Pompeian Olive Oil BBQ & a New Camera!

Bzz Agent Pompeian Olive Oil

So I mentioned last week that I got this sweet bottle of olive oil through Bzz Agent.  I also got a new camera!!  I am super excited about both.

After some research and consulting with a family friend who is into photography, I chose the Canon T3i Rebel with the 18-125 lens.  So far I haven’t taken it off automatic but I’ll get there soon!

 

Here’s a shot of the new camera:

New Camera

 

My plan is to keep playing around and take some awesome pictures and also probably sign up for a class to learn even more skills.

In the meantime, I decided to use the new camera to take some pictures of my mad grilling skills, jk-I’ve never really grilled before and I’ve certainly never used my parents fancy grill BUT there’s a first time for everything and I’m happy to report that the house and grill are still functioning (well except for the fact that the folks burned up some eggplant last night and almost started a fire but can’t blame me, I wasn’t home!)

So first the caramelizing of the onions.  I don’t know about you but my favorite thing on hamburgers is fancy ingredients and what is more fancy than caramelized onions?  I know most people think it’s a huge pain in the butt and takes forever to caramelize them but they are so good and really it only took me about half an hour.

I broke out my new bottle of olive oil and chopped up an onion and set it on the stove.  I kept the heat at medium, after the olive oil soaked up, I added a bit of water, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar and then as the pieces browned, I stirred them a bit.

Caramelized Onion

The process from start to finish.  Pretty easy!  In the meantime, I fired up the grill and I’ll be honest, I cheated a little and bought pre-formed patties from my favorite grocery store in Portland, New Seasons.  I could write a whole post on why I love New Seasons but I’ll save that for another time.

Grill Time

Yum!  At the end I added the onions, tomato, lettuce, a tad of mayo and bbq sauce to my burger on a sourdough bun.  So good!  I also made some corn on the grill but was hungry and didn’t let it stay on long enough so it was a bit crunchier than it should have been but still delicious!  And I have to say, even just using the new camera on automatic still creates much better shots than the iPhone.  That’s not to say I won’t still use my iPhone because it’s convenient and always with me but I am planning to do more with the fancy camera!

 

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap

booksandbloggersJUNE13

I was so excited to be a part of my second swap!  It was just as fun as the first!  I was paired with Dawn from Born to Fly.

The rules were to send three books.

1.  A Book You Love

2.  A Book You Haven’t Read

3.  A Book Your Partner Wants

Here’s a look at the books I received:

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

 

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap   Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.  This was the book that Dawn wanted to read but hasn’t yet.

From the back:

Becky Bloomwood has what most young women only dream of: a flat in London’s trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the seasons’s must-haves.  The only trouble is, she can’t actually afford it–not any of it.  Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn’t pay much at all.  Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes?  Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky’s been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank–letters with large red sums she can’t bear to read–and they’re getting ever harder to ignore.  She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money.  But none of her efforts succeeds.  Her only consolation is to buy her self something. . . just a little something. . . Finally a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life–and the lives of those around her–forever.

I’ve been a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella for a long long time and this was a great one!

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap  Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

A book I’ve (Dawn’s) read: The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.

From the Back:

On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful, young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot.  The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia-and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history.

Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends and rivals in love with the same woman.  But both are obsessed with the Dahlia–driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death.  Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches–into a region of total madness.

I have heard of this book/movie but haven’t read it so I’m super excited to read this, probably next month by the pool in Vegas!

Books 'n' Bloggers Swap

A book on my wish list: The Little Bride by Anna Solomon.

From the back:

When sixteen-year-old Minna Losk journeys from Odessa to America as a mail-order bride, she dreams of a young, wealthy husband; a handsome town house; and freedom from physical labor and pogroms.  But her husband, Max, turns out to be twice her age, rigidly Orthodox, and living in a one-room sod hut in South Dakota with his two teenage sons.  The country is desolate, the work treacherous.  Most troubling, Minna finds herself increasingly attracted to her older stepson.  As a brutal winter closes in, the family’s limits are tested, and Minna, drawing on strengths she barely knows she has, is forced to confront her despair, as well as her desire.

I’m not sure where I first read about this book but it sounded fascinating and I’m super excited to read this one.

Thanks, Dawn, for the awesome books!  I’m super excited to have some good summer reading ahead!  To see what I sent Dawn, take a look over on her blog, Born to Fly!

 

Influenster-Spring Vox Box

So although the two boxes from influenster didn’t come at the same time-in fact the dish soap came to New York and I had the spring box sent to my parents house in Oregon because I didn’t know if it would arrive before I left New York, you are getting both reviews in two days!

