Monday, November 30, 2009

2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

After being in New York for over nine years, this was the first time I went to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in person. It was an incredible experience and apparently my reaction to all the floats/balloons/walkers expressed that! My friend Irene said I was like a kid in a candy store! Hee hee! I bet it was also because Irene and I had American Natural History Museum VIP Guest passes that gave us prime location seating for the parade, free hot chocolate/apple cider and bagels/doughnuts (and a clean bathroom!)! I think anyone would be as excited as I was! Btw, we didn't have to wake up at 6:00 am to secure a spot... we met each other at 8 am and the parade started at 9 am. Not too shabby... Not too shabby!

For those of you who missed the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Parade here is a link to my photos. It was a perfect day to be outside -- not too cold, not too windy and definitely no rain! A perfect day for football too!

Below are some of the balloons we saw glide by us -- with Snoopy being my favorite!. Sailor Mickey and the Pillsbury Dough Boy were two new balloons this year, along with Ronald McDonald and Spider Man (reintroduction) which is not shown here.

Pretty amazing! I would only recommend braving the crowds if you have VIP treatment like we did. Otherwise, your couch is just as nice and probably cozier. However, if you do get the special treatment, there is NO other experience like it. You can go up and close to see the floats!

BTW, DID YOU KNOW that there is a public viewing of all the balloons the day before? Yup. its called Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloon Inflation and is held near the American Natural History Museum (The 2 side streets between the Museum of Natural History, 77th and 81st). The festivities does not start until 3 pm and ends at 10 pm (public viewing is around 4 pm - 8 pm; check the times). So, if you don't want to brave the day time crowds, you can brave the night owls who like to watch balloons get blown up to size!

Happy thanksgiving!

Georgia's Eastside BBQ (LES)

Welcome to Georgia's Eastside BBQ at 192 Orchard Street. The tiny place offers Southern style cooking and has enough seats to cater to about 20 people. Georgia's menu is a bit more limited than say a Sylvia's or Amy Ruth's in Harlem, but still provides the essential Southern food your stomach is craving. You can also fulfill your liquid needs with sweet tea, lemonade or Arnold Palmer (for all the hard-core Southerners, sorry, they don't serve bourbon! but there is a bar across the street!).

Without fail, a friend and I asked the hostess/waitress what she recommended off of the menu - her response was -- the Fried Chicken Sandwich, Rib Dinner and the Pulled Pork sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries. Since it was lunchtime and only two of us, we ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich and the Pulled Pork Sandwich with a side of sweet potato fries.

The Fried Chicken Sandwich ($7)
Wow! The chicken was moist (well, how can it not be when its breaded and deep fried) and flavorful. The breading was crunchy and had a good peppery flavor it to it. The fried chicken is served with lettuce and tomato and if you want it hot, there is some spicy sauce that you can ask for. Nothing special about the bun, but it didn't distract from the taste. Served with potato chips.

Pulled Pork Sandwich ($7)
This is a staple Southern style sandwich, so it was pretty much a pre-requisite order. The pulled pork is served with cole slaw and bbq / vinegar sauce. The sandwich was messy, and I thought the pulled pork was okay (somewhat juicy), but the flavor of it was nothing special. [Perhaps I should have tried the Rib Sandwich; Better luck next time] Note: Unlike other creamy or soaked in mayonnaise cole slaw, Georgia's cole slaw was light and airy in taste. Served with potato chips.

Sweet Potato Fries with Honey Dijon Mustard ($4?)
How can you not love sweet potato fries? You can't. Its healthier than regular fries (well sort of) too! The fries were not as crispy as I would like, but I still enjoyed them.

However, I will say -- I can easily do without the honey dijon mustard - and to be quite honest - I don't even know why they offer that sauce with it -- the two tastes do not mix well.

Overall, I think the place is a quaint neighborhood joint that allows you to fulfill your Southern comfort food cravings. I wouldn't say its the best Southern style food that I've had, but it certainly fits the bill when you crave Southern food. And I would still highly recommend the Fried Chicken sandwich! Also, the prices are comparable and certain items are less expensive than other Southern Style restaurants / menus (i.e. Amy Ruth's, Rub BBQ, Sylvia's). Just remember to bring cash since they only accept that for now. To attest to the smallness of this restaurant, they do not have a bathroom. However, you can use the restroom at the bar across the street (which, I'm sure they have an arrangement with!), and while you're there -- don't forget to order your bourbon!

