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Live It Up

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  1. I just went outside and I guess it's too hot for even the Puerto Rican dudes 'cause no one is out with their bikes. I wish I had room for a heavy bag at home, but I can't imagine I ever will. I don't think that kickboxing helps me in the kitchen at all. Certainly hand wraps and boxing gloves only get in the way when you're trying to cook . Sometimes I cook in my work out clothes, so a lot of them have stains on them. The people at my gym probably think I'm the biggest slob in the world, and they're probably right.
  2. Thanks Shelby--not to be too self-promoting, but you can buy stuff on our website. Josh and I did basically the whole website ourselves, except for the homepage and the navigation bar. Neither of us knows much about programming, so it was a long, frustrating process. That's why there aren't many items for sale on the site, but there are some.
  3. Hi! The funny thing is that my kitchen is actually pretty big (it's the biggest room in the house) it's just that I have so much damn furniture in it that it takes up all the floor space. All these apartment kitchens have about 2 square feet of counter space if you're lucky, so you have to have an island or something else. When I first moved in I didn't have the island, so I was balancing my cutting board on the corner of the sink. Really dangerous. On the right of my sink I have a big wooden bar. I bought it for my last apartment where it fit perfectly, but it's very awkward in this place. I also have a table to the left of the fridge if you pull it out from the wall so you can seat people all around it, then you can't open the fridge door. Maybe I'll get some pictures of that when I get home.
  4. Phew! almost caught up--my DSL keep flickering in and out so it's taking forever for me to post. Breakfast: half an everything bagel with cream cheese and some strawberries. And Guatemala Antigua coffee. I burnt the bagel a little, but whatever. Bagels--as a New Yorker, I have (predictably) pretty strong feelings about bagels. Growing up I never ate them toasted unless they were stale (meaning a day old), and then I usually had them with butter. However, I've realized that this doesn't work if the bagel sucks (as many bagels do). But, I don't like my cream cheese to melt, so I toast most bagels, wait for it to cool, and then apply the cream cheese (not whipped!). When I worked at alt.coffee I ate a bagel almost every day for at least 5 years. I got to the point where they were starting to make me sick. So, then I went a year without eating a bagel. I'm back on them now, but only occasionally. If I had some time, I'd go to the farmer's market and get some heirloom tomatoes to have with a bagel--yummy!
  5. After we ate I also prepped dinner for tonight. I made a leek and feta pie from this book. I have had another version of basically the same book by Rena Salaman for years and it was one of my favorites. It's out of print, though, and I wanted to get it as a gift for a friend. Well, a couple of weeks ago I was in Costco with my mom and saw this. It's all the recipes from her other book plus a bunch more. The price was $5.99! If you see this book, pick it up--it also makes a good coaster. It might not be the most authentic Greek cookbook out there, but I have made many of the recipes in it and I have only had one minor disappointment. There are a bunch of other books in the same series that I picked up as well, but I haven't made anything from them yet. So, here's the leek pie--I made the batter at put it in a spring form pan in the fridge. It's all ready to be popped in the oven when I get home tonight. I didn't take any pictures of the process, but it was really quick and easy. You saute leeks and onions in olive oil and butter (lots) until they're soft. Mix up eggs, flour, baking soda, yogurt, and feta cheese. The recipe also called for gruyere or parmesan which are nothing alike. I happened to have exactly the right amount of Greek graviera cheese in my fridge, so I used that instead. It also called for dill, which I don't really like so I subbed some really nice fresh oregano. So, hopefully it will taste good tonight.
