Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seasonal Eats

I try to keep my grocery shopping and diet in line with seasonal, local ingredients whenever possible. Summer and autumn may seem like the most exciting seasons for fresh produce, but I personally love winter! Winter is harvest time for cruciferous and root vegetables that I absolutely love, like brussel sprouts, kale, and beets. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of delicious veggies are available at this time of year. Below is a recipe for a super simple, super yummy beet soup that will warm (and fill) you up on the coldest of days.

I came up with this yummy creation yesterday, while experimenting with some Japanese black garlic I had bought. Black garlic is fermented and delicious, with a mild roasted garlic flavor and the sweetness of molasses. It can make an amazing salad dressing or aioli, or in this case, add tangy, earthy notes to round out my soup.

Roasted & Spiced Beet Soup

1 medium (3.5") beet, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 red onion, quartered
1 bell pepper, red or yellow, sliced into 1" thick strips
2 cloves raw garlic, sliced thinly
2 cloves black garlic (optional- substitute w/ 1 tsp molasses)
cumin (I toasted and ground whole seeds, but powdered is OK if it is fresh)
chili powder
turmeric (optional - I added this for health benefits, not necessarily for flavor)
chili flakes (optional - I like a little spice in everything!)
olive oil

Place all of your vegetable, except garlic, on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil just enough to coat all vegetables evenly when mixed together, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until beets are caramelized (shown below). Check on them frequently, as the peppers and onions may burn around the edges. If you need to turn the oven heat down to 350 to prevent burning, do so; the roasting will simply take longer.

Remove veggies from oven and transfer to large pot on stove.
If you are using whole spices, toast and grind 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds with 1 tsp chili powder, pepper flakes, peppercorns, sea salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric. If using ground spices, mix all together in ramekin or other small dish for easy addition to the soup.
Add 1/2 of your spice mixture to the vegetables and toss with  a wooden spoon to coat evenly. Over low heat, saute the vegetables while adding the raw and black garlic.
Once the aroma of the garlic begins to bloom, add filtered water the top of the vegetables. Do not completely submerge - some tips and ends of the veggies should be poking out of the water.
Cover and let simmer over low medium heat until the beets are fork tender. Taste the broth after about 10 minutes and add the remaining spices, or additional salt/pepper, to taste.
Once everything is well incorporated and cooked through, remove from heat and prepare to blend.
I used a stick (submersible) blender, but the blending could also take place in a high-powered blender or food processor, though the soup will have to be left to cool first before blending.
Try to use a deep pot for the blending, or you will be painting your kitchen walls beet red!
Blend until it is a creamy, thick soup without lumps. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water, if some liquid evaporated in the cooking process.
Garnish with fresh parsley, sour cream, or horseradish cream (sour cream or yogurt with horseradish mixed in).
Bon apetit!

Let me know if you tried and enjoyed this recipe, or if you have any other seasonal recipes you'd like to share, in the comments or by emailing me at!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Let it Snow

With another fluff shower on the forecast for tomorrow, I thought I'd share some snaps of the fun we had this past week when snow dusted the city. As soon as those clouds open up, I'm a kid again. And my husband? Well, apparently they don't get much snow in England, because he was like a toddler on Christmas eve. Despite the anatomically correct snowmen he constructed, I'd say our first frolic in the snow was a success :)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Attempting Ayurveda

My recent  birthday has given me a bit of a new perspective. Sometimes I affectionately refer to it as a "quarter-life crisis"; turning 25 seems like a good mile marker to look back at the past years and learn to grow and adapt from them in the next 25. My health is one of the biggest aspects of my life that I want to continue to focus and learn more about, and I was wonderfully excited and honored (after months of waiting) to be chosen as the Brooklyn ambassador for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Foundation. I cannot wait to be a part of this organization and help to raise awareness and bring about change in my new home city, but more on that later.

The most interesting topic of health and wellness I'm exploring at the moment is the Ayurvedic diet. Basically, it is the principle of everything you ingest and do being a part of your overall well-being (which is a ridiculously simple and true concept in itself to understand and accept). Instead of a diet itself, it is a concept of balancing elements of your diet and lifestyle for the best health and physical wellness possible. If you'd like to learn more, one of my favorite starting points has been Joyful Belly - free assessments, recipes, and lots of easy-to-understand information about Ayurveda.

While scrolling through Instagram, I came across several mentions of a recipe called Kitchari, a super detoxifying and easily digestible dish of basmati rice, lentils or mungbeans, vegetables, and a wonderful variety of delicious spices and herbs that I already love to cook with. It was this recipe that initially lead me to learning more about an Ayurvedic diet, which is based on traditional Indian medicine (which is probably why the recipes taste so darn good - I'm a sucker for good Indian food).