Georgia's Eastside BBQ
192 Orchard Street
(212) 253-6280
Cross street: Houston

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I never made a pie in my life and I thought it would be fun to make a pumpkin pie from scratch, well almost scratch. I reviewed all sorts of recipes online (epicurious is one of my favorite sites) and decided I wanted a very simple and easy recipe. I originally selected Paula Deen's recipe which required cream cheese and butter -- and while I was at the grocery store, I thought to myself , I think I want a lower-calorie pie, if possible. Since I was at the market, I was a bit S-O-L since I didn't have another recipe with me to follow -- but lo and behold, I found Libby's Canned Pumpkin and there was a recipe on the can. I normally wouldn't trust a recipe on a product's packaging -- but since I was there - I just said, what the heck - how bad can it be? Once I got home, I hopped online to look for a similar recipe (yes, just to be safe) -- the top rated pies required either -- condensed milk or evaporated milk -- and since Libby's required evaporated milk -- I knew Libby's recipe was legit. I read a few other recipes on how to make a simple pumpkin pie and discovered that I should double the main ingredients to add more flavor and spice to the pie (i.e. ground cloves, ground ginger, cinnamon). I thought about this and thought about all the pumpkin pies I've tasted and realized most pies were ok, but just missed a little something -- So I decided I would double the seasoning to to enhance the flavoring of the pie -- And so, I began!

The recipe for Libby's Pumpkin Pie is below and its rather easy (if I can do it, you certainly can -- remember, I'm not a baker by any means, but am always up for a new cooking challenge cause its fun!).

Here are my useful tips for making the pie:

1. Double the seasonings - Ground cloves, cinnamon, ground ginger - it will add more flavor to the pie, trust me!
2. Fresh Ginger - really mash this up, or else you'll have mini-chunks in the pie
3. Pie Crust - Definitely get a 9 inch deep dish pie crust (you can make it, but why? I used Oronoque Orchards pie crust and it was really good - $4.29 for 2 pie crusts).
4. Pie filling - you may be tempted to fill the pie to the rim of the crust, but that would be a mistake. Leave about 2/3 to 3/4 of an inch from the top of the crust layer. This will make it easier for you to transport the uncooked pie to the oven w/o spilling (believe me, i had a few spills on the way to the oven). And, who doesn't like a little extra crust with the filling? BTW you don't want to put too much filling in the pie, otherwise, it won't cook all the way through (it'll look like jello).
5. Test to see if the pie is done. Use a tooth pick/knife and check the center; if nothing is on the instrument, then its done. I wasn't so lucky (of course not). So, after I cooked the pie to the specified time and then some, I realized I could not cook it anymore since my crust was already a dark brown. Don't despair if this happens to you. Just take the pie out of the oven, let it cool and then refrigerate and the filling will hold together.
6. Cool whip - I got the light cool whip and it tastes just as good and is 1/3 less calories!

Recipe Courtesy of Libby's Famous Pie -- (recipe is on the pumpkin pie can)
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 1o minutes (will vary depending on your oven)
Cool Down Time: 2 hours; recommend refrigerating too!
1 (9 inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1 (15 ounce) can LIBBY'S® 100% Pure
1 (12 fluid ounce) can NESTLE®
CARNATION® Evaporated Milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in small bowl. Beat eggs lightly in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin and sugar-spice mixture. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F.; bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate. (Do not freeze as this will cause the crust to separate from the filling.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have you baked your own pie? It really isn't that difficult...

Here is a sneak peak of my first pumpkin pie, made from scratch -- well, except the crust... :D

Tune in tomorrow for the recipe for my first pumpkin pie!

Ah Wang Bakery in C-town (Hong Kong TEAS!!)

Welcome to Ah Wang Bakery on 42 Mott Street. This truly is a hole in the wall bakery that offers an assortment of Hong Kong prepared teas, small food items and limited baked goods. Its easy to walk right by this establishment, especially with all the optical stores around it and the distracting Chinese characters that have plastered the windows of the store -- but its an interesting little store to walk into if you are craving some good Hong Kong drinks and rice noodle with mixed sauce!

