Oh hi there.

It's super hot in Boston. That's pretty much the update I've got for you.

We are in the middle of day 2 of 90+ degrees and according to Wikipedia... after 3 days of 90+ degrees you get to call it a heatwave. So here's hoping that happens right?

So here's a little secret about me. I'm really competitive about my electrical bill. Like each month I try to be lower than the last. So, the idea of installing my window AC unit about a month earlier than expected makes me cringe a little bit. Not because of the extra dolla bills it will take to run but because of the competition. Weird right?

Anyway. On Wednesday, I realized it was dumb that I hadn't installed it. But it is what it is. I figured I'd get home. Access the situation. Maybe install the ole baby in the window. 

I got home and it was hot. So I pulled that sucker out of the back of my closet and shoved it in the window. Taped that sucker in and turned it on. After two years in storage, I'm thankful to hear the familiar whir of the engine kick in. I'm less thankful that I lost the remote. I loved that remote.

But, in the name of sleep. I plugged that baby in and set it to the coldest setting. I figured I'd need some good sleep to erase the memories of accidentally wearing a grey dress on a 90 degree day. Spoiler alert. Grey will "show" how warm you are. I tried to mitigate this by riding a Hubway bike as opposed to riding the T ... and I can't honestly say it worked all that well. But alas...

You know what did work? Going to my favorite place in the North End, Monica's Mercato, and asking them to make me something refreshing and cool ... and giving them free reign. I walked out with a bottle of pinot grigio and an amazing tomato mozzarella salad. Both of which I enjoyed over an episode of "Franklin & Bash" in an extra large tank top pantless in my apartment.

Here's to a summer that is cooler than today.

Don't lie. This looks amazing.

then I did the big apple


A funny thing happened to me last night. 

It took like a bazillion years to get home on the train. Something about a cable being broken, a deer getting hit, and not being able to get a cab. It was nearly midnight when I crawled into my bed. Despite being exhausted from a killer weekend, I was a wee bit sad because since I was finally home and in bed ... the weekend was really over.
I spy a super sweet boat near Mystic, CT.

It was a really great weekend in NYC filled with old friends, new experiences, and great memories all around. I managed to get on a mid-day Friday train to Manhattan which permitted me to be in Central Park sipping an iced latte with a friend when I would normally be sipping a beer at Clery's after work. Pretty great right? Answer. Yespleaseandthankyou.

So, what did I do? I'll tell you.

Friday. Delivered some bacon jam to the Upper East Side, followed by a walk in Central Park. My friend is gorgeously pregnant. Apparently the little blessing growing inside her has also blessed her with an increased love of bacon... which naturally made her a perfect recipient of bacon jam. 

I also managed to fit in dinner and drinks with one of my oldest guy friends and his fiance (soon to be bride) in Tribeca. And thanks to my late night dining in Miami, I was totally prepared for a 9 pm reservation at Gigino Trattoria followed by rooftop Moscow Mules at the Conrad Hotel. Please take note, having now been to my first rooftop bar... I now want all bars to be roof-less.
all bars should have their roofs removed and be placed near large bodies of water.

Saturday. One of my favorite things to do when I worked in NYC was to get up early and walk through the greenmarket in Union Square ... so that's what I did ... except I walked a little further. I walked from my hotel, to Madison Square Park, to Union Square, to Washington Square ... and even a little jaunt over the Brooklyn Bridge (sssh, I took a little subway ride to the bridge). I've always wanted to walk over the bridge and it was totally worth it.
washington square.

bagpipers? sure okay with me. I like surprises.

so this is what brooklyn looks like.

le bridge.

After a 5 mile walk a girl deserves a good lunch and boy did I have it. My newly married friend (remember here?) took me on a tour of Greenwich Village area and lunch at Westville West. One of the best things about her is that she gives into what is fun... like ordering a hot dog and splitting it. I've always been a fan of hot dogs (twss), but that was one that I'll always remember. Oh, and for fun we swung by Magnolia Bakery for a sweet treat, walked the High Line, and went to a blow dry bar. (Dear Boston, please get one soon. I'll be a frequent customer.)
I wish you could have tasted how amazing that crispy polenta was...

