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The theme of “get busy living” has echoed in my ears for some time now. As a cancer survivor and an active volunteer, I know the theme has become a bit of a mantra for the Stupid Cancer community. Get a whole punch of passionate, motivated and courageous people who have already stared cancer in the eye together and give them a challenge. Puhleeze. We know who is winning this one.

I like to think I embody “get busy living” all of the time, but let’s be honest, it’s not  easy. Living every single day to the fullest is not always possible, sometimes it’s just to your own person fullest. And at least I can say that IS what I do. Yesterday just happened to be  day when I did it really well. I like to think it’s because I had a special brand new angel with me.

The best gifts are the gifts that you enjoy giving more than the receiver even enjoys receiving. Giving “good” gifts has been something I truly enjoy for a variety of reasons, but mostly because it tends to be something that the person wouldn’t purchase for themselves. I bought my dad a flying lesson for Christmas last year (yes, it is September, and yes, we did just redeem it). The guys at Global Aviation in Farmingdale were great and I highly recommend the experience. My favorite “get busy living” moment was sitting behind him in a plane and having hims say, “this is awesome.” I wowed dad. It’s like a little victory party just for me. The views of Long Island, the ocean and the horizon were incredible and we are so lucky to have had that time in the air.

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When we got back to the house, my dad asked, “what’s on your agenda?” And for the first time in way too long I was able to answer, “nothing planned.” What an incredible blessing to have an entire afternoon with nothing required. Granted, I had a huge pile of paperwork, schoolwork and laundry all looking right at me, but I knew they would still be there regardless of what I did with the rest of my day.

With a dear friend in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, it was a great day to suggest the flea market. She happen to have nothing planned as well and was eager to get outside. We walked around a mix of new and used items, ethic foods and drinks and possibly one of my favorites, framed pieces of art. These types of frames are ones that you can imagine in your living room or in the hallway. Each telling their own story. One that isn’t even yours. A magical place, in a frame.

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Trying to gather my other Brooklyn girls I suggested dinner at Madiba, a South African restaurant on Dekaulb in Fort Greene. Stop reading this and go there now. I’m not kidding, go. Fine, if you insist I will tell you about the experience and then you can go when you have a chance.

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Madiba happen to be celebrating its 14 year anniversary last night. We walked into a magical moment in time, just like the frames I had seen earlier in the day. The scene was energetic and nostalgic. The people were joyous and proud. The table were full of people from all over the city and community and the world. Owners, Mark and Jenny Henegan have dedicated their restaurant to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. They are “dedicated to the future of South Africa, a future that promises greater cultural harmony, economic development, and
collective enjoyment of ‘a World in One Country’.”

Celebrating in the lead were Mark and his brother, Denis. Not only were they celebrating the restaurant’s anniversary, but welcoming their parents coming to Brooklyn, to their place, for the first time in a long time. There were dignitaries, longtime customers and friends, staff, community, first-timers and family all under the same roof. And here we were, three first time patrons, enjoying libations, saffron, cumin, prawns, curries and beets. As if we had never had these things before. There are no words to describe quality new handmade goodness hitting your mouth for the first time. I was once told my roast was like “sex in my mouth.” That’s what I would have told the chefs at Madiba that night.

I had a chance to say hello to Mark on the way out, first congratulating him on 14 years of success and then for having us, we felt like we were a part of a family celebration marking the genuine love of the country, food and people of South Africa. And yet, he said, “thank you” to me.

In the theme of “get busy living” I leave this day as a memory and a reminder of the ability to make things happen regardless of what is in its path,  best said by Mandela himself, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Raining cats and dogs just doesn’t work when referencing bbq. In the great Meat Off of 2013 I have come to learn more about myself as a foodie:

1. I love vegetables. I eat salad for two days before our bbq dinners.
2. I am a food snob. Manufactured or mass produced bbq is not real bbq. It is suppose to take time.
3. Any articles or headlines referring to the ‘best of’ or ‘top 10’ or ‘must see’ go to my trash. I can not attend or acknowledge any other lists while completing this one.

