Friday, February 17, 2012

Burgers NYC


On Valentine’s night, while everyone was packing themselves into restaurants like sardines; or waiting outside in the cold for a table to free up, Edward and I took refuge in the near empty and QUIET New York Burger Co..

No matter how hungry I am, I never ever manage to finish a burger. Thankfully New York Burger Co. has a mini burger option (above) which was perfect for me! And although their sauce bar looked inviting, I wasn’t feeling adventurous that night so I stuck to regular old ketchup. And best of all, they serve wiiiiiinne!

I’ve had burgers at places where the meat is unseasoned and bland, but the burgers are New York Burger Co. were tasty, juicy and muy delicioso.

There are plenty of great burger joints in New York which I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting.

I don’t have a ‘go to’ burger joint, but Brother Jimmy’s BBQ makes great burgers and also has that mini burger option for me. Connelly’s is an Irish pub (where you wouldn’t expect to find a good burger) and although some might not agree with me, Connolly’s makes the most amazing Incredible Lamb Burger. These burgers are not beef, but The Ainsworth makes appetizing crab cake sliders.

If you love burgers, making your own is the best way to go because you can dash and dice your ingredients to flavor your burgers to taste exactly how you like them. And if you don’t have a grill, no worries, the George Forman grill works just fine… and your burgers will be better (healthier) for you.

My favorite burgers to make are the Bordertown Burgers with Spicy Onions. This Tabasco recipe, which was recommended to me by Daisy, can also be made with ground turkey. The recipe serves four, but I make slider size portions and serve them on mini buns with sweet potato fries. Mmmm…

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 slices Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted
  • Mixed baby greens

PREPARATION

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion and cook 5 minutes or until golden brown, stirring often. Stir in 1 tablespoon TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce and the Worcestershire sauce; mix well and remove from heat.

Combine ground beef, cilantro, green onion, salt and the remaining 3 tablespoons TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce; mix well and shape into 4 burgers. Grill over medium-high heat to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Top each burger with a slice of cheese and grill just until melted. Place on buns and top with spicy onions and baby greens.

I plan on making it my business to broaden my horizons and visit at least five of the ten restaurants which were rated for having the best burgers in New York.

I’ll add Five Guys to that list because there is one near my job and I’ve heard all sorts of good stuff about their food.

Now on the Ten Best…

    25 W. Houston St.
    New York, NY 10012

2. Burger Joint
    Le Parker Meridien New York
    119 W. 56th St.
    New York, NY 10019
    331 W. Fourth St.
    New York, NY 10014
    299 Bowery St.
    New York, NY 10003
    5724 Roosevelt Ave.
    Woodside, NY 11377
    548 Court St.
    Brooklyn, NY 11231

7. Mark
    33 St. Marks Pl.
    New York, NY 10003
    5 E. 51st St.
    New York, NY 10022
    Madison Square Park
    New York, NY 10010

10. Stand
      24 E. 12th St.
      New York, NY 10003

Enjoy and until next time, happy eating!

~Louise C.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Schmalentine’s


My reason for not being a fan of Valentine's Day is because I don’t believe that love is something that should be expressed or shown just this one day. Love is ever the more meaningful and true when shared on a random day when the expression has nothing to do with a commercialized holiday.

Like the majority of the population, I used to get sucked into this day. I remember getting bent out of shape and my feelings all hurt because an ex-boyfriend bought me a Valentine's Day card but didn’t fill it out. This left me feeling all boo-hoo-hoo, but I could have spent that boo-hoo energy on something way more productive.

Valentine's Day is what you make if it and even though this holiday is romanticized, it doesn’t have to be about romance. It could simply be about the ones you love. Whether it be your parents, your friends, your children, your grandparents or siblings; Valentine's Day is valid for all of the above.

If you’re single don’t look at couples and be all ‘whoa is me’ because they have someone to go to dinner with and you don’t. I’ve learned (and am still learning) not to judge relationships from what they look like on the outside. Today might be the only day of the year that that couple you’re checking out is having dinner and if it wasn’t Valentine's Day that dinner might not be happening at all. Focus on the people you do have who love you and be happy because everyone else might not be as blessed with love as you.

So don’t take me out just today. Don’t send me flowers just today. Don’t love me just today. Do this for me any and every day.

And I am blessed that today, tomorrow and always I am and will be loved.

Wishing you LOVEly days and plenty!

~Love Louise

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Resolutions for Baibe

This Saturday I spent a good amount of time watching the ‘My Cat From Hell’ marathon. Although I am a cat mom, I refrain from anything that would classify me as a cat lady. This includes watching TV shows about cats. I love watching ‘The Dog Whisperer’ but just seeing the word ‘cat’ in the ‘My Cat From Hell’ title deterred me from watching it.

