In It to Win(e) It: Post-PowerBall Packets of Fish

Lo-Cal Dinner

For those who are wondering…I didn’t win the half a billion dollar PowerBall lottery last night. This really blows my retirement plan and is sort of ruining my Thursday morning. I think in order to win, you have to live in a place like Missouri or, even, apparently, Arizona. And, no, I’m not even one of the two $1million winners in New York State. Very disappointing.

Sad Losing Ticket – with two worthless matching numbers

So, I’m still – like so many – watching my pennies. Trying to use every ounce of everything in the kitchen…Staying on top of expiration dates in the cupboard and fridge…

When people come for dinner or drinks  at my apartment they are charged with bringing white wine. I don’t drink white wine. Ever. Like as TSwift might say: never ever ever. Even in the summer. Even at a ladies luncheon. OK, once I drank white when I was at a holiday party at the apartment of a friend who – due to her entirely white interior decorating scheme – served only white wine. But, I didn’t enjoy it.

People Just leave Wine!

So, in the rare instance that there is left over white wine in my apartment, I try to cook with it. Left over wine is an unusual occasion – you should meet my friends.

This morning I found a half drunk bottle of Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge. I thought about drinking away my sorrows from the PowerBall loss…but, let’s face it…It wasn’t even noon and that would just be too sad.

I also found some capers and lemons in the fridge…thyme in the freezer and, of course, frozen Whole Foods Tilapia. I’m a little obsessed with always having it on hand.

And, I’m still on my quest to lose the Sandy 15lbs.

So I made:

Tilapia En Papillote (serves 2)

OK…first and foremost, if you are using frozen fish, take it out of the freezer, remove it from the packaging, place in a baking dish, cover with Saran Wrap and store in the fridge at least 7 hours before you want to cook it.

Ill-Advised Defrosting

Now – honestly, I’ve forgotten to do this and you can just leave the frozen fish in a covered baking dish on the kitchen counter…but, for whatever reason, you’re not supposed to do it that way. Whatevs, I lived.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

1. Place one Tilapia Filet in the center of a 10ish inch x 10ish inch piece of either heavy duty tin foil, or as I did on that fancy Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper: Parchment on one side, tin foil on the other. It’s like the mullet of cooking papers (business in the front, party in the back)

Fancy!

2. Sprinkle the filet with Thyme or Lemon Thyme

Thyme Sprinkles on the fish on the Parchment side of the pan lining paper

3. Layer on some capers – I love capers, they’re like salty goodness – just thought you should know

Capers On…Lemons Staged

4. Sprinkle with salt – and pepper, if you want

5. Cover the filet with lemon slices

6. Place one pat of butter on top of the lemon slices

Give ’em all a little pat of butter

7. Spoon about a TBSP of white wine over the fish – be careful, you don’t want the wine to (eeks!) spill outside of the parchment paper and be wasted!

8. Fold up the sides of the fancy Reynold’s Parchment/Tin Foil (mullet) wrap around the fish. Make sure there is space between the fish and the wrapping as you want the fish to have room to steam. And, be sure that the packet is completely sealed.

NOTE: if you see the pros do this – they create a perfect half moon shaped packet… I’m just not that artistically skilled or creative. And, you can get the same effect with any shaped packet.

No Points for Style

9. Repeat with three other filets

10. Put the pretty (or not so pretty) packets on a rimmed baking tray into the oven and bake for :12-:14 minutes depending upon thickness of fish

11. Carefully remove the fish from the packets, plate and serve

Pretty Pescatarian Plate

So, with my losing PowerBall ticket I won’t be dining at Perse or jetting off in my private plane to St. Bart’s. Nope. I’ll be hoping that I can continue to count on my white wino friends to leave just a few tablespoons of wine in my fridge to dress up a meal…or two. And, I’ll continue to buy PowerBall and MegaMillions tickets…Cuz, you gotta be in it to win it!

Thai-ing To Lose Weight: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Gluten Free Chicken Ground

Thai these to help lose weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that the trip to thinner isn’t always a direct route. I mean, let’s face it life isn’t linear. Sometimes it’s the most circuitous of routes that leads us to our desired destination. Sometimes it’s the countless number of times that we hit the wall of a maze that brings us to the end of our journey.

So in the quest to lose my Sandy 15lbs, I took a detour to Thanksgiving – read: ate lots of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie. Look! There I am on Nantucket with Veep Joe Biden:

VP Joe Biden on Nantucket

Look at his shiny teeth!