Week 2: Dinosaur BBQ
Address: 400 West 125th Street, Harlem
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy tone very local train up
First impression: Crowded, I’m soaking wet and where’s the bar
Consumed: spare ribs, brisket, baked beans, pulled pork, colesslaw, mac n’ cheese, friend green tomatoes, bbq chicken, pickles, salt potatoes, corn bread, flavored beer
Highlights: Extremely attentive waitress, the garbage bucket on the table and ribs
Guests: Catherine (longtime friend of Maureen) and Nik (new friend of Catherine’s)

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This is Harlem in the rain, what you can’t see is the sideways rain and the rivers at every corner. Normally, this would not phase me, but I waled the wrong way and had to double my tracks. In the rain. Pouring rain.

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The Dinosaur has a lot of beer options, a lot. We tried Sea Salt Ale by the Fire Island Beer Company, Ithaca Apricot Wheat and Long Train Blackberry Wheat. Further proof that I’m a salt girl.

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Cheers! It’s the day before the 4th of July and we don’t have to go to work tomorrow.

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Hello drink menu and bbq sauce.

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We started with friend green tomatoes and smoked shrimp remoulade.

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Maureen and I shared two pbig plates, this one features the pulled pork sandwhich, salt potatoes and baked beans.

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This plate was the sampler and had roasted bbq chicken, ribs and brisket with side of mac n’ cheese and coleslaw. Again, Maureen doesn’t understand the point of cornbread.

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We were excited to be at week 2 of the Great Meat Off of 2013 and together. And dry.

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Hello Catherine and Nik!

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Catherine ordered a half bbq chicken, mac n’ cheese and the sweat potato mash. She was a happy girl.

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Nik also ordered the pull pork sandwich with coleslaw right on top, french fries and potato salad.

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Best bite. Corn bread and brisket dipped in bbq sauce.

Chow Dinosaur, ‘Cuse will definitely be the next time!

Recently Gothamist posted this article, declaring the top of the top BBQ places in the city. I have to admit that this category of food is not something I would normally be attracted to. Since leaving the Hudson Valley and reunited with the ‘burbs and “the” city the only BBQ I have craved is Max’s wing night.

So with my carnivorous friends came the idea of trying everything on the list. I promise, it’s only week one and I know I will be pushing for a top 10 of veg places next.

Week 1: Fette Sau
Address: 354 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Location: Coming from midtown, this was an easy two train commute and then a brief walk to the restaurant.
First impression: Smelled delish, calm before the storm and beer is mason jars
Consumed: short ribs, spare ribs, brisket, rolls, potato salad, baked beans, corn bread, root beer and ale
Highlights: cornbread with brisket baked beans declared favorite bite, rub on the spare ribs, brisket sandwich with extra bbq sauce

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Our friends at Fette Sau are very smart and have a rustic / fun decor. And a cool bar, that counts, too. The beer taps have meat hacking charm. One of those is the Sixpoint called Vienna Ale that was brewed just for Fette Sau, that also makes them very smart.

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This was the tray I ordered for Maureen and I. Don’t judge. I did it for you.

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I think she was happy. It was hard to tell.

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This is a close up of the rub, some goodness was up in there.

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More cool decor and educational! We were able to see and learn what cuts of meat we were eating.

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This was my favorite bite of the entire meal. The baked beans were off the hook. Spicy, slow cooked and chunks of brisket thrown in for good measure. Pictured here on a piece of cornbread.

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Picnic tables inside and out gave for good community and noise.

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This is when we should have stopped, instead we ordered one more beef rib to push us over the edge. It was by the pound.

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This is the bone after we were done with it. In case you can’t tell, as big as my head.

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If you are a condiment girl like myself, you would like the bbq sauce, vinegar sauce and hot sauce. I love sauce.

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Good bye Fette Sau, see you next time!

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My re-visiting of the B’fast Burrito is the best thing to come out of non-dairy life. In the last four months (4!), I haven’t had any dairy products. My last post about giving up cheese was a hard realization, my body and my skin could no longer hang with dairy. And although I literally miss cheese every single day, I am seeing some alternatives that I can live with.

