Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I'm going to have this little guy living in my apartment for a week. He assures me he won't pee on my floors or mattress, or shred my bedspread. We'll see about that. But how could I say no to this little face? Aaaaggghhhh, kitteh!!

Monday, September 24, 2007


For a recent wine club gathering, I decided to pair my French rose with a homemade ceviche. Roses apparently go with just about everything (which makes sense -- they're red, they're white), so it seemed like a fine time to try my hand at ceviche, something I'd never attempted but which I've been fostering a taste for between trips to the Red Hook ballfields and a visit to the coast of Peru.

Now here's a photo of the ceviche mixto I had at the fancy oceanside Costa Verde restaurant in Lima.

And here's my ceviche. Not quite so fancy, but pretty darn tasty for a first try. Below is the recipe I used (thank you Emeril).


Ingredients needed:
  • 3/4 pound very fresh white fleshed ocean fish, such as cod
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (about 2) minced serrano peppers
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup small diced avocado
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into thick strips and fried until crisp
  • Lime wedges

Cut the fish into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a glass dish with the lime juice. Cover and refrigerate for 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Drain the fish and add the peppers, tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, olive oil, and salt. Fold gently to mix. Serve with some fried tortilla strips, thick cut, garnish with lime wedges.

Yield: 4 appetizer portions

Of course, wine club was hosting some twelve or so people that night, so I tripled the recipe and then some buying 3lbs of cod at the fish market. I then carried the fish to the bar, because I'm not one to miss happy hour, where I stuffed it in the cooler behind the bar until later.

When I got home, I set to work dicing the cod. I quickly discovered that cod can be very, very full of bones. Not wanting to kill any of my wine drinking buddies, I dug into the cod one strip at a time and yanked out each and every bone. This took about forty five minutes and left flakes of cod buried deep under my fingernails. Thankfully, this was the hardest part (well, that and juicing eight limes by hand), and once I added the citrus and a splash of the canned pepper juice (per the suggestion of the gentleman who sold me the wine), the ceviche pretty much took care of itself. It was a hit at the party the next night!

So proud was I of my debut ceviche, I brought a little container along to the beach the next day to impress my foodie friend Dan. Now, I don't know if it was the walk carrying my fish to the bar where I stopped to shop for gift chocolates and nuts along the way. Or if it was the forty-five minute commute by bus lugging a cooler to the wine club meeting. Or maybe the little container of ceviche leftovers baking in the sun inside a sort-of-cool cooler at the beach. But maybe I shouldn't have been so surprised when Dan (and bless him for being such a good sport) hoisted a fork of ceviche up towards my nose to show me A WORM wiggling its way out of a chunk of fish. OMG. I've never seen something so disgusting come out of my own kitchen creation.

Apparently the ceviche really was good though, because after flicking the wormy piece of fish into the sand, Dan continued to eat what was left. What I lack in food sanitation sense, I just may make up for in taste.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Casserole Crazy

I'm thinking about entering this. I've never invented my own casserole, and in fact the only original recipe I've ever concocted is the one that found its way into Kara's indie rock cookbook. But I certainly enjoy eating casseroles having grown up in casserole country (aka The Midwest). I am a little intimidated by the rules that say you will be BLACKLISTED if you register and then don't show. I think I will spend next week trying out some ideas and see where it gets me before the Oct. 10th registration deadline. Wish me luck, and please leave me some recipe ideas in the comments!

Oh! And did I mention, Ted Allen is one of the judges? He's like the cool gay uncle I never had.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Homes Away From Home: Where I Slept on my Summer Vacation

As summer 2007 winds to a close, I thought I should recap some of the places I called home when away from home. Let's start south of the equator, where it was not, in fact summer at all.

