a la campagne

summer fact:
every girl needs to get out of the city once in awhile. i'm not normally a big complainer, but the humidity, the crowds, the noise, the bummer air quality - you know, they can really get to ya. every foray out of the house is cause for a change of t-shirt. a quick game of tennis and you need to drink a gallon and a half of water. august rolls around and it's time to scoot. even a few days can provide weeks of relief.

so a few fridays ago, lauren, halimah and i packed up the car with groceries, beers, bathing suits (and stripe-y, cotton-y vacay clothes) and all trekked out to our aunt and uncle's charming cabin in rhinebeck, new york. the drive was lovely, winding through verdant back roads and past farmland and rickety general stores that sell pizza and ice cream. a lovelier feeling can not be found than cruising across state lines on a sunny friday afternoon (not at work!), windows down, easy conversation and the laughter of your friends wafting on the breeze. we arrived around 3PM, settled in, and took a quick dip in the lake. the city grime just melted away.

friday night we cooked a light but hearty meal of pasta w/ sauteed veggies and a generous handful of fresh mozzarella, fresh corn, and a big, green salad. a dozen beers and a raucous game of "would you rather?" it was time for bed. to the tune of crickets and nothing else, we all drifted off to sleep.

on saturday, we drove into the town of rhinebeck, an adorable (too adorable, maybe?) town with all the things you'd expect from a little enclave where new yorker city folk frolic throughout the weekends and summers. these types of environments can be a bit saccharine sometimes, especially in contrast with from whence you came. but our moods were light in the crystalline sunshine, and we set off in search of interesting finds. first we spent a good solid hour in an antique store, where amongst amazing but way expensive furniture, random objects and framed art i found and bought this kick ass jacket with puffy sleeves and metallic plaid:

nestled amongst one overpriced boutique and lame gallery after another, one other really awesome store in rhinebeck was a small market called grand cru. this store carried literally 4 kinds of things: craft beers, artisinal cheeses, random sweets and pickles - what else do you need? i think the store is relatively new, and seemed a little empty, but otherwise it was pretty damn cute.

they carried Monk's Beer. woot!

the sweet country air and our shopping ventures worked up our appetites. the ladies and i lunched (it's ok to use silly verbs like "lunched" when on vacation) at the gorgeous and well respected terrapin. halimah ordered a fried cod sandwich, and sissy and i went halvsies on a farmer's market salad, a cup of corn soup and a plate of nachos.

sweet corn, fingerling potatoes, peas, pattypan squash, heirloom tomatoes, and ricotta

chilled corn soup (coconutty and clean) w/ simple nachos

on the way back to the car, we stopped for ice cream cones, and the results were too decadent to photograph. not really, but we did have to walk it off for a few minutes before the sugar buzzed car ride home. more rowboating and swimming and languishing in the hazy afternoon.

a mixed veggie grill was served up for dinner, and then we headed outside to build a fire. with halimah's direction, we built actually quite a nice fire, and talked around it for awhile. we even sang. we sang! a sure sign that it's about time to head back to the city.

a quick sunday morning breakfast was followed by a vigorous cleaning session. magazines were placed back into neat stacks, records returned to smooth sleeves. we set out on the road around noon, headed toward new jersey. we had one more stop to make before settling back at home - 3rd annual making time pool party! a batty idea to throw that ruckus on our relaxing weekend, perhaps (and the day was gray and drizzly), but we had an awesome time nonetheless. my camera was out of batteries by then, and i got chatty and distracted anyway, so i didn't take any photos.

i slept so hard that night and woke on monday morning, a little tanner, somehow a little tired-er, and yet still refreshed. the edges of the city were softer, and i felt ready for the weeks, and the months ahead.



meet the red wiggler

in light of my last post and the serious multitude of conversations i've had recently regarding the subject of composting, i thought i'd share my whereabouts for this thursday, august 26:

Worm Composting Class- Thursday!! The Greensgrow's Sustainability Series continues with a course on worm composting Thursday, August 26th. Worm composting is a great alternative for people who do not have a yard or space for a traditional compost pile. This introductory class will explain how to make a worm bin, what to compost and worms most will likely be available at
the class. The class begins at 6 pm, usually about an hour and a half, is free, and you may walk away with your own pet worms. All are welcome. Please RSVP to Leah at Leah@greensgrow.org.

