happy friday!

And in today’s edition of useless shit you will never need but idiots continue to sell…

No human is immune to kitchen gadgetry – there is always something we’re convinced we need to make our domestic lives a little easier. Not to say this is totally unfounded. For as much as I laugh at apple corers, I bet it helps people who make copious amounts of apple jam and an enviable number of apple pies. Same goes for cherry pitters. I’ve become pretty attached to my jamming kit, even though I don’t really need 3 of the 4 things it came with.

What I’m saying is, I get it. I get having a few nifty crutches in your kitchen – things that perhaps you don’t need but hot damn, have they made your life easier! What’s more, I applaud the ingenuity of the person who saw the problem or gap in the market and said, hey! I have an idea/design that would be totally helpful in this situation.

What I don’t understand, however is the need for something like this:


I mean. Really? REALLY?! Who, pray tell, is this helping? The Von Trapp Family? People who have a driving need to make perfectly circular pancakes in sets of four? There is a greater chance I will walk a tight rope across the Grand Canyon than there is of this piece of crap actually producing “picture perfect pancakes every time.” What ever happened to, oh, I don’t know, using a PAN? Sound unfamiliar? It’s that contraption with a round surface that is quite possibly cowering in fear at the back of your oven. You know what you won’t get from this Perfect Pancake Pan? Crispy edges. If that isn’t an integral part of your pancake experience, well – what have you been doing with your life?

And that’s not even nearly enough maple syrup, Perfect Pancake Pan.

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sunday breakfast

It took me an embarrassingly long time to commit to a cast iron skillet. This was one part laziness, one part trepidation (as things often are, personally). From what I had read, cast iron requires a commitment. Season before use. Never use soap to clean it. Don’t forget to season it after use. Clean it out with a kosher salt scrub. Please don’t forget to season it.

For a kid raised on nonstick pans, this was a lot to take in. Plus, they’re expensive! And heavy! And hot!

When I started getting back into bread baking, I was forced to reevaluate my stance on cast iron. My sourdoughs and various miches weren’t achieving the spring I anticipated. I had followed recipes closely and patiently coaxed my starter from messy floury mix to bubbling mother starter. What I kept ignoring was the continued advice to use a dutch oven. According to various sources, a dutch oven is the ideal tool for a home baker looking to achieve the steam saturation of a professional oven. Cast iron, no! I had to accept the facts, though – if I ever really wanted to achieve the bread I was seeking, I would have to commit.

So, with the help of Amazon, I did. And I haven’t looked back.

While I haven’t used the deep end of the combo cooker for more than bread baking, I’ve become rather attached to my cast iron skillet. Of course it requires less attention than I anticipated, and yet I care for it so meticulously that my father announced today, You know what, why don’t you just take thing to your bed?

Um, because it might ruin my latest seasoning. HELLO? What is this, amateur hour?

The best part about this acquisition is how handy it is. I typically use mine for frying up slices of smoked ham, but this Sunday morning, it was the star of the show.


I know it seems like I’m always going on about making pancakes or eating pancakes, but can you really blame me? I love the ritual of making pancakes on a Sunday morning, much like some relish the ritual of making French press coffee or reading the Times, cover to cover. Making pancakes, for me, means a lazy Sunday morning with good tunes on the radio and a cup of black tea that hits me square in the chest. This was my first time using the cast iron to make pancakes and there was definitely an adjustment period. A bit of a long adjustment period, truthfully, but we all made up at the end and now we’re just the two best friends anyone could have.

Instead of dousing my pancakes with a generous glug of maple syrup, I decided to try something new. I macerated a handful of strawberries and blueberries, and, after they had been beaten with an inch of their lives, I poured in a measure or two of Morris Kitchen‘s Rhubarb Syrup. Have I said how much I love rhubarb yet? Well, if you don’t know, now you know.


Sure, I quote Biggie in my off-time. Doesn’t everyone?

In addition to pancakes, and because my family is one that likes a wide variety of options at breakfast, we had smoked salmon, avocado, and an assortment of other savory dishes. And that, my friends, means toast.


I had one-day-old Pugliese from Bien Cuit in the kitchen, which I sliced up and placed in a hot and ready-to-go cast iron. Again, I’ve never used this pan to make toast before, but I was able to fit four slices of bread in there, and it gave me much more control than a toaster oven. I’m kicking myself for not figuring this out sooner and saving myself from an embarrassing amount of burnt toast.

Do you have a cast iron skillet you love and cherish and treat with more care than some pairs of shoes? Tell me all about it. I’ll just be over here, slicing the remains of the Pugliese and toasting it in preparation of une fête des moules.



