wwcitizen: (BIG SMILE)
I love to burp. I sometimes drink diet Pepsi really fast with deep gulps JUST so that I can make a goooood loooong burp. Thinking to myself yesterday at work, "Self, burps need more accolades and better treatment (outside of parties and home)." - even though they're essentially social pariah in most circles. I created a list of words, at least that express different essences and states of "The Burp"!

Burpage - noun; a person's presence of burp at a given moment, ex. "Your burpage tonight is quite exceptional."

Burpaphobia - noun; the fear of someone else's burp(s); aka "eructophobia".

Burpability - noun; someone's capability to burp, whether on command or with the assistance of a carbonated beverage

Anaburp - noun; the reverse burp

Burpwise - conj; a transition word and/or conjunctive adverb that initiates a burpage or burpability phrase; ex. "On a scale of high-medium-low, burpwise, I rate this meal high."

Burpacious - adj.; given to, inclined to, abounding in burpage or burpability

Burpation - noun; the state of burping; ex. "My burpation lately has been lasting longer than normal because, burpwise, I'm mixing carbonated drinks with acidic food without TUMS."

Burpness - noun; the essential quality of something (beverage, acidic meal, air, etc.) to cause burps; see also burpessence

Burply - adv; describing specifically an individual's phraseology that contains burps; ex. Finishing his last sip of diet ginger ale, Jack burply ordered another.

Burpate - adj; describing the burp state or quality of something; ex. "The burpate conversation suddenly took on a different tenet when air was no longer being burped."

Pteroburp - noun; a very rare burp stemming from the expeditious or overindulgent ingestation of fowl (turkey, chicken, squab, duck, etc.).

Burpessence - noun; the basic, real, and invariable nature of something causing burpation

Burpgate - noun; the constant denial during a social gathering of someone who is constantly burping, but no one can quite pin the burpage on them.

Burpalicious - adj; burpage or burpability that is exceptionally expressive or excessive; ex. "My, how that burpate Pepsi has made this evening burpalicious!"

Unburped - adj; the state of a burp not coming to the surface for full burpage.

Preburp - noun; the phase or period that an individual can sense that a burp is imminent

Please let me know if I've missed any! Thanks!!
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
My dad sent me a picture of a Sweet-N-Low package and I thought he was sending multiple warnings and "doom and gloom" statements, as he normally does; alas, when I first responded to his note, it was as though he was promoting falsified sensationlism. Glad to say that wasn't the case.

Since saccharin was commercialized in the late 1800s (that's 135 years ago -->
saccharin was first discovered in 1878), no one human has ever died from using saccharin. The lab rat/mice tests in the 70s that created the sensationalized cancer scare were from the development of rodent bladder cancer due, a reaction that only occurs in rodents and not in humans. So, in 2000, the warnings were removed.
However, Nutrasweet or Equal in the blue packets (aspartame) is most absolutely a neuro-toxin; it was originally discovered while scientists were inventing a new anti-ulcer drug and has been the subject of many scientific and nutritional studies. There are distinct warnings on the package because people with phenylketonuria (PKU) - it can kill you.  If such a small thing can definitely kill people, I choose not to ingest it as much as possible. Thing is, that crap is everywhere.
Now, Splenda (sucralose) has been around for at least 20 years, but hasn't gone through nearly as many ringers as saccharin or aspartame, yet.  Sucralose is basically bleached sugar; the process of making sucralose removes the nutritive values of sugar and leaves the sweetness.
Erythritol, Lactitol, Isomalt, Mannitol, Maltitol, Sorbitol, and Xylitol are all different non-nutritive sweeteners that have been used in no-sugar, diabetic sweets for years. Collectively, they've been used in products for diabetics for probably 30+ years.
Stevia was deemed only an herbal supplement for years because the non-nutritive sweetener industries lobbied against its promotion as a low-calorie sweetener. Thankfully, those lobbies have finally lost and it's on the market in better forms.
So, if you don't want to use saccharin, please just don't use aspartame. There are LOTS and LOTS of other, better choices. Read up, educate yourself, and don't believe hype.
wwcitizen: (Pumpkins)
Friends of ours and we went to the NY Renaissance Faire on Sunday in Tuxedo, NY. We'd all been there before, but it was a few years ago and never all together in a big group. This was really fun because there were six of us all with different interests - except for the food. We all enjoyed the meats and the mead as well as some beer.

One of my goals was to get some new Renaissance garb for my mediocre "collection". Clarification: I do not intend or want to become a Ren Faire aficionado... ever. I enjoy using the pieces for dress up at Halloween. In fact, the last bits I bought were for my costume in 2008 when Matthew and I went to Disney for Halloween.  So, that was my goal.

