Will run for ice cream

… but only when it’s the most efficient way to get there!

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Sunday morning, I took a little study break (that ended up taking way longer than expected) for a free sample of Ben & Jerry’s new “flipped out” ice cream cup!

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The ice cream giveaway was on the complete opposite side of the park from where I live (about two miles away), so the most efficient way to get there was literally to jog. The B&J truck was supposed to be there from 11-1, so Gina and I planned to meet there at 10:45 in case of a crowd. I arrived right on time and joined Gina on a bench while setup took place.

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And took place.

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And took place.

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Meanwhile, tortured thoughts of my unwritten paper were running through my head.

Gina and I got restless and posed in front of the “flipped” Brooklyn Bridge.

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Finally, at 11:45, the samples were ready! We collected our ice creams, bowls, spoons, and coupons …

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… and headed to one of the little tables B&J had set up specifically for the event.

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Gina gave a demonstration of proper “flipping” procedure:

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Mmmmmmm, gooey chocolate.

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It was yummy (and yay for free!), but the brownie pieces did taste a little off. They probably would have been much better if I had let the ice cream thaw a little before eating it, but I was too impatient. I had really been wanting to try the peanut butter flavor, but chocolate brownie was all they had. It was free and allowed me to get a mini-workout in, though, so I won’t complain!

Gina and I walked back through the park toward my neighborhood (everyone was out picnicking!) while we ate our ice cream.

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I left Gina at the subway station and came back home to work on the paper. My planned one hour ice cream adventure took two, but I won’t complain about that, either!

Thanks to Julie, my former classmate-turned-reader (Hi Julie!), for tipping me off about the event. It was a perfect excursion to break up the paper-writing monotony.

Of course, ice cream always needs to go along with cake. Even if ice cream and cake can’t be eaten at the same time, they should at least be eaten within 24 hours of each other. I took care of that requirement on Saturday afternoon with this slice of heaven:

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If you’ve been following along with Olivia as you should be, you’ll know that she held a John and Kate divorce viewing party last week and made a special John and Kate Plus Cake to celebrate. I wasn’t at the party, but Olivia (incredible hostess that she is), thought to save me a slice without me even requesting it first! The cake made its way to me via Kate’s freezer after our CSA pickup on Saturday. The cake was of stroke-inducing deliciousness caliber. How could it not be? Moist dark chocolate cake base:

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Peanut butter-mascarpone icing:

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And peanut m&ms:

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Does it get better?? Probably not. Mmmmmmm. Mmmmmmmmmm. Thanks Olivia!

And because I’m all about balance, I might as well throw some green in here for you, too.

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Saturday’s CSA loot included mesclun, spinach, baby bok choy, kale, 1 baby zucchini, eggs, garlic scapes, snap peas, strawberries.

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I love the baby bok choy flowers, so pretty!

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Plus, my arugula garden on the balcony is coming along nicely:

IMG_1955.JPGIMG_1957.JPGAs is the garden of some people who like to rub in how they can afford access to actual naturally-occurring dirt in NYC whose backyard faces my balcony:

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Yay for health ๐Ÿ˜€

How have you created balance lately? And what makes you run?

Guest Post: Correspondent Kate’s Family Dinner

Correspondent Kate here with a very rewarding experience!

I took the cupcake truck 2 train up to Harlem last week for a volunteer opportunity that included three things very near and dear to my heart: kids, family, and healthy food.

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The NY Coalition for Healthy School Food organizes monthly Family Dinner Nights during the school year for students to enjoy a free meal with their families, along with cooking demos and nutrition lessons. Busy parents get a night off from providing dinner and learn how to integrate meaningful changes in their lives.

I discovered this organization when I attended their Politics of School Food Conference this past October and learned about some very frightening statistics:

  • 50% of children between the ages of 2-15 have fatty streaks in their arteries, literally signifying the beginning stages of heart disease.
  • 33% of children born in 2000 will develop type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives.
  • School Food Service Directors are asked to create a healthy meal with just 90 cents food cost (not including labor) for five components: entree, milk, grain, and two servings from the fruit and vegetable group. (How can this be possible when some people pay almost 4 times this for their daily latte?!?!?)

Those bullets represent just a small fraction of the issues brought up during the seven-hour conference. By the end of the day, I had decided that I needed to get involved. Eight months later, here I am, signed up to volunteer at the Family Dinner. (Hey, better late than never!)

Because I was heading to volunteer straight from work, I missed the first part of the event: the fruit smoothie demo ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I did, however, arrive just in time to snap a paparazzi shot of the special guest chef Franฤ‡ois Payard!

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Kindergarten through 8th grade students gathered around as the world class pastry chef demo-ed the vegan pizza and chocolate mousse he was preparing for everyone.

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The vegan pizza contained tomato sauce, tofu and lentils.

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I didn’t have a chance to taste it, but I know the kids were definitely trying some new ingredients! There was also a table of more healthy snacks which included hummus, crackers, and veggies. (Unfortunately, I’m not a professional blogger, so I didn’t think to capture this on film.)

