Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Take a ride with me....

So, loyal readers (all 2 of you), I am closing up my 101 little things blog and combining the chronicling of my 101 goals with my general personal blog. The personal blog pretty much talks about things pertaining to my goals.... food, relationships, my dog... and it also has some (hopefully more in the near future) just musings about life. The new blog's address is- http://atraintobklyn.blogspot.com/ I really hope everyone will come and check it out :-)

all of the posts related to my 101 goals will be labled as 101 things, so you can follow them that way if you like.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Weekend fun in DC

This quarter's weekend getaway (goal #44) was a trip to DC to visit my girlfriend Cynthia. Cynthia is a huge deal. She has her own fabulous blog, Hungry Sista, is a writer for Essence Magazine and is currently a press correspondent for the White House (yeah... Prez Obama, Michelle and them... fabulous). I traveled to DC with my girlfriend Alex (who is also a huge deal!) on one of those commuter bus lines that travels between DC and New York. I was NOT pleased with taking the bus (we were originally going to drive Alex's car), but it turned out not being as I anticipated. for $50 (round trip) we rode in a fairly comfortable, air conditioned bus with free wi-fi and watched a movie (Paul Blart, Mall Cop.... which was surprisingly funny and touching... I shed a little tear at the end... and I'm not ashamed...) Alex introduced me to TastyKake donuts at our rest-stop break... She says they are a Philly treat.... can't say they were too shabby. Def better than Entemann's powdered donuts.

After 5 long hours on the train, we finally arrived in Dupont Circle, got our luggage and decided to get a cocktail while we waiting for Cynthia. Alex and I both had John Daily's at a cute little place called Bread and Brew. John Daily's are one of my new favorite summer cocktails. I was introduced to them the week before at Delysha's wedding. It is a mix of sweet tea vodka and lemonade. You can't even taste the alcohol.... not that this seasoned gin and tonic gal minds the taste of alcohol, but it got the stamp of approval from lightweight Alex.

Cynthia showed up and we trekked over to her spot. We had plans that evening to meet up with Alex's friend for dinner so Alex decided to jump in the shower to make sure she was all fresh and clean (apparently Cynthia and I weren't too concerend :-p)... after a slight towel... "situation" and some back and forth about outfit selection, we were off to dinner at this awesome placed called Oya for dinner. It was fantastic. I had these BBQ sticky ribs that were AMAZING (but messy) and this great cocktail called a Fuji Island... which was a mixture of Soju, cucumber and black pepper. Sounds odd.... tasted fabulous.

Being the old broads that we were, we went home after dinner and, after a slight sheet... "situation" we promptly fell asleep. Saturday we spent the day wandering around in Georgetown, shopping it up and eating pizza and Ben and Jerrys. I "motivated" (read: forced) the girls to walk home instead of taking the bus... about a 45 min walk, mostly uphill (Hey we gotta work off that Ben and Jerrys) so by the time we got home we were beat, and I promptly fell asleep. It was 7:00. After making fun of me for falling asleep, Cynthia and Alex both decided to nap too... We woke up around 10:00 to pouring rain and decided we were too lazy to go out and just sat around chatting and watching TV.

Sunday we woke up bright and early, had a lovely brunch and then took an extremely anti-climactic tour of the National Cathedral. Church service was going on at the time, so maybe that is why we only got to see like 1.5 rooms?... but I"m not so sure. Beautiful cathedral though... from the outside :-p

We bid adieu to Cynthia, boarded the bus and were on our way back to NYC. I had a great time in DC and really can't wait to visit again :-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Trying to regain motivation....

Whew.... hello friend(s)... it's been quite a while since my last entry.... almost 2 months as a matter of fact. A TON of things happened in that 2 month period... I turned 30, went to Miami... helped Curly Tail Pug Rescue with the placement of over FIFTY (yes you read it right 50!) pugs/pug mixes in need, waved a not so tearful goodbye to the dreary winter and officially started basking in the Brooklyn spring sun..... Unfortunately some not so good things happened that really kind of put a damper on my blogging spirit; my camera broke which really limited my ability to document anything and my ipod was lost/stolen.... which just kind flucks up my whole sh*t... It's hard to do things.... anythign without an ipod....:-p

It's hard to keep up my motivation to blog. Really hard. It's kind of like the gym... once your into it you're good to go, but if you miss a few days or a week then (at least for me) then you're sidelined for a minute. But time is a-wasting and if I'm going to complete the remaining goals on this list I REALLY have to get a move on.

