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Archive for October, 2010

Halloween is without a doubt one of those dreaded “over-hyped holidays” (see example A, here), but I actually am kind of a fan.  Unlike New Years Eve, I’ve never really had a bad, why-am-I-even-out, drunken crying kind of night during Halloween.  They’ve always, without fail, been pretty awesome.  It’s probably because when I was little I convinced myself that I had magical, spooky powers because I was a redhead.  But that’s a story for another post.

Except, Halloween ain’t gonna be so fun this year.

This year, instead of dressing up in a (usually) morally questionable costume, instead of going to  a sweet party and drinking beers out of pumpkins and stealing other people’s props, instead of gorging on sweet, sweet Halloween candy, I. Am. Moving.

*Note: I’ve never actually drank beer out of a pumpkin.  But doesn’t it sound awesome?

Yes, moving.  Perhaps the least fun a person could ever have.

Now, I know that you guys know that I’m moving.  I’ve been whining and complaining about it for the last oh, month or so, via various social media outlets.  And actually, I am really happy that I’m moving.  I’m freaking ECSTATIC.

But here’s what I’m not so ecstatic about: packing.  And unpacking.  And actually physically moving all my crap from one apartment to another.

I have never, ever been a good packer (or a good un-packer).  Me moving to college basically consisted of 25 white garbage bags haphazardly filled and chucked into the back of our SUV on the morning we were set to leave.  My packing up to go both to and from London to study abroad was a trial in patience (for my mother and roommate) and hysteria (for me).  WILL THEY HAVE PEANUT BUTTER IN ENGLAND?  HOW WILL I SMUGGLE IT THROUGH CUSTOMS? (1. No, and 2. Easily)

It’s the starting that’s the hardest part.  I get really overwhelmed with what to begin with that I actually never begin.

Which is where I was last night, around 12:30AM.  All my cardboard boxes were constructed.  I had my bubble warp and stolen office tape ready to go.  And yet…I couldn’t pull the trigger.  I just kept looking around miserably, wailing, WHERE DO I START?!

Maybe this inability to get my ass in gear comes from the fact that I’m pretty bitter I’m not participating in Halloween this year.  This very well could be the very first Halloween in my life where I haven’t dressed up in costume and celebrated.  Please, take a moment and marinate on the seriousness of that.  24 years of doing something that is really fun, and then, suddenly, not doing it.

It feels awful, right?  Exactly.  Now times that by a billion, that’s how I feel.

I suppose I could go out on Saturday night.  But that would involve a lot of pre-planning (which I did not do–too busy obsessing about the apt), as well as having the ability to casually desert a brand-new, extremely disorganized apartment (which I don’t have). I’m stuck.  I probably won’t even get any trick-or-treaters and I haven’t even come close to a pumpkin, much less carved one.  Worst.  Halloween. Ever.

I suppose I’ll have to alternate between living vicariously through my friends, who are all much cooler than me (and also, not moving), and doing things for Halloween, and reliving my greatest past Halloween hits, which is always a nice jaunt down memory lane.

The arguable winner would obviously be Pippi Longstocking in 5th grade.  I mean, I had pipe-cleanersIn my hair. I also felt the (unnecessary) need to draw on freckles (little Mary was in denial, obviously).  However, I’m also partial to my (sexxxy) 3 blind mice costume circa sophomore year of college.  30 degrees out and a chance of snow?  Hey, wearing white tights, white booty shorts, a white tank-top, mouse-ears and sunglasses is a GENIUS idea.  At least, me and my two friends thought so.  It was just the right combo of adorable and trampy.  Which is a hard balance to strike, let me tell you.

Another coping option would be to focus on the bad in Halloween.  I’m talking about the crowded bars where you have to pay $50 bucks cover to bump into sweaty “sexy-policewomen” and 8 million “DJ Paulie D’s.”  Also falling under this category is the stress of finding/deciding upon a Halloween costume and then going about either creating it or procuring it.  Ever tried to go into a Halloween costume store a day or two before the sacred date?  One word for you: Bouncers.  Not kidding.

Also, sorry Halloween costumer companies, but there is no way in holy hell that I will be paying you $75.00 to be a “Sexy Golfer” (in case you haven’t guessed, every female Halloween costume is ‘sexy’).

There’s also the slightest, teeniest, whiff of pathetic that goes along with a full-grown adult going all out for Halloween.  You have to maintain at least a modicum of “oh, I’m dressing up as a Troll doll ironically).  Because otherwise, it’s just a little weird.  Example: man on the subway today wearing a full-body wetsuit and a blonde wig, swinging a FULL-SIZED surfboard around a crowded car.  A for effort, buddy, but where the hell do you work?

I guess I’m just trying to make myself feel better.  What I wouldn’t give to dress up this weekend, ironically or not, and have a good old fashion Halloween!  Guess I’ll have to be content with alternating between walking down memory lane and balefully glaring at everyone else who gets to actually have fun.  Being a grown up is so stupid.