  6. I go to the store almost every day and almost always on my way home from the gym. It's pretty embarrassing that the people who work there always see me covered in sweat. I would shower at the gym, but then that's just more stuff I have to carry around with me, and my gym bag is already bigger than my weekend suitcase. So, I went to the store to get some chicken breast, but I guess they don't have breasts with skin and bones anymore, so I had to buy a whole chicken. I cut it up and threw the leg quarters, wings and back in the freezer. For dinner I made one of Josh's absolute favorites--we just call it spicy soup. Here are some of the ingredients. I thought I was gathering all of the ingredients, but as I cooked I realized there were a couple of things I left out. I make this all the time, but it's all just approximate--yesterday I used 6 plum tomatoes and 6 dried chipotle chiles, but those amounts vary. Sometimes if the tomatoes don't look good or I don't have enough I add a red pepper. First step is poaching the chicken in the chicken broth. I added some cumin seed and a bay leaf to this. At the same time, toast the chiles in a cast iron pan (I'm doing the garlic at the same time) then cover the chiles with hot water to soak. I stem and deseed the chiles after I toast them, but before they soak. I also added a pasilla chile to this. Griddle roast the tomatoes (also the onion, not shown--I cut it into slices first) Then put chiles, garlic, tomatoes, and onion in the blender and whizz til smoothish. Remove chicken from broth and shred the meat. Add the blended stuff to the broth. Add the frozen corn (2 cups--sometimes I defrost first and sometimes I don't) and shredded chicken. Season. You can serve lime wedges as a garnish, but I like to put the juice of a whole lime right in 'cause I think it really needs it. I also take tortilla, cut them into strips, coat with some cooking spray and bake at 450 til they're crispy. Other garnishes--chopped red onion, chopped jalepeno, cilantro, and avocado (for me). Here's the final soup, blurry as usual. Warning: the way I make this soup would be way too spicy for most people. I like it almost painfully hot, but it's hard to predict how hot the chipotles are going to be. Usually 6 is good, but sometimes that's not quite enough so I add chipotle powder. So, there you go, my spicy soup.
  7. Back to yesterday's lunch--We got food from a Cuban restaurant called Cafecito. I've only had a couple of their items, but I really like their cubano, so that's what I had. I was way too hungry to wait to get a good picture before I could eat. Here's the half I didn't eat--it's less blurry. The problem with this sandwich is that it's so good I want to eat the whole thing, but it's too meaty, so if I do eat the whole thing I feel sick. Josh gets these little burgers. They call them frita cubana and they come with yuca fries. I stole a few of his fries. Lunch is a pain.
  8. So, it's late and I think I am going to wait til the morning to post my dinner pics. TOD was a respectable 9:45, but loading the pictures on my laptop is a PITA, so I'll do it at work where it's quick and easy. Anyhoo, goodnight, see you in the morning.
  9. Thanks Prasantrin! I should point out that I had nothing to do with the fake flower garden other than existing near it and photographing it. Actually, it took me a ridiculously long time to notice that the flowers in the garden were fake. I guess I should mention for those who don't know that the East Village, unlike most neighborhoods in NYC has lots of lots that are community gardens. I have no idea if the fake garden next door is a community garden, but there's a billboard in it. Maybe I'll get a picture of that tomorrow as well. We have tried putting Pele on a diet, but he just eats all of Perdita's food and terrorizes her. They don't get along as it is, so increasing the competition for food is a bad thing. He seriously cut her side a few months ago and she had to wear a cone...it was really sad. But I mixed her medicine in with sour cream and fed it to her with a spoon, so she wasn't too unhappy.
  10. oops, I didn't see this earlier. When are you going to blog? Seriously, I nominate you--talk about energy. I wouldn't turn down an invite to your house.
  11. Hmmm, let's see if I got this multiple quote thing The East Village is pretty gentrified, but not totally. It's really different just a few blocks away. The super of our building has the store front next to ours. He lives in the back and I'm sure he doesn't pay rent (being the super and all), so basically his store is a club house for all the neighborhood Puerto Rican bike enthusiasts. Maybe I'll try to get some pictures of the bikes tomorrow. But, since our store has opened there are at least 5 new businesses on the block, including a cafe across the street. Hi Pan. If you're ever around when we're open you should stop in. I actually spend more time on the internet now than I ever have before. Seriously, don't be impressed--my job involves staring at the computer for at least 5 hours a day. I'm not exactly sure I understand the analogy, but I think I know what you mean. Opening a business sounds like a really good idea before you do it. You think "I'll be my own boss. I'll decide what I do with my time". Except what I didn't realize is that when you have your own business you don't have ANY time--all your time belongs to your business. So yeah, running for your life, that pretty much describes it. Before this I had only had 3 jobs: I worked at Alt.Coffee for 7 years, I bartended at Route 85a and I worked at Coliseum Books in high school. So, what exactly would I do with that? I do have a degree from NYU, but not in anything that I could turn into a job (or at least a job that I'd want). Hmmm...don't know if I answered the question...
