Category Archives: Albany

C-ing past Corona

0DB47822-785B-4765-87CE-FB02C5144FA6I don’t know about you, but I’m getting more than a little overwhelmed by the constant barrage of CoronaVirus related news. I’m feeling anxious and isolated and sort of cast adrift as I struggle to figure out how to do my job from home.

While I’ve been escaping with live streamed yoga classes, professional Zoom meetings and binge watching Sex and the City, it isn’t enough. For the rest of my waking hours, irregular as they may be, there are two C words beyond Corona that are occupying my time – cooking and cleaning.

Since grocery shopping is such an ordeal these days and we’re encouraged to remain at home, I’ve been trying to cook out of my pantry and my crisper drawer. Last night’s meal nicely capitalized on what I happened to have on hand – broccoli rabe, chickpeas, canned tomatoes and an open container of veggie stock.

Now, if you look at this NYT recipe you might notice that it doesn’t actually call for broccoli rabe, listing kale instead, but this is very much a recipe that one can modify according to whim or ingredients available. My take on it, after reading some of the comments on the NYT website, doubled the chickpeas and used the liquid from the canned tomatoes and veggie stock instead of water. I also tossed in a Parm rind for some added flavor and increased the crushed red pepper by a generous extra pinch.

DB984C4F-F9E3-4D70-BEEA-684206D4BAEDServed with grated cheese, it was a cheap and healthy dinner with the bonus of being delicious.

Cooking the Pasta e Ceci  was easy and satisfying – just like some of the recent home projects I’ve taken on. Since I frequently find myself wandering from room to room in my house, I’ve done a fair amount of organizing and weeding of items that I’m prepared to eliminate from my home. There’s been quite a bit of dusting also and I actually removed the three milk glass sconces from my bathroom light fixture and gave them a good washing. I learned that they are in fact not milk glass. They were just really dusty.

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On the menu for the upcoming week – Asparagus Pork Stir fry, cleaning the ceiling fans, and moderating my news consumption. How about you?

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Filed under Albany, Cooking, DelSo, Dinner, Food, ideas, News, Observations, Recipes, Recommendations, Spring, stress, upstate New York

Minding my Ps and Qs

BEEB0672-60F8-4749-932A-8773DC4DA611(As in where my mind goes during a Pandemic and Quarantine)

How will we collectively and individually remember these days? What will this experience etch upon each of us?

I’ve never been so relieved to not own a small business. This must be the most challenging situation small business owners have ever imagined, must less, faced.

In this time of mandatory physical distancing, has gardening become the new intimate contact? There’s a certain satisfaction to be had from getting your heart rate up and getting a little dirty and my backyard has never looked better.

Is a pandemic a valid reason for not observing street cleaning parking regulations in Albany? I believe street parking meters fees have been suspended, but am I jerk for thinking it isn’t too much for my neighbors to move their cars for three hours on a weekday when they’re obviously home?

Can you appreciate how fortunate we are that this illness took aim at our country in spring? How much more desperate would we each be feeling if it were the onset of winter instead of the prelude to a season of growth and natural beauty?

What do you miss the most from “normal” life? What will you do when we are eventually released to resume regular programming?

Do you ever imagine that maybe these times might cause our contemporary society to reset? That we might change what we value most in our world?

Is it really ok that CEOs make millions of $ a year, while nurses, store clerks and delivery drivers earn so much less? When you consider the contributions they’re each making at this time, how do you justify the incredibly broad income gap  between the top earners and the rest of the population?

What about you? What have you been thinking?

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Filed under Albany, DelSo, Gardens, ideas, Local, musings, Observations, Spring, upstate New York

Maintaining the six foot rule

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Flowers in bunches are beautiful. People, not so much.

Walking these days take some attention. I mean, it always demanded that we have our eyes and ears open, but walking in the midst of a pandemic requires an additional sense  – as in common sense.

As Jeter and I meander our way through the street of Albany, I now have to consciously take of note of people who might cross paths with us and decide how to best evade them. Cross the street? Go wide? Make eye contact? Smile?

It can all feel a little awkward.

As I walked yesterday I considered how the act of being a contemporary pedestrian was forged into the brains and muscle memory of a lot of 80s kids. We were raised on Centipede, Frogger, Pac-Man and Asteroids. We know how to avoid shit that pops up in front of us and gets in our way. Navigating through perils was a part of our childhood.

The sunshine helps and I appreciated the feel of it on my back Saturday afternoon. Put on some warm clothes and get outside while you can. Breathe deep. Take care of yourselves and each other. Six feet away beats six feet under by miles.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Exercise, friends, Gardens, musings, Observations, Recommendations, sick, Spring, stress, upstate New York

Signs of the times

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With little else left to do, I find myself walking a lot. On the sunny days, it’s hard to not believe that eventually things will find their way to a new normal. Trees are budding and the earliest bloomers are showing off in front yards and gardens. Life continues, right?

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When the skies are grey, though, it’s more difficult to project into a future that contains all the components previously taken for granted – regular schedules for schools and work, grocery stores with fully stocked shelves, hugs with those we love. All those things we never could have anticipated disappearing in a haste that is breathtaking.

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It feels like it’s important to document what is happening, with words and images and I’ve been doing both. The photos here are from recent walks I’ve taken. I’ll continue posting photos over at Instagram, if you want to give me a follow over there.

