rest for about 5 minutes before drizzling with glaze. For the glaze, whisk together powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl. Drizzle glaze over scones and sprinkle with sugar. 

Shopping List (based on this original recipe)
Scones 
1/2 cup sugar 
1 tsp lime zest 
3 cups flour 
1 Tbsp baking powder 
1 tsp salt 
1 can full fat coconut milk (1 1/2 cups)
1/8 tsp pure coconut extract 
1/2 cup sprinkles


Glaze 

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted 
2 Tbsp full fat coconut milk 
decorating sugar

easiest chili recipe ever

1.17.2019

Chili is one of those magic foods that gets better the day after you cook it - which is why it was such a surprise that this super easy same day chili was super tasty. We had some people over for the football game last Sunday afternoon and I picked up the ingredients the very same morning. Additionally, this was by far the easiest chili recipe I've ever made although that wasn't even why I picked it from The Feed Feed, I just picked it cause it seemed "healthier" but still appropriate for teenage boys.

I feel like some of my better chili recipes have had multiple layers of ingredients happening. Maybe two types of ground meat or hot Italian sausage or pancetta or bacon... but certainly not only ground turkey. I'll absolutely keep this recipe in my back pocket for the next time.

Just like most things you could make this recipe in either a crock pot or on the stove. I went with a crock pot and snuck in a yoga class while this baby simmered away on my parents counter. A mere 3-4 hours later this chili was ready to be eaten.... and had taken absolutely zero effort from my day. Home run.

Note: if you are going for the crockpot method, transfer the ingredients after step 2 to the crockpot. Depending on how much time you have, the cook time could be 3-4 hrs on high or 8 hrs on low.
  1. Place oil in a large pot and place over medium high heat. Add in onion, garlic and red pepper and saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  2. Next add in ground turkey and break up the meat; cooking until no longer pink. 
  3. Next add in chili powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper and salt; stir for about 20 seconds.
  4. Next add in tomatoes, chicken broth, kidney beans and corn. 
  5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until chili thickens and flavors come together. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt as necessary. Garnish with anything you'd like.
∫Shopping List
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 pound lean ground turkey
3.5 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3/4 cups chicken broth (if slowcooker, otherwise 1 1/2 cups)
2 (15 oz) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can sweet corn, rinsed and drained

2019 intentions

1.12.2019

I think every person on the internet these days is telling us their resolutions.... and also that they don't believe in resolutions. For the record, I don't believe in resolutions either. They feel like things we want to do but never get around to - or they are incredibly prescriptive and set you up to fail.

With that said, of course I've done some goal setting. In the recent months I have done a better job at some of these areas but I'd like to be better. I considered the month of October to be "Walk-tober" and tried to do 100,000 steps a week. It was a really challenging goal at times but I liked having something to drive me.

Given that, here is what I'm thinking for 2019:

  • 12 Books
  • 12 different restaurants/coffee shops/farmers markets
  • Health goals (good sleep, great water)
  • Continue meditation practice
  • More letters/packages in the mail

So some are numbers based and some are not. I don't want to say 8 glasses of water a day because I'm just not going to be great at keeping track. But, I can keep it top of mind and try to drink more water. I'm already pretty vigilant about sleep but it's good to have that on the list. But here are some thoughts and rationale:

  • Books // We used to read a whole lot when we were kids - but these days I'm sucked into reading random articles on the internet - which is fine but also not. One of the best parts about reading books is passing them along to the next person. I'm also not ashamed of all 12 books being "fun". I don't need to learn anything new, I just need to read. That being said, it'd be great to try a book on mindfulness and maybe one on professional development.
  • Restaurants // I prefer to cook for myself, I like the challenge. I also like the affordability of it. When I'm looking for a coffee or last minute lunch, I find myself going back to the same spots all the time. This goal is an effort to push me to try new things. They don't have to be restaurants even, coffee shops count and so do farmers markets.
  • Health Goals // I have absolutely zero self control around salty items. This will probably never improve, it's just who I am but I can do other things like sleep better and drink more water. Seems like a good place to start.
  • Meditation // Right now I'm an intermittent 5 minute meditator. I feel pretty good about the time but wouldn't be upset if I increased to 10 minutes occasionally. I like the 5 minute threshold because it's like a nice brief reset button. My goal is to actually meditate indoors and not in a yoga class. I lose focus much more easily when I'm in my house.
  • Send Mail // It is so depressing to only get bills in the mail. The only way to fix that is to send more mail to other people and maybe you'll get something back in return. 

2018 Christmas Card = Summer living and loving

1.10.2019

Ah yes. Another year, another Christmas card.

