“Potato Meatballs”

On the long, long list of things I love (especially edible things), potatoes are very high on that list.

So, naturally, foods that involve potatoes make me exceedingly happy. This especially includes koftet batates, or potato meatballs as I shall henceforth call them. This recipe is not traditional in that I bake rather than fry, and thus bypass the flour and egg steps.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the healthiest of eaters by a long shot, but if I’m eating potato for dinner I try to at least lessen the damage. Happy medium, if you will.

As it stands, they are somewhat reminiscent of tiny shepherd’s pie-balls. (That sounds so wrong).

Onwards!

Potato Meatballs

  • 5-6 medium-sized potatoes
  • 1/3 lb ground beef (Chuck)
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (roughly)
  1. start off by washing your potatoes very well. You will be boiling your potatoes WITH THE SKIN (humor me), so you want them good and scrubbed.
  2. boil the potatoes in a large pot of water with a pinch of salt for 15-20 minutes until tender. Take them out of the water and let them cool down.
  3. While the potatoes cool, saute the onions with a teaspoon of olive oil, then add ground beef and cook thoroughly. Strain any fat, and set the ground beef aside.
  4. After the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes carefully, avoiding peeling off any of the potato with the skin. The reason we boil with the skin in the first place is so that the potatoes are more starchy, thus better able to keep their shape.
  5. Cut the peeled potatoes and mash them using your choice of a masher, food processor, or potato ricer. I am generally a proponent of the ricer, but this time opted for old-school mashing so I could shape the balls easily. (I’m setting myself up for jokes, I know. )
  6. Shape your potatoes into ovular balls, then create a large dent with your finger. Fill the dent with the ground beef, leaving out any onions.  20140408_16474620140408_164750
  7. Fold the mashed potato over the dent again. Once you have balls stuffed with beef, put your breadcrumbs in a bowl and toss each ball in until coated on all sides. (If you feel like making it fun, roll the ball around in the bowl to make sure you get every last bit)20140408_170145 20140408_172022
  8. Line the balls up on a baking sheet, cooking at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then on broil for another ten.

And voilà! Potato meatballs galore.

20140408_190653

Advertisements

On Style, Seriousness, and Success

I read a wonderfully thought-provoking piece by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie today (though it was published more than a month ago, shame on me) for ELLE, and it brought to mind a question that has long troubled me:

Why is it that somehow being interested in appearance or fashion is at odds with being taken seriously?

Conversely, why is it that being entirely uninterested in appearance also hinders women?

As is the case in so many instances, we are fed contradicting thoughts and beliefs about what it entails to be a successful woman, one who wields intellect and commands respect.

Being a lover of “frilly” fashion–so-called femininity–takes away from our credibility apparently, yet being unkempt is a far greater sin for the professional woman than it is for a man. We are expected to care just enough, but never too much. Too much, and we are shallow, we become trivial, not someone to be taken seriously nor esteemed. Too little and we are slovenly, lazy, somehow less of a woman for our lack of vanity.

As is so often the case, we are presented with a lose-lose situation in which being too “feminine” (which is in itself a construct) is a problem, yet not being feminine enough is equally problematic.

So, what about Adichie’s question, then? Why can’t a smart woman love fashion? Then again, why must a woman love fashion?

Why is it that we are treated as part of an overarching structure rather than individuals? Why can’t I love fashion as much as I love my books, what is wrong with the fact that I collect shoes as readily as I do novels?

Granted, there is a utilitarian purpose for my books–but is there not for fashion? Why must I defend my love of clothing and beauty products as self-expression? Why does it require defending in the first place? In reality, it’s absurd. It makes me no less of an intellectual, and no more of a woman, that I love shoes and lipstick and elaborate jewelry. They bear no correlation.

This is not meant as preaching, but as a challenge. These ways of thought need to be challenged, to be confronted and called out on their absurdity, on the sexist, patronizing system that instill these ways of thought.

