Reunited with fresh air


A year ago I visited Norris River Reservation by myself one Fall afternoon. It was pretty great. I told myself that I'd be back soon. Heck, it was really close by and not streneuous ... at .... all. 

Then, I moved to the North End. And when I came home to my parents' house I refused to leave the neighborhood. Why walk in the woods when I could walk by the ocean? 

Saucy Successful Calzone

Yesterday my baby brother turned 14. Yikes right?

It's hard to believe that the little nugget is now closer to being able to drive than color inside (and outside the lines). In the tradition of birthday dinners, Baby Brother got to pick what he wanted to dine on. There was some back and forth but he ended up asking for calzone. He probably thought that meant we'd be ordering takeout ... but I wanted to give it a go. Plus, this fits within the trend of me attempting to make something that I love to buy (meatballs, english muffins, foccacia).

Since we are a family of 5, I gathered that meant I'd be crafting two calzones. The great part about calzone it is essentially just a blank canvas for whatever you feel like. You want veggies? Go for it. You craving some meats? Load it up. 

my handmade Abe


You know when you are in a new relationship and all you want to do is just talk about the new person in your life?

You are looking for ways to just slip their name casually into discussions. Or, your friends catch you smiling at your phone in the middle of a windowless conference room. There is nothing good about that room, but you were just scrolling through pictures in your phone and there was  Blah Blah in all his glory.

Or, you end up out of town for a few days ... and all you can think about is how Blah Blah is faring without you. He can't possibly be existing. But it's fine because you'll be home soon and you and Blah Blah will have plenty of quiet time to enjoy each others company.

Well folks, I'd like to introduce you to Abe. My Christmas tree and I love him. He's a tree and he likes sprite and aspirin. Yes, that's for real.

Corn Griddle Cakes ... with honey butter.


A few weeks ago, I started to research how to make my own English muffins. I figured that anything that I love as much as those suckers, I should at least attempt to make once. So, I picked up some cornmeal and... since then it's just been sitting in my cabinet. Bummer.

But, this past weekend I had a small Christmas party at my apartment and someone who knows me all to well ... gave me bacon as a hostess gift. SERIOUSLY. So, when I woke up on Sunday morning all I could think about was that bacon, a giant endless mug of coffee, and <insert carb with butter>.

(delayed) status update


I'm currently sitting at the airport in .... Ohio / Kentucky.

My flight is currently two hours delayed and all I want to do right now is be looking at some Christmas cheer in NYC. Instead, the seat that I found near an electrical outlet is conveniently located near the moving walkway ... which announces about every 15 seconds "caution the moving walkway is ending". It's killing me slowly.

I haven't written in about a week so I figured I'd use this opportunity to do a little update. I'm feeling a little negative nelly right now and will use this as an opportunity to remind myself of why I'm one lucky duck.

Sometimes all that it takes to make me happy is some good tv and a big ole bath tub. Even if it is in Ohio.

5:40 AM flights are terrible. Nobody should have to put on tights at that hour of the day, it's inhuman.... thankfully, you can score a great sunrise.

I did a little math ... and I've made approximately 208 peanut butter cookies since mid-October. 

Post annual sisterly Christmas party breakfast .... and the corn griddle cakes are a new recipe. Oh, and that bacon.... it was a hostess gift. My friends know me too well.

Just your average mid-week dinner of Kraft Mac and Cheese .... by the glow of my Christmas tree. Man, do I love that baby.

Sibling photo from the Christmas party this past weekend. Yes, we are matching. That's how we roll.

So I'm going to continue to work on being positive while I wait for my flight to change from "delayed" to "boarding". I will get to NYC tonight, I just won't get there when I wanted to. That's okay. What isn't okay is that my tights are slowly sinking further and further down my legs ... like they do on toddlers. 

You win some, you lose some.

PB Molasses Heath Chip (Amazing) Cookies


It's swapping season ... internet style.

