I’ve always hated September. No offense to the lovely people I know born in the ninth month of the year, but September has long held a doomsday marker. Maybe I still hold a grudge against it for viciously ending summer every year, or maybe a series of disturbing events occurred in September that I’ve buried
I was seven when I realized I was the luckiest kid in the world. I didn’t witness an emotionally scarring tragedy or experience a period of tough adversity (outside of middle class family struggle) that opened my eyes. I had instant potatoes for the first time at a neighbor’s house. In Northeast Philadelphia during the
“I have some news,” my boyfriend of five years whispers into the phone. I might have felt my heart scrape down my esophagus and lodge itself into my small intestine. “Now what?” I asked warily. I rubbed my shoulder to massage the soreness away from a recent (as in three days prior) car accident in
Of course food has always been in my life in the literal sense, what with it being necessary for life and all. But everyone I know, especially everyone in Philly, does not eat to live. We live to eat. Whether we ponder the best location for our signature sandwich our quibble over the best way
I’ve always hated September. No offense to the lovely people I know born in the ninth month of the year, but September has long held a doomsday marker. Maybe I still hold a grudge against it for viciously ending summer every year, or maybe a series of disturbing events occurred in September that I’ve buried deep in my psyche. All I know is that, whenever I hear Green Day‘s “Wake Me Up When September Ends” playing, my inner angst-ridden teen wails the anthem while crying black eyeliner-streaked tears.
But like any dark path, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is October. While September reeks of back-to-school madness and wafts in warm weather reminders that torture a summer baby’s soul, October brings with it the crisp fall air, warm hoodies and pumpkin-flavored everything.
October means It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, picking out Halloween costumes and adventures to haunted houses and pumpkin patches. I take these traditions very seriously. For weeks now, I’ve scoured Netflix for Hocus Pocus and researched farms to visit in New York. My apartment has been decorated for Halloween for two weeks already. Last year, Joe and I took a trip to Shady Brook Farm, where I insisted on riding the hayride, buying copious amounts of cider and feeding all of the farm animals. Yes, I’m well aware of how creepy a 23-year-old looks feeding a goat and sticking her head in a cardboard cut out of a faceless farmer, holding a pumpkin surrounded by cardboard sheep looks without a child in tow. Guess how many shits I give?
The best part about fall for sure is the food. So, I’ve decided to welcome October in the Osborne-Gordon home with a Fall-tastic (really, my cheesiness know no bounds) meal, featuring a warm white turkey chili dish and homemade apple pie, topped with pumpkin ice cream for dessert. Before you are incredibly impressed, you should probably take a look at how easy a fall meal like mine can be!
White Turkey Chili
I cannot express to you how tasty this recipe is. I made a few variations, like swapping cumin for chili powder, canned green chiles for canned diced tomatoes and zesty green chiles and Monterey Jack cheese for Mozzarella. While it turned my white chili slightly tan, it was still delicious. What makes this dish significantly “fall” is the dash of cinnamon the recipe calls for–an unlikely ingredient that leaves a sweet taste in tandem with the spice of the chili powder.
The recipe I used for the pie crust has a total of six ingredients I can guarantee you have in your kitchen right now. Plus, I simplify it even further by forgoing all instruments and mixing everything with my freshly-cleaned hands.
Homemade Apple Pie
For the actual pie, I was most intrigued by this recipe, due to the lemon zest and juice. However, at the last minute, I chickened out and skipped the juice but kept the zest. I opted to egg wash the crust and sprinkle left over sugar on top of the pie. To serve, I put a dollop (or scoop–don’t judge) of Edy’s Pumpkin Ice Cream on top–an Autumn-gasm in your mouth.
Woodchuck Hard Cider: Pumpkin
And what is a meal without a tasty beverage to wash it down? We discovered this gem over the weekend at our best friends’, Lauren and Andrew, apartment. We headed back to Philly to see some of our favorite people and attend the annual Team Zelly fundraiser to raise money for the annual Lupus Loop to raise awareness and fund research for a great cause. Let me assure you: This is the best fall blend cider out there (and only for a limited time).
With the cool weather, I welcome the golden fall leaves, hearty food and the newest/best reason to love October: my soon-to-be nephew Nugget, thanks to my other wonderful friend, Megan. Chili, pie, cider and babies. What’s not to love?
I was seven when I realized I was the luckiest kid in the world. I didn’t witness an emotionally scarring tragedy or experience a period of tough adversity (outside of middle class family struggle) that opened my eyes. I had instant potatoes for the first time at a neighbor’s house.
In Northeast Philadelphia during the ’90s, everyone knew everyone. And if you happened to eat over a neighbors’ house for dinner, the first thing mother would ask you upon returning home, guaranteed, was, “What did they feed you?”
An imperative question with a few implications, it established for our parents that the family was trustworthy enough to care for us in their absence. This universal, unspoken truth in our tiny worlds–heck, just ask anyone who said, “No, really Mrs. _______ , thank you, but I’m really not hungry.”