Problem with this year was that yesterday (Sunday) was the very last day of the festival. All the shopkeepers were tired and ready to be done with it all. They were clearly and verbally exhausted (a few of them actually told me directly how exhausted they were and to "help myself" in looking around and trying things on).  One of the shops I just left outright because, even though I'd spent a good 20 minutes looking through stuff and trying things on - clearly trying to buy something - the shopkeepers just couldn't be bothered. There were three of them and when I asked them a question, not only did they kind of look through me after I asked them something, but then one of them - finally - answered with this very quiet, timid voice that I had to lean in to hear because of some noise from outside.  VERY irritating.

In the end, I got some horns, a new doublet (being altered), some loungey pants, a mask, and LOTS and LOTS of great food - even a turkey leg!  I proceeded to wear my new horns to dinner at a diner on the way home. That afforded me lots of fun attention from the wait staff, adults, and kids alike. Some of the adults had kid-like expressions on their faces, even, after their double and triple takes.  Fun!
wwcitizen: (Lincoln Tunnel)
This morning at QuikCheck, the cashiers were trying to lure customers into visiting any QuikCheck at lunchtime for a free submarine sandwich. In order to get the free sub, you had to succumb to a hand stamp.

I had stopped there for veggie snacks on my way to work. It's a "quik stop" off the highway. I overheard the cashier explaining the "Sub Club stamping program" to a female customer ahead of me: Once the cashier stamps a customer's hand, the customer can go to ANY QuikCheck today to receive a free sub sandwich for lunch. The female customer didn't seem to be heading to work (wearing jeans and a polo shirt) and even seemed to consider getting stamped for a free sub later. But she declined.

However, that QuikCheck gets a LOT of business folks throughout the morning on their way to their office. How could QuikCheck possibly expect that these business folks (like me) would want a "Sub Club Stamp" on their hand when they're heading to work (I don't know if that was the title of the program, but it sounds funny...).

My excuse? As I glanced dramatically at my hand and tie, I replied in a short burst of overacting, "Oh, I coudn't possibly have a stamp on my hand like that at the office. **sigh** Thanks, but no thanks."  <-- Not that I would return to any QuikCheck for a free sub for lunch today.  I wouldn't have returned to any QuikCheck even if they had offered some other form of "program conformity", like a paper coupon because I eat my lunch at work.  But, I if I had given the real excuse, I couldn't have been so audibly and visually dramatic this morning. It was invigorating to give the pretense of being high maintenance.  B-)

Somehow the previous customer's lack of enthusiasm left a morning drama void that I had to fill.

The whole thing was strange this morning. Even the cashier was visibly bothered and annoyed at having to ask me to stamp my hand - she even knew I was going to say, "Oh, huh-uh."

I'd never heard of any store offering a hand stamp in the morning for something free at lunch. Stupid campaign.
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
About a year ago, Matthew bought us an 8-cup ZeroWater filtering system. We had tried multiple filters over the years, but never really stuck to them. The absolute worst experience we had with the filtering systems was the PUR faucet filter. We threw it out within 6 months, I think.  We had been drinking the water straight out of our faucet for years and even did from time to time after trying out different filters. I had a Brita filtering system for years, but it was just a PITA, so we got away from it.

Test Scenario
This last month, I set up a test scenario because I wanted to know how much water we drank daily using the filter. I was also wondering why we were all of a sudden going through filters hand over fist - like two filters a month! The "test" was that each time we filled up the basin to filter water into the 8-cup pitcher, we ticked off a mark on a little pad.  We discovered that we drink at least 40 cups of water a day! This is, of course, including coffee, water itself, tea, and drink mixes (e.g. 4C drink mixes with Splenda). We also use the filtered water for steaming veggies and fish as well as for boiling things - even eggs! Who needs extra metals sneaking into our food?

Filtration & Measurements
The filtration system removes all sorts of metals and are certified specifically to remove lead and chromium, but also can remove chloramine, flouride, uranium, and other inorganic compounds.  The pitcher and filters we ordered and received came with a
TDS meter that determines how many "Total Dissolved Solids" are in the water before and after filtration. Prior to the hurricane last fall, our tap water was measuring in at around 230 parts per million. Our tap water now measures 350 parts per million TDS, which is substantially worse for some unknown reason. It is possible that the NJ water contains more chloramine than our neighboring states, which will substantially reduce the efficacy of our filters more quickly.

As a point of reference, Manhattan's awesome tap water is approximately 5-10 parts per million! So, as long as the tap isn't coming through lead pipes, the Manhattan water is really good. Our water? Not so much. The reported average TDS in our area of NJ is 100 (which I think is very wrong). Matt's sister's water about 20 minutes north of us reads at around 249 ppm. Once filtered through a brand-new filter, though, the water TDS measures in at 0-1 ppm.

