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Moving, Moving, Moving!

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Moving for some can be a traumatic experience.  For me, mind other then looking for a place, which is exhausting, the actual move is cathartic.  I am one of those people who likes to purge my belongings, especially when moving.  I usually like to get rid of around 50-60% of what I have.  I think of it as a way to get new things!  I look forward to getting new furniture or items that I want for the new place.  I always see it as the new home tells me what is needed.  That old dresser may not work anymore.  I may only need a side table or a desk.   I even get rid of clothes, books and knick knacks.  It’s like Christmas for myself.    Fun times!!!

I’ve been in my new place for two months now, and I still don’t have furniture, but, I am in no hurry.  My room will tell me what I need.  I know I will find what I need, when I need it.  But as a treat for you all I have been exploring my new neighborhood.  So here are few pictures for you to enjoy.

Summer Traditions

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Famous cole slaw and potato salad

 

It’s summer and that means sun, visit this site sand and lots of sweat.  Summer in New York has always had an unpredictable beginning, also known as June.  Then it’s hot, humid and lots of sweat.   This year has been a wet summer.  Not bad,  but definitely not normal.  It means our beach camping days have been limited and bbq’s few.   That doesn’t mean we havent been doing both.   That would be silly .  What it does mean, is a change in what we pack for the beach and keeping our bbq’s a little more simple.  For camping we’ve been making our vegetarian chile and chicken mole for dinners and spam musabi’s for lunches.  These have become our staples.  We’ve also been making our famous cole slaw, corn salad and curried corn for BBQ’S.  I always feel a little guilty bringing these out but a friend said, “don’t,  these have become tradition. We want these side dishes at your bbq’s”.  That was a huge compliment and humbling moment.   I’m always happy when someone likes what we cook, who doesn’t?  But to be starting a tradition is something completely different.   To me that is a true testament to home and comfort.  I’m glad we can bring a little of both to our friends and our home.   Here’s to traditions, summer, friends and comfort food.  Now go out and make a tradition of your own!

Spring

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Spring is here, price and in New York City that means a lot.  It means no more heavy coats, page gloves, ailment scarves, thermal underwear, layering several articles of clothing, runny  noses, or simply running to the subway to get out of the cold.   We spend on the average, six months bundled up and hustling to where we are headed.  Every year winter seems to be longer and longer, while Spring seems to get shorter.

With the warmer seasons going by in a New York minute, we New Yorkers are slowing down.  The leaves are returning to a bright green, blossoms are blooming with white, pink, yellow and purple flowers.  Tulips and Daffodils are taking over every sidewalk garden.  Pansies can be spotted in window boxes and we are stopping to smell the roses — well, the Dogwoods and all the many other fragrant flowers and trees in bloom.

Some people think New York is harsh, cold, abrasive and down right mean.  I am talking about winter, not the people.  But one thing all New Yorker’s can agree on is that Spring is one of, if not the best, seasons in this city.  It’s when everything is new and the possibilities are endless.  To some New Years Day is the start of a new year, but here, Spring is a celebration, our New Year. We live and breathe for it.  It triggers a sense of accomplishment, a certain knowing that we all made it and will live to see the beauty that is starting to unfold.  It means newness, a freshness and a big sigh of release.  We come together and smile more, say hello more and treat each other like neighbors, not just another person trying to get somewhere.   

Spring also means taking the longer way home from work or walking to do that errand or two.  It means eating in back gardens, front restaurant patios, hitting happy hour before the sun sets or as it sets, especially if you can find a rooftop; finding a small garden by accident and taking it in while tourists buzz by in their must see everything confusion.  We look forward to nighttime strolls by the rivers, accidentally meeting a friend on the street and taking the time to get a quick drink or bite, or just catching up.

We know we live in a great city.  But in order to really appreciate it you must live through a winter and come out the other end.  Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes we New Yorkers rise from winter and with total abandon and glee we go running into the colorful world of Spring.  Hello neighbor.

Winter Camping

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It’s official.  Camping season is here!  Well almost.  But that didn’t stop us from heading into the woods on this semi warm (21 degrees) winter weekend.  Yes some might call us crazy, buy and this would be one of those times.  But when you feel the need to escape you can’t deny it.  So we hit the trains and trails of Harriman Park and set up camp at our favorite spot, order Lake Skenonto.  We only went for in quick trip this time so we only prepped one meal.  Beef stew.  We wanted something hardy and quick to heat up, as time and day light would be short when we arrived at our campsite.   After trudging through two feet of snow we hit camp and started to prep.  Jason worked on getting a space cleared for a fire and I went hunting for wood.  I came back with very little so we swapped chores and Jason hit the mother load!   I found a log under the snow that we could sit on while our fire roared and I also set up the tent.   After all that work and we rewarded ourselves with a shot of whiskey.   With our fire ablaze we started dinner and enjoyed the serine quiet and beauty of the wilderness.   After dinner and whiskey with a little snow to mellow it out we enjoyed the fire for a while and then headed into the tent to watch a movie.