I signed up for this food blogger cookie swap back in mid-October .... and now nearly two months later.... I can finally write up the recipe I lovingly crafted for it. The premise of the swap is that you have to make something that is original to your blog ... but not necessarily original to you. I wanted to push myself a little bit so I made something that is new to me as well.

Let's be clear... I didn't exactly break the mental bank on this one. But, I do think these tasty delights are original and pretty great. I have eaten them for breakfast several times and that's really what counts.

So, let me introduce you to ... Peanut Butter Molasses Heath Chip Cookies.

chorizo and lentil soup


Earlier in the year I made a sweet potato and sausage soup. I made it because I thought it would fulfill my love of meat and carbs in a liquid based dish. Spoiler alert. It didn't. It was so mediocre that I couldn't even be compelled to write about it. 

I'm still taking credit for it on my 52 in 52 challenge. I make the rules. 

Then at some point last week I was like "WAIT A MINUTE. SAUSAGE AND LENTILS. SAUSAGE AND LENTILS". I mean maybe there weren't capitals in my head but you get the point.

stuff to say


Tonight I had planned to write about bacon jam or how I'm decorating for Christmas. But instead, I ate roasted brussel sprouts and left a long voicemail for my friend Ria. I leave terrible voicemails that are all sorts of rambly and not focused. (Kind of like this blog post?) I call with one thing to say, then I get distracted and next thing I know I've hung up the phone and it's been a minute and a half. Whoopsies. 

I'm still doing some thinking about things that might turn into posts but in the meantime it seemed worthwhile to capture some of the recent activities.

Mexican Turkey Soup


The best part about Thanksgiving is that you almost already know what you are getting before the day  even starts. The turkey is the family recipe, mashed potatoes are how the family likes them, and the same goes for the consistency of the squash and whether or not there is a green bean casserole.

Maybe you come from a family that likes variety .... but I think that's probably a lie. 

bomb-tastic bagels


I've got a few blog posts in the works. There has been a fair amount of cooking in the works that I'm trying to document ... but I'm behind schedule. Pretend to be shocked. I'm in the process of writing up some crockpot chicken recipes ... BACON JAM ... and maybe some roasted brussel sprouts.

But, since it's Thanksgiving I had the opportunity to knock two things off my list that I love to do:
(1) make a family breakfast
(2) make a recipe that I've had on my list for months

I come from a carb loving family. We love muffins, bagels, toast ... but especially bagels. On Sunday mornings, my Dad comes home with a pile of bagels and multiple times of cream cheese and perhaps a pound of bacon. He is known around the block for what he calls his "Minot McMuffin" sandwiches ... which is a fried egg, bacon and cheese on a bagel.

So let me introduce you to bagel bombs. More specifically .... everything bagel bombs stuffed with bacon cream cheese.

Welp, I'm addicted.


I have a problem. It's called nutella.

Snack foods don't stand a chance in my house. I try to not buy cheez-its because they have a shelf life of two days. I can normally get a bag of pretzels to last a week. But a bag of tostitos? three days... especially if they are the lime ones. I routinely shift the bag around so I can see all the chips and determine which ones have the most amount of lime flavor on them. I don't even care that you can "see" the flavor.

Cinnamon Book Bread ... from 2011


If you've ever read this blog before, you know that sometimes it takes me a long time to write things down. I mean to do it but then I get distracted with wine, the ocean, and maybe avoiding doing dishes.

But, this particular recipe has been listed as "coming soon" since July 4th .... 2011. That's 16 months.

So, I'm not going to mess around here. I'm going to tell you the facts about this bread:
  • it did not last long once it was fresh out of the oven
  • the stacking of the dough is not as orderly as it looks in the pictures
  • I would make this again in a heartbeat ... although it's clearly been 16 months and I haven't
Something about this bread says it's perfect for a family breakfast ... and given that we are fast approaching Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't have much experience in Hanukkah or Kwanzaa but perhaps it would be good for that as well.