They put me on water patrol. My responsibilities were to continuously fill a three-gallon water jug with a Brita pitcher that filtered slower than molasses(!!) for 100 thirsty people. Spills happened if I abandoned my post even for a second, so I had to monitor water distribution thoroughly. Despite being slightly overwhelmed, I just kept reminding myself of how happy I was that these kids were drinking water instead of soda!

The stress faded away when one of the organizers insisted that I take a break for chocolate mousse:

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I inhaled it on my 80th trip to the sink, but I will definitely be paying a visit to Payard so that I can savor their chocolate mousse properly next time!

After dessert, there were door prizes, including a gift certificate to Candle Cafe [Editor’s Note: Good thing the certificates were for the cafe and not Candle 79!]. This organic, vegan restaurant co-hosts these dinners, and their chef makes a healthy, vegetarian lunch for the school at least once a week! This news segment profiles their extraordinary efforts:

As if it couldn’t get any better, each family was provided with a pre-planted herb and instructions on how to care for and cook with it. There were a few left over, so I took home this lovely parsley plant … even though my kitchen is overflowing with herbs from the CSA I share with Sarah!

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I am honored to have taken part in this event! In our culture that is full of unhealthy and processed food, programs that encourage healthy habits for kids make me feel hopeful.

What programs have you seen/heard about/participated in that encourage healthy habits for kids?

Guest Post: Dad does crabs

I’m off doing too much work for grad school, so in the meantime, please allow my dad to entertain you with this impeccably thorough recap of his “traditional Maryland Eastern Shore Mid-Summer Dinner” last weekend …

Rae Ann and I spent last weekend in Rock Hall, MD visiting my old school friend George Hardy and his wife Jane, April Verch and her band, and my sister Mary.

Back row in photo are George and Jane, Clay Ross (guitarist), Mary, and Rae Ann. In front are Cody Walters (bass), you-know-who, and April.

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These flowers from our table setting were cut fresh from the garden:

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And here’s the recipe for Cap’n George’s Crab Cakes!

1. In a medium bowl, mix together the following ingredients to make the sauce: 1 egg, 1/2 cup mayo, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and a few generous shakes (I am using 15) of Old Bay. Experiment here. This is the variable flavor/heat ingredient. Other recipes use Tabasco.

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2. In a plastic bag, crush a 1-2-inch stack of Saltines.

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3. In a large bowl, place one pound of backfin lump crabmeat (jumbo lump is not needed — $19 vs. $25). I usually donโ€™t bother to pick it over.

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4. Add the crushed Saltines and mix with the crab, using your hands.

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5. Add the sauce and mix thoroughly. Donโ€™t over-mix because it will just break up the crab. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

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6. Form 3-4 crabcakes, and place on a cookie sheet. (Everything up to this point can be done in advance.)

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7. Broil for about 4 minutes on each side. When the tops begin to brown, turn them over or take them out. Use color more than time to judge when they are ready.

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8. Enjoy with fresh market corn.

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9. Add salad with greens, tomato, and avocado:

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The finished product:

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10. If it is Father’s Day, you should have cake to celebrate:

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P.S. S, here’s one of me imitating you. L,D

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It’s Sarah again! I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down south, courtesy of my dad, a native Baltimoron ๐Ÿ˜› What is your favorite “southern” meal?

Veggies and music

Yay for people who love food [almost] as much as I do! Last night’s blogger dinner, masterfully organized by Heather as a way to welcome (or bid farewell to, as the case may be) a visiting VeggieGirl, took place at Candle 79, a fancy vegan restaurant on the Upper East Side. I didn’t want to make all the ladies pose for the millionth time, so I snuck all these pics on the sly so I could give a quick orientation to NYC blogger brilliance.

Left to right: Amelia, Katharine, Diana, Marina, Amie

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Caroline, Liz (aka VeggieGirl), Katie, Ari:

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Olga‘s hair and Deidre:

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Danielle and Liz:

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Marina, Amie, and Heather’s arm:

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Since I didn’t have any cake at work yesterday, I was hungry for dinner! First to arrive at our table was the “amuse-bouche” of polenta chips with walnut-lentil pate and julienned radish:

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I ate two of these while we waited for our food (and I ate four more after the food when I was still hungry!):

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Olga and I got crafty and decided to order two dishes to share so that we could have a taste of each. Dish #1 was the Moroccan Spiced Chickpea Cake with seasonal vegetables, red pepper-coconut curry, apricot-date chutney, and roasted almonds:

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This was good, but I had two reservations: (1) the chickpea cake was the size of my big toe and (2) as Heather so astutely pointed out, the texture was akin to meatloaf. I liked the flavors, especially the apricot-date chutney, but I really could have gone for some crisp on the outside instead of a mush-patty through and through.

