Thursday, February 27, 2014


James and I met while traveling, and will probably always be travelers at heart. So when I suggested a couple months ago that in lieu of gifts, we simply split the cost of a night away somewhere to celebrate our anniversary, he was in total agreement. I will be the first to admit that I usually keep him inside eating ice cream and watching Netflix when I visit for the weekend, so getting out and doing things was a nice change of pace. It saves money, too -- one of us usually ends up splurging for a weekend away as a present anyway!

As it happens, we didn't go that far, just to the other side of the Hudson. I did the driving and he did the legwork, including finding places to eat and the apartment we rented on AirBnB. We had a lovely anniversary dinner at Rock & Rye (delicious food, nice atmosphere, misplaced music), and spent the night in beautiful Rosendale.

The next morning we had a lazy start and some approximation of breakfast in bed (all James' doing, he deserves a medal), followed by a couple of hours wandering around Rosendale proper. Our first stop was the Big Cheese, an eclectic shop specializing in Mediterranean cuisine and, of course, cheese. We picked up some great gruyere and pecorino romano for what this cheese-lover can tell you was a total steal. Then we went down the street a block to try out the Rosendale Cafe, recommended to us by our host. Neither of them have a website, but you can find them easily enough with your google machine.

Coming up: New Paltz and Afternoon Tea!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bowling Revolutions

I am certain I have been bowling before. Everyone has been bowling at least once before, right? I have had a mild disdain for the sport for years and it must have come from somewhere! My previous bowling experiences have clearly been less than memorable, however, because I can't remember any of them. I just see the crappy food, communal shoes, and cheap glow-in-the-dark party carpet in my mind's eye and cringe a little bit. Maybe that's just a prejudice I invented in my head, though.

But as it turns out, bowling doesn't have to be awful! My family scheduled a package as part of our reunion a few weeks ago and actually had a lovely time. Who knew bowling alleys could serve really delicious food? (Those wings and sliders were to die for!) And if you're bowling with people you like -- who maybe won't give you too hard a time when you accidentally lose control of your ball and it goes rolling backwards toward some small children -- even the fact that you suck at bowling doesn't necessarily limit your fun.

Side note: wouldn't it be amazing if there were a point system in bowling that allowed you to win the game if you only ever got gutterballs? Like shooting the moon in hearts! 

Apparently there are other not-lame bowling alleys around. We found this one at Destiny USA, the Mall Formerly Known as Carousel, in Syracuse. (Website here.) I'm not getting paid for this, I just think it's something people should know about!

(That mall, though. I could easily spend a week, and all my money, in there. Yikes.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wood Fire for the Weekend

I spent most of last Saturday huddled up to a cozy fire in an old farmhouse in upstate New York. It's been too long since I had the opportunity to spend so much quality time with my family, and it was much-needed. Times change, people grow up, move away, and start families, but I love that we can still get together and scarf down Grandma's mac and cheese just like we did ten years ago.

It's strange to think I might be hundreds of miles away from all of this next year. Apart from the time I spent in Vienna, I've never lived too far from some part of my family. They've always been there to lend me a guest bedroom for the night when I need to get away or crash on the way to point B. Then again, I could be closer to them than ever next year, so I shouldn't get too melancholy just yet.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

10-Minute Valentine's Mousse

I can't take much, if any credit for this recipe. It all goes to James's parents, who made it for us when I visited them last month. James and I had made the night's dinner, but neglected to make a dessert. Fortunately, as its name suggests, this mousse came to the rescue without much longer than the normal pause between two courses.

This is the easiest dessert recipe I have ever encountered, unless you see filling a bowl with Lindt truffles as a dessert recipe (which I will admit to having done before). Like Lindt truffles, it produces a deliciously creamy, chocolatey treat. Unlike Lindt truffles, it is tangy, relatively inexpensive to whip up, and perfect for Valentine's Day because it requires two people to do it right.*

I know some people who hate to let anyone else into the kitchen with them, but personally I enjoy cook with my loved ones. And this is a good recipe to start with because it's so easy -- in its simplest incarnation, it requires only three ingredients.

Heaping 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt
Splash of coffee and vanilla, or any fruit-flavored liqueur

Instrument of choice for whipping cream
A candy thermometer

1. Melt the chocolate to 130 degrees Fahrenheit in a microwave or double boiler. This will take several minutes.** (I have found that this recipe will work well between 120 and 140, but 130 is the sweet spot. See the ** below.)
2. While one chef is melting the chocolate, the other should whip the cream. (We typically use a bullet blender.)
3. Combine the whipped cream with the yogurt, and any optional flavorings.
4. When the chocolate is heated to the proper temperature, slowly drizzle it into the yogurt and cream mixture while the other person holds the bowl and whisks furiously until the mousse is smooth and uniform. A hand mixer is also acceptable here.
5. If you used a handmixer for step 4, your mousse will probably be the right consistency right off the bat. If you used a whisk, you might want to let it chill for a couple minutes in the fridge in order to get it to a mousse-ier consistency.


*Theoretically you could make this recipe alone, but I never have. It would require some creativity, I think.
** The more methodical of the two chefs is usually best suited to the job of melting the chocolate. I say this because James is far better at it than I am -- it never ends up at quite the right temperature when I do it!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Snow Day

Every fall semester at Smith College, the president picks a beautiful, sunny day, and gives us all a surprise day off. It's called Mountain Day, and it is one of my favorite college traditions.

Every spring semester (or at least every spring semester since I've been a Smithie), the president picks the day with the worst weather she can imagine, and gives us all a surprise day off.

On Mountain Day, I grabbed a couple of friends and climbed Mount Tom. On Snow Days, I snuggle up indoors, watching television, and in this case, working on job applications that will hopefully take me someplace where I will never look out the window and see a foot of snow. The power of lunch compelled me to leave the house for a little bit, however, and I decided to bring my new camera with me. This Nikon has never seen the outdoors. I feel this was probably a bad introduction!

It only took me about 10 minutes to take the walk around campus that resulted in these photos, but this is what I looked like by the end. That scarf used to be black!

So, welcome to the world, DSLR. I'm so excited to learn how to really use you! Sorry I took you outside in this weather (though I'm confident you'll survive).