Blog Archives

My Dream Hometown


Apparently, making a “list” of qualities of your ideal man is a thing people do. I haven’t ever done it, and I’ve never had a discussion relating to it with anyone in real life, so maybe it only happens in romantic comedies. In any case, I had the idea to make a similar list but instead of pertaining to a significant other, it’s about my ideal neighborhood. Here we go:

  1. There’s a reasonable greenery to pavement ratio. Nice trees and stuff. On a related note, the sidewalk is NOT strewn with trash.
  2. I live at least a few blocks away from any schools (there is an elementary school right next door to me right now, which is a lot more annoying than it sounds).
  3. Within a five minute walk there is a place where I can get really good coffee–both brewed coffee and lattes–and a delicious and reasonably priced breakfast sandwich. Also reasonably near is great pizza, sandwiches, burritos, and a nice but relatively inexpensive bar.
  4. My close friends live near me. Now, I realize it isn’t the case for most people after college, but we are talking ideal here.
  5. The sidewalks are consistently wide enough for two people to pass and adequately shoveled in the winter.
  6. There is a good bookstore, with the kind of seating available that makes you want to hang around.
  7. Clothing and shoe shops that are easy to get to. (Really good ones, that carry stuff I’d want to wear.)
  8. People take good care of their facades and front lawns. And they all have front lawns.

That’s all I’ve got for now. There are probably other things that would qualify as well. Near public transit, for instance–it’s important right now, but might not be sometime in the future…

We’ll just have to see what happens. Mostly, what I’m saying is that I’m going to want a great breakfast sandwich tomorrow, and I’m not sure where to get one.

Advertisements

Comfort Food Obsessed


Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and shopping for, food. I’ve been to the grocery store more times in the past two or three weeks than I usually would in a month or two, back when I felt satisfied by my larger shopping trips. Here and there, I think: “But you know what would be great, if I had some more tomatoes.” Another trip to the store. Luckily I haven’t spent as much per trip as I do when I’m taking fewer, slightly larger trips.

I hope I’m not becoming obsessed with food. A lot of days it feels like the only thing I get done is planning or making meals. At least half of that time is spent wishing for pizza or burritos. It usually takes a week or two before I absolutely HAVE to satisfy that craving… I’ve frequently made one of my favorite snacks, pizza toast, and it’s sadder cousin, cheesy toast (has no sauce or tomatoes to make it more like pizza).

Today for breakfast (ok, more like brunch) I made a combination of two of my go-to breakfast/lunch/snack foods: cheesy avocado toast. Most people would probably call it an avocado melt, but I like to be different. I spread the bread with avocado, added some chopped green onions and a dash of olive oil, smothered that in cheese, and baked it in the toaster oven until the cheese was perfectly melted and browned. (This mostly happens when I briefly lose track of time; otherwise I often get too impatient to let it brown.) It was very tasty, slightly too hot, but I avoided burning the roof of my mouth! Yay!

Sometimes it feels like food is the only thing in life I can figure out. Everything else is a mess, but as long as I can still make myself something delicious and at least semi-nutritious, I can enjoy a little bit of my day.

Quick Meal: West-by-Southwestern Omelet


To begin, I’m going to briefly talk about omelets. They are one of those categories of food that is widely liked because they are completely customizable. A wide variety of cheese, vegetables, meats, and even some fruits (apples, tomatoes, avocado) can go in. They also are generally fast to prepare. Even including all the chopping and whisking etc., it probably won’t take you any longer than 15 minutes to make. The cooking time is usually around 5 minutes for me, perhaps up to 7. I suppose there are even vegan substitutes for eggs and cheese, but I don’t know much about that, so I have no idea if they’re any good for making omelets.

One type of omelet that I used to like a lot, widely offered in restaurants, was the western omelet. This was usually made with cubed ham, green peppers, and American cheese. I loved orange American cheese when I was younger-now, not so much. But I decided I would really like a more grown-up version of a western omelet, mainly because I had green peppers.

I don’t have any special or particularly good omelet-making skills. Nothing you can’t find better described in a real recipe. I’ll just tell you a short story about this dish instead.

The burner should be turned on low-medium heat, no higher (in my experience that is; you’ll have to do what’s right for your own stove, pan, and eggs). The first thing I put in the pan is (probably a bit too much) butter. If you want to make an omelet my way, there must be lots of butter. Then of course the eggs are poured in. I usually mix them up with a little bit of cream. I’m not sure what it does exactly but that is how I like it.

