Category Archives: DelSo

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

Memories of the 2020 Pandemic

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Even when the skies are grey and intermittently spitting some combination of rain and snow, one must believe that the sun will come out again and shine. It just has to.

One day we’ll reflect back on these times and what we learned from the
unimagined challenges of today. I wonder how we’ll be different.

I look forward to one day remembering when…

…Andrew Cuomo became my generation’s Kennedy and the country’s hottest bachelor.

…We learned that our country was home to people who binge purchase paper products without a care about denying others the opportunity to purchase the same traditional essentials?

…Grocery store excursions became explorations as you were forced to substitute random items for those on your shopping list due to lack of availability.

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…You realized that hanging out around a bonfire while in your 50s (or even 60s!) was even more fun than when you were in your teens

…The term Katie Girl was added to my vocabulary.

…Questioning “need over want” became a good way to fill the hours.

…Trying to find the balance between being industrious and curling into a ball was more mentally exhausting than any actual job.

…Honesty again became the ultimate commodity.

 

 

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Filed under DelSo, friends, musings, Observations, politics, relationships, upstate New York

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

Recuperation under the watchful eyes of a Labrador nurse

Being a patient is not really my thing. I’m not sure if that comes from growing up without the presence of an overly indulgent parent or simply being uncomfortable with too much personal attention, but either way, I prefer to be alone when I’m not feeling 100%.

Meniscus surgery recovery has been remarkably undramatic. The procedure seemed to go well and I haven’t felt the need for any prescription pain medication since the first day. I made use of my son’s leftover crutches for one day, opting for a jaunty cane beyond that. There was a lot of time spent on the couch, with my leg elevated, watching Schitt’s Creek, with the occasional episode of House Hunters thrown in to break up the binge.

The presence of the television in my house was more prevalent than usual, but my biggest companion for much of the week was Jeter. He really astounded me with his uncharacteristic gentleness and caution when it came to dealing with me. It was obvious from the very day of my surgery that he somehow knew something was going on with me that required sensitivity. Quinn noticed it immediately as he observed how calmly Jeter was behaving.

Generally speaking, Jeter is more than a little “bull in a china shop,” in terms of how he wields his 85 lbs around the house. His excitement when it’s time to go outside often results in him being a bit pushy, particularly on the staircase and outdoor front steps. I was really nervous about how I would be able to manage him and feared being yanked down the steps in Jeter’s zealous potential pursuit of a squirrel.

Remarkably, my fears were completely unfounded because the dog I often describe as “very handsome, but not so smart” shocked me with his recognition that something was different. He literally planted himself at my side, allowing me to rest my leg next to him. When it was time to go outside, he refrained from jumping or winding himself between my legs and waited patiently. The stairs were a completely new experience as he walked down the stairs slowly without his usual rambunctiousness. It was amazing.

Jeter may not be an official service dog, but he just might be the best nurse I’ve ever had.

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Filed under aging, DelSo, love, Observations, sick, television, vacation

The enchantment of the holidays

The holidays are a magical season. Money, resolve and time all disappear faster than you can say “abracadabra” during these short December days. Accepting that what one gets in exchange for those commodities are opportunities to share time and laughter making new memories, it’s a trade I’m happy to make.

This first weekend of my holiday break has been filled with activity – and cookies. Lots of cookies. Friday’s original evening plan had been to revisit Soul Night downtown at Lost & Found. We went last month and really enjoyed the music, vibe and diverse crowd. But, I caught an ad on Facebook for a Funk Night at Savoy, which was easily within walking distance, and it appealed on a cold night. No regrets – DJ Trumastr was on his game as usual and the Manhattans (yes, two) were impeccably crafted. It was a fun night.

Saturday brought another opportunity to stay in the neighborhood, but this time it was DelSo, rather than Center Square. A neighbor’s annual holiday party brought together a wonderful crowd of yogis/educators/creative types who all shared at least one common friend, the hostess, but often the connections between guests exceeded that minimal number. Albany, Smalbany, I love you. Another merry event with lots of laughs.

Sunday it was our turn to host for the first night of Hanukkah. The plan was traditional latkes, soup, salad and a couple of quiches. And cookies, of course. Prep, beyond the task of preparing and frying latkes, was well in hand until minor tragedy struck – or stubbed, as in a broken toe which required medical attention and prevented the potatoes from being transformed into latkes. What to do?

Not actually our latkes. We ate them too fast for photos.

My friend and uber talented chef, Ric Orlando, had shared on FaceBook that New World Bistro Bar was featuring his “Beat Bobby Flay” latkes…hmmm. Why stress when I could place an order and simply stop to pick them up on my way to my sweetie’s house? Done – and no lingering odor of frying at home with which to contend.

While nothing replaces a hot latke out of the pan, Ric’s latkes were wonderful. They’re large and magically manage to be crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and nearly devoid of oil or greasiness. After reheating them on a rack on a baking sheet, everyone happily loaded on sour cream and applesauce and we feasted. Crisis diverted, we enjoyed  a festive evening with lovely people.

I’m  not going to claim that bringing latkes to dinner for the first night of Hanukkah is a miracle or anything, but I believe many would be happier to see a resourceful woman  arriving with award winning latkes, than three “wise” men bearing Frankincense.  I know I would.

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Filed under Albany, Christmas, Cooking, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Dinner, Eating, Events, Food, friends, holidays, Lark Street, Local, Recommendations, sunday, vacation, winter

Past peak

Jeter and I went for a little run the other afternoon. It was little because my body is currently in protest mode, refusing to run more than 3 or 4 miles without demanding a stretch or moment’s walk. The discomfort has shifted from being exclusively felt by my feet and hips to a more general sensation radiating from my rear pelvic region, hips and glutes. A joy it is not.

We ran one of my favorite routes – down the yellow brick road and around the perimeter of the big field down by the Normanskill Farm. Jeter swam for the last time of the year (again) and I chugged along the path, consoling myself with the view as I tried to focus on the positive. Like the view.

The trees remained beautiful, despite the scarcity of the leaves clinging to their branches in their shades of orange, yellow and red. I thought about a recent meme I had seen.


I considered the irony of reaching peak beauty only to release your stunningness and watch it fall to the ground.  I chided myself for not having the same grace, for not being as capable when it came to letting go.  Why was I occupying my mind with thoughts of how much easier this run once had been instead of celebrating the fact that I was simply out there doing it?

Wasn’t it unreasonable of me to expect to remain the same physically despite the passing of time?

Maybe I was past peak.

But, if I am, so what?

It’s not like a tree losing its leaves dies. No, it just shifts into a different season, one in which it strips itself bare and hunkers down until the eventual snows melt. In spring it returns to life with the coaxing of the sun. It’s probably not exactly the same in its new year as it had been in its past, but it really doesn’t matter to a tree, does it?

It shouldn’t matter to me either.

 

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Filed under aging, Albany, beauty, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Gardens, Local, musings, Normanskill, Observations, running, upstate New York