Sudden memory – it is 1992 and I’m on the phone with a t-shirt company whose ad I saw in Circus Magazine, trying to order an iron-on back patch for my black bomber jacket. I’m leaning towards Led Zeppelin but I can’t remember what the Houses of the Holy album cover looks like, even though I’m pretty sure it was on my parents’ record shelf all along.
I ask the woman on the line and she starts describing it to me: “It’s, like, this big pile of rocks and there are a bunch of naked kids climbing up it. I’m not really sure if they’re boys or girls.”
These things we did before the internet sound like a dim, ancient fantasy, right?
We went on an amazing trip to the Galapagos last month. We saw and did so much, I knew I had to keep a journal to remember everything. Some of my fellow travelers asked me to scan it, so I figured why not share with the internet too? (Click for an interactive version).
I love to keep a paper journal but it’s been difficult to find the time in the last few years, so I relished the chance to spend a computer-less vacation with pens and paper. The notebook is made by Michael Roger and the markers are Staedtler Triplus Fineliners (both found at the Brown Bookstore during a quick lunchtime shopping spree). I have very little drawing experience and sometimes I feel held back by a perfectionism which I have little chance of achieving, so I ONLY brought pens, no pencils. If I made a mistake, I made a mistake – it was freeing and fun.
I thought the journal might be interesting to anyone considering a trip to the Galapagos who wants to get an idea of what it’s like. You have to visit the islands with a guide, so an organized trip is the best way to go. Our trip was organized by Beyond Your Backyard Adventures, a small trip geared towards people who really want to get out and see everything (no whiners!) We had an amazing experience and are still working through thousands of photos.
Restaurant portions can be huge, so I’ll often end up with leftovers. Some people have a serious aversion to leftovers (I don’t get it), and others eat cold pizza or Chinese food for breakfast the next day (I don’t get that either).
My favorite thing to do with leftovers? Freeze them in small portions for work lunches. I’ve talked about my dedicated work lunch freezer drawer, and while most of it is home cooked, it’s great to bring along a memory from a favorite restaurant. Yesterday was the first afternoon warm enough to eat my lunch outside, and I enjoyed Eggplant and Shrimp with Garlic Sauce over rice, from Gold Stone. We’d been over a month ago and it was great to revisit the tender eggplant and flavorful sauce.
Another way to enjoy leftovers is by transforming them into another dish. We came home from Gold Stone with a lot of rice, so I made the extra into rice pudding – just simmer with milk, sugar, raisins, and spices for a half hour or so. Sometimes I’ll bring home a choice piece of meat or fish to eat on a salad the next day. If you’re not fond of leftovers, why not make a completely new meal out of them?
It’s always a pleasure to unpack a delicious, healthy lunch on a Monday. Today’s was leftovers from a dinner I cooked on Saturday – I enjoyed it and thought I’d share the recipe.
Red Quinoa and Greens with Fried Tofu Triangles
1 cup Red Quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 bunch greens, coarsely chopped (I used Yukina Savoy)
1 package of extra firm tofu
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp seasoning salt (I used Texas Hot Salt), or your own mixture of salt and spices
4 tablespoons oil, divided
Prepare the tofu: If you have time, remove the tofu from the package and press between two plates lined with paper towels. This is not absolutely necessary but will help dry it out.
Cook the quinoa: bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a strainer, then add to the boiling water along with the 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the quinoa grains have unfurled. (Not all the water may be absorbed).
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the greens: heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan/skillet and sautee the shallot over medium heat until softened, but not browned. Add the greens and continue to sautee, turning the heat down to avoid burning the greens.
Assemble the quinoa: drain the cooked quinoa using a fine strainer and add to the greens. Taste and season as needed.
Fry the tofu: Cut the tofu into triangles. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, combine the flour and seasoned salt. In a skillet, heat 3 tbsp of oil until shimmering. Dip each piece of tofu in the flour mixture and fry, not crowding the pan too much. Flip once when lightly browned (should take 3-5 minutes per side). Remove to a plate (you can keep warm in a toaster oven if necessary).
There’s a drawer of my freezer just dedicated to lunches (and these days, dinners eaten in the student lounge before my night classes). Sometimes I make a big batch of something especially for weekday lunches, other times I just pack up dinner leftovers. I just took a peek at the selection and I have to say, I’m pretty excited to reach for a lunch this month:
Hungarian ragout and dumplings
Rabbit in mustard sauce w/ polenta
Chicken with tomatillo sauce
Chinese beef w/ rice
Chinese chicken w/ rice
Chinese eggplant shrimp w/ rice
Pigeon Peas and rice
Chicken / rice / beans
Senate bean soup
Chorizo and bean stew
Stir fry (w/ chicken)
Celery root / potato soup
Beef stew and polenta
Black bean burger
Pork fried rice
Empanadas (w/ turkey, raisin, olive filling)
An older photo – but this is how my lunches are usually stored – I love the Ziploc twist & lock containers and have yet to have one leak.
Ten pounds of organic oats? When I picked up my order from the Urban Greens Buying Club, the bag was bigger than I thought. But to my surprise, I went through all ten pounds in a couple of months, and oats eclipsed flour on my list of pantry staples.
Here are some of the recipes that had me loving oats this winter. What about you?
As a frequent bus rider, I don’t know how I ever lived without the transit directions in Google Maps.
I’ve discovered an even easier way to access bus schedules from my Android phone. I simply created shortcuts to transit directions for my favorite destinations (like work, home). This means that if I’m running late at work and miss my usual bus, I can just click the shortcut to see the next 3 buses. It doesn’t matter where I am, clicking the shortcut gets me home!
How to create a shortcut to transit directions:
Go to your Apps (on my phone, I click the round icon on the bottom middle of my home screen)
Along the top, click Widgets
Flip through your widgets until you find the one called Directions & Navigation. Press and hold to drop it onto your home screen.
Add your home or work address (or anywhere else you like to go a lot). Don’t forget to choose transit (click on the bus image).
Remember to put a screen lock on your phone. It’s good for many reasons, but especially important if someone could steal your bag with keys and easy directions to your home
I’ve baked quite a few cookies this winter as usual, but my go-to potluck recipe has been cookie dough dip. I saw the recipe posted somewhere and dismissed it as a healthy concoction that probably wouldn’t taste good. A couple of weeks later, I was still thinking “can that really be good?” and decided to give it a try.
And it was good! I tested it on family first and then brought it to four parties. I can just about make it in my sleep. So far it’s gotten quite a positive reaction, though people are probably put off when I stand over their shoulder the whole time asking “Do you like it? Do you like it? What do you think is in it?”
I grew up in the NYC area but hadn’t been back lately, so I was excited to take my in-laws on their first trip to the city the day after Thanksgiving.
Staying in the city with four people would have been pricey, so we decided to try the Hilton in Stamford, CT, which we snagged for only $90/night. It’s not too long a drive from Providence and it’s in walking distance from the train station, where you can catch a 50 minute express train to Grand Central Station.
We walked over 10 miles a day, all over Manhattan – the best way to sightsee.
The Statue of Liberty in the Fog, from Battery Park
Here are some of the places we went. It sounds like a lot of food for 2 days, but when it’s cold and you’re burning a thousand calories walking, you’d better stop for a snack or two.