The next day we woke to a couple of eagles singing a song, made some coffee and breakfast.   After a little leisure time in our winter wonderland we decided to pack it in and slowly made our way back to the train.   We didn’t have time for our usual Chinese farewell meal but that was ok.  After walking through all that snow both ways, just getting home was reward enough.   With our packs off our backs and a congratulatory glass of white wine we are melted into our coach and are dreaming of hitting the trails in spring.

 

 

 

Beef Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This is a great make a head of time meal for camping.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 32oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper(your choice)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stocks chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and slice ¼ inch
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic gloves crushed and separated
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of thyme
  • Splash of wine (red or white)
  • Couple dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • Smidge of horseradish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour to dredge meat
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Salt and pepper as you go along
  2. Dredge meat in flour and cook in stock pot with olive oil till they get a little brown on all sides.
  3. About 5 minutes, a quick sear.
  4. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Add onion and celery to pot and cook till onions start to get translucent.
  6. Add thyme and oregano
  7. Add one crushed garlic clove
  8. Add bay leaf
  9. Add potatoes
  10. Splash of wine
  11. Cook till potatoes are half way done
  12. Squeeze tomatoes with hands and put in pot with juice from can
  13. Add carrots, bell pepper, Worcestershire, horseradish
  14. Add meat including any juices.
  15. Add last crushed garlic clove
  16. Salt and pepper to taste
  17. Simmer for 45 - 60 minutes

Dollywood

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Another trip to the wonderful Dollywood.  This was a true whirl wind tour.  We arrived in Tennessee at 10:30 am on Saturday (via Chicago) and then drove to Pigeon Forge, generic stopping at a few thrift stores along the way.  Our first night we found Old Smokey Moonshine and after a nice dinner, symptoms we had a moonshine tasting.  That’s all I need to say.  Next morning was Dollywood!  Thankfully the weather was on our side and during the day we hit one of our usual spots, here the Grist Mill for some giant cinnamon loaf, did some pre scouting for souvenirs and in between we hit the roller coasters.  We had planned on actually eating a real meal, but as the day went on it was all about the snacks, like a giant corn dog big enough for two.   By night time  anything  that stands still is covered in lights.  There’s even a Christmas themed light show.  After riding the roller coasters multiple times(Wild Eagle our favorite), a special Christmas show with a hologram Dolly as the ghost of Christmas past, and a few other attractions we hadn’t seen before, it was time to get our shopping on.  As usual it was a mad dash before the park closed, and as usual we still didn’t see it all!  On Monday morning with our Dollywood hangovers, we managed to  make it to quite a few thrift stores.  Not all were gems, but then again, we only made it through half our list and as far as Knoxville. With our bags overflowing from souvenirs and thrift store finds, we flew back home dreaming, and a little spinning, thanks to the multiple cocktails our wonderful stewardess bestowed upon us, of our next Dollywood trip.

Fall Camping

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Our first fall camping trip got off to a slow start, cure we accidentally boarded the wrong train! But luckily it was a happy accident. By the time we made it to Tuxedo and Harrimon Park the slight rain that was plaguing us all morning had stopped. We bought our final supplies and headed to the trail, visit this arriving just in time to collect firewood, make camp and start dinner before sunset. Steak, baked potatoes and cilantro pesto corn were the evening meal and a lovely moon to gaze at. Later with the fire and moon in full force we just sat back and took it all in, before heading of to sleep.

The next day we awoke to a beautiful misty fog rolling over the hills and exposing Lake Skenonto in all its fall foliage beauty. The birds sang hello while we made coffee and breakfast. The sky cleared up and it was a glorious fall day to be in the woods. So naturally we pulled out the ukuleles and serenaded the animals with our songs. After some more quiet time it was time to head back to the city. So we packed up, said goodbye to our animal friends and headed for the train and Chinese food. This may have been our first fall camping trip but it won’t be our last.

 

Vegetarian Chili for Camping

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Chili Chili fixin's Chili veggies

 

One of the easiest things to make for camping is vegetarian chili. You just chuck everything in a pot, no rx let it simmer for a while and tah dah! It’s done. I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure anymore. Who am I kidding a never measure! Ok so I’ve gotten better at measuring thanks to writing about what we cook. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat it’s all up to you. We usually are out for a couple days so keeping it meat free is best. I also freeze it so it becomes part of the ice we use to keep everything fresh. I like to add as many fresh ingredients as possible, like tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, bell peppers and sometimes zucchini. This is a great dish to experiment with and have fun.

