Friday, September 18, 2015

Let's Talk About Tuna Salad Sandwiches

Can we talk about tuna salad? I love tuna salad. A scoop of white and gooey tuna salad on rye bread with mustard, lettuce, tomato, and red onion if I'm alone, plus a side of pickles and coleslaw. That will be my last meal. With something sweet to wash down the inevitable tuna aftertaste (can't have a bad taste in my mouth when I hit the afterlife, amirite?).

The first tuna sandwich I fell in love with was from Panera. I was in fifth grade and I thought Panera was the coolest eating establishment in suburbia because I could order broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl and "fresh-squeezed" lemonade. How cool was it to get soup served in bread, then eat the bread in which your soup was served? Unbeatable, that's how cool. As for the sandwich portion of the menu, I was blown away by how delicious mayonnaise could make something taste -- my mom's tuna sandwiches were good, but the mayonnaise to tuna ratio was always too healthy. I was convinced that there was a secret ingredient in Panera's iteration, so I looked it up in weird early aught online forums, decided the key ingredient was relish, then tried to recreate the sandwich at home. Maybe I added too much relish because that shit was disgusting.

Based on many tuna sandwiches since 2001 (I've had three this week!), I've concluded that a good one has to have enough tuna that the filling falls out of the sandwich when you pick it up, dijon mustard spread on both sides, iceberg lettuce and a thick slice of tomato. The bread must be rye. A slice of rye has more surface area than a typical whole wheat square. Sourdough sometimes works. White bread gets too soggy. Possible pitfalls include spreading mustard on one side, using romaine lettuce instead of iceberg, and toasting the bread. A sandwich made with toasted bread is a casualty to the roof of my mouth and puts me in a bad mood.

I've found that only two types of places make a tuna salad sandwich that meets the above requirements: fast-casual chains that serve their sandwiches in baskets (Panera, Le Boulanger) or diners. I wish I could put Lenny's on the list but they don't add enough mayonnaise to the tuna, nor do they put enough tuna salad in between the bread. It makes me sad because I want to love Lenny's but that's a real dealbreaker.

I wrote this post because I just had an unbelievably satisfying tuna salad sandwich that made up for the bad Lenny's one I had last weekend.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

RECIPE! Pumpkin Apple Bread

Endorse me on LinkedIn for recipe development folks because I made my own pumpkin bread yesterday. I ideated it, if you will. And what better place to share it with the world than on my invisible blog?!

I won't turn into one of those food bloggers who takes forever to get to the recipe (the only one who pulls this off is The Pioneer Woman) but I will give you a bit of background as to how the bread came to be. I was experimenting with a granola recipe a couple weeks ago that called for pumpkin puree, and yes yes, I know it's too early to start brewing up edibles of the pumpkin spice variety but the key to a good recipe is care so I was simply taking care to make sure my pumpkin spice granola is ready to debut with a bang come fall (four days, people). Anyway, v1 of the granola was horrendous. One of the taste testers compared it to an Anthropologie candle, and not in a goody way. I can't tell if the problem is the pumpkin or the fact that my taste testers came to America via Iran Air and not the Mayflower, and as such their tastebuds aren't partial to pumpkin (I can say this because they're my family). Instead of using the rest of the pumpkin puree can to make more granola, I let it sit in the refrigerator for two weeks, and in a bored stupor yesterday, I decided to play Top Chef with myself and voila: my pumpkin APPLE bread. 

Since there wasn't very much pumpkin puree to use and the members of my dining room had previously made clear their lack of enthusiasm for pumpkin-flavored food, I decided to supplement the recipe with pureed apples. The problem with baking is that my mouth intercepts most of the batter on its way from mixing bowl to pan, and I eat most of the final product, so I like to make recipes low-fat by either cutting sugar or oil. Based on recent experiences in making non-rising breads with banana/zucchini/pumpkin etc, I've found that for the sake of moistness, it's best not to cut the oil. I made a low-oil zucchini bread a few weeks ago and it was so dry that it lodged itself in my throat for five too many seconds. It was still good and despite almost dying, I persevered and ate an entire loaf. I learned from my mistakes but not from my overeating, so this recipe skimps on sugar and not oil. It calls for 3/4 cup of sugar, but TBH the modern tastebud might want to add a little more. The apple makes up for loss sugar by adding an ince ince of sweet and tangy. 

Recipe for Pumpkin Apple Bread 

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 small apples (or 1 medium)
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease one nine-inch pan.

Peel apples and cut into one-inch slices. Combine with 3/4 cup water in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave for four minutes, or until apples are soft and soggy. Stir until mixture resembles apple sauce. Set aside.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

In a standing mixer, mix sugar with butter and oil on low speed until fluffy. Should take about 1-2 minutes.

