On Healing a Bruised Booty

I’ve found myself not posting here because I’m thinking too much about writing a recipe that will be unique and interesting for you guys. Kale something, tartine something, frittata something. I haven’t been cooking that much lately (trying to find out what bracket I’ll win in the March Madness of sickness) so very little whisking or searing happening in my apartment. Because I feel like blogging today (hello) I’m just going to type and see what happens.

I’m writing from my bed, which is covered in empty water bottles and packets of saltine crackers; strewn from an arm’s reach to as far as the bottom of my feet. An acoustic version of John Mayer’s cover of “Free Fallin'” is playing on my laptop–whatever. American University hoodie on. Sweatpants on. Two comforters and all of the pillows. This is my camp ground.

First–in February–I slipped on ice in a parking lot. I had just gotten out of a physical at the doctor in my hometown, and intended on driving back to Brooklyn that night. Once I slipped I could barely sit in my car long enough to start it. Home it was. My parents were ready to accept their bruised child. Dad grabbed my bags. Mom chanted “YOU’RE A TRIATHLETE. IF YOU CAN DO THAT YOU CAN DO ANYTHING,” while I cried hysterically, unable to move from the floor of the den. It was terribly painful.

My mom, remembering she had a similar situation happen the year before, began reciting from her One Line a Day journal. On the day she slipped, she writes, “I got up and got a mani/pedi.” Then she like ate a sandwich and watched an Oprah re-run. Then she went on to tell me alllllll about February 2013. This information was not helpful.

OK so title of post, yes. For those of you who are here to learn how to heal yourself after a fall like I had, here’s what you need to do: buy a doughnut cushion and sit on it all the time, ice on and off for 30 minutes every day, sleep on your stomach, stand at bars, use Badger Balm (the cooling one) or Tiger Balm or Topricin. Do not even try to exercise. You idiot girl, Melissa. I did this for three weeks.

Then I got a sinus infection. I used to get sinus infections pretty frequently, so this was an easy one for me. Layers, liquids, Netflix, sleep. I was OK for just enough time to see and hug and drink with my best friends from college, in DC. Now I have a stomach virus and my John Mayer acoustic playlist is up to “Heart of Life” (this is not my favorite; will skip). Predicting that today will be the last day of this saga.

This post was written mostly to entertain myself. Thanks for entertaining me by reading it.

-M

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A Snow Story, A Mom Story

I’d like to preface this post by saying that I love the shit out of my mom. She is literally my second favorite person (my first favorite person is my dad–don’t worry, she knows).

It was a hard week for Debbie Smith. My dad was in California on business, my brother at school in Connecticut, and I was in Brooklyn. As everyone knows, it snowed a lot this week in the eastern New York-area. My mom works in education, and with schools closed for most of the week, she was sorta trapped inside. What was about to happen could be titled “Home Alone 6: The Jew Without a Shovel.”

Some guys have a group text to talk about sports and girlz. Some gals have a group text to talk about cupcakes and boyz. I have a group text with my mom and dad and brother. It is the most hilarious one I’m part of.

I woke up every morning this week to a group text from my mom (seemingly, the next mayor-elect), with the following information: whether or not alternate side parking was suspended, whether or not schools were closed in Long Island and NYC, and how many coupons she’d received via her only human contact; the mailman.

Monday, February 3rd – 5:15pm

Mom: I shoveled from 2:38-4:48!! I needed to watch a YouTube video on shoveling!! I was dressed very warm in lots of layers but my toes were frozen … Sandy helped with his snow blower a little … I get an E for EFFORT!!!! Having hot chocolate now.

My dad likely had a panic attack in sunny California upon receiving this message. He probably thought seriously of flying home just to shovel, and return in time for his meeting the next morning. I decided to stay at my parent’s house that night to keep my little momma company. We had my Great Grandma Ruth’s Split Pea Soup and watched some reality television.