Let's get started ... it's been 16 months.

gluten free blueberry loaf

I'm not really into food fads .. unless of course it's bacon or sourdough bread. The idea of cutting something out of my diet completely is a bit terrifying to me. I'm not very good at self restraint unless there is a light at the end of the tunnel. That's why I'm pretty good at giving things up for lent. In the past I've given up celebrity  gossip, caffeine, and most recently bacon.

So this idea of going gluten free is confusing to me. I'm not even really sure what gluten is.

I ended up attempting this gluten free blueberry loaf because I was grabbing drinks with a friend who lives in a gluten free house. Her hubs has a gluten allergy and well, it just seems mean to make something for her that he can't eat and needs to stay in the car. 

Spanish Chicken Stew

I tend to source my recipes from the interwebs ... which is a sin considering how many cookbooks I have on my apartment shelves. Yes, plural.

I love looking at cookbooks but rarely crack a page open to when looking for inspiration. I fall in love with the pictures ... but then tend to forget that they exist.

I have found that I get the most amount of use out of cookbooks that follow a "theme" and by theme I mean ... my slow cooking cookbook. While it may not seem like a lot, I have now made a handful of dishes from this one book. thus far I can check off: chicken tagine, garlic chicken, seared tuna steak, and now Spanish Chicken Stew.

Hidden Boston Gems


I'm not totally clear why it was over 60 degrees in November today ... but it was.

I took excellent advantage of the day ... and my proximity to the harbor. 

I started off with a breakfast sammy from a new place ... called My Cousin's Place. I consumed said sammy whilst sitting on a bench overlooking the harbor. The sammy was made on a real english muffin ... not a generic one. And, it was a sandwich sized version ... which made the bacon egg and cheese just delightful.
Then I returned to my apartment to do some emailing, file organizing, and calendar invite accepting. Busy day.

Spinach and Lentil Soup


I'm always willing to try something new.

And, it's soup season bitches. So, let's all get on this carby liquid diet. Let's be real. I'll never be on a diet.

I first saw this soup on Feed Me Phoebe's blog soon after I got back from the pig roast in Vermont. Phoebe was part of the pig crew. You can see her in the YouTube video... and on a reality tv show called Chef Race.

fall in the park


Today I woke up a little bit hungover. I guess that's what happens when you are 29.

I vividly remember consuming many more drinks during grad school and before that ... with minimal repercussions  Now? I require 2 hours of Hulu / Netflix followed by a Theo's breakfast sandwich. Not either, but both. 

I ate my breakfast sandwich at my favorite spot on the Harborwalk in the North End. Thanks to Sandy, I had to sit on a bench since all the Adirondack chairs have been removed. Boo to that. 

Hibernation Penne alla Vodka


I'm really great at hibernating.

Hibernating means sweatpants, giant pots of coffee, and eating all day long. With Hurricane Sandy visiting us for a few days this week, I was given the opportunity to practice my hibernation skills.

Since we knew about this weather event for nearly a week before it showed up, I got to watch people panicking as they bought cases of water, cans of beans, and endless amounts of batteries. I accidentally went to Whole Foods on Sunday and let me tell you ... in a hurricane people need their hummus and designer yogurt. Concerns for a power outage did not seem to make it to the Whole Foods patrons.

When Hurricane Irene visited in 2011, I prepared by buying pancetta and collecting all of my Friends DVDs. We subsequently lost power for nearly a week. It was terrible. This time around I shockingly didn't prepare much differently. Here is what I considered my supplies:
  • prosciutto
  • nutella
  • rice cakes
  • coffee
Also, I had 3 types of cheese obviously. Mozzarella, feta, and parmesan. In an emergency, I obviously need cheese.

I survive by eating. I love to cook. So this is what I cooked and ate for two days:
  • Spinach and Lentil Soup
  • emergency Peanut Butter Molasses cookies
  • French Toast
  • grilled cheese with a side of macaroni and cheese
  • Penne alla vodka
  • Chocolate Fudge Brownies
oh and wine. We had wine.

In between answering work emails and playing with powerpoint, we watched many hours of DVDs. Having been a business major in college, Baby Sister had to "translate" while we watched Persuasion, a British Romantic Drama. 