I was not done having fun there either. I pull on my big girl shoes and went out for the night. Just as I finished telling Baby Sister that I could use a gin and tonic, I had one in my hand with a big ole slice of cucumber in it from Kingswood ... followed by a phenomenal meal at Whitehall that was just across the road. Not a bad way to celebrate a Saturday night in NYC. Who needs sleep right?
how many pairs of shoes can you see? answer = not all the shoes that I brought with me.

Sunday. I love living in the North End but there are no bagels here... there are plenty of bagels in New York thankfully. So I grabbed an everything bagel and giant ice coffee from The Corner Cafe while I sat in Madison Square Park and debriefed the weekend with my friend Meghan over the ole phone. We had a lot to talk about :)
Madison Square Park.


in the olden days ... or just last year... I used to work in that building on the left.

In an effort to squeeze in more fun before getting on an Acela back to Boston, I closed out my Sunday with a 2 hour walk around Chelsea and the Meatpacking District. I did accidentally walk through the projects and stumble into a police chase ... which was just a smidge more exciting than walking on the High Line ... but next time I'll skip the police chase.

oh, don't make that face. 

making the street art colorful.

To recover from all that excitement, I spent the next couple of hours soaking in some sun on the Hudson and eating a tasty burger and fries with my friends. When the people watching was too much to handle, we hoped in a cab and I was off to Penn Station.
not pictured: pregnant friend and amazing people watching. 

Maybe you understand why all I was able to accomplish on the way home was a few sections of the Sunday New York Times .... a few bazillion Instagrams.... and of course watched a romcom on the ole iPad. So tired. So very tired. 

this picture is blurry, but when my eyes are tired it looks crisp and clear. so there.

Since we all love when I bring bizness into my personal life, let's talk key takeaways. 
  • If someone suggests you take a last minute trip to NYC, you do it.
  • Never turn down bacon.
  • Ice coffee is better sitting in a park.
  • Sleep is overrated.
Oh, and schedule a buffer day if you plan on having too much fun. Your coworkers don't want to see how cranky you are to be at a desk and not on the High Line Park.

sugar loves her bread


I'm an independent woman. I live alone. I carry my own suitcase. I attempt to change my own lightbulbs.

But, I really like living in the North End. Those don't seem connected to you? Oh, but they are. When you go shopping in the North End at delis / butchers / markets / etc, men call you baby, sugar, bella, princess ... and it's amazing. It might be sound self-involved or something but I love this side of the North End. It's not about the names but more about the old-fashioned spirit of the whole thing. On your worst day, just pop into a local shop and buy some bacon and let them call you "Bella" as you tell them how many slices of pork  you plan on eating by yourself... I promise you'll feel amazing after.

But, let's be clear. I'd be totally pissed if someone called me "baby" on the street... outside of the North End.

One of my favorite quick meals to make for myself these days is focaccia with mozzarella and prosciutto ... and reduced balsamic vinaigrette. Oh, and I put it under the broiler for a minute so it gets all melty and crispy. It's super quick and affordable .... but focaccia is not super free. While super delicious, it is about $3.50 for a 6x6 inch square ... and that is hard to justify multiple times a week (especially with my yoga habit). So, this weekend I elected to give making my own focaccia a shot and it actually came together pretty well. And surprise! It's not hard. I mean would you expect anything more from me?

I had looked at a few different recipes for this one since they seem to vary greatly in rising time. One said 2 hours, one said overnight. And they had virtually the same ingredients. So, I obviously went with the 2 hour rise but in hindsight, I think the more patient you can be the better. Personally, I recommend getting a pedicure during the rising period. It's the perfect way to be patient and not constantly peek in on your baby dough ball.

(Step 1) Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Make a little well in the center and add the olive oil and water and mix on low speed until all the ingredients form a sticky ball. At this point you can switch to the dough hook and mix for several more minutes until the dough clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl.