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Tuesdays, in my opinion, are worse than Mondays.  I’m usually imbued with a sense of optimism on Mondays, a sense of “let’s totally kick this weeks ASS!  I’m gonna get so much stuff DONE!”

That lasts until about Monday night, when I am dead tired and I have to take pictures of stupid furniture and post them on Craigslist and argue with H about prices…(can you guess what I did last night?).  But it wasn’t just last night.  It’s Monday nights as a whole.  The whole burden of an entire week to go before the weekend hits me, and I am not a happy camper.

Which explains my stance on Tuesdays.  Tuesdays: the bleakest days of the week.  Unless you attend St. Lawrence University, where Tuesdays are the magical “Senior Blues” night at the local bar, night of $1 Labatts (we were close to Canada, okay?).  Suffice it to say Tuesday nights are awesome for Larries.  And hazy.

Sadly, I’m not at St. Lawrence anymore, and I definitely don’t go out boozing heavily on Tuesday nights.  I wish, on both accounts.

Instead, I will most likely spend my Tuesday night watching this on repeat as I irately shove kitchenware into cardboard boxes.  Welcome to post-collegiate life.  Word to the wise: never graduate. Cause they sure as hell don’t sell beer for a dollar in New York City.

 

Edit:  This vid was brought to my attention by my littlest sister.  Props, C.  Better now?

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People are generally astonished when I tell them that I still have a tiny teeny weeny baby brother (who is 15 years old) still attending (GASP) High School.  Okay, so my parents had 5 kids, and okay, so the last one was a little bit late.  Never mind that.  The point is, he’s here, and we love him.  More importantly, through him we get to experience High School once again.  Even after all these years.

Last weekend (not so) Little B was playing in the annual rivalry football game in my hometown: Rye (us) versus Harrison (them).  Now, not to toot my own horn (or my town’s horn) but this game (often called “THE GAME”) is not just your typical high school football game.  It’s been going on for 80 years or so, draws thousands of people, and ignites intense feelings of pride (and maybe more than a little disdain for Harrison) in all those lucky enough to call themselves Rye, NY residents, past or present!

Photo courtesy of famed sports photographer John D. Wood

I have a theory regarding Rye-Harrison. Once you graduate from Rye High School, you generally fall into one of two camps.  The first being the kind of people who return to Rye every year for this hallowed event, decked to the gills in Garnet (yes, our HS mascot is a semi-precious gem) gear, maybe your old sports jersey, perhaps some face-paint.  So what if the kids playing were toddlers when you attended our Alma Mater.  So what if there are now coaches who are younger than you.  You’re attendance to Rye-Harrison weekend is not a question.  You are going to be there, tailgating at 9AM, garnet and black pompoms waving, cheering on our boys with the fervor of a fratty SEC football fan.  And it will be grand.  Like Christmas, New Years, and St. Patrick’s Day all rolled into one.

A small sliver of the tailgate (also courtesy of JDW, famed tailgate photographer)

Then there is the other camp, in which, while you had your fun at these events whilst actually a Rye High student (and maybe as an early alum), you now realize that perhaps your time here is done, and it’s only fair to allow a new crop of Rye-ites take over.  Sure, you take some interest in maybe hearing who wins, and it warms your heart to see pictures of Rye students diving into a questionably clean brook to celebrate a victory on Facebook, but really, this is a closed chapter in your life.  High School was fun, but High School, sadly, is now over.

Now, before I go on, let me be clear: I’m not saying one camp is better than another.  They both certainly have their pros and cons.  I’m just saying: you either go and are into it 100% and you look forward to it every year, or you’re just kind of meh about it.

In my heart I am firmly in Camp Meh.   But (not so) Little B. has kind of put a wrench in things, being a High School student and all.  What is a supportive older sister to do?  I can’t just ignore the fact that he’s playing against the mini Evil-Empire known as Harrison, NY.   So where do you think I found myself, last weekend?

Tailgating happily with the Rye faithful as I insisted to anyone who would listen that the only reason I am here is because I still have a brother in High School.  That’s where.

So you see my conundrum: new high, or new low?  Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome day (really, what’s not to like about tailgating on a beautiful fall day?). The game was great, I was an obnoxious Rye fan, and I got to see my babiest brother play against our ingrained-in-the-DNA arch rivals.  A new high, all around.

But I graduated high school six years ago. So shouldn’t I be, like, over it?  Shouldn’t I be admiring this kind of thing from a far, a little nostalgic maybe, but looking forward to my blindingly bright future?  Or something?  With that arguement, it’s a new low.

Oh screw it.  Who am I kidding? I had a ball.  I’m going to milk this until (not so) Little B. walks across that graduation stage…when I’m almost 30.  Who cares!  New High.