  12. Is that the 2" ikea ice cube tray i spy? ← Would love to drink with you sometime. You work at PDT, right? I tried to go there once right after it opened, but it was closed. I believe it was a sunday. That is indeed the ikea ice cube tray--they were on sale for like 70 cents when I got them a couple of weeks ago.
  13. edited to remove double post So, I'm dying of starvation right now. Josh just got here a little while ago and now we're waiting for lunch. I feel a little dizzy. After I scarf my lunch I have to run off to kickboxing class, and then the mad rush to make dinner. So, I'll be back later tonight, hopefully with dinner pics.
  14. Hi Peter, and thanks! I roast using a cast iron pan and a whisk. It's not a very popular method, but it's perfect for me. I'll talk about it more later in the week. You don't HAVE to wait to brew, but the coffee can taste pretty flat if you don't. However, sometimes I get stuck with no coffee and have to drink it same day, and it's certainly not bad. Just not as good as it could be.
  15. More fridge pics! One of the things that most improves my quality of life is having a small refrigerator in my living room. We had a really tiny one for a while, but it broke. When we didn't have it any more I realized how big a difference it made. As you can see from the previous pics, there is no room for beer in my regular fridge. Also, as I mentioned, I can't keep lettuce in there 'cause it just freezes. And, I have never had any room for ice in my freezer. So, we replaced our old mini fridge with this shiny new model complete with separate freezer. It is strictly for beverages and delicate vegetables. The freezer is for ice (and maybe a few other things). I love it so much!
  16. So I guess now is as good a time as any to show you my fridge. I was going to try to clean it out and make it look all pretty for you guys, but then I decided you would probably want to see it in all its messiness. So, you have been warned: I am a slob. In addition to being a slob, my apartment has exactly zero closets, so I have no place to put things away. Therefore, I have to use furniture to store things which takes up floor space, which makes my apartment very cramped. My kitchen is actually a decent size, but I have so much stuff crammed into it that you can barely move around. So, without further ado: The fridge The fridge is a total piece of crap--it freezes everything, and then all the ice melts and floods the crisper. I can't keep fresh vegetables for more than a day usually. Right now I think 90% of the contents in there are cheeses. I have at least 15 kinds of cheese right now. My mom is a flight attendant and she brings me delicious things from all over. So last week she brought me a bunch of my favorite French cheeses, and the week before that I got 3 Italian cheeses. I also have to keep most of my grains and nuts in the fridge because I have pantry moths, so that's part of why it's so full. I'm not showing you the freezer--it's mostly ice, but there's a lot of stuff encased in the ice. Here's a shot of my kitchen work space. The fridge is next to the red and white hutch. Here's another kitchen shot. We put all the open shelving up ourselves. It looks crooked, but that's actually the ceiling that's crooked. There's a serious slope in our apartment. Some of my pantry. I store my dishes in the bottom part of the red and white unit. They're really hard to get to so I hate putting my dishes away. Here's the contents of my cabinets.
  17. I wish I could find the larger version of my avatar photo, 'cause it's a little hard to see so small. I think the picture is funny because the angle makes her look like a kangaroo. That's my little girl cat, Perdita, BTW. We have 2 cats; Perdita and her brother Pele. They'r both 8 years old. Perdita is actually really small--about 8lbs. Pele is more than twice her size. Here's a pic of Perdita looking very fluffy (and cranky). Here's one where you can see that she's not fat: This is Pele: He's incredibly fat. On a food related note: I really don't know how he got so fat. I don't feed them very much. They get 1 3oz can of wet food per day to share, but I make sure that Perdita eats most of it because she has hardly any teeth so she doesn't eat as much dry food. They also get a small bowl of dry food. I almost never give them people food, mostly because they're not usually interested in it. Perdita loves dairy products, so sometimes I give her yogurt or milk, but just whatever is left in my bowl...and she's not the fat one.