Add the pumpkin puree and apple sauce, mix until combined.

Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture and mix until well-combined.

Spread in the pan. Cook for about an hour at 350, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes in pan, then remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Monday, August 17, 2015

I Tried Transcendental Meditation...

..and c'est pas mon truc. I've been told on various accounts that I should take up meditation. My mom tried to convert me (though I guess it isn't really converting if she doesn't do it herself) when I was in college with the help of a burned CD filled with "oms" uttered by a guy with a lisp and an Instant Karma book with a handwritten bookmark that says "I gave this to you for a reason" in her hybrid cursive that is legible to not many people outside of my family. TBH, I didn't give meditation much thought until I read about Transcendental Meditation (TM if you're #intheknow) in New York magazine a few months ago. All the cool people, like Jerry Seinfeld and Lena Dunham and probably Gwyneth Paltrow do it, so obviously I should too. The thing with TM is, like most hobbies of the rich and famous, it isn't exactly free to learn. If I can't afford a luxury gym membership (I wish Equinox made me do it) then I certainly can't afford the introductory TM course where a trained teacher assigns you a mantra. And that's why nerdy boys invented YouTube. It didn't take me long to a) find a mantra online b) learn how to do TM with the help of a YouTube video.

Basically, all you do is concentrate on your mantra. That's a really abridged version but it gets the point across. I tried to do it first thing in the morning (like Carolyn Murphy, apparently) and it went great for like, two days. I set a a timer for 10 minutes on my phone, and sat on my floor and thought about nothing but my mantra. Then on the night of day two, a monster cockroach showed up in my apartment and even though I watched my roommate kill it with the lethal combination of dish soap, a flip flop, and a GRE practice book, I still couldn't sit comfortably in my apartment after the incident with my eyes closed without thinking there was a cockroach at my feet. I picked it back up on day four when my roommate got in the shower before me on a Tuesday morning and I decided the only way to not get annoyed (she takes really long showers and is the first to admit it) was to meditate. On day five, I woke up in the morning with Blank Space stuck in my head and decided I didn't want to replace it with an om, so I didn't meditate. On day six, I forgot about my wholesome morning practice. I didn't make it to twenty-one days, which is apparently how long it takes to make a habit.

So, all in all, if I had fully committed to TM (say with the help of an instructor) I could've gotten into it. But I just don't think I have the lifestyle for it. Exhibit A: My apartment is occasionally cockroach-ridden.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

I'll Never Let Go, Blog

Having a blog is a funny thing. It's kind of like a Tamagotchi. One minute you're really into it, all you want to do is blog, blog, blog, then life happens and you get sweeped up in the mother-effing-grind and just like that, you forget about your blog. Then something happens, like you realize that you have a very uncommon first name, and all a stranger who meets you at the airport when you're wearing the refined combination of a cowboy hat and a RUN DMC sweatshirt and asks you out needs to do is put your name into Google to find out that he has taken a FREAK OF NATURE WHO PUTS PARTS OF HER LIFE ON WORDY DISPLAY on a few dinner dates. Anyway, things like that remind you that HELLO you have a blog and it is the embarrassing thing that comes to the top of Google when someone like a prospective future husband or employer looks you up. The thing with Google is, unlike how Rose treated Jack (guys, there was room for both of them on that door, amiright?), that it will never let you go. You can't hide any parts of your life from The Googs, and I've found that the best way to handle such digital hegemony is to keep blogging like a mofo.

So here I am, in this "humbling heatwave" as the New York Times said so well in its "Wednesday Briefing," kicking it back with a stale bottle of seltzer and good ole' Blogger.

Also, I woke up to an email from GoDaddy this morning telling me it's "that time of the year" aka I need to pay for my URL and I can't lose my URL because it's a part of me. It brings me back to the days when I was living at my parents' house, watching the Parent Trap, and crying because I felt that my college administration had made me graduate before I was ready to say goodbye. I never even got a chance to take astronomy. It ain't right.

Peace out, my sister is taking me out to dinner cause today is the first day of the rest of my life.

(Almost optimized this post for search but that's work stuff not personal. BOOYAH!)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My One True Love: the Vanessa Bruno Tote

When I was studying abroad in Paris (no good ever comes from a sentence that starts like that but here I go), I became infatuated with a bag. The Vanessa Bruno Cabas tote. Everyone who was anyone  (mainly high school girls) on my 8 AM metro ride to school had two things, both of which I needed, one of which I got in three different versions: a Vanessa Bruno bag and a faux-fur hooded parka. This was before Stan Smiths, but believe you me if I got on the 12 at Notre Dame des Champs today, those sassy lil lycĂ©ens would be wearing those. (I just looked at the Paris metro map and my heart PANGED. Literally it hurt. Ellen/Louisa are you reading this? If so, leave a comment). 