Undoubtedly, the response would be “You’re going to go home and tell your mother that we didn’t feed you!” It didn’t matter how lavish the meal was–what mattered was that time and effort were put into it.
I rushed home from my friend’s house, tore my mother from whatever she was doing and asked–nay, demanded–that she explain how mashed potatoes could possibly come from a box. After recovering from a fit of laughter, she explained exactly what I had eaten and never let me eat there again.
My mother is far from a snob and hardly slaves over the kitchen stove daily, but she would start her day over a pot of gravy (sauce, whatever you non-Philadelphian Italians call it) at 6 a.m. No matter how broke we were, we had a full dinner on the table every night, and prided ourselves on it. Once in a while, we splurged on pizza or lunch at a local joint, Peppi’s (R.I.P.). But, for the most part, we ate dinner at the table from mother’s stove.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that I was quite excited, when moving out, to cook my own dinners. Since we’ve moved in, I have dutifully done so. Often, we even have enough leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. If not, then we pack a sandwich. Apparently, this makes us rather strange.
The folks in Joe’s office are amazing (and seriously savvy foodies), but cannot believe that I cook dinner every night. At the occasional happy hour, I’m jokingly asked how I have time to do it every night. Also, why do I bother when there are so many great food spots in New York?
This is undeniable. From NYC’s food trucks to local burger joints, I have yet to have an unsavory meal when out and about. While it sure would be nice to indulge in a gourmet falafel or pristine, prepared dinners from Whole Foods on the regular, I can’t help but think that’s to squander precious cash.
Think about it: Honestly, I spend $450 (tops) on groceries and household needs a month. This includes beer, snacks, trash bags and more. Though I don’t have children, I do work a full time job and freelance in the evenings. Say we were to purchase lunch alone, five days a week, every day. Between the both of us, that is roughly $20 a day. Multiplied by five, that’s $100 a week–roughly $400 a month for lunch.
It seems people associate the ability and time to cook as something that operates on the level of mysticism. Frankly, there are simple ways to a home cooked meal and in a reasonable amount of time. Here are three truths I’ve learned so far along the way:
1.) Plan Ahead
When I know the work day will be particularly tiring, I’ll take out the meat I want to use early in the morning, and chop the appropriate vegetables. This way, when I come home, I have a plan of attack. I cannot live without sites like The Daily Meal, AllRecipes and now the new Kitchen Daily to plan easy eats for every meal of the day.
2.) Befriend the Crock Pot
The most amazing gift I have ever received. Simply throw a bunch on ingredients that you love into a pot with appropriate seasonings, and a mere eight hours later, revel in the glory of a tasty home-cooked meal. Don’t think that all the pot has to offer is tasty stew–there are tons of dishes that can be slow-cooked for hours, like cheesy chicken or hearty lasagna.
3.) Read the Labels
From your seasoning packets to your soup labels, there are numerous easy recipes to whip up for dinner. Those canned goods will quickly turn into an easy 30-minute meal that you can make for the whole family.
To the fast-paced New Yorker, I say it’s time to roll up your sleeves, save some cash and bring dinner back to the stove or grill.
“Now what?” I asked warily. I rubbed my shoulder to massage the soreness away from a recent (as in three days prior) car accident in which my beloved vehicle crunched into un-salvageable oblivion.
“I was offered a full time position at Games.com!” he bursts. After two years of working freelance out of his hobbit-hole of a room, he tells me at a rapid fire pace all of the important details. After hours of phone calls back and forth discussing salaries, job titles and the like, it was official; he accepted the position. The catch? It was imperative that he relocate to NYC in four weeks.
Pardon my French, but I almost shit myself.
After hanging up the phone, I remember numbly sitting on my bed. It was no contest that I would do whatever I could to go with him. I was the Assistant Editor of Philadelphia RowHome Magazine, and with their support, was able to transition into a telecommute position. With the job secure, first thing had to come first–we needed a place to live. Fast.
Having never lived on my own–I even stayed home for college–I was at a loss for where to start. So where do two clueless, house-hunting individuals go when up the creak without a paddle? Craigslist, duh.
After a week of scouring pages, mindlessly trying to assert what places like “Bedford Stuyvesant” (protip: Bed-Stuy, for short) meant, and fainting over the rent-to-square-footage ratio, we lined up several apartments with brokers (like fools) and set off to apartment hunt.
On a rather dismal Saturday, we met Broker #1 in what we thought was Inwood. To make a long, painful story short, after we were schlepped around questionable parts of Manhattan that were not the neighborhoods we requested, into four buildings with all five story walk ups and kitchen slash living rooms, I was pretty sure suicide would have been the better answer.
We shook off the morning and decided our afternoon in Brooklyn would have to be better. After getting on the Q train and riding the subway for 45 minutes, we arrived at the Avenue J, in the heart of Midwood. Walking down from that station after the morning we had was like walking into heaven.
