Monday, March 14, 2011

Kat: Ain't isn't a word and I Ain't Gonna Use it

I can't tell you how much I love Christina Pirello's Cooking the Whole Foods Way. Technically, it's a book of macrobiotic cooking, but don't let that scare you off! Every recipe is simple and 10 times even more delicious that it sounds on paper! This is a great book for vegetarians or anyone who needs some simple but delightful vegetable dishes in their life...who doesn't need that?!

This week, I tried out Quinoa and Roasted Veggie Salad.

Couldn't be easier to prepare either. All you do is roast whatever veggies you have laying around:

Saute some carrots, celery, and onions:

Cook your quinoa:

Throw the veggies on a plate:

Cover with quinoa:

And squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top!

The dish is light, but hearty enough to be an entree. Go buy this book! You can thank me later.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jenna: Fairytales Ain't Just for Princesses

I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you, our faithful readers, a story. A true story. So grab a beer, glass of wine, or one of Kat's yummy smoothies and settle in...

Once upon a time there was a young woman from Brooklyn (Jenna) who was traveling to the far away land of Arizona to watch her best friend (Kat) get married. Kat even asked Jenna to be the person who officiated her wedding ceremony (knowing that she loves to be the star of the show...even if that show is a wedding). Kat also decided that the wedding gang would climb down a giant hole (the Grand Canyon) and camp there for a few nights; so as to test their survival skills and patience to make sure they were good friends and good husband to be...and also to bear witness the beautiful sights.

The four friends began their journey to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and though the road was rocky...they weathered the hardships with gusto and aplomb. On the second day of their journey, upon reaching camp, the weary travelers were welcomed by a tall and brawny park ranger with a nice smile and a sonorous voice. Jenna thought the park ranger charming and handsome...but she was dirty and camping, and laughed about her PG 13 related observations to her friends. As night fell, the hungry travelers were faced with the disturbing fact that they were short on food rations for dinner!

What were the hungry campers to do? The young man among the ladies had a resourceful idea (which young men often do), that one of the ladies should walk up to the ranger station and inquire (in our delicate female way, eyelashes aflutter) as to whether or not there happened to be extra food lying around anywhere. Jenna quickly volunteered and traipsed her way up to the ranger station, tossing her dirty, dirty hair, attempting to look her best. She knocked on the door and the park ranger answered, inviting her in and introducing himself (still adorable, by the way). She relayed the hunger troubles, they chatted about life in the canyon, and discussed the insane snow storm that had hit New York the day prior (of which the hungry campers had no knowledge). In fact, the conversation was easy and the company lovely, and Jenna had no REAL desire to leave the ranger. However, there were people counting on her, Ranger Danger (as we'll affectionately call him) showed her the big box of food outside the cabin, and they said their farewells. Jenna grinned as she rummaged through the box of food gathering items in her arms like a raccoon and thinking about how cute the ranger was, when he suddenly reappeared, offering items from his own cupboard. He liked her. She knew it. She thanked him profusely and made her way back towards the campsite, gushing about the interaction to the others.

The group feasted and joked, energy renewed by their good fortune and full bellies, and at the end of the meal it became obvious that the overzealous Jenna had grabbed a bit too much out of the community bin which would need to be returned. She crept back up to the cabin, intending to quietly put the food back where she found it and scurry away, but the ranger saw her coming and opened wide the front door upon her approach. She thanked him profusely, returned the excess food, and continued to make pleasant conversation. After a few moments had passed, silence fell...there was really not much more for the two to say to one another. Jenna turned to go, then paused and looked at the ranger for a moment before asking 'What are you doing the day after tomorrow?'. What did she expect him to say? He lived in the Grand Canyon for chrissake. But to her surprise he responded,'I have a few days off actually. I'm heading up tomorrow. Why?' To which Jenna, surprised at the words coming out of her mouth, responded 'Would you like to go to a wedding?'. The ranger said yes, phone numbers were exchanged, and Jenna retreated back to camp, giddy with the news.

The next morning (or rather at 4am, just a few hours later) the campers began the trek out of the canyon. As they neared the top, huffing and puffing along, Jenna spotted Ranger Danger just below, quickly walking the same path just a few paces behind. As he caught up with her, Jenna feigned surprise. 'Fancy meeting you here,' she quipped, to which he replied, 'Oh, you know...just the morning commute.' Ha. Ranger humor...right? There were some quick introductions to the gang, and as he took off ahead of them he called back 'I'll call you later...', which made Jenna blush and grin, yet again. Once the hikers finished the long journey up and were enjoying their celebratory drinks, Jenna's cellphone buzzed with a text message from Ranger Danger, asking her out for a cocktail that evening. She agreed to meet him for a drink before family dinner (the wedding was the next day and the guests were set to arrive in the afternoon).