The B’fast Burrito can be eaten anytime of day. It starts with a whole wheat tortilla, guacamole, eggs, re-purposed peppers and onions, a spoonful of salsa and my longtime friend, sriracha.


“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” ~ Cesar Chavez

xoxo

I don’t do Valentine’s Day, but when I do, I do it with cupcakes.

I did not eat dairy – read CHEESE – for the entire month of January. It started as a personal experiment. And ended up with confirmation that dairy and I are not of the best of friends. Insert heartbreak here.

As a long-term cancer survivor of fourteen years, hormone imbalance has been part of my medical path. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me on the outside and then others, like this past September  kicked my butt. I started to break out like a teenager. Actually, worse than any acne I ever had before. Working with a dermatologist confirmed my hormone related skin explosions. I tried to identify what was making my skin change in my diet. And after a few months of ignoring it, I said it out-loud  “I break out the most when I eat cheese.” Heartbreak. Almost immediately, I saw an improvement in my skin and system after removing diary out of my diet.

In our country, most foods, especially dairy products are laden with hormones. There has been very little research done to show the side effect of hormones in food on humans. This Huff Po article from last year was a good breakdown of what we do and don’t know. This also showed me I need to read more about hormones in general from reliable sources. And go see the endocrinologist who can actually calculate my hormone levels and give some educated feedback to what I already know.

As a foodie, we all have our “thing.” For some it’s homemade kumquat jam or homemade pasta or butternut squash ravioli or chocolate ganache. My greatest indulgence has been cheese. All different kinds. All different smells, tastes and colors. Cheese o’ glorious cheese. I’ve made my own ricotta, read cheesemonger tales and dedicated many a glass of wine to the pairing experience. I do not see myself with any extreme dietary changes at the moment, but I do think my hormone crusted foods, especially cheese, will be less and less.

As I re-introduce dairy products back in, to see what bothers my system and skin the most, let’s pray for the cheese.

Murray's Cheese Shopw

A few weeks ago, over Memorial Day weekend, my dear friend Noel and I cooked up a storm for a local music video shoot. You remember Noel from our City Mouse Country Mouse cooking demo last year.

Local ingredients and meeting multiple needs (gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, etc.) was quite the challenge. And at the same time, awesome and creative.

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When amazing things happen right in front of your eyes, your imagination starts to work on overdrive.

“Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.” ~ Albert Einstein

It’s a Hudson Valley treat making a guest appearance on a Long Island dinner table.

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As a young girl my mother made this dish. Then it was a special treat. Now it is one of my most favorite comfort foods. Peas, onions, chicken, sour cream, salt, pepper and egg noodles.

That is a stark difference from the “health” eating that has been happening.

The weather, another screwy thing around the Northeast lately, has provided some lovely sunsets.

The season of birthdays is upon us. Most recently we have toasted my incredibly talented work husband, my best friend’s fiance, my most favorite wingwoman in the entire word, my baby cousin who can’t possibly be 18 and his smarty pants sister who just hit the mid twenty mark, hopefully  to be her best years ever.

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” ~ Sheila Graham

This year I hope to…

Increase DIYing,  from sauces and breads to time capsules, pasta and rooster sauce and maybe even some coffee liqueur.

Travel.

Conquer everything on Bon Appetite’s 25 things… thinking the biggest challenge is going to be Tasmania.

Be comfortable in a bathing suit on my 30th birthday.

Step out of my comfort zone just because.

Learn how to type on t he new iPhone with only minimal auto-corrects.

Conquer my first class… as a… professor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take more pictures.

Enjoy and get to know Pinterest, Hipstomatic and my google reader better.

Get published in a food publication, online version would suffice.

Limit the people in my life who don’t value our friendship as much as I do and practice what I preach, all relationships have to be mutually beneficial at some point or another.

Accomplish at least five of these financial tips.

Dance around in my underwear [more].

 

Make parmesan crusted goat cheese with basil oil, spiced chai concentrate, vanilla bean syrup, and pork crown roast.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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