B’more Merry

hampden

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Year! I’m not usually the most merry person around Christmas time. I am so prone to let the stress of family, singleness, presents, traffic, etc. get the best of me. I usually come to peace with things this season by realizing that those things I struggle with are exactly why I need Jesus and He came into this world to be near to my brokenness.  And this year, I was able to find a little Christmas magic just in time.

I started to feel it when I decided to take the advice of my new Royal Farms friend and just “be.” I’m a big quality time person so the best thing about Christmas this year was the people I got to spend time with.

My favorite Christmas song is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It shows what I like Christmas to be about, the people (other than Jesus being born of course).

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas Let your heart be  light

From now on our troubles will be out of sight

Here we are as in olden days happy golden days of yore

Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more

Through the years we all will be together if the fates  allow

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a Merry Little  Christmas now..

I always think of my siblings and cousins with this song. Over the years, our family has been through a lot, but now we love the time we have together so much more and it’s just like the old days but better.

cousins
Shipley-Dembeck girls!

candyland

Candyland

cousins in candyland

All the girl cousins and nan

We made our annual stop at “candyland” aka a random house that we frolic through every year after the lights in Hampden. It’s so magical and I’m convinced one of us need to get married there one day 🙂 What are some of your holiday traditions?

layla christmas

Get this girl an agent! She has to be the cutest baby in charm city!!

Merrily yours,

Cara

10 Signs He is just Not Into You

Here is a reblog for those of you trying to navigate the dating game in Charm City!

Vincent Egoro

2573762303_365ac020f8I read a book recently titled; He is just not that into you: the no – excuse truths to understanding guys. Witten by Greg behrendt and Liz Tuccillo. I found it a great read and quite revealing.

Here are 10 signs to knowing if a guy is not into you adapted from the book:

1- He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Asking You Out: Because If he likes he will ask you out. “Let me remind you: Men find it very satisfying to get what they want. (Particularly after a difficult day of running the world.) If we want you, we will find you. If you don’t think you gave him enough time to notice you, take the time it took you to notice him and divide it by half.”

2- He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Not Calling You: Men know how to…

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Coffee and a Donut

coffee

I hate traffic. It just makes my blood boil as I feel like I’m wasting my life. I know this is not a good perspective to have and God is still teaching me patience. A particular day a few weeks ago I pulled off at a Royal Farms before getting onto 95 because I had been sitting for two hours and decided to just take a break and eat.  I got my $1 coffee, some snacks and looked for a seat. There were no open tables so I figured I should sit down and make a friend. I had brought a book with me, but clearly that was not what was in store for me that night. It’s funny how wisdom comes to us from unlikely sources and when we least expect it.

I was quickly reminded by a stranger that I’m lucky to be able to sit in traffic. He went on to share about his life and how he beat a brain tumor, a stroke, a heart attack and got out of jail only by the grace of God. There were days he sat in jail and watched the cars drive by, wishing he could be out there sitting in traffic.

He was eating fried chicken and potato wedges as we talked and I had to keep a straight face, even though the dietitian in me was cringing inside. He was the epitome of a noncompliant patient I would have seen last year for a five minute “nutrition education” as he was being wheeled out the door to go home after a second bypass surgery. He offered to share his Krispy Kreme donuts with me and insisted I have one.. he would not take no for an answer. This was a moment I had to take off my dietitian hat.

Coffee always seems to open doors for conversation and inspiration. I think it often provides more comfort than caffeine. As I sit here writing this post, I owe a lot of my energy level and motivation to a dirty chai latte from Starbucks.

We sat and talked for a while and he reminded me to stop stressing over little things and just live. He told me to be grateful for each day God gives you. I told him it’s easier said than done. He asked me why that was. He said, “It’s that simple, just live. ..Everyone gets to where they need to go eventually.”

In general, I struggle to be present each day or in the moment as I am always looking ahead to the next big thing. I look at Jesus and see how present he was with people and situations in his ministry and I strive to be more like that. This night was a good lesson in that. I became so engrossed in our conversation, that I forgot all about the traffic and lost track of time. When I finally returned to my car an hour or two later, I had several texts from people wondering if I was ok. I was grateful for the opportunity to learn from this man, and if it had not been for traffic which forced me to slow down or my newfound love of coffee, our paths probably would have never crossed.

Krispy Kremes can be a powerful thing. About a year ago, I was in DC with a friend, who wanted to get a Krispy Kreme donut when she saw the light- up sign turn on. She went on to inform me that it means the donuts are fresh out of the oven. I’m not a huge fan of glazed donuts or sweets but I got one for the sake of bonding. I ended up giving it to a homeless man later who was asking for money. I still don’t know if Karma is real, but there is some way that God works in the “pay it forward” movement. That night at Royal Farms I guess some of that kindness came back to me. A year after giving away my Krispy Kreme, I got another one and one for the road! I really believe that when we sacrifice and give, God somehow provides a way for you to bless you that much and more 🙂

I’ll end with two quotes, one from God and one from The Dalai Lama:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”-Galations 5:22-24

He said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Indian Vegetable Curry

Check out the blog that inspired my latest post!