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jumping from planes with boys

I am a self-professed scaredy cat, and I have no qualms about admitting it. What’s more, I’m intrinsically a bit clumsy – “a bit” being an epic understatement. Falling is something of a specialty of mine. I do it often, and I do it with panache. When visiting a new doctor, I always laugh when completing a form that asks me to list all my recent injuries. Pardon me, doctor, but what’s your scale for injuries? Are we talking surgery, sprains or otherwise?

Here’s a story for you. Once upon a time, I wore heels to work – nothing major, about an inch or so high. One day, I was very strongly discouraged from observing a piece of equipment situated in sandy/muddy terrain, all because of my choice of footwear. I went back to the office and let loose a long rant about how stupid the whole ordeal was, how I had walked on a grated flooring in those shoes and how I could walk anywhere in them. Then I took two steps on the linoleum tiles and slipped just like a runner sliding into home base, except I was wearing a pencil skirt.

It’s like I’m Murphy’s Law personified.

Because of this blessed mix, I often stop myself from doing things that others might find commonplace for fear of hurting myself. I don’t ride a bike in the city. I haven’t done any form of skating since I broke my wrist in 4th grade at the roller rink. I don’t ski or snowboard or attempt any type of extreme sport. I don’t like to wear heels in the rain, even when it’s fashionably required and my idea of a hike is a nature walk. Hell, I balk at opening/closing the grill because I’m convinced I’ll find a new way to burn myself.

Because of my propensity to fall, I easily developed a fear of heights. Imagine how much fun that made exploring Machu Picchu. There were abuelas moving at a faster pace than I was. Not long ago, I made the decision to chip away at my fear of heights by tackling it head on. It started with walking along the road from monastery to monastery on the cliffs of the Meteora.


Then it was that cliff jump at the Mountain Creek Waterpark. Sure, I bruised my tailbone and couldn’t sit properly for two weeks, but hey. I jumped off a frickin’ cliff.

So let’s fastforward. A few months ago, I met a guy who had gone skydiving only a few hours earlier, and was making moves to complete his IAF certification to do solo jumps. Skydiving, while never exactly on my bucket list, is something I have always said I wanted to do some day. All part of conquering this fear of heights and such, you know. And so, the following text was sent: …I want to jump from a plane while attached to a functioning parachute and a person who know how it works.

Five days later, I was in a car destined for Skydive the Ranch in Gardiner, NY. I had spent the days prior avoiding YouTube at all costs. I wouldn’t let anyone tell me about the lady who slipped out of her harness. I contemplated telling my instructor I’d have my eyes closed and if he or she could just toss me from the plane without much fanfare, that’d be great. I wondered if I would be the first person ever to block the plane’s exit with my body.

I don’t want to brag (much), but I was pretty great about the whole thing. In fairness, a lot of it had to do with the staff at Skydive the Ranch. I can’t say enough good things about them. They were massively instrumental in making my experience as incredible as it was. From check-in, to the signing away of my life (aka, signing the waivers) and through the passing storm, everyone was warm, friendly and very easygoing. When you feel like you’re hanging out in someone’s backyard, you tend to forget you’ll be free-falling from 2.5 miles above the Earth in a few minutes.

The feeling of a free-fall is one I’ll never forget and one I cannot wait to relive. Anyone you ask about it will tell you it’s an absolute mindfuck, and they’re not exaggerating. Typically, when a person falls (and I do speak authoritatively here), they expect to hit the ground shortly. We cringe, we tense up and brace ourselves for the worst. Thing is, you won’t be hitting the ground anytime soon when you’re falling from a height of 13,500 feet. If you’re anything like me, you’ll scream your head off for a few seconds and then take a deep breath and realize this is quite possibly the closest you’ll ever get to flying.

It may sound a bit dramatic, but skydiving absolutely changed me. While this was something I had always wanted to do, it was never something I actually I expected I could do. It’s ridiculous, in retrospect, as it required little more than showing up and paying. And yet, this was easily one of the greatest experiences of my life. There are so many things I could be doing that I’ve written off because I’ve convinced myself I’m not capable, and that’s simply not true. I dusted off my old bike (fine, Dad, your old bike) and have committed to riding daily during the workweek. Again, this may seem trivial to most, but if you’d seen me struggling along the roads of Inishmore 3 years ago, you’d think otherwise. Now, I’d like to start preparing to participate in an upcoming Tour de Cure. But babysteps first, friends – I did two moving hand signals AND rocked the quick left turn off a pretty steep hill. Booya!