The Hotel Presidente - Aguas Caliente, Peru

With its standard issue, wooly alpaca blankets and staticy TV with maybe three channels, mostly soccer, The Hotel Presidente was a welcome oasis after three rather frosty nights sleeping in a tent high in the Andes. While tent camping included such amenties as a cow standing just outside the toilet tent, curious children chasing dogs through our campsite, the late night sounds of a fellow camper's vomiting, and a "jacuzzi" (a plastic bowl of luke warm water for us to wash the dust off our face and hands), the Hotel Presidente had something much better: a shower! Sure it had no shower curtain, but it had partially warm water and Johnsons Baby Shampoo in little packets.

In all seriousness though, the Presidente had magnificent river and mountain views from our balcony and a very adorable llama painting above the beds. Plus it was conveniently located nearby Machu Picchu and offered super strong coffee at the continental breakfast. Which we enjoyed at 4:30 am when we woke to catch the bus. So actually my time at Presidente was mostly showing up, taking a long bath, taking a nap, and then leaving to climb another mountain.

My Friend Sam's Family's Cabin - The Adirondacks, New York

Unless you are pals with Sam or any of his cousins or siblings, you won't be visiting the family cabin. But take my word that this is a true family treasure with bare wood walls, a big roaring fireplace, several rooms with cozy beds for at least ten people, and a big deck full of Adirondack chairs and hammocks for relaxin'. Among the family ephemera (dating back five generations) was an impressive bear skin rug, caught and skinned, supposedly, by some relative pictured here.

Best thing in my bedroom, beside the bunk beds and a poster from the 1980 Olympics, was a Bill Cosby vinyl record. It was like a time capsule from my own childhood.

The Standard - West Hollywood, Los Angeles

I'm writing to you now from my very retro/utilitarian room at The Standard, seated in front of an enormous mirror wearing the white hotel robe. Not because I just got out of the bright orange shower, no, just because it was hanging in the closet and I like to try everything.

The Standard is an older hotel with a lot of cred for being "the" place to stay in West Hollywood, though apparetly not as hip as the Downtown location with its rooftop pool. Still, the WeHo Standard is where the ladies on Sex and the City stayed, and it was featued in Oceans 12, and it has a girl in her undies hanging out in a glass case behind the reception desk, so I'm still pretty impressed. As advertised on the website, the lobby features floor-to-ceiling shag carpeting (which sounds gross actually, but is somehow sorta neat) and every room has a baby cacti. I don't think I've seen a single person here over 40 unless they were in some entourage following a band around the pool or the cocktail bar.

But how does the place measure up as a home away from home? Well without a doubt it looks cool. The colors are bright and the decor is minimal. But minimal just doesn't jive with my personal style and I'm left feeling pretty uncomfortable in my utilitarian surroundings. Thankfully the utilitarian, hospital-motif bed's pillows are comfy and plentiful, which also helps drown out the thumping bass seeping into my room from the lobby below. The milkshakes in the 24 hour diner are excellent, but avoid the hotel bar unless you prefer table service vodka and Red Bull and care to watch girls give their boyfriends lapdances.

Not sure how I feel about the giant silver beanbag chairs.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dumpster Diving: Part 2

Park Slope has great trash on its curbs, and once again I found a nice piece on my way home from the bars. This robins egg blue chest of drawers was the perfect size to be my new nightstand in my cozy little bedroom. Nevermind the mysterious goo dripped down the front that I tried but failed to scrub off. Let's just call it shabby chic!

A Series of Homemaking Malfunctions

I was very excited to find textured brown curtains on SALE at Ikea last week, and I picked up a pair for my big living room windows. A pair. Not two pair, which is the necessary number needed to keep my neighbors from watching me pussyfoot around my apartment in my undies. I realized this while stuck in traffic on the NJ Turnpike and there was no way I was turning back.

Last night I nuked a mini quiche on my new bright red plates and discovered that they are not, in fact, microwave safe.

This morning the paper lantern that I hung with care from my bedroom ceiling came crashing down. Apparently those sticky 3M hooks aren't hefty enough to hold an entire lamp.