One thing I realize about myself is that I really do thrive on reinforcement... I'm a fairly internally motivated individual, but knowing that somebody is in my corner supporting me is EXTREMELY motivating for me. So if you happen to come across this blog feel free to leave a comment. I will LOVE you if you do :-p I think what I really need to do is find a community of folks who are also into completing/working towards goals so I can stay motivated that way. Thirdly I think I need to find a way to actually get more people to read my blog(s)... knowing that someone (other than Janet... LOVE YOU JANET) reads my blogs and knows when I'm being a complete slacker and not posting will definitely help me stay motivated to update this thing.

Whew... so hopefully I will never be gone this long again. I actually have been doing some things that I will update now (I need some information from my old computer).... the next post will probably also not be that entertaining or colorful but at least I'm back.

Love y'all!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So long it's been......

It's been SOOOOO long since i had a new post here... yes i KNOW Janet! :-p But I"m back in action effective today and hopefully won't be out of action like this again. Ugh who knew it would be so hard to maintain a blog?!?

Be back later!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Friday Night Ethiopian Extravagana (Recipes 15-17)

So my guy Curtis and I had an Ethiopian food night on Friday. We had decided about a week ago that we wanted to get together and cook something new, and we settled upon Ethiopian food because neither of us had ever attempted that at home and there were tons of vegetarian options for Curtis and meat options for me.

The Menu:
Since neither of us had had Ethiopian food for a while, I found a few menus online for Ethiopian restaurants and Curtis picked 2 veggie dishes (Atakilt Wot and Shiro) and I picked 1 beef dish (Tibs Wot) since I had beef in the freezer that needed to be used. In addition to the dishes we, of course, had to have some Injera and I made a little cocktail for us as well.

Ingredients of interest:
Ethiopians use a LOT of spices in their cooking. The only spice that neither of us had ever cooked with was Fenugreek seed. Fenugreek seed seemed to provide an essential flavor to 2 of the staple components of Ethiopian cooking, Niter kibbeh and berbere (more about those later). Fenugreek is native to India and is often used in Indian, Mediterranean and Northern African cooking. By itself fenugreek has a slightly bitter taste. Incidentally I had become familiar with fenugreek a few years earlier when I ordered a "grow your boobs big" kit online. It came with a bunch of herbs and berries that were supposed to make your boobs bigger. One of them was fenugreek! I believe you were supposed to make tea out of the seeds AND use a lotion on your boobies that was infused with fenugreek. Obviously this didn't work out for me, but now that I have stock of seeds I may give it another shot... Anyway moving on...

The Process...
So before Curtis came over I decided to make 2 elements of the meal, the niter kibbeh and the Tef. Niter kibbeh is a clarified butter that is infused with ginger, garlic and a ton of other spices. To make the niter kibbeh I just melted a 1/2 pound of butter with a couple slices of fresh ginger, 2 cloves of garlic, cardamon pods, cinnamon, cloves, turmeric and fenugreek, let it simmer for an hour and then strained out the solids. It smelled AMAZING! The smell was very warm and "comforting" (for lack of a better word) from the cloves, ginger and cinnamon, with a certain spiciness from the fenugreek and tumeric. it smelled SOOo good... i wish this blog had smell'o'vision so I could share it.

Tej is a sweet wine that is made from fermented honey and the leaves and twigs from a special kind of hops called gesho. Obviously i wasn't going to be fermenting honey in Bed Stuy so I decided to go with this rough approximation of tej that was basically honey, water and wine. It was tasty... I'm sure it didn't taste ANYTHING like real tej, but it was sweet, refreshing and got the job done. I think I'm going to try and get some real tej sometime soon then just so I can try it.

