February 5, 2017
Hello everybody! I’m still alive! I assure you that I have neither joined a nomadic beat poetry group nor relocated to a cave in Tahiti to hide from the Trump administration. I am still here, in all of my potato glory, in New York City. I’m in the second semester of my freshman year at NYU, which I think is pretty darn crazy. It feels like I just got here! At least in terms of my personal life, I haven’t been this happy in a long time. I love my classes, I love my professors, I love my friends, I love my yoga studio, I love my city. Such a stark contrast to how unhappy and unfulfilled I often felt in high school. Even though younger Abby knew how great college was going to be, I wish I could go back in time and reassure her how much better things were going to get.
Everything I’ve been doing has totally rocked my world. I’ve marched in protests with tens of thousands of other people. Gone exploring in all kinds of cool places, often completely on my own. Dug through endless racks at thrift stores, danced my heart out at folk rock concerts in Brooklyn, written essays and papers about xenophobia in cuisine and the history of gluten, taken yoga classes with live blues music. So freaking cool. I love it all.
Oh, and the food here? Freaking phenomenal. While I don’t eat out all of the time (because I’m required to be on a meal plan — yuck — and don’t want to turn into a broke bowling ball), I try my best to get out and see what kinds of culinary delights the Big Apple has to offer. Here are some of my favorite places that I’ve been to thus far!
23 Clinton Street (Lower East Side)
I love tea. I love bubbles. So what could be better than bubble tea?!
For some reason, they don’t have boba where I’m from in Connecticut. Which, by the way, makes absolutely no sense. Connecticut is filled with basic white people, and basic white people love ~slightly~ exotic things, particularly fruity beverages. Oh, and balls. Tehee! So why no bubble tea, Fairfield County? Still a mystery to me.
Anyway, Boba Guys is my remedy for all of my bubble tea-deprived years. Located in a cool, slightly grungy neighborhood just south of Houston Street, it’s a great place to stop while exploring the eastern side of downtown. Boba Guys uses really high quality ingredients, which Ms. Food Studies Major beyond appreciates. Real, freshly-brewed teas, tapioca balls made in house, organic milk and non-dairy milks? Sign me up!
My favorite drink is the strawberry tea fresca, which is sweet and super fruity. Definitely a solid pick for a hot spring or summer day. Other great options include the matcha latte, chamomile mint and lychee green tea. I’ve also had a pumpkin spice tea before, which was surprisingly good (and unsurprisingly basic). I’d also suggest that if you, like me, are not the biggest fan of diabetes, you order your tea at 50% sweetness or less. The only thing you’ll be missing out on is elevated blood sugar levels.
Recommended activities nearby: Wander around the Lower East Side. Clinton Street is cool, as is nearby Ludlow Street. You’re also not far from the Williamsburg Bridge, which will take you right to the heart of hipsterdom in a good 45 minutes. If you walk west, you’ll also find yourself in Nolita, one of my favorite neighborhoods. Very worth a visit.
Nearest subway: Delancey Street (F line) or Essex Street (J, M, and Z)
Tompkins Square Bagels
165 Avenue A (Alphabet City/East Village)
“Oh babe, meet me at Tompkins Square (Bagels)…” — Not Mumford & Sons
My personal favorite breakfast spot in all of New York. Located in the quiet, neighborhood-y East Village, this place screams cozy and casual. They bake bagels fresh every day and offer a wide breadth of cream cheeses and spreads, ranging from scallion-bacon to cookie dough.
While I’ve tried a variety of combinations, my favorite is a toasted everything bagel with scallion cream cheese, avocado and tomato, maybe with lox if I’m feeling fancy. I also really like a toasted French toast or cinnamon raisin bagel with banana and mixed berry cream cheese when I’m in a sweeter mood.
Although I’ve never been to Tompkins Square Bagels when it’s super busy, rumor has it that lines are insane on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’d definitely recommend coming on the early side (definitely before 8:30 or 9) and/or on a weekday when it’s pleasantly calm. It’s also cash-only, so come prepared!
Recommended activities: I know Alphabet City got a bad rep “before my time,” but at least from my point of view, it’s a fine place for wandering around during the day. Tompkins Square Park is right across the street (as implied in the name), and there’s a cute garden nearby along Avenue B. Keep your eyes peeled for an enormous mural featuring kitties imbibing in all kinds of illegal substances. There are also some bomb thrift stores along 1st Avenue, my favorite being AuH2O on 7th Street between 1st and 2nd.
Nearest subway: 1st Ave (L line)
167 West 74th Street (Upper West Side)
I just sold you with that picture. Need I say more?
These cookies are gargantuan. Maybe large enough to be considered a pet. Can you have a pet cookie? Hmm. Anyway, think warm, soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside. Boy they are good. Everyone loves the classic (chocolate chip with walnuts), but I actually preferred the oatmeal raisin and double chocolate. So freaking phenomenal.
There’s usually a line, so get ready to wait fifteen to twenty minutes for your carby goodness. It’s so worth it though. I’d also recommend bringing a friend along — that way, you can try more than one of their four flavors and not feel like a gluttonous monster for doing so.
