Battleview Orchards

Its been a while since I crossed something off the dusty ol’ life list, and to be fair… it still is. I actually went apple picking for the first time two years ago with my very pregnant friend Stephanie, my mom and my goddaughter Riley… but we had camera issues and all the photos came out white. On principal I haven’t crossed off apple picking from my list because I couldn’t show my work. Now I feel better about doing so.

Amanda insisted that she, Christina and I have a ladies day in the apple orchard, so this passed weekend we took a brief road trip to New Jersey and picked us some apples. It was Chris’ first time and mine and Panda’s second. Chris and Panda were obsessed with the idea of scoring some golden delicious, despite the only ones being at the tip top of the trees. They may or may not have broken a few branches to get what they wanted. I on the other hand was in my glory with all the rome apples. Yum. I brought home twice as many apples as the girls… but I was picking for two. Panda was much more interested in acquiring some pumpkins and sadly paraded back and forth through the mostly barren pumpkin patch hunting down the perfect specimen. Chris and I just stood in the dusty field watching her frantically searching, we made up for it by hitting up all sorts of pumpkin stands back home. We scored some very cute pumpkins… and I got a sugar pumpkin so I can make pie again soon.

Battleview Orchards was an awesome place. I hope to go once more before the season is over, the apples were gorgeous and tasty. The pumpkin situation was less than ideal… but its ok, they had a bunch of pumpkins over at the shop across the street. The shop is open all year round and sells all the crops from the farm as well as some AMAZING cider. If you’re very patient you can also wait in line for some of their apple cider donuts, fresh and warm from the fryer. Even if I don’t get to go apple picking again this season, I will definitely be stopping by the store to grab some cider and donuts… so good.

Outfit details for Ana: Dress, Tights, Shoes (similar), Sweater, Purse
Outfit details for Amanda: Sweater, Boots, Jeans, Purse

Find a beer I’ll enjoy.

So after years, possibly a lifetime of looking, I finally found a beer I can enjoy. Allagash‘s Old HLT. It’s named for the stainless steel hot liquor tank in which it was aged, it sat for two years, with 2,000 pounds of Michigan cherries. It was a bittersweet occasion when Terrence passed me the pint to have a taste. It was delicious, the tart of the cherries completely overshadowed the whole hops and barley taste that usually turns me off. Unfortunately this brew was limited edition and once I crack open this second growler that Terrence bought, it’ll be gone from my life for good.

Of course I would finally, after countless beer tastings, brewery tours and brew pub dwellings, find a beer I can tolerate and have it be over as fast as it was poured.

Last August we visited the Allagash brewery while we were up in Maine, it was easily one of my favorite breweries we’ve toured so far. Terrence plans on going back this summer with his parents, I’m going to have him beg for a do-over. I would do it myself but can’t get off work for the entire family vacation, damn job. If I never find a suitable beer for my pallet again I’ll make sure to put the blame entirely on my job, just another reason to hate them.

Sigh, good ol’ HLT. I’m going to savor that growler and save it for a special occasion. Maybe our engagement party BBQ.

Make a pie entirely from scratch.

Over the holidays I knew it was time to do this. When I first imagined making a pie from scratch I thought about apple or cherry. They seemed like the go to filling for homemade pies. But I don’t like either pie, so why make something I won’t enjoy. Given the time of year I decided to go with the holiday standard, the most delicious of all the pies… pumpkin.

Apparently this was a particularly unpopular choice of pie. Not that baking pumpkin pies isn’t a holiday staple… but people generally don’t bake these from scratch. Finding a pumpkin that wasn’t intended for carving was pretty much impossible, actually in late November finding any pumpkin at all was impossible. Thankfully Terrence had bought a pumpkin back in October for us to carve or possibly eat, it wasn’t my first choice but given the circumstance it was going to have to do. According to Alton Brown, pumpkins have to shelf life of two months… so I was safe. But just in case I bought some butternut squash to back me up.

Don’t let anyone tell you cutting a pumpkin in half is easy… it’s not. It might have been if I had the proper knife, but since I didn’t I’m gonna be a big baby about and say that halving a pumpkin is bullshit.

The recipe I used called for a gingersnap crust, but I much prefer graham cracker crusts for pumpkin pies.