 

 

Vegetarian Chili for Camping
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 8oz can of black beans
  • 1 8oz can of dark kidney beans
  • 1 8oz can of pink beans
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 6oz cans of tomato paste( depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 med green bell pepper
  • 1 med red or yellow or orange bell pepper(your choice)
  • 2 carrots(3 if small)
  • 1 med zucchini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of ancho chile powder
  • 1 large or two medium bay leaves
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ tablespoon of pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop onion
  2. Peel and chop carrots
  3. Chop bell peppers and zucchini into cubes
  4. Cut kernels off corn
  5. Chop tomatoes
  6. Peel and rough chop garlic
  7. In large sauce pan add some olive oil and onion
  8. A sprinkle of salt and pepper
  9. Sauté for a few minutes
  10. Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes till tomatoes start falling apart
  11. Add remaining vegetables, garlic and cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste
  12. Rinse beans and add them to the pot
  13. Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper
  14. Simmer for about 20 minutes
  15. let cool and put in freezer bags and freeze.
Notes
If you aren't a camper that's ok, this is a great meal anytime. They say to let chili sit overnight that way it incorporates all the flavors. I usually can't wait, but if you can, let the pot cool off, refrigerate and reheat the next day.
Don't for get the hot sauce, cheese and sour cream for the ultimate bowl of chili!

Oh Canada

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When Jason’s Mum came to NYC for a visit we wanted to take her some where different. She’s been to Washington, viagra D.C., and Provincetown, so we had to think of somewhere new. Jason came up with Montreal. It’s just far enough for a quick weekend getaway. To maximize our time together and in Montreal we took the train up and flew back.

The train was a wonderful way to spend the day together. We probably packed way too much food(oops!), but the scenery was just breath taking and we relaxed our way into our weekend. With a recommendation from a friend we stayed at the Chateau De Argoat Hotel. It is perfectly situated near everything and a block and a half from the nearest subway and the bus depot that you can take to the airport.

Once we were all settled we headed out for dinner. You think with all the food we had on the train we wouldn’t be hungry. Wrong! We decided to keep it simple and went to a delicatessen called The Main and had smoked meat and poutine(fries with gravy and cheese curds). Perfect for weary travelers.

The next day we headed for old Montreal and soaked in the history. Walked along the canal where all kinds of new construction is happening . It reminded us of what is happening to Brooklyn back home. We even got Jason’s mum on a bike! After a very valiant effort, we let her off the hook and we walked for rest of our journey. Which included finding an oasis beer garden/indoor beach volleyball club. It was nice to sit relax some more and watch a little bit of sport. We finally made it to our destination the Atwater open market. Unfortunately we were a little late and only managed to procure some fromage, crackers and olives for our efforts. But all was not lost. That just made dinner all the better! We ended up at Cafe Cherrier, not your typical cafe. I had pistachio encrusted salmon, Jason had steak and his mum had veal ravioli. Amazing! So far Montreal is winning in all categories, architecture, historic sights, weather and food!

The next day was Mothers Day and Jason planned a nice dinner, but we changed our minds and made it a brunch date instead. We were so glad we did. Le Pegase did not disappoint. They had a special pre fix menu for Mother’s Day brunch and luckily for us we had three choices for the appetizers and main course. So we all got to try a little of everyone’s meal. To say it was amazing is an understatement. We left floating on air with very satisfied full bellies.

After our heavenly experience we wandered around and made our way to Mount Royal to see the tam tams, aka, a drum circle. Also to climb to the top and see the view of the city. It was another beautiful day and everyone was out just lapping up the sun and music. After a little rest we headed to our final destination, the top of Mount Royal. We lazed around on the lawn chairs took in the scenic view, walked over to the very large cross and then made our descent back down and to our hotel for the night.

Sadly our last day was a short one. We just took it easy, had a picnic at La Fountaine Park, played our ukuleles and soaked in the sun. We then hoped on the bus, checked ourselves through airport security and flew home. Another adventure down and many more to come!

Blossom’s In Bloom

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It was time to make our annual trip to D.C. for the blossom festival and it did not disappoint. We took the Bolt Bus as usual and stayed in our hostel that we like. One day we might stay in a hotel, viagra order but the hostel is in a central location and the price is great.

After we unloaded our gear we headed out for a quick drink. We normally don’t go out on the first night, rx we’re usually too tired and want to get an early start. But this year there was only one exhibit that we really wanted to see, so we figured we had a long week, lets get out and have fun. Well fun found us. We stopped at a local bar we go to sometimes and this night they were having a Robyn themed night. After 3 drag performances and a few Absolut drink specials we made our way back to our beds that were waiting for us.