Recommended activities nearby: Central Park is five minutes away, so maybe go for a walk (or run) to burn off some calories? Haha? The Museum of Natural History also isn’t far, and no one can ever say no to giant rocks and dinosaurs. (Still my favorite museum).
Nearest subway: 72nd Street/Broadway (1/2/3 line)
509 Amsterdam Avenue (Upper West Side)
So, funny story about this place. I was supposed to meet a friend there for brunch, but she couldn’t make it last-minute. Instead of turning around and heading back downtown, I decided to stay and have brunch by myself. Hey, I’m a pretty cool potato, I don’t mind spending time with myself!
After waiting for an hour (as Sunday brunch goes in New York), I was seated by the door and handed their extensive Southern-inspired menu featuring every gravy, cheese and maple syrup-drowned creation known to man. Yes, I ordered both the fried chicken and pancakes and macaroni and cheese. Both. My appetite is infinite (although I did have leftovers for three days). Everyone waiting in line found it slightly appalling and completely hysterical that I was enjoying so much food on my own and completely having a ball with it. (Did I dance while eating my food? You bet your ass!)
Everything was absolutely delicious. Jacob’s Pickles does dinner, too (and it’s a lot less crowded, plus you can make reservations) so if you hate lines, that might be a better option. But if you love comfort food, you gotta check this place out.
Recommended activities nearby: Not far from Central Park, so if it’s a nice day, go for a walk. I’d suggest heading north, since the park is a lot less crowded (and really beautiful) up in the 90’s and 100’s. If you’re looking for some culture, go across the park and veer down south, where you’ll find yourself at the Met.
Nearest subway: 86th Street (1/2 line)
40-09 30th Ave, Astoria (Queens)
On a sunny day in November, my best buddy Kara and I boarded the N train from Union Square and wound our way over to Queens. Our mission? Brunch, baby.
Queens Comfort is one of the strangest yet most wonderful places I’ve ever eaten at. It’s quite unassuming on the outside, but the lines on the weekend tell you something magical awaits inside. For brunch, they have a DJ who works the line of hungry yuppies, handing out free samples of cheesy, bready delights and telling racy Yo Mama jokes to keep everyone occupied. It’s quite the experience.
Once you make it inside, you’ll be greeted by the most random collection of 80’s and 90’s memorabilia you’ve ever seen. There will definitely be loud music and you’ll be squished in next to some equally intrigued strangers. But you’ll enjoy it all, because the food is…WOW. Here, I discovered that Disco Tots — tater tots doused in cheese and gravy — would be my preferred way to contract heart disease. You can’t go wrong with any of their egg dishes. And please make sure you save room for a Rolo blondie sundae for dessert. (I still have to come back here for dinner sometime!) OH, also, CASH ONLY. What is with me and cash-only places?!
Recommended activities nearby: Astoria Park isn’t too far and is nice for walking around when it isn’t winter. The Museum of Moving Image is also nearby, and while I personally haven’t been, I’ve heard it’s a fun place for film-loving folks.
Nearest subway: 30th Avenue (N/W line)
Ice & Vice
221 East Broadway (Two Bridges)
Ice & Vice has some of the most creative ice cream flavors you’ll find in the city. Case in point? The Food Baby, with raspberry coulis, doughnut chunks and sprinkles. You can also get cool ice cream cones (hi, blue corn) or a doughnut on top of your ice cream if you’ve had a particularly gruesome breakup.
I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream in New York (and everywhere), and this is one of my top two favorite places in the city. The texture is smooth and creamy, the flavors are innovative, the taste is far from sickeningly sweet. Plus, the menu is always changing, so you’ll have the opportunity to try something new every time you go there!
Recommended activities nearby: Unfortunately, there isn’t much nearby — this is definitely a place where you’ll go for the food and not the neighborhood. You aren’t too far from the Manhattan Bridge, which has phenomenal views of downtown and the Brooklyn Bridge on a clear day, but it leads you to a kinda boring section of Brooklyn, so it’s a toss-up.
Nearest subway: East Broadway (F line)
484 Broome Street (Soho)
Located in the heart of Soho, this is hands-down the classiest chocolate parlor you will ever go to. It’s always meticulously decorated and the hot chocolate is always knock-your-socks-off.
At Maribelle, they take hot chocolate seriously. You can pick from over a dozen different options, ranging from bitter dark chocolate to sweet white chocolate. Once you’ve made your selection, they’ll bring out your chocolate in the most adorable teacups you’ve ever seen. It’s like drinking liquid chocolate goodness — the wonderful nectar of the cocoa gods.
If you tend to lean more on the sweet side, get your chocolate American-style with milk. If you, like me, are a chocolate pursuit, go for the European-style, which is made with just water. And either way, get it with whipped cream on the side. You won’t be sorry. Get a madeline too if you’re feeling French.
Recommended activities nearby: Even if you don’t like shopping, Soho is fun to walk around just for the architecture and the posh vibe. I’d stay away from Broadway and walk down West Broadway instead, which I find to be cooler and more mellow. You’ll find neat streets to explore regardless of whether you venture east or west, north or south.
