Potlucky

A few weeks ago, my CSA had a Meet & Eat Potluck gathering in Carroll Gardens. Obviously, I did not want to buy anything new to bring to the event. Since we had been receiving 12-14 plums every week from the CSA, I googled plum recipes and found this from Barefoot in Paris.

I loosely followed the instructions and filled the bottom of a baking dish with lots of plum halves, cut side down. I browned a mix of Sugar in the Raw and water (I had to guess because it was brown to begin with!) and poured it over the plums.

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I also made two baby ones for taste-testing purposes:

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Then, I smeared batter over the whole thing. I used yogurt instead of sour cream, lime zest instead of lemon zest, unsweetened coconut flakes instead of vanilla extract, 3/4 whole wheat flour and 1/4 white flour instead of all white, and somewhat less sugar than required, given that the whole thing was doused in that melted sugar caramel concoction.

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I baked it and cooled it and then inverted it.

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I was obviously in love with how pretty it was and could not stop taking pictures.

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Sprinkled with coconut (instead of powdered sugar):

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When I cook things for myself, I tend to go nuts on the substitutions and make it as healthy as possible. I have to reign in those instincts when I am cooking for others. I think I made a good compromise on this cake and was excited to share it at the potluck.

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Aside from the cake, we had tons of delicious food including lots of salad, pesto pasta, wheatberry salad, freshly baked homemade bread, and the list goes on.

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The cake was a hit 🙂

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Yay, CSA!

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P.S. If you were cringing at my disgusting stovetop in those cake pictures, do not fear! I also did a big scrub-down when I finished with the cooking saga:

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Much better! It’s amazing what some steel wool can accomplish. The End!

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Swingles club

At the very end of September, right before I took the LMSW exam, I decided I needed a break. I needed water, and I needed dessert. I researched a way to get both.

Erik and I took the free IKEA shuttle bus out to Red Hook and started following the beach grass:

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Red Hook is a formerly industrial area turned residential and swanky. We passed IKEA …

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… and eventually sighted water!

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Back behind IKEA, there is a whole world of waterfront parkway honoring the industrial history of the area.

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We did some modeling …

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… and then continued on our dessert mission.

This sign was not incredibly helpful with helping us locate our destination, but we forged ahead nonetheless.

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A ha! Getting closer …

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Warmer …

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Finally, when we thought we could not follow one more arrow, we arrived!!

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We each ordered a swingle, the dessert of my dreams.

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A swingle is a 4-inch key lime pie tart, frozen on a stick and dipped in dark chocolate.

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Pretty much the best dessert imaginable:

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Right across from Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie shop, we saw this:

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The best garden ever to go with the best dessert ever!

The garden was lush with tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant, and tons of other beautiful veggies, including some Italian zucchini craziness!

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I had never seen anything growing like this before! They looked like giant, thick pea pods growing from overhead vines. I had to call in the expert (my mom) to ascertain their exact identity.

We walked out past the garden to more waterfront parkway and enjoyed the view. Once again, note the industrial-turned-residentialness of it all:

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Plus the swank of a departing cruise ship:

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And prime viewing of the Statue of Liberty.

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Waves!

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We took a quick run through this adorable old barge/museum:

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Fishing:

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We relaxed with the water a bit more and then set out for our secondary destination:

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Fairway!

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We stocked up on some extras that we don’t get through the CSA and then meandered back toward IKEA to get the return bus.

We were sidetracked, however, into making a record-time swing through the showroom, since Erik had never been.

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I feel in love with some bedding, so we did make a small purchase, too.

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Yayyyy, new duvet set 🙂 I am so excited to sleep under these pretty sheets every night now. I spent the next week studying on top of them and eventually passing my test. So there is something to be said for the motivation potential of water, swingles, and new bedding. And Brooklyn for providing it all.

Sloshing around

Erik loooves beer. I do not. But every once in a while, I make a valiant effort to develop an appreciation. For Erik’s birthday in September, I booked us two spots on the Fermented NY walking tour through Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We saw a story about the tour in an issue of Edible Brooklyn, and we had both been eyeing it. The tour promised many samples of beer and food, as well as a lesson on the local beer-making history.

We started the tour at Mug’s Ale House, a down-to-earth old school favorite with locals:

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We had three samples of beer, including one pumpkin ale (I always get excited for this, even though I end up disappointed when I realize it tastes more like beer than pumpkin), along with nachos and wings.

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The food in front of me disappeared. The beer did not.

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Lucky Erik pretty much got to have double portions of beer at each stop. No matter how I try, I just cannot like it!

I can, however, pose with it:

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Next stop was the famous Brooklyn Brewery.

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We discovered that “local” only means so much, however. The beer may be brewed right in Brooklyn, but the malt comes from Germany!

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The tour included a full beer from the on-site bar:

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As usual, Erik ended up with both of them after I took a few good sport sips:

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Our super-hip tour guide gave us an excellent rundown of the brewing process.

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We learned about the barrels and vats and tubes and all sorts of technical beer stuff.

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I was mostly impressed by the kitty cozying up on top of the barley bags.

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Next, we stopped outside of Teddy’s Bar & Grill, which still boasts the original stained glass from its days as Peter Doelger’s Extra Beer brewery in the mid-1800s.

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We even saw the remnants of the separate women’s entrance that the bar had back in the day.

After Teddy’s, we moved onto the Spuyten Duyvil Grocery:

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Spuyten Duyvil Grocery is a little fancy foods shop that wants to be a beer store. Due to the law that any establishment that sells beer must also sell at least 50% food, the shop is stocked with gourmet pickles and jams and cookies and crackers and other fun treats:

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Next was the Sputen Duyvil bar, obviously under the same ownership as the shop.

