How to Survive a Polar Vortex

Last week, for one of the first times ever, the entire nation suffered together. On Tuesday, the temperature was below freezing in ALL 50 states. So while we can’t all agree on issues like gay marriage, gun control or a women’s right to choose, for one day we all agreed – it was freezing.

The best way to survive a polar vortex is to stay inside, and when that isn’t possible, bundle up! Down coats, fleece mittens and wool hats become part of the every day uniform. And warm meals are a must for the evening. I used the cold weather as an opportunity to make a dish I’d been wanting to make but had been saving it for the right day, or rather, weather.

This fall one of my colleagues got married and at their wedding gave out containers of spice mix and the recipes for their favorite chili dish as favors. I was so psyched to receive this and couldn’t wait to make it — unfortunately I feel strongly that chili should only be consumed in cold weather and I was forced to wait for the right day. Thankfully the polar vortex gave me the perfect occasion.

Tyler, the husband, has a cooking blog that I’ve written about previously, Ty’s Kitchen. Here he posted his famous chili recipe that they gave out at the wedding.

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For the first time ever, I actually didn’t follow this recipe exactly. I just used regular ground beef and I omitted the carrots and celery. I also added in a can of kidney beans (drained and rinsed) and a small can of tomato paste (I might not have needed this).
I felt like a real chef, adapting the recipe to my liking. In the end it came out really well. It was the first time I’d added vegetables to my chili and I have to say, it was a great addition.

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Now, if only I could figure out all of the spices that were part of Ty’s Spice Mix…

 

 

 

Snowed In

Growing up in New Hampshire, I am no stranger to blizzards. Nearly every winter, we would get a handful of big storms and if we were lucky,  a snow day or two would result. My family would often take advantage of the snow by heading up North to ski. And for the days where we reminded at home, we would spend at least half of the day playing outside, building snowmen, making snow forts and sledding. In preparation for these activities I would spend hours bundling up before heading outside. I assembled the perfect snow outfit, complete with the trick of pulling my wool socks OVER my pant legs to ensure that no snow would touch my skin! After time in the snow, we would warm up with hot chocolate and, more often than not, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Blizzards in New York City are a little different. People freak out leading up to the storm, but then once it comes even though this city is a little quieter, things continue on as normal. Restaurants still deliver, Starbucks remains open and Broadway shows still go on.

I took advantage of the quite weekend to stay in a do a little baking and crafting. Unfortunately, I don’t have completed projects or blog posts to show you so hang tight.

That's right - the sewing machine came out this weekend!
That’s right – the sewing machine came out this weekend!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!
Some exciting things went down in the kitchen this weekend. More to come!

What did you do this weekend during the storm? Anything fun?

Rain Rain Go Away

Why is it that rainy weather has such a gloomy effect on me?

When I was younger I used to love the rain – especially during the summer. The rain wouldn’t stop us from having fun, if anything, it would increase it.

A little light rain wouldn’t stop us from going to the Bluffs (our swim and tennis club) but it would send other families home. As a result, Abby and I would have the whole pool to ourselves and there was no line for the diving board. It was only years later, when I was a lifeguard at the Bluffs myself, that I realized just how annoying our family must have been – forcing the lifeguards to keep the pool open and sit out in the rain while they watched us swim around.

When we weren’t at the Bluffs, Abby and I would put our bathing suits on and run around the yard stomping in puddles. Unfortunately, when I learned about acid rain in my 6th grade science class, that fun sort of died.

Other rainy day activities included making chocolate chip cookies, doing arts and crafts, trips to the library and watching Disney movies in our pjs. No wonder I liked the rain, it was so much fun.

As an adult, the rain has most of its appeal.

  • On my walk to the subway, even if I am wearing a rain coat and carrying an umbrella I will inevitably get wet.
  • The rain seems to heighten the smell of urine that is a constant on the streets of NYC.
  • I will inevitably get hit in the head by someone’s umbrella.
  • The subway smells like wet dog.
  • Unfortunately, “rain” isn’t a suitable excuse to miss work, or even to wear your pjs to the office.
  • Eating an entire bowlful of chocolate chip cookie dough isn’t an option anymore.
  • You think going to a museum on a rainy day would be fun? Oh right, so do 2.5 million other NYers.

Thankfully it looks like the sun is starting to come out!

The Signs of Fall

Children returning to school with new outfits and freshly sharpened pencils.

The coolness in the air that you feel occasionally when a breeze blows by.

Delicious apples at the farmers markets.

And my favorite, the return of pumpkin coffee!

So on this holiday weekend, which traditionally makes the end of summer, I say goodbye to the summer and hello to the start of the time of the year centered around seasonal coffee flavors.

Hurricane Prep

If you live on the east coast, you have been bombarded with the news of Hurricane Irene for the past week. High winds, strong rains and predicted flooding has forced NYC to order many residence of the city to evacuate. The MTA will be shut down tomorrow at noon and the bridges leading into Manhattan will close as soon as winds hit 60 mph. Government officials keep telling us, this is no joke, get ready.

Matt and I have decided not to go out to the Hamptons this weekend as planned; probably a smart move. While many folks aren’t happy about this storm, I have to admit, a part of me is kind of excited. Matt and I have been traveling for the past 8 weekends. Storm or no storm, it is going to be nice to have a weekend in the city. And to make things even better, we will probably get stuck in our apartment, at least for a portion of the weekend, which will give us time to do things that we have been putting off for weeks on end. As a reminder to Matt, I made a list of things to do during the hurricane.

I also prepared some provisions to help us ride out the storm. Thanks to our friends, Jen and Ratch for giving us flashlights off our wedding registry. Although we anticipated using these for camping purposes, they might come in handy this weekend. Considering that this is our first time experiencing a storm of such magnitude, I wasn’t exactly sure what to buy… I don’t think there is anything else we would need if we were to get stranded in our apartment for a few days, do you?