Category: Dining In
The vegetable I picked up for my CSA share last week that I didn't touch was this kohlrabi. I don't think I ever cooked with it, and I didn't know what to do with it. Thanks to internet, I was able to find a solution- just slice and eat it! It's mildly sweet raw but very crunchy. And its skin is extremely tough, so needs peeling. I cut in thin matchstick("thousand cuts" in Japanese,) sprinkled sea salt with thin sliced cucumber, and topped with umeboshi dressing. It was so simply delicious! It was almost like daikon salad, but without spicy kick.
Umeboshi, salt-pickled plum, is also an excellent food on a hot summer day to combat heat. This alkalizing food is like all-purpose medicine for us- something we'd think of when we feel sick, upset stomach, cold, or even hangover - but culinarily it's downright delicious. I've been also enjoying drinking ume-su (ume vinegar, or by-product of umeboshi making process) as my favorite summer afternoon drink with lime, mint and seltzer.
A young deer visits us this morning in our yard. When I came out to take a photo she was a little alarmed at first, but I won the staring contest and she kept munching grass for a while before disappearing into the back woods.
I found two unmanned litte farm stands by Taiyo's summer camp. These are "honor system" stands where you write into the log the items you're purchasing, calculate and take your change from a little cash box. At Meadow View Farm I saw a few interesting items- pumpkin blossoms- beautiful yellow flowers which I really didn't know what to do with. Perhaps you just eat with your salad or add to your plate to make it prettier? And these gooseberries were so amazing-looking I had to try them. Well, as is, they are a bit tart and not really fabulous. Perhaps I make them into jam?
Another farm stand nearby was Full Moon Farm, with well-stocked meats in their freezer: grass-fed beef, pastured pork, lamb, goat and free-range chicken. I picked up some chicken and simmered with lots of napa until they almost melted. Similar to what I make sometimes at SOY "chicken and cabbage," this is more of a take on "chicken wings and napa" that my mother used to make, flavored with soy sauce and touch of sesame oil.
I sit down on the deck with arugula, cherry tomato and cheese omelette and sunshine in my coffee. I would describe this moment in Japanese as "washing of my soul." Yesterday we went to pick up our CSA share at Phillies Bridge Farm, where Taiyo will be spending some days for summer camp. It's half share, but plenty to go crazy with. We even picked beautiful flowers in the field. They also have herb garden you can help yourself with.
And this was our humble dinner. I chopped up beet green and cooked with rice- it didn't turn the rice pink as I thought it would, but Taiyo didn't protest eating vegetables in the rice! I also mixed some dried shrimp and little anchovies in the rice for flavor. I sauteed sugar snap peas with scallions, bacon, and miso pickled garlic. No extra seasoning was necessary. Fennel bulb was sliced and simply roasted- I never cooked it before and that was the simplest solution.
Oh, boy. We did it again. We are about to see another year gone by. Oh, well, what a year it's been! Later part of the year was literally disastrous, except the result of the presidential election. Well, at least this month we survived another end of the world and a major holiday that always makes me feel like an orphan. I just don't celebrate Christmas, ok? I don't have any reason to. So we went to chase chickens at the garden. These chicks made their seasonal migration from Governor's Island to our garden, and they gave us good enough excuse to stick around the neighborhood this holiday season. We've been harvesting fresh eggs when we go to take care of them. Taiyo went berserk when I boiled them back in the restaurant, since he thought he was going to hatch them. But as soon as he tasted the boiled egg, he decided to just eat them all.
Later we did go celebrate a little bit of Christmas with Kristof's family in Greenpoint. Somehow, Taiyo decided to put on his Spiderman's costume. I said, why not, since it's getting too tight on him. They had some beautiful traditions like having an empty seat with food for a 'traveler' or anyone who happened to walk in the door, even a burglar, to join the dinner, or sharing bread with everyone around the room. The rest of my four-day off was super mellow, and it was good too. Getting ready for count-down- another quiet half-week off.