When the ZeroWater filters are full of filtered metals, water still comes through them. After about a week or so of regular filtration, we start testing the water. We throw the filters out once the TDS reading is around 20 ppm because the water starts smelling and tasting funky. If the water filter actually breaks (internally), the filters dump all the metals they filtered out into the pitcher that we're going to drink!!  Seems like bad design or a design flaw, but we're now aware of it. Our tap water smells like chlorine and bleach to begin with and when the filters break, we usually know it before we taste it. Yes. We've tasted the water after a filter has broken. IT.CANNOT.BE.SWALLOWED. It's so disgusting.

Cost Analysis
The ZeroWater filters are not cheap. In the store (e.g. Bed, Bath & Beyond or online), they can be about $15 apiece! We get them via Amazon's subscription service, which replenishes our stores every three months at about $8.50 per filter.  But, frankly, part of our test was determining whether filtering our water using ZeroWater was less expensive than just buying bottled water. A couple of weeks ago, we had to buy bottled water (in gallons) because we ran out of filters before the subscription kicked us out a new supply.

We even tested the water straight out of the gallon jugs for the fun of it. Spring water from Maine measured in at about 25 ppm and spring water from Pennsylvania measured in at 50-65 ppm. And the amount of TDS differed from jug to jug on all accounts.  Poland Spring (from ME) tasted the best.

Bottled water here (natural spring water is what we chose) costs anywhere from $1.50-$1.75 per gallon.  For the equivalent consumption of 40+ cups a day, we're paying slightly more than half the cost of an equivalent supply of bottled water. We're actually saving money using the ZeroWater filters!!

Environmental Savings
We're also saving the environment from all those bottles.The problem I have always had with bottled water was the bottles or gallon jugs. They get thrown away. Even if there's a promise of recycling them,  the plastic is still around. The ZeroWater company provides a recycling program themselves. All you have to do is ship back the filters to the company's Texas facility. Then they send you coupons for your next purchase, which can be used at Bed, Bath and Beyond or on the ZeroWater online store.

Better Health
Matthew and I have determined that by drinking more filtered water, we are thinking more clearly and sleeping more soundly than ever before. Our skin is also reaping the benefits of drinking better water.  We have paired up drinking more ZeroWater at close to 0 ppm with drinking less Splenda-sweetened drinks and removing all Aspartame (you make your judgement) from our diet; i.e. no drinks or food sweetened with NutraSweet or sweeteners containing Aspartame. We find ourselves drinking water straight more often than not now and can tell that our health is improving, which is an added bonus!

The end of the story is, use filters for your water, especially if you drink bottled water. It will save the environment from plastics.  If you have to choose a filter, Matthew and I recommend ZeroWater due to the better taste of the resulting, cleaner water, and its probable good health effects.

Fullscreen capture 4222013 104031 AM2
wwcitizen: (S&M In Ptown)

The subject covers two aspects of Ptown: 1) Provincetown, MA, in the winter when tourists aren't around... and 2) Matthew acting in an episode of a TV show called Off Season.
It's exciting to be in Ptown in the winter! We had a big, blustery, SNOWY winter storm Sunday - all day. And we made the absolute best of the day. We got up late and played on our pads for a while. The snow outside piled up to about 10"!!  Eventually, I dug us out to the road. Not a big deal, since the snow was fresh and light. But I had a small, trunk-ready shovel, so I had to be careful not to throw out my back. :-)
On Saturday, we drove around and took pictures, but it was dreary and rainy. We had our postponed anniversary dinner at Ross's Grille, which was fantastic! To drink, we had a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé Chardonnay. For dinner, it was raw oysters first, then locally sourced, sauteed mussels & clams - delicious broths! Our entrees were the Cape Cod Seafood Stew.  The Off Season dictates what restaurants stay open throughout the season, and which ones close for a while after the tourist season and WHEN they close before the tourist season starts up again.  Ross's Grille closed the day after our meal and we were served the last mussels, clams, and stews that they had. We really lucked out!
Sunday night, our dinner was at the Bistro @ Crowne Pointe, which is less than a block up the hill and has GREAT views of the Pilgrims' Monument, the Town Hall, and other historic buildings. We had Cake Chardonnay with deviled eggs, Italian bread, steamed mussels, and New England clam chowder for apps. Then, of course, we HAD to have a New England steamed lobster. Really great dinner, too.
Both nights we took in the "leftover" Ptown nightlife, which was light but fun and totally cozy. Most bars have a warm, cozy and glowing fireplace. The fireplaces reminded me of places in Germany, Austria, and Prague.
All throughout the weekend and in the weeks leading up to today, Matthew & I have been running over his lines over and over again.  It's been really fun.
Monday, we relaxed and got Matthew ready for one of his scenes. The shoot started at 3pm, so I drove around Ptown on my own to take pictures of the town with the snow. It was a bit disappointing because the incessant high winds blew away most of the snow in the course of the day.
I think I got some really great shots that capture the winter Provincetown, which most of the people that come to Bear Week every summer never see or can imagine.  Matthew hadn't messaged or called that he was done, so I went to the Governor Bradford pub for a glass of Chardonnay.  I had never been in that bar before; it's quite old and charming in its own right but I think there's no A/C in the summer, which is always the first and major deterrent.
While sipping my wine at the bar, I had probably the funniest experience ever by myself in Ptown - EVER!!: 4 fishermen in from their boats at the corner of the bar trying to outdo each other with their impressions of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. It was so difficult not to even crack a smile in the hopes that they wouldn't stop on my account and that they might take on other characters with their (pretty decent) impressions.
I made my way to the location of the shoot taking place in a restaurant that was new to us, Sage. Matt did an excellent acting job; members of the crew were very impressed and came to me tell me they were. *happy dance*
So, this trip we went to places and areas of town that we'd never visited before. We went to the Shipwrecked Lounge, the Porchside Lounge, The Little Bar at A-House, the Governor Bradford bar, the Squealing Pig, Sage, the town's US Post Office, the very end of Commercial St, and areas of the Province Lands and National Parks that were new to us.
All in all it's been amazing trip and it does not feel like 6 days. Given our druthers, Matt and I would probably want to stay until Sunday but he has to get back and teach on Thursday evening. Can't wait to review and post some pictures of Ptown in the winter!

