Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gourmet Endeavors: Cherry- Chocolate Scones

Wandering around the Strand in New York I fell completely in love with a little cookbook that I just had to have. I did not just love it, I was in love with it. It was the number one staff pick (!!!), had great photos of tea parties, and was just the cutest little thing ever. If I am a complete sucker for marketing, at least I am aware. As a lover of independent book stores and scones, I felt that I needed the book in my life.

Alice’s Tea Cup, by Haley Fox and Lauren Fox. With recipes adopted from their tea restaurants Manhattan.

One day later I set out to make a creation from my new book. Pumpkin scones was the mission. One grocery store failure later, and I was standing in the canned fruit aisle feeling the most pumpkin-less that I have felt since the Pumpkin Shortage of 2009. (Yes, it was real national phenomena, my Grandma warned me to stock up.) Anyway, I needed to come up with different ingredients for my creation. I decided on dried cherries and milk chocolate.

An hour later I was elbow deep in a bowl of butter and flour, just a’squeezin and a’mixin as fast as my little hands could go. I am not entirely opposed to the hands-as-kitchen-tools concept, but I was somewhat wary. Just a few days ago, after making a particularly large batch of turkey meatballs, my hands smelled distinctly of raw meat for about 8 hours. Granted it’s more desirable to have sugary, buttery, vanilla dough scent on one’s hands than raw ground turkey and egg, but nonetheless.

My final product was a recipe adapted from my new book, with the addition of a new ingredient pairing. Their recipe was phenomenal, the end result was a buttermilk scone that was sweet, light, and tangy. The dried cherries and chocolate worked great. I would definitely repeat this combination, although there are so many more to try!

Pumpkin Scones minus the pumpkin add cherries and chocolate

Monday, February 21, 2011

New York: 1, My Wallet: 0

Just returned from a weekend trip to New York, my future home. I have been to New York several times in the recent past, and yet I still seem like such an outsider when I’m walking around. One reason for this could be that yesterday I was toting my Adidas soccer duffel bag and clothes-lining people on the sidewalk. (To-do: buy a bag that doesn’t make me look like a child ready to grab my hemp bracelets and head to camp.)

I am ready to stop looking straight up at the buildings when I walk. I am ready to learn to cross the street without getting honked at or nearly pulverized by a speeding cab. I am ready to learn to place my order as fast as the men at the deli expect it. Above all, however, I have one pressing question about life in New York that I will need answered before I pack up my duffels and move in.

How to live in New York without spending so much money that I have to pawn off my belongings, lose my electricity, or pack up and move back into my parent’s basement?

Everything in New York costs money. Someone hands you a towel in a fancy restroom? That will cost you. You want toppings on your pizza? Fork over the bills. You want a bathroom IN your hotel room? Ya, that’s above your budget.

Or my budget at least. As a result of impulsive hotel booking and a slight misunderstanding of information, (how am I supposed to know that “shared bathroom” means sharing the bathroom with the entire floor?) I ended up staying at a place that seemed more like a hostel than a hotel. Most people in the lobby were international travelers with backpacks and our hallway smelled like weed. I have the bladder of a toddler and the bathroom down the hall business really caused me some grief. I was laying awake for about 30 minutes with images of the movie Taken flashing through my head. I eventually realized I had to bite the bullet and venture out into the dark hallways alone.

While next year I will be renting, and thus familiarity will naturally follow, what kind of place makes a toilet a costly luxury?

The charming details of the hotel were somewhat lost on me, as I was too focused on the lack of more practical elements. For example, the elevator was an old thing with dark hardwood on the inside and a hinged door that opened on to each floor. It was cute and reminded me of a servants’ lift that you would find in an old mansion.

This weekend I was more like the international backpackers than any local, awkwardly dragging my luggage, relying heavily on Google maps, and paying too much for accommodations and food.

Here I am stepping on to our floor. I’m smiling because I don’t yet know that we have a dirty bed spread and no bathroom.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Home Sweet Hell Hole

In six months I will be moving into an apartment in a new city. A new city that happens to be New York City, a big city among cities one could be moving to. The process of finding an apartment is encroaching and I am looking forward to it like I look forward to getting my teeth drilled. The Three L’s of apartment rental, Landlords, Leases and Lies, have caused me pain in the past and I do not look forward to repeating the experience.

The first L, Landlords, describes a type of people I believe to be akin to car salesmen. They are all the same. They may come in varying degrees of sketch, but they are all cut from the same mold. All of them may not build a man-den in your garage for their 45-year-old ex-cop friends to smoke weed and watch the Red Sox. That’s only for the special ones, like my current landlord, we will call him Big Money B.
Big Money B likes to party. How hard you ask? Let me tell you. My garage is tricked outtt like the Medford version of Cribs. And by ‘Cribs’, I mean it looks just like a bar down the street. But it’s in my garage. When disheaveled looking men walk up my driveway at 11 pm on a Wednesday I am supposed to think that it’s normal. Winter comes and the temperature drops. Does Big Money B get discouraged by the cold in his DIY sports pub? No, no he does not. He simply moves it into my basement. Thank you, football season for making it even more difficult to do homework on Sundays. Silly me, I was trying to read; for a second there I was beginning to think that I actually lived in a private residence not a goddamn beer hall. Shucks!
B.M.B. lives his life as a landlord perpetually ignoring any and all laws related to renting. Does he call before he comes over? No, simply appears on the porch at the most inappropriate times. (i.e. the middle of a dinner party, when my roommates and I are hung-over in our bathrobes, or when my boyfriend and I are watching a movie on the couch.) Generally when he appears he is dragging along his son whose favorite pastime is taking chocolate milk from our fridge, chugging it as quickly as possible, and going back for more.
My former residence did not have such a colorful landlord, but nonetheless managed to provide my roommates and I with some stories. The official term for this house is ‘shit hole.’ The layout of the house was decidedly unique. Naturally the landlord had wanted to maximize profits by fitting as many bedrooms into the house as possible. Thus explaining why two of us lived in bedrooms clearly fashioned out of the dining room and living room. Lacking any sort of living space, the small mud room at the back of the house became the living room, complete with our own 400 pound 72” TV. This thing was straight out of the 90s. We inherited it after it was left behind by the previous tenets. Left behind because those boys did not have a snow balls chance in hell at getting the TV down the stairs without killing or maiming someone in the vicinity. Naturally, we left the behemoth behind when we moved out as well.

In a few short months I will be looking to put pen to paper and sign a lease, the crucial second L. I’m crossing my fingers that this one will come free of pot-dealing landlords and massive 20th century appliances. But thanks to the third and final L, Lies, you never can tell.