Invitation only

One week ago today was Myrna’s last day at my agency. 😦 To see her off, the early childhood department did what it does best: FOOD!!

We loaded the conference room with all manner of goodies: Angela’s salad, chips, salsa, my yuca and onions, avocados, Mildred’s morro de frijolies, Belkis’ potato salad, roasted chicken, steak, two-bite appetizers, and more!

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Mi plato con yuca, morro de frijoles, ensalada, aguacate, carne, y pollo:

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Mmmmmmmm …

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I loooooooove these limey onions I made for the yuca. I am so glad I have coworkers who can school me in Dominican cooking!

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Katty came through with this masterpiece from the bakery on the corner for dessert:

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No kidding. I suppose one slice of cake per week won’t hurt me …

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I did the slicing honors (of course), so I made sure to connect myself with a slice containing Oreo AND strawberry:

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Oh right, there was some melty soupy French Silk ice cream as well:

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I definitely had more scoops of ice cream. I cannot resist the melt!

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The food from this meal kept on giving and giving. I had leftovers for lunch the next day:

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And leftover yuca in a coconut bowl (yet another coconut that I beat into submission with the dull side of my machete):

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And leftover yuca with oatmeal and more coconut:

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Seriously, yuca, oatmeal, and coconut together in a bowl: what a party! Next time, I will need to invite avocado, peanut butter, and plantains — that will be a REAL fiesta.

Myrna, thanks for yet another excuse to overeat on the job πŸ˜› We will miss you tons and tons!

To whom have you said goodbye recently, and which foods did you invite to the party?

On my villa

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been collecting a random pile of food photos that haven’t fit into any specific event but still seem too important to let disappear entirely. I get so attached to what I have eaten, a hazard of food blogging I suppose πŸ˜›

Let’s start with a mini Tale of Expansion from my sister Allie. Here’s what Allie says:

I bought an eggplant the other day. I like how they taste, and I like the color of the skin, but I have never cooked one. So, I looked up directions for baking, and put it in the oven, whole. I forgot to poke holes in it, so eventually, there was a loud “boom” from the oven, as the side of the eggplant burst open. Note to self – poke holes in eggplant…poke holes in eggplant. But, it was fine, and yummy. I scooped out all the cooked guts, and intending to make eggplant hummus, opened a can of what I thought were garbanzo beans, but were actually white kidney beans. I went with it. I tossed the beans and the eggplant in the food processor, threw in some salt and pepper, and blended. Needed something more. Black beans. Fresh mint. More pepper. A dash of black pepper sauce. A hint of red pepper flakes. YUM! I quick sliced up a whole wheat tortilla, for dipping, and toasted the pieces while I cooked an organic beef burger, which I then topped with some stone ground mustard, goat cheese, and fresh basil. Quite a yummy dinner, all from stuff I had in my cupboard and fridge. Cool, huh? (PS – Those are walnuts sprinkled on top of the dip…)

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Isn’t my sister brilliant?!

Next on the agenda, I was speaking recently with the ladies at work about my love of ginger, and Belkis informed me that she had an excellent ginger supplier in Washington Heights. When I arrived at work the next day, this complete ginger root was waiting for me:

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Yay Belkis!!

The ginger has been going into everything. I keep it in the freezer and then use a grater to shave it into my food as needed. I included it in a scrambled CSA egg with nutmeg, CSA crenshaw melon, and Olga’s Russian apricot jam:

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New day, new format, same concept:

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There was another evening when I was soooo set on getting some coconut in me after an intense hot yoga class. I texted two of my favorite resources (Diana and Emily — love the blogging network!) for exact address info on Bonobo’s. Emily came through first and just in the nick of time.

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I picked up my first ever coconut chai and promptly died and went to heaven.

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Since I’m such a pro at hacking into real coconuts now, I think I may need to take a page from Diana’s book and work on recreating this drink on my own.

Somewhere in recent time history, I also snagged some sort of organic cookie samples of deliciousness from Union Market:

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And was gifted this licuado de mame by a mom at work:

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When she asked me if I wanted licuado, I had no idea what she was talking about. It’s not a Spanish word I’ve encountered before, and it’s not what I would have used to refer to “liquid” or “shake,” so I was reallllllly confused. The mom laughed at me and put this beautifully frothy and icy cup in my hand, and I had no choice but to accept πŸ˜› Mmmmmmmmm. The jury’s still out on “mame,” but I’m thinking it’s a type of fruit that does not exist around these parts and therefore has no English translation.