wwcitizen: (Biting Into Food)
Cheese is one of the worst things to have around for me when beginning a weight loss program. This fact came to mind this morning because next week starts our countdown to a summer-fit figure. Actually, it's really high time to halt all our (awesome and delicious) debauchery anyway.  Of course, around the holidays, everyone's going to have sweet and savory treats. Then there's the food: the dinners, the brunches, the parties with finger foods, the gifts of food plates and baskets. One of the staples during the holidays is cheese, which must go on holiday from my belly. 

Cheese and I have a special relationship. I absolutely love all of it. Actually, the stinkier a cheese is, the better it is for me. Plus, cheeses go well with wine! How many countless bottles of Zinfandel, Chianti, or Shiraz have passed these lips with delicious Morbier, Gorgonzola, or Stilton?

When Matthew and I put together a grocery list and we go shopping for dinner party preparations, he must think I'm insane when the (obviously) magnetized cheese displays just pull me in. Noteworthy is the fact that the word, "cheese" rarely, if ever, appears on our grocery lists. Anywhere. Matthew's reaction to my glazed over eyes is so sweet: "Yes, we forgot to include cheese, dear. My mistake." And then I go about my cheese hunt.

I want cheese on everything when I'm not on a diet.  However, I find that cheese and seafood don't really work well together. Perhaps as with a cold antipasti and with cubes of Provolone, Caciocavallo, Mozarella, or Parmesan, but not as a gooey, melted topping for a seafood dish. Gruyère might be possible, say with shrimp, but doesn't it all become too rich?  In the end, who cares??  It's just more cheese after all, right?  YAY!  Cheese!

Next week, I'll have to start steering clear of Manhattan cheese boutiques (e.g. Murray's Cheese) and the cheese counters in nearby grocery stores. I heard that one of specialty grocery stores we went to over the holidays about 20 minutes from here will become a Wegmans. When I heard that, my heart skipped a beat and my soul soared thinking, "Awesome cheese!" 

Wegman's was the grocery store that helped me return to America culturally when I moved to NJ from Austria over 15 years ago.  The store felt like a European home where I could get good breads, cold cuts, and, above all, excellent cheese.  Their cheese displays are the most mesmerizing and beautiful. Happily for now, there's Whole Foods down the hill from us, German and Italian markets around the corner from our place, and other local stores that carry a nice array of cheese.

I'm going to miss cheese next week, starting Jan. 2. *sniff*
wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

Matthew did a fantastic job again this year with the Christmas Eve Feast of the Seven Fishes.  It's an Italian, Catholic, Christmas Eve tradition. I'm not Catholic. I'm not Italian. But I LOVE this tradition!!  Matthew is holding to most of his mother's recipes and has added a couple of things (or tried out a couple of new things) for a bit of a flare to keep the interest in the affair going. There's nothing difficult about picking out fish - truly. We all love seafood.  But, to prepare them in such a way that there are different dishes with at least 7 different fishes, that's the ultimate challenge.

