I don’t always eat your food out of stress, but when I do…

It’s true, I’m not that great of a blogger. I get easily distracted, I tend to start something and not finish it, I find something more exciting, or I’ll just get a fantastic idea, then it’ll will just totally die on me like a dried up earthworm on your sidewalk in the middle of the summer.

Image stolen from here: http://www.itlookslikeitsopen.com/2011/07/catch-worm-man.html

The Horror!

However, today, I’m looking forward to things. For one, it is the Gregorian calendar’s official first day of spring. Granted, in Pittsburgh, it’s still in the 30s and will probably snow later, but the SUN IS OUT! There is a blue sky! It’s nice to look at from the inside of your warmer home… Anyways, with spring in mind, I’m looking forward to many things this year, such as:

1) Farmer’s Markets

2) Attempts of small gardening (I’m talking little cups on the windowsill)

3) Bike riding (Haven’t done this in over 10 years)

4) Zoo (Haven’t been to the zoo since I was in high school!)

5) Arts Festivals (technically the big one in Pittsburgh isn’t until June, but I’m still excited!

6) BEING OUTSIDE WITH NO WINTER COAT, SCARF, AND GLOVES

Isn’t this exciting?! April better start picking up the pace here and giving us some temperatures above the 50/60 degree mark, along with some flowers and bright colors to look at. Nobody wants this winter weather nonsense anymore, yeah?

(I was going to post a “winter blues” picture, but most of the searches led to odd, anime-styled fanart and babies. My point wasn’t going to get across.)

In other news, I shall be going to Boston for the first time in my life this weekend. Am I totally stoked? Yes. Granted, I do have to spend one day at the PAX convention (the manfriend’s biggest excitement: This is what I’m talking about). I’m not super knowledgeable about video games (I tried playing a demo of Dead Space 3, and the manfriend had to hold the controller with me in my hands and push the right buttons for me; I got so stressed out, I started eating his pizza.)

Image stolen from here: http://gifatron.com/tag/crying-while-eating/

Tears. Food. Swings. This is usually how I react.

The other days can be spent sight seeing, but I’m pretty sure everything we do will be pretty awesome. It’s gonna get weird.

Image borrowed from here: http://www.braco.net/boston-massachusetts

Look at the strikingly beautiful city.

As for the actual PAX, who knows. It’ll be nerdy and creepy, I’m sure. There will be a lot of loud noises, flashy lights, excellent & terrible cosplay, hot girls that never touched a controller in her life, and probably these guys:

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This guy knows what he’s doing

I’m feeling pretty good about life this year though. Even if everything doesn’t work out completely, I’m confident that things WILL come together in the end. There’s something else happening today, but I’m not going to talk about it until I get a result out of it. I try not to be all superstitious, but I’m always afraid I’ll jinx myself. Either way, I’m staying confident and keeping my head up.

‘Til the next time, kids!

Who Took My Peanut Butter?

Now, I’ve been trying to be a dedicated, healthy vegetarian for about three months now, which I think I’m doing fairly well, I’m also well aware that there are still a lot of changes I can make to do it better. (Helpful suggestions for a newbie? I’m kind of cheap too so I can’t be getting too fancy). I still eat seafood though… it’ll be a slow process for me to completely take that out of my diet because tuna is really cheap and delicious (I know, I know, lame excuse). It’s even harder when eating out; I didn’t realize how much of the menus would typically contain some kind of meat in the options. I usually just end up picking something with seafood or one of the few ‘vegetarian’ options they may have, haha.

Or I make my friends go to vegetarian-friendly places instead.

So far, they haven’t fought with me.

Yet.

For example, I went out to a Bravo’s with a friend for their brunch specials without realizing that the majority of their options would include sausage and bacon. I mean, of course, it does, but I went in with high expectations of a classy meat-less meal haha. I ended up getting Crab Cakes and Eggs (seafood, I know!), which contained: Jumbo lump crab cakes served atop sautéed spinach and artichokes, paired with poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce and BRAVO! breakfast potatoes.

My excuse was that I felt fancy. Ignore my friend’s meaty entrée

Sometimes, when I come home late at night after a long day of work, errands, and mindless responsibilities to tend to, I have moments of distraught for food that my dinner would end up being this:

Don’t judge me, I love cheese with a fiery passion!

However, I’ve been doing a lot of small things with fruits, my sweet love! And believe me, I about died when I saw strawberries and blueberries back in season! Especially so I can avoid getting ‘bad’ sweets, no matter how pretty they might appear, like this:

To be fair, I bought these for my co-workers, not just me.

In order to steer myself in a better (right?) direction, one type of snack/lunch I’ve been doing are variations of peanut butter sandwiches. I have a fond love for peanut butter (almost as strong as my love for cheese). I can’t say exactly when it started, or which brand I prefer (as long as it’s smooth, not crunchy), or if I have any traumatic episodes that made me almost turn the other way, but the love is strong. After doing a continuous stretch of peanut butter and honey on English muffins for breakfast, I thought, ‘Oh, why don’t I just make sandwiches for lunch?’

Cue light bulb.

The first type of sandwich I did was peanut butter and banana. I know, I know, pretty standard stuff. I tried to make it a little more exciting by adding honey, but even that seemed boring. Any ideas on how to spice it up a bit?

My next expedition with peanut butter sandwiches was peanut butter (whoa), apple slices, honey drizzle, and cinnamon. Now, maybe I was having a moment, but this was pretty amazing. I would always pair my pb with apples as a snack and just the sheer idea of putting it between two slices of wheat bread seemed genius to me.

Paradise on bread. No?

