Monday, September 8, 2008


I just moved in to a WONDERFUL new apartment a few weeks ago, way uptown in Manhattan. I love my room, (hardwood floors, SPACE, which is a luxury in this city, two windows) but it came unfurnished, and since I don't have a steady job yet, I decided to buy most of my furniture used. I also thought it would be a nice thing to do to the environment.

I got a full-sized mattress from a friend of mine (I haven't had a full-size for 2 years!), I bought a boxspring, bedframe, and a dresser used off of craigslist and picked them up when I rented a van at the beginning of the month. The used bookshelf I bought at the same time, though, just didn't cut it, so I kept looking on craigslist.

Last Saturday, I found one of those oldschool ikea bookshelves for sale on craigslist, one with four independent shelves, held together by a metal frame. It was black wood and exactly what I wanted! I e-mailed the guy, requesting to buy it, and then continued unpacking while I waited for him to e-mail me back.

While unpacking, I found an unopen box of "risgrøt", Norwegian rice porridge. I had brought a pack back with me when I was in Norway in January and never opened it. Grøt is pretty standard fare in Norway; in most institutions (like hospitals and nursing homes), people eat it for dinner every Saturday. Also, at Christmas time, it's a tradition to eat it with the family and hide a peeled almond in the pot. The one who finds the almond in their portion gets a pig made out of marsipan. Mmmm... marsipan.

It's never been substantial enough for me to have as a whole meal, but it's yummy with sugar and cinnamon on it. I hadn't bought sugar in my new place yet, so I put honey and cinnamon on it. I had a bottle of saft from Norway, too, which is a concentrated fruit drink that's typical Norwegian and usually served with Risgrøt, so I managed to have a pretty standard Norwegian lunch. I read online that you can just use any longgrained white rice to make the pudding, although I'm sure it turns out a little different than the kind that comes in a package.

For one person:

4.5 dl milk (about 2 cups)
1 dl rice (a little less than half a cup)
sugar (or honey) and cinnamon

Boil the milk. Add the rice, boil for about 15 minutes, stirring all the time, until rice is done and a lot of the milk is absorbed. Sprinkle some salt over for flavor. Put a portion in the bowl. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over, add a little spot of butter on top and watch it melt.

After lunch, the bookshelf guy had written back, but wanted me to come pick it up as soon as possible, saying it was first come, first serve for the bookshelf. It looked like it was going to rain, but I called up my friend Jose, who I wanted to hang out with anyway, and asked if he wouldn't mind coming uptown to help me with the bookcase in exchange for me cooking him dinner.

Rain it did. When he got up to my apartment, he was soaked. So I cooked him dinner right away. I made one of my most standard dishes, from a recipe I originally found in an Italian cookbook many years ago, but it's developed into my own recipe over the years, which is also a reason why I don't have exact measurements for anything, I just sort of throw stuff into the pan.

Chicken, Broccoli and Mushrooms in a Sour Cream Sauce

Chicken Breasts
Broccoli (frozen)
Mushrooms (from a can)
Olive oil
Buljong cube
Sour Cream
Whatever spices you have in the cupboard that you think will fit with the dish

Set the pasta water to boil and throw in pasta when it does. Cut up chicken into small pieces, fry it in some olive oil. Add broccoli and mushrooms, season with spices you think will fit. I usually put in salt and pepper, dried basil, garlic powder, maybe some paprika. Stir every now and then while chicken browns.

Once chicken is browned, add a little bit of water and a buljong cube. Let it simmer for a bit, until broccoli is cooked. When satisfied, pull off of heat, and add a couple of spoonfuls of sour cream. Mix well and serve over pasta.

After the meal, we looked outside and thought it had stopped raining. One step outside told us we were wrong and we turned around and went back in to hang out instead of picking up the bookcase. I called the guy and told him I couldn't come and he said he might sell it to someone else, then.

The next day, it was GORGEOUS out. The guy selling the bookshelf sent me an e-mail saying that I should stop by by 1 if I was still interested in it. I was. I had plans to meet another friend of mine, Alex, later that day, (not my brother Alex) maybe around dinner time. He was nice enough to change his plans around so that we could do lunch and he could help me pick up the bookshelf. The bookshelf was beautiful and exactly what I needed to fit the rest of my stuff into a sane place in my room. Alex swung the bookcase over his shoulder for most of the way and carried it by himself. We also took it on the subway for part of the way and got a few comments from people, asking where I had bought the bookshelf.

I bought Alex lunch as a thank you for his help. The neighborhood I live in is Dominican, so we went to El Malecon, one of the better known Dominican restaurants in the area. It was awesome. We had Carribean soup ($4) as an appetizer, a soup with chicken, carrots, potatoes, plantains in it. Really good. Then we split half a roasted chicken (their speciality), yellow rice, black beans, plantains, and mofongo, a Dominican specialty consisting of green plantains and some kind of meat, arranged in a mound. We got the chicken one. The roasted chicken was incredible; we had to eat all of the skin, and plantains are a huge favorite of mine. There were enire families there splitting a whole chicken ($12 with rice and beans), so this place is great for sharing. The mofongo was a little weird to me, I felt like it was missing something, but I'd never had it before, so I don't know what they're supposed to taste like. But it looked pretty awesome, which always counts for something. For dessert, we got Dominican cake, the pineapple kind, which was nice and fluffy.

I've been back to El Malecon since, and got a whole chicken- I brought the leftovers home and used it to make yummy yummy chicken sandwiches for lunch the next few days. It's a great place, and cheap too.

Now my bookcase is standing proudly in my room and I love it!

1 comment:

melissajane said...

you sound like a hardcore New Yorker! And that Dominican place sounds delicious; makes me want to come visit you! I am trying to plan a weekend! Love you.