But, here is how you make a quick Penne alla vodka.

(Step 1) In your dutch oven or big pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add prosciutto. Cook until crisp, which will be about 4-5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

(Step 2) Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, stirring to combine, and sauté for 2 more minutes.

(Step 3) Stir the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, sugar, and salt into the onion mixure. Stir in the vodka and increase heat back to medium-high. Briskly simmer for 8 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the alcohol flavor has cooked off.
(Step 4) Reduce heat to low and whisk in heavy cream. I opted for milk instead of cream, because I didn't have cream ... and given the menu for the previous 3 days could use a "healthier" option. You can do what you want.

(Step 5) At this point, I was really excited to eat ... since it had obviously been 2 hours since my last meal. But, I  wanted the sauce to be more "liquid" and less "chunky"... so I just whipped out my immersion blender and got it to a consistency that matched my expectations.

The recipe that I followed was for about 4 people, which meant .... LEFTOVERS! So, I just whipped out one of my friendly mason jars and threw the rest of the sauce in the fridge for another rainy day. One point for me.

(Step 6) Toss the cooked pasta (yep, do this while you make the sauce) in the sauce and add in the crispy prosciutto you made earlier. Serve with grated or shaved parmesan.

Shopping List
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup vodka
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used milk)
Parmesan cheese, for serving

just a little update


flashbacks to summer.... and neon tanks.

It feels like it's been awhile since I actually wrote something.

Something of value and meaning.

I have a lot of thoughts spinning in my head and heart but no real direction for writing them down. Maybe that'll come to me this weekend.

Until then, feel free to noodle on these things:

  • Two weeks ago, I saw this guy on the street that I went on three dates with. My first reaction was quite literally to turn and run. The only problem is that he was just across the street ... and may have seen me. Additionally, it did not help that Baby Sister kept calling my name since I didn't exactly explain myself before I ran away. Also, there was zero reason to run. When Baby Sister asked me why I was running, I said ... in a crouched position on the sidewalk ... that I didn't want him to ask me out again. She responded that there was minimal risk. She was right. I haven't heard from him. Shocking.
  • I belong to this great gym that has amazing lotion from Kiehls. I joined this gym in July which should be known as "can't apply lotion season". If you apply Kiehls lotion during warm weather, you will be slick like a baby seal if you move even the slightest bit. At one point, I applied lotion to one leg and not the other just to test this theory. Well, since it's October I figured it might be lotion season finally. And, well it seemed like it was. I worked out on Thursday night, showered at the gym, lathered up. Win. But, when I ran today during lunch .... I unknowingly made my legs so slick that I almost knocked myself unconscious. The Ab Plank exercise was seriously hazardous. Not quite lotion season.
  • Tonight, I made Cauliflower soup for dinner... on a Friday night. By myself. Cauliflower soup requires shaved parmesan... at least in my book. I had to run out to my favorite market in order to get the parmesan to shave it. While I was there I ran into this guy I went out with three times. I liked to call him Proper Ben. When I reported this incident back to my friend Asti, she asked how it was on the awkward/fine scale. Unsurprisingly .... Proper Ben was proper and friendly and nice and cute. Then I remembered that he kissed like half baby snake chicken. Go ahead and figure that out.

And yesterday, I saw this pattern on a DIY website and honestly felt like I could make the dress. Let it be known that in my life I've made two items of clothing:

  • madras drawstring pants ... that were so large and terrible I could have landed my own E! / TLC / Lifetime Fashion Nightmare segment
  • a blue floral backless halter. I don't even need to describe that.

Happy Friday.

That's be to the baby jesus that it's the weekend.

Roasting in Vermont


I'm a fan of doing things myself. It might not always be less expensive, but it's always a learning experience. Last year at Pheasant Fest in Vermont, two nice portly gentllemen showed up and slow roasted a pig. While they did that, I picked some apples, drank a few beers, and in general... wore stripes.

This year, the hosts of the Fest said... "Roasting is dumb. Let's just bury that sucker."