With that, I leave you.

Dress Pants Blues

Confession: I hate dress pants.

Rather, I hate most dress pants. They fill my soul with dread. Seeing as it’s still cold in New York and I work in a business-casual office with an emphasis on the business and not the casual, I usually just have to suppress my loathing and make it work one way or another. With that in mind, I present you with four pairs of generally work-appropriate pants (for me) that manage to sustain my love of aesthetics.

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 9.51.38 PM

Left to right:

Vero Moda vintage flower pant
Les chiffoniers bonded tape and stretch-twill trousers
Balmain Houndstooth tapered-leg trousers
Alexander McQueen Hummingbird leggings

 

Now, for the part that makes my heart sing, outfits. Yes.

To put myself in an imaginary spring mindset, I begin with floral:

Screen Shot 2014-03-27 at 10.01.49 PM

Vero Moda Flower Pant

Witchery Sleeveless Pelmet Blouse

Monki Lorena Jacket

Topshop Nowhere Nude Strappy Sandals

Ted Baker Mini Bowler

Marc Jacobs Enamel Daisy Ring

Tiffany Enchanted BangleScreen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.13.07 PM

Les Chiffoniers Stretch-Twill and Bonded Tape Trousers

DKNY Color Block Stretch Silk Blouse

Givenchy Black Envelope Clutch

Casadei Blade Patent Leather Pumps

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 6.09.29 PM

Balmain houndstooth trousers
Oasis lace collar jumper
Iro Staccia Open Suede Booties
kate spade new york Sparkler Glow necklace
Marc by Marc Jacobs Baker watch
Wham Bam Glam earrings

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 7.07.24 PM

Helmut Lang Crepe Blazer with Ruched Sleeves
Dolce & Gabbana sleeveless pussy bow blouse
Alexander McQueen Hummingbird leggings
Uniform Wares 103 series watch
Witchery Block Metal Earring
David Yurman Cable Wrap ring
TIBI Piper boot

 

Yes, I realize the last is semi-cheating because they’re leggings, but throw a blazer and boots (read: not mid-calf or higher) on and I assure you no one will object.

 

 

 

Just another Manic Monday

Because quoting terrible Bangles songs is SO CURRENT. I know.

So, today yields a genuine recipe now that I’m back on my feet (literally).

Beef and Broccoli

I took the idea from a combination of my love of stir-fry experimentation and a recipe from Ruth Stahl. Bon appetit!

  • 1 lb angus or chuck steak (I went with angus for this one).
  • 2-3 large heads of broccoli
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes

Beef and broccoli

  1. Stir together 2-2.5 tablespoons of cornstarch, granulated garlic, and 3 tablespoons of water in a medium bowl
  2. Cut the steak into thin strips, roughly 3 inches in length
  3. Add the steak strips to the bowl and toss until coated with cornstarch mixture
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil (I like to use Sesame Oil in my stir-fry) in a large skillet or wok and add strips of steak
  5. Stir-fry the beef until cooked thoroughly (I am a well-done type of person, but that’s your call)
  6. Using the same skillet/wok, set aside the beef and cook the onion and broccoli until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes
  7. Return the beef to skillet and cook, adding water if the liquid gets too low
  8. Mix together the soy sauce, sugar, ginger, chili powder and flakes, and minced garlic and add the remaining water and cornstarch; add to skillet
  9. Cook for a few more minutes
  10. Bask in your sense of accomplishment

 

On Perseverance and Underdogs

It seems I’ve gone entirely off-theme this week, but we’re rolling with it because I said so. So there you go.

So let’s talk about underdogs and perseverance, shall we?

As someone who was written my fair share of cover letters, I am well-aware of the fact that people love to tout how “motivated and hard-working” they are, but that words are just that. Saying something and proving it are two entirely different things.