Sometimes I let the eggs cook a little before adding any fillings, but I started right away this time to add the various ingredients. Into the middle of the eggs went green peppers, diced tomato, and sliced turkey. I topped that with some cracked black pepper and a nice heap of shredded mozzarella cheese.

Miraculously, the whole thing did not fall apart when I went to flip it. That does happen to me sometimes when I have a lot of ingredients in the middle. It came out very homemade-looking, but at least it was all in one piece. I then topped it off with some Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica and made some green tea. It was a delicious, filling dinner, but could also be eaten for breakfast or lunch.

wpid-20140912_175131.jpg

Go to Cafenation, Now. I’m Serious.


I can make a pretty good breakfast–that is, good for me. I will not claim to be skilled at any sort of fancy breakfast creations. I can make plenty of things that are tasty, or, at least edible, and at this point I’m very close to completely mastering the egg sandwich (often eaten for lunch or dinner as well, because I CANNOT get enough of them, it seems). I am incapable of making pretty pancakes or omelets. I’m trying to remember a time when I made breakfast for someone else that would be worth mentioning. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any.

This is why many of my best breakfasts happen when I go out. I don’t often go out for breakfast with a buddy. It’s too hard to gather people in the morning, especially a weekday morning, when the only people who could go with me aren’t even awake. (Or are in a different zip code.)

So I go out to breakfast. Or grab something on the way to work.

More often than not, this breakfast comes from Cafenation. They are one of my very favorite independent cafes in Boston (and everywhere else, but I’ll admit there are many I haven’t tried in other cities. In fact, most cafes in other cities I haven’t tried. Totally beside the point), because everything they offer is delicious. Their coffee is really good. Their chai is delicious. All their espresso drinks are amazing (I’m sure there’s the off drink once in a while), generally speaking. They have a pretty wide selection of teas, which I’m sure are also good. I’ve only tried the iced ones.

And the food? Well, duh. Delicious. Always. This morning I had the spiced apple and brie crepes, which were generously stuffed and dusted with powdered sugar. I had them before, probably three years ago, and it seemed about time. They have the standard cafe breakfast fare of bagels with various options for fillings/toppings (depending on if you eat it open-faced or not), tasty muffins and scones, and the full espresso bar you’re most likely hoping for. Then they have their omelets and crepes, good portions, fair price. I’ve tried one of the omelets with salsa and black beans, a bit like huevos rancheros, I guess. They also have a weekly special cream cheese flavor, in addition to the permanent selection, and jalapeno bagels. Who else has jalapeno bagels? Ok, probably a lot of places, but still.

Then there’s the lunch options. They have a small sampling of salads and soup, the latter of which changes by the week or day (I don’t know, I don’t get soup very much), and a nice list of sandwiches on your choice of bread. A few of the sandwiches are vegetarian options. Many of the breakfast items are vegetarian, and you can order them for lunch as well. The sandwiches are served with a good portion of mixed greens–more than just a token side salad, but not so much that it takes your attention from the sandwich. They also give you their housemade balsamic dressing, which is sweet and different and even if you think you don’t like balsamic dressing, I’d recommend you try it.

Bonus: They have one of the best day-old bread selections I’ve ever seen. Very rarely is the stuff more than just a little bit stale, but most likely it will keep for several days. They portion it well, too. I can get a half-dozen bagels, two muffins, and a scone for $3. There are times when I don’t buy bread at the grocery store for two or three weeks because I can get better stuff for less money at Cafenation. However, it’s often gone by midway through the day, so if you really want a good selection, you should go in the morning. It varies from day to day, too, as you might imagine. Sometimes they have a nice big pile, others, just a few bags. It’s a bit of a hit-or-miss sometimes, but definitely worth it.

In addition, the staff are generally very friendly, and if it’s not busy will even have conversations with you about things like tea. Sometimes they even remember my name. I go there a lot.  You should go there, and tell them I sent you. It won’t get you anything special, and most of them probably won’t know what you’re talking about, but tell them anyway.

Cafenation, 380 Washington St., Brighton, MA

Look Around, Try Something New


Ever been to Clover? They’re a vegetarian,  fresh-fast food joint with a few locations and a food truck or two.  I’m not vegetarian myself, but I’ve enjoyed their offerings every time I’ve been there so far.  This morning makes number 3, and it was definitely delicious. [Click the link in this paragraph to go to their website if you’re interested in finding out stuff about the business. You should, they’re cool.]

Circumstances collided this morning to make me desperate to buy a breakfast sandwich. I was on my way to Starbucks and happened to look up as I walked, for once, and notice Clover across the street. As I was thinking to myself, “They’re so good,” I saw their breakfast menu written on the window. For some reason I had been under the impression that they only did lunch, so I was surprised and immediately thought to hell with Starbucks, I’m going to Clover!

