Sandy, Glad You are Gone

Oh, Sandy.  Sandy Sandy Sandy.  Only one post to sum up last week, it’s time to move on for us.  But not the poor folks still without power.

Sunday Morning at Trader Joes: Clearly, everyone is just going to eat Chocolate Chip Dunkers for days.

Worked from home on Monday, but we still needed coffee.  Stone Street was the only open place.  The owner and his cousin live upstairs.  Best find:  The back is a Speakeasy with a mixologist and cocktails behind the wall!  We’ll be back sometime for BathTub Gin.

Monday Morning: Stone Street on 9th Ave.

We started Monday night pre-storm popping open a bottle of champagne that’s been in our refrigerator 2 years (Amy’s wedding!).  We were only going to drink a glass, but ended up drinking the entire bottle.  Then the lights went out….

Monday Night: Thanks, Amy!
Tuesday Morning: Mark leading the way to the West Village, en route to Rachel’s for a shower (cold one!).
Tuesday Morning: The parking garage at the base of Rachel’s building. Oh no! Yup, that’s a car back there.
Tuesday at Rachel’s: Horatio and West Side Highway. The water was up to the grey line on the building.
Tuesday Morning: A new restaurant under construction unveiled early!
Tuesday Morning: Yes, we had to walk by here, too. 8th Ave and 14th Street was the new Times Square, there were so man people taking pictures!

And then it settled in…days without power or water.  A big thanks to N & C who provided a warm shower and TV multiple times.

The Line oF Empowerment: You can see where the line is. Left side is 31st Street. Right side is 30th Street. Living on the wrong side, that’s for sure.

Lessons learned:

1.  Wash the dishes after dinner when you think the lights are going to go out.

2.  Water does run, but not if you are above the 6th floor.  The pressure from the water coming from upstate doesn’t have THAT much pressure to reach the 6th floor.

3.  Flashlights.  Thank you, Daddy, for the ones you’ve given in my stocking!  They came in handy!

4.  Bed Head is perfectly acceptable in situations like this.  Distract with a brightly covered scarf when dressing for work.

5.  Have friends who live in different areas of the city to cover all bases.  And thank you to everyone who provided a towel!

6.  Power is precious.  It’s a huge stress to manage the power on your cell, when you need to make calls to check in, but don’t know when the next charge is.

7.  People are friendly. And they behave in New York City at night.

And my big lesson is that many people have it a whole lot harder than I do.  Wondering where you are going to bath, where the next meal is, where you can sleep, where do you go when it’s cold. It’s mentally exhausting.  Then to have children and think about all that.  I have a new respect and concern for people in these situations every day, all year.  Be thankful for what you have and give back.

Heirloom Tomatoes: What’s For Dinner

All I can say is that this is how a tomato should taste.  These tomatoes HAD taste to begin with.  And they smelled awesome.  We picked them up at the Union Square Greenmarket at the SS&O stand.  Mixed with basil, a few other fresh veggies and some of our nice olive oil?  Fantastic.

Followed by some ice cream for dessert.  Topped with Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel caramel sauce and morello cherries.

TJ: Cocoa Almond Spread

This post is for my sister.  It sounds like she’ll soon have a Trader Joe’s near her in New Hampshire.

One more product for you to try, Amy!  I gave in to the Cocoa Almond Spread last week.  I think the idea is something like Nutella, but in reality it’s a little more “fudgy”.  So, not all bad, just not exactly what I was expecting.  But how can you really complain, it’s chocolate!  M wasn’t as keen on it, so this might not be coming back into the house.

Pumpkin: Trader Joe Pumpkin Bread & Muffin Mix

This is my test of the TJ’s pumpkin bread mix.  I actually wasn’t allowed to buy the mix.  It went something like this:
“If you make it, I end up eating it all”
So to be supportive, I just sampled the pumpkin bread with chocolate chips at the sample station (three samples, I’ll come clean).  That counts as enough for a pumpkin report out, right?

Last year I bought three boxes to stock up.  I do really like it, but love 2 recipes: one from his mom and the other from my mom.  Clearly, moms are good at homemade pumpkin bread.  I may have to make so I can report back with the recipe!

