Tuesday, October 24, 2017

11 Favorite Things

Thought for this entry, I would go with one of my routine posts on the 11 things I am loving at the moment.  From foods, to experiences, TV shows, and places!

1. Babka. A sweet yeast cake, a bread that's baked traditionally laced through with chocolate.  Primarily associated with the Eastern European Jewish tradition.  Made this for the first time ever the other day, with a favored cooking/baking partner in crime.  One baked through with Matcha in addition to the usual chocolate filling, the other kept straight up and traditional with the chocolatey swirls within.  One is noticeably more lovely to look at than the other ;-), the result of a more meticulous and focused baker, as opposed to the other who was "running amuck" and just generally "all over the place, like usual."  (Those who know me personally, can you guess which one was me? ;-p).

I am pleased to report though that both tasted equally awesome.  Highly recommend giving this a go for your first homemade yeast bread, if interested in experimenting with such.  Its super easy to make, and more than rewards back in taste.

This is the recipe from which we got our inspiration/direction.

2. Donuts in general.  Though especially Blackbird Donuts, a new dessert dream competing for space in my ever growing mental collection of sweet treat fantasies.  An artisanal donut shop located in the South End of Boston that bakes (on site) unique, gourmet varieties of this classic American dessert.  My fabulous friend, Jenn introduced me to this one on a recent afternoon spent together, wandering, chatting and snacking <3.

3.  The Wire.  Hands down, the best television show ever made, as I know the vast majority of those who have seen the entirety of it will agree.  Finding myself re-watching some of it with someone and getting pulled back into the layered, explosive, superbly acted, poignant and gripping plotline and characters of this incredible show.  Everyone should watch this once, all the way through.  For the eye opening, emotional, thought provoking aspects and angles that it offers up in abundance.  As well as just for the pure entertainment value garnered from this suspenseful, hooking series.

AWESOME article on why The Wire is the best show on television, ever.  Don't worry, no spoilers in here, promise.

4. Scattergories.  Having a major moment with this game.  Its basically the best.  If you are into board games, as well as word stuff, this is the game for you.  Given one letter and a list of categories and in a timed fashion, you need to come up with one answer per category, all beginning with the same said letter, as fast as possible.  Same answers are disqualified.  Creative answers are welcome to much debate and tend towards resulting in lots of laughter.  Get this game now and give it a go if you haven't yet.  Majorly missing out until you try it ;-)

A close runner up in terms of great games: Cards Against Humanity.

5.  Cranberry and Chocolate Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes.  My god.  These are so good.  Just went to make some the other night and nearly cried seeing we were out of eggs.  These are super easy to toss together, moist, lightly sweet, tart from the cranberries going perfectly with the milky sweet chocolate chips sprinkled within.  However these are actually gluten/grain free, dairy free and free of refined sugar.  I'm also tickled to say that this recipe was featured on foodgawker.com :-D

You can sample/make them yourself here.

6. Running.  I never thought these words would escape my lips, not in a million, trillion years, as I loathe and despise running with a passion.  Despite this though, in the past few weeks, I have been pushing myself to do just that.  Just one mile per workout.  Then I (thankfully, at a near sprint) jump off the treadmill in relief and joy to go do something, anything else.  However, I am stunned to say that within the past few weeks of slogging through this generally unpleasant venture, I have topped a mile time of 7 minutes and 45 seconds.  Where previously, my fastest mile had been roughly in the 9 minute 30 second/10 minute realm.  This is pretty thrilling and surprising for me, to say the least.  So, despite my still hating doing that one mile, I equally feel a pulsing thrill whenever attempting to beat my previous time.  An adrenaline fused sense of power in pushing myself to break through my most recent time.  Who knows how long this enjoyment will last (likely not long haha), but in the meantime, a cool fall activity with some interesting options for those considering exploring such.

Check out how way cool/loads of fun this looks.  Awesome.  The Run for Your Life Zombie 5k Run.  And another link on it here.

And here, a list of 9 unique, zany races to consider trying, if this is something that potentially floats your boat.