Finally they arrived. Saturday morning, I had my first snow shoveling duty of the season. We really have no snow this year- it's already late January. Last year Taiyo was quite enthusiastic and grabbed the shovel and dragged it around the sidewalk, trying to do the job. And he got millions of pictures taken! This year to my surprise, he wasn't interested anymore. He stuck his hands in his coat pockets and watched me shovel light accumulation off the sidewalk. Now he can say "See you later, alligator," and already working on "in a while crocodile."
Despite of my suggestions, Taiyo decided to spend another Sunday naked in the house today. He loves to roll around and jump on the bed while chanting, "No more Taiyo jumping on the bed!" Clearly, that book about jumping monkeys teach kids how fun it is to jump on the bed. At one point, he was also riding on a imaginary motorcycle with his grey kitty on his lap on the bed, "We're going to museum!" So it was also a doing-nothing Sunday for me too, and I didn't mind it at all with this kind of entertainment. We ordered lunch from Sauce on Rivington and Allen, and it was pretty quick but the delivery guy didn't speak a word of English and the bill didn't have a total. So after some hand gestures he called the restaurant and had to talk to a spanish guy and they he had to go talk to a guy in front. Meanwhile Taiyo was jumping up and down beside me just in diapers (at least he wasn't all naked) asking for the food. I handed him the package and he finally stopped screaming and ran into the house. I had to then ran to the package to grab the bill to explain to them what I had ordered to get the total. But now the delivery guy has no change. I had to look for some more change to pay for the food. So it was a kind of awkward ordering experience from them, but food was pretty good. Taiyo did like the hero sans meatballs, and potato and kale gnocchi with marinara sauce.
Last Wednesday, we had lunch at Phebes on Bowery and 4th Street. The Restaurant Week was on, but just didn't feel like going to a pretentious place, and this joint had a perfect sunny and laid back dining room for us. This used to be a dive with a scary bathroom, some 20 years ago. Sometime between now and then, probably the ownership changed, and they cleaned it up and turned into 'tavern and grill,' to match the changing scenery of Bowery. It still had a neighborhood pub feel, with a waitress who seems to recognize many regulars hanging around the bar, but the spacious place was served only by her, which was a bit crazy although tables weren't to busy. When we walked in she asked us if we want a high chair, and Taiyo answered yes, but she never had time to bring it to us, and she also forgot my drink which she realized toward the end of my meal. But Angus burger was pretty good although sauce was a bit too salty, and Taiyo of course was happy with the crispy french fries. I just really loved the feel and brightness of this place in the afternoon. Recommended.
My Thanksgiving tradition started Wednesday, making a trip to Union Square greenmarket to pick up some fresh herbs and vebetables. Taiyo slept through the whole trip in comfy sports utility jogging stroller. Late afternoon, we met up with Lynne and headed uptown to see the balloon inflation for Macy's Thanksgiving parade. We saw Snoopy, Spiderman, Hello Kitty, and some other bunch. It was so crowded we had enough just going through one block, half of the event.
We stopped at Cafe Con Leche on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st. It's a cute small latin joint. We were offered a table in the back with a bench, which was of course great for Taiyo. They also offered us a high chair, but Taiyo was already stretched out on the bench to check its comfort level. Taiyo's mind was all set for rice and beans. They brought his water in a paper coffee cup with top with a straw, which gets high points for being a kid-friendly restaurant. I settled on pork stew. It tasted pretty good, but pork was too cruncy and chewy for stew- the lighting was too dark to decide it was actually grilled pork with sauce or meat was simply dry and tough. But otherwise, service was friendly and Taiyo was happy with his rice and beans. He also chugged down more than half the plate of plantains Lynne ordered. The restaurant is pretty small and tables are close together- strollers may have hard time manuevering or finding a spot, but over all nice place to dine with a kid. Fairly recommended.
