Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I'll Make You Banana Pancakes

I really love to cook. I don't know how long it took me to get to this point, but I could spend all day in the kitchen these days. I love preparing healthful foods that taste scrumptious.

The other day I made whole wheat banana pancakes with my overripe bananas. I made a large batch so I could throw them in the freezer for convenience sake (thanks to my sister for that idea). I felt domestic in every sense of the word. The best thing about these pancakes is that they have no sugar or oil and lots of good things including whole wheat, oats and of course bananas. They turned out very tasty. I have in the past been buying the Kashi brand of frozen waffles but at $4 for a box of 6, this is turning out to be much more economical.

I topped them with some low-fat yogurt for additional health benefits but they would also be good with fruit. DO NOT ruin by saturating with lots of syrup. If you must use syrup, please use in small doses. 

Here's the recipe. I take no credit. I found it online at recipezaar.com

1 1/4 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 C. Oatmeal (uncooked)
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 1/2 C. Skim Milk (or dairy free milk)
2 Egg Whites (or 1 large egg)
2 mashed bananas (ripe)
Cinnamon to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients with mixer or with a wire wisk.
2. Cook on a non-stick pan, or use a small amount of cooking spray for each pancake.

Easy as pie. Or pancakes. I doubled the recipe b/c I had a lot of bananas and it made about 2 dozen. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where At Least I Know I'm Free

January 20, 2009

It is a day that will go down in history, a "where were you when" kind of event, a moment long anticipated and not soon to be forgotten.

The inauguration of President Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States of America.

I'll add my story to millions of other Americans and I feel extremely lucky to have been here in Washington, DC for the event. All politics aside, the chance to witness as Senator Feinstein mentioned, "the peaceful transition of power," is an American tradition. It defined this nation from the beginning and will continue on as willing leaders sacrifice 4 years to serve this nation. The office of President is one that I respect.

I don't think I've ever seen so many people in my life; literally millions showed up to support, even in the freezing weather. I found it good to see so many people ready to believe in something new and ready to embrace change. I hope that the hope they feel in Obama will translate into better actions on their part (perhaps I should include myself in that statement but I have yet to measure my hope). America does need a lot of "fixing," but it can't be done solely by a change in government. Each American must change too; we must better our values, better our work ethic, see "America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions," to quote from Obama's speech. 

The difference between former President Bush and President Obama was white and black, not just in the literal sense. One is loved with as much passion and as the other was hated. One deserved to be cheered, but the other did not deserve to be practically booed off the stage, and for that I was disappointed. I may very well have been one in a million who cheered for the former, but I appreciate and respect his service of the past 8 years. 

Yes, it was a historic day. And I am glad I was there.

I was also really glad to have spent the day with some great friends. I hosted an inauguration sleepover at my old office on 16th Street. We got there on Monday night so as to avoid the pandemonium on Tuesday. It was really fun. We woke up on Tuesday, steps away from the National Mall and the main event. I created a video to document the MANY pictures we took (a big thanks to Stephanie for taking the pictures as my fingers were too cold to move). I hope it captures feeling of the event. I will certainly never forget it. 

*Side note - I have tried three times to take away the blurry quality of this video. It has been unsuccessful. Sorry, I am not a master, but I hope you enjoy regardless (It helps if you double click to go to the youtube page so that it's a little larger).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Ball? Oh, That Would Be Fun!

What do you do when you have the chance to go to the Lincoln Inaugural Ball in celebration of Barack Obama's inauguration?

You buy a new dress, and you go!

That's what happened this weekend. I became aware of some small volunteer opportunities for an inaugural ball that would get us into the ball for free. My contribution of service - driving Anita Baker's musicians to their sound check. Easy Peasy! My reward - a spectacular night at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art/National Portrait Gallery at an inaugural ball with some wonderful friends. 

The food: Mashed sweet potatoes, succotash, turkey, ham, mac and cheese, au gratin potatoes, chocolate raspberry tarts, carrot cake - all with a gourmet flair that was divine. The music: Victorian, Jazz and some soul. The atmosphere: inaugural. It seriously was like a  scene from a movie and I was so glad I got to experience the ball as part of this historic weekend.

Here's a video trying to capture the ambiance.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You'll Freeze to the Bone Out There

New Year's 2009 was a night for me to remember. I spent it in New York City with some good friends, not with Dick Clark, but in Central Park for the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run. It was a quick trip, but incredibly fun and even more cold. Seriously, I have a new definition for chilled to the bone. Here's the trip in review.