I got the breakfast sandwich, which is a freshly cooked egg, tomato, and cheese on pita. It’s not the typical egg sandwich–the bread is unusual and the egg I think was soft-boiled (that’s the only method I’m aware of that would result in the eggy end product on my breakfast…)–and that’s ok. It was delicious. Of course, if you feel like you need bacon on your sandwiches, you’re going to have to go elsewhere,  but you’ll be passing up something great!

I also got a coffee, even though I’d already had coffee that morning, because I have a hard time resisting coffee. They use the pour-over method, which essentially guarantees you a good cup of coffee. I’m not a pour-over snob, I promise. I drink as much regular drip coffee as the next person who likes things that are simple and easy to prepare (but not instant–never instant! yuck!), but I like pour over places because it means that your coffee is freshly brewed, every time. It takes only a few minutes longer than the standard Starbucks coffee.

What it all boils down to is freshness. They use local ingredients, actually fresh ingredients (not frozen), and everything is made to order. I know some people don’t think that really matters, but believe me, you can taste the difference. However, they don’t jack the prices up like some places would–in fact, I find them very affordable. I am sure I’ll be going back there for breakfast in the future.

And they have popovers! I don’t always like popovers, but sometimes I’m in the mood for them. Maybe I’ll try the popover sandwich next time.

Monday Madness Again


I haven’t even been awake (fully) for three hours and I want to go back to sleep. Such is my life.

And because I woke up so late, I had tea and cookies that I keep in my desk for breakfast. No omelet (see yesterday’s post about what the hell I should do with all the basil), no yogurt, NO COFFEE. I think that bears repeating: I had no coffee this morning. The truth is, I don’t need it for the caffeine. I can wake up ok without any coffee. (And, you know, this might be a thing that addicts say, but) It’s the feeling of sitting down with a cup of coffee, the flavor, the knowledge that I actually have time to sit and drink coffee, more than the effects of the caffeine, that make me so unhappy when I miss it.

And now that I’m sitting at my desk, I don’t want to go out in this below-freezing weather to get coffee.

On some occasions, I sort of wish I were a trophy wife. If that were the case, I would have time for coffee every morning, because I wouldn’t have to worry about being at work. And I’d have time to organize my home, which I have not managed to do. I think that no matter how long I live somewhere, I have to really feel that I want to be in that apartment (or house, but that would be a long way off) before I can make efforts to make it feel like home.  Like, I would really like to get some drawer organizers, and then I thought I could probably make some myself. And then I thought further, when the hell am I going to have time for that?

But I don’t really want to be a trophy wife. I want the perks without having to be showered in extreme sexism/chauvinism every day. I want time and space to do the things in life that really matter to me. When you feel like you have to squeeze in the things you really care about wherever you can find time, and otherwise devote your life to pursuits you’re not enjoying just so you can afford to live, the passions and hobbies can become strains–especially when you start to feel guilty whenever you don’t have time to do them.

I feel like I, and pretty much everyone else on the internet, complain about the same things all the time. We could all just shut up and go DO things instead. But it’s so hard.

Monday Madness: A Travesty of Coffee or The 6:30 Conundrum


Monday mornings, generally being the re-start of waking up entirely too early for my tastes, can be very unpleasant.

I really think that the biggest morning problem I have is not being able to get into the bathroom.

I’m not a fan of waking up too much before 8. Especially if I’m not too excited about what I’m doing that day. However, since I do in fact have to get up and go to work, 6:30 would really be the perfect time to get up. However, that is usually the time my roommate goes to get into the shower. And here, I have a huge problem.

Generally the first thing I do, whether or not I’m showering in the morning, is head to the bathroom. It’s so ingrained as a habit that if I know the bathroom is occupied, I just WON’T get up. The delay should just be twenty minutes or so, and I could probably still do just fine if I got up at 7. But I can’t seem to do that. I either get up at (or before) 6:30, or continue to press snooze until well after 7–occasionally almost 8am, at which point I can’t do anything but get dressed and run out the door. No choice but to buy both breakfast and lunch, unless I happen to have some easy-to-grab yogurt and fruit.

This morning I managed to drag myself up around 7:30, after having my plans of getting up at 6:30 foiled yet again by the sound of the shower turning on. (To clarify: this is my fault, not my roommate’s. I don’t absolutely have to do the bathroom first. It’s mostly just stubbornness.) Yes, I went right into the bathroom. Then I put on a pot of coffee, and scrounged some form of easy breakfast.