(Step 2) Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Gently knead the dough a bit until it's no longer sticky and in that great ole dough ball shape. At this point, I was a little concerned that my dough was too "hard" or tough, but I put that thought aside because I really wanted to eat some carbs. 
hi there dough baby

(Step 3) Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with dish towel. Let rise for 2 hrs. I would recommend putting it in a warm place (i.e. on top of a warm oven, near a sunny window, without the dish towel in an off oven).

(Step 4) Mix up your herb oil while the dough is rising. You want the oil to get all mingly and delicious. Combine all of the herb oil ingredients into a bowl. This is a really flexible part of the recipe. I used a combination of fresh herbs that I got for A DOLLAR at the market and some dried herbs that I had. The next time I make this, I think I'll also add in a little grated parmesan. So let this all sit in your kitchen. As a warning, you'll probably walk over to it and stir it and smell it about every 5 minutes. 

(Step 5) Admire your dough that has doubled in size! Take out your high rimmed sheet pan and line it with parchment paper. Grease up the parchment with olive oil. Don't be a baby and use your hands.

(Step 6) Roll out and stretch your dough to match your pan size. I went with about 3/4 inch thick but do what you want. You can fold your dough in half to help ease the transfer to the sheet pan.
(Step 7) Remember that glorious herb oil we made? Now we use it. Gently poke your fingers into the dough to create dimpled effect. Obviously, don't punch the dough or try and poke deep - be gentle, dough is like a baby. These dimples will help your amazing herb oil stay on the dough while it's cooking. Cover the surface of the dough with the oil - it's okay to have extra.
don't lie. that looks amazing.

using my "trendy" blue nails to gently dimple the dough. blue nail polish = the benefits of not working at a traditional company

Now, at this point I started cooking but another recipe I looked at had a second rise here. If I could do this again, I'd probably let it rest again but I'm not sure I could do the overnight rest they specified. 

(Step 8) Bake in a 450 F oven for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes rotate the pan so that your focaccia cooks nice and evenly. My focaccia took about 25 minutes but you'll know its done by the light brown crust.

(Step 9) As soon as it is out of the oven remove it from the pan so it doesn't get any extra cooking time. I also sprinkled a little extra kosher salt on it now because sugar likes it salty.

That's it. Now you can also save $7 a week like me. Just kidding, I'll probably be back to buying focaccia from Monica's Mercato next week.

Note: The bread will obviously be great the day you make it. In a freezer bag, it'll probably still be good for 3-4 days but let's be honest... is it going to last that long? Feel free to sprinkle a little extra kosher salt on the bread before you eat it since it won't be able endure the freezer bag.

4.5 cups bread flour
1 teaspoons salt
2.5 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water, at room temperature
Extra olive oil, for greasing the pan

Herb Oil 
1 cups olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh herbs (any combination of basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, and sage) - OR - 1/3 cup dried herbs
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced

making ice cream


this looks like ice cream right?

Over Memorial Day weekend, I took upon the endeavor of making ice cream. 

After making my 78th fish dish in a row, I needed to challenge myself a bit… and feel a dose of summer. Plus, my Turntable kitchen box told me to and so I did it. What is “Turntable Kitchen”? It's essentially Birchbox for your kitchen. Still don't get it? You give them cash money and once a month they send you a secret special ingredient, some crazy cute and amazing recipes, and a vinyl of music you should listen to (maybe while you cook). I'm sure people other than hipsters have LP players but I don't because at this point I'd rather spend $100 on yoga or pinot grigio or bacon. 

Anyway. This past month they suggested the following... get ready.... buckwheat biscuits with chamomile strawberries ... and salted caramel ice cream. Oh, and fresh whip cream. 

Amazing right? Yes. The answer is yes. 

But since that would be 3 recipes in one post, I decided that’s too much. So today, we learn about how to make great ice cream at home and later you learn the others. 

When I first told people that I made homemade ice cream, they asked if I used a machine. I said no. They asked if I used rock salt. I said no. People are confused but seriously guys, this was so easy and so good. Its super creamy and just great. It’s obviously homemade but let’s be real. You aren’t Ben or Jerry and you don’t have a factory.

