Archives for 2010

Phooey to New Year’s Resolutions and Goals

Phooey to New Year’s Resolutions and Goals

I’m not keen on celebrating New Year’s Eve in public places with raucous crowds, revelers determined to have a BIG night, dining room prices jacked up to the ceiling and food poorly prepared thanks to over-worked, over-steamed chefs. To this, add wobbly merrymakers weaving through the city on their way to getting blotto and it’s definitely not my idea of a fun way to start the New Year.

As for the New Year’s Resolution Bandwagon, I’ll give it a pass. I’m less than thrilled at being informed NOW is the time to sum up the past year. NOW is the time to set goals for the New Year. Who says? To me New Years Day and the next day are interchangeable. As are Valentine’s Day and Halloween and Ground Hog Day. The only difference between them is a date written on a calendar. So why make resolutions at the exact same time every year just because the community at large and a bunch of articles are saying it’s the time to do so. Why can’t resolutions be made any old time of the year?  If you’re living and thinking at your fullest every day, you’re probably making resolutions and setting goals left and right all along. Ideally I am.

Still, as we wave Sayonara to 2010, I happily sense positive vibrations rolling our way. For months the economy and the stock market have been bubbling northward, something we haven’t seen for quite awhile. Hopefully 2010 washed away the last of bad feelings about bleak, black 2008. We’re finally past all those tankers of red ink and sinking financial ships.  We’ve started peeking over the barricades, looking to see what’s coming up the road and maybe even thinking about loosening up our purse strings.

So bring on 2011. Don’t know about you, but after austerity’s extended gray stay with us, I’m ready to rumble. Aren’t you?

Sweet Potatoes – Numero Uno over Potatoes!

How many pesticides do you consume in a day? If you eat potatoes, instead of sweet potatoes, you chomp on lots more of these nasty chemicals. In fact potatoes contain so many pesticides (the EPA lists 90 for spuds) that removal of the skin, where the contaminants mostly hang out, is recommended. In an EWG list of the “Dirty Dozen” vegetables and fruits MOST contaminated with pesticides, potatoes come in at number 11.  In a superior list of the “Clean 15” LEAST contaminated veggies and fruits, sweet potatoes are at number 14.

On top of this, guess which one of the two veggies ranks number one in the nutrition department?  Yep, sweet potatoes. Based on a system of points given by CSPI for dietary fiber, natural sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals and after deducting points for fat content, sodium and cholesterol, sweet potatoes score a whopping 184 points. This is FULL 100 points over the next nutritious vegetable, making sweet potatoes the undisputed Ruler of the healthful vegetable kingdom.

A 6-oz. sweet potato contains 214 calories.  With its’ super high nutrient value, it’s considered a beneficial substitute for starches and carbs and is recommended in three popular diets: the Atkins, Sugar Busters and South Beach Diets.

And when it come to comparing the taste of the two veggies, a baked sweet potato is delicious on its’ own, unlike a potato that cries out for the oomph and extra flavor of high calorie butter or sour cream.

Though potatoes in big sacks do have the edge on lower cost, the two root vegetables are pretty budget friendly.

Traveling both sweet and savory routes, cooked sweet potatoes also star in far more versatile dishes than potatoes. In the Epicurious recipe collection below, the Roasted Spiced Chicken with Cinnamon- and Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes sounds like a flavorful combo. Ditto for Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions with Rosemary and Parmesan. In the Atlantic’s 9 Sweet Potato Recipes, Sweet Potato Fries (actually baked) with Thyme, Parsley, and Garlic could be a winner for both meals and snacks. Among the yummy Sweet Potato Dessert Recipes are some pies that make my mouth water. Though I have been hearing about their luscious appeal for ages, I still have never tasted a sweet potato pie — an oversight I hope soon to correct.

Moving to NYC: Plum Job, Tiny Salary and a Flasher

Moving to NYC: Plum Job, Tiny Salary and a Flasher

When I first moved to New York City I had a job at Harper’s Bazaar that paid a salary in the pitiful peanut range.  But thanks to miniscule living expenses, I had plenty of cash to splash around on eating out, weekend trips and all around fun stuff. I shared the rent on a two room, kitchen-in-the-living-room, fourth floor walk-up apartment with two, sometimes three, roommates in Greenwich Village.

So stoked was I about landing a plum job and finally moving to the big city that I slept every night without complaint on a rickety cot beneath a window with a wide open shade.  With the torpid heat that summer, we only pulled down the bedroom window shade when dressing.  We had no air conditioner and the coolest spots in the apartment were at the windows.  But sitting in a window seat facing the street had turned into a tricky proposition.  Directly across the street from us lived a pale, shadowy, hard-to-guess-age-guy who rarely left his small one room. Dressed in frowsy, shapeless old shorts, he always seemed to be fluttering around his windows so I thought of him as Moth-man. He had taken an acute interest in our apartment to the tune of flashing one of my roommates when she had been home alone. Not wanting a repeat performance in my memory bank, I rarely looked in his sleazy direction.

With everyone in the apartment now pretending he didn’t exist, the flasher, bereft of attention, started printing poster board signs with juvenile salutations and his phone number and flapping them in our direction. Still new to the city and all its dazzling enticements, my roommates and I barely noticed, rating him pretty much at the bottom of our interests.

That changed, however, when we arrived home one evening and discovered he had crossed the street, entered our locked lobby without a key and somehow got a note into our mailbox. On it was his name, phone number and a super-sleazo invitation to get together. Now having entered Creepy-land, we called the police. That night two amiable young detectives showed up and informed us that there was nothing they could do unless he was caught committing some unlawful act. As for the flashing — they needed witnesses for an arrest. Perhaps, they suggested he could be enticed into flashing while they were there. Our most outgoing roommate jumped right in and offered to stage the scene.  A few minutes later, she strolled into the bedroom and started opening drawers and removing clothes from the closet as though preparing to undress, leaving the shade wide open to give Moth-man an unobstructed view. With the detectives hiding below the windows, my other roommate and I checked Moth-man’s reaction out of the corners of our eyes. Though clearly interested, he made no move suggestive or otherwise. As a further enticement, the detective suggested our femme fatal remove her shirt. Which she did. Still no action from across the street. Then, for the first time that summer, as though somehow alerted the police were watching him, Moth-man suddenly pulled his window shades down.

On their way out, the detectives said they were going to pay him a quick visit on their way downtown. Conveniently for us, Moth-man hadn’t lowered his window shades all the way down so we had a ringside seat of his bare white legs nonchalantly walking across his room to answer the detective’s knock at his door.  Four trousered legs advanced into the room as Moth-man’s legs, stiff and tense, suddenly backed quickly away. We couldn’t see anyone’s face nor hear what the detectives were saying, but whatever they were saying was causing Moth-man’s movements to get jerkier and more agitated by the second.

A few minutes later the detective’s legs vanished from the room. Almost immediately the shades were slammed down all the way and the room went dark. The next day when we got home from work and looked across the street, Moth-man’s room was empty. We never saw him again.

Have you also had an offbeat first apartment situation?  I’d love to hear about it.