Friday, October 28, 2011

My Little Kitchen: In a Flash Grandma's Chicken Noodle

With flu season upon us and the threat of snow tomorrow (what's with that???  It's still October!), nothing is more comforting on a cold stormy day or weathering through a crummy illness like some old fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup.  

Now, my grandmother made the best chicken noodle soup I've ever had (just as I'm sure everyone's grandmother did).  She would roast the chicken, make the stock, and homemade noodles... it was heaven.  But I'm lazy and don't have the time or space in my kitchen to do anything close to that.  However, I have mastered a recipe that is just like Grandma's and you can make it in less than 30 minutes, if that.
In a Flash Grandma's Chicken Noodle Soup
Makes 8 Servings

1 medium yellow onion, chopped
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stocks, chopped
*Note: to make this "chopping" process even faster, Trader Joe's sells chopped onions, celery, and carrots all together in a container in their produce section - 1 container of that will do just fine.
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 Tbls Olive Oil
8 cups Chicken Stock 
1 rotisserie chicken (I like the ones from Whole Foods, but any store bought one will do)
2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
3 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped (don't use dried... the fresh is worth it)
Salt and pepper to taste

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

NYC by Nicole: Immigrant Neighborhoods Food and Walking Tour

Eat your through New York City's historical immigrant neighborhoods!  Have a nosh and wander through some of New York's oldest neighborhoods.

This tour will take you through the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and back full circle to where you started.  Since there is a lot, and I mean a LOT of eating on this tour, it is recommended that you share everything (it's also cheaper that way) so you don't end up in a food coma halfway through.  But it you do it right, you'll thank me later!

NYC Immigrant Neighborhoods Food and Walking Tour
Duration: All day
Cost: Moderate $40 - 50 (includes TONS of food and admission into 2 museums)

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Starting Point A:  Breakfast in the Lower East Side
Start your morning off right with a traditional Jewish nosh.  There are two great options on Houston for a filling breakfast.

137 E Houston St, b/t 2nd Ave and Chrystie St
Cost: $4
This place has been slinging world famous knishes since 1910!  They're piping hot and delicious!

Recommendations... Potato Kinish - you can't go wrong with a classic.
- or -
179 E. Houston St., b/tEast Houston St and Chrystie St
Cost: $4
This purveyor of smoked fish and specialty foods has been around since 1914 and is a fourth generation owned store.  It's worth the pop in just to see.

Recommendations... Bialey toasted with scallion cream cheese - no one will appreciate your breath as the day goes on, but it's well worth it, so who cares.  I'm not a lox fan, but I've been told they are the best.

Eat your bialey or kinish while you make your way down Orchard Street to the Tenement Museum.

108 Orchard St., b/t Delancey and Broom
Cost: $15 - 20
This is really a NYC must see!  I can’t believe it took me so many years to come here, but I’ll be back on a regular basis.  Step back in time and into the preserved and partially restored 1863 tenement building at 97 Orchard St., where you can get an idea of how our ancestors lived when they first came to America.  It's an eye opening and extremely touching tour that I highly recommend!  Building tours are limited to 15 people, so you may want to consider buying tickets in advance.  Also, they have an awesome gift shop.

Recommendations... Getting By: Immigrants Weathering Hard Times Tour, it is extremely comprehensive and wonderful.

Next it’s time for a little taste of Chinatown…

118 Eldridge St, b/t Broome St. and Grand St.
Cost: less than $5
This is my favorite cheap eats in NYC.  Not only is it good, but it’s fresh and made right in front of you.  Watching the Chinese women make the dumplings and scallion pancakes is memorizing and fascinating.  Tip: Bring cash!  They take cards with a $9 minimum, and you could buy the whole place lunch and never hit $9.  It’s soooo cheap.

Recommendations... Get the Peeking Duck Scallion Pancake, it'll change your life.  No really, I'm not kidding.  Trust me, I know what I’m talking about.

After you’ve finished stuffing your face, it’s time to waddle down to the beautiful and historical synagogue on Eldridge.

12 Eldridge St
Cost: $8 - 10
This is a Jewish Synagogue that was built in 1887.  They recently finished a 20 year restoration and it was well worth it.  This place is beautiful, serene and historical.  Another must see.

