Saturday, September 29, 2012

Galette des Rois

When I arrived in France as a foreign exchange student around six years ago, it was January.  I soon discovered that the best thing about France in January, besides the "soldes" or sales, is the "Galette des Rois" or Cake of the Kings.  As a high school student at a Catholic school, I took French and for "Mardi Gras" or Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, we celebrated with King Cake at our cafeteria.  It was sans flavor, covered in crazy colorful sugar, and had a rubber baby Jesus in it.  

My mom always used to make pancakes for Shrove Tuesday.  She would hide a penny, button, religious medal, and ring in the pancakes.  Whoever got the penny would be rich, the button would be poor (or maybe it was a bachelor or tailor), the religious medal would be a priest or nun, and the ring would be married first.  I think this might be an Irish Catholic thing, because I don't know that many people who did that for Mardi Gras.

In France for Mardi Gras, I discovered that kids run around throwing eggs and flour at each other. You make crepes that night for dinner, which is why teenagers throw the ingredients at one another.  It was pretty hilarious to see actually.  Anyway, Galette des Rois is a flaky pastry filled with some sort of almond paste that you can only get in January in France as it is part of the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.  There is a porcelain "fève" or charm in it, usually a part of the creche like Mary, Joseph, a wise man, or the man of the hour himself, and the person whose piece of cake has the fève is king for the day and gets to wear a paper gold crown.  

Galette des Rois

Galettes des Rois with crowns and fèves

Galette des Rois from Financier in NYC

We brought it to a dinner party last January


We have a bunch of posters that I want to have framed, but that I am too lazy and poor to deal with all at once.  I have to schlep at least one of them to Michael's on the Upper West Side to get framed; so that way I'll be able to ascertain the quality and cost of the work there.

Kunstschau Wien 1908 - The Neue Galerie

Fledermaus by Fritz Lang - The Neue Galerie

New Yorker Cover - Guggenheim Museum

Lazy Weekend

Last Saturday I had to work an event, but this weekend I have nothing but pure laziness stretching out in front of me.  Here are some of my options for this weekend:


  • Read In the Woods by Tana French, which I'm about 8% into on my kindle and loving
  • Watch true crime shows on television
  • Go to the nail salon for a tune-up on my eyebrows 
  • Watch a scary movie with my husband, while drinking chilled Indaba Chardonnay or Early Times whiskey on the rocks (because I'm classy like that).  Doesn't Early Times make it sound like you are going to be knocking back whiskey first thing in the morning?  Their tagline should be "Early Times - for those mornings when you need a drink."  It's not as good as my other cheap whiskey brand of choice, Evan Williams.  Next bottle I buy will be at least somewhat respectable maybe even a smooth bourbon.


  • Do laundry
  • Prep the apartment for a house guest who's coming later this week
  • Iron/steam clothes
  • Organize closet that is currently full of random debris from our camping trip (I'm debating over washing or throwing out the Keds® that I wore on our canoe trip and need to swap out my summer clothes for my cold weather clothes)
  • Go to the nail salon and get a mani-pedi 
  • Watch the season premiere of Revenge (I love stories of vengeance and pretty clothes)
  • Watch the Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion

I already busted out my cold weather boots.  Both my black and my brown pair are from J.Crew and I wear them all fall and winter long.  It's pretty disgusting really, but I love them.  They were both around $200 each and from 2008 and 2009 (I must have been feeling flush those years, which is funny because I was still a student and did not have a job).  As far as bang for buck, the J.Crew flat boots are totally worth it.  I wore the brown pair the other day, and a little girl on the subway who was wearing purple rain boots covered in colorful little hearts said, "When I grow up, I want to have boots like yours" to me.  It melted my heart and made my day.

Brewster Tall Boots from 2008 in Brown
They're slip on, and the buckles jingle when you walk.

Brewster Tall Boots from 2009 in Black
They have a zipper on the side.

