Saturday, March 21, 2009

Going (home on the) Green (line)

Overheard on the way home from downtown last night...

Girl on her cell phone:
"He lives in west not at the stop west. Wait-did we say west? You're thinking of Mike....why'd you get off the train!?"

Annoyingly pretentious college kid:
"Feta cheese in Bulgaria is sho* much better than Greek feta cheese. The Greeks are just copying the Bulgarians. We sometimes order it online. You should come over when we get it." (*This is not a typo. He's the kind of kid who says "sho" instead of "so".)

A guy and a girl having a weird fight about where the best pizza comes from. Luckily I got off the train...
"Have you ever had pizza at Upper Crust? Have you ever had pizza in Manhattan? Have YOU ever had pizza in CT? There're like 2 places in CT that are in the top 6 best pizza places anywhere." (And this went on. And on. And on.)

Two dudes walking down the street after I got off the train.
"She was just riding me dude and I was just sitting there like, OK. Then I heard someone yell, 'What's going on in there?!'"

A bunch of kids on the train talking about a friend who was so drunk they thought she might need to go to the hospital. I'm glad I don't have friends like them!
"I can't believe we got her to sit up. I didn't think she'd move. I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE EVEN SHOWERED!"

Girl to the clerk at CVS:
"You only gave me 70 cents back." (Response from CVS guy) "That's because I'm out of pennies right now." (Girl) "So...you were just going to let me walk away without giving me all of my change?" (CVS guy) "*Sigh*No. I'll open a roll of pennies." (As if he was doing her a favor!)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ooo La La!

For years I have been obsessed with the way they look. They are colorful and perfect and come from fancy bakeries and call places like Paris home. And it's said that they are almost impossible to make right in your own kitchen which makes them even more sexy to me.

They are French Macaroons.

These sandwich cookies are made of egg whites and almond powder and are crispy on the outside and extraordinarily chewy on the inside. These days flavors range from chocolate & raspberry to pistachio, fig and lemon. Their signature is the "foot" that forms under each cookie while in the oven. Without this foot, macaroons just don't look like macaroons.

Before today I've never attempted to make them in my own kitchen. Everyone I've ever talked to threw their hand in the air and scoffed when talking about their first experience with these delightful cookies making me shy away from trying my own hand at them. For over a year I have been reading and researching different techniques and finally decided to see what all the fuss is about.

I am in love.

The recipe I tried was one for Raspberry & Chocolate Macaroons. Below you fill find the recipe (courtesy Epicurious.com) and the tips that I applied to said recipe. My macaroons came out just the way they should have-crispy, chewy and yes, they had feet. And soon, they will be gone.

Things to know before starting:
1. Use room temperature egg whites. Once they are room temperature, microwave them in a glass bowl for 10 seconds.

2. Use a template to draw circles on the parchment paper so that each cookie is the same size.



3. I allowed the cookies to air dry for 45 minutes prior to baking to form a crust.

4. The cookies that came out the best were the ones that I did not allow to crack like it says in the recipe. Total cooking time was about 14 minutes.

5. Once the cookies are out of the oven, place them (parchment paper and all) on a slightly damp cloth. This will help them come off the parchment easier. Peel them off and cool completely.

Raspberry Chocolate French Macaroons
For macaroons
6 oz sliced blanched almonds (not slivered; 2 cups)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
3 large egg whites
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Red or pink food coloring

For chocolate raspberry ganache
3 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (60 to 64% cacao), finely chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/16 teaspoon raspberry extract (preferably McCormick brand)

Special equipment: parchment paper; a gallon-size sealable plastic bag (not pleated)

Make macaroons:
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse almonds with 1/2 cup confectioners sugar in a food processor until very finely ground, 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a bowl. Sift in remaining cup confectioners sugar, stirring to combine.

Beat egg whites with salt in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, then increase speed to high and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add drops of food coloring to reach desired shade and mix at low speed until evenly combined. Stir almond mixture into meringue with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. (Meringue will deflate.)

Spoon batter into bag, pressing out excess air, and snip off 1 corner of plastic bag to create a 1/4-inch opening. Twist bag firmly just above batter, then pipe peaked mounds of batter (the size of a chocolate kiss) onto lined sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Let cookies stand, uncovered, at room temperature until tops are no longer sticky and a light crust forms, 20 to 30 minutes.


Meanwhile, put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 300°F.

Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until crisp and edges are just slightly darker, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely on sheets on racks, about 30 minutes.



Make ganache while macaroons bake:
Melt chocolate with cream in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Bowl should not touch water.) Remove bowl from heat, then add butter and raspberry extract, stirring until butter is melted. Let stand at room temperature until cooled completely and slightly thickened.

Assemble cookies:
Carefully peel cookies from parchment (they will be fragile). Sandwich a thin layer of ganache (about 1/2 teaspoon) between flat sides of cookies.