Throughout various assessments of my Dosha, or body type, I've found that when I listen to the cravings and needs of my body, I've been drawn to the foods, herbs, and spices that would traditionally be used to treat whatever ailed me. It's making me more aware of my own body's signals and needs altogether, something that I think humans have lost over the years thanks to technology and modern comforts. 

Every day is a new adventure lately, and I know that it has been difficult to not be discouraged by concerns about money or the future (I still haven't found a full-time day job in the past 2 months). I just have to believe that I can be healthy and happy even in uncertain times, and stay positive, and learn and grow in the process. I figure that life's a gift, and I don't intend on wasting it. You never know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at make each day count.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Off the Beaten Path

Unexpected treasures in unexpected places... one of the things I love about living in this city. A foggy, damp Sunday afternoon proved to be the perfect time to explore some woodland trails, without even leaving Brooklyn. The foliage seemed even more brilliant against the gray sky backdrop, and smelled like memories of wandering and playing in the woods back home as a child. For a moment, we forgot that we were surrounded by tall buildings and busy streets. 

I love November. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

It's the time of year when cold nights and mornings, snow flurries, and blustery winds begin to penetrate through layers of clothing and leave us all a little chilled. What better way to spend an evening curled up on the couch, than with a warm spiced drink that can also keep those seasonal sniffles away? Here's a recipe for my favorite home sniffles remedy drink, and it's darn yummy too.
It begins with some spices: cinnamon, anise, and cardamom (optional - I added it to the recipe because I love it). Cinnamon is a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, and anise and cardamom aids in digestion and stomach issues.
Next, ginger. Ginger is my favorite natural year-round health boosting addition. Pop a chunk in a cup of tea, or finely chop and add to stir fry or soup for a delicious zing with countless benefits. Ginger aids in detox, is anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial, and can calm an upset stomach. (Ever wonder why your mom gave you ginger ale when you had a stomach bug? Because there's actually ginger in it, and ginger is good for your stomach)

Finally, fruits. Oranges (I used tangerines, because they happened to look particularly delicious today), lemons, and pear add natural sweetness and immune boosting vitamins, as well as essential oils from their peels. The full recipe is below, but basically you bring everything to a boil, then cover and let steep, and drink warm or cold. Or, if you'd like to keep a batch ready for the next day, put everything in the slow cooker the night before. Tadaaa!!! Hope you stay all warm and toasty this winter.

Sniffles Stopper Spiced Drink
2" ginger root, peeled & cut into several pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
1-3 green cardamom pods (optional)
2 slices orange, with rind
1 sliver of lemon peel
2 slices of pear
4 cups water

-Add all ingredients to a small saucepot & bring to a boil
-Cover & let sit until warm (drinking temperature). 

PS- As mentioned above, this drink can be made in a slow cooker (crock pot) and stay warm for you all day. I recommend doubling the recipe listed above and preparing the night before if you choose to cook it this way.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Week in Color

My past week has been filled with such a gorgeous array of yellows and oranges. It's as if the indoor environments I find myself in are reflecting the warm, bright colors of the foliage and late autumn sunlight outside. Some of my favorite hues, brightening my November days. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Semi Sunny Skies

This is the Bronx River. As in, this beautiful fallscape is in the Bronx. The Bronx.
The perfect example of beauty in unexpected places. A little pick-me-up for this grey Thursday. 
Tomorrow, tomorrow,
I love ya, tomorrow, 
You're only a day away. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013


One of the beautiful things that has come out of my temporary unemployment, is that I have more time to spend with my husband. This week we took about an hour and a half subway ride to the Bronx and spent the entire day at the zoo. The weather was perfect, there were hardly any people there, and the cool weather meant that a lot of the animals were active and awake, in contrast to the summer season, when it can be disappointing to see all of the animals asleep or hiding in shady places. 

Taking photos in the monkey house was a bit difficult, because the tropical conditions kept causing my camera lens to fog up. About three seconds after taking this photo, Steve actually got the monkey to laugh and it looked like they were sharing an inside joke. What would have been the perfect photo op was just a milky blur in my camera, because the lens had quickly covered up with a thick fog from the warmth and misting water in the environment. Oh well! Memories make the best photographs, anyway.

This big guy knew he was the bee's knees, and he certainly flaunted it. Big cats just completely captivate me,  and I would have attempted to give him a hug, had a gigantic electric fence a la Jurassic Park not separated us. 

The grizzlies were in a playful mood and put on quite a show for us. It was great. I have been to many different zoos, but usually in the summer, and I've never seen so many animals being so active. They must have been enjoying the crisp perfect fall weather as much as we were.

Last but not least, this is Leo, the not-quite-a-baby-anymore baby snow leopard, the prized boy of the Bronx Zoo this year. He finally sat still and let me take a good photo. This was the end of the day, and the waning light coupled with him jumping from boulder to boulder (which was so, so cool) made it difficult to get him into focus. Luckily, he tired himself out and plopped down within view. What an amazing animal, and what an amazing day.