So it was Thanksgiving day. My plan was to do much of the cooking while Taiyo takes nap- we walked out early afternoon to pick up a few more things from a store, and he seemed pretty much ready for a little napping. But after half an hour I realized I'd better get back first and put my turkey in the oven. Then Taiyo was super upset that we didn't stop at the supermarket. While I threw turkey into the oven, he sat in the stroller in the doorway and kept screaming "SOOOOPER MAAARKKEEETTTT!!!!" into the street. Finally we rolled out again but Taiyo was super upset and kept screaming. When we got to the Chinese market on Clinton, the guy at the fish deparment gave him some chocolate and finally Taiyo stopped screaming. He held two chocolate, one on each hand, and sobbed for a while then fell asleep. I ran back thinking that I got two hours to get most of cooking done. So I thought. But only one hour late Taiyo woke up, and he was very needy. He had to sit on my lap, and wouldn't let me get up and cook. So until Mark and Steve arrived to distract Taiyo I wasn't able to get much done and it was a bit stressful after that trying to get everything ready in two hours. But all was well in the end with roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, my famous stuffing with cashews and sausage, garlic mashed potato, caponata, roasted zucchini and turnips, pumpkin and corn salad, and yuzu-tuna wrap. Taiyo made a mistake stuffing himself too early with cheese and crackers, but he still enjoyed turkey and cranberry sauce. Then he went totally high after green tea cheesecake and went running outside, taking hands of my guests one by one.
We enjoyed sleeping late today. It was a beautiful warm day and I took him out to Guitar Center on 14th Street. This place is a heaven for him with all kinds of music instruments! He went crazy in drums department, then we picked up a new uklele (on sale for $30!). Last one was broken after being banged around in his rock'n roll action.
We lunched at Japonica on University and 12th St. The bench was confortable with a pillow and Taiyo immediately jumped on it for a while, but he decided to take a chair on the other side of the table. They brought him a plastic cup and a straw with a tiny pinwheel, which was of course a high point for a kid-friendly restaurant. It kept him in the seat for a while. There was too many things on the menu, but I settled on lunch special box with eel and avocado donburi and shrimp tempra roll, and steamed shumai appetizer. The box was not quite impressive with mixed green and pinapples, and I felt there should've been just a little something like hijiki instead of edamame, but overall it was a great value. Taiyo immediately cleared eel- he couldn't wait for his fork to arrive and started grabbing it by hand. Then he of course enjoyed nice big shumai and finished all the pinapple. Dining room is fairly spacious and strollers should be able to find a room to park. Recommended.
Taiyo is turning into quite an entertainer. The other day he put on Dora's mask to crack me up. Later when my staff arrived he continued to wear the mask and greeted everyone with "Hora!"
As a single mother who works too much, I normally devote sundays as the day to do stuff out there with Taiyo, visiting zoos, parks, or museums, and trying out some restaurants we haven't been to. But yesterday, I couldn't convince him to leave the house. He just enjoyed hanging out in the house despite of the construction noise outside. Continuous playing of kids DVDs was annoying but I didn't mind hanging out insdie all day- maybe the first time since hurricane. Taiyo played his guitar, keyboard, danced around, wore his penguin hat and danced around some more. We briefly left for grocery shopping late afternoon, and I was hoping that he'd take a long nap. He fell asleep only a few blocks away on the way back, and woke up when I carried him upstairs. We decided to order in for dinner.
Last week I tried GrubHub.com for the first time to order. My order from Moustache on 10th street was estimated to be delivered in one hour. It was delivered in hour and a half, and soup was hot but "pitza" was cold. The next GrubHub asked for the first time review, so I told them what happened. No, I would not recommend it to my friends because it wasn't a great experience. They were sorry and send me $25 gift card. So I tried again yesterday. This time I went for Goodfella's Pizza on Rivington and Orchard. It's only four blocks away, and was expecting better result. Estimated delivery was one hour again. Hour and a half later, I was beginning to wonder where my food was, so called 800 number for GrubHub. I was holding for five minutes to speak to a rep, then finally the food arrived. You'd expect to have the pizza hot from a pizza restaurant, expecially when the rest of the order was a salad and garlic bread. Not this place. It was just kind of warm. Salad was rip off for $12, mesculan green and some sliced strawberries. It was supposed to be served with balsamic reduction, but it was just plain balsamic vinegar that came with it. Though it was nice to see Taiyo discovering strawberries and arugula together was a great match. The goodfella pizza was supposed to be the popular item, but it had too many chunks of too raw garlic and we couldn't eat half of it. The garlic bread was more like some bread with cheese on top, and guess what, they weren't hot either. Food was terrible, and expensive, and it came so late. Nothing good about this restaurant.
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