Dish #2 that Olga and I split was the Live Zucchini Enchiladas with cashew cheese, spinach, guacamole, chipotle tomato sauce, cashew sour cream, pumpkin seeds, baby romaine, and cucumber-tomato salsa:

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This was also tasty, and the zucchini ribbons were pretty:

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Despite the impressive-sounding ingredients and the raw factor, however, the fact remains that this dish was simply a slice of zucchini topped with mashed avocado. Delicious … but I could have made it myself for way less than the $26 I spent! Again, the food was tasty, but I don’t think it was worth the money at all. I’ve heard much better things about Candle Cafe, the more casual and less pricey sister of Candle 79, so that will be next on my agenda!

IMG_1922.JPGVG Liz had to book it out of there at 7:30 for another engagement, so we didn’t get to try dessert (which is when the four remaining lentil pate-topped chips made their way into my system). No dessert was really fine with me though — my wallet was feeling the strain, and Pinkberry had free froyo right around the corner to market the new summer flavors of passion fruit and coconut. Olga and I raced over there in an attempt to multi-task to the max: we needed our free froyo, but since dinner was done so early, we also needed to get from the UES to Park Slope stat to see if we could catch any of the Blonde Redhead show at Celebrate Brooklyn. Diana and Katharine materialized in the line behind us shortly after our arrival. I had to snap them on the go (hence the blur) since we were in a rush!

My pinkberry prep-master put on quite the show for documentation purposes as he put together my passion fruit and coconut swirl with chocolate chips and fresh cherries:

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Carefully accessorizing the froyo:

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Busting out some more moves for Olga:

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Big sigh of relief because my dessert is finally here

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Mmmmm, love my froyo! It was tasty but not $6 worth of tasty, so I’m glad we were able to make it in time for the free cup.

And, miracle of all miracles, we arrived at Prospect Park around 8:45, and Blonde Redhead was just starting. I guess the start of the show (which was FREE, fyi) had been delayed for over an hour because of the thunderstorm, so we made it just in the nick of time! (Olga and I should have taken a picture of ourselves in all our blonde-redhead glory, but I guess we were too excited to think of that.)

With her connections, Olga snuck us into the VIP section so that we were close and could see the music:

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Before the show, I knew nothing whatsoever about Blonde Redhead, but they were great!

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I’m so glad Olga mentioned she was going to try to make it to the show. The park is only two blocks from my house so, not only was it an excellent way to spend my Friday night, it was ridiculously convenient.

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I was having a definite I’m-so-lucky-to-live-in-Brooklyn moment while watching and listening! Thanks Olga ๐Ÿ™‚

(And if you’re at all curious about the food-drops on my desk today at work, they went a little something like this …

Morning snack of buttered whole wheat toast because the breakfast man gave Myrna extra:

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And afternoon snack of 1/4 a buttered bagel left from Belkis’ breakfast;

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The bagel needed doctoring:

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Smothering the bagel with peanut butter and almond slivers was bound to take it to the next level.)

OK, this morning on the list I’ve got hot yoga, CSA pickup, and topic selection and research for my final paper that’s due on Thursday! Ack, I’d better enjoy my four hours outside the apartment now because I’m not going to be leaving it for the rest of the weekend. Rararararrrrrr homework. We finally have some nice weather after all the rain drama, and I am stuck inside! How do you console yourself when you have loads of inside work but wish you were outside?

Into my lap, part 2

Featured food finds: Wednesday and Thursday

I knew I was in trouble on Wednesday morning when I walked into my office (after a full breakfast at home, of course) to these fateful words coming from Nydia’s mouth: Sarah, there’s food in the conference room. And, as usual, it was my favorite Dominican breakfast of all time (well, since September when I started working at my agency): mangu and Dominican oatmeal! I kept my portions small and snack-sized because I tend to think more reasonably at 9am than I do at, say, 3:30pm when baby showers start to roll around …

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I won’t go into details of what comprises these delicacies since I have now described them on my blog about 7,000 times thanks to my coworkers, but rest secure in the knowledge that I was in breakfast heaven.

In the afternoon, I had a lunchtime meeting, so I brought my CSA salad and supplemented with these meeting snacks: carrots, red peppers, salsa, and grapes.

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Plus a perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookie homemade by Sarah (the other one):

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Also during the meeting, Deborah shared a bite of her eclectic rice creation that included lettuce, pork chop, cilantro, beans, and a number of other secret ingredients:

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As you know, the mother lode of all food finds (Lucia’s baby shower) happened shortly thereafter ๐Ÿ˜›

On Thursday, Beryl put together some cheddar and guava jelly snacks for us:

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(I had about 6 :-P)

Myrna also brought a stewed eggplant dish for me that her stepdad made. I had it on top of all my CSA leaves:

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I can’t remember the name of it, but it was sooooooo good.

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Lillian gave me the salad that came with her tacos. Yay for more greens!

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(See that avocado in there? Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.)

Belkis had a slice of cake leftover from the shower Wednesday, so she shared it with me.

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My half:

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And then, Deborah and I got wind that there had been a birthday party upstairs, so she called in a favor to one of her 5th floor connections :-D. We went to the conference room up there and found this:

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So Deborah loaded up a plate for us to share:

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Custard filling!

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And the cake goes on … How is it possible?!

I’m off for some NYC food blogger excitement. Can you guess where I am and who I am seeing??