Saturday, February 27, 2010
At our most recent knitting/crafting night, Jenny G. gave me this lovely belated birthday gift of some of my favorite things -- socks, nail polish, and chocolate. The last is from Mast Brothers, local chocolatiers I've been wanting to try.
Jenny's an expert at stylish packaging. Her fashion sensibility shows in the gifts selected and the card she made. I hardly want to disassemble this gift (but I will).
Not pictured: homemade banana bread from Melissa.
(photos by Mom)
Above, a kitchen in Nagaland.
Below, an outdoor fire pit for cooking.
Below, preparing leaf bowls for a festival meal.
Below, more views of food prep for the same festival.
(leaf bowl assembly-line and supplies)
Thursday, February 25, 2010
I used another pass from my 2010 NYC Yoga Passbook to attend a second small-group class in The Alexander Technique.
Pass 4: One "First Class" in the Alexander Technique, Hope Martin Studio, Union Square.
Instructor(s): Hope Martin
Thoughts: The studio was a lovely place, designed by Hope and an architect who is also a meditation teacher, if I understood correctly. Hope was a calming and thoughtful instructor. She went more in depth into the foundations and language of the technique than the other teachers I've worked with so far. She even stayed an extra 30 minutes to teach us about "Active Rest."
I'm starting to "get" pieces of Alexander Technique practice the more I attempt it. I wish I could afford to have private or small class sessions more regularly. It really makes me feel good when my head balances correctly or my spine comes into alignment, however briefly I can sustain it. I welcome the alien moments now.
Walking home, I entered a sort of mild-blizzard winter wonderland trance, prompting me to feel extra alive and poetic and powerfully impotent. I wish I could have captured it on film -- the swirling snow underscored by my audible breaths, the light and white and dark and silence, the distant siren and the feeling running up and down my spine.
Failing your being able to witness that, I wish you could taste the caramels I ate once I went inside my apartment. Jen and Max and Rich gave them to me as a gift at the Cookie Party and told me I didn't have to share them. I promptly hid them on a shelf and forgot about them. But they're still here, and they're still good. They tasted buttery and warm, homemade and important.
The photo above captures none of this.
Post-Workout Comestibles: Three caramels.
Our knitting circle added another Jenny (actually a Jen)* and a Kara, and both of them brought food! Kara's individual turkey meat pies were terrific, as was Jen's apple crumble tart.
I forgot to get a picture of our host Melissa's chocolate chip banana bread tonight. I hope you can forgive me.
Oh, knitting circle friends, I love you.
*we are now Jen/Jenny (Jennette)/Jenny (Jennifer)/Jenni, Melissa, and Kara. It is strange and lovely to have so many Jennies. 'Twas a popular name in the late 70s and early 80s, wasn't it folks?!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Problems with the Mint 3 Musketeers Bar
- too skinny
- chocolate flavor not dark enough
- mint doesn't meld well with original "3 Musketeers" taste profile
- two mini bars instead of one whole bar seems like a design intended to cheat me out of some candy bar action.
- Regular, "classic" 3 Musketeers Bar (though I still say Mars ruined it when they started advertising it as a "lower fat" candy bar. Some say the formula is the same. I say it looks lighter and tastes less like chocolate.)
- York Peppermint Pattie
P.S. Read Wikipedia's explanation if you are outside the US/Canada, where apparently 3 Musketeers are called "Milky Way" bars and the US Milky Way bars are called "Mars Bars!" Also, did you know 3 Musketeers bars were originally 3 flavors packaged as one?
This teeny-tiny (pictured on a 3" square Post-It) peanut butter and jelly bite-sized cupcake is from a place I haven't found yet. That is, I've never been to "Baked By Melissa," the shop that sold the baby cupcake pictured above, which was then shared with me by a kind coworker who happened to be in possession of a sampler box.
So, it tasted a little eggy, but a cupcake with peanut butter on top and jelly filling is a great idea. I liked the flavors together, though there wasn't much cupcake to this bite. In fact, I got so little "cupcake" and so much filling/topping, that I couldn't tell what flavor the cake was supposed to be. Vanilla? It should have been banana.
Baked by Melissa has been in SoHo for some time, but now it's in Union Square, too.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Marshmallow snacks with jelly in the middle are good. My favorite flavor is grape, but Hello Kitty strawberry chocolate is also quite nice. Thanks, Paul!
Monday, February 22, 2010
A package of Yodels = 3 Yodels.
1 1/2 Yodels got eaten immediately before breakfast.
Breakfast was some sort of organic Rice Krispies.
1 1/2 Yodels were eaten immediately after breakfast.
So, in a sense, I had a meal sandwiched by companion snacks.
p.s. I go through phases -- sometimes I think that Swiss Cake Rolls are better than Yodels. Other times I think Yodels kick Swiss Cake Rolls' li'l chocolate butts. I have never prefered Ho Hos. What do you think?