Nearest subway: Prince Street (N/R/W line), Canal Street (1 line), or Spring Street (6 line)
Ample Hills Creamery
623 Vanderbilt Avenue (Park Slope)
My other favorite ice cream place in New York. A very different vibe than Ice & Vice: much more neighborhood-y, totally different flavors. Ample Hills uses super high-quality ingredients (organic in a lot of cases) and is big on mix-ins. Cookies, chocolate-covered potato chips, saltine crackers — you name it, they’ve put it in ice cream.
My two favorite flavors are the Nonna D’s Lace Cookie, which is a brown-sugar based ice cream with lace cookies mixed in, and the Salted Crack Caramel, a dark caramel ice cream with chocolate-covered crackers. It never fails to hit the spot. And — bonus — they always have creative flavors being rotating in, including one that was Gilmore Girls-themed.
While it’s a bit of a hike to get out to Park Slope from Manhattan — and Ample Hills has other locations — I really like going to their original location. It’s an adorable place and super family-friendly. Definitely worth a visit.
Recommended activities nearby: There is a fantastic used bookstore across the street on Vanderbilt Avenue that I love popping into. Prospect Park is also right down the road — and it’s totally worth a visit. (I actually like it better than Central Park!) Keep your eyes peeled if you’re walking near the boathouse — there’s a tree by the pond that I love to climb with a great people-watching perch. If you see a dangling pair of Doc Martens, you might’ve found me!
Nearest subway: 7th Avenue (B or Q line)
90 Kent Avenue (Williamsburg)
Ah yes. We all know that I’m a hipster at heart. And where do the hipsters go? Williamsburg, a neighborhood I shamelessly love.
During the summer, Smorgasburg — an outdoor food market — comes to town every Saturday, featuring an insane amount of food vendors. I’ve been twice, and both times, my socks have totally been knocked off. It’s crowded and overwhelming, but the food you’ll eat will blow you away.
My favorite places include Home Frite (READ: PARMESAN FRIES WITH GARLIC AIOLI), Wowfulls (bubble waffles with ice cream) and Baonanas (banana pudding, surprisingly fantastic). You can also get popular items like the Ramen Burger (OVERRATED AF) or the Raindrop Cake (…why would you want to eat water though…). They also have a good selection of ethnic food, ranging from Jamaican to vegan Indian to Korean. You are sure to find something you like.
Definitely bring a bottle of water if it’s a hot day, and WEAR SUNSCREEN! Go with friends, get a bunch of things to share, and enjoy your lunch by the East River with fabulous views of Manhattan.
Recommended activities nearby: I love walking down Bedford Avenue, which is just up the street. There’s some cool street art and great boutiques (my favorite being Bodhi, which has Indian-inspired clothes), many of which aren’t insanely expensive. The Buffalo Exchange on Driggs Avenue is, in my opinion, one of the best thrift stores in the city. There are also some cute coffee shops to relax in, too.
Nearest subway: Bedford Avenue (L line)
11 Abingdon Square (West Village)
Low-quality photo, high-quality food. For some reason, it has always been my dream to have Ethiopian food. I think it was inspired by an episode of Arthur, where Sue Ellen and Muffy go into the city to visit Sue Ellen’s old nanny. Once there, they go to an Ethiopian restaurant, where Muffy is appalled by everyone eating with their hands. Since then, I’ve always been completely fascinated by the cuisine.
Well, my dream came true once I started exploring New York and discovered a bomb Ethiopian place not too far from where I live. It’s dark, cozy and tiny, so definitely make a reservation. The food is so good. Spicy, but beyond flavorful. I recommend getting a platter for two (which is really enough food to feed four), where you get to pick a variety of chicken, meat and vegetarian dishes that they serve on and with injera, a sourdough flat bread made with teff flour. Be prepared for leftovers that will stink up your mini fridge with garlic and spices.
The people there are super nice, too. It’s run by a husband and wife who are both lovely. The service is usually well-paced and they’re happy to give you doggie bags. Oh, and CASH ONLY! Again, what is it with me and cash-only places?
Recommended activities nearby: If you go on a Friday or Saturday night, head over to the Whitney afterwards — it’s open until 10! Otherwise take some time to wander around the West Village. It’s so charming at night with all of the lights twinkling. You can also wind your way south, where you’ll find yourself in Greenwich Village, one of the coolest parts of the city. (Just watch out for guys in Whoopie Cushions!)
Nearest subway: 14th Street (A/C/E line or L line)
Well, that’s it for now! I still need to take pictures of some of my other favorite places (cough, by Chloe and Prince Street Pizza, cough), some I haven’t listed, some I still need to check out in the first place. But don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of the great foodie potato in New York.