Not really having time to relax with breakfast, my “second” cup (really third, if you consider the size of the mug I use) went into a travel mug. A horrible, coffee-flavor-altering travel mug.

I like travel mugs in theory, but I have two problems with them:

1) All my mugs but one seem to change the flavor of the coffee, so it tastes like pretty much nothing, with a slight tinge of coffee and plastic/metal. It’s pretty gross, generally. I have one ceramic travel mug, and it doesn’t do that. You know what else it doesn’t do? Keep my coffee the slightest bit warm.

2) The only beverage I ever use travel mugs for is coffee.

MUGS MATTER. I thought I could get around this this morning, but in the end it made me feel very disappointed with my morning. I don’t believe it’s the caffeine that really perks me up, but the flavor and the time spent lingering over my delicious roast. Coffee that tastes bad just defeats the entire purpose. The morning ritual is not fully necessary, and some people don’t need it at all. However, to grumpy risers like me, it’s very important. Without an uncomplicated, unstressful morning, I can’t have a really GOOD work day.

Voting day breakfast


image

This is the breakfast I got to have to reward myself for getting out to vote early enough to actually have time for breakfast afterward.

At Cafenation in Brighton. I ordered the Spanish Sunrise omelet, stuffed full of beans and cheese and a delicious salsa fresca. There was cilantro in my eggs! Perfect! It came with nicely ripe melon and a stack of buttered Iggy’s toast. I was so happy about the toast–so often when your breakfast comes with toast, they fail both to avoid burning it and to put the butter on before it’s cooled off too much to melt it. Cafenation, doing toast right! I almost never get to have this type of breakfast on a weekday.

And of course, an iced coffee because it’s a hot day! I considered chai, but coffee mornings are most wonderful. But if you don’t like coffee, Cafenation has really good iced tea, including one of their summer drinks, Thai iced tea (which I just have to get a few times every summer, it’s delicious but very sweet).

They also had tons of day old bread available, so I got one bag of baked goods (the scone will be either a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) and one of ciabatta rolls. They aren’t hard at all! I love when the day old bread is still fresh and soft.

That’s my breakfast spiel. Did you vote? Did you have a nice breakfast? Are you thinking about iced coffee and/or tea? I need to know!

 

**By the way, that out-of-place clothing tag on the table is actually my bookmark.

Eating All Over Town


As I commented to a friend earlier today, I have been stubbornly refusing to go grocery shopping for about two weeks now. That is not to say I haven’t been to the grocery store, but I’ve only picked up a few things while I was there. I haven’t done a full shop for quite a while. I’m going to try to force myself to do it tonight. If not, it will have to be tomorrow, because there are too many things I need.

In the meantime, I’ve been buying a lot of food out. Breakfasts, because I haven’t wanted to wake up in time for breakfast. Dinner once or twice. Otherwise, I’ve been scraping together meals from whatever’s around in my kitchen, but not too much worth posting about. I’ll update you soon on one or two of the things I’ve adventurously cooked.

Until then, I wanted to run down some of the foods I’ve been purchasing… or having purchased for me (I visited my parents last weekend, so of course they bought me food), with short reviews of the places. We’ll start with when I was in Worcester.

1. Surya – Indian restaurant – I have loved this place for a very very long time. They’ve changed a bit since we first started going there. New owners or new chef or both. Some of my favorite items there have been the Rose Milkshake, Mango Lassi, Shahi Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Nan. And my ultimate Surya dish, tandoori chicken. At other Indian restaurants, tandoori chicken is not really my top choice. But here, they do this amazing thing with the marinating or the cooking method that just makes it so incredibly flavorful and juicy. This time, I decided I wanted to try it hot. Let’s just say that was a mistake. I usually get it medium, and I can hardly feel any burn at all. Fully spicy, it was still good, but actually made my throat sore, which I have never had happen when eating spicy food before. So I won’t be doing that again. If the burn had stayed in my mouth, and out of my throat, I would have been fine with it. Not a fan of food that makes my throat hurt. It actually still hurt the next day. But PLEASE don’t take this as a negative opinion of the restaurant. They are my favorite Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to and I recommend that everyone go there.

2. Ronnie’s – Sea food and ice cream – This place was close to my childhood home, so I’ve been there many, many times. I never get to go there anymore, though. I miss it. It’s a seasonal place that is open from April to October, I believe, and they have really good, quality seafood. They also have standard burgers, chicken, etc. for people who don’t like sea food, but then why would you go to Ronnie’s? I had the expensive jumbo lobster roll, which is just the perfect item if you like lobster. The clam fritters are delicious but probably not very healthy. And if you go for ice cream, I’d suggest the chocolate-dipped soft serve.

