a quiet fancy

A punderful blog on fashion, food, and politics- the perfect triumvirate of all things tasty and tasteless

Month: March, 2012

Trader Joe’s shopping list

I had a plan today, a good one too. We had beer chicken tacos for dinner tonight, and I wanted to share with you the tastiest way to make shredded chicken with booze. But due to some photo uploading problems, we’re just going to have to wait (trust me, it’s worth it).

So instead, I thought I’d maybe share some of my favorites from Trader Joe’s. I’m not a Trader Joe’s expert; it’s not really affordable cooking fare when you are a college student. But if you are careful about the deals and know what items are worth the bucks, it can still be a kind of bargain.

When I last went to TJ’s I looked online for a shopping list of the best TJ’s items and didn’t find quite what I was looking for. I hope this helps for someone planning their next trip, especially if your TJ’s is as far away as mine (it’s only far because there used to be like five within a ten-minute radius of my house…oh Southern California).

Produce:

Don’t go to Trader Joe’s for your produce. The selection is often very limited, not high quality, and they use so much freaking plastic, and that unhipness is seems so unlike TJ’s. (The upside of this, though: you don’t need to try to pry apart the plastic produce bags.) However, there are a few things I really like from this section:

Packaged kale, pre-cut: because who wants to cut kale?

Bagged lettuce heads: these guys stay fresh much longer than lettuce maybe should. Reuse the bag.

Basil: don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure this is a much better deal than I get at my Fred Meyer/Ralphs

Snap peas: much fresher than the ones I usually find

Dairy:

Greek yogurt, 0%: as good as Fage, but less expensive

Vanilla & cream/blueberries & cream yogurt cups: dessert-worthy and won’t leave you craving something worse

Grated Parmesan & Romano: the bag will last you weeks…very good deal

String cheese: all good

Frozen:

Artichoke hearts: yep, they made the list.

Mochi: a little pricey, but a wonderful treat (this brand is not unique to TJ’s)

Mahi mahi: I don’t care if it’s fresh or not fresh or not (get it?)

Chicken gyoza: make your own dipping sauce, 3-minute meal

Gnocchi alla Sorrentina: this is so delicious, but a little small for 2 people like the bag claims

Sweets:

Milk chocolate peanut butter cups (I prefer dark chocolate usually, but peanut butter just goes better with milk chocolate)

Vegan chocolate chip cookies (I’m not sure if they have these still, but they were so good!)

Everything else:

Trek mix: There are several kinds now. I get the one with three variations of chocolate chips, almonds, cashews, cranberries, and golden raisins (the unhealthy one). And I eat this very meticulously. It’s best if you take out one of each goody in here and pop the whole handful in your mouth. If you do this, you run out of almonds fast. Buy unsalted almonds.

Trek mix granola (I think called Trek Mix Simply Almonds, Cashews, and Cranberries): delicious

Powerberries: A new discovery. Skeptical of the healthful power they supposedly possess, but I don’t really care…

Freeze dried mango: pure and unsweetened goodness

Tortellinis and mini raviolis: a childhood-turned-to-adult(ish) favorite

Reduced fat cilantro salad dressing: so good on top of lettuce, sunflowers seeds, diced tomatoes, and cotija cheese

Asian style spicy peanut vinaigrette: guaranteed to boost your salad cravings

Tomato basil marinara: cheap and tasty

Cookie butter: next to the peanut butter. Tastes like cookies. You can put it on anything, but don’t put it on everything or you might shorten your lifespan drastically. It’s real bad for you.

Tomato and red pepper soup: my favorite thing about TJ’s, hands down. If they had a warehouse store, I’d buy it in cases.

Unsalted peanut butter pretzels= straight shots of peanut butter (I mean this in a very, very good way)

 

I could actually add about 30 more things to this list, but I think that would defeat the purpose of it.

 

“Happiness is love. Full Stop.”

You might think this is cheesy, but really, it’s true. “Happiness is love. Full Stop.” And this was the theme of David Brooks’ talk at the World Affairs Council last night. These are not his words, but they echo a persistent philosophy throughout his op-ed career at NYT (ex: “They Had It Made”, 2009).

The person who made this claim first was George Vaillant, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard who studied the effect of relationships on happiness. His conclusion: happiness is determined in many ways by relationships.