Tags: college, my life, New York City, recommendations, restaurants
November 10, 2016
Last night, in Converse and cat ears, I — an eighteen year-old college student — marched with thousands of others from Union Square to Trump Tower. Dodging raindrops, taxi cabs and confused tourists, we wove our way up Fifth Avenue and Broadway, wildly swinging our signs in the air and chanting our fears, beliefs, hopes. To you, it may appear that I am just another overly-vocal, overly-liberal millennial who’s upset that she didn’t get what she wanted. But to me, it means a whole hell of a lot more than that.
I know my blog is dedicated to food — although I haven’t done a fantastic job keeping up with that lately — but it’s also a place to elaborate, reflect, discuss. I think all three are needed in times like this.
I have always been (and always will be) a self-confessed nerd. Around age 5, I took a profound interest in U.S. history. It all started with a President’s Day party in my kindergarten class. Along with cupcakes and other snacks, one of the moms brought placemats with every United States president listed on the front. For some reason, this completely and utterly fascinated me. Who were these men? What was the world like when they were alive? What did they do to change our country?
I became immediately infatuated. Every time I ate a bowl of Cheerios or a plate of apple slices on that placemat, I meticulously analyzed each president, reading their descriptions over and over again. Soon, I could recite all of their names in order — both forwards and backwards — and whenever we’d go to a party, I’d show off my skill, flabbergasting adults with my knowledge. When I was in first grade, an eight-part documentary called “The Presidents” aired on The History Channel, further feeding the flames of my burning interest in politics. I can’t tell you how many times I watched those episodes on our TiVo. What other six year old hated Andrew Jackson, felt sympathy for Franklin Pierce, grew angry over the policies of Herbert Hoover? (For some reason, I also always skipped over the portion about our then-president, George W. Bush. I was a smart six year-old.) To this day, I still know all of the words to the series’ introduction.
My early years of elementary school were defined by American history. I’d watch Schoolhouse Rock songs on my DVD player during road trips, memorizing songs about women’s suffrage and the Revolutionary War. I read so much about the presidents, soaking in every factoid like a sponge. I even taught a lesson about them to the second grade class next door, the teacher of which got a huge kick out of my premature nerdiness. As I sat in Mrs. Casle’s rocking chair with a picture book about the presidents in hand, my seven year-old feet dangling far from the floor, I felt so alive, so inspired. Even though not one of those twenty other second graders likely gave a shit about a cabbage pelted at William Howard Taft, I knew that what I was learning meant something. Somewhere in that brain of mine, I knew that history was a lot more than learning about dead white guys — I knew that, somehow, it was important to today, too.
Before I understood that being POTUS was an incredibly difficult job, I wanted to be president. (As evidenced by the two “Future President” t-shirts I owned!) My parents raised me to believe I could do anything, regardless of whether I was a girl or boy. Writer, astrophysicist, geneticist, chef — all of which I wanted to be at one point — I could do it in their eyes and our world. It didn’t matter that (then) forty three white guys had been in charge: if I wanted to run in the 2036 election, I could. (For the record, I would be 38: in the 2032 election, I would be 34, therefore too young to be president. 2036 would be the first time I would be eligible. Just saying.)
Even though I was still too young to be interested in the real nitty-gritty of politics, I was excited when Barack Obama won in 2008. I remember sitting on the nasty navy blue carpet of my fifth grade class eating a cream cheese and jelly sandwich, watching the inauguration with my fellow mostly-clueless ten year-olds. A black man was our president, it was a big deal, and my mom was over the moon. That’s the extent to which I knew.
Throughout middle school, I took my interest in government to student council. There, I learned that politics isn’t about how smart, experienced, or well-meaning you are: it’s about who’s the hottest and most popular person running. I can’t tell you how salty I was when the charismatic new kid beat me out for vice president in the seventh grade election. I had been in student government for an entire year! I knew the club advisors, the principal and teachers loved me, I knew the ropes! My stump speech was well-written and a million times better in quality than all of the other bozo seventh graders! How could I lose?! Well, as I learned the hard way, it’s about how likable you are. Fuck likability. I couldn’t put two-and-two together that people wouldn’t like to have a motivated, passionate, intelligent girl in their student council. (As I write this, I’m starting to see an eerie familiarity with the present.)
After three years of hard work in student government with no success in securing a title — and losing the position of treasurer to another boy in the freshman class elections — I decided to take a break from public service and then history itself after a smattering of sub-par teachers. It was only when I took AP Government and Politics my senior year of high school — and witnessed the 2016 election unfold — that my interest was re-ignited.
I am forever indebted to my amazing AP Gov teacher for inspiring me to love politics again. While senior year was not the best time in my life, a continual bright spot for me was having forty five minutes a day to discuss topics and issues that were actually relevant to our country today. I treasured all of that thinking, reading, discussing. I still do. It was amazing to be able to research court cases in women’s health, explore the loopholes and paradoxes of government, write a final paper about food policy in schools. As any young person should have been, I was also deeply invested in the election, which melded perfectly with what I was learning about in class.
I was so pleased that, in Connecticut, you could vote in the primaries so long as you would be eighteen during the general election (I was seventeen at the time). On April 26, I skipped gym (sorry, politics is more important than suffering in a high school field house) and drove back to my old middle school, eagerly casting my ballot for Hillary Clinton, who I had gone to see with my mom a few days prior. Several of my former librarians were there, all of whom cheered me on as I excitedly jabbered about the possibility of having our first female president.