Although it couldn’t be further from the truth for some, people who have cats are associated with knitting, hoarding and having cobwebs on their vaginas; because if you have a cat you couldn't possibly have a man. And if you are a man with a cat, then you certainly have a vagina where your penis should be.

Dog owners are associated with coolness, couples and children that were created from said ‘cool couple’ engaging in sexual activity that cat owners don’t engage in.
 
The only reason I ended up watching the show is because of Edward and his channel surfing habit. “Weezy!” he called from the living room, “You need to watch this. You could learn a few things to help the fat cat.” I gave him a dirty look as I sat down (she’s not fat, she’s just…curvy).

After watching a few episodes, I actually learned so much that I ended up making a list for Baibe who I thought was a hopeless cause in some areas. (For those of you who aren't familiar with Baibe, she’s my cat and my first born child, even though I wasn’t the one who gave birth to her.)
 
The first item on my list was Buy Baibe Teaser Toy.

In every single episode the host Jackson solved most of the cat’s issues with this magic toy. It brought guards down and created bonds between humans and antisocial cats; and Baibe can be extremely antisocial.

It served as an exercise and weight lose mechanism; and Baibe needs to lose weight. When you are active, you look and feel better about your life and yourself. Exercise releases endorphins, which serves for a happier person... and apparently serves for a happier cat. Also cats are hunters and this toy enables Baibe to do what she was meant to be doing instead of lounging on the couch all day.

This toy can also be used to distract Baibe and coax her out of her hallway spot so that my guests can get to the bathroom without fearing for their lives.

I went to the pet store in my neighborhood and bought the toy the first chance I had.

Baibe was lounging on the couch when I got home but the second I waved the teaser in front of her, her response was immediate (as it was with every single cat on the show).

My video skills aren’t as good in the first video, but you can still see the activity.

(Please excuse the messy wires in the background.)
video

video

The latter video was her second wind, which is why she's taking breaks in between, even so, I haven't seen Baibe move like that in quite some time... and it's my fault. I'm really sorry that I didn't know about this toy and its benefits sooner. Baibe and I will be using this toy everyday as Baibe could stand to lose at least three - five pounds.

Which brings me to the second item on my list: Put Baibe on a Feeding Schedule. On the weekends I like to sleep in and I don't want her waking me up so I leave her extra food. I refuse to have a cat dictate my sleeping schedule, but maybe this will prove to me that she really doesn’t eat as much I think she does. Jackson, the host and miracle worker of ‘My Cat From Hell’ informed me (yes, he was talking to me) that cats aren’t grazers so she only needs to eat twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night.

The third item on my list is Buy a Lounge Scratcher.


Baibe has a scratcher but I learned that it isn't wide enough for her. I need to buy one that is more inviting. She is pretty good about not scratching the furniture but every once in a while she does. Since I know that she's loves to put herself into boxes, I know that she will love the lounge scratcher.

The last item on my list is Brush Her. I didn't see this on the show but it's something I am bad at keeping up with and it's something she needs me to do to prevent her from getting hair balls.

I was so relieved after watching the show because, although my cat is a little crazy, she wasn't as crazy as any of the cats on that show, yet Jackson was able to reform all of them in as little as two weeks. Phew! Baibe, there is hope for you yet.
 
The true test will be to see if the bonding exercises work with someone who is not me or Edward.
 
Baibe will be ten this year, so here’s hoping that these changes will add years to her life.

~ Louise C.

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Clear the Roads, Y'all. I'm a Driver!


With all of the mass transit in NYC, there isn't a real requirement for you to have a driver's license. In suburbia, most teenagers know how to drive before they turn 16, but in the city, if you never want to learn how to drive, you don’t have to because isn’t necessary.

With limited street space for parking, having a car can actually be more of a financial burden. Especially in this crowded city that’s already expensive to live in. Even so, I wanted to learn how to drive because I like to go places and I hate having to rely on others to get me there.

I don’t have a car and I don’t need one to get around so I didn’t have a real reason to learn how to drive. Learning how to drive was just something I’d had on my list for a long time. Especially since I’m an antsy person with grand ideas of adventure.

After witnessing a friend of mine suffer through several shady driving schools, I was leery of which one I should chose until my friend Clarissa (Gotta give her credit, cause I don’t want to hear no lip from her) suggested that I check out US Auto School. I bit the bullet and set up an appointment for a few driving lessons.

The experience I had with US Auto School was filled with so much care and professionalism, that it left no room for the shadiness that my friend experienced with other driving schools. The fact that they have at home pick up for your lessons also adds brownie points to their reputation.

Being that this was going to be my first time ever being the wheel, I was excited, but I was also extremely anxious. In the elevator I said a prayer that my instructor, Mr. Hamilton, would be nice and patient. I know how I am and if someone is mean and impatient, I won’t learn a thing and it will ruin the urge for me to want to learn anything.