Curtis came through around 7:30 and we quickly got started on the berbere. The berbere, along with the niter kibbeh, seemed to be the most important, quintessentially Ethiopian, elements of the meal. Berbere is a hot pepper baste (or dry powder) that is made from a TON of spices (cumin, cardamom, allspice, cloves, turmeric, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne, etc etc). Curtis and I had most of the spices on hand in ground form, but we decided to be authentic as possible and purchase the whole form of each spice, and toast and grind it into powder ourselves. The berbere was really easy to make.. we just toasted the spices until they became fragrant, ground them up in my coffee grinder, and then threw them in the blender with some onion, garlic, ginger, oil and water. So easy and so tasty! I can't really describe the taste of the berbere itself it was similar to Indian curry but sharper... not quite as muddled. Ours wasn't that hot, but i don't think I got the right kind of peppers for it. I have about a cup of berbere left over and I'm definitely going to keep it on hand. It would make a fabulous marinate for fish or chicken, or just an additive to stews for an extra kick of flavor. Yumm....

The actual dishes were probably the least excite portions of the meal to make. To prepare Tibs Wat (Beef stew) you cook up some pureed ginger, onion and garlic in hot niter kibbeh, add some paprika and berbere paste, red wine, beef stock, cayenne and beef chunks marinated in lemon and salt and let it cook for about 40 min. Nothing terribly exciting but this mess was hella tasty. I was very concerned because I tasted the mixture after the addition of the paprika and berbere and it was REALLY disgusting. If it weren't for Curtis calming me down I might have chucked it... it was that nasty, but obviously the addition of the wine, stock and beef created some sort of culinary magic because in the end it was fantastic... spicy, complex, creamy, and a tad bitter.

Curtis took the lead on preparing the veggie dishes but they also didn't seem that difficult to make. The atkilt wot was basically a bunch of cut up veggies (carrots, green beens, cabbage) and potato cut up, COVERED in niter kibbeh and baked until tender, buttery and delicious... and it was.. Seriously that niter kibbeh is no joke because those veggies were excellent. The taste was much milder than the tibs wot, but i liked it because it allowed you to really taste the complexities of the niter kibbeh. Also the flavor wasn't so overpowering that it couldn't be combined with other types of cuisine. I would totally make this as a side dish to go along with baked chicken and brown rice... I think a lot of people would enjoy their veggies prepared this way. Not particularly healthy (veggies doused in spiced butter) but definitely delicious.

Lastly Curtis made the Shiro Wot which was spicy green pea stew. As written the Shiro Wot was simply peas, onion, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. The flavor was obviously really mild and not particularly Ethiopian... I think I dropped the ball on this recipe. I should have looked for a better one. I think niter kibbeh should have been subbed for the oil and there should have been some berbere in there. We ended up adding a few tablespoons of berbere at the end and it really kicked up the dish.

Lastly we tried our hand at injera... injera is a spongy, sour, crepe-like flat bread that is used as a utensil for eating the stews. Proper injera is made from teff (a cereal grain indigenous to Ethiopia) flour mixed with water and allowed to ferment for several days. Because of the fermentation, injera is very sour. After fermentation the injera is baked into large flat pancakes. Soo... we decided on our Ethiopian theme late Wednesday and I didn't figure out how to make injera until Thursday so obviously the fermentation was out. Instead we decided to make this "quick injera" recipe that I saw online which was basically a batter made from whole wheat and white flour, baking powder, club soda and a little lemon joice. This was not injera. These were very bland pancakes. They definitely LOOKED like injera and were spongy like injera... but they tasted like very bland pancakes. Thankfully neither of us really like injera so we were pleased with our pancakes.

Overall I give the meal a solid A and the company an A+. Although we didn't actually eat until 11:00 we had a great time cooking and chatting and it was just really nice to be able to share an activity that I like so much with someone who enjoys it just as much as I do. By the end of the night i was EX.HAUSTED but the learning and company was totally worth the effort. Hopefully we can make this a monthly or bi-monthly activity. Here are a few shots of our finished products:
My Plate...

Curtis' Plate...