Hang the Huskies!

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Autumn Eats

Remember when it was like September 2nd and I started raving about fall arriving and stuff?

Maybe that was a little premature.

But now, precisely 1 month later, I really can say that fall has arrived.  Sure, maybe it’s 70 degrees out today, but you can just feel it. The air-conditioner is permanently off, my big fluffy duvet is on the bed, and I am ready. for. autumn.

It would make lots of sense that my favorite foods are autumn-y foods, because autumn is my favorite season.  I’m also a big sucker for comfort food, and I feel like this season more than others encourage hearty eating.

Recently I’ve been obsessing about squash.  That’s normal, right?  Sure.  Humor me.  I am a big fan of winter squash because you can put butter and salt on it without being overly judged.  You can roast it or mash it or do a million different things with it.  Also, it’s good for you!  Wins alll around.

After watching a Jaime Oliver show in which he stuffs cannelloni with mashed up roasted cauliflower and broccoli (see the recipe here) I got to thinking: veggies stuffed in pasta?  How did I never think of that? Why can’t I do that with squash?  And a white sauce?  AND SOME CHEESE!?

This is generally where my brain short-circuts (cheeeseeeeee!!).  So I hunted around for a squash manicotti recipe and couldn’t find what I wanted.  So what’s a resourceful kinda-cook to do?  Master the art of manicotti-stuffing myself. That’s what.

This is not a ‘whip up in 30 minutes on a week night’ meal.  Let’s be clear.  It’s a special ocassion kind of thing, or a ‘I’m too hungover to do anything on Sunday until about 8pm when I can finally cook’ kind of thing.  Guess which one it was for me?  Roasting the squash a day or two (or 4) ahead of time also helps speed up this recipe.  I did it while I was making another meal earlier in the week, shoved it into tupperware, and when I was ready to stuff, my squash was all ready and waiting.

 

Positively Cozy!

 

Winter Squash Stuffed Manicotti

You’ll Need:

  • For the Filling:

  • 2 small-medium winter squashes (any variety)
  • 2-2.5 cups of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 a white onion, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2  handfuls of swiss chard, chopped (optional)
  • 1/3 cup of goat cheese (optional)
  • Dashes of: Red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 5 tablespoons of butter (I said this was hearty, not healthy)
  • 4-5 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 cups of milk (or cream, or half and half)
  • Dashes of: nutmeg, salt, pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

And of course!

  • 1 package of manicotti or cannelonni

To Do:

  • Pre-heat oven to 400.
  • Cut squash in half.  Drizzle Olive Oil, salt and pepper on each half and roast, face down, for approximately 45 minutes.
  • Scoop squash out of skin, mash into bowl or tupperware. Set aside. *Note: Do this step a day or so before to save yourself time.
  • Put 1 large pot of water on to boil for pasta.  As that is heating up…
  • Combine minced garlic and onion in a pan. Drizzle with olive oil and saute until onions are translucent.
  • (Optional Step) Add swiss chard to onions and garlic in pan, drizzle a little more olive oil, and saute until greens are wilted. Remove mixture from heat and set aside.
  • In a smaller pot, heat milk on LOW heat. Season with nutmeg, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf.  Make sure NOT to boil milk.
  • While milk is heating, melt butter in yet another pot.
  • As butter is melting, boil your pasta.  Drain pasta when it is still very al dente.  It will cook more in the oven later on. Set aside.
  • Once butter is melted, whisk in flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, until a golden-brown roux is formed (you want the texture to be thick, but stirrable…almost like applesauce).
  • Going one cup at a time, add the heated milk to the roux, stirring continuously.  The sauce should be just a bit thinner than you’d like (it will thicken up as it continues to sit over low heat).  As sauce is thickening…
  • Combine onion-garlic-chard mixture with mashed up squash.  Add dashes of oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste.
  • To this, add goat cheese (if using) and Ricotta.  Mix stuffing well to blend all components.
  • Fill up a ziplock bag with stuffing mix.  Snip off 1 bottom corner and use this contraption to fill your pasta.
  • Smear the bottom of 1 large glass baking dish with a little sauce.  Lay filled pasta in dish, cover with more sauce, bake for 20 minutes covered in foil, 5  uncovered.

* Note #2: This made a lot of manicotti.  I think I filled up 12 or so of them (1 entire package) and I still had a little bit of left over stuffing mix.  So, prepare for a feast.  Invite friends.

I ate this with some fancy sourdough bread from the bakery next to my office that is currently draining both my bank account and my dignity, and some roasted fennel (that’s what is artfully placed on top of the pasta in the picture).  Why fennel?  Really, H and I had no idea what to do with it.  So it got roasted, because the oven was on anyway.

I also made the salted toffee square again (recipe here).  Because why not just leap full-tilt into the world of Obesity?  Bathing suit season is officially O-V-A OVER.  Thank god.

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