Filled macaroons keep in an airtight container at room temperature 3 days.

Come Back Later!

I didn't have much to talk about last night and therefore have no blog post for

today. However I have decided to spend the day baking (after I run a few errands)

and so I'm sure I'll have either a recipe or pictures or both. So....c'mon back

later this afternoon to see what I've cooked up. :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Randomivity


I'm having more bad days than good ones lately. I'm fighting my hardest to stay upbeat and happy but looking at the paper and talking to the recruiters makes that very hard. Then I walk past the homeless people and think: A) My life could be a lot worse and B) It isn't impossible that this could happen to me.

Yes, I have thought about getting a part time job. There aren't much of those either.

The visual of my favorite recruiter having Mad Cow cracks me up.

It's the prettier people here that don't seem to care about sidewalk flow. They stay their course even if it's the wrong side of the walk and they'll plow into you before doing the polite thing. The average or not so pretty people on the other hand either don't walk on the wrong side or move when someone approaches.

Making dinner and watching a movie with a girl friend is a fun Saturday night.

I have not done well on my diet over the last week. Which is disappointing because I was doing so well (down 6 pounds) and am sure that I've gained at least 1/2 of that back.

While I believe that people with children should be given some special treatment while at a parade (let the kids go in front of you for goodness sake!) I do not think that parents should use their infants to take advantage of others. I arrived at the parade at 11:30 (it started at 1pm) to get a good spot for photos since it was my first year. At 12:45 I heard a woman say, "Excuse me? Can you move?" She wanted me to move out of my spot so she could plop her stroller where I was standing-the child wasn't more than 6 months old at most. I slid a bit, but not as much as she wanted. Besides, I would have blocked the view of a cute little boy who was there as long as I was.

I got a random call from Rye Bread yesterday: "Remember when I said I wanted a shark for my cake this year? I changed my mind. I want a dolphin instead." When asked why she changed her mind, she said it was because sharks are scary. Dolphins will be more fun for me to do anyway. I think I already have it in my head.

Unless you are choking on something, a bug flew in your mouth or you can not breath I see no reason why you should be spitting in public. I especially see no reason why you should be snorting over and over in order to do so. Disgusting people.

I've really got to get a job soon for many reasons-one of which is to buy myself a parking spot again. It's truly brutal circling the block for 40 minutes searching for a legal place to park.

I think the old man just wanted to see my boobies.

It makes me sad when someone says, "I think you'll really like her" and then I don't. I'd much prefer no info so I can go in without any expectations.

Some bars look bigger in pictures than they actually are. This is disappointing for several reasons.

I will never cook a corned beef in a crock pot again. I strayed from my traditional recipe to try a new one and I am very disappointed. I might just have to go buy another one tomorrow so I have it this year.

Remembering Papa

The following is a piece I wrote in 2006 entitled "Air Brakes". It is about my beloved Papa who has been gone 10 years today...

My Papa & I welcoming my new sister home.

"Pssshhhhhhhhh" He let the air seep from his mouth and shot a grin over to me in the passenger seat.

"Air brakes" he laughed.

I rolled my eyes, hiding my giggle inside, close to my heart but away from his-mainly because I was 13 and it was no longer cool to love your grandfather openly, but also because I'd heard the joke since I was a baby.

"I know Papa...airbrakes. Funny." I looked out the window so he couldn't see my smile.

It did not matter where we were going, or why. All that mattered was that I was with him, and that he seemed to love me best. Grandfathers, I know, rarely play favorites, so perhaps I made it up-but his eyes lit up every time he saw me. And I made him laugh.

When there were too many of us to fit in one car-on holidays or special occasions-I'd ride with my Papa because no one else wanted to. Not because of his conversation, his race car like driving, or even his corny air brake joke-it was because he was a carpet cleaner.

And his car stunk.

Being someone who has an over active sense of smell, you would think that I would have been offended by the strong odor that permeated the air. But to me, it was just another comforting smell that reminded me of him. To this day, whenever I smell industrial stain remover, it reminds me of Jack, my blue eyed, joke telling, always laughing, Papa.

Looking for inspiration, I've found myself remembering our random times together-my Papa and I. I remember times when he sent me on hunts for treasure in the front yard of his house, always declaring the rock or scrawny twig I found was very valuable and rare. And I realize that what he was doing was feeding my sense of exploration and wonder.

And I remember the look on his face when he saw that I was sad because he was sick, and the twinkle in his eye when he smiled in spite of the pain, or regardless of his fear. And I realize that what he was doing, was teaching me that as long as you are smiling, you can get through anything.

My Papa was a great man, and even though he's been physically gone for 7 years, he continues to remind me of the lessons he taught me many years ago, when I was just a girl, hiding a smile from her Papa.