I think what actually happened was someone saw this NYTimes article about a pig "roast" and the rest was history. These are the same siblings that elected to have a clam bake one Labor Day having never done this before.

I could wax on about all the steps of the pig roast but I'll let you read the article for the nitty gritty, since honestly we didn't do anything significantly different. But, the project did lead me to do a few things that I might never have done. Here are two good examples:

Example 1: Show up at my favorite local spice place and give them a list of ingredients for the rub. 
Guy: "How much do you want?" 
Me: "I'm honestly not sure. How about you just give me enough?"
Guy: "What's enough?"
Me: "Enough is when you think I have enough of it."
Truth be told... I had been talking to this guy for a few weeks about the roast and he knew what I was up to ... that being said, neither of us had any idea how much cinnamon I needed to rub down a 100 pound pig.

Example 2: Include the NY Times link in my email vacation memo

The basics of the roast are as follows:

Step 1. Get your friend's parents to permit a big ole hole to be dug in the ground. The hole is pretty much a pit and is big enough that you really need a tractor to do it ... and you are also pumped that it was done before you got there. Oh, and in the pit make a bed of field stones. CHECK.

Step 2. Get like a whole lot of wood and make a giant bonfire in the pit. This will take 6 hours. How much wood? Approximately 5+ tractor loads. During this process, you will need to avoid the spiders that inevitably love to live in wood piles. 
Step 3. Procure a pig from someone. I have no idea where the pig came from. It did come in a giant bucket ... and it did come clean as a whistle.

Step 4. Put the pig on the parents' kitchen island.... this is the same place where you'll put the bowl of Snickers two days later... or the breakfast sandwiches the next morning.

Step 4b. Remove the pig from the counter when you realize you need to put it on a bed of banana leaves ... that is on a bed of burlap.

Step 5. Rub the pig down with a healthy mix of olive oil and rub ingredients. Given my affinity for bacon, you'd think I was right in there... I opted to take pictures and video. Be sure to flip that little piggy over and get the other side as well. For good measure, put an apple in his mouth. It'd be weird if you didn't.
Wrap that sucker in the banana leaves, then the burlap, then the chicken wire. THEN, you'll want to use some even bigger gauge wire to hold the whole thing together. Just pretend they are like the little plastic twisty ties you get on bread at the grocery store. It all makes sense.

Oh, and you stuff the pig with an amazing assortment of fresh fruit. Your grocery cart will look a bit like you are hosting a summer luau ... but in actuality you are stuffing a pig. I wish I had kept track of how much exactly it took to fill a 100 pound piggy... but the best scale of measurement would just be to get a catering style tray like the one I used and just cut up fruit until you've filled it.

My rough estimate is: 4 pineapples, 5 mangos, 6 apples, 6 red onions, 2 giant heads of garlic, and 5 limes. Also, my iphone got all sorts of sticky because I had to google "how to cut up a pineapple". After I was done with that, I googled "how to cut up a mango". Needless to say, now I'm a professional.

Step 6. Back out at the fire pit... you need to move the coals and rocks around a bit to make a hole / bed for the piggy. Essentially. You need to toss that sucker in there and cover it with all the coals and rocks. That is how its going to cook. That 1000 degree rock is really fahking hot too... so it may seem obvious but be careful.
After you've covered the pig with coals, then cover the pit with a wet piece of canvas. Then cover it all in dirt. 

Step 7. Put on your patience pants.... because you now need to wait 20 hours.

During this span of time, as a group you'll probably do two things. One is to totally forget that the pig even exists and is buried in the backyard. Two is to think about what you'll do when you unbury it and it isn't cooked a lick. 

Step 8. After you've all played a competitive game of capture the keg (use your imagination here), the whole group should head to the pit area and just start digging. I personally thought it would take an hour to dig up the pig and get started on dinner. Spoiler alert? It took 5 minutes. I'm not even kidding. Maybe 10 minutes.