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For now, I need to put on some lipstick, set up my Chrome Book and read another chapter in the book I’m sharing with my students using Screencastify. Maybe listening to a book being read will provide an escape from some of what we can’t avoid seeing in print.

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Filed under Albany, Exercise, Local, medical, musings, Observations, Spring, stress, upstate New York

The inevitability of spring

We each respond differently to frightening and uncertain times. Some say that the media is exaggerating and insist that the situation is not nearly as dire as it is being portrayed. Others feel the need to purchase and hoard essentials without thought to those who may need immediate access to basic household items such as toilet paper and soap. Or maybe, instead of stockpiling supplies, you’re actually working your way through that stash of alcohol and ice cream that you’ve been saving for the perfect occasion. You know, like today.

I suspect that most, though, are doing their best to continue to meet the demands of family and work while remaining cognitive of the obvious shifting of importance of each of those aspects of life. There’s no two ways about it – this is a very scary time and there’s no telling when we will have our normal lives back again.

So, be kind to one another. Check in with your neighbors before heading to the store. This would be a great time to create a virtual neighborhood group on Facebook for communicating with people who live by you. Do some yard work. Clean out the basement. Take long walks. Look for and acknowledge signs of spring. It’s still coming.

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Filed under Albany, beauty, Flowers, Gardens, Local, musings, News, Observations, Recommendations, Spring, stress

Thoughts from the end of the world

These are bonafide whacky times. This free fall of the once great America is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I hear comparisons to the AIDS epidemic and the immediate post-9/11 days and understand and appreciate the obvious similarities. This, though? This is different.

There’s a children’s book that I despise, The Giving Tree. I’ve been thinking about it in recent weeks because I feel a common thread between Donald Trump’s followers and the tree which couldn’t say no. Trump’s believers have willingly placed themselves in the very same position as that tree, cutting off a limb with each previously unacceptable comment ignored (mocking a differently abled journalist, pussygrabber, Pocahontas, nasty) and every act of utter incompetence perpetrated (refusing WHO mask donation, keeping people on boats to continue to skew numbers, eliminating an entire federal medical department trained to anticipate and deal with pandemics.) by this president. I seriously don’t know how a single person would allow themselves to cut down to a stump by this fool, this jester,  dressed like a king.

So, on a lighter note – What’s on your pandemic playlist?

R.E.M.’s It the End of the World as We Know It is the obvious song for me, but I’ve got some others in mind which also strike me as appropriate such as this…

Roadhouse Blues – The Doors

Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer

The future’s uncertain and the end is always near

I welcome your contributions for the ultimate zombie apocalypse playlist. Leave yours in a comment, please!

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your own compliance with recommendations for changing behaviors in light of the current Coronavirus outbreak? 1 being completely blasé and 10 abiding to suggestions like you’re a kid and Santa’s watching because it’s the week before Christmas.

I’m feeling proud and impressed by the real leaders who make decisions based upon what they believe is the best thing for the public at large, and not necessarily for themselves. Governor Cuomo and the superintendent of my district have both, with calm gravity, conveyed the important and necessary messages and are working hard to get the job done, whatever it may be. Bravo.

Shoutout to store clerks and customer service reps. All working their asses off.

Some questions to ponder:

  • What do you want to be doing when the world ends?
  • Are you really going to hate on yourself for gaining 10 lbs and not have that ice cream? With sprinkles?
  • What matters most?
  • Can you help someone else during this tumultuous and anxiety inducing time?
  • What will we learn about each other during, and after, this crisis?

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Filed under aging, Albany, Events, medical, musings, News, Observations, politics, sick, stress, travel

When culinary worlds collide – Peking Duck Mac and Cheese at New World Bistro Bar

Mashed potatoes aside, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food in my world. When I make it at home, I consider it an emptying-of-the-cheese -drawer exercise, which makes me feel warm and fuzzy in multiple ways. (I hate wasting food.) The randomness of the cheese selections means it may never quite taste exactly the same twice, but believe me, it’s always good.

While consistency may not be my personal strength, chef Ric Orlando has been hitting it out of the proverbial ballpark for decades. I can’t think of another person (except maybe Dimitrios at City Beer Hall) who has so successfully merged seemingly disparate cuisines into fantastic and memorable dishes. Thai and Italian? IRC’s done that. Traditional dish with an ingredients twist? Of course!

For the recently held Mac & Cheese Bake Off at Keegan Ales, Ric combined two of my favorite dishes – Peking Duck and Mac & Cheese into a dynamite skillet of deliciousness. I dropped in on Tuesday night to sample the dish and was very happy to have had the opportunity to make a meal out of this small plate which satisfied two cravings with each forkful. Three, if you count bullshitting with Nick at the bar.

Served piping hot in a cast iron vessel, the plate was a delight of creamy, crunchy goodness with lovely and tender slices of duck hidden beneath toothsome noodles, mung bean sprouts and chopped scallions. There were also swirls of hoisin (plum?) sauce and gorgeous buttery breadcrumbs, making this a perfect marriage of many flavors taken from two very different and individual cuisines.

The dish was a special Tuesday, (3/3/20), so call ahead or check NWBB’s website for availability. At $12 it was a bargain, paired with a glass of wine it was a meal. Can’t get enough of Mac and Cheese in all its glory?   Here’s your chance to sample more delectable variations this weekend – and raise some $$ for a good cause.

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Filed under Albany, Cooking, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, Local, Recommendations, upstate New York, winter