  18. Thanks everyone for the compliments about my store! I wanted to explain the subtitle of my blog a little. Between the store closing at 9 and kickboxing and stuff I generally don't get home before 8pm, usually more like 9-9:30. If I were the type of person who was content to eat frozen meals or crappy take out this wouldn't be such a big deal, but I'm very picky about what I want to eat and I get cranky if I don't have a real, satisfying dinner. I also love to cook, so I get cranky if I can't cook. So, I've had to come up with strategies for getting dinner on the table before midnight. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday are the worst because I don't get home til 9:30, so lately on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I've been making 2 dinners or prepping stuff for dinner the other night. Wednesday is the odd day because even though I close the store, Josh has band practice so we don't eat dinner together. That means that I either eat leftovers or something he doesn't like (like bacon avocado and tomato sandwiches). Here's an example of this strategy. Last Thursday* I made chicken tacos with guacamole for my dinner (Josh doesn't like avocados), but I also made the broth and seasoning paste for the Soto King's Chicken Soup from Cradle of Flavor. So, then on Saturday, all I had to do was put it together (or at least I thought that was all I'd have to do). Broth and paste. Shredded Chicken Finished soup. Turns out though that TOD (time of dinner) was still 10:45 because 1. Josh didn't get home til after 10 and 2. I underestimated the time it would take to get all the garnishes ready and put the soup together. Oh well. *Edited to correct the day of the week--last wednesday was the 4th, so Josh had band practice on thursday instead.
  19. Man, everyone's javanese grilled chicken and sate is making me really wish I had a grill! As promised, I made the Soto King's Chicken Soup. I have to say, I was pretty disappointed with the flavor of this. The chicken I had was really small and young, so that might have had something to do with it, but I added an extra chicken back to the broth. I also continued to simmer the bones after I had fished out the meat, so it really should have been chickeny. After adding lots of chile paste it was quickly devoured, though, so definitely not a failure. I don't like celery, so I garnished with some steamed baby bok choy instead.
  20. I really like this recipe from food and wine for cranberry beans with tomato and cinnamon. I've made it several times, and I never feel like I have enough.
  21. 4 days a week I eat 2 meals here at the store. Breakfast is usually something I've baked or a bagel or yogurt and fruit. Today I had some greek yogurt with mango and honey. However, I woke up starving for some reason so I brought a piece of coffee cake as well, which I'll probably have in a little while with coffee. Coffee is a very big deal to me, and I'll be talking about it more later in the week. I roast my own beans, so I'll be doing that at some point (probably wednesday or saturday) and I'm going to try to fix my broken espresso machine. I'll get to the requisite fridge shots in a little while, but first I want to talk about my teaser pics. This one is a picture of 3 enameled cast iron dutch ovens. These are in my store, but I have the white pig and I'll be using it later in the week. The other picture is of a garden that is next door to my store. I don't know if you could tell, but most of the flowers in the garden are fake. There are also all sorts of plastic critters hanging out among the fake flowers. Here are some more pics. Back in a bit!
  22. Hi, my name is Jessica, and I'm very excited to be doing my first food blog. I'm also a little nervous because I don't normally post that much, so hopefully I'll be able to live up to the previous blogs. Anyway, a little background. I was born and raised in NYC near Columbia University (where my mom and sisters still live). I've been living in the East Village/LES area for the last 8 years or so. 2 years ago I got married and about 4 months after that my husband Josh and I opened a housewares/home accessories store on avenue B. The store is called Live It Up, hence my screen name. Having our own business has totally changed our lives. The store is open 7 days a week from 10am to 9pm. That means that either Josh or I have to be there during those hours because we have no employees--well, except my youngest sister who we force to work for us for free when she's home from college (like now!). So, while it's really nice Josh and I see each other a lot, we have very little free time, and even less free time together. Also, we both have other interests (I kick box 4-5 days a week, Josh is in 2 bands and plays hockey), so that puts even more of a strain on the free time we do have. So, basically that's the topic of this blog: how we find time for good food with our wacky schedules. The main way that having this schedule has changed our eating habits is in the shopping. I used to have time (and money) to go out of my way to find specific ingredients or go to the farmer's market for in season produce. Now I'm pretty much bound to my route between home/work/gym/home. Here's a map showing the boundaries: clicky Well, that's the basics. The funny thing about this "working" constantly is that most of the time I don't actually have anything to do here at work, so I spend more time on the internet than ever before. So, bombard me with questions--I'll just be here waiting to answer them.
  23. Well, I am happy to report that I have finally finished reading through this thread. I started reading it months ago, but I stopped because I was way too jealous of all the delicious baked goods everyone was making. Happily I received both this book and Baking with Julia for my birthday, so I can join in. I am incredibly embarrassed to admit, though that I've made 2 things from this book so far and I have messed them both up. I generally don't get home before 8pm, often 9:30 or 10 and I have been SOO tired lately. So all the mistakes I have made have been entirely my fault because I'm too tired to actually read the recipe. The first recipe I made was the espresso chocolate shortbread cookies (or whatever they're actually called). Wonderful! The mistake I made was in the shaping---I formed the dough into a thick rectangle like an icebox cookie. I also didn't give them enough time in the fridge cause my husband was impatient for cookies at 12am. I was really worried that they were going to be a disaster, but they tasted great and didn't turn to puddles of butter in the oven. The second thing I made was way more problematic. I made the cardamom orange coffee cake. I forgot the vanilla in the cake, which was no big deal, but then I also completely forgot to put the sugar in the crumb topping. I didn't realize it until the cake was almost done baking. So, I sprinkled some raw sugar on top and put the cake back in the oven, hoping the sugar would melt. It didn't really, but at least it covers up the weird floury taste of the topping. I think I might have even forgotten something else, but I can't remember now. Even with all my bumbling, the cake is quite tasty. I can't wait to make it correctly. I have to say, I am even more excited about this book now that I have it. I'm not really into sweets, but there are so many recipes in here that I am dying to try. Also, my husband really loves peanuts and peanut butter, and there are a lot of recipes using those, so he will be happy. I seriously think I would be happy baking anything in this book (perhaps subbing out some raisins). Thank you Dorie! I promise to follow the recipe next time.
  24. I am trying to figure out if I have been to this town, but I really have no way of determining if I have. When I was 12-15 years old I went to a summer camp in Monsac (or rather near Monsac) for a month every year. We visited a lot of towns in the area and went to a lot of chateaux. We also spent the last week of the month driving around down to Narbonne, and then back up to Paris. Najac certainly looks familiar to me, and whether or not I've been there it certainly brings back good memories. I'm enjoying this blog very much so far. Thanks!
  25. Yay, I get to post my first meal from CoF! I let my husband choose the meat dish for me to make, and he chose the nyonya braised pork (he always chooses braised pork, BTW). I really wanted to make ching lee's lemongrass braised long beans, so that was added. And then, I just happened to have a half a pineapple sitting in my fridge, so I also made the pineapple pickles. I would probably never have chosen that recipe to make if I didn't already have the ingredients because hubby won't eat fruit. This is the pork simmering. The recipe calls for cooking the shallot paste and galangal first, and then not removing it before browning the pork. Oseland also says that you don't want to brown the shallots or the taste will be musky. Normally, I would have just disregarded the recipe and browned the meat, then sweat the aromatics. However, I wanted to follow the recipe, so I did it as instructed. Basically, my shallots browned and my pork didn't. I don't think that the end dish tasted musky, though, so perhaps they weren't too brown. Here's the pineapple pickle in the pan. This was really good, and good use for the pineapple I had, but I don't really see how it's a pickle. You just cook the pineapple with a bunch of spices and aromatics. I didn't get a picture of the long beans in the pan, but here they are plated with the other dishes and plain jasmine rice. As you can tell, this is my plate, cause hubby refused to even try the pineapple. I garnished the pork with some thai chilis and the long beans with a little kaffir lime leaf. Overall, I was extremely happy with this meal. All the dishes needed a little extra salt, but otherwise the flavorings were right on. I think I'm going to try to make the soto king's chicken soup next.
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