“Look there are trees!”
“And real houses!”
“And kitschy stores!”
“And less traffic!”
After walking a short four blocks to our designated spot to meet Broker #2, we decided that lunch needed to happen before any more painful decision making. Noticing that a main strip of stores lay ahead on Coney Island Avenue, we were fairly confident that a slice of pizza would be easy to spot. Quickly, we discovered how very wrong we were. In fact, not only were the all of the food vendors closed, but everything was closed– including the five (yes, five) wig shops I counted along the way.
This, my friends, should have been our first clue.
“Weird how everything is closed, huh?” I remarked to Joe.
“Ah it is probably a holiday, or some weird renovations we don’t know about.”
Considering I’d been living in a cloud of stress for the past few weeks, I accepted the explanation with little argument.
As we waiting at the corner of Avenue K and 10th, we spotted a frantic, diminutive man in the distance. Bouncing from car, to door, to cellphone, we quickly concluded that this was our broker and made our way to say hello.
Thus, our first encounter with the craziest Brooklynite commenced. After taking 10 minutes to decipher what he was saying, another five to get into the building and another two to figure out how to open the door, we walked into the Holy Grail of apartments. The blathering idiocy this man spewed off faded as as the din of angels singing entered my ears. Hardwood floors! A real bedroom! A real kitchen! A huge living room! A reasonable price! We exchanged our first hopeful look all day, and knew that we were home.
On the terrifying car ride to the broker’s place to sign the lease, we began chatting about the neighborhood.
“Is it always this quiet on the weekends?” I asked.
“Uh… yeah. Yeah,” he reluctantly responded.
“There seems to be a lot of shops and food stores around,” Joe happily remarked.
“Oh yes!” was his enthusiastic response, “there are tons of places to eat and things to see and do! You guys are going to love it here.”
Laughter was had, hand shakes were exchanged and about 200 signatures later, we became the official owners of our very first apartment.
It is four months later, and all I can say is that life in Midwood was not as we expected. The area is predominately populated by Orthodox Jewish folk– which actually dictates much more of our lifestyle then we had ever imagined. The only non-kosher food market is 10 blocks away. Every store is closed from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday. You cannot order cheese and meat in the same location, and in fact if you do, it is highly offensive. You cannot buy any women’s pants and should refrain from wearing shorts in public. If you are obviously not Jewish (as I’m not) many will attempt to speak to you in Russian. Though Brooklyn College is close, I lack any interaction with actual peers. There are no bars.
As a woman who once drove herself to the food store, could walk down the street in shorts and look men in the eye to say hello without feeling an ounce of guilt, life is quite different.
Don’t mistake this post as a bigoted one–I do not harbor any hate for the community I am cohabiting with, rather I find almost everything about it comically different. I’m just saying, if you think that I live like Carrie Bradshaw, swigging back afternoon cocktails and making millions off of 1,000-word freelance columns, you can rest assured that I most certainly am not. I’m just a lonely Gentile in search of a deli where I can get a turkey and cheese sandwich in this crazy, mixed up world.
Of course food has always been in my life in the literal sense, what with it being necessary for life and all. But everyone I know, especially everyone in Philly, does not eat to live. We live to eat.
Whether we ponder the best location for our signature sandwich our quibble over the best way to make meatballs, Philly has food on the mind. So it should be no surprise that when prep work for Philadelphia RowHome Magazine‘s annual Food Issue began, the mood in our quaint office turned to utter excitement. Every event we co-host features meals from our Network that make your jaw drop in utter foodilicious (yeah, I just said that) ecstasy. So we figured, why not allow our readers to experience the joy we do? We reached out to our network as asked them to share a recipe, either from their menu or the familial archives for us to share via our print and website–which we are in the process of improving. And boy, did people respond! Our new issue is going to be packed to the gills with delicious recipes and food related content to make your next family dinner truly RowHome Grown!
Speaking of content that will make you drool, have you checked out The Daily Meal yet? Aside from featuring some of the most delicious recipes on the web, they have extremely helpful tips for all things food and fun. One of the best moments in my short career was getting the opportunity to freelance with them, and even cooler was getting syndicated on sites like Yahoo! Shine News and The Huffington Post. Be sure to visit frequently too see what’s going on.
I’ll leave you with this gem: When ever I say the words “I Love Food” one of the fondest memories I have comes to mind. At the tender age of 14 (maybe older) my best friend Lauren and I were having a sleep over. What is a fabulous idea for two girls to do at 3 am? Raid my mom’s refrigerator. We found Boston Creme Pie, cut ourselves two hearty slices and began silently gorging. I look up to say something to Lauren and she looks at me with nothing but pure love/adoration in her eyes and says with a mouth full at the same time I do “I LOVE FOOOOD.”
Here’s to hoping that I can share that love with you for years to come!