  • ·         Do one of the free guided tours they offer.  They have them every half hour.
  • ·         Mondays are free.
Now it’s time to hit up little Italy and have a little gabagool, as Tony Soprano would say.

Grand Street, b/t Mott St. and Mulberry St.
Cost: Depends 
These are the two best Italian deli and cheese markets in Little Italy and they’re right next to each other.  You can’t go wrong with anything in these places.  Pop in, grab a little smattering of cheese, cured meats, and maybe a stuffed pepper or two and continue on your way.

37 Spring St, b/t Mott St. and Mulberry St.
Cost: $4 - 7
This rice pudding bar in NoLita is one of a kind.  They have 20+ types of rice pudding (and you can try them all before you decide).  It’s a great stop for a sweet treat.  The portions are big and the pudding is very rich.

Recommendations... Man Made Mascarpone Rice Pudding with roasted cherries, it’s rich, subtle but not too sweet – it’s to die for and clearly my favorite.

263 Mulberry Street, b/t Prince St. and Houston St.
Cost: Free
If you've watched The Godfather, you've seen the inside St. Patrick's Old Cathedral—this is where the infamous baptism scene was filmed. It’s New York’s first Cathedral Church, built in 1818.  The outside doesn't look like much, but it’s unbelievably stunning on the inside.  There's a maze of mortuary vaults underneath the cathedral, and the outdoor cemetery is the final resting place for notable and historic New Yorkers.

Finish up your tour of Little Italy and NoLita by ending full circle back in the Lower East Side.  Round off your day of eating with an old fashioned pastrami or corned beef sandwich.

H: Katz Deli 
205 E Houston St, b/t Avenue A and Essex St
Cost: $20 
This is hands down my favorite Delicatessen in NYC, and there are a lot of good ones to choose from.  It’s been around since 1888 and has been in numerous movies, most famously where Sally had her “orgasm scene” in When Harry Met Sally.  The food is expensive, but the portions are HUGE!  So you can share and still have leftovers.

Recommendations... The Ruben and a Chocolate Egg Creme - just do it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Album Reviews with Kerin: Benjamin Francis Leftwich's 'Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm'

If you asked me a few weeks ago, I would say it was purely by accident that I stumbled onto Benjamin Francis Leftwich's music video for his single, "Atlas Hands". Now, however, I liken it something more equivalent to fate because the album from which it stems, 'Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm', has become one of my most played records in recent years. In fact I was so hooked that I played the song once, downloaded the entire album on the spot and never looked back.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thrifty in the City: Coupons at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods? Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

I think we all get excited when watching Extreme Couponing and think, "Wow, I could totally do that!  I need 900 mini deodorants for a penny!"  The unfortunate part is that NYC is not coupon friendly.  None of the local stores offer double or triple coupons (the closest one is Pathmark in Harlem).  And the stores here are limited on what they offer and the sales that come out - although there are good deals to be had.  And most of the coupons that come out are for over processed and unhealthy packaged foods.
Trader Joe's
I, myself, am a Trader Joe's Junkie.  I love it.  It makes my life so much easier.  It has all the natural and organic foods that I wish I could afford at Whole Foods, under their TJ's private label, that are crazy affordable and it's close by.  Sometimes I even spring for the $6 delivery when I really load up.  But did you know that you can use coupons there???  No, this is not a joke, people.

Over the summer, in a constant attempt to save money, I found some really great coupon and savings websites.  My favorite being Healthy Life Deals and The Thrifty Mama.  This blog puts up all the coupons and weekly specials for Whole Foods and Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe's Coupon Deals - Healthy Life Deals

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gramercy Cats!

I think we all loved Lizzie's adorable animals last week, but this week it is all about the cats... Maxine's cats to be specific!

