Monthly Archives: March 2013

News: The Blogging


I have at least two posts to give you here with real content, but I’ve been sucked into the world of trying to get my blogs formatted the way I want. It’s more difficult than you might think. I keep changing things, then changing them back, wondering if I think it’s good enough or if I should change it again. Luckily, the option to change everything about your blog is always available, so if I’m not happy with the changes in two weeks, I can redo them again.

I’ve been thinking about the blog background. I like the colors a lot, but I’m not sure a jellyfish is the right image for the whole idea of my blog, so that might be changing too. But I don’t have a good replacement, so why bother changing it? Anyone have any suggestions of what you would like to look at in your peripheral vision while reading my posts? (The jellyfish picture comes from the stock images on my computer, by the way.)

I got the whole pages menu back, after that brief period of having accidentally deleted them. Sorry about that. I have completely rewritten my “About” page. I definitely think you should have a glance. At present, my other two page categories are “foodstyle” and “monthly favorites.” If you click on the Foodstyle tab, it will probably be self-explanatory. The Monthly Favorites was inspired by the thing that is usually done by youtube vloggers, and that is pretty self-explanatory as well. I’d expect it’s much easier to do this in video form, because you can just hold the items in front of the camera and talk about them. I’ll have to settle for very low-quality pictures with my phone, until I can acquire a digital camera that works. In the meantime, my March Favorites, the first pass at it, are currently up, so go ahead and have a look if you are interested.

I have been working a bit on my writing blog as well, reformatting and trying to figure out how I want to present everything there. That’s still in process.

Last, but not least, I have caved and joined twitter. Really, I just had a moment when I really didn’t want anyone else to get the chance to take @devawriting. If you’re on twitter, tell me your name and I might follow you! I’ve just started, so I don’t know if it’ll be worth it to follow me yet.

Well, I should finish my procrastination activities for now and get back to editing. I decided to work tonight so I wouldn’t have to do quite as much this week, but I don’t think it’ll end up being much more than an hour total. Oops…

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Anthropologie Event and Fashion Find


I’ve long been drawn to Anthropologie, and sometime last year I finally signed up for a membership. It’s free, and you get certain benefits, such as an annual birthday discount and early access to sales. Beyond that, it also came with an invitation to the spring fashion show held at their Harvard Square store. …At least, I think that was a membership perk. I can’t think of any other reason I would have received that.

Since I really like Anthropologie, and it was something new and something to do, I decided to go. There was the option to bring someone, so if you would have liked to go, I’m sorry, I was not aware. I’ll keep you in mind for next time, I guess?

The event was last night. It started at 8, so I got there just before. (I stopped at Starbucks first to get a quick coffee. I had to wait several minutes before anyone came to take my order. I didn’t complain, but they gave me a coupon for a complimentary beverage, so, free latte later!) The people checking the “list” at the door were very welcoming, although that was of course what they were there for… I stashed my coat upstairs and then headed back to the mezzanine for the complimentary refreshments. They had a selection of mini Kickass Cupcakes. I had a mojito, always a tasty choice, and some wine. There was also a table featuring pieces of flatbread pizzas, I forget where from, and Pellegrino for a non-alcoholic beverage option. I wasn’t all that thirsty, so I just went for the free wine. I believe it was a Spanish wine. I liked it, and honestly, I’m not even much of a wine-drinker.

Here's a shot of the cupcake and wine table.

Here’s a shot of the cupcake and wine table.

After my little snack, I went and found myself a seat for the fashion show part of the event. There were something like 10 models, perhaps a few more, wearing some great pieces from the store. I had a feeling that some of them may have been actual models, but others were probably Anthropologie employees. They all looked great. It’s interesting to see models in this context in clothes you could actually wear every day (some of the dresses were a little fancier), almost like flipping through a catalogue, but in 3d. (You probably get what I mean.) One of the models had on the Chroma Shadow Sheath, which I’ve been coveting for quite a while now.

When the fashion show was over, I snagged one more piece of flatbread and searched through the sale section while I was there. I picked up a few, very discounted things.