For example, we made an octopus salad with roasted potatoes and onions. Matthew slow-cooked the octopus overnight in red wine vinegar and white wine with spices, pulled off the suckers, and marinated the octopus meat for 2-3 days. Then I roasted the potatoes and pearl onions and mixed in the octopus, which warmed up the octopus and olive oil marinade. YUM!!

Then we made the standard (and VERY scrumptious) seafood salad with squid (calamari), shrimp, cuttlefish, scallops, and baby octopus. Matthew made a lemon/olive oil marinade for the mixture and they sat in the fridge for about 2 days. I chopped up red, yellow, and orange peppers, celery, two garlic cloves, and parsley and mixed it all together on Christmas Eve. DELICIOUS!! And so fresh.

Matthew worked extra hard on battering and sauteeing soft shell crabs. I never liked soft shell crabs that much until I met Matthew. Also, his prep is by far the tastiest I've ever had. I could not stop eating these this year - and we were able to glean about 10 for leftovers.  He also made stuffed calamari, which might fall off the list next year.  Also, he did the shrimp with lemon and basil and I learned how to chiffonade basil for the preparation!

That's 6 fishes so far (yes, arthropods (crustacea), mollusks, and cephalopods are included as fish since squid, octopus, mussels, and shrimp are all from the sea). Then, we got lobsters steamed and removed the meat from the shell for a "raw bar", which included mussels, lump crab meat, and snow crab claws. He also added a beurre blanc sauce and a minuet, of course, for dipping.  On Christmas day, Matthew's brother-in-law steamed clams (littlenecks). YUM!! 

As for actual fish, Matthew prepped smelts, which I always love. Smelts are similar to sardines. Matthew rolls them in a flour/salt & pepper covering mixture, I sprayed them with olive oil, and then we baked them.  Once they're out, they get tossed in a lemon/olive oil sauce to bring out the flavor of the fish. On Christmas Eve, Matthew grilled Chilean sea bass steaks, which he had carefully tied into round filet "mignons" of fish. Typically, there's a Baccala salad (salt cod), which is a smelly, disgusting, but ultimately tasty (albeit kinda dry) dish, but this year, the Baccala didn't happen - no one likes it that much and the prep is such a PITA, that it's just not worth making.

Matthew really wanted to make quenelles escoffier (Jacques Pépin) - a French fish preparation of one or two fishes blended into a mouse, poached, and baked with a white cream sauce. We made a haddock-based "test run" for ourselves about 6 days early, which turned out wonderful. THAT dish would have been an amazing addition to the array of fishes dishes, but the blend we made with turbot and cod for the Christmas Eve feast bombed for some reason - maybe because the fishes weren't as fresh as the haddock we had used earlier.  :-( 

Of course, he made broccoli rabe and green beans for veg, and with leftover stuffing from the stuffed calamari, he stuffed some PEI green shell mussels.  For dessert, everyone whipped out chocolates, store-bought cream puffs and sfogliatelles, but the biggest hit were Matthew's cookies, which he finished baking about 2 weeks before Christmas.  He made two kinds of biscottis, rainbow cookies, and pignoli nut cookies. Those are the basic standards and about all he could muster with all the other stuff going on throughout the holiday season.

Everyone truly enjoyed all the preparations and were fully amazed - again - at Matthew's cooking and gourmet cheffing of the Feast.  Enjoy the pictures!!

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)
I'm helping Matthew with Christmas Eve preparations. He gave me a plate of mussels to taste and some of them just fell open, exposing the little feet. Don't they look delicious?!And they are tasty. A little fishy, but you can really taste the salt water there.
wwcitizen: (NJ - Greetings)

So, it's day three of the aftermath of Sandy hitting NYC & NNJ (where we are). We are healthy and safe and that's the main thing really. It's hard to keep that in mind without electricity, TV, or internet, not to mention hot water.  But Matt and I have truly been making the absolute BEST of a bad situation. And even though we can't have a grill or natural gas in the condo, I am evermore astounded by and thankful for living in a high rise.  We have security, we have regular community updates, we have neighbors close by, and there are local businesses that are open and easy to get to.




Matt & I have also decided that once in a while, we'll eat solely by candlelight again. One, it's like romantical and stuff, and second, it'll -hopefully - keep this experience fresh in our minds. Of course hoping that something like this hurricane doesn't happen again to this degree in the near future, but also to remind us that we should totally unplug from time to time.

wwcitizen: (Uuuuuuh)

We came across this little ice cream shop called "Ü" (the pic might not upload from LJ Mobile - ugh).  We decided the drive-thrÜ dialog must go like this :
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: What would Ü like?
CÜstomer: ¿Que?
Ü Speaker: How can I help Ü?
CÜstomer: I would like some ice cream.
Ü Speaker: Ü pay tÜ dollars at the window.
CÜstomer pays...
Ü Cashier: Thank Ü! Hope Ü come back!
CÜstomer: ¿Que?

