Monday, August 30, 2010

Adventures in Boston

This weekend I ventured to Boston to see a few of my favorites.  I can't say I ate particularly healthy (I was on vacation, after all) but at least it came from some local small businesses, and we even managed to squeeze in some vegetables.  Some of this may be a stretch, but it was definitely foodtastic, so I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking:

Local beer counts, right? (Harpoon Brewery)

And cannolis... as long as they're from a local pastry shop? (Mike's Pastry)

***Important Note!  The Boston Haymarket (where the veggie pics are taken) is NOT a farmers market.  The food here generally comes from a wholesale market, and is not necessarily (and probably not) local or organic.  However, it is CHEAP, and it's an intense experience of an open-air market, so if nothing else, maybe it will encourage you to add a little fresh fiber to your diet once in a while (*ahem*).  Also, some of the tiny local shops that surround it offer interesting ethnic foods and fresh, local fish and meats (very fresh-- you may have to be brave to actually eat it...).  At least check it out for the food experience!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vermont 'til the Moose Come Home

In case you haven't peeked out your window yet today, the entire Northeast is covered in rain.
Oh well.  The perfect day for some soup and blogging, and dreams of a sunnier time...

Like earlier this week, when it was sunny and a perfect 75 degrees.  The day was lovely and Erin was off, so we pulled on our fave bohemian digs and headed to Vermont.  Bennington, to be exact.

Erin snapping a pic with the hippie Moose.

The drive was quick (< an hour) and scenic.  When we arrived, we decided we first needed a bathroom break and then some lunch.  We had our choice of natural, sustainable, organic cafes to choose from (this was Vermont, after all).

We decided to eat here, for no reason really, except that it was close and we really had to go...

But it was a good choice!  It was cute, and our lunches were cheap and delish.

Lots and lots of loose teas.

Grilled cheese with homemade bread and real Vermont cheddar.

After lunch, we walked around a bit, checked out an independent bookstore, and bought some cupcakes from a crazy Russian lady.

We had a small set-back when we accidentally invaded the Maplebrook Farm cheese factory that did NOT give tours (unless you barged in the door like we did... oops!), but ended up finding a little market that not only sold Maplebrook, but made their own cheese and meats.

These cheese bites only lasted a day... they were that good.  Especially after seeing how they were made... accidentally.

By now we had witnessed all of Bennington's attractions, so we headed out of town for some berry pickin'.   It was quiet and peaceful in the fields,  a relaxing way to end the afternoon.

The bounty.

Sorry, Erin.

This was another fun trip that isn't too far from home.  And we got to eat local food, right from the source!  The berries were amazing in yogurt and on top of homemade waffles this morning :)

Next stop... Burlington?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Simple Life

I came across this article yesterday in the New York Times: But Will It Make You Happy?  I'm not sure if it's "green" exactly, but... close enough.  And I like it, and this is my blog.

It describes a couple who had it all: jobs, an apartment, etc.. they were average middle-class.  And miserable.  So, inspired by some books and a website that challenged readers to simplify their lives, they whittled down their belongings to.... *gulp* 100 items.

You read that correctly.  One hundred items.  They got rid of their cars.  They down-sized their apartment.  Ms. Strobel now owns three pairs of shoes. But they love their life.  She was able to quit her boring job to become a free-lance writer. She makes less money, but she's happy. And since they have fewer expenses, their smaller incomes are still plenty enough to travel all the time, and even help their nieces and nephews through college.

The article goes on to explain that saving among Americans is up since the economy has soured, and studies show that we are happier when we "relish" something long before splurging on it, or when we spend our money on experiences rather than material possessions.

Pretty cool, huh? I think it relates.  Read this post from Eat, Live, Run (I told you I was obsessed) in which she describes her food philosophy.  Eat simply, from natural, whole ingredients.  I got to "green" by taking simple as far as simple could go.  This article is about living simply.  All of that clutter isn't healthy for us, either.  The material stuff we think we need is like the high fructose corn syrup in our food... it provides a little instant sweetness, but in the end, is unnecessary and unhealthy.  So just leave it out.

P.S. What 100 items would you keep?

There is no wealth but life.  

John Ruskin

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pass the Vino

I'm a little behind on this one, but I want to tell you about a lovely little trip I took earlier this summer to beautiful Seneca Lake.  I focus so much on food that I've hardly mentioned what you should be drinking with it!  If you're a wine-lover, this one's for you.

Here's my tribute to New York State wines.

