Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What I've Been Eating -- Western Mass

So, you guys know me by now. I disappear sometimes, it happens. Working full time, participating in community theater, apartment hunting, and trying to fit in a social life all interfere with me creating or experimenting with new recipes for you. And for me.

I also have been modeling in Bridal Shows! Lots of fun :)
It's sad, I know. But hang in there with me for a little longer and I promise this blog will be back, and how! I'll have my own kitchen, possibly my mom's Kitchen Aid mixer, and no money! So I'll have that cool Girl-on-a-Budget edge to my blog, woo-hoo! Yeah, that last part isn't quite SO thrilling, but overall I think I'll be one happy lady in my new kitchen and possibly my starter collection of cats. Plus I follow awesome blogs like Poor Girl Eats Well to guide me, so I'm sure I'll be just fine. :)

But, however busy I may be, you know I always find time for food. And though my usual "What I've Been Eating" posts tend to be saved for things like vacations, I thought I'd highlight good ol' Western Mass in this one. Mostly because, well, that's where I've been lately... The pictures are all taken with my phone, which only has a 2 megapixel camera. My Canon is just too big to lug around everywhere I'm afraid!

Bernie's Dining Depot--My family went here for dinner using a gift card my stepdad won. I've been here before and though I haven't gotten many things off the menu, you don't go to Bernie's for anything but the prime rib. It's seriously fantastic. I don't think you get the full experience of this steak from the picture alone. In fact, I know you don't. This thing was as wide as my FACE (that's big, I have a large head), and easily over an inch thick. And it was soo tender and juicy and came with a million sides--that they actually have to serve to you on the side because there's no room on the plate! This steak lasted me three dinners. And it costs under $20 for the meal. I highly suggest calling ahead though, especially on a weekend, because the wait can be hours and the prime rib has been known to sell out. Bernie's Dining Depot 749 James Street, Chicopee MA (413) 539-9268

I just thought this was pure genius and I had to share. I got Wendy's a lot during the play, mostly just baked potatoes but a few times a burger and fries, and one day THIS was in my bag when I asked for ketchup. YOU CAN SQUEEZE IT OR USE FOR DUNKING! Excellent. No mess, and I can dunk five fries at a time while balancing it on my knee and driving to rehearsal. Perfect!

I'm going to be honest with you, I can't remember if this is from where I think it's from. But I'm going to use this random picture I found on my phone to rave about another new favorite place (also I'm 75% sure this is actually where it's from): Second Street Bakery in Turners Falls. It's a bit of a drive for me on my lunch break, but when I can make it the soups and salads are just excellent. Fresh and homemade :) My only complaint is that it's only open for lunch, so I can never sneak over before play rehearsal for a soup and sandwich! And, as you can see, they have pastries. Ohhh do they have pastries. Tasty, tart lemon squares are my weakness, and chocolate eclairs even more so! I haven't even made a dent in all the delicious desserts they have to offer, but I'm definitely working on it and they've yet to disappoint. And they even do custom cakes and cupcakes and whatnot. Second Street Baking Company, 69 2nd Street, Turners Falls MA.

It's that time of year again! Shamrock Shake time! I actually prefer the chocolate shakes, but something about the Shamrock Shake is just nostalgic for me. My mom would get one for me as a special treat as soon as they appeared on the menu :) I am not really thrilled with the new cups though. I almost feel like the paper cup made it taste different... better... but I am a big fan of the whipped cream and cherry on top!

Smithsonian Cafe and Chowder House--I was so excited that the former owners of The Smithsonian (a great restaurant from my hometown) opened up a chowder house/cafe! I was having hard cravings for their Lobster Bisque and now I can fulfill them any time I'd like :) The place is set up mostly for take out, with a few tables and chairs if you'd like to eat there. There's a small breakfast and lunch menu, gourmet coffee, and some pastries. Oh! And the popovers! I had never had one before, and I believe I am hooked. Fluffy, flaky, warm, delicious popovers... perfect for sopping up soup. I hear their seafood chowder is legendary, and I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the 2 for $5 lobster salad rolls--I mean, can you even believe that? If you're going North on 91, go off the exit in Hatfield and have a bite. You won't be sorry! Smithsonian Cafe and Chowder House 1 West Street, Hatfield MA (413) 247-5157