This pumpkin pie business was a difficult and long process. My friend Amanda came over and we were both supposed to bake pies from scratch. She was originally going to make an apple pie, but felt tired and instead got the above pictured cans of blueberry pie filling and some frozen crusts. She was done in an hour… it probably took me that long to crack open my pumpkin halves. It was after midnight when she left and the pumpkin halves weren’t even close to done baking yet. Next year we’ll have to remember to start this bake fest in the day time instead of after dinner.

We made the pies the night before Thanksgiving, Amanda had work the next morning (she works in a hospital) so she couldn’t stay with me until the bitter end. Also, Terrence went out to party hard with all the other kids in bars, so I was left all alone to bake. In my down time from assembling the pie I kept myself busy, and awake, by prepping other Thanksgiving sides. When it came time for the last stage of the pie, the baking, I had run out of busy work. I set the timer for 40 minutes and sat on my bed to watch some television… next thing I knew I was awakened by the scent of burning an hour and twenty minutes after the timer had gone off. FML.

I was so angry, I tossed the burned pie onto the stove top and stormed back to my bedroom defeated. Thankfully I had enough puree to make one more pie. I set my alarm and went back to bed. Bright and early before all the other holiday crazy started I went back to work on my pie. After I blind baked the crust and took it out of the oven I foolishly set it down on the stepping stool beside me. Without thinking I kicked the oven door shut and it hit into the baking sheet tossing the crust into the air and butter side down onto the floor. I began screaming obscenities, this was in fact the Murphy’s law of pies. After Terrence calmed me down, I picked myself and my pie pan up off of the floor and began working on my third pie crust. This time things finally went smoothly.

That night both of our families had shared the pie. Terrence was across the street with his family while I was in our apartment with mine, we crossed back and forth and ate way too much as usual. I was at home when Terrence and his kin were having dessert, my phone began exploding with text messages with single word exclamations… apparently the devil pie was a hit. So much in fact that Terrence ran over with the other half for me and my family to enjoy. Everyone was pretty floored by it, being my own worst critic… I thought that the Libby’s pumpkin pie from a can version I usually make were better. Terrence called me crazy.

Both of our families told me that I had to make this evil pie annually. So now I have a new job, hopefully next year I won’t fall asleep on it.

***

Oh and for those curious about Amanda’s blueberry pie… here’s her quick and painless baking experience.

She never even ate it.

 

Join a gym.

I joined the gym back in July, and went all of twice in the first week. Then never again. I have two goals in mind with this gym membership, the first is to be able to run a 5K, the second is to tighten up my abs (which are a blob disaster).  I wouldn’t mind some upper body strength too… even though my mother always told me that lifting weights will rob me of boobies. So I’m cautious with weights, come on, its not like I have much to give.

This month I decided to go everyday. I’m also doing a huge cut back on sweets, snacks, and other assorted bad-for-me foods. I came to this decision after realizing I had spent an entire weekend in bed surviving on Runts, cookies and cheese. Something had to give.

Terrence won’t let me go to the gym daily though, he says my body needs time to bounce back between workouts. So I’m going to do every other day until my body gets used to it and then see if I can get in more later. I dedicated December to this lifestyle, I don’t know if I want to go intensely for longer… let’s see if I survive the month first. I already miss snacking, I’ve been starving all day. I need to remember to bring fruit, nuts and jerky to work with me. 

Yesterday I got up early, on my day off, and hit the gym before anything else.  It felt great. Today I’m super sore, it even hurts to laugh. I’m hoping this is a good thing.

Wish me luck everyone.

Have a drink at Cheers in Boston, Massachusetts.

Well, no one knew my name… except Terrence… but I’m okay with that. It took us hours to find this bar. The internet doesn’t really have a clear idea of which Cheers is the real one, but eventually we figured it out. At first it pointed us to a gift shop in a mall, then to a lame bar in some marketplace with cardboard cut outs of the cast members of the show. Terrence and I were both getting aggravated with one another trying to navigate around this foreign city, and it didn’t help that the internet kept fooling us.

But eventually after much walking and a hugely embarrassing public argument, we had finally found it.

You can see by the puss on my face that I’m still not very pleased with Terrence, it’s alright, alcohol was on the way.