I have been thinking, and brewing to some degree, about this for a bit now. At the risk of sounding self-congratulatory, I have always been that person. Not just because I say it, but because I thrive on achieving my own idea of success. By that, I mean, I like to feel like I am doing something, and I like nothing more than doing it in spite of any and everything.

As my last post discussed, I have been feeling rather down of late for more reasons than I care to list, but it made me realize something: I forge ahead. It’s what I do, it’s what I have always done.

I will be damned if anything but myself stands in my path, and for the first time in months, I have clarity. So this is a call-to-arms of sorts, if you like. I am not satisfied being stagnant and confused, and I will be damned if I don’t fight tooth and nail to change that feeling.

So it changes today.

When I was a freshman in high school and I got an 88 in my hardest class, I swore up and down I would get a 95 the next semester. So I did.

When I was a kid, I started kindergarten without even knowing English, despite being born right here in good old New York. So I learned to read and read any and every book I could. When I ran out, I read the Encyclopedia.

When I was in college and wanted to intern while keeping my job, I made it work. While writing an undergraduate thesis. I then proceeded to graduate early. Why? Because I wanted to and I could not and would not be satisfied until I did. Even if it meant going for days and weeks on end with no sleep, subsisting solely on peanut butter and espresso.

This is not to trumpet my own motivation. This is to prove a point. When you want things, you make it work.

So, let’s make it work.

On resilience

Remember  when I said I was setting out to be happy? Well, I’m going to be perfectly honest:

Today was not an especially happy day. Not that it was exceptionally sad, but for many months, bubbling beneath the (usually) composed exterior, I have been profoundly sad. It doesn’t come all at once, it just lies under the surface waiting for even the slightest reminder, a provocation so that I suddenly find myself heartbroken again, like I was a little over a year and a half ago.

At the beginning, it began as sadness and anger. Anger, resentment, confusion all rolled into one confusing and complex and difficult ball of emotion that I was nowhere near equipped to handle. But I did, I did because I had to and because there was no other option and because despite what my grief-stricken mind expected, life kept going.

It felt like it shouldn’t and like everything should stop and I wanted nothing more than to crawl under my covers and hide until everything got better. More specifically, I really wanted to crawl my childhood duvet that looked like the ocean because it would make me calm and I was anything but.

Yes, I inched slowly forward and I stopped weeping and staying up until well into the afternoon. The summer ended, I went back to school, I started classes, I went back to work. I wrote my thesis. I interned. All the while, I was still lost and heartbroken, but I went through the motions and I tried to claw my way out, or at least to the top of, my grief.

Yet, no matter how hard I pushed and continue to push, it comes back. Unexpected, unannounced, it just rushes and bursts forward, sending me careening off into terrifying and heart wrenching territory that I otherwise try to avoid at all costs.

What was it this time? My sneakers. My sneakers from middle school, a birthday present that at the time made my heart soar and my happiness burst to the brim, barely contained. Looking at them now, I still, in full detail, recall my happiness seeing them in their box in the shopping bag as my mother handed them to me. My utter surprise and delight, and her thrill to see just how happy and shocked I was. I forget for a moment my sadness, only to recall moments later.

Then the rude awakening.

To this day, there is some forgetful disbelief lodged in my mind that makes me forget only to remind me in the cruelest way possible that I will never see that smile again, that it is gone and in its place only the bittersweet memories and picture frames remain.

It begins again

Happy Monday and all that.

So, remember when I decided to embark on the 100 Happy Days in all its glorified cheesiness. Well, we (I) shall reembark post-sickness-hiatus, starting today. So, what has made me happy today?

Plenty, in theory. For today, I managed to get back on my (stationary) bike, which is semi-cheating, but I can’t really ride bikes anymore so spinning is my preferred method. ANYWAY, I decided to try complete with medical shoe and did pretty respectably if I do say so myself. One day at a time and all that jazz. That makes me very happy and optimistic, so today’s happy thing it shall be.

For Day One, anyway. Until tomorrow.