 

Including this squirrel on a bicycle.

Including this squirrel on a bicycle.

I’m really liking this whole animals-on-bicycles thing that seems to be going around.

Overall, it was a cool little event, nothing too exciting, but worth one short evening of my life. I enjoyed myself, and I got some free food out of it. Plus, with a purchase, they entered you in a raffle to win a gift card. I don’t know when they contact the winner of that… I don’t expect to win, as I never ever win raffles, but you never know.

In other news, I have been directed to a certain shopping website, called PLNDR (pronounced “plunder,” I’d guess). Everything is greatly discounted, and they have a pretty wide variety of stock in both women’s and men’s clothing. Even if you don’t find anything at first, it appears that they get new stock fairly frequently. I just ordered a few very cheap items from them (under $10 tops). I would recommend checking them out. You do have to create a login just to browse, which I generally do not like in an online store, but you won’t be charged anything to sign up. http://www.plndr.com/plndr/MembersOnly/login.aspx?r=7149401

Cozy Eating at The Squealing Pig


Last weekend I had a great meal with friends at the little Longwood area pub, The Squealing Pig. It’s a place I had heard mentioned for a while, but never managed to go to myself despite living near it for over a year. I’m so glad I finally went! It’s a very nice atmosphere. Not quiet enough to be a good date spot, but good for a gathering of friends, or perhaps a casual date. They feature a wide selection of drinks and good, simple food.

Beer-wise, it seems they have some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. I’d personally go for a Magner’s cider, which they have on tap. I find many brewed drinks taste better on tap. I’m not much of a beer person anyway, but there are many options for those who are.

The food is their spin on pub food, so they’ve got the usual appetizers (quesadilla, fries), soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, etc. I had to go with the lobster toastie when I saw it on the menu. A toastie is like a panini. This one had bacon and cheddar cheese I ordered the soup of the day to go along with it, which was a smoked haddock chowder. I guess it was a seafood night.

I would give my meal a three out of five (this may or may not be my rating system for reviewing restaurants in the future). The flavors were all very good, but the soup was very hot and I, of course, couldn’t wait five minutes, so I burned my mouth a little bit. The toastie was a little bit dry. It was clearly not pressed with any sort of butter or oil on the outside of the bread, and none of the fixings inside had much moisture to release. I enjoyed both the soup and the sandwich, but it was not 100% satisfying. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures, because I was not thinking at the time about making a blog post. By the time it occurred to me, the food was gone.

My friends ordered the fish and chips and the asparagus pizza. I tried a little bit of each. I have to say, the cod was amazing. The batter was very light, and the fish was so moist and flaky. I almost wished I had ordered it. The fries were very good too, but they’re only fries, so I don’t have much to say about them. I remember thinking that the pizza had good flavors, but I only had a small bite, not enough to get a good sense of it. I want to try a pizza myself when I go back there. I’m thinking the shrimp and chorizo.

I can’t end without commenting that our table was right next to a lit woodstove, so my legs were very warm and comfy. However, there was also a large group of people having some sort of party, and I was extremely tired, as it was a Friday night. For me, if I had more energy or went on a quieter night, I think it would be a great place to come back to.

On the way home, my hands were freezing, and it felt like too much effort to get out my gloves. I stopped at the Green T Coffee Shop to get a nice warm beverage instead. It’s located right on the E train of the Green line (hence the name). Looking at their special drink menu, I noticed that they still advertised pumpkin spice lattes. IN MARCH. My answer to that was “yes, gimme.” I ordered a small–this was my first time in this coffee shop, and I was still pretty full anyway. The barista was very nice and friendly. There were no other customers to wait on, so we chatted a bit while he made my latte.

I found the “spice” part of the name to be a little lacking, but the flavor overall was very good. I suppose I could always get one, take it home, and sprinkle some pumpkin spice seasoning on it… unfortunately, my mouth was still angry with me for eating such hot soup, so the experience was not as pleasant as it should have been. I am intending to go back and try another of their beverages on a day when I have not done something stupid to my mouth or tongue.