Do you think he thinks I look fat? Nah, he’s too nice and shiny to think that!

So now that my favorite holiday has passed and my time with Biden (or, more accurately, my time stalking the vice president on the tiny island) is over, I’m taking the right steps to shed a few lbs.

Recent meals have featured Carnival Squash and Simply Grilled Shrimp.

squash week

Lo-Cal Carnival

Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Lo-Cal Grilled Shrimp

But last night I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I tried a taste of lo-cal Thai.

You will want to prep ahead cuz this is easy but takes like :90 mins in total.

Pretty Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 4)

Oh! And they’re gluten-free as well!

OK…First and foremost, there is a lot of prep of ingredients in the chicken wraps – so do yourself a favor and mise en place.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A Mise En Place to make Chef Anne Burrell Proud

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 TBSP lime juice
  • 1-2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/8 Cup of sugar
  • 2 TBSP Asian Fish Sauce, like Ka*Me found in the Asian area at Fairway
  • 1 1/2 TSP Chili Pepper Paste, like Amore – hard to find this – had to ask nice Fairway worker guy
  • Vegetable oil – not Olive Oil
  • Peeling fresh Ginger

    Ginger

    2 TBSP grated fresh ginger – remember, you should have some peeled ginger stored in your freezer

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 TSP kosher salt – or less
  • 4 Scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup canned, drained water chestnuts, diced
  • The recipe also calls for 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint leaves and 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro – I prepped both of these ingredients…but then forgot to stir them in at the end. So you can skip it if you like.

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and chili pepper paste and set aside. The recipe called for Asian Chile Paste…but I couldn’t find it at Fairway, so I bought Amore Chile Pepper Paste – I think that’s the same thing?

Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The liquids

2. Heat about 2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir until fragrant (about 2 mins)

Thai lettuce wraps

Don’t Let the Garlic Burn! Cuz you’d have to start over

3. Add the chicken and salt and cook completely – about 6 mins

NOTE: the recipe called for a ton of salt…but, I used just shy of a tsp and it was more than enough

Gluten free ground chicken

Browning the Gluten Free Chicken

4. Stir in the scallions, carrot and water chestnuts and heat through (about 2 more mins)

thai chicken lettuce wraps

OOOH! Look at the pretty colors!

5. Transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl and let cool about :05 mins

6. Add in the lemony-limey-fish saucy liquid mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Once the chicken mixture is moistened, but not swimming, stop adding the liquid. I added too much and it was delicious, but a little messy to eat

thai chicken lettuce wraps

A little too liquid-y

7. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for about an hour

8. Prepare 8-10 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves – you know, like wash them and stuff

9. Put a heap of the chilled chicken mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve

Thai Chicken Lettuce wraps

Beautifully Tasty and Lo-Cal

My journey to weight loss like most of life’s journeys has not been via a direct route. But, in spite of stops at Beef Wellington and Thanksgiving Stuffing, I’m getting there. It’s not easy at this time of year what with the Lincoln Center Winter’s Eve fest last night featuring fab food fare from all of the local restaurants (like the toasted gnocchi tastes from Bar Boulud’s Tent – OMG!). But, I am Thai-ing so that maybe next time I see Veep Joe B, I’ll be just a little bit thinner.

Talkin’ Turkey in a Tiny Kitchen

norman rockwell thanksgiving

This MIGHT not be your family

OK. So I realize that as a blogger of food  (and stories) it might make sense for me to dazzle my audience this week with spectacular Thanksgiving recipes. But, really, all of the food bloggers are doing that already for you…And, I can even bet you’d be hard pressed to avoid seeing or hearing at least one (but most likely dozens more) shows, specials, series, tweets and posts about the best way to make each and every dish traditionally and maybe even not so traditionally served at Thanksgiving.

What I think I’ll do instead is lend you some of the learnings I’ve accumulated since I started making the Thanksgiving meal as a sophomore in college…I’ve suffered through Thanksgiving with one oven and a party of 12 and have been fortunate enough to have two…This year, I’m down to one again, so every hint below helps!