Speaking of foods that are not from around these parts …

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Nydia recently came back from a trip to visit her family in Puerto Rico, and she gave me this avocado that came straight from her father’s avocado tree!

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I never had an immediately fresh avocado in my life, and now I’ve had two in the past month! (The other came from Mildred’s trip to the DR.) And the different in taste is drastic. Can things get any better?

I added some avocado to my CSA heirloom tomato + balcony basil salad:

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And I brought the rest to MA with me so I could share with my mom and John. We spooned it straight out of the peel:

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Mom also hooked me up with some berries straight from the garden:

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Including these itty bitty strawberry pebbles:

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Sigh, to have land! Someday, when I live on my villa and raise cows and make cheese (on my time off from saving babies, of course), I will also have an avocado tree and never-ending bushes of berries. What will you grow on your villa?

Did I register for this?

Over Labor Day weekend, I made an in-and-out trip home to Massachusetts for the sole purpose of tending to my favorite bride-to-be: Erin Gunn! Erin’s bridal shower and bachelorette party were both being held on that Saturday at her parents’ house; as a bridesmaid, it was my duty to be there and do things like put a serious dent in this six-foot-long cured meat sub from the locally renowned North End Deli:

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Normally, I would not select an option like this from a menu, but somehow it seemed like the most appealing thing upon which I had ever laid eyes.

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I grabbed myself a beverage from the porch …

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… and settled down in a comfy chair with my slice of sub and a pickle:

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(I don’t normally like pickles, either! What is up with me and the salt lately??)

When I finished lunch, I rustled around in the the candy dish and came up with this:

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I also decided a gin and tonic was in order since it is tradition to consume alcoholic beverages when a guest in the Gunn household:

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After the food, Erin started in on the gift portion of the afternoon. After she gracefully let her new Waterford crystal goblet roll from her lap onto the floor (everyone’s heart stopped for a moment until the goblet was confirmed to have survived the fall), she opened the most exciting present a lady can receive:

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I am so jealous of all the kitchen gadgets she got! It almost makes me want to get married so I can register for these goodies, too. Almost. If I ever finish grad school, maybe I will have a married-to-myself party and register for a KitchenAid.

I also snacked on Sunchips because they were there:

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Since I was in attendance, you know what came next:

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Clearly, the Gunns did not get my memo about needing to fit into that bridesmaid dress!

Side note: I am such a cake connoisseur that, when Erin asked what the difference was between the two cakes, I was able to confidently tell her that the cake on the left was yellow and the cake on the right was chocolate! I have cake x-ray vision. Cake and I are so tight that I don’t need to see through the frosting to sense what is underneath it.

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The cake was good. (Surprise!) I might have had five pieces. (Surprise!)

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Happy couple:

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(Fun fact: If you look closely, you can see Mike’s dad in the background on the left and Erin’s dad in the background on the right. Shortly after this picture was taken, the boys took off to Erin’s brother’s house to drink beer and watch football and just assert their manliness in general.)

Our friend Jes, one of the other bridesmaids, put together goodie bags for the occasion:

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I love that sparkly witch!

The bags were were full of Halloween candy (reminder: this is appropriate because Erin’s wedding falls on Halloween) … including this way-too-exciting peanut butter cup:

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When the shower started to wind down, the men returned for refueling:

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That is Mike, the groom-to-be, eating some of the Captain’s famous pizza. Erin’s dad (aka the Captain), makes the best pizza in the world, and he’s been making it every Friday night since the beginning of time. The shower was on a Saturday, so we hit the Gunn household at prime leftover time. Fun fact #2: I despised pizza until I was 18 and tried a slice of the Captain’s pizza.

I was stuffed from all the cured meat subbing, but I had to have a couple slivers for old time’s sake. A slice of margherita and a slice of pepper and mushroom:

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After the pizza, the men disappeared again, signaling that it was time for the real party to begin. Erin’s sisters had planned ahead and made sure we lined our stomachs with plenty of absorbent frozen appetizers, such as taquitos and jalapeno poppers:

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Pizza bites and mozzarella sticks:

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And spinach and buffalo chicken puff pastries:

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And what’s a bachelorette party without a three-foot-tall red-headed blow-up man, right?

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The party included balls of all shapes and sizes, including these Oreo balls that Jes made: Oreos pureed with cream cheese, rolled into balls, and dipped into chocolate.

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Mmmm, they were delicious and elegant. Not all of the balls were so subtle, though.

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Rice crispies treats:

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Peek-a-boo!

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And I think that is the extent of the pictures I have that are (barely) suitable for the general public πŸ˜›

If you were going to have a bridal shower (whether in honor of your marriage to yourself or to someone else), what would you put on your registry first?