That day, I was so happy, so proud to be an American citizen, a female American citizen. I wish I could say the same about today.
I was so hopeful when I sent out my absentee ballot a few weeks ago. In my first presidential election, I voted for our first female president, I thought. Everything about the situation was so incredible to me. Just a short 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to vote…but this year, I could and did vote for a woman for president. Does it not hit you what an incredible privilege that is?! Women across the world are treated horribly and denied rights, but here in America, we had the opportunity to vote, the potential to put a woman in our most coveted position of power.
On election night, I sat on the bed of one of my roommates wearing one of my Hillary Clinton t-shirts, half doing my homework and half listening to the CNN results pouring in. At first, we were all optimistic. She was going to take the swing states! She was going to win! Donald Trump would be humiliated! This was around eight o’clock. Around ten, the mood began to grow more somber. She was slipping in Florida, slipping in Pennsylvania, not looking good in Wisconsin and Michigan. We bit our nails and waited. Around midnight, I FaceTimed with one of my best friends — who is half Mexican, half Filipino — and the panic started to set in. In the wee hours of the morning, I ate a handful of peanut butter-filled pretzels and knew things were not going as planned. At three in the morning, I hid beneath my covers, half asleep and silently crying as my girl Hill conceited and Donald Trump took his victory.
I woke up yesterday to a damp, dreary New York. I tied my hair up in two little buns — a quiet homage to young Abby sporting pigtails and her “Future President” t-shirt — put on my Birkenstocks, and went to my yoga studio. I have never seen the city so somber, so defeated before. The same people who grinned at my bright yellow “Yaaas, Hillary!” shirt the day before were looking down at the dirty sidewalks, disappointed and distressed. I walked into Laughing Lotus and burst into tears. How could this have happened?! What was our country going to look like now?! Why do good things never come to deserving, worthy women who want them?!
I’m still not thinking clearly, but community has helped tremendously. In my opinion, there is nothing more powerful than the support of your kula, or spiritual family, even in the darkest of times. That, my friends, is why I took to the streets last night: not to make anything happen, necessarily, but to be among people who love and care for each other, who refuse to be silent in the face of the loudest of (racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, classist, bigoted) opposition.
Look, I am an eternal optimist, and I can honestly say that I am outright afraid of what the future holds. I fear for myself and my friends as women when we have a president who condones and practices sexual assault, a vice president whose main mission is to make sure females have zero control over their bodies and their choices, a new Supreme Court justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade. I fear for my loved ones who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, who have worked so long and so hard to secure marriage equality only to have Mike Pence, a tried and true supporter of conversion therapy, in office. I fear for my peers and friends who are racial and ethnic minorities whose livelihood is now even more threatened by discrimination, whose families may be ripped apart by Donald Trump’s new immigration policies. I fear for our planet, for with a president who doesn’t believe in climate change or alternative forms of energy, we will only be further plummeted towards ecological changes we can’t reverse. I fear for everyone, because with a government heavily backed by the gun lobby, absolutely nothing will be done to make sure atrocities like Newtown don’t happen again. And I’m not even touching on how fearful I am of Donald Trump having access to nuclear weapons.
But fear doesn’t mean we move to Canada and hide underground for the next four years. Fear means we take action. The mature person recognizes that the world doesn’t always go in his or her favor, accepts what has happened, and moves forward. While our country may regress to a state I don’t want to think about, we can still progress in our neighborhoods, our families, our hearts. We can exercise our rights to protest and petition and see what we can do about the electoral college, a system meant to prevent inadequate, inexperienced candidates from becoming president. (Just gonna say that, like Al Gore, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.) Although nothing might happen, we can still try. Americans don’t give up, do we? We can work our butts off to get out to vote in the 2018 midterm elections, campaigning to make Congress blue again and having more women and minorities in office. We can stick together through turmoil and tragedy and say we are strong, we will be strong, we will make America stronger. In the words of Alabama Shakes, you got to hold on. And we can hold on.
Oh, and by the way…America needs to fucking get out and vote. How is it that almost half our nation just glanced at our country’s future and said “Eh, I don’t care?” I mean, if you look at it, Donald Trump won (less than) half the votes of those who voted, and if only half the country voted, only a quarter of people actively said, I want this man in office. That’s an uncomfortable reality for me. Look, democracy is a privilege, and it’s our responsibility to be grateful and exercise it. Your vote does count, and it will count going forward. So if you didn’t vote this time — and even if you did — please try and go out next time. Register to vote right now. It’s really easy and all of the instructions can be found online. Set a date in your calendar for September 2018 to send out a request for an absentee ballot if you need. Find a representative or senator you can get behind. Encourage your friends to join you. No, your single vote may not change the world, but your community and your influence can. Don’t forget that.
This pussy will not let the next four years grab her. Instead, she will grab back by being resilient, being tolerant, being the same loving person she is, was, and always will be. I encourage you, pussycat, to do the same. It is meow or never.