*I realize that this is not a very professionally presented restaurant review. I’d rather it have the personal touch instead.

Blog Thoughts


Today I met up with someone from my study abroad program who I haven’t seen for about 5 years. It was really nice to hang out and reconnect, although we never really hung out in Ireland, so I don’t know if that “re” really makes sense. That’s not important. It was fun.

I stopped at Panera for lunch, using a gift card for FREE FOOD! I love free food. I ordered from the “hidden menu,” and I have to say I was pretty happy with the Mediterranean chicken salad. It had bacon and eggs in it, so it’s almost like a breakfast salad. I think this was the first time I’ve ordered a salad from Panera, and they are pretty large. Of course, it came with a side of bread, which was delicious.

 

I might start talking about clothes soon. I don’t think I want to be a fashion blogger, because I’d feel like I’m inviting people to judge my style… but I inadvertently will start talking about my clothes to my friends sometimes, and although I usually talk for longer than they care to listen, I kind of like it. Who knows, maybe you’re interested in hearing about what I wear, and maybe you REALLY don’t care. This blog will still be mainly comprised of food/life adventures, so don’t worry. I’m just thinking of throwing another ingredient into my recipe-less blog.

Squealing Pig review coming soon. I promise!

Food Acquisition, plus Spinach Tortellini with Tomato Saute


If anyone knows how to type  in the e with the accent on it so that I can spell “saute” correctly in the title, please let me know.

First, a brief review!

This is not the best coffee in the world. This is just a tribute.

This is not the best coffee in the world. This is just a tribute.

The caption there is a play on the Tenacious D song, “Tribute,” in case you aren’t familiar. These were bought online due to a Starbucks membership promotion. Yes, I have a Starbucks membership, and no, I don’t go there every day. I got a gift card for Christmas and registered it mostly because I wanted the free birthday beverage. I think it was a Vanilla Spice latte. If not… doesn’t matter. In any case, I had a discount coupon, so I ordered these items. Haven’t tried the coffee yet, so I guess it could actually be the greatest coffee in the world. Kind of doubt it though.

If you can’t see it well enough, the via product is an instant version of their “very berry hibiscus refresher,” which is made from coffee juice, I guess. I tried one the other day, and it wasn’t bad, but tasted very different from the one you can buy freshly made. I would only recommend buying this if you can get it on sale, like I did.

Last week, I did two grocery shopping trips in one day, spent nearly $70 total–quite a lot for one day for me (on food, that is), but I still have a lot of food left from those trips, so I don’t think it’ll work out to be much more for the month’s groceries than I usually spend. In case you’re now wondering, I do not work off an actual budget. I’m sure I should, but I manage fine without it, and I have a tendency to rebel against the approach of “you CANNOT spend any more than ___.” I’ll spend more just because. So I don’t bother.

Things I should always buy in multiple when I go to Trader Joe’s: Spicy Powdered Chai Mix, Chile Lime Chicken Burgers, Chicken and Cheese Tamales, Pumpkin Ice Cream (when available), individual serving Greek yogurt, frozen naan. Having these things available at any given time makes my life better.

Last, but not least, I have a non-recipe to share (finally)! It is a very uncomplicated thing to make, as its base is quick-cooking spinach tortellini. I used the package bought from Trader Joe’s, but any variety you can find will work.

I just want to take a moment to say that I LOVE spinach tortellini. It’s weird, because I’m not a fan of the flavor of cooked spinach. However, dishes that involve cooked spinach in which other flavors are more prominent than the spinach itself can be as delicious as anything. What I have done in the past with instant tortellini or ravioli is just melt some butter and mix in some herbs, and pour it over the pasta. This is a slightly more involved version of that practice.

The actual cooking part doesn’t take much time at all, but I always forget how long water takes to boil. Start boiling your water first or you’re going to be sitting there trying to keep your sauce warm and tapping your foot yelling, “Goddamn it water, boil!”