My Dad, my sister and I adopted Junior when he was 6 months old. Our family has a bit of an unofficial 'tradition' of having black cats - Junior is the third one to join the ranks.  Our previous black cat, Blackos, had passed away and the new kitten we got a few months later looked just like a small version of her, thus the name Junior.  
Despite his name, he's now a huge cat, and makes an audible thud when he flops down on the floor for belly rubs.  He comes out to greet company, eats every kind of food known to man, and will occasionally drool with happiness when you scratch him on the head.  Many people say he's the sweetest cat they've ever met, and he's kind of the mascot of my dad's recording studio amongst the clients and musicians, hanging out during recording sessions (until he gets kicked out for walking all over the equipment) and soaking up the attention. He loves going outside to hunt, and has brought back his fair share of small animal victims over the years, and even a battle-scar on the ear not too long ago, which I wasn't very happy about! Junior is aging and graying, but he's really been a big kitten his whole life.

My Mom and I recently adopted Jeffery, a shelter cat, who had been previously adopted and then surrendered back to the shelter after two years of home life.  On the day we brought him home, he was quickly out and about, exploring the house and and being super affectionate. 
He's a big guy, with a gray body, white socks, and a white streak that runs down his nose and underside.  We often describe him as looking like a shark because of his white underbelly and gray body, or as a mouse because of his pink nose and long, white whiskers. He's talkative, runs through the house at top speeds, and is the typical curious cat, always sticking his face in small places and coming out with dust bunnies hanging from his whiskers.  He really enjoys being around people and being involved, and will follow people from room to room. Being woken up in the morning by Jeffery walking and kneading all over me is one thing that makes me quite homesick.
How cute are these cats?!  Want to share your pets with Gramercy?  E-mail RA Molly at!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

NYC by Nicole: The Met and Central Park - My Highlights

This is one of my favorite itineraries because it combines two things I love more than anything in NYC - Art and Sunshine.  This is a good itinerary on a nice sunny day and for people who aren't "art" and "museum" lovers.  Yes, I know, you're going to the Met, but the Met has so many more interesting things than just traditional "art."  When people see the Egyptian Temple of Dendur and can walk up to it and touch it... it's amazing for anyone, even if they're not an "art" lover.

The Metropolitan Museum and Central Park - My Highlights

Duration:  Late Morning to late afternoon 
Cost: Affordable (you can do it for under $25, if you're thrifty)

View Met & Central Park in a larger map

Starting Point: Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Ave at 82nd Street
Cost: Suggested Donation (which for you cheap asses, means almost free) $1 - 25

Temple of Dendur
When I go into the Met, I like to start out in the Egyptian wing (hang a right when you go in).  You can meander through until you reach the Temple of Dendur - great photo opportunity!

American Wing
From there go through the beautiful new American wing and Neoclassical facade of the Branch Bank of the United States, originally located on Wall Street.

Then stroll through the Renaissance and Medieval galleries that show off gorgeous stained glass, religious iconography, and a complete Spanish choir screen from the Valladolid cathedral of 1763.  Eventually you will find yourself in a skylighted room full of European sculptures (check out the brick facade here - its part of the Museum's original 1888 south facade).

Rooftop Garden Cafe
You'll also find a line of people going into an elevator to the rooftop (seasonal and weather permitting). Head up to the Rooftop Garden Cafe for lunch and see the most beautiful views of Central Park in the city. They always have an unusual art installation up there that's always worth checking out as well.

After lunch, make your way out of the Met through the Polyneasian galleries and get ready to experience the best of Central Park.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gramercy Gives Back!

 Last week the Gramercy Gals Society hosted a very special event.  A bunch of Residents came down to the lounge to decorate cards for children in local hospitals.  The turn out was amazing!
So many happy cards!
All of our residents are so talented!  The kids are going to love these cards!

Can you tell we are obsessed with animals?
We have a few charities picked out to send these cards to.  Once we send them out, we'll do a post about where our cards went!  Thank you so much to everyone who came down and decorated, it was really a magical experience!  Now for the age old question....


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gramercy Pets!

I think we all secretly wish we could smuggle our pets into Gramercy.  Sadly, we can't do that.  So, to appease our need for cuteness, Gramercy presents Resident's pets!  Today we are featuring Lizzie's adorable animals...ENJOY! 