7.  Gingersnaps.  I'm hooked.  My moms love of this sweet treat seems to have rubbed off on me.  Finding myself craving them (and eating them) regularly now.  In terms of a gingery, berry filled dessert that takes mere minutes to make, I have just the thing for you.  Perfect for autumnal dinner parties, celebrations, or just a decadent treat for your own indulgence.  This can be made gluten free (select gluten free gingersnaps at the store), as well as refined sugar free (replace the coconut sugar with honey if you like).

Get the recipe for this Gingersnap Blackberry Icebox Cake here.

8.  Dancing.  While this is something I've always liked well enough, never have I enjoyed the feeling of dancing as much as I do now.  I don't know what changed, as I used to feel somewhat self conscious and shy about dancing in front of people unless slightly under the influence of something alcoholic.  Now though I love dancing and seek it out.  Whether alone in the confines of my room while getting ready for the morning, busting a move out while putting on mascara, or at MFA on the First Friday of each month ;-), playing Just Dance on the Wii in our living room, or out with my mom and her friends.

I've learned that in letting go of ones shyness, which is no easy feat (it took me years), there is much joy, playfulness and fun to be found in dancing.

Some great places/links to check out for dancing...

First Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  About $20 to get in.  Swanky atmosphere, though not pretentious or fancy.  Still managing to be laid back and inviting.  Loads of fun.

Possibly my favorite Just Dance routine of all time.  My god.  This is just the funnest dance ever.  Its so zany, ridiculous and awesome.  "Rasputin" Russian dance.  I've done this one, all costumed up, with my mom, sister and brother.  Ive done it alone for a good workout.  I've done it with a few others.  Every single time, giggling uncontrollably and just having a ball.  Give it a go for some major silliness and fun.

And, my other favorite Just Dance routine.  "Indiawaale."  Another super fun one that I highly recommend giving a go, either with a few friends or alone in your room, your choice.  Both just as great and smile inducing.  I used to do this one all the time with my kids (aka my students) back at Phorms in Frankfurt during their break time between subjects.  The. Best.

Lastly, a list of the 10 supposedly best spots for shaking it in Boston.  Personally, I think The Estate, House of Blues and Underbar look particularly intriguing.

9.  Tasting menus.  I am discovering this is a fun, playful, plentiful way to serve up a meal to someone.  Allowing for more experimentation, variety and creativity.  Having been served an especially tasty one by a sweet someone a few weeks ago, whipping up a tasting menu of my own for that same someone, and with a menu in the works coming up for friends in 1.5 week, this is a way cool method of serving up a meal :-D

Some links for inspiration in putting together your own tasting menus, either for your own dinner, for a loved one or friends.

Foodgawker.com, the Pinterest of all things edible.

How to create a tasting menu.  Some ideas and inspiration from this article on Howstuffworks.com.

10. Sarah <3.  The two of us having connected quickly and quite closely since my return from the US. Sending each other audio messages via WhatsApp with near daily regularity.  She has been a respite and joy, a voice of reason as well as a major emotional support to me, all in the time since I have come back.  Though we have not spent as much time together in person as would be ideal, due to us living far apart and my sharing a car at the moment, I know this will increase with my finding a job, getting settled and situated elsewhere.  In the meantime though, I am loving and feeling thrilled with this reconnection taking place between us.  In a way, it already feels as though I never left.  With how things are between us once again.

Some fabulous moments between us, of which there are literally hundreds (more likely thousands) from the last decade...

With Sarah's son, Caleb <3

11.  Garlic hummus.  Dear lord, this stuff is the absolute bomb.  I am completely hooked and crave it almost daily.  With a whole cucumber, sliced up for dipping.  Heaven.  Drooling.  Totally head over heels infatuated with this snack.  Try it, I swear you will be addicted from the second you eat it with cucumber.  You can buy it from the store, there are loads of good ones out there.  Or if feeling ambitious and so inclined, can make your own here.

This kind is basically amazing.

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