To start off, influenster is fun in it’s own way.  You get to review the products you already use and talk about how great (or not so great) they are and you collect points, and I am sure a sucker for earning points!

This box was my first multi-gifted box.

Influenster box

As we know, all good things come in pink boxes (like my fave Birchbox which also comes in a bright pink box!

And the inside looked just as cool:

Influenster Spring Vox Box

I was super excited to try all the different products.  So here are my thoughts on the products:

Secret Outlast Deoderant

This definitely came at a good time!  I have no clue if my deodorant is in Brooklyn, Portland or some state in between!  I really like this Secret Outlast.  It’s a gel that you turn to get it up.  The smell is not overpowering and it goes on clear so I don’t have to worry about any deodorant lines on my plethora of dark colored clothing.  I’ve used Secret deodorants in the past and will probably go back to using them again.

TastyKake Kandy Bar Kakes

Anyone who knows me knows I have a super sweet tooth.  I am not the type of person who has ever bought snack cakes or twinkies or any of those though.  I was excited that I got the TastyKake Kandy Bar Kakes in S’mores as I love camp and what is more campy than making s’mores?  The taste was OK.  It was sweet and a good treat but not one that I would buy again or make a regular part of my life.

NYC New York Appelicious Glossy Lip Balm    NYC New York Appelicious Glossy Lip Balm

NYC New York Color Applelicious Glossy Lip Balm–definitely my most favorite part of the package!  I love the subtle red color and the smell and how easily it glides onto my lips!  I have it in my purse and have been using it non-stop the past two weeks!

Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-on Manicure

I was excited when I first saw these-Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-on Manicure-the color was fun and they weren’t too long which I liked.  There was also a ton of sizes to try (I think there were something like 24 nails in the package as opposed to the Sally Hanson sticker polishes I usually use that has 16).  They were super easy to put on but they fell off while I was sleeping.  I’m not a big mover in my sleep so that was really disappointing.  Maybe for someone else it would stay on better.

Schwartzkopf Professional OSiS Dust It

I was not sure about the Schwarzkopf Professional OSiS Dust It product as I am indifferent to hair powders but decided to try it out this morning since i Had showered after work last night and so didn’t want to get my hair wet for my normal hair routine.  Immediately as I put this in, I felt my hair go crunchy feeling.  I tried to style it and go on but realized it was not a good choice when my mother asked me what was wrong with my hair.  I asked her what she meant and she said it looked more chaotic and not as nice as normal.  I felt my hair and it just felt gross to the touch.  This is definitely not a product I will be using again.

All in all, it was a fun box and I’m glad I got to try out a bunch of new products.  I really loved the deodorant and the lipgloss and the snack cake was fine.  I really didn’t like the hair powder and the press-on nails but hey, 2.5 out of 5 items ain’t bad!

I look forward to looking at more products!

voxbox-blogimage-popup2

I received these gifts complimentary from influenster.com in exchange for my review of everything.

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap!

So my first swap went so well, I’ve decided to sign up for another one!!!

booksandbloggersJUNE13

I am super excited to participate in this one because I LOVE reading!!  This one is put on by the same awesome people who did mug o’comfort, and as you recall, I got some pretty awesome stuff!  This one ends with me getting three books–couldn’t make me happier!  I can’t wait to get shopping!!

If you are interested in joining in, click on through:

Chaotic Goddess Swaps Books ‘n’ Bloggers Signup Post

A Visit to the Tenement Museum

tenement_logo

One of my goals living in New York has been to do the New York activities. Well it’s kind of taken me leaving to get to some of them. One of the ones that has been high up on my list has been to go to the Tenement Museum. The concept behind the Tenement Museum is really cool, in the late 80’s, two women wanted to create a museum to the immigrant experience that centered around the Lower East Side starting in the 1800’s (as early as 1830s & 40s). They fell upon 97 Orchard Street. 97 Orchard Street had been a tenement house, in fact one of the earlier built ones, in the 1860’s but in the 1940’s when housing laws were getting more strict, the owner couldn’t afford to fireproof the building and so just sealed the upper floors shut. It stayed that way for forty some years and now has been made into a museum.

For a great book about the building, there is a book called 97 Orchard that tells the story through the edible history of the family-a great book that I completely recommend. The book talks about the families from different countries and religions based on the foods that they ate but also gave a good description of life in the tenement.

