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Quiet and Explosions

guggenheimhangingI love exploring New York with friends, but every few weeks, I take a solo trip. Without anyone to talk to, the city becomes my focus for the day. Museums are one of my favorite solo stops, and on Saturday, I went to the Guggenheim to see two new exhibitions. The first was Gutai: Splendid Playground, a retrospective of the avant-guarde Gutai art collective in Japan. The rotunda was spanned by giant polyethylene tubes filled with colored water, with each tube climbing higher than the next until they reached the skylight at the center of the ceiling. The rest of the works had a similar playful feel; some were interactive and others were created during artist performances when they would paint with their feet or use small motorized cars to draw chaotic, Pollack-like sketches. Television screens showed recordings of the process by many of the works. The second exhibition was Zarina: Paper Like Skin, a retrospective of the artist’s minimalist prints and other works, including intricate woven paper strips and a huge piece of paper covered in gold leaf. It was the first exhibition I’ve been to where I thought, “I want to hang all of this in my house.” You can see a few examples here.

After the museum, I went to Cha-An Teahouse on the Lower East Side. If you’ve never treated yourself to a full afternoon tea, or just lingered over a meal in a peaceful restaurant on a Saturday afternoon, I highly recommend it. Their afternoon tea set started with two warm rolls made with dough that reminded me of a soft pretzel. One was filled with smoked salmon, cilantro, and mustard, and the other had a sweet strawberry butter spread.

cha-ansavoryOnce I finished the rolls, the sweets arrived. This was the moment I wished for a companion because there was no way I could finish five desserts between sips of my lemon verbena tea. There were two chocolate scones, a chocolate and walnut brownie, a muffin with apple puree and pecans (?), and a banana and/or earl gray sponge cake.

cha-answeetWhen I go back, I think I’ll skip the full tea set and just get tea and Cha-An’s fabled black sesame creme brulee. I completely missed it on the menu, but post-tea internet research suggests it’s amazing.

After a meditative Saturday, I woke up on Sunday with plans to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Things got a little crazy. Continue Reading →

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Sunday Cooking: Spiced Pork Chops, Applesauce, and Carrot Soup

It was a perfect Park Slope Sunday. I made my grocery list, went shopping, and had my kitchen stocked for the week by 10:30 AM. Once Ramsey woke up, we picked up pastries and walked to 4th Ave to cheer for the marathon runners. He ate a chocolate crossaint and I ate a pear and caramel turnover as hundreds of people in top physical condition ran by, fueled only by bananas, water, and those unsettling fruit goo packs. We discussed the practicality of marathon costuming after someone wearing a gas mask and Occupy Wall Street signage passed. Kids lined up against the blue police tape and held their hands out for the runners to hit on their way by. Thirtysomethings walking home from mimosa brunches yelled out the names printed on runners’ shirts and each runner responded with a whoop or a subtle thumbs-up. A live band on the corner played “Gigantic” by The Pixies and we all nodded along.

When the packs of runners tapered off, Ramsey and I walked up to the farmers’ market where we spotted our local dog celebrity, The Lazy Dachshund. I bought kale and apples, Ramsey bought a tub of pickled vegetables, and we were back in the apartment by noon. I was ready to cook.

My menu for the day included my favorite carrot soup for lunch, and then kale, applesauce, and spiced pork chops for dinner.

The carrot soup only called for few ingredients: chopped carrots, onion, rice, chicken stock, butter, oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.

More photos after the jump… Continue Reading →

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Adventures in Scanning

Giblet Gravy

I found some interesting items while scanning my grandmother’s recipe clippings Thursday afternoon. I’m saving the actual recipes for later posts, but I wanted to share some images and labels today. The giblet gravy recipe above comes from the back of a frozen turkey label, a piece of paper that could be the origin of a Mangan family tradition.

Turkey Instructions

This book of oven triumphs (!) is coming back to Brooklyn with me. I want every time I bake to be considered a victory.
Oven Triumph!

My policy is to try any food item I encounter at least once (as long as it’s not alive at the time of consumption), however this meal has me rethinking things:

Crab Louis

More scanning finds (including melon cutting tips and men in hot tubs) with my unnecessary commentary after the jump. Continue Reading →

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Return

armyplaza

A lot has happened over the past two weeks. Here is a brief rundown: I was dumped, then I assessed my seemingly shattered existence, picked up the pieces, considered moving back upstate, changed my mind, moved out of the apartment in Greenpoint, moved into an apartment in Park Slope, and finally find myself settled in (Update on 9/22: I also got a full time job offer!). I don’t want to dwell on the situation (this is a food blog after all), however I have to say I’m lucky to have such wonderful friends and family—they kept me from going off the deep end and made this transition much easier than I thought it would be.

Now, on to the present. I’ve been living in Park Slope for just over a week, and while I miss my place in Greenpoint, I can now buy cupcakes, have my nails done, go to the movies, go out to dinner, or get on the subway within three blocks of my apartment. It’s the way I imagined New York would be during my high school daydreams, just with a lot more puppies and strollers. The toddlers are hip and neighborhood block parties have both bouncy houses and pony rides. Also, my roommates are great (and love to cook) and my new room is large enough to accommodate a reading nook, complete with an armchair, lamp, and ottoman.

The Park Slope food scene is also vibrant. There are hundreds of restaurants, cafes, specialty shops, and bakeries in the neighborhood and I look forward to exploring them in the coming months. In fact, I started exploring on my first morning here when I woke up early and walked up to the farmers’ market in Grand Army Plaza, where rows of small stalls are set up in the shadow of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch.

market9

More photos after the jump. Continue Reading →

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A Quarter Century

july 4

Pictured above: Me at age 4 or 5, along with the neighborhood gang. Identities have been concealed to protect the innocent.

I will officially turn twenty-five at 2:53pm today. The combination of high temperatures and my birthday means no cooking for me, save for possibly throwing together a salad for dinner. In the meantime, I leave you to ponder the ultimate birthday question: cake, pie, or other dessert?

I have always been a fan of cake. The cakes for most of my childhood birthdays were made by the same woman in her home on the South Side of Binghamton, decorated to match the themes of my birthday parties. The flavor and texture of the buttercream frosting was the best part, with its cavity-inducing sugar levels and a light crust.

My father scanned a few photos for me so I could share a few past cakes and a few theme parties. Take a walk down narcissism lane and enjoy a few classic Mo birthday photos after the jump. Continue Reading →