  1. Shopping: Make a list. Like a real hard thought out list
  2. Shopping: Categorize the list by grocery department or aisle (like ‘Produce’, ‘Meat’, ‘Dairy’ etc) Is this anal? Yes, but it will save you a lot of time and keep you from doubling back in the store.
  3. Get extra potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and fresh herbs – you might want to put some cut veggies in the bottom of the roasting pan to help flavor the bird and the pan drippings and by might I mean you will.
  4. Get extra chicken stock. You might need it for your stuffing. You might need it for your gravy. You might need it to rehydrate your bird if, gasp! you over cook it and it’s dry. A good trick for a dry bird is to pass each piece through some warmed chicken stock before serving.
  5. If you can get a free-range bird, do…No, it probably won’t have a pop out thingamajig to tell you when the bird is done, but those things don’t really work anyway. And, no, it won’t be injected with butter and fed fat only…But, we’ll fix that too.
  6. Articles will advise you to buy a bird that is equal in weight to one pound per person…Yeah, but that’s just not enough. A 10lb bird is the smallest you might ever want to consider. I would recommend getting no smaller than a 12lb bird for a party of 6. Let’s face it, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the left overs. Plus, you may not know who wants light and who wants dark meat.
  7. Brine the bird

    Family Fun! Bird Brining

    Brine the bird (see how we’re fixing the non-butter injection issue). It’s a fun family activity for the night before and, believe me, makes a big difference. The big grocery stores sell very affordable brining kits that include the mix and the bag. You can also and very easily make your own brine with just a ton of salt, brown sugar and some herbs heated and dissolved in water, cooled and poured over your bird. 10 –  24 hrs in the fridge and voila, brined bird.

    Note: you will need to keep the bird cold overnight during the brining and will need space in your fridge or another plan. Last year we put it in a large cooler and left it outside BUT put a very heavy rock on top of the cooler so that animals couldn’t get in and eat our feast!

  8. OK. The Bird… The bird has bags of stuff in the bottom and top cavities. The top cavity bag usually has the gizzard and the bottom bag usually has the heart, pancreas and other creepy organs. You can put these in a pot of chicken stock over low with some herbs (a bay leaf and maybe some rosemary) and simmer until cooked through. The simmering organs actually make the kitchen smell like Thanksgiving…And some people cut this stuff up for their stuffing, others give it to an odd relative who eats it as is…It’s your call
  9. laura ingalls

    Good Enough for Half Pint

    Stuff the bird. Yes, there are health hazards. But if it was good enough for Laura Ingalls, it’s good enough for me. Plus the stuffing in the bird is sort of the best stuffing ever because it soaks up the juices while cooking. Just be sure to rinse the bird out completely and salt the inside before stuffing.

  10. OK Stuffing…You don’t have to get fancy, but it’s always good to add a personal touch. Personally, I use a mix of the Pepperidge Farm stuffing in the blue bag with cubed, staled white and wheat bread and pretty much follow the directions on the package. BUT, I add morel mushrooms – the bacon of the mushroom family. I buy them dried and rehydrate in chicken stock for additional flavor. I then slice them into small rings and add them to the onions, celery and rosemary, butter mix before mixing with the breads…delish!
  11. Thanksgiving butter

    Butter Trot to the Mobil Station

    Have enough butter on hand. Just when you think you have enough, buy just a little bit more. You don’t want to have to make the annual turkey day butter trot to the only open store on the morning of. Also you may want to dot the top of any premade dish (the stuffing that didn’t fit in the bird, the sweet potato pie, puree, the green bean casserole) with butter to keep it hydrated when you reheat it.

  12. Plan to eat at 5:30 or 6:00pm…It’s dinner, not lunch people! Plus that gives the chef enough time to get everything ready AND shower before all of those guests arrive.
  13. Whatever time you decide to serve, create a timeline (like write it down) and work backwards. So create a timeline starting from when you want to eat and include how long the bird should rest (at least :30 mins) once it’s out of the oven, how long your knife wielding brother/husband/father/aunt/cousin will take to carve it, how long the last minute items like mashed potatoes take to make, how long the other pre-prepared dishes will need to reheat etc…
  14. Set the table the night before and really think about where everyone should sit. Some of your guests might not want to sit next to others, or am I the only one?…think about it
  15. While setting the table the night before, include all serving bowls/platters you will need. Into each, put a label or a hand written piece of paper to denote what each will hold. Yes, again, this is anal…but helpful – for reals.
  16. Ask people to bring dessert. Unless this is your thing, dessert will just crowd your fridge and will be one more thing for your to worry about. Plus, people like to bring stuff.
  17. Ask people to bring wine. No explanation needed.
  18. Make what you can ahead of time…A sweet potato casserole or puree can be done days before for example
Roasted Turkey perfect

It’s Ok if your turkey doesn’t look like this…

Most importantly, RELAX. Give yourself a break. Your turkey might not look all Norman Rockwell. Your guests might not all love each other. Your dinner might be a few minutes late…

That’s not the point. It’s Thanksgiving. Be thankful. And, enjoy.