wwcitizen: (Open Wide-r)
Matt came home excitedly with some Vietnamese fresh water shrimp last week from one of our local Korean markets. They're kinda blue before you cook them. The first picture on the left is of them defrosting.  Then, Matt started cutting up the fixings for Pho (a delicious, hearty Vietnamese soup with noodles and/or rice, chicken, and greens like cilantro, mint, and basil, along with bean sprouts, picant red pepper, and lime - as you see on the platter).  While Matt was cooking, I ordered some white rice from the Chinese place down the road along with some sauteed green beans and sauteed bok choi.  YUM!  Oh, and see the half egg? That's a hard boiled Korean soy egg - scrumptuous!

When the Chinese delivery guy showed up, I opened the door and took the bags to sign the bill. He looked into the kitchen from the hallway, noticed the steamer in one of our woks, and asked, "What are you cooking?"

Me: "Pho" (pronounced "fah").
Delivery guy: "Wha?"
Me: "Pho"
Delivery guy: "Wha? You use Chinese bamboo steamer..." pointing into the kitchen at the stove.
Me: "Pho. Uh... shrimp. We're steaming shrimp."

I had to leave it at that.  He wasn't Vietnamese; he was Chinese. Not sure if they have something similar in authentic Chinese cuisine, but it's evidently, surely, not pronounced "fah". 

The Pho was fantastic, tasty, and absolutely filling; the shrimp do have a wonderfully sweet, delicious tamale that's better than the one found in a lobster. But, eating the shrimp was a PITA (pain in the ass).  The shells were papery and it's awful to have to dig through a sauced shell to the fat free meat and find the prized tamale. There's also just something a little unappetizing about sucking out a spread out head just behind the shrimp eyes. I know that crawdad head suckers are gonna get on me about that, but even those little critters are different than these shrimp.

Though they're very tasty and we're glad to have had the experience, large, unshelled saltwater shrimp are flavorful enough, easier to eat, and more forgiving,

wwcitizen: (Open Wide-r)
Just about every year, one of Matt's college friends hostesses a BBQ at her house.  And by "BBQ," I mean grilling meat outside (I have to specify this for my southern friends - BBQ there could mean pit-cooked, pulled pork (NC), or grilled/roasted beef (TX/OK).  Everyone who comes brings a dessert.

Matthew loves to do something unique, of course.  He got inspired by a semi-homemade Bomba-style cake dessert he found in a Pillsbury recipe book. That recipe called for whipped cream and liqueur (maybe Triple Sec?). He decided, instead, to make use the cake for the outside of an ice cream cake. We couldn't find any Swiss cake logs for the outside, so we chose Little Debbie cake rolls instead - chocolate ones (Swiss Cake Rolls - my favorite) and strawberry ones (my 2nd favorite). He filled it with Edy's chocolate ice cream, but the core was a pint of Hagen Daas Dulce de Leche.  YUM!!  We separated the layers of chocolate ice cream with crushed thin, dark chocolate cookies (like Oreos without the stuffing). Here are the pictures and it was DELICIOUS!! 
He also made little toffee brownies that are SOOO rich.  I was sick of them by the time we got to the BBQ because when Matt was cutting them up, he straightened the sides by trimming off the edges... which, you honestly couldn't just throw out. Right?  Those were dark chocolate brownies with a cream cheese/peanut butter center (like a nougat) with semi-sweet chocolate spread over top and sprinkled with crushed Heath Bars. Amazing. Simply divine. Enjoy and HAPPY MONDAY!!
wwcitizen: (Broadway)
A good friend of ours from Toronto, Pascal, sent me a note last week that he was going to be in town for a couple of days. We hadn't seen Pascal or his partner in a couple of years. It was a nice surprise. Thing is, the only day he was going to be available for us to meet up was Sunday - yesterday - Mother's Day. The planets aligned and we were able to meet up with him and have a very spontaneous, very exciting day in NYC. 

Pascal suggested we go see The Best Man.  We quick looked up tickets for the matinee performance of The Best Man on Broadway and bought three. We bought extremely well-placed seats at 1:45PM for a 3:00PM performance (HURRY!); Pascal had just checked into his room (GO NOW!) and raced out as we raced out of our place in NJ (DON'T BE LATE!). Due to really bad traffic getting into Manhattan, we decided last minute to take the ferry across - good decision! YAY!

We made it to the show in record time and missed only the first 3 minutes, which was just fine, given the distances we all had to go.  The Best Man stars two-time Tony winner James Earl Jones, Tony winner John Larroquette, Eric McCormack and five-time Tony winner Angela Lansbury, as well as Candice Bergen, Tony nominee Kerry Butler, Michael McKean and Tony winner Jefferson Mays.  We were 5 rows from all of them and they were right there! It was so great to see all of them - right there! 