Now back to Boston:

3. Monte Cristo Mexican grill – Ok… so, I’ve ordered from this place before, and it always takes them a while to deliver, but it took them a really long time on Cinco de Mayo. I should have expected that. But I was ordering from Eat24 with one of their weekend coupons and they’re the only mexican restaurant on there that delivers to me… at least, the only one that didn’t also serve chinese food. So I got a carnitas burrito, which was tasty, but not life-changing or anything. (I have yet to come across a life-changing burrito. If you find one, let me know, because I WANT.) The service is friendly here but a little slow. The food is good, but not great, and sometimes just ok. I did get pork enchiladas from them one time and they tasted amazing, so maybe just go with the enchiladas, or a burrito if you’re not feeling too picky. But their fajitas aren’t served with tortillas. I was really confused…

4. Caffe Aromi – I’ve only been in this place one time before, just to get a latte or a chai or something. I stopped there for breakfast one morning last week because I was in a rush (unfortunately, it didn’t help me get to work any faster, but nevermind). I got a breakfast sandwich and a latte, and I wished I’d gotten a savory croissant and regular coffee instead. What I got was good, but my sense when I’m there is that I’m overpaying. I just don’t feel like you quite get your money’s worth. Also, the decor strangely makes the room look kind of empty, which is rather unpleasant to me. The food to me seems comparable to most other independent cafes, so maybe it’s just the weird tables and chairs I don’t like.

5. Grass Fed – I went there because I had been craving a burger. After debating going for quite some time, I finally determined that I didn’t feel like cooking so I headed out. I just got a standard cheeseburger, and I was what I expected. The draw of Grass Fed is being pretty much “gourmet” fast food. They claim to use local products as much as they can, which is a nice incentive, as it’s good to support local. The best way to describe their burgers; they taste like fast food, but good. It’s not a real, big barbeque burger, but it’s not a gross McDonald’s patty either. Worth heading out there once in a while.

6. Mr. Crepe – This place in Davis Square is a nice little treat once in a while. I used to go get coffee there on occasion when I went through Davis on my way to work. Their coffee is pretty good. Unfortunately they lost my order at first, meaning I had to wait for at least 15 extra minutes for my food to be ready. Of course. It was good. I got savory crepes with spinach, basil, and tomatoes, and I was fairly satisfied. As for the crepes themselves, I’m more a fan of the ones at Cafenation. These I think would be better with the sweet fillings. But that’s just me.

 

That’s all for now. I’m proud to say that I managed to stop myself from ordering a pizza, but I don’t know how much longer that will last. Pizza is wonderful and when you get the craving, how long do you really expect to hold out against the amazing power of pizza?

Monday Madness: Why Is It So Cold Today?


It’s about that time again. I really feel like “Madness” is accurate, although not limited to Monday. My life makes me feel crazy. 😛 I can’t really explain what I mean without going into super-backstory, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it. Don’t worry, I’m a functional crazy.

1) I am SO incredibly tired today. I got a pretty substantial amount of sleep this weekend, so you’d think I would be ok, but I really just wanted to hide in bed and sleep for the bulk of the day instead of getting up and going to work.

2) Leisurely breakfasts are the only way to actually have a good morning. (Perhaps, don’t take this so literally. There may be other ways, but I mean that most mornings I have that are good involve a leisurely breakfast, or at least leisurely coffee.) That did not happen today.

3) Isn’t it fucking spring? Why did my hands freeze while waiting for the bus this morning? Why does it have to be so damn windy? Wind is pretty much always guaranteed to ruin my mood. Wind is the enemy of hairdos, scarves, umbrellas, stacks of paper, and anything you happen to set down on the ground. Also of certain types of skirts. Just one more advantage to the pencil skirt, really…

I’m trying to determine what it is that I want so badly right now. I am not hungry, as I had a snack of a Kind bar and then a plastic container full of vegetables. But I keep craving something, like… a caramel latte, maybe. If you’ve never had one, they’re basically dessert dressing up as coffee. You know it’s not really coffee, but you go along pretending it is for the time that you’re drinking it.

Side note: Kind apricot-almond bars with yogurt are really good. I need to get some more of them for those times when I need a snack, but I’m lazy.

In the future I do want to try to make Monday Madness posts a little bit more coherent, focused on one thing, but like I said, my life makes me crazy and my brain is all over the place (and not a place that’s useful, like in my head. I don’t know where it went). So we’ll just have to try again next time.

Much sanity to you.

%d bloggers like this: