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Never Forget

September 11, 2013

It’s 12 years later, and I now call New York my home. I’ve been here for almost 4 years, but 12 years ago, I had no concept of the city. I’d never been. The tall buildings, the vibrant communities. They meant nothing to me, because I didn’t know.

But now I live here.

I take full advantage of the life that fills these streets. The energy that is New York — the people, the places, the adventures to be had — is the biggest show of recovery. America, and especially New York’s “concrete Jungle” are proof that we are a nation, we are a community, and we shall overcome as a united nation, people working together toward peace and happiness. Every year on this day — and honestly, every single day in between — is a reminder to live life, because we are lucky enough to be here, and to have a life to live.

Today I not only remember and pay tribute to the victims of September 11, 2001, but I celebrate the great strides New York City, and the United States of America have made ever since. We are a work in progress, but it is our calling to keep on keeping on.

[THIS POST ALSO APPEARED ON MY OTHER BLOG, BIGAPPLEBITE.COM]

Aubergine Dreams: An Ode to Eggplant

July 11, 2013

Before Mark Bittman penned his praise for eggplant via the New York Times, I became acquainted with the fantastic fruit.

Sometime after I lost interest in microwaving spaghetti squash, I picked up a beautiful Italian eggplant at Whole Foods. Like my foray into egg poaching, I was intimidated by this purple-skinned ingredient.

Nerves were lifted when I pulled my first attempt at baked eggplant out of the oven. Lightly sprayed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt and other fresh herbs, I had successful made juicy, tender eggplant steaks. And I ate all of them. In one sitting, without regret.

Fast-forward a year later, as I live happily with my boyfriend, a confirmed carnivore. Eggplant is our unity fruit — the one ingredient we can agree upon as the star of a meat-free meal. Whether it’s his stewed eggplant and tomatoes, or my eggplant with cherry tomatoes, lentils, and spinach, together we enjoy it, and Mark Bittman was right, it does make me happy, as I do eat it everyday.

Sliced, lightly battered and fried with a honey drizzle on-top, or char-grilled and topped with a dollop of skordalia, I can’t think of an eggplant dish I would want to pass up. Most recently, my boyfriend grilled up eggplant steaks that I proceeded to eat for one week straight, often topped with a slice of ovaline mozzarella and a poached egg, I’ve spent some time collecting a series of eggplant recipes I cannot wait to try on my own:

  • Fried Eggplant with Molasses Recipe – Berenjena Frita con Miel de Cana: This recipe reminds me of a dish I tried at Tapas Adela in Baltimore (their dish was called Eggplant Fritas, and was served with a lavender honey). It’s like an eggplant donut, and makes this otherwise healthy ingredient just a wee bit sinful. Remember: no regrets.
  • Grilled Eggplant with Tomato and Feta: I love eggplant, but I especially love eggplant with tomatoes. The acidic sweetness of the tomato mixed with the hearty earthiness of the eggplant work so well together, and the fresh bite of feta adds a nice touch. I might add mint to this recipe for kicks.
  • Mediterranean Eggplant Salad: I love a good eggplant salad, and the prep is so fuss-free, that there’s no excuse not to try this one at home. Another added benefit? This recipe comes from Weight Watchers, so it’s inherently PointsPlus-friendly.
  • Black Bean and Red Pepper Burgers: Where does the eggplant come in? You see, that’s the genius behind this recipe. As a fan of any opportunity to ditch the bun, I was so pleased that this recipe replaces the simple carbohydrates of a bun, with the ever-loved eggplant.
  • Roasted Eggplant Bruschetta: Like I said, I like to ditch unnecessary carbs. And with eggplant acting as the base of this bruschetta, the flavors of the other fresh vegetables will be better blended, also allowing the textures to shine without competing with the toasted baguette.

The Perfect Poach

July 9, 2013
poached egg

Poached eggs were, until recently, a mystery to me. I was unsure of how to order them (over-easy, over-hard?), and was intimidated at the thought of preparing them. This was all true until last week.

Adam and I went to Costco and for some reason — cholesterol not on the mind — he purchased a huge container of fresh eggs.

I’m not really an egg person, but I do like a good poach every now and then, served over steamed spinach, cherry tomatoes, and feta. And while brunch is over-accessible in New York and neighboring parts, I decided to save money one afternoon by making my very own poached eggs.

I watched several tutorials — finding the Serious Eats one to be most helpful — and quickly poo-pooed the idea of vinegar, saran warp, a spoon-induced whir in the water. Nope. All you need is a pot or deep non-stick pan, a slotted spoon, water, and fresh eggs. Fresh eggs are perhaps the most important element, because the whites will form beautifully with fresh eggs.

The process turned out to be super easy, albeit suspenseful as I waited for the whites to cook fully over the yolk. As the poaches perched up to the surface, I knew they were ready, and waited with anticipation to cut into the oozy yolk.

I captured a Vine video of my perfect poach, and snapped this photo to share.

The Peter Horowitz Experience

April 20, 2013

Moving is stressful. There’s no way to avoid the stress, but choosing the right realtor is definitely a strong step in minimizing the it.

I stumbled upon Peter’s website one year ago. I was having issues with my current apartment, and honestly lusted after his listings. They seemed relatively flaw-free.

Throughout the year, I stayed focused on his blog and social, looking for apartments to get an understanding of what I could afford, and tallying the factors that were negotiable, must-haves, or all together unnecessary.

Nudging from my boyfriend convinced me that a May 1 move was a smart idea, and that it’d be less stressful.

It wasn’t.

Until I contacted Peter.

He was able to get an April 15 lease to push to May 1, and he set up a viewing within 24 hours of my phone call.

Hyper-reachable, and able to answer almost any question thrown his way, Peter truly took his time and did not rush us through the leasing process.

The best part about working with Peter has been that it is not a one-and-done experience. He keeps tabs on the tenants he works with, because their happiness is his reputation.

Visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and check out his images on Instagram.

The Next Chapter

April 10, 2013

Love does funny things to you. Sure, I’ve been in love in the past. And each time I thought I had it figured out, I was wrong. We broke up, and I moved on.

I’m in this position now where things keep changing, and I am perhaps the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

When I first moved to New York, I struggled. I’ve worked too hard for what I have to not brag that I’ve since earned four promotions in less than three years. I’ve had two apartments (one for one year, one for two), many friends — some good, and some bad with whom I’ve parted ways — and a whirlwind of experiences in between.

I leave this apartment behind next week, all in the name of love.

I never imagined that in less than 6 months after we first met in December, and had our first date at the MET, we’d be moving in together. But we are, and we picked up our keys today.

I’m not sure about a lot of things, and if history is any evidence, I’m wrong about almost everything, but I’m pretty certain in this case that things are different. His family is wonderful, his intentions are the best, and 97% of the time (save the 3% when he’s in former frat boy mode) I’m having the best of times.

He’s been my right-hand for a series of firsts: first time at the MET, first time in several states (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California), first time trying sole (and I liked it, kind of), first time in a Manhattan ER my own injury (I hurt my neck on the drive back from MA).

This post wasn’t supposed to be about love, but instead about moving. And maybe it still is, because I love New York, and moving within one of its boroughs  When I moved here, what I knew of apartment living came mostly from sit-coms like Friends, Mad About You, Seinfeld, Sex and the City, Will & Grace, etc. Unreasonably priced, unrealistically beautiful Manhattan apartments that were coveted.

The same is not entirely true for Queens. Some people have found places to covet, but others are drifters. From pre-war, to luxury low-rise, new things pop up that stir curiosity in long-time Astoria residents and newbies alike.

When I found this place, it seemed perfect. I was moving in with a friend and it seemed much more stable than where I had lived when I first moved. We’ve had our ups and downs here, but it hasn’t been half-bad.

I always thought my next move would mark the beginning of the chapter of me. A studio or a one bedroom of my own. But, fate changed, and I’m really excited for the next chapter, and a new corner of Astoria to explore and call home with the man that I love.

iThink: Web-based Television

February 21, 2013

My relationship with TV is a deep-rooted one. I remember being in the first grade — back when I shared a room with my older sister Anne — and my parents gifted us with a tiny — maybe 15-inches — television sans cable. It was a big deal, even without the ability to tune into Nick at Nite

As I grew older, I developed my taste in programming — mostly British or other such things beyond my years. I watched Seinfeld and Friends at ages where I couldn’t possibly comprehend the concepts of being on a break, or being master of one’s domain

In college, TV was the only thing I made time for on weeknights besides studying, friends, and jaunts to IM West. I had upgraded the device itself from a tiny tube-style unit to one of the flatscreen variety. 

Before I knew it, shows like Gilmore Girls and the Sopranos were over, and there was a lull in my screening schedule. 

I’m far from an early adopter of online video. I’m much more comfortable embracing text-based tools and platforms, as well as tools that embrace static visuals. That said, I love a good cute animal video, or other giggle-inducing viral varieties, and I turn to YouTube for all sorts of random things — from Jacques Pepin’s perfect omelet tutorial to a guide to making toum (garlic whip sauce). 

Using YouTube — or any site for that matter — for anything beyond easy amusement or questionably ethical streaming felt weird, but a friend of mine had suggested a video series featuring Michael Cera and Clark Duke that I had to check out. 

Clark and Michael was my first foray into programming produced specifically for the Internet, and while I can’t say that I went chasing after other similar series as a result of watching — and loving — Clark and Michael, I will say that it opened my eyes to the possibilities that exist in that respective space. 

In fact, when I realized that CBS produced and owned Clark and Michael, I figured it was only a matter of time before other media companies followed suit. 

Where I sit now, I spend most of my time on my computer, and only part of that is because of my job in social media. The truth is, my computer has actually replaced almost any desire I ever had to switch on my physical — for some reason I’m tempted to say hardcopy as if I’m referring to books — television. I say almost instead of totally with respect to the desire to turn on the TV because I still thrive off of the ego-bloating satisfaction of watching a show that’s currently in-season on its premiere date, to contribute to the ratings, etc. 

And in that sense, the way I interact with the TV and my programs of choice is still quite different. Instead of calling my mother to talk about what trickery Julian Fellowes has cooked up on Downton Abbey, I turn to Twitter or GetGlue to see what the buzz is in cyberspace. 

With YouTube now cultivating its own content across various channels, and Netflix producing its own series with stars like Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, my faith in web-based TV grows significantly stronger. I’m especially partial to Netflix for its revival of Arrested Development. I find it interesting that these platforms have turned into providers of proprietary content, whereas the networks have used video streaming to support their existing, more traditional shows. 

What do you think about the future of television? We talk so heavily about printed media — books, magazines, etc. — but we seem to leave the performed media alone. We shouldn’t. What’s your opinion? 

Atlantic City

January 23, 2013

I may be a business woman — saying this phrase always makes me think of Bette Midler in the movie Big Business – but in my spare time, I enjoy a good mental detox. Sometimes, that means things like watching installments of Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise, and other times that means taking in more refined cultural activities like cooking, reading, or crafting. A few weekends ago, my boyfriend suggested we get away for a night to Atlantic City, and for the sake of finding out what it was all about, I agreed. After all, there had to be culture in Jersey, right?

I’m not really one for gambling. My cousin Alan had a casino theme for his bar mitzvah, and within an hour I was borrowing money from the house. Years later, I visited a casino in Detroit with my sister and her boyfriend. I lost what — at the time — was big money to me, all on the penny slots.

And so, the idea of going to Atlantic City — a place popularized by stereotypical tacky Jersey culture and that one episode of Sex and the City – didn’t seem so smart.

We stayed at Harrah’s on a Saturday night, and there must be something in the water in Atlantic City — or perhaps it’s the free drinks offered on floor for gamblers — but I actually really loved Atlantic City. I love all things leopard, almost always wear leggings, and don’t mind drinking a strawberry daiquiri at noon on a Sunday. I fit right in.

Sure, I lost $60, but the environment was exciting, and I knew my limit. My boyfriend had better luck, and spent his time playing Craps and Blackjack.

Between the tables, The Pool – a place that would only be hip and acceptable in a destination like Atlantic City –  and some delicious meals and libations in between, Atlantic City was a unique experience that I wouldn’t mind having again.

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