We left the theater and took the subway to TriBeCa for dinner at Pepolino's, a Florentine Italian restaurant. Matthew and I had seen a show on NYC restaurants a while back and had wanted to go there for dinner sometime.  Pascal is a foodie, as are we, so we were excited to share the experience with him.  Pascal is also a professionally published photographer and has worked with friends on cookbooks, so he knows good food:
Our dinner started with warm and spicy tomato flan for the thick-crusted, Italian bread. We ordered a bottle of Vermentino (white) wine, which has a flowery bouquet and citrus overtones with a bright finish.
Fried artichokes and zucchinis
Fennel salad with orange sections, olives, and Parmesan
Deep fried soft shell crab with arugula/tomato salad
Goat cheese and pear home made raviolis
Spinach & ricotta gnocchi
King fish wrapped in pancetta (mine)
Braised Mediterranean sea bass
Coffee, panna cotta AND the BEST.RICOTTA.CHEESECAKE.EVER!!!
The waitress also treated us to a glass of Grappa at the very end.

We left there to take Pascal to the Stonewall Inn; he'd been by the place a few times, but never inside. It was completely dead inside, so we took off to Ty's - of course.  It was PACKED! We had a fun time and a couple of drinks.  At about 12:30AM, I told Matt we needed to catch a cab before the last ferry, which I had thought was at about 1AM; however, the last ferry was leaving - at 12:30AM - right as we checked the departure times.  Alas, we hopped in a cab, took Pascal back to his hotel, and left for NJ.

$75 and 45 minutes later, we were in our car to go home, only to stay up till 4AM because we were so wired from the awesome day! Here are some pictures from the day:

wwcitizen: (Open Wide-r)
Matt has a rule for us when we're away from our "safe eating environment" (which he broke TWICE tonight - NOT HELPFUL!): If he suggests something for us to eat while we're away from home and I counter with a lower calorie option, he has to take the lower caloric option, hands down.  I forget this rule from time to time - like tonight.

Tonight on the way up towards our car parked in the Village, we were talking about having Greek salads at Manatus, which is a good, healthy, low-calorie option. I countered with the option that each of us have one slice of pizza instead, since we don't have a slice of pizza but maybe once every 4-5 months - if even THAT frequently; plus, given our day's light food intake, we could afford it. The Manatus Greek salad with feta, anchovies, and dolmadakias happens to be most likely equal in caloric content to a slice of pizza.

He said, "No, let's go for the salad." 

I reminded him that the last time we went to Manatus late at night, we ended up ordering a 3-egg white omelet, too, and ate some toast with butter, which wasn't that low calorie.

We got to Manatus and I didn't even open the menu, thinking, "I'm just gonna get the salad and be done for the day." 

Matt said, "We could get the broiled scrod, which is really good, along with the salad..."  I agreed, but suggested that we split the scrod order along with the extra veggies - broccoli and steamed green beans - both low calorie and healthy choices. Matt said, "Nah, let's each get a filet - it'll be good."

The scrod came with soup or salad, but we both really wanted the Greek salad, so we both opted for soup: He got chicken soup with low rice and I got the tomato soup (which turned out to have some rice in it - UGH!).  The waiter unexpectedly brought out an AWESOME basket of bread - which we both love ... and ate.

Sooooo, in the end, Matt went against his own rule TWICE (first with the pizza option and second with the scrod-splitting option). Of course, I could have put my foot down. But, I love Greek salads. I love grilled or broiled fish.  I love bread. AND I love tomato soup.  Separately, these things aren't bad. In other combos these things aren't bad.

At the end of a long day at midnight, all these things together on one table with two wide-eyed men who love food?  Not such a good thing and pretty high in calories.  The one-slice pizza option, as it turns out, given our propensity to over-order, would have been the lowest calorie and possibly most satisfying choice of all.

So, back to Matt's rule.  Next time, I'm reminding him of the rule. Next time, I'm putting my foot down and not giving into temptation so quickly.  In fact, the ultimate best option for us would have been to come home and have veggies here with my honey mustard sauce. Next time.
wwcitizen: (Dancing Steve 2)
Last night Matthew and I headed into the city after getting my car fixed (by 7:00 PM).  A friend of ours is leaving for London in a couple of weeks to be there on business for about a month - or more.  I'm all kinds of jealous, but I've had my time with business travel (I do miss it sometimes, though!).

His partner held a going-away party last night at a new-ish place called Industry. Truly, they didn't spend all too much on decor in that place; the floor, for instance, kinda actually looks like the sidewalk outside or at least a factory floor that's been there for 100 years. Perhaps that's part of the decor or "interior design".  We don't find ourselves there often for a lot of reasons, but primarily because it's not our crowd of people.