Nicodemus - The Rat - age 4 months to a year
With fur white as the driven snow, and eyes ablaze like an inferno, Nicodemus is a happy, young fellow. He will greet you at the cage door day or night. Very mindful of his personal appearance and cleanliness, he spends most of his time keeping up with his grooming and preening. If your ears are particularly hairy or just not up to his standards, he will take it upon himself to tidy them for you. In return for his efforts, he always appreciates a good back massage. Affectionately known as 'Nicky', he has the curiosity of a true explorer, daring to venture across even the most vast of bedspreads or atop the highest shoulder. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some Inspiration From RA Sari

Being a computer art major, I'm always looking at short films, small student animations, demo reels, 2D animation, feature films, etc. I thought that maybe I'd share some of the videos I find very inspiring!

I saw this clip a few days ago. It's incredible what this person captured on film. Though the clip is only about 2 minutes long, the time it took to create something like this was probably days, even weeks.

I came upon this video a short while ago. I love twist endings! Plus, the style and ideas behind this film are incredible.


I'm sure many of you have seen this, but I couldn't go without posting Kiwi. A student from MFA Computer Art at SVA made this film. This just goes to show you a bit of story and animation can go a very long way. The emotional response to this really shows how an animation can effect someone. Kiwi is the perfect example. Not all animations are about pretty images, but they can really make you connect with certain characters even if they aren't necessarily realistic.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New York by Nicole: 42nd Street Tour

I love being a tourist in my own city.  New York is unbelievable and I get excited to show people the city I love so much.  I never get tired to going to the same places as they all still hold wonder for me.  However, nothing terrifies me more than when I ask one of someone who is coming to visit me what they want to do while they're in New York and they say "I don't know.  Whatever you think is good."  Or even worse, they have an unrealistic idea of where everything is and how to get there - Empire State Building, World Trade Center Memorial, and the Gugenheim are not going to happen in the same day.

It can be overwhelming for non-New Yorkers to make a feasible itinerary for when they come to visit.  I started having my friends make a list of the top 5 things they want to see while their here and then I built itineraries around them.  Over the years, I have perfected these itineraries into optimum sightseeing machines!  And now, I will share my New York Tourist wisdom with you...  Welcome to my new series, New York by Nicole!
42nd Street Walking Tour 

Duration:  Early afternoon into evening 
Cost: El Cheapo! (includes lunch and dinner)

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Starting Point A: Grand Central Station 
42nd Street at Lexington Ave
Cost: Free

Grand Central is not only the world's largest (76 acres) and the nation's busiest (nearly 700,000 commuters and subway riders use it daily) railway station, but also one of the world's most magnificent, majestic public spaces.  Every time I walk through Grand Central I get this warm amazing feeling of New York Pride.  I never get tired of wandering through it and noticing little details that I never noticed before.

Self Guided Walking Tour this is great printable walking tour of Grand Central that is full of facts and history.  You won't miss anything!

Vanderbilt Hall Exhibits: If you check out the event calendar, usually there is an art installation in Vanderbilt Hall that is always spectacular.  During the holidays they have a nice bazaar there.

40th and 42nd Streets & Fifth and Sixth Avenues
Cost: Free

Monday, October 10, 2011

SlutWalk NYC 2011!

That's me with my sign, neat handwriting courtesy of Kerin (:
Thank you to the lovely ladies who joined me at SlutWalk in Union Square! It was such an amazing experience to be a part of, and I cannot express how truly important it was to see such great support filling the streets. Talking with y'all about your various reasons for getting involved really reminded me what a diverse group we have at Gramercy. It was an honor marching, yelling, and protesting alongside so many beautiful men and woman, united against the injustices of rape culture. Can't wait to see what happens this year, and will definitely be walking again next year!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gramercy's Tips for Keeping Warm!

Fall is my favorite season.  I just love everything about it!  But I have to say my favorite things about Fall are all the little delights that make a cold day warm and snugly.   So today, I have decided to write down my top three ways of keeping all warm and fuzzy.

First on my list?  The Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.  Yes, it is back and it is awesome.  I love that it has become a tradition for so many people to get a Pumpkin Latte on the first of October.  I am no different.  It's kind of amazing how it actually tastes better when it comes in one of Starbucks' special red cups!