Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thankfulness

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd make a list of the things I'm thankful for this year. Better late than never, I guess.
  • My loud, silly and caring family that's always honest and supportive
  • Great friends who never let me down
  • That I'm healthy and able to participate in the things I enjoy
  • That I'm living closer to the people I care about most
  • That I was able to take time off and enjoy my first Thanksgiving in FOR-EV-ER
  • That the holiday season has finally arrived.
  • And of course, pumpkin pie!
Did you know that people who regularly write down the things they appreciate are more likely to lead happier, healthier lives? So what are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

To new beginnings

For as long as I can remember, I've always believed that everything happens for a reason. Having this perspective, I thought, makes it easier to cope with difficult times. Instead of sulking or obsessing over the unfair nature of life, you're forced to find meaning behind it. And this meaning is the silver lining – the very thing that will transform your anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. into something positive.

And there's even an added bonus. Since everything was meant to happen, regret is an impossibility, and time isn't wasted dwelling on past mistakes.

Up until a few weeks ago, I used to think there was something ideological and maybe even romantic about believing in fate. But now I'm reading a new book, Choosing Brilliant Health: 9 Choices That Redefine What It Takes to Create Lifelong Vitality and Well-Being, which challenges my entire belief system. Believing in fate, I've come to realize, can make you feel powerless and even apathetic at times because you can't control your own destiny. Is that really how I want to feel?

By looking for the silver lining, you're not accepting the negative emotions that are cursing through your body. And by denying your feelings, you're not accepting the reality of the event, and the event becomes meaningless – the very thing you were trying to avoid in the first place.

Instead, the authors say that people are the happiest if they accept accountability for everything that happens in your lives. "Happiness, quality of life and healing are the result of taking control."

So now I believe that when something bad happens, you can either learn from it and move on or victimize yourself. Instead of focusing on why the event happened, focus on why you feel the way you do, and face your emotions head on. That way, no experience is meaningless and you're not allowing yourself to become a victim to fate.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get your vote on

I hope everyone's exercising their right to vote today. Go Obama!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Monday already?

It was especially hard to get out of bed this Monday morning. I am feeling extra tired from my fun-filled weekend with Moo. Here are some of the highlights:
  • Ace Ventura running through Davis Square
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes
  • Bad scary movies and lots of chocolate
  • 1/2 appletini (That's right. We can barely handle one full drink between us. haha)
  • Four-mile walk through the city
  • New socks
  • Pumpkin spice chai tea
  • Several near wipe outs on escalators and in revolving doors
  • Drinks overlooking the city skyline
  • Sharing funny stories and laughing until we cried
  • Shouting over loud 80s music
  • Decadent pastries from Rosie's

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

JJ, will you marry me?

My face is sore from smiling; my legs are tired from dancing and my voice is hoarse from singing. The JJ Grey and Mofro show last weekend just might have been my all-time favorite concert.

I'm a somewhat recent Mofro fan, but it didn't take long to fall in love with their sound – a swampy mixture of soul, rock, blues and funk. I saw them on a whim last year in Hollywood, and by the end of the first song, I was hooked (and not just because JJ is amazingly dreamy). They effortlessly enlivened the crowd with their Southern-fried soul and back-porch blues.

After an amazing 2.5-hour show, I immediately bought every single one of their albums. And this time around I sang along to each and every song.

Check out their new album. It's amazing.
  1. Orange Blossoms
  2. The Devil You Know
  3. Everything Good Is Bad
  4. She Don't Know
  5. The Truth
  6. Wylf
  7. On Fire
  8. Move It On
  9. Higher You Climb
  10. Dew Drops
  11. Ybor City
  12. I Believe (In Everything) (My personal favorite)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The "ultimate" stew

As promised, here is a picture of one of the most delicious comfort foods I've had this fall -- Tyler Florence's ultimate beef stew. This is the type of meal that makes you feel warm and good all over.
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Ingredients:
  • 2 to 3 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs, plus 4 sprigs
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 cups blanched and peeled red pearl onions
  • 1 orange, peel cut in large strips
  • Cloves, a few
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle good quality dry red wine (recommended: Burgundy)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, for frying, plus more to drizzle
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bouquet Garni
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 pound baby carrots
  • 1/2 pound garden peas
  • 1 pound white mushrooms, cut in half
  • Pinch sugar
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, as garnish
  • Chives, finely chopped, as garnish
  • Garlic puree, recipe follows
  • Croutons, recipe follows
  • Serving suggestion: buttery mashed potatoes with chives and warm croutons with garlic puree
Directions:

To make the marinade, place the beef in a large glass or plastic container. Add 8 sprigs of thyme, carrots, garlic, red onions, orange peel, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaves, and the wine. Mix well to coat, then cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.


Remove beef from the marinade and blot dry on paper towels. Heat the oil and butter and the remaining 4 sprigs thyme in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on a high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, remove the thyme. Add the beef and brown evenly on all sides. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Strain the marinade into the beef and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the flavorful bits in the bottom of the pot. Add bouquet garni and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the liquid starts to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 2 hours.


After about 2 hours add the baby carrots, garden peas, and mushrooms, along with a pinch of sugar to balance out the acid from the red wine. Turn the heat up slightly and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes more, until the vegetables and meat are tender. Season with salt and pepper.


Garnish with chopped parsley and chives. Squeeze some of the roasted garlic onto the croutons, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with the stew.


Garlic puree:
  • 2 heads garlic, cut in half horizontally
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


Put garlic on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add a sprig of thyme and fold the foil around the garlic. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until garlic is tender and golden brown.


Croutons:

  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 6 slices bread

Heat about 1/4-inch of the olive oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, add the bread in batches and fry until golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove from pan and dry on paper towels.