Tuesday, February 4th – 5:43pm

Mom: [a picture of Violet Beauregarde from “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory”]. I want it NOW!!! Lol.

Dad: Where do you get that stuff?

Bro: Hahahaha what?

Mom: Hahahaha- I want a blueberry!

An incorrect Wonka reference (Veruca Salt is the bratty one). A craving for out-of-season fruit. Things were starting to look grim.

Wednesday, February 5th – 12:32pm

Mom: The poor mailman’s footprints [picture]!!! I have to go out in this freezing rain and shovel the ice in Dad’s ski pants from the 1980’s!!!

Me: Don’t bother shoveling.

Dad: Really Deb don’t shovel… just clean your car and put ice melt down when it stops raining.

And then, as if from the trenches; an update

2:47 p.m.

Mom: Shoveled the heavy, icy, wet snow in the rain from 1:15-2:00!!! Rocco helped me a little.. Exhausted and having soup and grilled cheese!!! You would laugh at my bad case of hat hair!!! Lol.

Me: You crazy, g. I’m writing a blog post about this.

Mom: It better be true and funny and I need to edit it first!

Our little Debbie was braving the storm as best as she could. In between snow updates, she was–despite each of us being at work or in class–persistent in her request for us to watch her Facebook movie. We were “the STARS,” she said.

She was back to work on Thursday, and back on her coupon game on Friday.

Friday, February 7th – 5:25pm

Mom: Just used my $10.00 Bday coupon at Express and bought Melissa this cool bracelet [picture]!!! Off to the GAP.

5:55pm

Got nothing at the GAP :( Could not even use my $20.00 coupon!!! Next time… mani/pedi at 7 :)

Manicured and warm, I have high hopes for my mom’s future snowstorm success.

Er, maybe.

Note: this post is definitely true, potentially funny. Mom received zero editing privileges.

-M

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Pittsburgh

Some friends and I went to a student karaoke night during my semester abroad in London. As we were heading over to the university pub, I decided that I’d sing “Wonderwall.” Classic crowd-pleaser. Just as I walked over to the signup sheet, some English chick starts on the mic with “Today is gonna be the day that they’re gonna throw it all back to you.” Brit stole my song.

The only obvious choice at that point was “Let it Be.” The Beatles and a room full of wasted British people; I couldn’t go wrong. The university pub was packed by the time I got to the stage, and I clearly remember three blonde guys immediately put their arms around one another as I started to sing. Things were getting real emotional. So I sang, drink in hand, while my friend Jeff took pictures and my friend Rebecca (likely) tried to convince the bartender to let her dance on the bar.

Things were going really well. Everyone was swaying and singing along. Then I got to the musical interlude. I didn’t want to just stand there for a whole 40 seconds, so I decided to take the opportunity to make a speech. (Might be beneficial to queue up the song for this part right here, for storytelling purposes). “I’d like to give a shout out to my mom, asleep on Long Island. To my dad, who asked my mom to stop calling me because my international phone bill is ridiculous. To my friends, here tonight. And finally, to America. God Bless the USA!”

I actually don’t have any idea WHY I said that last part, but with the crescendo in the interlude, it just felt right. Those three British guys with their arms around one another cheered. I honestly think people were too drunk to realize I’d just proclaimed US prominence in international waters. It was a great night.

This story has absolutely nothing to do with my recent trip to Pittsburgh, except for that I read Mindy Kaling’s book on the plane. In it she suggests everyone have a curated inventory of karaoke songs on hand for any occasion. Noted.

I went to Pittsburgh to visit my friend Danielle, who is there for grad school. She’s about to become an architect! It’s so strange when people you’ve known since you were five go off into the world and do real things with large pieces of paper and rulers. Danielle and I had a great time exploring Austin together, so I was really excited for this trip.

My friend Halley–a chef, and someone who knows A LOT about food–is a Pittsburgh-to-Brooklyn transplant, so she sent over some great food recommendations.