Improvisations: No Rolling Pin? No Problem.

Paula Deen Beef Wellington's

Thank you Paula Deen!

A Chorus Line

Best. Musical. Ever.

When I was young, A Chorus Line was my favorite play. After school my best friend and I would stand proudly on the ledge of her large bay window and belt out songs from the show for our audience – her parents. Imagine her very catholic father’s surprise as we belted the lyrics to ‘Tits and Ass’ out of our 12-year old mouths.

In seventh grade, I auditioned for the school play with the character Morales’ song ‘Nothing’. In the song, Morales is learning how to do improvisations ala: ‘now you’re on a bobsled, it’s snowing out and it’s cold…OK Go!

I never hesitated about the words and delighted the director as I sang ‘I felt nothing except the feeling that this bull shit was absurd!

I got a small part and the shock of my peers.

This past weekend I learned even more about improvising.  I was upstate at a friend’s home. We were hosting a dinner party for 12 – in part because another good friend was visiting from San Francisco (please don’t call it ‘Frisco’) and also so that our group could meet the host’s new boyfriend.

At the host’s request, I agreed to make Paula Deen’s Individual Beef Wellingtons in a Sherry Cream Sauce. Even though I’ve made the wellies a dozen times or so, I’ve had to improvise each time for one reason or another.

  • I couldn’t find the right pastry
  • The supermarket had no baby bella mushrooms
  • I was cooking for 4 not 12
  • This oven is too hot or not hot enough

This past weekend presented yet another improv challenge – ‘You’re making wellingtons, you have to roll out pastry dough, you don’t have a rolling pin. OK Go!

Individual Beef Wellingtons in a Sherry Cream Sauce (serves 12)

Note…After making this so many times, I think with the sequence of steps below, I’ve finally found the best way to ensure that dinner is deliciously delivered to the table on time.

Ingredients for the wellies, sauce ingredients to follow:

  • 12     1 1/2 inch thick beef tenderloin fillets
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp butter – it’s Paula Deen after all
  • 2      8 oz packages of baby bella mushrooms minced – Improvisation: I bought 2 10oz pkgs of pre-sliced shrooms at Trader Joe’s – $1.99 each! Math isn’t my thing and I just used most of the mushrooms, not all.
  • 1 large shallot minced – Improvisation: I used 2 smaller ones
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream – again, it’s Paula Deen just go with it
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Dufour Puff PastryThe recipe calls for 2 packages of 17.3oz frozen puff pastry (aka: Pepperidge Farm) But..Improvisation: I used 4 packages of Dufour Puff Pastry Dough – they carry this at Whole Foods and it’s worth every penny of the $11.99 per package.
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten – I needed 3

Here are a few things you need to know before you start:

  • minced baby bella mushrooms

    Shrooms & Shallots Mise En Place

    There’s some chopping – mincing of the shallots, mushrooms and chopping of the parsley take time – prepare ahead

  • The meat needs to chill for at least an hour after you sear it – don’t start cooking at 5pm for a 7:30 dinner. Actually, I usually sear the meat and make the filling the night before
  • The puff pastry is frozen – you will need to either thaw by putting in the fridge the night before, or you can take it out :40mins to an hour before you need it, unwrap it and thaw it on the kitchen counter
  • The sauce takes about :40 minutes – you can make the sauce while the meat is chilling and just reheat it when you’re ready to serve.

1. Sprinkle the fillets on both sides with 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper. In a large skillet, melt all 4 tbsp of butter over med/high heat

butter

mmmmm….butter

2. Add the fillets (probably in batches as I’m guessing you might not have a skillet large enough for all 12 at once) and sear on both sides – about 1 1/2 mins each side

Searing the Meat – One side done

3. Put the seared meat on a tray, cover and chill for at least an hour in the fridge

CREATING THE Wellington filling…AKA The YUMMY GOODNESS

4. In the same pan, in the meat juices, add the mushrooms and shallots and cook over med/high heat for 3 minutes stirring occasionally

Baby Bella Mushrooms

Shrooms & Shallots

5. Add the sherry, cream, parsley and 1 tsp of salt. Cook, stirring frequently until all the liquid is absorbed – this takes about 12 – 14 mins

baby bella mushrooms Trader Joe's

The Yummy Goodness

baby bella mushrooms trader joe's beef wellington filling

Yummy Goodness Complete

6. Put the yummy goodness in a bowl, cover and refrigerate

————————————————————————

Use the chilling time to: Make the Sherry Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • 1/2 cup of dry sherry
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Sauce 1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter….Add the garlic and saute 3 minutes