It took me a long time to figure out who actually made the ubiquitous bag, because whereas a suitable  parka could be found at a multitude of stores, this bag clearly had an It status. It was the Coach wristlet of the French youth. I needed it. I asked my host mom's live-in step-granddaughter (weird living situation, kind of traumatic on my end) who made it and she replied with something that I didn't understand. I didn't understand a lot of what she said because her French was really colloquial/on fleek (?) and mine was at more of a textbook last published in 1992-type frequency. I nodded like I knew what she was talking about then asked her to write it down. This led to the next phase of making the bag mine--visiting it in stores. I tried to advance to the final phase but logistics like a general lack of money prevented me from doing so. Shame.

When I went back to Paris last year (remember I bought an impulse ticket, guys? That was the best. Really living) I had enough money from an underpaid entry-level job to get my Vanessa Bruno tote once and for all. But then I happened upon another similar bag at a boutique in the Marais and since I was already on an impulsive kick, I thought yo-the-eff-lo and bought it. We've had some great times, me and this lil Stephane Verdino tote, some cool lady once complimented it at the Wythe Hotel.

But there's one thing I know about true love, which aside from nothing is that it stands the test of time, and I truly love the Vanessa Bruno tote. For me, it's always been you. And I've tried to hide and I've tried to deny it, but I can't, you're undeniable. Since I'm still thinking about it three years later, imma buy it.

Assembling funds now.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Dear Alec Baldwin

Dear Alec Baldwin,

I'm writing an open letter to you here because I know that if I saw you on the street and stopped to tell you, you'd say something crude and I'd be forced to tell the authorities. I've always wanted to be an informer so that would be a great opportunity. I just want you to know that I really like your radio show, Here's The Thing. I would have never took you for a WNYC radio host, but I suppose you have the voice and body for a radio star (a slight resemblance to Elvis Duran of the Z Morning Zoo, perhaps?). To be honest, you're not the greatest interviewer since you have a knack for bringing the conversation back to yourself (I learned more about you than I did Jerry Seinfeld the time he was on your show), but you do excel in making the listener (me) feel like I'm eavesdropping on a juicy conversation. It's great. Like the time you interviewed Ira Glass. The Julie Andrews interview really brought me out of a slump. Kristen Wiig. You made me like Lena Dunham! Anyway, I just thought you should know that while I'm not your biggest fan (you still scare me), your radio show really shows a different side of you. Also, I took a yoga class at your wife's studio hoping we'd have a run in. We didn't.

And one more thing, I totally thought you were the Celebrity Mole until I realized that it was your brother who was on the show, not you. I loved the Celebrity Mole. It was one of the greatest reality game shows ever. Grossly underrated.

All the best,


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Help! I'm An Instagram Stalker

A couple of years ago, one of my friends announced that she was leaving Facebook. She had creeped herself out by how far deep into stalking people she'd allow herself to get. You know the feeling -- when you fall into a trance clicking on one person's picture, another person's name, someone else's location, and all of a sudden, you find yourself looking at a mobile uploads album of a total stranger. Who is this person? You only have one mutual friend, who you probably haven't seen since high school nor spoken to since middle school.

I don't fall into Facebook trances so much anymore as I do Instagram ones. On a related note, one of my biggest fears is double-tapping an Instagram picture posted by a guy I like but don't follow. Omg. So bad.

Recently, actually not that recently -- I've been doing it for ages, I've gotten into the habit of what a meme I once saw but can't find anymore called "falling eight people deep" on Instagram. First I'm looking at some girl I barely know's vacation in Palm Beach, then five minutes later, I'm looking at some Italian socialite's trip to Argentina. Where am I and how did I get here?

I had an odd moment a couple of weeks ago when I was in SoHo and passed someone I recognized. Where had I seen her before? It took me a minute before I had the sad realization that I recognized her from Instagram. I follow her but have have never met her. She's not an influential likes-are-a-currency blogger; she's just some French person who isn't a socialite but isn't a normal person either. I've seen pictures of her family's Christmas vacation to the Alps. I KNOW WHAT HER MOM LOOKS LIKE. Is the problem me, or am I just a victim of the social media world? I was creeped out but not enough to stop following her because she's a good Instagrammer in the sense that she makes her life look cool, and isn't that the point?