Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pralines, Kids

I made pralines.  I don't really know why.  Oh wait, yes I do.  BECAUSE THEY'RE DELICIOUS!

After our trip to New Orleans, I fell in love with pralines.  I don't really know why I was so surprised.  I mean, I love sugar.  I love candy.  And I love pecans.  In fact, when we used to have the Orchard Harvest Salad at Panera (I miss Panera!), I would eat the pecans straight off the line when it was slow.  Pecan, pecan, pecan.

Panera probably doesn't miss me violating health codes and stuff.

So anyways.  Pralines.  Let's make em.  I used this recipe because I did not want a praline recipe from some random place.  I wanted New Orleans Pralines.  I'm an elitist.

Lezz go!

You need white sugar and light brown sugar.   You also need to make sure that you don't have an aversion to sugar because that's pretty much the bulk of this whole recipe.

You also need half & half.  Actually, you're supposed to use light cream, but the Bronx didn't have any of that.  So we'll bootleg this part.

There are a lot of things that I expect the grocery stores outside my apartment to be missing (ripe avocados? Frozen fruit? Baked Lays?), but light cream really wasn't one of them.  I should be used to this by now.

Combine the above in a saucepan over medium heat and start stirring.  Do not eat.  Trust me, it will just begin a vicious circle that will lead you to eat so much sugar that you don't even want a praline at the end.  I speak from experience.

Psst... I ate some.  And I still ate a praline at the end.  It was worth it.

Keep stirring until the sugar begins to boil.  Starting to see bubbles...

Okay, here some a few more... but not quite...

Yes!  That's what we want to see.  Rejoice.  Do not eat.  For real this time.  It is very, very, very hot.  You will burn yourself.  I speak from experience.

Please, my friends, learn from my shortcomings.

Guess what?  These aren't pecans.  Because the Bronx doesn't have any of those, either.  They don't even have them at the fake Nuts 4 Nuts stand.  I checked.  So these are walnuts.  Whatever nut substance you have (teeheehee), you want to add it now.

We're makin' Bronx Pralines now, people.  Get your big kid pants on.

Whee!!!  One and a half cups.

Also add two tablespoons of butter at this point.  If you're Paula Deen, add four times that amount.  In other words, a full stick.  If Paula Deen read my blog, that would be awesome.  I wonder if she's seen this blog yet...

Then STIR!  Don't wimp out on me.

Oh dear.  Oh my.  Candy-coated walnut cluster.  Seriously, do not eat this.  It's still very hot.  I speak from experience.

Then, I decided to add some salt, because nothing goes better with caramel-like substance than salt.  Salty-sweet nom!  Also, if I add salt, I can say that I "modified" the recipe, and therefore, it is my own.  Tricky, tricky, tricky!

BAM!  Salt.  Stir it in, then let the pot sit off the heat for a little while, until you can tell that it's starting to firm up.

Drop spoonfuls of the warm candy onto a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or wax paper.  I was planning to use one of the thirteen rolls of wax paper that I bought for the Mimes back in October, but I was too lazy to walk to the theater.

Mannnn, do these look good.  They'll be hard in five to ten minutes (and they're even better when they're still warm!).

But guess what...

GUESS WHAT?!?!....

We're not done yet, kids.

Because I had this brilliant idea... what if we made pralines with pretzels in them???

Ohhh yeah.  Just do the same as above, adding pretzels instead of walnuts.

Oh yeah, this was totally a good idea.  But I still don't think this is done...

Chocolate.  Yes.   Now you're speaking my language.

I don't have final pictures of the concoctions because I had to make dinner and run off the the Vag Mons, but everyone who ate them looked a bit like these two cuties:

I just can't handle it.  Speaking of that, I started a Tumblr.  Follow me!

Recipe (with my modifications) is below!

TGIT (Thank God It's Tuesday),
New Orleans Bronx Pralines
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1.5 cups walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tsp salt
Combine sugars and half & half in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally to a boil.  When mixture becomes thick, add walnuts, butter, and salt, and continue to cook until desired thickness (or viscosity, if you prefer, fancy!).  Remove from heat for 5-10 minutes, so that the mixture is starting to harden but is still liquid.  Drop onto wax paper or aluminum foil in balls.  Allow to cool.  Eat with vigor and zest.