The next day we hopped on bikes and made it to the festival to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom. It was a glorious day. The sun was out and it was nice and warm. We rode and walked around the basin taking in all the amazing trees and colors. We stopped to get some refreshments but the line was long and we had our exhibit to see. So we high tailed it out of there and went to the Hirshhorn Museum. They had a great exhibit on disasters throughout history. We did wonder if the Smithsonian planned such an exhibit of destruction while life was blooming outside it’s very walls.

After the exhibit we went to The Garden Cafe, in the National Gallery of Art. One of our favorite places to sit, relax and enjoy a meal. We strolled around and saw the amazing photography of Garry Winogrand and the Civic Pride: Group Portraits from Amsterdam, that are considered a rarity at that time. We made another wonderful pit stop at one of the atriums before heading out to see more works of art.

 

 

After a little more running around, it was about time to go back to the hostel and freshen up for our evening plans. As usual I didn’t know what they were. Well, they always involve a play or a concert or a musical. This time much to my delight and genuine surprise it was the final show of Neil Finn’s American tour. We were lucky and got some great seats and were treated to some rare songs that he usually doesn’t play.

We tried to eat before the show but we were running a little late. After a few failed attempts I finally secured some chili cheese fries from Ben’s Chili Bowl, but unfortunately I was too late and we were ushered into the theater and our food disposed of. But our saving grace was Oohh’s and Aahh’s Soul Food. Amazing roast chicken and mac n’ cheese. Can’t wait to go back and try more.

Our final day was mostly spent cruising around looking at blossoms. We stopped for a quick libation and headed to our new find. The peninsula across for the main blossom festival. Talk about night and day! The festival is nice and there are many more blossoms to look at, but what we found was just as beautiful. The peninsula is lined with blossoms and even has picnic area’s with tables and BBQ’s. It was a great bike ride and discovery. Next year it’s all about a picnic at the other side of the festival.

We had just a few more small exhibits to see but our hot dog and beer on the mall lawn was our next destination and it did not disappoint. It’s always nice to take a moment, sit and watch everyone enjoying there day, while we enjoy ours. The Portrait Gallery was our last destination, an exhibition on dance in American history from ballet to movies and music. Then it was off to collect our belongings, with a quick stop at Full Kee to get dinner for the long bus ride home. As we sat comfortably in our seats, or as comfortable one can get, we settled into our movie and dinner, already planing next years adventure.

Spring/Winter camping?!

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Our first camping trip of the season was amazing and cold!

The day started out fine, pills a little cloudy but not too bad. We hit the subway, no rx then train to Tuxedo, grabbed the last of the supplies and hit the trail. We made it to camp with plenty of time to gather wood, pitch the tent, get water and start our fire. It was a lazy afternoon. Well as lazy as that can be. We took our time and enjoyed the spring day. We did notice along the way that there was still snow in random spots and when we arrived at our usual camp site, the lake was still frozen in parts. Jason dubbed this trip, winter camping! We were still delighted, the sun had come out and we just lapping up the quiet and slow pace we were settling into.

 

 

With our fire in full swing and whiskey in our cups we started dinner. We kept it simple. Dry rubbed ribs, steak, asparagus and baked potatoes. One of the best things about camping is you can wrap everything in foil, chuck it in the fire and leg it go. Of course we love cooking a more elaborate meal, but our first outing we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. After dinner we put more wood on the fire and watched the sunset. So far so good, right? Then the sun went down and the wind and cold went up! We usually hangout by the fire for a while but not that night. We headed into the tent and watched a movie I had downloaded. All snuggled up with hot water bottles, snacks and our movie we settled in for the night.

The next morning was bright and sunny. The wind was still whipping around a little and we thought we might have to take the early train home. But thankfully it went away and a beautiful spring day took over. We made breakfast, eggs, potatoes and bacon, and just relaxed. By lunch time we were sufficiently hungry and found our leftover ribs and butter were missing. These were to be added to our egg drop ramen soup. We couldn’t find them anywhere. After a little more searching, I found the empty foil I had wrapped the butter in, and a fork! Jason had heard something in the night like an animal walking through our camp but thought nothing of it. There are deer, geese, hawks, ducks and we usually camp next to a beaver and his dam. I guess one of them got hungry in the night!

We still enjoyed our lunch, finished our movie and made our way back to civilization. It’s always a bitter sweet walk. As we get closer to the train station you realize it’s almost over. But our reward for making this trip and back in one piece is Chinese food across the street from the platform. With our delicious snack in our bellies we drink our travel beer on the train and make the long ride home. Already dreaming of our next camping adventure.

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