Instead, all you need is a mixer to whip the heavy creme. A spatula. And two bowls. Really, I promise. If I had kids or little ones to entertain I would most certainly be taking this on as a fun activity.

As a side note, I made this down in the burbs at my parents' house. During a trip to the grocery store to pick up my ingredients, I learned that kids these days are drinking vanilla extract to get drunk. I had no idea this was a trend and definitely felt like a grandma when I asked an employee why I had to get the vanilla extract at the customer service counter. Grandma = Me.

(Step 1) Whip the heavy cream until it gets stiff peaks. Refer to my general issue wondering when the peaks are stiff enough (twss). But essentially whip until you feel like they are good.

(Step 2) In a separate bowl, empty the can of condensed milk and give it a little whisk-a-rooski. This is where we mix in any toppings or flavorings you want. I elected to follow the recipe a bit and do salted caramel. The original recipe called for making your own caramel - which sounds crazy dangerous and like you need an additional insurance policy. So, add in whatever flavors you want and give it an whisk.
(Step 3) Fold your condensed milk mixture into the heavy cream until it looks well blended. Seriously, this is the last step before eating. It's weird but this already tastes like ice cream, melted ice cream, but still ice cream.

(Step 4) Transfer the mixture to a separate container and put in the freezer. Try to be patient for 6 hrs.

Ingredients (makes 1 quart)
2 cups of heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup of caramel sauce (ok, I obviously didn't measure. I'm guessing here. Use what you think is right.)
1 tsp of fine sea salt

weekend wrap-up



I'm tired and my apartment is so hot. It's not even hot outside but I've been baking shit for like a long time. Well, not really. But, when your oven is as old as mine it takes a super long time to get to 400 F. God help you if you want to get to 425.

I even opened all of my apartment windows, including the one that doesn't have a screen. Which is terrifying to me since I think this pretty much guarantees a bird will fly into my apartment. And while I'm not afraid of birds, I'm certainly afraid of them flying into me and landing on my stuff.

But, this was actually a great weekend. It was complete with spontaneous plans that revolved around going to yoga class... which is just how I like it. I even tried a ... SOY.... BLT. I know, scary right? But, when a girl needs her pork fix she takes it where she can get it. And this time it was at the Clover Food Truck.

While I'm most certainly behind on documenting my culinary "feats"... here is the instagram wrap-up of the weekend. Events that didn't make the visual summary? Drinks with coworkers after work on Friday, ladies' Saturday movie date, and the constant need to consume chocolate.

Walking to the market on a rainy Saturday morning. Boston's disappearing act. If only some of the tourists with unnecessary umbrellas would disappear.

Took the plunge and bought meat from a neighborhood butcher. I mean, my ground beef was literally ground in front of me. I choose to forget the squishy sound that it makes.

Sunday morning latte love with Baby Sister.

On my way back from yoga in the Back Bay I spotted this clan of baby ducks all huddled together. ADORBS. I couldn't even count how many there were. I put the total between 9 and 10. Well, 9 or 10. I don't think there is a half duck in there.

This is the Soy BLT from Clover Food Truck. I'm ashamed to say I liked it. It will never replace real Bacon in my heart and I'll never buy soy bacon... but folks. This is was good. What was also good was the guy's face when I said "What do you really mean by Soy BLT?"

I'm convinced my landlord is a hoarder. But at least he chose to get rid of this fabulous orange cozy chair. I can't imagine how it doesn't match his stacks of newspaper.

In the North End, you can have a parade walk by your apartment... including the marching band. You can also set off an insane amount of fireworks in a city park apparently. I didn't feel so bad about not walking down for the fireworks until I realized I was doing the same thing as my crazy elderly neighbor who yells at people about trash in the street ... from her 3rd floor window.

Goals for the week? Include taking advantage of my unlimited yoga pass, assessing if my black ink cartridge is really as empty as the printer claims it is, mailing a few thank you notes.... and going to NYC. Yep, that's for real.

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