That huge cup in my hand was intended to be a shot glass, I had already taken two significant swigs before this photo and had enough left for one more. See, the rage in my face had already begun melting away. I had asked for a shot a Patron, I’m not big on tequila but I figured since I wasn’t getting drunk I would do something painless and quick. I don’t like mixed drinks or beer so I only drink to get drunk and I don’t like to drink angry… the 3 in 1 shot was enough for me.

I sat at the corner, where Fraser would normally sit. I have this issue with being a tourist, it stems from wanting to punch all too many of them throughout my life in NYC. So I didn’t take too many photos of the bar, plus it was a huge tourist trap, which I found off putting. I could see where the inspiration for the shows bar had come from and I liked that, but the bar had lost its individuality. Once the Bull and Finch Pub, now although if you look really hard the name is in very small print here and there, but nothing is as profound as the big Cheers signs. Its on the napkins and the cups, the staffs uniforms. They even created a set bar on the second floor, if the rest of the bar wasn’t touristy enough for you. I actually thought the original bar downstairs looked more like the set bar then the pretend one upstairs. Terrence asked if I wanted him to photograph it but I declined it was kind of lame.

Unlike Sam and Woody the bartender there wasn’t very attentive, in fact he wasn’t even there for a while and it took ages to get our drinks and even longer to get the check. But the small child in me was elated to just be there.

After leaving I immediately called my mother to tell her where I was and she was super excited, as was I.

That’s her on the phone and my excitement.

After leaving Terrence and I took a walk through the park and had a super tasty and hugely filling dinner and met up with a friend at a far less gimmicky bar. By the end of the night we’d forgotten all about our embarrassing blowout… it was a long day. In the end it was nice to curl up in our hotel bed and fall asleep to the always pleasant and sorely missed food network.

More on our tip up north on a later date, I mean… I haven’t even disclosed the details of our trip down south from last year. Huge stories like these overwhelm me.

Eat lobster in Maine.

Whenever Terrence asks me what I want to eat for dinner, it’s safe to say that 50% of the time I will say lobster. Out of that 50%, about 5% of the time he’ll say yes. Terrence thinks lobster is too decadent to eat all the time, too much time to cook or too expensive. Clearly he is mad. When we went on our vacation this year we trekked north to Maine and all the places in between. We were gone 4 days, out of those four days I had 5 lobsters… it was AMAZING. I was on vacation and I was allowed to be as decadent as I wanted, yay me. I had lobster for lunch and dinner while in Maine for that day and a half… and that lobster dinner will haunt me until I go back. It was the best fucking lobster, OF ALL TIME.

We drove up to South Harpswell, ME to go to Estes Lobster House, it was large but quite empty, right on the water and beautiful. The lobster was sweet and soft, the shell just fell apart and the juice poured out. My biggest regret was not getting the lobster dinner with 2 lobsters, I thought it would be too much, so instead we got the lobster and clams… Fuck those clams. I considered getting a lobster for dessert… but my inner fat girl felt shamed and resisted. Stupid shame. It’s a 7 hour drive, give or take, I’ll be back… even if it’s just to eat and come home.

This lobster ruined all lobsters for me. It was my first of the trip — not counting the lobster roll I had for lunch — and every night after that glorious night, the lobsters kind of blew. Sorry Massachusetts, but your lobsters ain’t shit compared to Maine’s lobsters.

I was on vacation for 2 weeks, and on the last day of my fortnight of solitude I took my mother out for lunch at my favorite local lobster house — Lobster House Joe’s. It was the best lobster I’d had since Maine, I was afraid that I’d never be able to love another lobster again… and I only had to drive 15 minutes to get to it. It’s good to be home.

P.S. Joe’s serves $9 lobsters until 4pm M-Th’s, it’s their lunch special… nothing decadent about that, just plain tasty. Get it steamed, you won’t regret it.

Own a bike.

My bicycle was my birthday present to myself. It’s a Globe, I bought it at Bennett’s Bicycles here on Staten Island. I was obsessed with the idea of a cute, girly bike and wouldn’t listen to anything Terrence had to say about weight and price and all that boring stuff. After a few months of riding my super adorable bike… I wish I would have listened. Sure, I got a hybrid so I have all the aesthetic appeal of a cruiser but the functionality of a road bike… but it weighs about 30 lbs and the wheels are way too thick. I plan to get thinner wheels so I can move a bit faster, but the weight will always haunt me. It’s not the first time I will say that I should’ve listened to Terrence, but sometimes I wish I could have been right first. Bastard. I’m actually already contemplating selling it and getting a lighter, less pretty bike. But it’s sooooo pretty, I don’t know.