In the meantime, here’s a photo of me, post jumping from a plane while attached to a functioning parachute and a person who knows how it works.


And Eric, if you ever read this and we jump together again someday – HELL YES I WANNA DO A BACK FLIP OUT OF THE PLANE!

Skydive the Ranch is located at 55 Sand Hill Road, in Gardiner, NY. To reserve a jump time, call 845-255-4033.

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goat cheese & herbs

By now, no one should be surprised to hear about how much I like cheese.

I really like cheese. Like, BIG love cheese. Like, never have I ever said, Oh no, this doesn’t need any cheese, thank you. If I should ever utter those words, don’t even bother taking my temperature because it’s time to start re-evaluating your thoughts on body snatchers.

Thankfully, I’ve been born into a circle of cheese lovers and have thus been surrounded by a wide variety of pretty kick ass cheeses for as long as I can remember. We value the pre-dinner cheese plate. We love the second breakfast cheese sampler. And everyone seems to love when I come back from the cheese stall at All Good Things, with the minor exception of my wallet.  Stop being such a negative nelly, wallet.

A few weeks ago, Paula started raving about this amazing cheese she had found in Whole Foods. Now, it should be noted that Paula doesn’t normally get as excited about cheese as I do, so this was pretty major, y’all. She had discovered a tub of sheep’s milk feta swimming in olive oil and herbs. I love a good sheep’s milk feta, having first devoured it in a simple pasta in Ireland nearly 4 years ago – it has such a gorgeously creamy texture that just squished into the pasta shells and created a perfect tang wiith the tomatoes and capers.

Sorry, I’m going to need a minute.

Continue reading

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butter butter, y’all

Well, it’s been a while. I cannot, in total honesty, say a lot has been happening around here. I discovered Netflix and Amazon Prime Videos almost simultaneously and I have to confess, it’s a great thing I didn’t discover Alias or The West Wing until after completing my formal education. SoulCycle happened. Sourdough happened and, suffice it to say, it was very time consuming at the onset.

But more on that later, because have I got a story for you.

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sourdough, again


I’m giving it another go at a sourdough starter – all dark rye, 7 days in. It’s taking lots of patience and daily double feedings. I take this little jar back and forth to NYC, just to give it the love it needs. Soon it will be ready, and hopefully functional!

And then no more commercial yeast for this kid.

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happy friday!

Coffee culture is something I really have no business pretending to understand. There are so many different ways to handle a raw coffee bean. Different types of grinding. Different methods of brewing. Machinery so complex it could be the brainchild of a Fifty Shades of Gray project gone awry.

I will fully admit to growing up in the typical suburban American coffee culture where Starbucks was the alpha and the omega and every other letter in between. Drinking coffee was the first in many faux symbols of being one of the cool kids at the grown up table. I loved frappuccinos and macchiatos of the caramel variety. Ordering a venti frappuccino was akin to ordering a sugar cone with four scoops of double chocolate chip ice cream. Clearly you were a diabetic badass in the making.

This, thankfully, was a phrase I outgrew. I graduated to the latte, leaving whipped cream and sugary syrups behind. I could finally taste the coffee. It was all going so well until I found myself on a flight from Frankfurt to Dublin after a three hour connection that involved two lattes of whole milk. It was a short flight but it only took so long to realize just how much dairy my body cannot handle, especially as I’ve spent most my life drinking 2% milk.

So now I’m a happy little cappuccino drinker, but I am very particular about it. I love a good cappuccino with the right amount of velvety foam and tight espresso. I devour them in Europe because, more often than not, they’re cheaper than bottles of water and they always taste like little cupfuls of heaven. The ritual of enjoying a freshly crafted cappuccino when there’s nothing but time is one I cherish.

All that said, fewer things irk me more than burnt espresso, its taste and smell. If I can smell it, I have to believe you smelled it, too. But let’s say you don’t smell it, that somehow this acrid scent escapes you. There’s no reason this should escape you, too –


If you’re like me, you’re not entirely sure what this is. What looks like an ice cream sundae was presented as a cappuccino. A cappuccino. If a frappuccino can pass as a gourmet coffee beverage, I suppose any caffeinated beverage has the right to dream. But friends, this is not a cappuccino by any means or definition of the word. I think I could use that mess of foam as a pillow and take a little nap.

For me, the best place to get a cappuccino in NYC is at Blue Bottle Coffee. I happily forgo a mediocre one on Saturday for this special treat. The people there are coffee demigods, in my opinion.


Maybe your weekends be filled with time to spare for a good cup of coffee.

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