Mr. Hamilton (who turned out to be very, very nice) put me behind the wheel immediately. “Have you ever driven before?” he asked. My booty has never even sat in a driver’s seat before… Well, maybe when I was about four-years-old and I would play ‘pretend driving’ in my daddy’s car, but that’s not what he was asking.

“Oh, no! Why me?” He chuckled to himself. “I’m getting all of the first timers today.”

He calmly talked me through adjusting my mirrors, the difference in the gear shifts, the difference between the two pedals at my feet (Yeah, those are important).

“Can I use my right foot for the right pedal and my left foot for the left pedal?”

“No!”

Then the told me to turn the wheel all the way to the left and take my foot off the break…

“Um, now?”

“Yes, now.”

“Now?”

“Well, no. Not anymore, you took too long. Now, there is a bus coming. After that bus passes us….”

“That big bus behind us…?”

Mr. Hamilton and I spent and hour and a half together and in that short amount of time he taught me how to drive him around my neighborhood, how to parallel park and how to do a three point turn.

“An hour and a half ago, you couldn’t drive and now look at you!” Mr. Hamilton said when I pulled up to my building at the end of the lesson. I squealed and gave him a big hug.

I had a fantabulous experience learning how to drive mostly because Mr. Hamilton was AMAZING!! He was calm, patient and extremely encouraging. He only got excited when necessary. Like during my second lesson when he told me to make a right turn and I didn’t turn the wheel all the way to the right and ended up blocking traffic in the intersection. “TURN THE WHEEL!! YOU HAVE CARS BEHIND YOU!!”

The thing that surprised me about myself was that I never got nervous. Those cars could wait or go around me. I was a student driver. It said so in big letters on the car.

Because I don’t have a car that I can practice my driving in, Mr. Hamilton and I spent many months together until he finally told me that I needed to cut the cord, stop booking lessons and just take my road test already. He’d even trusted me with his life on the highway so I trusted that he knew I was ready to take my road test.

Before scheduling the road test though, you have to sit through what I expected to be a boring ass five-hour class. Because the US Auto School office is in Brooklyn and I am in the Bronx, I scheduled my five-hour class with The Six Step Formula Driving School being that it was in walking distance.

Mr. Figueroa, the owner of The Six Step Formula Driving School, began his class by saying, “I’m sure you were all told that you had to sit through a boring five-hour class, but you’re in for a big surprise!!”

Instead of letting us sit and watch videos all day, Mr. Figueroa mixed up his class by interacting with us and acting out different scenarios which engaged us and made the class much more interesting than I expected. I wouldn’t want to sit through that class again, but Mr. Figueroa’s way of teaching actually made the class fun.

Now, that I had my five-hour certificate, I could schedule my road test. My first road test was an absolute disaster. I completely blanked out from nervousness and didn’t do anything that the road test instructor asked me to do. My second try was much better, but I still failed.

By the time my third road test came around, this past Monday, I was completely over it. If it wasn’t for all of the money I had spent on lessons I would have given up. There was no real reason for me to do this anyway. It’s not like I even have a car to drive. I’m wasting my vacation days on this road test biz… I had such a bad attitude, but I forced myself to change my mindset in hopes of passing the road test this time.

I read an article which suggested that if you have something that you think of as a good luck charm, that you should bring it with you when you go on a job interview. Something happens to you psychologically when you have your good luck charm on you which makes you exude confidence and positivity resulting in you landing the job.

I don’t have nor do I believe in good luck charms, but still, I put on some makeup, spritzed on some perfume and told myself in the mirror, “When you look good you feel good. When you smell good you feel good and when you feel good, good things happen for you.” And then I prayed. I also took note that this day was a sunny day and my pervious road tests took place on rainy days. I decided to use the sun as a mental good luck charm.

Feeling good about looking and smelling good on a sunny day must have worked, because this time, I PASSED!!! Maybe the third time really is the charm.

Road test instructors are rude and mean, (I don’t understand why they have to be because they can be still be nice and fail you.) but this time I ended up with one who actually smiled and asked how I was doing before getting into the car with me. Her pleasant attitude might have also contributed to me doing well even though I was still nervous. But who cares, I GOT MY DRIVER’S LICENSE!

Where am I going with my driver’s license? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll frame it and hang it in my hallway because I’m scared as shit to drive a car by myself.

I wonder if US Auto School will allow me to hire Mr. Hamilton to sit in the car with me whenever I decide to drive somewhere. I know that’s not really allowed, but I wish it were. Either way, Mr. Hamilton already warned me not to call him for any more lessons and I can’t promise that I won’t. He doesn’t scare me! Driving without him in the car scares me.

Ugh, I don’t even know how to put gas in the car! All things I will learn eventually, I guess.

Anyway (think positive!), to becoming a safe, confident driver… and hopefully a few road trips to come!

~Louise C.

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