The table:

I think I'm going to use my leftover berbere to make some doro wat next weekend or later on this month and try to make a proper injera. If anyone interested in coming over for dinner just let me know. :-)


Monday, March 23, 2009

Oh My Damn....

OKAY Eric Benet... I see you... I watched this video at work... probably shouldn't have.... Whoo wee..... That's all I'm going to say...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

2 More Best Picture Movites- Platoon and Out of Africa

I watched 2 more movies on my "picture of the year list". I watched both of these last Saturday during my failed DIY kinky twist experiment... Even though I wasted 3-4 hours last weekend trying and failing to put in my twist extensions, the day wasn't a complete loss because i got to see 2 really good movies!

The first movie I watched was Platoon. I didn't think I would really like this movie, since I'm not that into war movies but it turned out to be a pretty decent flick. The movie centered around the lives of 13 soldiers and specifically 1 new soldier who had volunteered to go to Vietnam (he was a wealthy, white guy who dropped out of college) in an effort to personally recify the injustice of only the poor having to go to war (something the other "poor" soldiers thought was really idiotic). The movie kind of followed his change from a shared shitless newbie to a "real" soldier and showed his struggle to not let the atrocities that he saw committed in Vietnam turn him into a monster as well.

The movie was violent, but not in a gratuitous way, and had that late '70s, grimy, M.A.S.H type visual effect... like the movies i used to watch on Sunday afternoons on FOX growing up. Overall I really enjoyed the movie To me, the main theme of the movie seemed to be the struggle not to let Vietnam eat the soldiers alive... Stress, fatigue, disease, often leads soldiers to do things that they wouldn't normally do (rape, kill innocents, pillage villages) and it seemed like there was a real struggle within all of the characters around what Vietnam was making them become. There were 13 or so "supporting" characters and I really appreciated the fact that each of the 13 had their own personality with depth... it wasn't just like, "this is the evil guy ann this is the good guy..." they each had their own struggle, which Oliver Stone was able to get across quite skillfully despite the fact that no one had that many lines. Also it was also just kind of cool to see all of the young actors, Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp, The guy from Scrubs, Willem Defou, Forrest Whitaker, the bad guy trying to take over Ice Cube's shop in Barbershop... Good times all around. I don't know if I'd watch the movie again, but i give it a solid B.

The second film I watched was Out of Africa. I was NOT excited about watching this... from the previews it seemed like it was going to be one of those beautiful, sweeping, but mind-numbingly boring pics... like the English Patient. Also the movie is about colonial Kenya and the main characters were all rich white people.... I was not excited about this movie. But it turned out to be REALLY great! The main character, played by Meryl Streep, was an "aging" (probably late 20's... but I guess that's old for a single woman in the early 1900s) single woman with family money who married her best friend, a poor Baron, in exchange for a title and had to relocate to Kenya to be with her new husband.

When she arrived at her new place it was made pretty clear to her that her marriage wasn't real and her new husband wasn't really going to be around much and of course at first she was put off by all the black faces she saw. She didn't trust anyone... she looked at all the natives like they were dirty and were going to steal her stuff...( needless to say I was getting annoyed at this point.) With no friends or family in the remote area where she lived, the Baroness decided to throw all of her energy into making sure her farm prospered and creating actual relationships with the people who worked on the farm and lived in the neighboring villages. During this time she met and fell in love with a man, played by Robert Redford, who seemed to be sort of a wandering/jack of all trades type... but with money. LOL He was sexy and funny and they had a true connection and fell in love.. aWWW but he was also a man and didn't want to be "controlled" by calling it a relationship or actually getting married.

Anywhoo I'm not going to recap the entire story, but all in all the Baroness grew to really care about her "native" neighbors and friends... not in an annoying, paternalistic type of way, but a real, honest affection for who they were and respect for their ways and culture. Through her relationship with Robert Redford's character (who was RIDICULOUSLY hot in this movie...) she discovered herself, her own self worth. SUCH a great movie! The end was heartbreaking... I was sitting in my apartment crying like a fool. I won't spoil it, but it's definitely worth checking out. I would watch it again in a heartbeat, so i give Out of Africa a solid A.