My roommate and I went on a tour entitled Sweatshop Workers. The tour centered around two Jewish families from the turn of the 20th century, the Levin’s and the Rogarshevsky’s that both lived in the building. The Levin’s lived in the building and the husband also ran a sweatshop in his front room and main room, employing three other people. The Levins ultimately moved to Williamsburg where Mr. Levin ended up working in the garment industry outside of the home. We got to see a sweet picture of his three daughters at the wedding of one of their grandchildren in the 70’s.

Levin_Front_Room

The front room of the Levin’s house where dresses were put together.

Levin_Kitchen

The Levin’s main room with the stove.

The other family’s apartment that we saw were the Rogarshevskys. They had the same size apartment but lived in the tenement slightly later than the Levins. They also had six children living there. I cannot even imagine how eight people lived in three rooms. The older two girls worked in a factory as did the father. The father was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1916 and passed way in 1918. Mrs. Rogarshevsky was actually quite brilliant and used her skill as a master housekeeper to become the superintendent of the building and was actually permitted to live there long after everyone else had been evicted.

Tenement_Apartment

A Tenement Apartment that had not been replicated.

The entire neighborhood has existed as somewhat of an entry point for new Americans and the streets have even represented that.

Allen Street, Avenue of the Immigrants

There are still remnants of the large Jewish community that remained throughout the Lower East Side and we walked near some of them but ultimately were curtailed by the massive rainstorms.

A Synagogue Economy Candy

97 Orchard Street “97 Orchard Street-built in 1863-64 by Lucas Glockner, a German-born tailor, 97 Orchard Street is typical of the earliest form of tenement house constructed in New York. For millions of immigrants from scores of nations, this tenement and others like it was a place of first settlement in America. We salute them as our urban pioneers on the municipal frontier.

This is the first tenement to be individually listed on the National Register of Historical Places by the United States Department of the Interior. September, 1992.”

My family’s immigration story is a bit different, my mother’s family immigrated directly prior to and following WWII and lived in Upstate New York, Lockport, near Buffalo before moving to California. I’m not sure if my father’s family lived in the Lower East Side at all but my dad’s grandfather definitely came in the right time period-landing at Ellis Island in 1906. My dad’s mother’s family came earlier and unfortunately I haven’t been able to discover much about her family although I would really love to.

It’s interesting to think how our family histories play such an important part in where we end up today and I wish I knew more about certain pieces of my family history. Regardless, the Tenement Museum offers quality tours and quality historical documentation on a huge piece of the American Immigration experience.

Meeting a Culinary Idol

On Monday night I went out to dinner with my usual crew, Jen and Russell.  We went to ABC Kitchen-an amazing restaurant that I will blog about later on.  I was busy taking pictures of the beautiful tableware and the interesting elements of the restaurant when Jen and Russell started poking at me.  Seated at the next table over was my personal culinary idol, Elizabeth Falkner.

For those of you who don’t know, Falkner, has competed on a variety of cooking shows including Top ChefThe Next Iron Chef and Iron Chef: Redemption.  It was during The Next Iron Chef where she came in second to Geoffrey Zakarian that I fell in love with her.  I was devastated to learn that she had restaurants open but only in the Bay Area.  Imagine my thrill when she was on Iron Chef: Redemption (which she was sadly thrown off way too quickly) and I discovered she was opening a restaurant in Brooklyn.  It is high on my list to go to Krescendo, a southern Italian influenced restaurant, although I’ve not gotten the chance to go yet.

I was completely star-struck seeing her and tried to get a picture of her by taking a picture of Jen:

A picture of Jen with Elizabeth Falkner in the background!

A picture of Jen with Elizabeth Falkner in the background!

So clearly that picture didn’t work so well.  Well at a certain point the person she was with left to go to the bathroom or something and I went over and told her what a big fan I was.  Jen came over and took a picture of the two of us.  I told her that I had yet to go to her restaurant but that I really wanted to and that I was blogging and writing about restaurants that I went to.

Me with Elizabeth Falkner

Me with Elizabeth Falkner

Jen did a fabulous job of taking a picture and afterwards, as she was leaving, Elizabeth came over and gave me her card.  I am not generally star-struck by meeting famous people, I also tend to be somewhat oblivious-I’ve only noticed famous people when there is a big crowd (for example I saw Jessica Alba once at a Starbucks in New York but really only because the paparazzi was following her) but Elizabeth Falkner is really someone I admire and feel that she has a unique talent that I would like to emulate.  I hope one day I am half of the amazing and creative chef she is!  She was very gracious and sweet and I very much look forward to eating at her restaurant in the very near future.