Finding balance

Once upon a time, I had a super stressful day at work. I let myself be talked into “30 minutes” at Camaradas, a unique and artsy bar (and “nuevo Puerto Rican” restaurant) around the corner from my office.

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Even though it was a work night, sangria was first on the agenda:

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Now, as we’ve discussed, I do not like wine. But how could I resist this?

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Our server, Alejandro, distributed the sangria, and a glass landed in front of me. Whoops.

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Thirty minutes quickly turned into over an hour, as the others systematically continued to refill my glass with more and more sangria. Every time we emptied a pitcher, I went digging for the apples and oranges amongst the ice:

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Even tipsy, I will fight to save the crumbs!

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Alejandro noticed my determination to rescue the fruit, so he delivered to me my very own plate of cut apples, on the house:

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Best. Service. Ever.

Between the apples and the buddha on the wall, the stress of the day just melted away πŸ™‚

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As the stress melted away, so did the night. Before:

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After:

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Nydia ordered the Camaradas platter “so you can take a picture for the blog.” I’m very good at following instructions:

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This platter included alcapurrias, pastellilos, chicken skewers, yuca tostones, and platano tostones. I took some of each:

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Soooooooooooooo good!

And then I went back to my pitchers of wine-soaked fruit.

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And somehow four hours went by. And there were a million pictures on my camera.

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I think there may have been dancing with Alejandro:

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More sangria:

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And apparently, more food.

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Jose shared a wedge of quesadilla with me, and Lillian shared her salad. Because I did not already have a bushel full of winey apples in my belly or anything.

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And the next thing I new, three desserts arrived right in front of me. I swear I did not order them. But mannnnnnnn, did I eat them!

Empanadas de chocolate:

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Flan:

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And maduros del barrio (the best one! fried sweet plantains with caramel and ice cream):

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My coworkers are a bad influence. Bad. Bad. Bad. But in such a good way.

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The end πŸ˜€

What is your favorite part of sangria: the wine or the fruit?

How we do

Brace yourselves: there was another barbecue at work recently. (I say “recently” because I’m sooooo behind in blog posts. I’m writing this a week after the bbq, but it won’t publish until a week from now probably. I’m so confused! What month is it again?)

Anyway, I was busy working (of all things) when the bbq began, so I missed the first part. After about 20 panicked calls from my coworkers wondering where I was with my camera and expressing genuine concern that I would miss all the good stuff, I made my way down to the patio. The buns and burgers were gone (fine with me!), but Ibrahim was kind enough to put the remainders of his meal on display for blog purposes:

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Despite my late arrival, I rustled up quite a plate!

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Clockwise from top left: olive medley, Turkish tomato-cucumber-dill salad (made by Lucia), green salad with corn, Italian sausage (grilled by Sam), a baby brownie (made by Sister Fran), strawberries, and grape tomatoes:

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Lucia’s cucumber salad was amazing and so refreshing!

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And check out the fudgy perfection of this brownie:

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Belkis and Rosalie were very excited about the chip selection and wanted to ensure that they made the blog:

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I had a couple chips but was more focused on taking advantage of the 40-spice hummus that had just arrived, courtesy of Trish:

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And, of course, watermelon had to make an appearance:

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I think I’ve eaten my weight in watermelon at least five times over this summer! It is EVERYWHERE.

Other work treats of the week (month?) have included Jessica’s honey wheat pretzel twists, Pansy’s ground chicken puff pastries, Belkis’ rice and beans, bakery fresh buttered french bread, mystery trail mix, avocado, Deborah’s mom’s home cooking, and Puerto Rican cookies and wafers from Rosey’s mom:

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On top of all that excitement, there was another department breakfast somewhere in there, too!

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My selections included more french bread, half a banana, CSA tomato-cucumber salad with balcony basil (from me!) and mozzarella (from Jessica), Dominican round cheese from Lillian, and mangu(!!!!) with egg, salami, and fried cheese:

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I had seconds of mangu as usual:

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Mildred and Jessica matched Nydia’s flowers:

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For breakfast dessert … and lunch … and dinner, I ate copious amounts of Pansy’s ambrosia:

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And I’m pretty sure I went home and ran like a million miles before I could fall asleep because I had so much extra energy jazzing me up! Something I’ve noticed: as much as I looooooove veggies, my best runs take place after too much cake and other desserts. No pain, endless stamina, positive self-talk the whole way through. It’s a crazy effect. I wish that a mountain of steamed broccoli would produce the same result! What is the most effective exercise fuel for you?