Sometimes, when I visit zoos or aquariums, I can find myself feeling depressed by the sleepy looking animals or the small enclosures that they are confined to. I was so impressed by the Bronx zoo, the size of the habitats, and the amount of natural outdoor enclosures used to give the animals the best experience and lives possible. We both agreed that our zoo date was our favorite outing together to date, and I can't wait to go back again soon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Colorful Trees Grow in Brooklyn

This time of year is difficult for me, because it's when I miss my country home of Pennsylvania the most. I miss the foliage, the crisp air, campfires, apple cider, and the sights and smells of autumn that are so hard to come by in a place like NYC. Taking just a short walk to the grocery store yesterday, I stopped to stare at the bold colors on a few trees. My husband thought I was nuts; I just stood there staring up at them and smiling. 
The changing of the leaves means so much more to me than seasons changing. It brings back childhood memories of the first days of school, countless Halloween trick-or-treating adventures, hay rides, and the need for really warm socks. Just a glimpse of some colorful leaves takes me back to the most beautiful place in the world, if only for a moment.

The Next Chapter

I know I've been absent for almost 3 weeks, but I think I have pretty good excuses.
First, one week before my wedding day, I lost my day job. Cutbacks and downsizing are a bummer, and I learned this firsthand. I've been in a flurry trying to keep myself busy (and paid) with freelance gigs while searching for my next job.
My wedding day arrived(!), and I needed some time off for preparations, in-laws, and of course celebration. Now, I don't have a lot of my own photos, as I was too busy being nervous/getting married/drinking after the ceremony, but luckily I had the talents of Taylor Scott for my wedding photographer. 

I wore my grandmother's rings, and mink cape for  the wedding.

It was a small ceremony, City Clerk's office here in NYC. Which isn't small at all - it's sort of like a butcher shop for weddings: take a number (literally) and wait to be called. It was a hectic waiting period but my immediate family and friends made it for the most amazing day ever. Which is all I really wanted or needed. I had the most amazing reception/after party/celebration thanks to Whiskey Tavern and their big backyard, and even bigger hearts. Thanks, Rob, for making our big day so wonderful. 

The first week of this marriage thing has turned out to be a breeze. For our weekiversary, Steve and I anticipated going out somewhere nice, but after getting all dolled up, we ended up at the end of the night having a few drinks on our own couch and watching a movie. It doesn't take much :) 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When You're Not Looking

He's going to hate me for posting these photos. Steve claims that he was having a bad hair day, or something. But since it's the face I have to look at for like, eternity, I'm going to inflict these photos on everyone else, too. Not to mention, I kind of love them. We went for a walk on the Highline on Friday after work, then found a rooftop beer garden to watch the sunset over the river. It was one of those afternoon/evenings that one doesn't easily forget. 

Monday, October 7, 2013


These are some of my favorites of the photos I took on Friday, while wandering along the Highline and enjoying the late afternoon light as it blended into a sunset. The beauty of this city, for me, lies in the contrasting textures, stories, sounds, smells, and emotions that are constantly elbow to elbow in this busy place. Sometimes expected, sometimes a surprise, they are stunning to the senses if you take a moment to stop and notice them. 

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just Another Fall Friday

Ahhhhh what a lovely fall weekend it has been. Sitting here this morning with some pumpkin spice coffee, my senses being assaulted by the amount of fall scented candles in the apartment today (thank you, Homegoods!). Here are a few snaps from my Friday after work. We did a bit of wandering, just enjoying the weather and watching the afternoon turn to evening. 

Oh, and this amazing 70s dress is now in my shop so check it out.

Snake must have just eaten... look at that bulge! haha

Nothing smells quite like farm fresh apples in autumn.

Winding down the evening in a little dive somewhere downtown.

Hope everyone had a great weekend!!! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pork Two Ways

A couple on a budget still wants to have a nice big roast dinner on Sundays.
For the first time, I attempted to cook a whole pork shoulder into tender, moist, succulent (I swear I'm not trying to make this sound sexy, it's just happening. I mean, it IS pork. These things happen)...

Disclaimer: sorry for the photo quality, I was in too much of a hurry to grab my camera today, so my iphone did the job. 

I have truly, truly outdone myself this time. *Pats self on back*
On Sunday morning, I put this behemoth in the oven. 7 hours later...

A whole pork shoulder. Which then became the Sunday roast dinner (ahem, see below)...

Whose astronomically tender leftovers were repurposed (I mean, there are like 9 lbs left, I'm going to be eating pork in various dishes for a week)... into the below Asian delight. 
This is a wonton noodle soup bowl version I made for my honey... mine sported GF rice noodles and a squeeze of lime. I could probably eat noodle bowls every day of my life. Tomorrow will probably be pork tacos. (Taco Tuesday, duh!). Loving this whole one-meal-lasts-a-week thing. We can eat well on a budget without a casserole dish in sight!