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We went straight to the garden. I love the backyards of Brooklyn restaurants! Each one is such a surprise.

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We got a beautifully colorful flight of three beers, along with fresh bread, spicy sorpressata, and a fancy goaty-sheepy cheese.

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The garden also had its own fig tree!!! I was so excited about this:

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Posing with the fig:

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Our last stop was Barcade.

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This place is Williamsburg through and through. It’s a super casual yet hip bar, and its walls are lined with …

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… actual original arcade games! You can see some in the background here:

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We had our many beer samples, and then our guide gave us all quarters so we could go play.

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I picked Tetris; Erik played Punch Out.

It was fun to be able to explore a local neighborhood through a new perspective. I would definitely go on another Urban Oyster tour. They even have one for food carts. That is next on my list, of course 🙂 We had a great time but were completely wiped out by the end of this. I fell into bed and napped for three hours when we got home. Yayyy for local history! To me, beer still does not taste good.

Up on the rooftop

I discovered my roof this summer in a way that I never have in all the years I’ve lived in my apartment.

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Sure, I’ve gone up there before, but I never thought it was anything worth talking about … until the sound of fireworks lured me up there at one point early this summer. I thought I might be able to get a glimpse of what was happening and BOOM! I noticed that I have a view of the NYC skyline???!!

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Not too shabby! When our un-airconditioned apartment became too much to bear after approximately seventy-six 90-degree plus days in a row, Erik and I headed up to the roof with a yoga mat to enjoy our snack/dinner to catch the teeny breeze.

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We went to town on this Trader Joe’s concoction of sundried tomato, pesto, and cream cheese with gorgonzola cracker:

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And a homemade smoothie (I think?)!

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Yay for snacks! On the roof!

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Also this summer, I found myself on a DC country club balcony one gorgeous late August evening at a pre-wedding cocktail party …

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Could the view get ANY greener?

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Mint juleps were the specialty of the night, so I dove in and ordered one, putting aside my ulcer concerns:

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It was too alcohol-y for me, though, so I gave it away and got some Malbec (my new favorite wine!) instead.

Here’s a smattering of the scrumptious cocktail fare:

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100% Maryland crab crab cake!!

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Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm …

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Make-your-own shrimp-and-grits station:

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Mmm, again!

Stunning sunset:

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What made the night even better was that I got to hang out with my sister Emily:

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And my dad and stepmom and more family that that rarely see!

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I was so inspired by those baby crab cakes that I ordered a crab cake burger at lunch the next day.

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Once again, it was 100% crab and sooooooooooooooooo amazing.

Fast-forwarding through the wedding …

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… here were the post-wedding dessert selections!

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My brother came over for a chat, but I was clearly too invested in my creme brulee to notice:

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Post-wedding dessert was followed by post-wedding drinks (and unpictured post-wedding artichoke dip!):

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To cap off this lovely summer of outdoor fun, Erik and I went out to Staten Island to visit with his aunt, uncle, and cousins on Labor Day. We worked up an appetite strolling the Staten Island beach that I had NO idea existed:

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Linner involved garden gazpacho, homemade by Erik’s aunt Lois:

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Garden salad with steak strips and roasted veggies:

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And (sadly unpictured) grilled pineapple with coconut sauce! Ahhh, I am getting so hungry writing this post, that I must go raid the fridge this instant.

Later!

Two wheels

The day after we returned from the cabin was our last full day in Minnesota. We spent the morning at Erik’s mom house, and I was so touched to see that she had prepared ahead for my ulcer situation with some Good Belly juice. Awwwwww …

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For breakfast, I had cinnamon toast with mashed banana on top:

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I guess it doesn’t take much, but I was so excited about the beauty of this cinnamon toast!

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Course #2 was an egg with cheese:

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After a completely natural chat and some newspapering …

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… we set out on our agenda of the day:

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A bike tour around Minneapolis!

Once again, I was dazzled beauty of these MN houses, most of which were on lakes:

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We rode through the Sculpture Garden …

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And across the Mississippi …

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We stopped for lunch at an amaaazing cafe, hand-picked by Erik.

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I saw the menu and decided it was acceptable:

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OK, more than “acceptable.”

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Erik ordered the chipotle BBQ tofu sandwich:

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And I ordered the black bean quinoa burger:

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They were both delicious, but Erik’s sandwich was the winner by far. My sandwich had so many amazing flavors that I sort of couldn’t taste anything!

After lunch, we rode for many many many more miles around lake after lake after lake. When I thought I couldn’t stay on that seat another second, I made an executive decision for us to stop at the Lake Calhoun snack stand:

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Obviously, we had to take advantage of the catch of the day: made from scratch extra tart key lime pie:

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Satisfied.

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We dropped off our bikes at the shop (after 7 hours of riding!) and took a stroll toward downtown. We walked through the Wedge on the way, a neighborhood that boasts a food co-op of the same name:

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Snacks = happy Sarah.

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Once downtown, Erik indulged my demands yet again and brought me to the Foshay Tower, as I have an obsession with observation decks on top of tall buildings:

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When we finished observing, Peder picked us up and drove us back out to their mom’s house for a casual dinner of salad:

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And pizza:

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And carrot cake and lemon squares:

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OK, don’t mind if I do.

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After eating, we had a good chat around the fire out back, since Erik’s mom and stepdad had taken out a special permit for it and we did not want it to go to waste!

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We spent the night at Erik’s dad and stepmom’s house and then had to catch our flight back to NYC the next morning. Sad to leave!

We were so bummed about the end of vacation, in fact, that we decided to keep it going with lunch at Chili’s during our stopover in Milwaukee.

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After the fajita, however, it was time to admit defeat. Vacation was over. But do not cry for me, Minnesota. I will be back!