Whatever, this is my bike.

Own a cello.

 

I came home from work the day before my birthday, Terrence was cleaning in the back of the apartment and I walked towards the front to stay out of his way.  As I entered the living room I noticed my plant was moved, I turned around to where it usually sits and in its place was this cello (with a little red bow on it).  I cried, and Terrence crept into the room to gauge my reaction.  I hugged him super tight.  Sometimes I wonder if Terrence reads through my life list to know what to do for me on special occasions… but its probably just his natural awesomeness and attention to detail.

Before you ask, no, I don’t know how to play it yet.  I’m just good at looking like I do.  We’re currently still trying to figure out how to tune the cello.  I’m not sure if it’s the beast itself or the tuner.  But every time either of us tries to tune the instrument, once one string is good and we move onto the next, the last string goes out of tune again.  Hugely frustrating.

Maybe for Christmas Terrence will surprise me with an feeble old white man, equipped with a ruler to strike me when I make mistakes, and he’ll teach me to be great like Jacqueline du Pré.  He’ll also have a little red bow, I hope.

Row a boat in Central Park.

We actually checked this one off of the life list in Spring of last year. While going through and selecting the photos I was in awe of my hair (oh how I miss having some), and how much thinner I was. So far during this whole aging thing that seems to be all I notice. Nothing grosses me out more than photos of Terrence and I when we started dating back in… 2004, man was I crack whore skinny. Oh, boats… yes.  For my birthday weekend last year Terrence took me boating in Central Park, something we’d been discussing doing since forever.  It felt good to check that one off the list.  I liked it, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it again.  Too many boats and not enough people that know what they’re doing (including us).  It ain’t easy steering boats, especially through massive tourist traffic.  I rowed the boat briefly and was eager to give Terrence back the oars.  We actually have no problems when we go kayaking, I don’t know… maybe too many people frighten us.

It’s also very hard to look cute while rowing a boat… I was trying.  Maybe I would consider doing it again if we went during the week, in the morning. It wasn’t actually all that crowded when we began rowing, we didn’t wait in a line, everything went quick and smoothly.  But as we were coming back the line was deep, we were grateful for our excellent timing, and also not to have been in the water with even more unwieldy boats. After this we went to the zoo, which was also loads of fun… but that’s not on the list so I’ll spare you dozens of pictures of adorable zoo animals. SO ADORABLE!!!

Carambola, Cherimoya and Pepino… oh my?

I haven’t been doing a good job at keeping you all posted on my Life List achievements, but I assure you I’m doing them.  All the ones to do with food are seriously being taken care of, mostly with the help of Terrence.  The Boy has always encouraged me to try new things, and since I made it abundantly clear that I was ready to be more food adventurous he has been pushing me all the way.  He brings home a strange fruit or cheese every time he goes shopping.  Saturday mornings he wakes up early and heads over to our local farmers market and returns with arms full of treasures.  He usually enjoys them more than I do but I’m putting in the effort.  I keep forgetting I’m supposed to be photographing most of these things I eat… but here are a few from a while back that we found in our local supermarket.

Carambola or Start Fruit as it’s better known. I thought these were delicious, but I couldn’t finish one. Terrence also didn’t enjoy eating them in any larger quantity than about 3 slices. The carambola were crisp and watery, I honestly don’t remember the exact flavor though (maybe why I should post these sooner after consumption). All in all they were weird, but tasty. Thankfully Dutch LOVED the star fruit and ate all that I gave him.

Cherimoya fruit was my favorite to look at, but not my favorite to eat.  It was weird… the texture was very creamy. Terrence loved it, but found it a bit overwhelming to eat the whole thing.  Thankfully we live across the street from his foody parents, who are always more than willing to try whatever weird shit we bring over.

The Pepino Melon I really disliked, but to be fair… I think we waited too long to eat it.  This one definitely deserves a second chance. They were very juicy though, but made me scrunch up my face and do a little shake.  But I’ll still try another one if I ever come across them again.

Now I’m all sorts of hungry.  Wish me luck on finding more oddity fruits, maybe I’ll hit up the Asian Food Market later and score some.  They’re very instrumental in my fruit eating over there. Yum.