Papa, in his seat with his signature big cup of iced tea.


I miss him more than I ever thought possible. How can it be 10 years already?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Toosdae ?'s


Happy St. Patrick's Day! If you go out for some green beer tonight, please remember to use a designated driver. In the meantime (while you're still sober-ha ha ha) answer this weeks Toosdae ?'- may the dust of your carriage blind the eyes of your foes.

1. Are you wearing green today?

2. Have you and your family taken any steps to "Go Green"? If so, how?

3. What makes you green with envy?


1. Yes I am! I have on my favorite green socks with blue and white stripes & also a green and white shirt.

2. Admittedly I could be doing more, but for now I use my own reusable bags when I shop, use those spirally energy efficient light bulbs and use public transportation & walk to my destination whenever I can. If I can purchase items that are made from recycled materials I try to.

3. People who can eat whatever they want without ever gaining weight and never having to exercise. Also, being able to buy clothes right off of the rack.

Monday, March 16, 2009

USA Mega Scam Alert!!

I just won $4750!!!!

I received a REAL check with my name and address on it, the Wells Fargo Bank address and even the watermark that these kind of checks have. The back has the "Checklock Security System" on it too-pretty much, it looks like a real check.

If I took it to the bank, I have no doubt the teller would cash it.

The bank, however, would soon tell me that it is not a real check and therefore they would take the $4750 that I thought I had away from me.

In the meantime I would have called Lisa Jennings at 778-551-0821 (who is apparently my "tax agent") and she would have asked me for $3750 to pay taxes. See, the sweepstakes people were SO nice that they gave me "extra" money to pay for my taxes. All I have to do is deposit this here check, call Lisa Jennings and send her my tax money. THEN after I paid my taxes, a "special courier company" would deliver my check for $4750 and I'd be free to spend it as I like.

And I would be out $3750 of my own REAL money.

Because there was a phone number, I decided to call my "Claims agent" Brian Smith at 778-551-0397 (I would SO love people to call these numbers telling them to stop what they are doing) to see what he would say. It always makes me chuckle when they try to sound all official. Except, this guy didn't. I could barely hear what he was saying and when I asked just how exactly I had won this money he told me it was through a charity organization.

Hmmm...really? Which one Brian Smith at 778-551-0397? Oh, you have "no idea, m'aam"? Maybe that is because I haven't donated money to a charity in over a year. When I said this, he fumbled and that's when I told him I was calling the police.

And that's when he hung up.

PLEASE don't fall for these things. I'm not sure if they prey on people like me who really NEED extra money right now (how exactly they'd know that scares me) or if they don't discriminate. Either way, watch out. I got this in the regular mail with a letter that had names of REAL companies. If I google them, I get a real website of a valid company when in reality, they have nothing to do with these "winnings" at all.

So please, be careful. This is actually a pretty well known scam (according to the web) and if it's resurfacing you'll need to be especially careful. Like I said-everything looks VERY real and it would be easy to get sucked into this.

Manic Monday: Party!

Click HERE for more Manic Monday Parties!

Yesterday was the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston (or "Southie" as it's called). It's known as one big party around here-around 600,000 people are said to attend each year. Take a look at some of the photos I took of the big Irish Party...

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: St. Patrick's Day Parade
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Everyday Minerals?

I've always wanted to try mineral makeup but never knew anyone in real life who's tried it before. Thanks to a Facebook thread about my new foundation I heard about Everyday Minerals from Lisa. Since they have a free tester kit I decided I really had nothing to lose and I went ahead and ordered it.

Overall, I have to say that so far, I'm not sold. I've been wearing makeup since 7th grade and usually wear it everyday. I know how to apply makeup so that it looks fairly natural and I dislike being able to look at my skin and seeing makeup resting on it and especially hate it when it accentuates my pores and lines. So far, that is exactly what this makeup has done.

I do have to say that it probably has a lot to do with the color and finish of the foundation I have. I opted for their original finish which is supposed to give you a "dewy" glow. I think that's exactly what is making this makeup look like makeup.

It does feel very light on my face, which is good and the blush is a nice color and blends well. At first I hated the eyeshadow that I chose but I wiped it off a tiny bit and it looks better. And from far away, the makeup looks pretty good. It's the up close that I don't like.
The makeup is very inexpensive and they shipped really fast. However the website doesn't really explain anything and the makeup did not come with any directions. Do I use my fingers? Is a brush best? Who knows? (I know...but they didn't tell me at all.)

I'm going to give them another try because of what I've heard about them, the way it feels on my face and their prices. I'll re-order the mat finish and hope that this will give me the flawless natural look I want.

This wasn't a paid ad...just wanted to share for those of you who have ever wondered but never tried. I'll let you know how the new color and finish work out!