Also, i freaking LOVE that the worms are called "reg wigglers". i mean, how cute is that? i will be sure to take notes, pictures and heed of advice to share with all of you who cannot make it.

on another note, i've been battling with verizon for ONE FULL MONTH on getting internet at my new house. therefore i've had to sneak a blogpost here and there at work. please pardon the lack of exciting pictures. i have so many saved up on my camera for when i'm finally "on the grid".



salad sponge

i know it's not very original to be all "i only want to eat salads in the summertime," but it's just the straight up truth. when the humidity settles over philadelphia, it kind of feels like slightly damp pantyhose has been pulled over your face. not appetizing.

while i've heavily considered adopting a temporary diet of ice cream and beer, my summertime fitness regimen (tennis! swimming! yoga!) demands at least some vegetable consumption. plus, vegetables are just freakin gorgeous right now, and denying them would truly be a crime. so...salads. there are thousands of varieties, and i like every last one of them. especially salads with a little something extra - grains, nuts, avocados. after all, salads aren't the most filling dinner dish (that's what makes them appealing in the heat in the first place), which is fine and everything until about 10PM when your belly starts harassing you for a late night snack.

that's why i'm a big fan of panzanella - bread salad! just that little extra carbiness can really round out the salad and fill up your tum. it's also the perfect way to use the heel of the baguette that always seems to get stale before you can use it up. old bread is actually preferable in this recipe, a la croutons and french toast. plus, you know how when you make a killer salad dressing, you mop the remainder off your plate with a piece of bread, because you can't bear to waste even a tiny drop of the stuff? panzanella is the salad and the salad sponge all in one! it's hard to explain, but even though soggy bread sounds weird, in this salad it is supremely enjoyable.

Panzanella (Bread Salad)
adapted from "The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen" by Donna Klein
~ makes a nice big bowl ~
~ takes about 20 minutes ~

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt, and a little more to taste
1/4 - 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (orig recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but that seems like A LOT)
2 tablespoons veggie broth or red wine
2 tablespoons red wine or champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
black pepper, to taste
6 cups cubed, stale french baguette or italian bread
2-3 cups chopped tomatoes, or halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley (optional)
1/2 cup good olives, pitted and chopped (optional)
1 cup cooked chickpeas (optional, but adds some good protein)

- whisk the first 7 ingredients together in a big salad bowl. throw in some mustard if you're feeling adventurous!

- remove two tablespoons of the dressing and put aside for later.

- add the bread cubes to the dressing and toss well. let the bread sit for about 15 minutes to soak up all the flavors. while it's marinating, you can prep the rest of the salad stuffs.

-after 15 (and up to 30) minutes, add the rest of the ingredients, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of dressing, and toss well to combine. you can serve over salad greens, or just eat as is!

with the tomatoes (i have red and green here), cucumber, and red onion, check out the super pleasing rainbow action going on here! get into it.



saving the world! one banana peel, plastic cup and TV at a time

i recently came across a new composting endeavor while picking up my greensgrow CSA share. bennett composting is run by Tim Bennett, a rochester native and temple alumni. according to the website, while working for temple's small business development center bennett had an epiphany over dinner with friends and his business was born.

service is a mere $15 a month, which isn't much when you think about how much you might spend at the bar in one single night(!). throw your compostable materials into the lidded bucket (free with sign-up!) and once a week, the compost fairy will come pick the stuff up from outside your home, leaving you a clean bucket to start with in the morning! just like the trash men, only more environmentally friendly.

another option, for the slightly less lazy and more frugal composter wanna-be is this philadelphia compost map. click the link for an interactive map of shared community sites. i contacted a few people on this list and found a site only 15 blocks from my house where i can bring my compostable goods every week!

as an avid cook and user of produce, the prospect of cutting the amount of my garbage that ends up in a landfill is pretty crucial. as a home-renter with a small backyard, not having to deal with attempting to make my own compost is equally as crucial.

ALSO! Philadelphia now recycles plastics #1 - #7. That's 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, AND 7.

STARTING AUGUST 1: Recycle All Plastic Containers!

You’ve been recycling plastic containers marked:
#1: Soda, water bottles
#2: Milk jugs, detergents, shampoo bottles

Now you can add:
#3: Rigid plastic containers and juice bottles
#4: Plastic tubs and lids from butter, margarine or similar products
#5: Yogurt containers and deli trays
#6: Plastic cups, plates and to-go containers
#7: Many mixed plastic containers and plastic products

AND i found out that best buy will recycle old electronics! tvs, computer monitors, vacuums, fans, dvd players and more, mostly for free or only $10. no more cell phones in the garbage, please!

so, let's try to keep some of that stuff out of the landfill, will you!