I struggled with this initially. 2018 was a very different year. Yes, every year is different but when I look back on it... nearly every picture in my phone was of house construction. It was almost as though I didn't go outside at all - unless it was to look at my new shingles, windows, or monitor the grass seed.

But alas, after doing some digging I was able to find a bunch of pictures that actually represented the year. There are some house ones in there for sure but it is slightly more reflective of 2018. The year was a whole lot of bagels with my brother, sea glass walks, marsh sunsets ... and house renovation. The summer was very well featured because I was laid off at the beginning of Summer. I had the opportunity to take midweek trips to Martha's Vineyard and go blueberry picking with my neighbors. It'll be tough to return to a life when I have to do things during peak tourist windows. 

I'm not sure what the 2019 card will have on it - but here's hoping that it includes more of all the good things in life. 

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Patties & Parmesan Cauliflower Mash

1.06.2019

I took a health survey earlier this week that strongly recommended I eat more vegetables. I failed at that for several days until today. A trip to Trader Joes for some cauliflower and a nice new recipe that  I found on the internet. I used to get a lot of my inspiration from Food52 but the past few months I've been loving "The Feed Feed". This gem from was found in two great categories: easy weeknight and gluten free.

Overall this meal is incredibly easy to pull together - but even easier if you have an immersion blender and a penchant for not measuring things. I've been doing a lot of baking recently and have only really measured for the raspberry frangipane because pastry freaks me out.

A few notes:
  • Patty size // The recipe originally calls for 4 quarter pound patties but I like smaller patties. I ended up squeezing out 9 from this batch. Admittedly they were not super even in size but I really like the smaller serving.
  • Kid friendly // I don't have kids but if I did, they would be able to help prepare this. You literally put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix it, and then cook it in a skillet. 
  • Cauliflower // A vegetable puree is super easy to make. It looks intimidating but it really is just a two step process and made even easier with an immersion blender.
  • Speedy // This meal comes together very fast - but could be faster. It you want speed, start your cauliflower before the chicken patties. Then you can be boiling your cauliflower while you get the chicken going. Whole meal will take less than 25 minutes!
Here's how it goes.

MAKE THE CHICKEN PATTIES
  • In a medium bowl, mix together the ground chicken, sour cream, rosemary, kosher salt, cayenne powder, garlic paste, and lemon zest. 
  • Divide into patties. Patty size is determined by you - but mix will give you between 4-10 patties. Heat oil skillet over medium heat. Sear each patty for 5 - 8 minutes per side depending on size.
MAKE THE CAULIFLOWER
  • Add cauliflower to a large pot and cover with water. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until soft and tender.
  • Place cooked cauliflower into a food processor with butter and parmesan. Puree until creamy. 
Shopping List
FOR THE CHICKEN PATTIES:
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne powder
2 teaspoons garlic paste
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil

FOR THE CAULIFLOWER MASH:
1/2 cup head cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 6 cups)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan
Salt, to taste

Jeep Girl

1.03.2019


I wrote this post originally back in November... but it was stuck in my drafts for quite some time... and now it's out of my drafts... and that's a better place for it.

Today we said a final farewell to my old faithful Jeep Wrangler. This car has been the only car that I've ever owned since I was in high school. I remember the day that we bought the car. There are a lot of things that I am sure I forget but this car had some incredible memories in 19 years. I had this car for more than half my life. A person can do a whole lot of living in that time.

But the car has been such a part of my identity in a way. I loved how small it was. I knew every nook of that car. I knew how much space I had for parking, turns, packing, and more importantly ... before running out of gas which I never did once. I knew there was a tennis ball stuck in the corner of the truck for probably the last 8 years. I could have easily gotten it out, but never really got around to it until today.

In a weird way, I feel like saying "good bye" to the old Jeep is a way of me letting go of any baggage and (some) immaturity lingering. At times I can have an incredible case of "grownup" imposter syndrome, and maybe letting go of the car I drove with my first boyfriend will help that. In spite of being a home owner with a mortgage and graduate school debt, I sometimes just don't feel like I'm old enough for any of this. But in reality I really am. At least, the bank who gave me the mortgage believes I am.

In the spirit of saying farewell to the Jeep, I wrote down a bunch of lists of things that happened in that car. I miss it. There is absolutely no way that my modern Jeep Cherokee with electric seats will have nearly as many memories. It's just not possible.

Work // Here are all the jobs that I drove this car to.

  • lifeguarding in Hingham. On several occasions I had to call my dad to pick up the car because it would be raining and I would have forgotten to put up the soft top.
  • interning in Quincy between my junior and senior year of college
  • driving it around Mass during my years in public accounting.
  • driving it to NJ for that summer I lived there
  • back and forth to the airport when I worked for IBM
  • back and forth to the train station when I moved to the burbs
Incidents / Accidents // When reading this list, please keep in mind that it happened over the course of 19 years.