In his talk, Brooks emphasized this point. He cited that a happy marriage is worth an annual income of $100,000 in happiness. Relationships matter (though they are not self-determining), and because of this we need to be more focused on healthy attachments, on both an individual basis and a political one too.  Attachment, for all of you who skipped intro to psychology (good job!– I’m not being sarcastic), generally refers to the relationship between an infant and a mother (or primary caretaker). A healthy attachment means that the mother is able to communicate with her infant to provide for her/his emotional needs of security and care. Unhealthy attachments (and there are several brands of these) mean the connection from the mother is severed, and the infant’s need for security and connection are not met. As Brooks pointed out, unhealthy attachments, though not entirely decisive, act as a lifelong deficiency for children. Kids with unhealthy childhood attachments (which are largely determined in the first 18 months) are far less likely to graduate from high school. And a point that Brooks did not bring up that really should be: kids who have not experienced healthy attachments often are not able to develop healthy attachments to their own partners or offspring later on.

Brooks blames many of the our domestic problems in the United States on unhealthy attachments and unstable family lives. I don’t think he is wrong (though I would probably emphasize it a little less, especially during these hard economic and increasingly divisive times). We humans are largely shaped by experience, and the fact that so many children are growing up in unstable homes is a devastating prospect for our young generation. And policy is not often responsive to these social dimensions. Rather than looking at the psychological roots of suffering, we often resort to material needs as a band-aid. He calls this lack of psychological consideration “the great amputation”. But in this case it’s the loss of a vital organ rather than a limb.

And as Brooks pointed out, there is a similar problem in foreign policy. The lack of consideration of the cultural, psychosocial roots of conflict in other countries results in short-sighted “interventions”/catastrophes (see Lebanon, Iraq, etc.). In our decisions abroad, we often seem to forget about the state’s history, its cultural roots, and its people.

All of this calls for is a strategic change in philosophy. (We do like strategy, don’t we?) To work at a domestic level, we must ensure that children have access to health attachments beyond the home. This is a long-term strategy to raise a new generation of caring individuals. Our most lucrative pathway for this development is education. As Brooks said, “People learn from the people they love”. More focus and trust must go into a force of well-trained, loving teachers.

At an international level, decision makers need to start implementing a less strategic role and be more cautious of culture, history, and individuals before acting. Right now as we consider armed intervention in Syria (something has got to be done, but with caution, multilateral cooperation, and with minimized arms–no one seems to know how to pull that off yet) and future strikes on Iran (and I’d like to add in the U.S. decision to cut funding to UNESCO on behalf of Israel as one of these unthought-out foreign policy decisions), “the great amputation” is cutting off both our brain and our heart despite ourselves.

Ruche

I love everything about Ruche, down to the lovely story of its creation. A good example of what love, persistence, and a little ingenuity can make…

And with a fall lookbook so dreamy, how could I not share it? Of course, I had trouble getting some of the actual lookbook pictures, so I will share what I was able to re-post (sorry for my lacking technical know-how; it goes against everything my generation stands for):

 

 

 

 

 

 


Now, I apologize another non-affiliated plug for a store I just love, but if you like what you see (which you do), you can find the rest of their collection here.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing David Brooks speak for the World Affairs Council of Oregon. He was as smart and quick as his columns make him out to be. Of course, we don’t see eye to eye on everything–reflections to come. So far it’s been a busy spring break. I promise to be more loyal to this young blog in the days to come, though. And to my aggravating thesis.

Happy Humpday (yeah, I decided the “H” should be capital), everyone!

Monday Round-up

I’ve been moving so much the last few days, eating delicious food and enjoying wonderful company. If only I didn’t still have 2/3 a thesis to write…

This week’s round-up (I’ve been away from the internet a lot this week, so this will be short):

Current events:

The effectiveness of web activism– NY Times

Not a current event, but I loved this article on the brain and love– NYT

Fashion:

Have you read Decade Diary? It’s a blog of fashion and illustration that incorporates passion, talent, and pure beauty. I drool over it daily.

Food:

Carrot cake pancakes from Smitten Kitchen (Deb from Smitten Kitchen sells her gorgeous food photos, and prefers they not be used on other sites, so go check out that pretty picture on your own)

 

Cookie butter from Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t tried this yet, you really should. Its addictive, cookie taste may replace the real thing. But as the woman at the check out line in Trader Joe’s pointed out, it doesn’t have to. Cookie butter is great spread on cookies. What kind, you ask? Any. Put this on everything.

Paul Bertolli’s cauliflower soup from Food 52:

Honey Kennedy’s cake post inspired me to try to like cake (I’m very picky about cake for some reason). I especially want to try this lemon cake from Honey & Jam (another excellent, beautiful, and scrumptious blog):

Sorry for Monday. My thoughts are with all who are not enjoying spring break.