Step 9. After pulling the chicken wire sack from the ground, it was hoisted over to a picnic table near the barn. Upon opening up the layers of chicken wire and burlap, it was pretty much just a giant pile of pulled pork.
The pig went in the ground at about 9pm on Friday and was pulled at about 6pm on Saturday. So 22 hours later.... a pile of pork.... that tasted amazing.

Step 10. Enjoy the feast .... for days.
I'm honestly a little embarrassed that I don't have a picture of the meal from that night. But it was great. The pork was accompanied by some great side dishes that include mac and cheese for sure. And, then we proceeded to eat pork at every meal for the next 2 days.

I most certainly still had the pork sweats at work on Tuesday.

This is what breakfast looked like the next day ... yep, there were some talented chefs at Fest this year. Including this hilarious girl named Phoebe who made this breakfast. Not pictured here? Some sort of lime crema sauce that I pretty much put all over this plate.

And, that's pretty much how you do a pig roast.

Here's a video of how it all went down.

100+ pound pig
25+ hilarious people
1 tractor
lots of wood
several shovels (one will for sure break)

pig stuffing
4 pineapples
5 mangos
6 apples
6 red onions
2 giant heads of garlic
5 limes
additional garlic to rub on the skin of the pig

pig rub
kosher salt
brown sugar
all spice
cracked black peppercorn
I don't have the specifics on the ratios for the rub. But you need about 1.5 quarts for a 100 lb pig ... and heavy on the salt and sugar... the rest of it is just gravy. You really can't screw this up. Seriously.

Resting in Vermont


The weather is getting a bit cooler in Boston and that pretty much means fleece is acceptable for so many more activities. I can now wear it to work, on my couch, on errands, and even to bed. What? I like my bedroom chilly. Time for some snuggs.

Fleece was also a million times appropriate during my recent trip to Vermont. So was wearing blaze orange paraphernalia ... all wins in my book.

Like any good long weekend, this was the perfect balance of planning and winging it. And plenty of driving. Lots of driving.

I spent much of the 4 days in Vermont doing one of the following activities:
- sitting on the porch staring at the trees
- sitting on the porch drinking coffee
- sitting on the porch drinking hot cider
- sitting on a bale of hay in the barn
- eating pork
- eating more pork
- wearing wool socks and fleece
- listening to the rain

oh, and when I wasn't doing any of those things... I stood in the front yard and stared at the stars. And, they were amazing. I fahking love looking at the stars. 

Here are some snaps...


Trips to Vermont consist of being very active for short periods of time followed by excessive amounts of "recovery" time in front of a fire or wood stove. It does not matter who I am with, the cycle is the same. This trip was no different - except the activities were limited to a highly competitive game of capture the flag (except with kegs) and a short hike to a pretty little lake.

I also got a fair amount of time with my little lover Dixie. We both share a fondness for bacon, the outdoors, and skipping showers in favor of running around Vermont. As a testament to my love for her, I even gave her some of my bacon while we got cozy on the porch one morning.

Oh, and on my way to the Pig Roast... I swung by and visited a friend / neighbor / coworker at her parent's dairy farm in Pownal. When Asti told me to "save my cardigans for Middlebury", I laughed ... but the minute I got out of the car I was lovingly covered in mud by 4 friendly golden labs. In addition to the 4 labs, the family also has two cats (Jamal and Copenhagen), 3 horses, and 10 (?) cows.

Adorable right?

Answer = yes.

off to see the pig


I'm off to Vermont for this long weekend.

If you are looking for five keywords as to why this will be amazing, I'll give them to you:
pig roast
barn party

And that's pretty much just the start of it.

This is the second year that I'll be spending Columbus Day in Vermont... and it's in honor of pheasants and fun. Last year was the inaugural year of "Pheasant Phamily Phun Phest" ... otherwise known as P4. The occasion comes with blaze orange paraphernalia.... of which I have minimal so instead I'll be rocking stripes. A little part of me wishes I hadn't donated the Syracuse sweatshirt a boy gave me several years ago.... but not really. Stripes will do just fine.

I never did a summary post of the trip last year so here are a few pictures of what I'll be doing ... and what you'll wish you were doing.

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