Variation: substitute pretzel sticks for walnuts and drizzle melted chocolate on top!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

From the Subway

The stretch of the uptown D train ride that runs express from 59th to 125th street is a good time to blog.  No stops, no people getting on or off, and no need to be constantly on the move for an open seat to sit in.  Because if the train stops and you aren't paying attention, you're never going to get to sit down.  And that is just not a fate I am willing to succumb to.

If I am ever riding the subway downtown by myself, there is a specific seat that I want to sit in.  I walk down the stairs to the D train station on the north side of Fordham Road at Grand Concourse, walk all the way down to the local platform, and stand to the right of the second blue post that is visible when you round the corner.  This is exactly where a set of doors will open.  I make sure that I am in the front of the crowd waiting for the doors to open because I want the seat directly next to the doors on the opposite site, to the right.  If this seat is not open, I am very unhappy.  For some reason, last semester when I commuted to class on Monday nights, I decided that I liked this seat on the subway the best and needed to sit in that seat.  Now, any other seat that is on the end, by a set of doors, is also okay, because then you get ample arm room.  But my preferred seat is the best one.

See?  This is my point.  We stop at 125th street and all of a sudden I have lost my ability to be the sole person holding the middle pole (not dirty) to a wannabee rapper smells like smoke, has his music is too loud, and is encroaching on my business with his rapping hand motions.  This is not a club, and I want to listed to Mumford & Sons.  The beatbox background is very distracting.

Once again, running express from 145th to Tremont, and I have reclaimed my sole pole status (not dirty again).  The D train is certainly running on love today, as the rush hour express stop changes have emptied out the majority of the train, except those who know what's good for them and are going to Tremont or further, like me.  I love it when the D train runs on love.

Working until 6 today has put me an hour behind schedule today, which means that I will have to hope that hunger stays away until 8pm when my workout is done or skip working out today.  Such choices... such options.  I think we all know which one I am more likely to pick, but being surrounded by SELF Magazines, workout plans, and eating habits does tip the scales a bit.

GET IT???  TIP THE SCALES???  Man, I didn't even mean to do that this time.

Plus, I ate three quarters of a Hershey bar at 4:30.  Here's the thing about Hershey bars... if you buy one, you will probably eat it.  I should have accepted that fact going into the purchase.

And now, approximately three minutes before I have to get off the subway, I have acquired a seat.  This is very helpful (she said with sarcasm).  But perhaps all that standing will offset the delicious confections I plan on making tonight.  I wanted to make pralines... but I couldn't get any pecans... so I will put pretzels in them instead.  Salty-sweet delectables... I think I'm onto something.

Fordham stop arrival.  Blog post end.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gupta 2.0

First, let's take a look at my first bit of humor on Monday morning:

This week has been back to normal, back to New York, and back to absolutely terrible weather.  Monday was raining, yesterday was colder than desired, and today was snow.  Oh, excuse me, but I'm pretty sure that mid-March is considered something like spring?  Shows how little I know about the Northeast.

I've been feeling creative lately, as I determined on the subway ride to Conde Nast on Monday.  As I told Andrea, I didn't bring a book or anything, so the ride felt even longer because I was just doing so much thinking.  It was just nothing... but thinking!

Sometimes I say really intelligent things.

And I guess that it was a great coincidence that my creative kick coincided with my painting homework due date...

Originally, my painting looked like a seahorse.  Now it looks like a vase of flowers... which was pretty much the intended goal.  And I even finished it in time to go play 7/11/doubles at Jack and Connor's with Heather and Jorgio.

And then I did a master copy in class (see original on right) which is now hanging in the hallway outside the art studio.  Which means... no homework for next week!  Best news for a senior ever (besides figuring out what you're doing the day after graduation.  Which apparently is the end of the world, now?  Silly radical Christian groups).

I meant to blog days ago, especially since I'm pretty sure that I had more to blog about then, but I got a little distracted by my new buddy...

HAILLOOO!!  Meet my new fishie, Reid.  Named after Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds, who I love and adore and lust after.  I suppose I just like naming my fish after television characters, although I hope that this one lasts longer than poor Gupta.

Why am I in this bag??  I can see the rest of the tank, but why can't I get to it??  WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEL AND CONFUSING?!?

Reid hasn't quite figured out that he can't swim throughout the whole world, as he likes to spend the majority of his time swimming against the walls of the tank.  I've tried to explain that he has to stay in the water, but he just wants to be close to me.  I do talk to him an awful lot, after all.  Andrea can hear me from her room.  I've accepted this fact.

My quirks make me interesting, okay?  Okay??  WHY WON'T YOU JUST ACCEPT ME???