Sherry cream sauce

Saute The Garlic

Sauce 2. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 more minutes to cook out the floury taste

creating a roux

Creating the Roux

Sauce 3. Whisk in the broth and sherry…BTB / RTS (bring to boil, reduce to simmer) and simmer for :10 mins

Adding the beef broth

Beef Broth & Sherry & Boil

Sauce 4. Whisk in the cream and simmer another :20 mins. The sauce is very thick even without the cream…so, you can skip the cream or add a lot less – but, at this point, you’ve already soaked the meat in butter, so why not add the cream?

heavy whipping cream

Just add the cream

Sauce 5: Transfer the sauce to a small sauce pan and cover to keep warm

————————————————————————

Back to the Wellie Assembly

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper

7. Roll out 1 puff pastry sheet to about 12x10inches and cut in half

NOTE: if you don’t have a rolling pin – Improvise…We used a washed and floured Diet Coke can – Oh! The irony!

Diet coke can

Rolling Pin

8. In the center of each half pastry sheet, place a heap of the yummy goodness and gently press down to about 1/4 inch thickness

baby bella mushrooms beef wellington filling

A Heap of Yummy Goodness

9. Place a seared fillet on top of each heap of yummy goodness

10. Paint the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg

paula deen dufour's puff pastry

Painted Edges

11. Pull up the corners of the pastry over the meat and seal with additional beaten egg

12. Flip the meat package over and place on the rimmed baking sheet

13. Repeat until all 12 fillets are wrapped

14. Brush each package with the beaten egg

15. With the left over puff pastry, cut out seasonal shapes and place onto the wellies. Since it wasn’t yet Thanksgiving and certainly not Christmas, we decorated with fall leaves and acorn shapes.

16. Give the decorated wellies one more brush of the egg wash and place in the oven

beef wellingtons

Stuffed, Sealed, Decorated & Oven Ready

17. Bake for :20 -:22 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.  When you remove from the oven, let the wellies rest for at least :08 mins. The meat should be a perfect medium rare

18. Each guest will have his/her own perfect package with a generous pour of sherry cream sauce

individual beef wellingtons

Perfect Package

Life is full of opportunities to improvise. The trick is not to be thrown by them.

Generally, I don’t share meal prep improvisations with my guests. I mean, no one had an allergy, so did they need to know that we used real flour not corn starch to flour the pans in which we prepared a meant to be gluten-free cake? And, when you think about it, improvising with the diet coke can as a rolling pin for a fabulously fattening Paula Deen dish is not only ironic, but may be just a little bit brilliant…

The Sandy 15: Part 3 ‘After’

Air Mattress Bed Bath & Beyond

My ‘Bedroom’

This is Part 3 of how one can gain 15lbs during a weather disaster. [Click for Part 1 or Part 2.]

Wednesday, October 31

I think it might have been Halloween – but you’d never know it.

Wake up. Deflate bed. Reassemble living room. Plan the next meal.

This had quickly become the routine in the days that followed the storm. The displaced downtowners were now taking up what seemed to be permanent residence on the Upper West Side.

I’m not overly generous but had given my bedroom to the displaced downtowner as she was rapidly becoming a disgruntled resident. To be honest..surrendering my bedroom was an entirely selfish act: the sight of an aero bed on my living room floor drives me insane. I knew that if I slept out there, the room would be returned to a livable state before my houseguest even stirred.

But, it was day 3 and the routine was getting old. We were running out of things to do. The restaurants, shops, sidewalks and streets were insanely crowded with all of those who had migrated north. TV showed only storm coverage and press conferences. We were bombarded with horrific sights of destruction and ruin.

Moonrise Kingdom

We rented movies…

We rented a movie to escape the images…but that only lasted two hours. As an aside, it was Moonrise Kingdom and was very good.

And, once it was over, we were back to the storm coverage, horrifying images and endless press conferences.

We all knew how fortunate we were. We were all incredibly thankful as we watched the images on TV. Still, the power-free set was getting anxious and a bit angry.

During the days it had become common for me to receive a call from someone else without power who just needed a hot shower. If only I known that hot, young, male downtowners would be gracing my UWS shower…

refrigerator kitchenaid

The ‘Mini-Bar’

williams-sonoma star shaped ramekins

Lovely Snacks

I tried to make my home as welcoming and comfortable as I could for others to enjoy. I even called my refrigerator the ‘Mini-Bar’.