P.S. To those 11,000 of you who wrote in and voted for Harambe, fuck that. Harambe didn’t die for this.
NASTY WOMAN OUT.
September 20, 2016
Hello world! I’ve made it! The Big Apple! Huzzah!
One of my friends in high school put in a request for a “college update” of sorts (I guess I do have fans?!), so here I am. Welcome to this.
First of all, I love living in New York City. While I do enjoy the greenery and quiet of my suburban town, nothing — for a young person like myself — can compare to life in a big city. I mean, the picture above is a view I had while studying. Even studying is better in New York!
Though I really enjoy driving, I love being able to walk everywhere at anytime of day here. I walk to class. I walk to get food. I walk to go to yoga. I walk to do activities. I walk to study. Walking is so good for the mind, body and soul, and I’m so appreciative that I can do it every day. And every time I step outside, there’s something new to see: an elderly man walking three black Scottie dogs, a grandma in roller skates drinking iced coffee, a mother pushing her two fedora-adorned twin sons in a stroller. I come from somewhere where everyone acts and dresses the same, and it’s so refreshing to step outside and see no two people who are alike.
Living in a city is an absolutely fantastic way to start fresh, at least in my opinion. If you regularly read my blog, you know I had a shitty-ass senior year, and I came out of it with a lot of baggage. I knew it, my friends knew it, everyone around me knew it: I needed to physically leave it all behind and begin anew. And so I did.
Whenever I feel anxiety, saltiness or that old high school angst creeping up through my chest, I get out and distract myself. That’s one of my favorite parts about the city: there are always places you can go to clear your mind. My special place is the Elizabeth Street Garden, a park filled with flowers, sculptures and benches to sit on.
Another special place of mine? My new yoga studio, Laughing Lotus! Think purple everywhere, glitter, unicorns, wall art with vibrant colors, disco balls and funky music — AKA me in a nutshell. It’s less than a 15 minute walk from my dorm, so I can go all of the time, yes, even between classes. What a concept!
Speaking of classes, I’m definitely digging mine (for the most part) so far. I’m majoring in Global Public Health and Food Studies — couldn’t have picked a better program for me. Instead of being super hardcore science-y, my classes are much more interdisciplinary, focusing on food in political, historical and culinary contexts, among others. This semester, my “science” class’s lab is cooking. That’s right, cooking. I get to spend two and a half hours every week in a kitchen! It’s awesome!
(Please excuse the horribly dorky mirror selfie. It was in fact absolutely necessary.)
For any of you youngins out there looking at colleges, one thing I’d highly suggest is finding a school where you can get into your area of study right away. I’m taking four classes this semester, and three of them directly relate to things I’m really interested in. Yes, it’s important to explore other subjects — you never know what you might fall in love with — but if you, like I, have known what you’ve wanted to study since you were 14, seek out a place where you can dive in right away. It just makes your freshman year that much more fulfilling.
Also — take AP classes. Even though I nearly pulled my hair out several times throughout junior and senior year, my AP scores are getting me out of bio, chem, math and foreign languages, plus a pre-requisite or two. It definitely depends on what school you wind up at, but for me, APs put me at a huge advantage.
Enough about school! New York for me is so much more than school!
(Just casually posing with the queen herself: BEYONCÉ!!!!!!!)
One thing about me: I’m a huge explorer. I’m not into parties — like at all — so back in Connecticut, I’d have to work hard and be creative in order to still keep myself occupied. New England is beautiful, but after a while, road trips to Frank Pepe’s pizza and late-night drives around reservoirs get old.
The opposite is the case here. You can never run out of things to do in New York. I’ve heard that a lot of NYU first-years don’t leave Greenwich Village…which just makes me laugh, because in my first three weeks here, I’ve been all over the place. How can you stay around Washington Square Park when there’s a whole city out there to conquer?!
…and I still have so much more to see and do. AH. At least I have four (well, maybe three, since I plan on studying abroad) to get out there into the wilds of the boroughs.
Oh, speaking of which, did I mention that my best friend Natalie goes to the same school as me?! For those of you who don’t know, I met Natalie online the summer before my sophomore year of high school, and we instantly clicked. The problem? She lived in Texas, I lived in Connecticut. Eventually, we had the opportunity to meet each other a year after we met, and it was love at first (actual) sight. When Natalie came up to visit a second time last summer, she decided that New York was the place for her and applied early decision to NYU. Life works in funny ways…since a few months later, I chose to go to school there, too. And now, here we are: same city, same major, same building. Go figure. It’s truly amazing.
I’m also super lucky that one of my best friends from home (who’s a sophomore) also goes here, as well as my cousin (who’s a senior). Community is so important wherever you go, and I truly scored with having a built-in network the second I got here.
I saved the best for last: NEW YORK CITY FOOD. Just look at these glorious dishes.
(I promise I have been eating insanely healthy in the dining halls otherwise…)
Well, that’s me! That’s my life! It’s time to head off to my 10:00 yoga class, since I don’t have class until 2:00 on Tuesdays.