I tried a few of the items from the store and here are my thoughts:

Steamed Buns - $0.80 each (no, i didn't put the decimals in the wrong place). There are four different kinds - Pork with Vegetables Bun, Chicken Bun, BBQ Pork Bun and Plain Bun. I tried the BBQ Bun based on their recommendation and have to say I had better and would recommend not buying this. There was an interesting, almost medicinal herb like smell to it. The meat was - ok -

My favorite BBQ pork bun is probably still from Fay Day Bakery and if its Pork with Vegetable - I'd get it from the Bayard Meat Market (but there are so many other places too).

Hong Kong Drinks - The pink menu photo indicates all the different types of drinks that they offer and there are more variety in the refrigerator -- most of them being Hong Kong style drinks -- i.e. HK Style Tea w/ or w/o Lemon, Ginger Honey, Ovaltine/Holick Drinks, Red Bean, Sugar Cane, Milk Tea, Herbal Tea ... and my favorite - Chrysanthemum Tea with Honey/Sugar ... ah, so thirst quenching! I loved the Chrysanthemum Tea, probably because it reminded me of how my mom used to make it for me. :D The prices vary from hot and cold teas to small to large sizes -- but you won't pay less than $0.85 and no more than $2.50 for a drink (beat that Starbucks!)

They also make Smoothies in a variety of fruits -- watermelon, strawberry, mango, taro, etc...I personally didn't try it, but its offered there.

Small Food Items: They have an assortment of quick small food items. They have curry balls (similar to the foods you would get at the HK street carts) and rice noodle with mixed sauce. I didn't try the curry balls, but the rice noodle with mixed sauce was amazing! Its such a simple dish you'd be surprised at how great it tastes. The rice noodles are rolled up like a yoga mat and is served with a mixed sauce that consists of soy sauce, thin plum sauce and peanut sauce. It is then topped off with some sesame seeds. It is on the sweeter side of things, but not overwhelmingly so. If you want to add some "heat" to it, they also have hot sauce that they can add. Additionally, the rice noodles are given to you in a portable container -- which I ordered and took with me on the subway! very convenient! Price of the rice noodle with mixed sauce is $1.50.

Limited Baked Goods: Though the store is called a bakery, it doesn't provide what you think the typical American bakeries offer, or even some of the bigger Chinese bakeries. They offer Ham & Cheese sandwiches, Shredded Dried Pork Sandwiches (Formosa Brand Pork Sung - would say its an acquired taste, but i like it -- but do expect a lot of calories since the pork is held onto the bread with mayonnaise), Fortune Cookies, and a few other items. Again, I would use the term "bakery" loosely.

Overall, this store was a great find -- especially if you want some good HK teas and walk-and-eat like snacks. Don't let the small-ness of the store fool you, there usually a line to get your drinks and snacks at all hours of the day. The staff speaks limited English, but there offerings aren't so vast that you can't figure out what you want without pointing. So don't be intimidated by all the Chinese writing on the window or in the store - go in and order!

Happy Eating in Chinatown!

I am back from my blogging Hiatus!

Its been quite a long time since I had a consistent flow of daily blog posts, but today is when I get back onto the saddle. So what have I been preoccupied with that I couldn't post one photo? Life, injuries and work.

Work. I have been helping a friend at the Farmer's Market one to two days a week. Standing on your feet 12 hours a day can be an exhausting day, especially if its talking to customers about products and making samples and handing them out -- believe me when I tell you I have a new found appreciation for the Costco people handing out samples (don't take two samples, its simply annoying! ha ha). Additionally, you can't even imagine what your body goes through while standing on your feet all day and then battling the NYC weather elements (yes, not a pretty picture). Though, I loved the interaction with customers, especially when I discovered new ways to cook something, it was extremely exhausting... it didn't give me much energy to blog or photograph anything. Seriously, once I got home, I plopped on my couch and wouldn't move after that. OK, not always... I slowly wizened up and realized that this wasn't how I wanted to live my life. So, I pushed myself to meet friends for dinner to get some semblance of what a normal life would be again (reminds me of my banking days -- work hard, play harder).