Pittsburgh is suuuupah cute. Like a little mini Georgetown in some parts, a little mini Downtown Manhattan in other parts, and a not-so-little-or-mini college town in other, other parts. Clean, walkable, good people. Everyone “bleeds black and gold.”

Here are some restaurants we really enjoyed:

Noodlehead

Sriracha on every table is ALWAYS a good sign. Wood tables, cool decor. Get the Pork Belly Steamed Buns. I completely could have eaten 25 of these. Danielle got Pad Thai and I got Street Noodle 1, which was topped with perfectly crisp, light, and not at all greasy Thai fried chicken.

Noodlehead

Dinette

Not too hungry when we walked in for dinner, we ended up finishing off two pies (Fresh Ricotta and Prosciutto) and a bottle of wine. Only weird part, and I’m not complaining here, is that the waiter brought us all the desserts. Not a figure of speech here, we literally got all of the desserts without ordering them. The Arborio Rice Pudding was my fav.

Dinette

Primanti Brothers

I initially didn’t want to go here because I was doing the no cheese/not much meat thing since New Year’s BUT as you know from the blurbs above, that was thrown out the window over Thai friend chicken and pizza. We went and it was a great decision. Danielle and I split their classic sandwich–which is piled high with french fries, tomato, coleslaw, and provolone by default–with roast beef. A pickle, too, for good measure.

Pitt2

Overall a very exciting and seemingly up-and-coming restaurant scene in Pittsburgh! Now go figure out your top three karaoke songs.

-M

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Yellow Raisin and Coconut Granola

My family decided to have a Hanukkah party two weekends ago. Mostly so that we could coordinate between cousins in college and work schedules (hello there, retail job), but partially because Hanukkah and Thanksgiving should have never collided.

It was cute for all of three seconds after BuzzFeed posted this article on how to combine the two–think challah-apple stuffing–but then I was sorta over it. I like my traditional latkes and cold cuts from the deli, not to be mixed with turkey and cranberry relish. Rye bread and brown mustard, you guys. Anyways, although the holidays were completely over, I still wanted to bring something to share. With no interest in baking another holiday cookie New Years resolutions in full swing, I landed on granola.

I love baking granola, BUT my issue is that when I make it myself, I can never achieve a cluster (#bakingproblems). Granola should offer substantial crunch, not just poured over almond milk in the form of  flaked oats with a piece of dried fruit or two. I turned to Smitten Kitchen for a soultion and found one: egg whites! Here is my version of Deb’s Big Cluster Maple Granola.

Yellow Raisin and Coconut Granola

Yields 12 cups

6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

1.5 cups yellow raisins

1.5 cups sliced almonds

1 large egg white

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Combine all ingredients, except for the egg white, in a bowl. Whisk the egg white and then stir into the granola mixture, to coat. Spread the mixture in a single layer on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan (I feel that this works really well here because it’s deep, but for sure use a baking pan if that’s what you’ve got). Bake for 55-70 minutes, turning the granola over in its pan about halfway through. Remove from the oven and let the pan rest on a cooling rack. Once cooled, transfer the granola to an airtight container, or, serve.

Coconut Granola

In the original recipe, the dried fruit is not baked, but instead added in at the end. I kinda like it baked in, which is how I made mine. Do whatever suits you.

I LOVE the flavor combination of yellow raisins and coconut, and the almonds give a little extra bite. Overall, though, really light and delicious! I gave half to my family and have been eating the other half for breakfast layered between sliced banana and vanilla coconut milk yogurt.

Once cooled, I packed the granola up in mason jars. For the lids, I just cut out snowflakes from a grocery paper bag, and tied with dark green raffia- easy!

Yellow Raisin Granola

I’m currently up in the air and on my way to Pittsburgh to visit my friend Danielle, who is living there for grad school. I’ve never been! Stay tuned for Steel City eats.