Kinsey Cooks

As someone who cooks and reads for pleasure, it’s not uncommon for a book to inspire a meal or recipe. Anything written by Jumpa Lahiri is no exception. I recently finished her collection of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, and and enjoyed it just as much, if not more, than The Namesake and Interpreter of Maladies. Her writing is formulaic to a certain degree; her works often involve Bengali immigrants in the Cambridge area adjusting to life in America while dealing with loss or heartache. The stories are predictable, but the characterization and attention to detail is what draws me in every time. What I find incredible is her focus on food—what role it plays in the family dynamic as well as the long hours the women spend preparing and serving the food. The food shows a subtle transition to a Western lifestyle, a theme seen in all of…

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Good for your sinuses!

photo

Here is a great example of using what my Daddy taught me… and fulfilling my constant craving for ethnic food. My sister and I made some homemade Indian food tonight! I’m not a big fan of recipes, but my sister insisted. We made some modifications and tweaked it as I saw fit.

indian curry

Indian Vegetable Curry

Serves 4-6

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes or 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

2 tablespoons sweet or mild curry powder

1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, finely diced

12 oz. red potatoes, cut into a ½ inch dice

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chili, minced (seeds and ribs removed if you’re sensitive to heat)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon tomato paste

½ head cauliflower (about 1 ½ lbs.), cored and cut into 1 inch florets

1, 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon table salt

1 ¼ cups water

1 ½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen

1.If using canned tomatoes, transfer them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5-6 times until finely chopped, then set aside. If using fresh tomatoes, this step is unnecessary.

2.In a large, heavy bottomed pot, toast the curry powder and garam masala until fragrant over medium heat, about 1 minute. Transfer the spices to a small bowl and set aside. In the same pot heat the vegetable oil over medium heat and add the onion and potatoes. Sauté for 10-12 minutes, until the onions have softened and the edges of the potatoes are beginning to brown. Clear a space in the center of the pan and add the garlic, serrano, ginger and tomato paste and sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. Add the toasted spices and stir to combine, letting them toast again until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cauliflower to the pot and toss thoroughly for 2-3 minutes, until the cauliflower is well coated with the spices and aromatics.

3.Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, water, and salt, turn the heat to medium-high, and simmer briskly for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are tender. Add the peas, stir to combine, and let simmer until the peas are hot, 2-3 minutes. Transfer the curry to a serving bowl and serve immediately with basmati rice and naan.

http://kinseycooks.com/2013/10/02/indian-vegetable-curry/

-We subbed 1 lb frozen cauliflower for the fresh- By the way, I believe that cauliflower and white vegetables are underappreicated since they don’t look like they have much color or nutrients in them. However, cauliflower is a great source of glucosinolates-sulfur containing compounds that help prevent cancer. A one cup serving of raw cauliflower contains 320 mg of potassium and 52 mg of Vitamin C.
http://www.livestrong.com/article/410151-the-health-benefits-of-cauliflower/
-We used dried ginger instead of fresh-just reduce by 1/3
-We added extra water since there wasn’t really enough sauce
-We skipped the chili since I don’t do well with too much spice
-We used a blender for the tomatoes since I did not feel like cleaning my food processor at the end of all of this

Of course, I didn’t measure the spices exactly and I may have added a bit more garlic than the recipe called for. It was delicious though! Everything I love about chana masala plus some extra veggies!

This isn’t completely authentic since we did not use basmati rice and we did not make naan. That will be a cooking adventure for another time 🙂

Chip off the ‘ol block

chip salad

Hello from Chipparelli’s! I celebrated a very special going away dinner Thursday night for my dear friend Mhinjine. Little Italy in Baltimore set the scene for this lovely dinner. We were supposed to see the tree lighting in Mt. Vernon, but gave up when parking proved to be impossible. The night ended up being just what we all needed. Good food, wine, people, laughter, and conversations about saving the world with healthy food, one corner store at a time.

My mom used to work as a waitress at Chipparelli’s back in the day, and the family joke is that she worked there just long enough to steal the famous recipe for their salad dressing. That may be where I got some of my waitressing skills from… or my love of salad. This salad has become famous in my family and is a staple at every Christmas Eve dinner. I’m not usually a fan of iceberg lettuce due to its lack of flavor and nutrients, but the combination of that with the oil, vinegar and freshly grated parmesan in the dressing made for buttery taste with a little crunch, making it one of the best salads I’ve ever had. Sorry  mom, Chipparelli’s does it better than you…

chianti

After our salads came, I started off with a glass of Chianti (my brother, the Italian wine connoisseur’s favorite). Chianti, which comes from the Chianti region in central Tuscany, is hard to describe. It reminds me of Malbec with its spiciness. According to wine-searcher.com, it is characterized by its red and black cherry character, with notes of wild herbs, mint and spice, supported by a racy acidity and mellow tannins. It must be aged for a minimum of four months. It paired really well with the Gnocchi Bolognese that I ordered.

chip gnocchi

I heard from a friend that the gnocchi is one of dishes Chipparelli’s is known for.  I’m glad I took his advice! I love gnocchi and have tried quite a variety during my culinary adventures. The menu described them as handmade fresh ricotta dumplings with a traditional ragú of beef, pork & veal. These were the lightest, fluffiest little pillows of heaven I’ve ever had. This dish was so light, I did not feel like there was a ton of bricks in my stomach. I’m usually one to default to a vegetarian option when I got out to eat, but the meat had so much flavor and I’m glad I tried something different.

chip tiramisu

The night would not be complete without dessert. There is always room for dessert, and we got three forks so it worked out to be just enough. I don’t have a huge sweet tooth, but I make an exception for anything involving chocolate and/or coffee. The Tiramisu, which literally means “pick me up” in Italian, was creamy and rich, not too heavy, with subtle notes of coffee and a light dusting of cocoa on top. Perfection. My brother made us some Tiramisu when he came back from studying in Italy and I must say he did well because this authentic home-made Tiramisu from Little Italy reminded me of what he made us a few months ago. Maybe he is the chip off the ‘ol block!

Please pay Chipparelli’s a visit next time you are in Little Italy!

http://www.chiapparellis.com/