Sunday, February 21, 2010
I did not anticipate finding any fault with the infamous "dirt and worms" dessert that Brock and August made tonight.
However, I discovered that although I enjoy the components on their own (pudding, whipped cream, Oreos, gummy worms), they don't actually work well together. It's a cute idea, and cuter still with a sprig of "grass" (a clipping of chive) as garnish [nice one, guys], but the Oreo dirt, made muddy with a cold chocolate pudding, chills the worm and makes it extra tough and chewy. Additionally, the flavor of the gummy (or, at the very least, the red worm I found at the bottom of my plastic cup) seems medicinal and unpleasant when paired with the chocolate.
I'd happily eat another cupful of dirt, but I'd like future worms served on the side, please.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
"Root beer was invented in Pennsylvania. In the 1800s it had alcohol in it, but the coal miners wanted a version without alcohol, so they took the alcohol out of it."
-- overheard this evening.
I got a little taste of "root alcohol" last night, and had the soft stuff this afternoon.
Nearly everyone else slept in too late. Thank goodness for my leftover bus snacks. Thin, crisp chocolate mint cookies held me over until the others finally started wandering in from their beds.
Philadelphia is but a hop, skip, and a jump from New York City. It's a deafeningly easy day trip to make by bus (with tickets as low as $8!). Yet yesterday was my first real trip to Center City (outside of a couple of dips into the neighborhood around the train station on the way to visit my parents in the 'burbs).
If you'd told me about Reading Terminal Market you might have gotten me to the city sooner. It's a cavernous, warehouse-sized space full of vendors selling food (ready-to eat and ready-to-cook), books, candies, and sundries. It's similar to Zern's, also in Pennsylvania, but there is a much greater emphasis on food at the Terminal Market, which is more like a giant food court with a few other shops sprinkled in.
Dan and I were a little enchanted by a crowded seating area near the entrance, where an older lady sat behind an upright piano and played live music for the people shopping, talking, and eating. It just so happened that we were also near, and stumbled upon, Miller's Twist, a booth of Amish-capped women (and one man) hand-rolling, cooking, and serving fresh pretzels and pretzel-wrapped sausages.
As you can see from the video above, my pretzel-wrapped turkey cheddar sausage was not particularly photogenic, but, man, I tell you. It was filling, hot, and delicious. Even better, the just-made soft pretzel Dan ordered to go with my sausage (and his Philly Cheesesteak-wrapped-in-pretzel) was the perfect combination of soft, tender, chewy and bready, with an out-of-this-world, buttery flavor.
The lemonade was a bit sweeter than I normally like it, but at this point, who cares? I'm all about the pretzels. They sure beat the soft pretzels I ate at Towne East mall in Wichita, KS when I visited Grandma K. as a child (sorry, Grandma).
For goodness' sake. I'm still thinking about them. Amazing.
Grandma, I wish you could have been there.
My Birthday Bus Snacks, 2010
Haribo Happy Cola
Japanese snack mix (wasabi flavor)
Anna's Chocolate Mint Cookies**
**I did not eat these yet. Report coming soon.
I followed a chocolate brownie cake recipe I found online.
The blogger warned me that the cake might cave in as it cooled.
The recipe also said that, because I was supposed to fill the top of the cake with honey-roasted peanuts (I made them, too) and caramel sauce, this caving-in of the brownie cake wouldn't matter.
Never has something that looked so much like a hot tub tasted sooooo good.
Paul offered me a Korean medicine cake. In fact, it was the one pictured above.
Dense and chewy, but not quite to the degree that marzipan is, this guy smelled "fried," tasted sweet, and was somehow both almost-flaky and nearly-greasy on the outside. Yumz!
The rest of the story on these cookies, called yakgwa:
Thanks for both the cookie and the information, Paul!
- Now made with wheat flour and corn syrup.
- Back in the day they were made with rice flour and honey, therefore medicinal.
- Yak means "medicine" and Gwa means "cake" or "cookie".
- They were considered medicinal because of the (Korean and other nations') belief that honey is medicinal.
- They are a pressed cookie, similar in that way to spekulaas.
Friday, February 19, 2010
It's not that I didn't appreciate the leftover Valentine's Day candy that showed up at work last week. It's just that I no longer dabble in Necco Sweethearts.
I like the SweeTart candy hearts so much, I just can't do it. These may be more classic, but the Sweethearts' flavor doesn't measure up to the SweeTarts'.
Hand me a delicious cookie, and I'll call you a friend (especially, but not only, if you made it). Offer me the recipe, and I'll love you that much more.