The next, more commonly used, peanut butter snack I tend to make is a peanut butter yogurt dip.

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup flavored yogurt of your choice (I tend to pick strawberry, blueberry, or just vanilla)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Throw it in a bowl or container, stir it up nice and smooth, and ta da!

Best Midnight Snack Ever

Get another bowl, chop up the fruit you want (usually apples and bananas, but no need to hold back), and start dipping (with or without a fork). I think the dip is so good, I end up eating it by itself by the spoon, haha.

But don’t do that, you’ll get sick from too much.

I have a feeling that my next food/fruit-related post will be about strawberries. Prepare yourself.

Thanks for reading! Any suggestions, tips, or peanut butter ideas, please deposit them in the comments below. 🙂

Walk, Talk, and Chow

In my little city, there’s an event called the ‘Burgh Food Tour’, which is essentially a tourist type attraction that takes into a neighborhood of your choice and the guides discuss a bit about the history of the area, why the area is known for whatever it is known for, and, of course, the food deemed the best. It’s a roundabout two hours tour that involves walking, talking, and eating. Of the six that are currently offered, I’ve been to two of them, one last year and one this past weekend.

Obviously, since I’ve done it again, I clearly enjoy it. What’s actually kind of funny about it, aside from the random people from nowhere in the US, most people who participate in the tours are typically from somewhere within the city area (such as myself). Did I feel like a tourist? Not at all. Well, perhaps a little with my iPhone out to take pictures and the blatant obviousness of our group taking up all the space in the buildings we go in to listen to the shop owners talk, but really, it’s a social event.

That explained and rambled, the recent tour I took (with my mother and sister) was in a place considered as “Little Italy“. I think you can figure out why it was given such a name (I’m craving ravioli again). While the first food tour the previous year has a special place in my heart for popping my tourism cherry in this city, I can’t deny the fact that this one was pretty fun.

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There were five main stops (to eat stuff) and then a couple random places that we paused by to gawk awkwardly at the buildings, strain to hear the guide talk over the street traffic behind us, and wonder how many locals were hating on us for taking up sidewalk space. Strangely though, the “tour” kind of all took place within two city blocks, as the guide was trying to do this constant-crossing-the-streets-to-stare-at-this-church-then-run-back-to-point-out-an-empty-store’s-ceiling-and-retrace-our-steps-a-block-to-discuss-a-women’s-boutique sort of business, which would’ve been fine if he didn’t keep stopping in the middle of everything. He was a nice enough guy, he just seemed a little scattered.

Two of the stops were Italian grocery stores: Groceria Italiana and Donatelli’s. It’s not like we were searching for the lost art of Da Vinci or anything, with everyone’s names being something of the Italian/Sicilian nature. Food samples: Shells with marinara and biscotti, Pasta shells with homemade, as same with the biscottis.

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Have I mentioned I have a slight obsession with biscottis? Nothing compared to a well-made biscotti with a fresh cup of joe in the morning. When that happens, nothing can fail. Nothing.

I also greatly enjoy the fact that the shop owners/managers genuinely enjoy their craft. They liked explaining everything they do at their stores, how things are made, how their business came to be. The gentleman from Donatelli’s gave us the lowdown of all his pasta making machinery in the back station, which made me desire a ravioli maker for my kitchen. Could you imagine? Any filling you want, just stamp those pasta pockets out!! I was completely enthralled with the idea, disregarding the fact that one of those bad boys would probably burn a nice-sized hole in my change pocket.

Another stop: Grasso Roberto, to sample gelato. The interior of the store was small and cute, with many things on display to check out. The manager was pretty amicable although she stayed behind the counter and watched us do our tourist-y thing. There was a pretty standard list of flavors (I ended up getting Honey Vanilla), but it was smooth and creamy, so I can’t complain.

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Of course, no Italian food tour would be complete without the inclusion of pizza, no matter how Americanized the food has become. However, our pizza place (Angelo’s Pizza) that was selected was a little ghetto and the pizza was pretty unmemorable. Who knows, maybe pizza has become such a norm in the American way that we can’t really differentiate between good and bad pizza? Granted, I had my long range of various pizzas in my college days; you know, that one place that makes $1 slices for those crazy inebriated kids wandering around after dark, and then that other place down the alleyway that nobody really knows about but their pizza is crazy good.

The final stop of the tour was, at first, the inside of a gift shop, Merante Gifts, which was Italian-based home decorations and decors. However, the cool part was going upstairs through the doorway outside, right next to the store. We walked up some very steep steps and encountered the first room:

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Very pretty, the picture doesn’t do much justice, as the front room continued on back with the same style, along with various other pieces of art to look at. The upper floor extended back down the hallway to another room, and then finally the center of the show: Maria’s Kitchen!

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Her choice of food sampling: Chocolate cake with rich chocolate butter-cream, a side of whipped cream and strawberry, and a sample cup of espresso (We are in ‘Italy’, not Spain). Can you tell which stop was probably my favorite? Maria was very outgoing and friendly, and clearly seems to love what she does. She offers cooking class in this kitchen once a week, where the students learn different variation styles of cooking, types of food, travel to purchase ingredients and even take a trip to Italy! I am definitely considering checking this out if the cost of the class is within my price range (AKA cheap), but I imagined it’s only classy people that go. All in all, the tour was fun, my mother and sister had fun, I got to buy some artichoke and gorgonzola stuffed ravioli and biscotti mix (vanilla, almond, and wine & almond).

P.S. Did you notice the light fixture in Maria’s Kitchen?

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I smell a nice DIY project in the near future, if I find the right tools.

Thanks for reading and please share with me any tours you might have done in your own towns!

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