I was invited by my good friend Sarah to cruise the Seneca Lake wine trail with some other friends and family of hers.  This little stay-cation is only about 3 hours from the Capital Region, so it made the perfect weekend trip, and I have to say, a highlight of the summer.

First of all, these people knew how to trail the wines in style!  We rented a tour bus to carry us safely around to the wineries, complete with a hand-picked soundtrack, and champagne to get the party started.
Gotta love carpooling.

Secondly, we couldn't have picked a more perfect day, and the gorgeous Finger Lakes region boasted scenery that was indescribably beautiful.  I don't think my pictures can do it justice, but I'll try...

The view of Seneca Lake outside the window at one of the wineries.

An idyllic farm across the street, and in sight of the lake.

Look at that sky-- perfect!

We sipped on the wine as we gazed out the window onto the lake directly outside.

At each winery, for a minimal fee (usually $2), you can try a number of wines before purchasing.  New York wines, particularly those from the Finger Lakes region, tend to be very sweet.  This is partially due to their climate, but is also the wineries catering to the palate of their consumer (we tend to like sweeter wines better, and spend our money on them, so sugar is often added, or the fermentation is stopped sooner).  If you want to go local, but sweet isn't for you, I can tell you that the Hudson Valley wines that I've tasted are less sweet than those from the Finger Lakes.  And, if you're here in the Albany area, this is an even closer option for you.

Friends, wine, and summertime... what more could a girl want?

If you're looking for a little getaway without having to drive too far, I highly recommend checking out one of the many wine trails that New York State has to offer (check out the Hudson Valley, or any of the Finger Lakes).  And next time you're looking for some local wine to complement your local dinner, definitely grab a bottle of New York wine.

***In case you are wondering, we stopped at the following wineries: Three Brothers (included a brewery), Fox Run, Torrey Ridge/ Earle Estates, Villa Bellangelo, and White Springs.  

Con pan y vino se anda el camino. 
[With bread and wine you can walk your road.]

Spanish Proverb

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Zucchini, zucchini, everywhere!

I love zucchini, I really do.  It's so versatile, there's so many things you can do with it... except, what else can I do with it??  I think it's about that point in the summer when you might be wondering what to do with ALL of that zucchini.

Fortunately for you, I've discovered two MORE things you can do with all your zucchini.

First, my experimental recipe.  I stumbled across this magazine at the check-out, Vegetarian Times.  I've never seen it before, but it's pretty awesome.
That yummy pasta on the cover caught my eye.
It's full of easy and healthy recipes.  And I mean easy, like, 5-ingredient recipes.  Nice! I'm not a vegetarian, but I try to eat my veggies, and always need help doing this creatively.

Anyway, based on what we had in the house, we combined two of the recipes in this magazine to create our own creamy zucchini pasta. (That just sounds poetic, doesn't it?  It's the assonance: food poetry.)

Here's what you need:
3 or 4 small zucchini (we used 2, and it wasn't enough)
pasta (we used penne, but linguine or casareccia would be lovely, too)
fresh parsley
a lemon (juice it, and save the rind for zesting)
a block of cream cheese (go light if you wish)
2 Tbs. olive oil

1. Julienne the zucchini (julienne = cut it into long thin strips).  I swear this is the hardest part.
2. Boil the pasta.  Use a large pot, because you'll need room in it for the zucchini!  Wait until the pasta is almost done, and then toss the zucchini in for the last minute of cooking.
3. While the pasta is boiling, in a smaller pot melt the cream cheese with the oil and lemon juice (go easy on the juice, it can get strong, fast!).
4. Strain the pasta and zucchini, then toss in your creamy cheese sauce.  Sprinkle on your parsley and lemon zest.  It's ready to go!  (I told you it was super easy!)

My picture doesn't really do it justice, because I started eating it before I remembered to take a picture.  Imagine this looking prettier with parsley and lemon zest!

It was like alfredo, but without all the work, butter, and cream.  I want to try this with other veggie combinations, too.  

Secondly, here's a recipe for Cheesy Zucchini Pizza that I found on one of my new favorite blogs,  Eat, Live, Run.  I haven't tried it yet, but it sounds good.  And check out her site for other yummy food ideas. 

Now go enjoy that zucchini again :) 

Monday, August 2, 2010

a slice of cucumber heaven..

mmmmm... yes.  A light dinner before art class: sliced cucumber from Dad's garden atop herbed goat cheese, hand made from my friends at Cottonhill Farm.  Sooooo good.