My husband and I discovered Jerry Seinfeld's new web series Comedians in Cars  Getting Coffee last night and stayed up until 2 a.m. watching the entire season.  It's Jerry Seinfeld bringing out one of his many beautiful cars, picking up fellow comedians/friends, and going to get coffee and riff.  It's clever and funny as hell.  The episode with Joel Hodgson ( the creator of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ) made me laugh so hard I cried:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Married Thanksgiving 2011

As fall is officially here, I am thinking about the pleasures of the season.  I love Thanksgiving.  Usually we go home to my family's house in Illinois, but last year for our first married Thanksgiving, we decided to stay in New York City and do our own thing/save money on flights.  We had so many cooking and kitchen accouterments from our wedding registry that we had all the tools we needed:
My mom sent us a beautiful floral arrangement, and we brought out our wedding china and flatware for the special occasion.

We cooked an entire turkey for two people (way too much and never again).  I used an Ina Garten recipe where you shove butter under the turkey's skin to keep it moist and have carrots, garlic, onions, and celery in the cavity to flavor the bird.  It was a very visceral and intense experience to dress the bird.  I think I'll wait until we have children over the age of 2 years old to do this again. 
Also, it took forever to cook the turkey in our shitty Roper oven.  The kitchen was a million degrees and everything was covered in turkey grease.  In addition to a giant turkey, we made my mom's noodle casserole, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, and of course...

If we do another NYC Thanksgiving for two, I think we'll order Chinese or Pizza and bake a pumpkin pie.  It's really all I need to feel festive.  By the time we had everything cooked and ready I was too exhausted and filthy-feeling to be hungry.

This year, we'll be with my husband's family in France; so we'll see how we celebrate Thanksgiving à la française.

Whole Foods Grand Opening Midtown/Upper East Side

We got a Whole Foods!  This is exciting, because our current  neighborhood options are Food Emporium (lame and expensive), Gristedes (gross and expensive), Fresh Direct (decent and somewhat expensive/involves planning ahead and being home for delivery).  Ideally, we voyage down to the Trader Joe's at Union Square a couple of times a month to get inexpensive and great groceries.  However, sometimes we have to buy food in our neighborhood.  Whole Foods is not cheap, but it's good/a fun shopping experience.  Here's what I bought on my first shopping trip to the new Whole Foods:

In the Beauty Department, I bought a cute sleep mask, some olive oil and chamomile soap, and Luna Bars (Nutz Over Chocolate for 99¢ a pop/the same price as Trader Joe's).

In the Grocery Department, I bought (from left to right) balsamic vinaigrette, croutons, Parmesan flakes, "pearled" couscous, Blue Goodness juice, a huge block of Sharp Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese ($9.99), smoked salmon, Annie's organic mac and cheese, and raspberry jam.

My husband likes himself some homeopathic meds and tiger balm; so I knew he would be pretty excited about this aspect of Whole Foods:

Homeopathic Medicine Section - These remind me of France

Tiger Balm Selection

Vodka Cranberry Craze

We went to a party a few weeks ago that was an open bar and got what everyone else seemed to be drinking: vodka cranberries.  They are delicious!  When it comes to hard alcohol, I'm usually a gin and tonic girl who occasionally drinks bourbon whiskey on the rocks to feel manly or like an English gentleman.  However, the vodka cranberry is surprisingly refreshing and tasty.  We bought the fixings for our at-home enjoyment: one part vodka and 2-3 parts cranberry juice with a lime wedge squeezed in for good measure.
Vodka Cranberry Fixings

First Foray into T.J. Maxx

A girl I work with has a bunch of cute clothes, and every time I ask her where they are from she says T.J. Maxx.  I have had bad experiences with stores like Marshalls, where you buy a bunch of stuff and then never wear any of it.  Last week, I decided to make a very strategic trip to T.J. Maxx.  My mission was to find "work" clothes only.  In the end, I spent $228 on the following:

  • Michael by Michael Kors Black Pencil Skirt
  • Dalia Collection Modern Fit Mustard Yellow Pencil Skirt
  • Quintessential Leopard Print Tie Blouse
  • Laundry by Shelli Segal Geometric Dress
  • Laundry by Shelli Segal 3/4 Length Blazer
  • Unlisted Sparkly Slip-on Loafers
  • Kenneth Cole Reaction Bow Ballet Flats
  • Jockey Cropped Exercise Pants (one non-work related purchase and cheapest @ $9)

Laundry by Shelli Segal Geometric Dress

Kenneth Cole Reaction Bow Ballet Flats

Laundry by Shelli Segal 3/4 Length Blazer w/ Grosgrain Trim
Back of Blazer with Elbow Patches

Unlisted Sparkly Slippers

The other night I wore the blazer and slip-on loafers with a pair of Free People jeans to the movies (The Master).

Free People Straight Jeans


Monday, September 17, 2012

Rosh Hashanah - Unexpected Day Off

Rosh Hashanah and Staying Home

Happy New Year!  Today is Rosh Hashanah!  I had to stay home from work today, because a plumber/handyman is at the apartment fixing our bathtub (the tiles are falling out) and our kitchen floor's linoleum.  I am holed up in our bedroom with the two cats, keeping them out of the way of the work.  They would be extremely "helpful" if allowed out.  Being home for a Jewish holiday makes me feel like I should celebrate by baking a Jewish apple cake or challah.  Since marrying someone of Jewish heritage (not religious though), I have wanted to get in touch with his family's roots by baking rugelach, learning about the holidays, and history. It is traditional to eat apples dipped in honey for Rosh Hashanah; so that you have a sweet start to your year.  

For breakfast I ate Pepperidge Farm white bread toasted with butter and beet-berry preserves.  Adequately sweet, if you ask me.  Also, Pepperidge Farm is (in my opinion) the best toasting bread.  When I was little my grandpa would make toast with with butter and jam and a side of oatmeal for breakfast when we visited his and my gran's house.  I would dunk my toast in the oatmeal (gross right?).  Speaking of oatmeal, if you want a simple breakfast that tips its hat to Rosh Hashanah, eat some McCann's Apple Cinnamon Irish oatmeal (maybe with a dollop of honey added in for tradition's sake).  It is my favorite!  As a kid, I only ate way overly sweetened Quaker cinnamon/sugar oatmeal, but have grown to love a more oat-y breakfast (it's very low in calories and full of good nutrients).  I also like plain Irish oatmeal with a handful of raisins thrown in for sweetness (it's an easy and healthy office breakfast that can be made in a mug).
Okay, Jewish baked goods that I would like to try baking at home:

Jewish Apple Cake
When I was at college in Pennsylvania, I briefly worked "under the table" at a cute little bakery.  I would have to bake overtime until 2 a.m. sometimes for the Jewish holidays; two dishes that we made for this were Jewish Apple Cake and Noodle Kugel.  I never got into the apple cake (probably because they cost about $30 a pop), but there was an overabundance of kugel at the end of the holidays that needed to get eaten; I think I gained a good 10 pounds just on kugel.  It was sort of a cross between bread pudding and noodle casserole.  Not that flavorful, but addictively carby and dense.

Noodle Kugel

Cinnamon Babka

Challah - also for the great French toast the day after

I hope that this a sweet and happy new year for everyone!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back from Camping

Back from Camping

We got back from our canoeing and camping trip at the Delaware Water Gap last night. The weather was gorgeous, and we had a great time, but I have to say I'm happy to be back to the luxuries of home (i.e. a shower, toilet, and bed). We have tons of laundry to do, but for now I am focusing on catching up on Real Housewives of New York.

Our little home away from home on the canoe/camping trip.
On the way home from work tonight, I stumbled upon the bakery Maison Kayser. When Iived in Paris for a semester of college, my metro stop was Maubert-Mutualité and the first bakery near my apartment that I went to was Maison Kayser. So when I saw the same logo and style of baguette, I had to go in and buy a baguette and pain au raisin. The baguette went well with the Édel de Cléron that we already had and the pain au raisin went great with a little cup of nespresso. Ah, civilization.