Showered, dressed, and feeling like a new woman, also completely nervous and ridiculous (had she really asked a park ranger out on a date?), Jenna set off to meet her date before dinner. And it was a wonderful date. The two were so completely different, led such opposite lives, that there was no shortage of things to talk about or information to share. They talked about where they came from and what they loved about what they did for a living, what they found most interesting about the others' experiences. And though they were passionate about very different things, there was a very exciting chemistry between them. Time flew by and before they knew it, it was time for Jenna to leave for dinner and the ranger to be on his way stay the night with some friends in a town an hour away from the Canyon. After an incredibly romantic kiss beneath the stars, they went their separate ways, looking forward to reuniting at Kat's wedding. Jenna fell asleep dreaming of the ranger's soft lips and charming smile, filled with excitement about the wedding the next day.

When the wedding party awoke, however, there was a disturbing surprise. A blizzard! In full force, 2 and a half feet of snow on the ground, and coming down hard. A sobbing Kat in her arms, a group of family members worried about the fact that they wouldn't catch a plane that evening, and an impossible plan to wed her best friend at the rim of the canyon...things were looking bleak to Jenna. But the gang banded together, scouted out a new location inside the lodge (along with 34 additional snowed in wedding ceremony witnesses), and pulled off a truly beautiful wedding ceremony. The snowfall was beautiful beyond the windows, Kat couldn't have been a more stunning bride, and there were tears of joy shed all around. Everything was so unexpectedly perfect...except for one thing. The ranger was snowed in an hour away, and Jenna at the Canyon, wishing it weren't so. But alas, the universe works in mysterious ways, and it would seem that a blizzard between them is how this chapter of the story was meant to conclude. Tragic? Maybe a little. But something told Jenna this was not where it would end. She had a feeling that she was meant to know the ranger; that they had come into one another's lives for a reason. And continued phone calls, emails, and daydreams later...this may be a story unfinished.

Perhaps one even just begun. Pretty freaking romantic, huh?

And they all lived happily and hopefully ever after.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kat: Surprise!

I feel very privileged to know what makes me happy; cooking, food, wine and all things culinary put a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Whenever I have a lousy day at work, or am just feeling blue, I know that I can turn to my kitchen and...Surprise!...I instantly feel better. When I caught myself feeling depressed a few weeks ago, I decided to take it to the kitchen. A couple of months of stressful wedding planning had drained my enthusiasm in the kitchen. I knew the remedy to my blues was to crank up the creativity in the kitchen. The only catch was that I felt like I had forgotten how to cook!

After some thinking, I decided to turn to some old reliable favorite cookbooks! I knew if anyone could help me out, they could. I picked one recipe for each night of the week, went shopping, and jumped into my week of culinary therapy.

I started with the book that was most recently added to my favorites list...Amanda Hesser's brand new masterpiece The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

It's a wonderful book full of readers' favorite recipes from the past 150 years. I picked a couple of recipes that I could make with pantry staples:

Moroccan Chicken Smothered in Olives (page 482)

and Moroccan Carrot Salad (p. 187)

Both were easy and delicious and very simple to make; just a couple of ingredients and plenty of spices in both recipe.

If you're interested in becoming a better cook, I suggest that you invest in this book! There hundreds and hundreds of recipes ranging from very simple to complex. I plan to cook my way through this book and soak up all the techniques that I can!

...more recipes from my cookbook week to come!

Jenna: Surprise!

I'm fairly certain over the development of this blog how much I enjoy having sex. I love sex. So much so that I am often led down unseemly paths or do things that would make conservatives blush in an attempt to have it when I want to. Well and often is my motto. When it's been too long, I get restless and distracted, unable to concentrate on much more than where my next meal is coming from, so to speak. That being said...I won't have sex with just anybody. I am a woman with high standards. I would like to believe I've had pretty sensational luck in my past experiences. I can say that I have had a very satisfying sexual existence up until this point. Which is why something that happened to me recently completely took me by surprise. I have had sex in exciting places, with healthily endowed men, I've had multiple orgasms...blah blah blah...which is why I figured that there was little uncharted territory before me. Sex could continue to be good, of course, but I don't run around expecting to be surprised anymore. Is that sad? Anyway...I have been proven wrong at the ripe old age of 26. I have seen the light. I have experienced what may have been sexual NIRVANA. I took home a cute boy, expecting a good light hearted roll in the hay and had THE BEST SEX OF MY LIFE. I can't quite define what it was about the experience that made it so grand...but I found myself completely and totally in the throes of absolute animal passion. And I may never be the same. I MAY never have sex again for fear that sex will never be this good. Perhaps, it was the excitement of embarking on a new adventure, or the simple thrill of the no strings attached visceral experience...but I lie awake thinking about this sometimes, still. I fell in absolute sex love.

And that was all it was, ladies and gents. One magical night (and long, lazy morning) of naughty, naughty joy. With which I'm totally fine and more so...glad that the memories I keep with me will go unmarred by whatever kind of person this gentleman might actually be. One of those experiences that completely took me by surprise, reminded me that I don't know as much as I think I do about the world, and most importantly, rocked my socks. I'm not posting this as a suggestion to go out and whore yourself around, friends. The lesson I learned is that there is a lot out there that we can't anticipate...and life surprises you all the time. I certainly am going about my business with an open mind and newly expectant loins. I encourage you to do the same. You never know...enlightenment could be just around the corner.