Colenimo

I think Colenimo’s spring/summer ’12 collection is one of my favorites I have seen. The lookbook is whimsical and the clothes understated but timeless. Check it out!

Happy Friday, all!

highlight post- the fancy pancake

This is a cop-out post after a day of still being sick and having too much work to do. I’ll try to make up for it this weekend. My mom and stepdad will be in town and we are going to try a couple of the restaurants we have been holding off on. I hope to find at least one dish that I can try to recreate. (I’m still working on making my own recipes. Tonight I utterly failed at mac and cheese, which is kind of a double failure. How do you even do that?)

Have you had the David Eyre’s pancake yet? I found this recipe on Food 52 last summer, and ever since it has been a Sunday morning regular. I’ve never actually made it, but I’ve watched Adam do it–why switch up the routine when he’s clearly the best?

From Food 52 (ha, obviously.)

Adam usually cuts the butter significantly (by like over 1/2), which makes the pancake a little more eggy. But that way it leaves your belly feeling much happier.

Do try this if you can. It only takes 5 minutes to prepare, and a short wait in the oven. The recipe says it serves 2-4, but we eat a full one each (I know!), which is why cutting the butter is completely necessary.

Recipe adapted, or weirdly tweaked, from Food 52, and originally The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole milk (we use low fat milk, and it’s still delicious)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (if you eat like a pig (figuratively speaking) like we do, cut this to 2 tbsp or less)
  • 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • Juice of a half a lemon (which we have never done…oops!)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine flour, milk, eggs, and nutmeg, beating lightly until batter is slightly lumpy.

2. Melt the butter in an oven-safe skillet. Once hot, pour in the batter. Bake the mixture in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown.

3. Sprinkle with sugar and return to the oven for a minute or so. Sprinkle with lemon if you like following directions. At this point, you can add toppings like fruit, or jelly as Food 52 suggests.

My goal for next time is to replace the sugar with canned peaches and make it a morning pie.  Mmm, mmm.

Fashion Month II

So, I promised a couple sequels to Fashion Month coverage and I never forget.

And now that I’ve scared you over the Internet, let’s just hop to it.

 

Rag & Bone

I love how NW this collection feels. I’d love to bundle up in these sweater dresses, slide on my (plastic) leather gloves, and go walk in the woods.

Marchesa

Okay, I think these first two are the two most memorable collections from New York and for completely different reasons. Marchesa is always full of tulle an all things feminine, but what I love about this collection is that it is actually very dark and Gothic. It’s art.

Jil Sander

Okay, I hate pink, so it’s really strange to me how much I loved this show. It’s so pink and pastel at first, but towards the end the show explodes into the black dresses we have come to expect out of the runways. But at the end of this show, it wasn’t expected. And it was all just beautiful.

Valentino

Neither of these are good examples, but this collection had me longing for Downton Abbey to return–about a year too early. And what I loved most, apart from every single piece’s beauty? The return of flats. And thank goodness for that.

Happy Wednesday all! (If you have any suggestions for formatting or posts, please leave a comment. I could use some input.)

 

 

proud cynic

Did you read Nicholas Kristof’s raging op-ed last Wednesday against the cynical reactions to Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 campaign?

I’ve been speechless about it since, speechless and so disappointed.

I adore Kristof for his reporting on stories we wouldn’t hear about otherwise. What his cultish critics call an air of “chivalry” I call caring. He is dedicated to the people in his articles, and his hopeful attitude for change in even the darkest areas of the world is admirable if not inspiring. (Did you know he is a native Oregonian?) Kristof is also a great Twitter pal (isn’t it weird how by following people on Twitter makes you feel like you actually know them?), and will often highlight criticisms of his work in tweets. Kristof is a real reporter who usually goes to great strides to provide contextual analysis, an argument, and also the other side to the story.

And that is what confused me so much about his op-ed last Wednesday.

Kristof ends his article saying, “But if I were a Congolese villager, I would welcome these uncertain efforts over the sneering scorn of do-nothing armchair cynics”, a phrase I hope he regrets. The irony of this nickname is that its converse is the do-nothing armchair supporters of the Kony campaign who are bravely fighting a villain through “likes” and shares over Facebook and Twitter. They continue raging on despite the backlash, continuing to flaunt their ignorant goodness by simply ignoring the facts. If you support what IC has done, fine, but use it as a gateway to real information-gathering and discourse towards change.

When George Clooney was arrested this weekend, many of my Facebook friends (who rely on Yahoo’s homepage or Perez Hilton for their news), began to rally behind the people of the Nuba Mt. of Sudan for a minute. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE George Clooney, but we can’t rely on him for advocacy. He’s a gateway for discourse, and frankly, I think it’s his duty as a smart, respected celebrity.