I’m not going to explain how to cook the tortellini, because there are instructions on the package. For the tomato saute, I started by melting a whole bunch of butter in a small pan. Read the rest of this entry

The Little Things…


image

 

I’m so happy with how my eggs turned out today that I’m posting a picture of them for you. I’m less happy with how the picture itself turned out, but I do not have a good camera, so at least that’s not a surprise.

These are over-sunny-side-up. I know that’s not a thing. But, instead of flipping them like I usually do, I covered the pan for a minute or two, and the bit of white just formed over the top. The yolks cooked a bit more than I like them (I want ’em runny!), but I don’t care today because it’s so rare that my eggs turn out so pretty.

You might start to see these plates often, because they’re more appropriate for personal servings than the large dinner plates I have. I love these plates. They were on sale at Anthropologie so I got a set of two. Anthropologie is an awesome store, but unfortunately I can’t really afford anything that isn’t on sale. And a lot of things that are on sale.

Happy breakfast!

 

(also toast with some apricot jam and coffee, in case you were wondering)

It’s Food


Uh oh… I’ve been neglecting my recipe-less life. I can’t remember if I’ve made anything worth writing about lately. I’m going to have to assume I haven’t… I’m sorry! I’ll just have to come up with something to say.

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so I assume everyone is drinking green beer or Guinness or Irish whiskey, or Bailey’s, or something like that. Or eating soda bread, potatoes, butter, irish style bacon, stew, or anything someone once told you was a very Irish thing to eat. I’m wearing a green t-shirt, and I’m going to heat up some of my seasoned curly fries as part of dinner. Potatoes are so Irish! No alcohol for me today. And really… I don’t care.

Last weekend I went to Bertucci’s with my dad, and as usual I really think my family’s recipe for meatballs can’t be beat. I forget how to make them though. I ate a LOT and somehow went home with three salads and a bunch of other leftovers.

I have also finally been to one of the many Mexican places in my neighborhood, a place called Acapulco – I tried the enchiladas. Good, but I wonder if some of their other options are better. The week after that, I went to Tres Gatos, a tapas restaurant/bookstore. The food is very tasty, but the ambiance isn’t great (it was really loud in there), and I’ve been to other tapas places I definitely prefer. I would definitely go there again, but only once in a while.

In actual news, I subscribed to two different tasting boxes and received my first one from Love with Food!

IMG_20130312_190114       IMG_20130312_190332

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard that some bloggers get paid to review the stuff in their boxes. I would be happy to be one of them, but I am not, so I’m not planning to go through the contents of each box and talk about them. I might note anything that really stood out, like this time, the Cosmos salted caramel corn snacks. They had the consistency of cheese puffs, and more of a buttery than caramely flavor. I gave the chocolate covered wasabi peas to my roommate, because I didn’t think I’d want them.

Love with Food is a good one to subscribe to, because there’s a charitable aspect. They give food to the needy for every box you purchase, or something… I don’t know the details, but you can look it up on their site.

The other one I ordered, Goodies Co., I won’t get until April. They’re cheap, $7 a month, and availability is limited because they’re in beta mode, but I think I waited a week or two before they emailed me that I could get the box.

The point of these boxes for me is to reduce the need to buy snack items at the grocery store. And of course, if I find that what I get is not really worth the investment for me, then I can always stop getting the boxes. We’ll have to see how it goes. For now I am sure I’ll be happy enough with them, as it’s under $20 a month for both boxes.

And, in food news, that really is pretty much all I have to say. Not too exciting, I know. I’m going to have to make something interesting to fix that, and in the meantime I might have other life adventures to share with you.

The Cost of Sandwiches


*I’m just going to start off by saying: No, this is not a post about why you shouldn’t eat sandwiches. The only reason I’d ever say that is because it would mean MORE FOR ME!! I love sandwiches and when people say they are just “not really a sandwich person,” that’s weirder to me than when people say “I’m not a dessert person.” They just have to be crazy, right? Sandwiches are delicious. That’s the only logical explanation for not liking them.