This cookie had a charming oatmeal scent, and nutty flavor. My coworker Jane made it with brown sugar and currants and almond extract. If she does end up sharing the recipe and her tweaks to it, I will pass the information on to you.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Though I bend
You do not bend,
Tortilla you are
Stiffer than my hips.
[The newly certified Kara started a Sunday afternoon yoga class in the neighborhood. $10! It's so challenging and that is awesome. After the first class, I ate this.]
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Our knitting triangle has become a square with the addition of another Jenni. This one is a brainy blogger whom I quite respect.
Jenni hosted last week's knitting session (once again, we didn't get to the "watching Twin Peaks episodes" part, which happens about a third of the time) with style. She turned out to be the sort of get-together host I really appreciate. She even made a toasted sandwich for a latecomer who hadn't gotten a chance to eat dinner before arriving. Now that's classy.
I started the evening with a spicy ginger tea, then moved on to the World Peace Cookies. I recognized them as they came out of the oven, as the recipe is one I tried for this year's cookie party.
As a bonus treat, Jenni shared an Australian candy bar (also distributed in New Zealand) called Cherry Ripe. It was like a Mounds bar crossed with a Cherry Mash. Delightful!
I suddenly recalled a childhood staple I hadn't eaten in years -- the grilled peanut butter and honey sandwich. Oh, how I loved them.
So I made one after work on Friday, as a nod to "after school snacks" of yore.
It's just as good as I remembered, even with more "grown up" whole wheat bread and raw honey. I want another and another and another...
Last year's creamy oatmeal toppings (and the recipe) are discussed here.
This morning, I had my oatmeal with flax seed, organic brown sugar, pecans, dried cranberries, butter, whipping cream, and a little too much salt. Go light on the salt, kids!
Monday, February 1, 2010
I'm just saying "Rob's Really Good Lemonade" is more "good" than "really."
[Edited to add: It's good enough that you might disagree and add that "really" right back in. I wanted it to be more tart, but I speak for no one but myself.]
Maybe it's the alliteration, but I was really in the mood for almonds after my Alexander Technique group class. Here comes another one of my NYC Yoga Passbook experience posts:
Pass 3: Two classes in the Alexander Technique (1 attended so far) through ACAT (The American Center for the Alexander Technique), Union Square. The first class is a group introductory class, free with or without the pass. The second class allowed through the passbook offer will be a one-on-one session with a certified teacher. Rebecca from ACAT says, "let folks know to bring their coupon to the group demonstration. We are prepared to assign private lesson teachers at the event."
Instructor(s): Lisa Lutton, with hands-on assistance from Jane Tomkiewicz and Elizabeth Reid.
Thoughts: Even without the passbook, you can attend this class for free on the first Monday of each month. But that didn't make it seem like less of a value to me, when all was said and done. I appreciate that the passbook informed me about the session, which I otherwise wouldn't have known about.
I entered ACAT's space on 14th Street with a slight timidity, but eventually found myself feeling there hung a certain golden glow over the evening. The room warmed up, and so did I. Lisa Lutton (who also teaches in private practice on the upper west side) had a special air of calm authority about her, without seeming at all authoritarian. Need I say her posture was lovely? After Elizabeth welcomed us and introduced her, Lisa gave us an introduction to a few ideas behind the intentional, thoughtful movement that the Technique seeks and why it is efficient and desirable. We watched her demonstrate with her own body, and then with volunteers, the physical possibilities when one thinks "forward" and "up" while sitting, rising, standing, and even running.
Our small class (only six non-teachers/non-trainees were in attendance) then broke into 3 groups of two, each with a teacher, to practice a bit more focused upright and table work. I still feel like The Alexander Technique approaches "magical" when one first experiences it, due to how infinitesimal and almost "accidental" adjustments seem (though, of course, they're no accidents), but I am also convinced of its utility. I was in Lisa's small group, and she offered both verbal and kinesthetic/physical feedback while working with us. Something clicked for me on the table as she spoke about "undoing" and "doing less" with our bodies. I could feel progress when I occasionally managed to harness the "thinking without trying" she described. Who knew I needed to think about making my ribs go "mushy" to release inhibiting tension?
At the end of even such limited one-on-one work, and after a surprising but not at all upsetting tear rolled down my face (isn't it interesting how an emotional response can sneak up on one during new forms of physical movement?), I felt more stretched and buoyant for a few minutes, before sinking back into my poor posture and bad physical habits. I tried to think and un-do and allow my body to do less all the way home on the subway, and it felt good even though I have barely scratched the surface of "right."
I know it would take work to progress and retrain my body, but the effects of Alexander felt very real to me after this class. I'm interested in doing more work in the Technique, and will be looking into the "volunteer student" program ACAT offers to support its teacher trainees.
Post-Workout Comestibles: A handful of almonds felt right.
Total passbook classes/Goal: 4/40