But don’t make these people our heroes. Don’t forget whose stories these are. Kristof is not a Congolese villager, and he is not likely to be affected by the ills and distractions of Kony 2012. For once, he seems to forget the people at the heart of the campaign. Don’t they deserve a more cynical approach?

Here are some alternatives to Invisible Children. Although donations are good (when going to reputable organizations), they are not the only way to produce change:

UNICEF
Save the Children
Child Soldiers International

Monday Roundup

We have both been sick all weekend. On the bright side, it meant little thesis for me, but that’s a problem also.  So here’ a quick Monday round-up all my quiet little fancies from the weekend.

Let’s start with food this time:

Guinness pudding from Closet Cooking.  Okay, I know it’s past St. Patrick’s Day, but shouldn’t Guinness be celebrated year round? It’s delicious.

Purple Cabbage Pesto pasta from The Yellow House:

“Snowballs”, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, or whatever you want to call them from Lottie + Doof.  My favorite!

Rosemary Turkey Meatloaf from Food 52. (This would be a good food for a “Delicious foods that fool you by looking pretty gross” post…I’ll bookmark that one for later.)

Lemonade drumsticks that I may not wait for summer to make, from The Noble Pig (whose blog writer owns a vineyard and tasting room nearby that I can’t wait to visit. I’m a fan!) :

Okay, I hate pink, but just look at these pretty rose martinis from This Is Glamorous.  So romantic.

In the news:

The ongoing crisis in Syria, which I fear is losing attention fast.  Don’t let it.

The tragic ending for a young girl in Morocco because of a very dangerous law gives absolution to a man who commits rape if he marries his victim.

*More reactions to the value-add teacher assessments. What do you think?

*Health care op-ed by Paul Krugman. Very powerful, as always.

Fashioning:

Mikkat Market: Have you online window shopped for hours on Mikkat Market yet? I check back here weekly for their unique, affordable pieces (I don’t actually shop very often. Just browse like a maniac. If I were to actually shop though, it would be here.)

Happy Monday!

pasta with pangritata

You know those days you don’t eat anything because you are too lazy? Then 5 o’clock rolls around and you are on the verge of collapse and literally have no kcals left in your system from your midnight snack last night to make dinner?

Well, I never have those days.

But I think everyone can understand the need for a quick, easy, starchy dinner dish that you can overeat and not be able to rationalize later on (health-conscious eating is for suckers).

My go-to is pasta, and this one is easy.  Have you seen any of the twitter recipes? Normally it’s hard to write a recipe in 140 characters or less, but I’ll give it a try, because this recipe is so simple:

saute 2 chx sausg 2 cup kale 2clv grlic cook pasta saute 1/2 cup breadcrmbs + pnch rosmry, top pasta w/ saute + b.crmb mxtr, + chz

Boo-yah! And with ten (10!) left over.

But in case you don’t like weird, made-up puzzles, here’s the overly descriptive recipe:

Easy pasta dinner with chicken sausage, greens, and pangritata  :

Adam made this.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 links chicken sausage
2 cups of kale
2 cloves garlic
pasta for 2 (I realize this is unprofessional, but I really think this dish works with any pasta, from macaroni to spaghetti. Shoot, maybe even lasagna, but that would be hard to work)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
pinch rosemary
Parmesan
wine (optional)

The short, but magical journey:

1.  Saute 2 links of chicken sausage (I use the Al Fresco chipotle chorizo flavor, which is amazing and just a tad spicy), 2 cups of either kale, spinach, or arugula (Or twist things up. Just add a veggie, for the pretty colors if not for your health), and 2 cloves of garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add more olive oil if your sauteed goods begin to burn (things happen). (*You can set these aside if your pasta is taking a while to cook, but try to keep them warm.)

2.  Cook your pasta according to your instincts.  Package instructions are for newbs.

3.  To make the pangritata, heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in your skillet (either after the veggies and sausage, or in a separate one while they cook).  Add a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (okay, that’s a lot, but I end up adding more pangritata to my pasta constantly.  So yummy.) and saute in the oil until golden brown, about 2 minutes.  Set aside and sprinkle in crumbled rosemary.

4. To assemble your dish, top pasta with sauteed goods, and pangritata on top.  Mix together and top with some parm.  Enjoy this with wine. (I added this to the ingredients with careful consideration, because it’s delicious.)

-Okay, to tell you the truth I really don’t measure.  So proceed with caution.

(But this should be about right.)