The Boys Are Back In Town

Except that rather than the boys, it’s me. Far be it for me to decline a Thin Lizzy reference. 

So, massive apologies for my pseudo-disppearance. I’ve been a special brand of sick and cold that meant I pretty much dragged myself to work, then back to bed with lots of tea because I seem to be a strangely sickly person of late. “Late” being the majority of my life, of course.

What’s new, you ask? (except no person ever genuinely asks that, it’s a cop-out rhetorical question segue. So sue me.)

Well, surprisingly little. Life is a tad monotonous if full of germs for the past while, sorry to say. There are few if any tales with which to regale the blogosphere(is that a thing? Am I just pretentiously making up words? Perhaps). 

On the bright side, there has been plenty to make me semi-happy, in spite of the sadness that seems to swirl endlessly around us all. Case in point, Jason Collin’s jersey being the number-one seller in the NBA. How’s that for a cheerful bit of news? I won’t try to deceive anyone by claiming to be knowledgeable, or even fond of, basketball, but I have massive respect for Jason Collins. Part of me wants to buy his jersey just for that (which I suspect some people have in fact done). I admit I am a soccer person if anything, not that watching matches has provided much consolation this season. On the bright side, Rooney has signed with Man United again, which means two things– 1. we’re not completely drowning (just, you know, slightly) and 2. I can continue to feel a tinge a guilt every time I laugh at a joke at his expense. Let’s face it, he is just so ripe for mockery, and I say this despite my adamant support for Manchester United and my appreciation of his talent.  

But then I watch something like this, and even I cannot contain myself.

On that note, I bid you farewell for the weekend. 

So, are we doing this?

Monday is my “things you can make/do” day, so here’s a philosophical-ish twist on it for this week.

Despite my general life policy of trying to avoid cheesiness, cliches, and the off-putting version of chipper (as opposed to the genuinely happy variety. Trust me, there are different types.) I have decided to embark on the 100 Happy Days Project because all that I can really risk is having a down day. As a caveat, I will point out that I am not going to attempt being happy all ay every day for the 100 days because that is as unlikely as it is unreasonable. Instead, I will try to find at least one happy thing for each day during the project, and hopefully, after it as well.

So, without further ado, today’s happiness-inducing thing:

My foot is doing much better, and simple as that may be, it has made me very happy. Most of us rarely take into account the immense difficulty caused by simple everyday tasks when you’re unable to walk, and I know I certainly take those things for granted far more than I should. Not to get all preach-y or cheesy, but it really is remarkable how oblivious we are to all the advantages we have in life and how remarkable everyday things are until everything is briefly put into perspective.

Happy President’s Day, on that weird note.

~~

Me, Myself, and Everyone Else

It’s Valentine’s Day, and in true Sana fashion, I am listening to De La Soul‘s Me, Myself, And I wearing a hoodie and hanging out on my couch. This is not meant to elicit any pity, this is actually a perfectly content moment for me. I managed to get around without crutches for most of today, so I am in fact perfectly pleased. 

I am seriously considering embarking on the 100 Happy Days. It seems like the kind of chipper, cloyingly upbeat thing I would hate, but for once I feel like contrived happiness might actually do me some good.

Contemplating the 100 Happy Days made me consider what it means to be “happy” each and every day. I mean, there’s a difference between finding one happy thing each day and being happy all day, every day. The latter is just unrealistic, and especially so for me. I feel emotions strongly, to say the least, so I could never be perpetually happy, nor do I want to be. I relish excitement and nervousness, and occasional fear, and I grow through sadness and pain. They are part of what makes me and I could never expect to be perfectly happy or content all the time. It simply isn’t in my nature.

If I took on the project, the real point would be to find silver linings every day, and that is something I could really use. I find myself in a rather low place of late, likely caused by the combination of injury, isolation, and seemingly simultaneous change and stasis. Maybe a prescription for happiness is something I could genuine give myself. We’ll see how that pans out. Happy Valentine’s Day.