-M

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2 Ripe Bananas

After a week of holiday festivities at my parent’s house, I came back to my apartment to find four eggs and two ripe bananas. I immediately called the Thai place for delivery.

Not interested in putting away my (massive) amount of laundry, I walked back into the kitchen. Procrastination, for me, is baking. I surveyed the scene. There are two main things you can do with overripe bananas: freeze them, or bake with them. This was an easy decision.

I Googled “2 ripe bananas.” This recipe came up. I got to work.

Preheat your oven to 325. Remove all of the baking pans, muffin tins, wire racks and jelly roll pans from where you store them in the oven. Place them on the floor. Realize you should’ve done the whole preheating thing second. Move your electric stand mixer from the side table where there is no outlet, to the counter where there is an outlet. Pull out a step stool and retrieve all-purpose flour from the top cabinet. Pour a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of nutmeg, which you’ll use in place of the orange zest and walnuts. Measure out the remaining ingredients from this recipe. Mix everything together, and bake for an hour and 15 minutes.

photo (28)

I was so distracted baking that I forgot about dinner. Never turned my ringer on. I had six missed calls from the Thai place. About 30 minutes and some phone calls-on my end-later, I got my asparagus and string beans in garlic sauce with jasmine rice. Freshly baked banana bread was completely worth the mix-up.

This was the last thing I baked in 2013. Already made my vision board for the new year; all about the vision boards. 2014 is going to be an incredible, adventure-filled, and well, delectable. Happy New Year, everyone!

-M

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Cranberry Satsuma Tea Bread

Citrus season is here; go crazy, people! The Florida navel orange harvest began a few weeks ago. Clementines are abundant. The real star of the show for me, though, are satsumas. These little guys are sweet, easy to peel, and yield tons of liquid. Great for drinking, or in this case, using for moisture in a tea bread recipe.

I’m all about baking with citrus–lemon cupcakes over chocolate any day–and wanted to try out satsumas in place of traditionally used oranges. These paired with cranberries make for a festive and seasonal holiday treat. A bonus? Fill large mason jars or glass bowls with stem-and-leaf satsumas for an easy, edible table centerpiece.

Satsuma

Cranberry Satsuma Tea Bread

Yields 1 9-inch by 5-inch loaf 

2 cups cake flour

3/4 cups cane sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup Earth Balance, or butter

1 cup chopped fresh cranberries

3/4 cup fresh satsuma juice (about 4 satsumas)

1 tablespoon satsuma zest

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon canola oil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add in the Earth Balance (or butter) with the mixer on medium speed, followed by the satsuma juice, zest, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Fold in the chopped cranberries.

Grease a 9-inch by 5-inch loaf pan with canola oil, then pour in the batter. Bake the tea bread for 45 minutes (or more! My oven tends to be hotter than other ovens). Once the tea bread is ready, remove from the loaf pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for 15-20 minutes, then slice and serve.

Cranberry Satsuma Bread

This tea bread is not too sweet and very moist. I’ll be having a slice for breakfast for the next few days. As the name suggests, would be delicious with tea!

-M

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Tuesday Boozeday

This is a drink for when you need a drink on a Tuesday. When its been that kind of week (er, two days into the week). Or, if you just want a good cocktail.

It’s like a Pimm’s Cup. Without the Pimm’s + cucumber. Or a Gin Fizz. Without the egg white. I made up the name for this drink. It sounds like an English gentleman. Fitting for gin.

Gin Meyer 

Yields two drinks

2 shots gin

2 cups sparkling water

1/2 of a Meyer lemon, sliced into small wedges (regular lemon works, too)

2 teaspoons ginger syrup

Fill a shaker with the gin, lemon, and ginger syrup. Pour over ice in two rocks glasses, and fill each glass with sparkling water. Stir and serve.

photo (27)

You could also add mint. In the summer: blackberries AND mint. Yum.

-M

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