Ohh Zen. How I love you. I will always love you. Whenever I meet a kindred sushi spirit, I take them here. Most locals will direct you to Osaka when you ask for the best sushi in town, but I know better. Osaka is okay, and their menu boasts many good rolls, but Zen just always tastes a bit fresher and more flavorful to me. Also I've never had to wait long for a table, and the staff is very friendly and helpful. There was even a time I could walk in and they'd know exactly what I was going to order, and are always enthusiastic about suggesting new rolls. I have converted non-believers, and even those who thought sushi was just something they did not like. I have yet to have better sushi, and I've even tried sushi on both coasts now. Nothing compares. Maybe it will just always have a special place in my heart, and no other sushi will taste quite as good no matter what. Who knows! The spicy tuna roll is fantastic, and most rolls I enjoy here contain spicy tuna in some respect. My one regret is that I like the sushi TOO much, that I've never sampled anything else on the menu! I assume it's all excellent though. And maybe some day I'll venture from my beloved sushi page and give it a try ;) Zen 41 Main Street, Northampton MA (413) 582-6888

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!

I wish I had some sort of silly heart-shaped dessert of some sort to share with you all, alas! I have not had a spare second of time in which to bake, cook, or really eat much at all in the past month or so.

As a consolation, here's a picture of me and a friend dressed up as pirates for our upcoming play this weekend:

I'm the one on the right--I play Anne Bonny, the famous lady pirate!

I hope it helps.

If you're in the Western Mass area, I highly suggest you check out The New Renaissance Players Present: Treasure Island at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls. It's a swashbuckling good time!

I have some restaurant reviews to put up, and hopefully someday soon another recipe. ONE MONTH UNTIL I MOVE INTO MY APARTMENT!

All sorts of exciting things happening :) Yar!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy February and other random bits and stuff -- Plus some news!!

Happy February! 14 days until that tragic little holiday everyone seems to dislike.

I've never quite disliked it, but I also haven't been single during it in some time. Not sure if you'd call what I am at the moment "single" but we're certainly not quite in bf/gf territory yet so for VDay purposes I suppose you'd call me single. Anyway, I'll be at rehearsal that night anyway, so at least the stress will be off for what to do on the actual "holiday," hah.

Below is a Valentines Day dinner I made a few years ago. It was awesome and delicious and I highly recommend it if you're trying to impress a new or returning boyfriend of sorts. I got the recipe from an ancient recipe card I found and this is what I remember.

Basically: rub the steak (ribeye) with herbs de provence and refrigerate for at least an hour. Meanwhile, mix together equal parts butter (somewhat softened but not room temp) and Gorgonzola cheese. Roll the mixture into a log and refrigerate until firm. Cook the steak to your liking (medium and lots of pink, please!) then serve with a pat of the Gorgonzola butter and what appears to be some parsley garnish. For the carrots--cook in gingerale until the carrots are soft with a bit of a bite and the gingerale is reduced. The potatoes are twice-baked potatoes and I cannot for the life of me remember how to do those besides cook potatoes, scrape out most of insides, mix insides with delicious things, place back in potato and cook for longer.

Anyway, one play down... one to go. I have very few days off before my next play goes up at the end of the month, so I doubt I'll get too much cooking in. HOWEVER.

I have some news.


This is beyond exciting. As you may know, I've been living with my parents for about two years now, and though I do love them, I feel like I can't truly "grow up" unless I am living on my own again. Below are some pictures from my Boston apartment I lived in during the last two years of college, that I miss sorely:

Wasn't it adorable? I plan on having an equally well-stocked kitchen and shockingly-pink-decorated room again :) I'll be rooming with my theater buddy, Reggie, and we are so excited for all the various shenanigans we'll certainly get into. Plus another friend of mine lives in the same complex, and we are already absolutely giddy about the recipes we will create together. SHE HAS A KITCHEN-AID MIXER. I am envy-ing all over the place.

This complex also has a pool. And I can get a cat. I CAN GET A CAT!

We have paid the deposit, viewed other apartments in the complex, and as long as our apartment looks good and pretty as of March 1st we are all set to move in!

Though it puts my plans for moving to LA on hold for the time being, I know it's the right decision. I need my own space (and kitchen!!) and I need to be at my wonderful job right now. Plus, I need to remind myself how to pay bills like an adult if I'm going to end up doing it on the other side of the country, right?

Guys, this means recipes. Soon. Lots of them.

Mid-March cannot come soon enough!