See ya in a few, babes! xo
Tags: college, my life
August 17, 2016
So, I think I can say I have really and officially made it. Eleven days from today, I will begin my freshman year of college. I said high school to myself for a second, then proceeded to chuckle because thank goodness I’m not going back there. Shudder.
All of this change is coming. I can feel it in my bones. New people, new city, new classes, new professors, new yoga studio, new room, new eating habits, new study habits…what isn’t going to be new?! Yes, I’m a little nervous, but I’m way more excited than nervous. I’ve been waiting for this time for four years, and boy, I have never been so ready to spread my wings and leave.
One thing I’m really going to miss? My kitchen! Cooking (and baking!) have been my anchor throughout those four crazy years, and it feels a little weird that I’ll be leaving my anchor behind this year.
Well, get ready for a new Yes to Yummy mini series, entitled, “Small Kitchen, Big Dreams.” And by small kitchen, I mean my mini fridge and microwave. Y’all ready for some MUG CAKES?!?!?!?! How about some OATMEAL JARS?!?!?!?! DORM ROOM HACKS?!?!?!?! HELL YEAH!!! #COLLEGE!!!!!
Sorry. That was a little weird and extreme. I’ll show you a cupcake picture to get things back on track.
These were so good. My taste-testers agreed. According to my yoga teacher Emily, she took a bite of this cupcake in the car, expecting to save the rest for later. Needless to say the cupcake didn’t make it out of the parking garage.
There are oodles of lovely flavors and textures going on here. Chewy, crunchy, sweet, smooth, cinnamon-y…this cupcake is a perfect package for awesome. And you know what?! You can eat it for breakfast, too. Maybe leave off the frosting, maybe not. Choice is up to you.
Wanna make ’em? Well, you should!
Prep Time 35 min
Cooking Time 25 min
Total Time 1 hr
Yield 12-15 cupcakes (or muffins)
3/4 cup of vegetable oil or coconut oil, melted
1 cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large carrots, grated
1 cup of pecans, chopped
1/2 cup – 1 cup of raisins (depending on how much you like raisins!)
Coconut frosting, doubled if you like a generous dollop of frosting
Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with parchment liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat well to thoroughly combine.
In a small bowl, sift together the dry ingredients, excluding the carrots, pecans and raisins. Stir to combine and then, 1/2 cup of a time, incorporate into the wet ingredients with a spatula.
Once all of the dry ingredients are added, pour in the carrots, pecans and raisins. Fold gently with a spatula combine and stop just when well-mixed. Don’t overdo!
Using an ice cream scoop or two large spoons, distribute the batter between the prepared muffin tins, stopping about 2/3 of the way up. (If you run out of space, no worries — just prepare another muffin pan or wait until your first batch is done.)
Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes depending on how hot or cold your oven runs.
Once fully cooked, let cool in the muffin tin for half an hour, then transfer to a cooking rack to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the coconut frosting, if desired. Once the cupcakes are cool, frost them and decorate with toasted coconut flakes.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days — but best when eaten right away!
All right folks, guess it’s a “see you later” for now? I can’t wait to update you on all of the yummy foods I’ll eat in New York. Keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make friends and not accidentally wind up on a train bound for Hoboken!
Tags: baking, cake, carrots, coconut, cupcakes, dairy-free, delicious, dessert, frosting, healthy
August 2, 2016
All of those colors can only mean one thing: summer is here! Huzzah!
Look, I love summer. Don’t get me wrong. I love that it’s light out so late and the farmer’s markets are teeming with fresh fruits and vegetables. I love being able to practice yoga whenever I want and having the time to catch up on all of the pleasure reading I’ve missed over the course of high school. I love singing and playing my ukulele in the grass and listening to Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan in my room. But holy crap I want summer to be over.
As you know from my relentless complaining, senior year kinda sorta really sucked. Nothing really horrendous happened, but so many bad little things piling up one on top of another totally tanked my year. Sometimes, there’s bad energy that settles and you have to wait for it to pass. Life is a balancing act: you have periods of where lots of good things happen, periods where lots of icky things happen. It all evens out in the end, but it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in a moment of suckitude. And this year was one big moment of suckitude.
I was really ready to go at the end of my junior year, and unfortunately, senior year wound up being sloppy seconds. I made a bunch of mistakes and lost several of my closest friends, which stunk. I know people come and go, for life is an ebb and flow, but it felt like so many people were going this year. I felt disconnected, and the aha moment where everything clicked again never came. I like spending more time alone than with others, but there’s a difference between being alone and feeling lonely. And the latter feels yuck.
I don’t usually get embarrassed about things — hell, I came to school dressed as a giant tomato once — but for some reason, I feel ashamed about this year. I felt the claws of my old anxiety sinking back in as the embarrassment swirled in limitless circles in my head. I feel foolish, and I know I’ve been particularly unkind to myself recently, something I’ve struggled with for years. I want to shake it all away but it stays as I meditate and play my favorite songs by The 1975. I hate it. I thought I had moved on from this!