So why didn't I just quit if it exhausted me so much and distracted me from photography and blogging? Because there was something that was more important than me... and that was to help a friend build an ailing business that he believed in. The farmers market stand also reminded me of how a business venture and relationship should work -- as a team. And I love that. I love it when someone else is willing to work just as hard as you to make things work. And I love it when your boss or your friend or your significant other is willing to help you out. Team. When one person is down, the other helps you get up; if you need help, the other person senses it and helps. Sounds so easy, but work relationships/relationships/friendships aren't all like that. Usually its "all man for yourself". Life would be easy and less shady if it wasn't like that :D Oh wells, back to reality.

All the other days, I would meet with Joe the photographer (gosh, does this sounds like Joe the plumber; but really my Joe is an incredible man) and assist him with his photographic needs. The other days, I would attempt to take photos, but as a photographer, I would say I failed and should have taken more photos than I did. But I'm working on that now, especially since I'm no longer working at the Farmers Market (long story) and football season is over ... which brings me to the next topic.

Injuries. Another thing about me that you probably didn't know is that I have been participating in an all-woman's football league. We have been practicing since July and increased the intensity in October as we prepared for our Nov. 7th tournament. All our preparation worked in the end as we advanced to the finals on Nov. 21. With my weekends and some weeknights taken over from football, it left me little time and energy to do much else (hence, another reason why I have not been blogging). But, this section is about injuries -- and so, as you can guess, I got hurt in one of the tournament games and am now recovering from a sprained ankle. The first few days I was scared out of my mind - with thoughts of - "will i play in the next tournament (or will i let my team down)", "man this is painful -- will i walk again or dance again?!?" ... After several visits to the doctors and a few acupuncture treatments, I am close to walking normally again ... woo hoo! back to photography and blogging!

Life. If you've read this far, I'm surprised. Because we all have so many things going on in our lives that its seldom that one person would really be interested in someone else's. Especially mine since its simply an explanation of what I've been doing and how its been preventing me from blogging and showing you some of my photographs. :D

Life is funny -- sometimes you have a good day, sometimes you have a bad day ... sometimes you meet someone and then your life changes... and sometimes something unexpected happens that takes you on a different course ... sometimes you get things done and other days you don't. all in all, you never know what is going to happen in your life -- all plans could change at any given moment -- but at the end of the day its just how you go about living your life... someone once told me that life is a journey that we either choose to experience alone or choose to experience it with other people.
So over the last month, I've been on a hiatus from blogging and have spent more time with football and friends ... I didn't think I'd take football so seriously, but it grew to something more than I had anticipated and that's what I mean about sometimes unexpected events change the course of your life. This change provided an opportunity for me to meet an amazing group of girls and guys that have a lot of heart and believe in the meaning of team. As you can guess, I chose to experience life with others. :D
Though, I haven't blogged, I haven't forgotten about it -- rather, I have a backlog of events and photos that I am excited to share with you. So, now that football and my involvement with the farmers market stand is over -- I can use the spare time to blog and photograph!

I am back in the game! So thank you all for being patient readers and supportive of my blogging efforts!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lifesize Man Made Guitar @ Union Square (Photo of the Day)

Can you imagine playing with this thing? The person in the photo made his own guitar and used it to attract attention at the Friday Union Square Farmers Market. He isn't there all the time, but it just so happened he decided to play his tunes the day I was there. If you look at the photo on the right, the guitar is taller than him! How did he carry it when he was playing? He didn't. He made the guitar so it was able to stand up n its own -- a perfectly balance guitar!

Again, NYC has a lot of talented people. Who would have thought to make a working, larger than self guitar!

Fun Vegetables (Photo of the Day)

Who said you shouldn't play with your vegetables! Why not? Well, one person took playing with your vegetables to the extremes -- though, I have to admit, its pretty creative to use make animal-like figures out of vegetables. Who would have thunk? Can you guess what vegetables were used to make this slug-like creature?

Carrots, Pumpkin, White Zucchini (?) or is it an apple slice?

Photo taken at Union Square Farmers Market
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