Dec. 31, 2008
9:30 am - make sack lunches
10:00 am - depart Philly for a quick drive to NYC
12:13 - park on the Upper West Side, close to the start/finish of the race
12:15 - Bundle up, the wind is blowing hard and it's starting to snow
12:35 - Meet up with other car, forge through wind across Central Park to get to race registration
1:07 - Arrive at race registration, buy $10 socks to replace the wet ones on my feet
1:30 - Take the subway to Staten Island ferry
2:14 - Eat sack lunches while waiting for the ferry with the added benefit of free entertainment - a lively piece on the cello, and a passerby doing a lively jig
2:47 - Get on the WARM ferry and ride to Staten Island while finishing up lunches and basking in the warmth!
3:32 - Pass Lady Liberty on ferry ride back to Manhattan
3:45 - Rejuvinated and warm, happy to continue onto Soho
4:11 - Shopping in Soho, buy some Bacon and Cheese flavored crickets at Evolution
4:21 - Pose for picture on a very picturesque street
4:26 - Stop in darling boutique, opt to not purchase the $104 sweater that I'm still in love with
4:48- Very large Anthropologie store, very happy
5:30 - Purchase some extra leggings for the race as the wind continues to bite harder!
6:25 - Stop at Rockefellar Center, see the beautiful large Christmas tree, opt not to skate but to watch the skaters from a warm spot inside, Staci treats all to Starbucks hot chocolate and cider, relax and enjoy each other's company
8:36 - Increasingly biting wind as we walk to Swagat, a charming Indian restaurant on the Upper West Side
9:00 - Wait for food, warm but hungry
9:15 - Still waiting for food
9:32 - Stuffing self with very, very tasty Indian eats
10:10 - Stroke of luck, we stop for warmth at Carrie's friends house 3 blocks from the restaurant
10:55 - Walk very fast to the car, questioning the sanity of whoever decided this run would be a good idea
11:12 - Change into running clothes in the car, opt for 3 layers of pants, 4 layers of shirts plus sweatshirt, 2 pairs of socks, 1 muff, 1 scarf, 1 beanie, 1 pair of gloves, 1 pair of mittens, 1 ipod for needed motivation
11:45 - Arrive at Central Park, excitement in the air, pre-race dancing and screaming and New Year's celebrating
11:59 - Countdown begins
12:00 am - Lots of fireworks and race begins
12:07 am - Feeling energized, fireworks still going, 
12:15 am - Thinking this is a pretty awesome race
12:20 am - Reach a water stop, grab a cup but it's frozen to the table. Grab another cup. Take a sip but the water is frozen solid. Continue running, a little thirsty.
12:22 am - Feeling that Indian food come back with a vengeance
12:32 am - Legs feeling like lead, wishing I didn't have 3 pairs of pants on, stripping off hat and gloves and for the first time that day, really thankful for the chill in the air
12:50 am - Cross the finish line hand in hand with Dallas and Matt
1:01 am - Meet up with friends that braved the wind to come support
1:12 am - Start drive back to Philadelphia
1: 23 am - Stop for gas and Dr. Pepper for Matt, learn that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey
3:32 am - Arrive in Philadelphia
3:37 am - Change into warm pajamas and brush teeth, late night talks around the kitchen island
4:06 am - Lay down in bed, very comfortable, another New Year has come

It's gonna be a good one folks!

Here's a video of the countdown to 2009!!!

*Sorry for the length of this post, but I like details!

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Number 17 on my list of "26 things to do while 26" was to learn how to make homemade raviolis. My mother is full italian and every year her mom, Grandma Carmel to me, made homemade raviolis for Christmas Eve dinner. They are ridiculously good and I have always wanted to learn how to make them as it is a tradition too tasty to lose. For the past few Christmases, Grandma Carmel has been too sick and we have opted for the frozen variety, a poor substitute if you ask me. So this year, to stick with my goals and also to bring back that loving Christmas dinner, my mom and my sisters and I made the raviolis.

It was a very fun day. Mom knew how to make them, though it had been years since she had actually done it. Amy had once spent a day making them with Grandma and the rest of us were clueless. It must be our italian blood, because as it turned out, we were naturals.  They turned out delicious and I'm so excited to continue this tradition with my mom and my sisters.

Here's a little peak at the process. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And Give Good Cheer of the Season

The magic of Christmas (and Christmas break)
Here's what made mine so great.

Making our family's traditional homemade raviolis with my mom and sisters. Chad and I running our own little "reindeer trot" in preparation to eat a lot of raviolis. Talking to Tod serving faithfully in Arizona. Hitting all the major after-Christmas sales. Aunt Jackie's lifesaver books and rice krispy treats. My nephew Ammon telling me he was going to marry me. Santa wrapped our bananas and oranges. Singing our favorite Christmas songs on Christmas Eve. Cozying up in my parent's bed with my sisters for nightly reading (and falling in love with Jane Eyre all over again). Singing It Doesn't Snow in L.A. with Chad.   Opening gifts with Grandma Carmel at the nursing home. My Christmas present to LeBron - new brake pads and rear drums. Kicking bum in Monopoly, building hotels on 3 different corners and forcing everyone into bankruptcy. Gingerbread spice tea. Sharing the Dom Deluise cookbook. Sunday night with Grandma Ruby and Grandpa Larry and three gallons of ice cream. Christmas day karaoke and dance party with the children. Rook. Catching up on Friday Night Lights. A trip to Malvern and an amazing cream cheese pumpkin roll. A new favorite blanket. Watching and quoting To Grandmother's House We Go.