And I’m off to Maryland on Friday for Sarah’s wedding!  Lots of picks to come, will be a great weekend with some very very good friends.

Trader Joe Fav: Mandarin Orange Chicken

There are quite a few Trader Joe’s products I’ve come to love.  One of them is the Mandarin Orange Chicken.  It makes a great Sunday dinner (a bit of a treat).  And it’s ready in minutes.  

M, the chef, masterfully stirs up the chicken and sauce on the stove top.  I run over to New Kam Lai for the white rice for $2.  Yes, we decided it was just easier to run around the corner for perfect sticky rice since we never have rice on hand.  We tag team this dinner.

Sunday we even added some onions we had on hand, just like they do in Southwestern China.  Really.  After a never ending amount of rain on Sunday, this really hit the spot.  

Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce, More Please

I had heard about this Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce from Trader Joe’s.  M had it in San Francisco at a dinner with friends.  I kept hearing how good it was, drizzled over vanilla ice cream.  Yet I never saw it on the East Coast.  Maybe it was too popular to keep in stock.  Maybe it was being hoarded on the West Coast.

But I finally had my chance to try it.  We saw it one Sunday and didn’t even debate a second.  It was in the cart.

And it was delicious.  Salty and sweet.  It’s a bit thick so best used at room temperature.  So if you have any left over (you might not!), you’ll need to refrigerate it, and let it warm up a bit before using it.

It’s best over ice cream of course.  Our 100% Trader Joe’s dessert with a friend the other week, care of Trader Joe and Trader Jacque:  morello cherries, fleur de sel caramel sauce and super premium vanilla ice cream.

Almost Too Empty!

The new Trader Joe’s opened on 6th Avenue and 24th Street, in what used to be a Barnes & Noble. It was empty for a while, with no indication of what would come fill it. And then I heard it would be a Trader Joe’s. And that it would be open Summer 2010.

But then this new one came, and it’s a 15 minute walk over. And it was downright empty. I wonder if it’s because it’s summer or people are on vacation. We’ll have to see!

We’ve been troopers and used to walk to the Union Square store for the 8 am opening on Sunday mornings. After a weekday trip when we first moved, and feeling like I was in a communist country back in the day, with empty shelves and long lines, it was Sunday at open or nothing. The big win was when they changed the opening from 9 am to 8 am. And even then there could be 50 people waiting out front. It was always a nice walk over there to get the blood going. Honestly, it’s fun to see the city just getting started.

But this is one is in the neighborhood. I like how they maintained the internal structure of the building and kept the columns. Same items, just more space!

Between TJ’s, our trips to Costco, Chelsea Market Fruit Exchange and the Union Square Greenmarket we are pretty set now.

Can Good Brownies Be Lowfat?

Did I mention I love brownies? Hands down, it is my all time favorite dessert. My mom apparently realizes this, because every time I make a trip home we make brownies (which will be in addition to any other desserts my mom makes). I’m a nuts-in-my brownies kind of girl. But it’s hard to make everyone in this house happy, so we don’t typically add pecans or walnuts. I have been known to add nuts to half the pan before baking.

I will save my post about box brownies versus home made, simply because this Trader Joe’s find is recent and deserves a post. I enjoy sweets and almost never make them lowfat. I am a big believer in eating really tasty, yummy ones in moderation (ok, ok, so I’ve eaten half the pan, too, which does not count as moderation). They are just so much more delightful when you can taste the buttery crisp-ness on the edge of a chocolate chip cookie, or the most fudgy-ness of a good brownie. But in my house we have a rule that each week we need to bring home 1 experimental item from TJ’s. So I finally gave in and bought the No Pudge Fudge Brownie Mix.

I’m a fan. They were the right combination of crispy on the top and gooey in the middle. I will admit I probably even ate more of the pan this time. I would consider doubling the recipe with another box and cooking in the same 8×8 pan for a thicker brownie.

I’m not sure how they perfected this mix, but it’s good. And at a great TJ’s price.