That’s the thing with anxiety. It’s two steps forward, four steps back. Sometimes it eats you. Sometimes you make sure it gets served. But when you’re in it, it makes you feel insecure, regretful, misunderstood. It pushes people away for you. It makes you think everyone hates you. But still, you soldier on and smile when you can, because you know you are better than your anxiety, and one day, the switch will flip and your thoughts will become rational again. It’s a practice.
I just want to be college Abby already. The Abby who, wearing a leather jacket with a yoga mat slung over her shoulder, runs into someone she knew from high school on the subway and grins because she’s a city girl now. The Abby who goes to concerts on Monday nights in Williamsburg. The Abby who carries a thoughtful little journal in which she writes existential haikus in Washington Square Park. I know that Abby is coming soon — 26 days, to be exact — but it all just seems so far away. And it’s frustrating.
You know what the best way to channel your frustrations is? Gnocchi!
I find the process of making gnocchi so therapeutic. It might seem tedious to some people, but to me, there’s nothing more relaxing than rolling out potato dumplings.
My dad and I attempted to make gnocchi for the first time when I was in fifth grade. Let’s just say our foray was not exactly successful. All I can remember is that the process was messy and confusing, and when we dropped our “dumplings” in boiling water, they disintegrated. Whoops. My mother, queen of cleaning, vowed that we would never make gnocchi again on account of such a disaster.
Years later, I tried again on my own, and this time, my gnocchi worked. (My mom actually liked them, to her surprise!) Over the past year or so, I’ve gradually been refining my gnocchi technique, learning how to put together the tastiest plate possible with a variety of colors and textures.
Most Italian chefs take a simple approach when it comes to serving gnocchi, usually serving the dish with pesto or a very simple cheese or tomato sauce. While there’s something to be said about showcasing the gnocchi pretty much on its own, I like serving these soft, chewy dumplings with lots of vegetables for some varied flavor and texture. I don’t like dishes that are all soft; rather, I like my meals to be crunchy and smooth and everything in between.
By pairing the gnocchi with roasted tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and basil, you not only get a ton of veggies in your dinner, but also the joy of having a party of flavor in your mouth. While I loved this combo, I look forward to making gnocchi later this summer with eggplant, peppers, and other tasty produce.
Gnocchi might seem intimidating, but don’t be scared! The first time you make it, I highly suggest setting aside an afternoon to conquer your project. You’ll feel much better with extra time on your hands.
Prep Time 1 hr
Cooking Time 1 hr
Total Time 2 hr
Yield 4-5 servings
For the gnocchi:
2 lb starchy baking potatoes (about 2 large baking potatoes)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
For the vegetables:
2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 large zucchinis or summer squashes, halved and sliced into half moons
1 head of basil, leaves finely slivered
2 cups of fire-roasted corn or 2 ears of grilled corn, kernels separated
1/4 cup of olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons of salt, divided
1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
For the gnocchi:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let the potatoes cool for just a few minutes upon removing from the oven, then peel off the skin and discard.
Using a ricer, food mill, or box grater, process the potatoes. Dust a clean workspace with plenty of flour and spread the riced/grated potatoes in a thin, even layer atop the flour. Let cool.
Meanwhile, beat together the egg, 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Once the potatoes are cool, form them into a mound and make a small hole in the center. Pour the egg mixture into the hole and, using a large fork or your hands, incorporate the egg into the potato.
Pour flour in, 1/2 cup at a time, until a slightly sticky dough begins to form. (I highly recommend using a dough scraper to incorporate all of the flour!) Towards the end, add the 1/4 cup of cheese. If you feel the dough is too sticky, add more flour — but don’t go overboard!
Remove the dough ball and re-dust the workspace with plenty of flour. Using a sharp knife or dough scraper, cut the dough ball into six equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then roll the ball into a log about 1/2 inch wide. Cut the log into 1 inch long rectangles.
Gently roll and squish each rectangle so it’s a decent-looking dumpling. A lot of people roll the gnocchi against a fork to create ridges, but that’s too fussy for me, so I just leave them as is. It saves time in an already labor-intensive recipe.
Repeat the process with the remaining dough balls. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and place the gnocchi atop them until you’re ready to boil them.
For the veggies:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease two large baking sheets with olive oil. On one sheet, toss the tomatoes with the garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. On the other sheet, toss the zucchini half moons with the other 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Roast both in the oven until the zucchini is golden-brown and the tomatoes begin to bristle, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi, 1/4 of the batch at a time, and remove from the pot with a slotted spoon when each dumpling floats to the top. Place the cooked gnocchi in a large bowl.
Once all of the gnocchi have finished cooking, add the roasted vegetables, corn, cheese, basil, and a little drizzle of olive oil to taste. Toss together and add a little salt and/or pepper, if necessary. Serve immediately.
Here’s to potatoes, vegetables, and letting go to move forward. See you soon, loves. <3
Tags: Allergy friendly, delicious, dinner, gnocchi, Italian, nut-free, pasta, roasting, summer, tomatoes, vegetarian