union square donuts

October 27, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I won’t lie. Last week I walked over to the city’s farmers market on my lunch break. I walked right past all the fruits and vegetables, past the fresh breads and cheeses and stopped directly in front of the smallest stand.
“One hazelnut crunch donut, please.”
I did pause for just a moment and considered whether I should have chosen the one smothered in vanilla glaze, but the moment passed.
“Do you need a bag or just paper?”
“Just paper.”
“It’s only going to go one place, right?”
This comment brought the biggest grin to my face. And yes, he was right; I planned to eat it immediately.

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I should premise this with the fact that I rarely eat donuts, it actually only happens once a year! On the morning of our annual Christmas tree cutting, we have a brunch that consists of mimosas, bagels and donuts. I savor that one donut each year and usually hit all my bases by having half of a glazed and half of a chocolate frosted. That’s about all I need for the year. But each week, as I picked up my fruits and veggies, I couldn’t help but notice this little donut stand. And although I noticed the stand, I never had the desire to get one. I don’t think I have ever had a donut that wasn’t for breakfast, so at noon or one o’clock in the afternoon, my desire for one was always low. So the one day when I got really excited about the potential of having one I just went for it. And oh my gosh, it was unbelievable. This was a donut elevated to the next level, so flavorful, crunchy and light. No one could ever be disappointed with a donut like this. I ate every bite and licked my fingers and felt utterly satisfied.

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The donut stand will go away soon, with the cold winter temperatures coming, the market goes into hibernation. I do believe that this one donut will satisfy me all winter long though; but, if for some reason I get a sudden urge, luckily, they have cute little shop in Somerville.

chocolate banana shake

October 20, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I read on the train every morning and each night on my daily commute into the city. It’s actually quite nice to have an hour each day to spend reading. I never used to be a reader and I know the only reason I am now is because of my commute. So I guess I am thankful for the subway in this way, because I have fallen in love with reading, and know I wouldn’t keep up with it if I didn’t have this free time. I just finished You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt. What is so wonderful about her book is it made me ponder while I was reading it. It made me stop throughout the day and rethink my actions and days after I finished the book I can still feel myself trying to adjust.

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I have read a few good inspirational books that make you stop and really analyze your day-to-day assumptions, but it was the practicality of Eleanor’s words that seem to be sticking a bit better for me. Typically what happens is, I read a book, feel great while reading it, and then once I’ve finished I forget to apply the things I’ve learned. The issue quickly becomes forgetfulness or even laziness over application. I found most of the things Eleanor had to say about improving your life stem from just a few areas of improvement for me. I need to pause for just a moment before I react, so that I take into account all sides not just my own. I need to have the desire to learn something everyday, to want to interact with people, and strive to stay engaged as much as possible.

This sounds so easy in theory, but in application the desire to say no, go home, just relax, can overpower this need to be engaged very quickly. Boredom for me can lead to so many other negatives; the ripple effect can last for days. I have found doing just one more activity a week has had a huge impact in my level of happiness. Saying yes to things rarely has a negative outcome and so I am trying to say yes to most things these days. I have also found that a negative response rarely gets a positive reply. In Eleanor’s words, all of these ideas make up one’s level of maturity. I think my maturity level is somewhere in the middle. Here’s hoping that some subtle adjustments have a much greater long term impact.

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Serves 1
Inspired by Self Magazine

1 banana, frozen
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With a sharp knife, remove the peel from the frozen banana. If the banana is too hard to cut you can microwave for 15 seconds, but no longer, just to soften the peel a bit. In a blender combine all the ingredients. Pulse until everything is blended. Serve chilled.

Note: The texture of this shake takes on a completely different consistency if you don’t drink it immediately. So this should only be made when ready to consume.

sundried tomato & goat cheese linguine

October 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I think everyone feels a little overwhelmed at times when planning their wedding. The list of things to do is pages long and each line item can have five or six steps. The process itself involves so many emails, phone calls and follow ups; it can be exhausting. While some things are not much fun to check off the list, signing contracts and writing big checks are not my favorite things, there are a lot of little things that I really do enjoy, like designing our invitations, learning calligraphy and planning our outdoor space. There are a bunch of things on our list that still have questions marks, it can be hard to make big decisions sometimes, or all the time for that matter. The one thing about our wedding that I have had no doubt about since the start, is the location.

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I love my family’s backyard in Vermont. There is something about the space that always gets us outside way more often than we would be in Boston. Even with the typical overcast, crumby weather, I always find a pull to be in the yard, cutting flowers, picking (and eating) raspberries, playing games or just walking through the neighborhood. This past weekend we did all of these things, plus hung white lights in a few of the trees, found decent smore sticks for roasting and spray painted croquet wickets.

These are the things about wedding planning that I really love. Not only does it allow me to spend time with my fiance, but it’s an activity all on its own. These to dos get checked off the list quite quickly and make you feel like you’re making progress. I always feel a great deal of accomplishment when these tasks are finished and they bring a lot of joy as well. Like when you get stabbed with a tree branch for the fifth time and almost fall off the ladder from laughing. These are the moments I hope to remember when I look back and think about our wedding planning days.

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Serves 2

4 oz. linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced into matchsticks
1/2 tablespoon capers, drained
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup half and half or light cream
1/4 cup goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup of the half and half, goat cheese, basil and parsley.

In a large pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warm add the shallot and sauté 2 minutes. Add garlic sauté another 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, zucchini, capers, salt and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cream to the sauté pan and stir until combined and smooth. Allow the cream to boil slightly and then turn the heat down to low. Simmer for a couple of minutes then add the cooked pasta and goat cheese cream. Mix until everything is coated. Serve hot and enjoy.

creamy goat cheese couscous

October 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Boston is doing this wonderful thing in the city. They put dozens of pianos around the downtown area, had local artists paint them up pretty, with signs on each that say “Play Me, I’m Yours.” There are half a dozen different ones just on my walk into work alone. Each time I see one there is always someone playing it, or someone just about to. Sometimes it’s a duo, sometimes there’s singing involved, but there is always a crowd gathering or people who slow down to listen. Not only has this so easily showcased the amazing musical talent that lives in Boston, but the smiles it’s generated alone is quite remarkable

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It’s funny how something that is plopped into an unusual environment can become so accepted. It’s changed my walking habits, so I pass one each morning; and it’s made me slow down, sometimes-even stop, so I can listen and watch people. And more power to the person who has the guts to sit down and play in front of a bunch of strangers. I’ve heard everything from chopsticks to Berkley-style symphony tunes, all of which sound just lovely when surrounded by greenery and happy people.

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This is one of the many benefits of living in a city; having the resources to do such things, which have such a positive impact. The pianos are only up until mid-October. All of the ones that survive the weather will be donated to local charities. So please find one and enjoy the music of strangers, outdoors, while you can.

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Serves 2
Inspired by Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup Israeli couscous
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups spinach, packed
juice of half a lemon
1 oz. goat cheese

In a small pot over medium-high heat add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and couscous. Saute for 2 minutes until the couscous is slightly browned. In the meantime heat up 1 1/2 cups of water in the microwave until boiling. Add the boiling water to the couscous, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. (Couscous should be soft with no crunch when ready and all the water should be absorbed).

While the couscous is cooking, set up a saute pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the onion. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and saute for another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach and lemon juice and saute for 1 more minute. Remove from heat.

Stir the goat cheese into the cooked couscous until it’s completely melted. Add in the vegetables and stir until combined. Serve hot.

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