I put out lovely arrangements of wine and nuts in my Williams-Sonoma star-shaped ramekins each evening at cocktail hour.

But by Wednesday afternoon, nothing seemed to help…and the downtowner was mad.

The anger came in flashes…but then became a constant.

I had stocked up on Evian prior to the storm (it was not only on sale at Food Emporium, but I wanted to ride out Sandy in style). After my guest asked for the fifth time which Evian was hers, I wrote my name on my bottle. I hoped this would help to avoid confusion. She looked at it in disgust and horror and said: ‘Really?’

Evian Water

That’s MY Water

I had secured guests passes to my gym and when we were getting ready to go over there that day she looked at the bobby pin I used to keep the hair out of my face and said: ‘Seriously? Couldn’t you get a smaller pin with like…a flower or something?’

Uhm, no, I couldn’t.

The sounds coming from my phone started to drive her insane. Any time the text ding dinged, she cringed. I silenced the phone.

There were bright times too. We broke into hysterics mimicking Boomberg’s announcements in Spanish and couldn’t contain our laughter as we watched the ASL interpreter sign his messages. We were getting exceedingly punchy.

NYC Sign Language Press Conference

Sign Language Lady

Wednesday night we met some of the other displaced at Kefi for Greek food. I think meeting others in the same temporarily homeless situation was a comfort for my downtown guest. It became an impromptu support group for the three of them as over hummus and Tzatziki sauce they compared stories of their experiences. They were kind about the refuge we had offered, but they truly felt we flaunted our electricity and they couldn’t help but complain about non-downtown things like the multitude of stollers crowding the streets.

Thursday, November 1

Still no improvement downtown.

Wake up. Deflate. Reassemble living room. Eat.

Anderson Live!

We hoped for a quick escape…

I tried to mix it up a bit. And, the day started with an early morning trip to see Anderson Live. I hoped that taking advantage of the many available seats to live tapings in NYC would break up the monotony and give us an escape from the horrifying images of destruction that were the only thing on television.

But, as the papers had warned on Sunday, there was no place to hide from Sandy.

The show on Thursday was an hour of commentary and images from Sandy. Anderson spoke live on the air with the Mayor of Seaside Heights, NJ. Mayor Akers took long breaths between sentences and then just broke down as he said to Anderson: ‘I think I’m just so tired.’ We cried.

Seaside Heights Roller Coaster

Thankfully, Anderson taped another segment after the Sandy show and we were finally given a moment away from the storm coverage. The segment featured two lovely southern women who have just landed a webcast. The webcast features the women as they go on ghost hunts – the schtick is that the women are afraid of ghosts and hope never to find one. Very funny. And a few moments without Sandy.

Cancun Restaurant NYC

Taking The Edge Off

For dinner, we broke out and went South…Well, 50th St…but the west 50’s was now the new downtown. Cancun mexican restaurant. V good and well priced. There were three downtowners and two uptowners there. The margaritas helped to take the edge off a bit. As did the guacamole, enchiladas and my favorite: the chicken chimichanga.

Cancun Restaurant

The 8,000 Calorie Chimichanga

We were rapidly approaching the Sandy 15.

Friday, November 2

Wake up. Deflate bed. Reassemble living room. Eat.

There were rumors that the lights were slowly coming on downtown. Con Ed promised to have all power restored with limited exceptions in Manhattan by 11pm on Saturday.

We decided to celebrate and bring the week full circle with one last lunch at Cafe Luxembourg. No surprise…I had the Country Salad. It has lardons. Lardons – what’s not to love?

Country Salad

Bringing the Week Full Circle

Later that day, though power was still out downtown, the disgruntled guest headed home. Hoping for the best and sporting the first genuine smile she had worn all week, she left.

I put my apartment back in order. I did laundry. I went to the gym. I sat in silence and thought about it all.

NOW

I spent the past five days off of the island – out of New York and away from the destruction. But, I have been having very vivid dreams of sheltering the displaced. Of howling winds. Of incredibly high tides. Of floods. Of storm surges. Of the darkness.

I know how lucky I am. For me, the worst is over. Taking in the power-free set was only part of what we, the fortunate, can do.

I urge all to donate to the Red Cross or to the Mayor’s Fund To Advance New York (call 311 or text ‘NYCFUND’ to 50555). Donate. Volunteer.

Sandy has taken enough from all of us. Now it’s time to forget about her and, start losing the Sandy 15.