Ahem.  Moving on.

Unfortunately, I now have to make my way to the library (in the rain) to work on my presentation on happiness.  The irony of this whole situation just strikes me.  Who knew that a presentation on happiness could make me so unhappy?

Dragging my feet begrudgingly...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Compilation

Over the course of our trip to NOLA, I took many pictures, as I always do.  You see, with only one other person on the trip, there was only one person to take photos of me on vacation.  And that person was Jen.  So what better way to get a person to take a picture of you than to take a picture of them first?

Thus... I ended up with the following compilation of photos...

(Dear Jen... I really love you.  Don't forget that you love me too.  Love, Courtney)

"I have no makeup on, Courtney.  Fine, I guess you can take a picture."

"Uh, okay, I don't really know why you're taking a picture, though."

"But we look like hot messes!  Okay, it's Bourbon Street."


"I'll smile while we sit on the waterfront, but it's slightly under protest."

"Why are you taking a picture of me while I'm eating??"

"Oh god.  That picture.  Not okay."

*Begrudgingly drags her feet to the railing of the steamboat*

"I love you, Court, but I'm totally getting sick of this."

"These.  Pictures.  I.  Am.  Done."

Me: "Fine, fine, I won't."

Hey, I kept my word, didn't I??

I lurve you, Jen!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break, In Sum

It's official.  I'm declaring it spring break every week.  If only.

Jen and I had the best time ever in New Orleans, and we were so glad that we decided to go.  It was sunny and in the 70's the whole time we were there, which was a much-needed change to the 40 and 50-degree weather that we came back to.  I swear I became cold-blooded and can't survive in the New York weather anymore.  Why is it March and still winter??

We did our fair share of walking, shopping, seeing, taking pictures, and of course, eating and drinking.  And when I say eating, I do mean eating.

Our goal was to eat every Nawlins food that there was to try.  Our first meal at Cafe Maspero was jambalaya, and it was accompanied by a five dollar carafe of wine.  Five.  Dollar.  Carafe.  New Orleans was already trying to lure me in.

Second meal?  Gumbo.  Not pictured is a delicious breakfast at Mother's that I was too tired and hungry to take the time to photograph before I devoured it.

Of course we stopped for beignets during our first full day.  I look really attractive.  This is approximately five minutes before I spill my entire café au lait in my lap and have to go home and change.  So much for making eyes at the group of bros at the table next to us.

Night three was "taste of New Orleans" at Oceana... crawfish etoufée, jambalaya, and red beans and rice.  I was very happy.  And very full.  Not pictured is our lunchtime po' boy.  We were not about to leave New Orleans without a po' boy.

And... to top off the food adventure... Wednesday's breakfast.  An omelette filled with delicious and covered in gravy.  Nearly killed me of both happiness and clogged arteries.

When we weren't eating, we did other things...

We sat by the river (and got sunburns).

We saw mini-parades and got beads (and nearly got impaled by them).

We took a river cruise and saw a plantation and eavesdropped on some Frenchmen (uh, what else do you do at a plantation?).

Our Fordham buddy Lyle picked us up and we went BOWLING with him and Alexis at Rock 'n Bowl.  Yes, this is a bowling alley... with live music!  It was the best.

We watched dueling pianos at Pat O's and requested some high-class music.  Specifically, "Uptown Girl" and "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."  The hurricanes at Pat O's are really deadly, clearly.

Speaking of hurricanes, we drank.  Yup, we drank.

We battled with thundersticks (I'm really not sure why this happened.  So Fordham).

We listened to this sign and ate pralines!!  I.  Want.  A.  Praline.  Right.  Now.  I considered making some today, but I realized that in going to the grocery store, I would be walking by my gym, and I just couldn't handle that.

And we finished it off by drinking whiskey by the river with fellow Tierney alum Colindactyl after hopping between like five music clubs on Frenchman Street.  I didn't take any pictures at the clubs because I didn't want to look like a tourist.  But by the time we got to the river, I didn't care very much anymore.

But seriously, I really, really loved it.  Now I feel like graduation is very imminent and I want to go on an adventure.  But I'll have to come back to that later because right now the only adventure I want to go on is an adventure to bed.  FOR SLEEPING.  Duh.  I can always tell that it's time for bed when I'm not funny anymore.  And I'm glad that Taylor doesn't read my blog because he would definitely comment on that last remark.  Butthead.

Tomorrow is going to be Jen's least favorite blog ever... get ready for mischief ;).

Nighty night!