But last night was really fun. There were about 50-60 of us all in the back area of the bar. We ran into people we haven't seen in a while, and I ran into one guy I hadn't seen for about 10 years when I lived in south Jersey close to Philly.  Turns out that guy's ex-partner, who I also knew, died about 2 years ago. His friends or family found the guy, Kevin, dead in his bed where he'd been for a couple of days. No one knows how he died, but it seemed to be from natural causes. Thing is, he had had a gastric bypass years before (back when they really went to town and chopped you up inside) - in fact those two broke up because Kevin had had the bypass without talking to his partner, Joe, about it. What's odd is, Kevin's favorite "holiday" was Halloween and his birthday happened to be Halloween, as well.  After Kevin was buried, they discovered pumpkins were growing from his grave site.  When Joe told me about that, I got all sorts of tingly and creepy and strange feelings.

Matthew and I had only had a salad for a late lunch around 2:30 in the afternoon. By the time we got to the party - around 8:30 - we were pretty hungry. I had two martinis and a diet coke at the bar and was pretty happy and warm for the rest of the evening - without another drink!  We went to Uncle Nick's for Greek, which is always good, but last night's dinner was probably the best we've had there: grilled sardines (the 6 on the plate were each about as big as a large Cuban cigar), whole grilled Branzino, sauteed dandelion, fried smelts (YUM!!), and a mixed appetizer platter that contained grilled octopus, keftedes (Greek meatballs), multiple spreads, olives, pita, and dolmadakia.  Uncle Nick's really knows how to do seafood - their octopus is some of the best you can get.  Awesome!!
I wanted to post some pictures, but it seems like the photo upload isn't working for some reason.  :-(  I'll try to reload and see if that works.
wwcitizen: (Cooking Lion)
Matthew watches this fabulous Korean religiously.  I can hear the videos when he's watching her - her voice is kind of high and she reminds me of shopping at one of our local H Marts.  Her name is Maanchi. She has both a website (with a store, of course) and a YouTube channel.  Sometimes when she cooks and explains what she's cooking (or has cooked), she wears a fascinator.

(I secretly wish sometimes that they made fascinators for men, but I don't think they'd catch on here.)    
wwcitizen: (Easter Bunny with Hat)
We've been having a wonderful weekend!!  The weekend started out on Friday with us getting our hair cuts.  We were about 2 weeks overdue for those.  Friday night, we visited our friends Tommy & Brian for Easter Egg coloring.  It was so much fun, and best to do with friends.
This is Brian with his most fabulous egg ever!  It's fun how some dying elements just happen and then if you take advantage of them - juuuuust right - you can make something amazing out of it! Brian cooks a mean Cornish hen and Tommy makes delicious guacamole! YUMMY!
That was the culmination!  Beautiful eggs, tons of colors, lots of creativity, and fun with friends. (Plus, I love Matt's face here: "That's enough pictures, Stephen!")

Yesterday, Matthew and I slept a long, long time. We didn't eat ANYTHING all day till dinner at Tony's di Napoli. There we met up with [info]squirreltot*, [info]texwriterbear, [info]super_sean for the first time ever along with another Texan friend, Shane. Unfortunately,[info]allsmilesbear didn't make it out, but [livejournal.com profile] mat_t did! [info]jimwnyc and [info]tinman11201* came out, too, and we met THEM for the first time in person, too!  It was a lot of fun, great food, and great company.

Dinner was arugula/pear salad, grilled shrimp, (libations - goes without saying), broccoli rabe, escarole and beans, veal salimbucca (thinly pounded veal cutlet with provolone and prosciutto) over spinach, chicken scarpiello with potatoes, peppers, and Italian sausage, and lobster raviolis with vodka penne. Don't forget the amazing Italian bread, and dessert: NY cheesecake, tiramisu, an ice cream cake (on the house), and cannolis.  Oh, and libations. Most everyone got appletinis.

Here are a few pictures from the evening (including some of the damage). More pictures from the dinner, you can find here.

Afterwards, as everyone else retired for the evening, Matthew and I dashed off to Ty's for a nightcap. We hadn't been out in the city since about February, so were pretty overdue.  There we were glad to run into our buddy, Chris. Such a sweetheart.

Today, we're heading up to the Ramsay, NJ, for Easter Dinner at about 3:00 with Matt's family; we're not hosting this year (don't get me started!).  I'm kind sleepy from all this weekend activity so far; might have to go take a nap before breakfast and lunch!

Someone brought Easter Bunny Ears to the bar. Of course, I had to take advantage of them!!



wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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