  • I hit the light post in the driveway. Square on. I did not clip it. I am still not sure how this happened.
  • I rear ended a woman in Hingham on my way to get my first bank account before college.
  • One time in college, I came out to the car completely crooked in a parking spot ... and a parking ticket. According to the campus police, a bunch of strong guys probably thought it would be fun to lift the car and move it. Not joking. I didn't pay the ticket obviously.
  • A woman rear ended me just before the 4th of July in Cohasset. She was an odd duck.
  • A pipe flew off a Clean Harbors truck on my way home for Thanksgiving one year and dented the front hood of the car. Could have killed me, but no biggie.
  • But the worst time was the day I graduated from College, I got into a small accident on the highway... and then ran over a family of ducks. Yes, a family.

"Boyfriends" that rode in the car... term used loosely in some occasions. Not that it's a competition, but not every person I dated has rode in my car. I've dated more than 4 people.

  • Chris // driving it to Kingston to see that boy that would never really kiss me. I remember parking it in his side yard next to his Jeeps. He was the first one to teach me about the "Jeep Wave"
  • Justin // driving it to Vermont for a romantic weekend. Picking him up from the airport countless times. He never picked me up from the airport once. 
  • Tom // I was pretty lazy when we dated. I think I made him do most of the driving ... but I'm pretty sure that I drove us to the movies once.
  • Per // Not a real boyfriend, but I did pick him up from the train for a suburbs date. Boys were always rather interested in the fact that I drove an old Jeep Wrangler. Per was one of them. 

Places it's been driven // I am by nature a homebody but that doesn't mean the car hasn't always stayed in the driveway.

  • Furthest South = Philadelphia to visit my boyfriend at the time when I was in NJ
  • Furthest West = Yankee Candle
  • Furthest North = Christmas Cove Maine or Vermont
  • Furthest East = Provincetown? I don't think it ever made it to the Vineyard

Times I remember calling AAA

  • When I got my first flat tire driving to have lunch with my mom. They couldn't figure out where I was so a nice highway worker and his friend changed it for me. Never told anyone that story before... but he said "I wouldn't want my own daughter out here by herself". I did ask them both for ID first. Nerd.
  • Dead batteries multiple times at BC. I habitually forgot to turn off the interior lights.
  • When I locked my keys in the car attending an MBA info session at MIT. After breaking into the car, I then found the keys in the bottom of my gym bag which was on my shoulder the entire time. For what it's worth, we found 4 spare keys in the console of the car while cleaning it today. 
  • Multiple times that summer in NJ for "hose issues". It was a very expensive 3 months. The upside is I did improve my negotiating skills with car mechanics.
  • But the scariest was when I broke down on a highway in Newark, the cars were going by so fast that the car was shaking on the side of the road. I managed to get off the highway (dumb move) and into a dunkin donuts parking lot. I've never been so freaked out for my safety than I was waiting for AAA at that Dunkin Donuts. My bf at the time was in Peru and I remember sending him blackberry messages panicking. 

Things that were broken and I never fixed

  • CD player // this stopped working after year two or so. Technically it still worked if you just wanted to listen to a cd in the exact order and not skip tracks. In hind sight, I think I left my Vertical Horizon cd in the player when I sold the car. It has been in there for 17 years. I'm not kidding.
  • gas gauge // for probably the last two years the gas gauge has not really been accurate. So I would always reset the odometer every time I got gas and refill before I drove 250 miles.
  • peeling paint // for some reason the paint would always peel on certain hinges and mirrors... and not others. I'm not sure why but after fixing it once, it felt like a never ending cycle.

Memorable Passengers

  • Taking my grandfather for a ride one father's day I think. He said he hadn't been in a Jeep since the war.
  • In high school, Taking my grandmother to Hingham for my prom dress fitting appointment. I just scanned a picture of this the other day.
  • While I was in grad school, I drove my friend Will and I to our eye doctor appointments in Belmont. Half way there a spider started to crawl down the front windshield, Will reached out and smack it... and shattered the windshield. He felt terrible. I could only laugh. The spider was dead and that's all that mattered.
  • Driving my sister and I back from Boston on countless occasions. She would be singing like an idiot in the passenger seat... and I'd record her. I still have these videos.
  • One million trips to Dunkin Donuts with my brother. I have no idea how many honestly, like 19 years worth. He grew up from a car seat in the back to the front passenger seat... and even to the driver seat.
Times I remember the odometer
  • 77,777 = August 2009 // driving back from Philly the summer I lived in NJ
  • 100,000 = December 2015 //  I moved home to the burbs from Boston
  • 121,499 = November 2018 // the day I sold the car

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