This is, in fact, simply about how much money it costs to buy a sandwich.

You used to be able to get a pretty good sandwich for about $5. I don’t remember details, but I remember it happening. It was a really long time ago – which is my point, but we’ll come back to that.

Add a beverage, and you had a meal for 6 or 7 bucks. Not bad, really. And, like I said, I love sandwiches, so for me it was GREAT!!

If you wanted a really fancy sandwich, the most you were likely to pay was 7 or 8 dollars. I never went to REALLY fancy places, so I don’t know, could have been more there.

…Now, if I go out and buy a sandwich, it’s usually closer to $7 for a basic one, more for a more complex one. So, add the price of a drink to that, and you’re approaching $10.

Let’s be honest here. A sandwich is only as good as its ingredients. Fresh meats and veggies and really good bread are the most significant aspects of this. Now, just think a minute. Usually, if you’re ordering from a place that’s using really top quality, fresh ingredients, All but the most simple sandwiches are going to be upwards of $8. Local businesses are often more expensive, presumably because they aren’t getting super-bulk discounts on their ingredients… (you’d think buying locally would cost less, but for some reason it often seems to cost more.) And if you decide you want a latte or a fancy tea with that, that’s $2-5 more. Get a smoothie as well, and congratulations, you just spent too much on lunch.

This is not laid out in the simplest way, so I’ll just say it outright: when I go to some of my favorite cafes and delis for a sandwich meal, I’m spending almost $10 without any extras. Add a drink, it’s about $11-12. Leave a tip in the jar, it’s $12-14 (I usually give no more than a dollar for counter service: delivery guys and waitress/waiters get way more). That is approximately twice as much as what it used to cost.

I’m not including fast food in this account, because I really don’t eat at fast food places much anymore. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. More of a simple lack of desire to eat at places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, etc. I know you can get pretty cheap meals at those places, but since I don’t want to go there, I’m not even thinking of it as an option for anyone else. Just, ew.

Even at Au Bon Pain, which I still like, if you get a sandwich and a coffee it’s usually $8 or 9. Not as high as the delicious places I like to go to, but still a few dollars more than what a meal used to be. It seems the only cheap sandwiches these days are breakfast sandwiches, which I tend to only want for breakfast.

There is still one option for cheap sandwich-based meals, of course – diners! And diner food is ok, often even good, but how many diners do you know that are using the best quality bread and all-local ingredients? …probably not many. If they are, their prices are probably higher.

The takeaway here, in case it’s not clear, is that sandwiches cost more now. Deal with it.

Shrimp and pepper saute over quinoa


So I made this a while ago… I can’t really remember exactly what I put in it any more, so here’s some variation or other of this dish:

Pretty!

Pretty!

Quinoa: prepared according to basic instructions. It was a tricolor package. I used 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup water, which is much closer to the amount one person would want to eat than if you make a whole cup…

Saute:

Heat vegetable oil in pan, add sliced bell peppers. Mine were “rainbow,” but actually more of “flamebow”–red, orange, and yellow. Very nice to look at. Cook for several minutes, until peppers are getting soft.

I remember now. I actually added the peppers alone first, to get them seared a little, then added the oil after, before adding the shrimp.

Add peeled raw shrimp. Stir to make sure the shrimp is touching the pan, not just sitting on top of the peppers.

When shrimp has started to turn opaque and pink, add fresh basil. Mix in.

Add desired seasonings. Suggestions: cajun seasoning, thyme, black pepper, red pepper flakes. I am pretty sure I added red pepper flakes.

When it looks done, squeeze lime wedges over shrimp and peppers, stir to coat.

Put quinoa in a bowl, serve shrimp and peppers on top.

 

This was quite pleasing to the mouth and the eyes, and yet I wanted a cheeseburger SO BAD right after eating it (I had wanted one earlier too). I didn’t end up getting a cheeseburger… in fact, I still haven’t managed to have one yet. I should get on that. On a different day, I’m sure it would have been quite satisfying.

 

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