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Author Archives: Alden Wicker
You might have noticed that I haven’t posted in some time. It’s because I’ve got something brewin’.
During my two years working on the editorial team of a startup, I have gotten a crash course making great content that people read and love. My job was immensely fulfilling and instructive, but it was all in service of someone else’s goals and dreams. And it left little time to write about what I truly care about, awesomely sustainable stuff in New York City.
So I’m pleased to announced that this Friday is my last day at my job. I’m going to blog full time!
While I love and cherish Clean Hippie, I’ve decided that I want to start afresh, with a new name and aesthetic. This blog will go away (though I will port over some of my favorite posts) and a new one will take its place. The new blog will have daily posts that are crafted with all the love and devotion you would expect from someone who is taking the 50 hours a week they spent working at a startup, and using that time in service of their own project.
In short, it will be awesome.
If you would like to know when this new blog launches, leave your email for me below.
(I will not use your email for anything but informing you of the launch of my new blog. And I certainly won’t give it to anyone else–who do you think I am?)
Allow me to account for my extended absence. First, I was busy. Second, I spent two weeks in the tropics away from cares, and especially away from wifi and 3G. Which is the point, really.
To atone for this lapse in blogging, may I present you the best rum punch ever. I mean, I haven’t tried them all, I admit. But I did try some very crappy “rum punch” in the British Virgin Islands during my first week of sailing. It consisted of rum mixed with processed fruit punch drink from the U.S. I was unimpressed. (Hint: When in Virgin Islands, get a Bushwacker. Addictive creamy, frozen, coconut amazingness.)
The second leg of my trip was in Barbados, a vibrant island full of culture, history, good food, small-batch sugarcane rum, wildlife, botanical gardens, and miles of white beaches and turquoise waters.
I stayed with my family at a villa (which sounds so pretentious, doesn’t it? But that’s what houses on the beach are called: villas). When we arrived and were being shown around, one of the cooks came upstairs with a tray of rum punch. I took one sip and was hooked. It was sweet, but complex instead of cloying. Topped with freshly grated nutmeg locally right from the island, it set the tone for the trip.
So let me share the recipe for this amazing drink with you. It’s a bit cold for it right now if you’re in NYC. But I think it would make an amazing addition to your summer!
Sheliah’s Incredible Bajan Rum Punch
Note: Bajan is what you use to describe things from Barbados.
3 cups Mount Gay rum
1 cup lime juice
2 cups simple syrup (You can buy this or make it buy boiling water and sugar on the stove.)
3 cups water, including ice
Several dashes of angostura bitters
1/2 cup of grenadine syrup
1 box of Cockspur fruit punch (You can’t find this here in the States, so I would go with a high quality fruit punch made with real fruit juice and not much added sugar, if any.)
Mix syrup and lime juice together, then add all other ingredients. Serve over chipped ice in cocktail glasses. Sprinkle freshly shaved nutmeg on top.
There are a lot of meal delivery services in NYC. Why not? We like delicious food but we don’t have the time to actually shop for it and then cook it.
Me, I like my food fresh and local, and not prepackaged like a frozen dinner–which is what I imaged most food delivery services to be. But my interest was piqued when I found Greatist’s list of healthy food delivery services.
The one that I settled on to try was Plated, a service that delivers pre-portioned ingredients for chef-designed meals to your door. Nice enough, but here’s where I got excited: they use in-season, local ingredients whenever possible.
It’s actually pretty affordable, coming out to $10 to $15 a plate, depending on how many you order–much lower than other food delivery options, and great if you consider the high-quality ingredients and inventive recipes.
So one night, after drinking wine on an empty stomach and staring dolefully into my sad, empty refrigerator, I went a little crazy and ordered six meals, two each of three recipes.
Knowing that I am a single woman living with just roommate (who eats like a bird and refuses to eat any of my food), I should have held back, but it was too late. I found myself with the makings of three scrumptious meals for two: cornmeal crusted cod with citrus romain and sweet potatoes, seared tuna sushi bowls and pork chops and roasted brussels sprouts with pancetta.
I seriously should have done an unboxing video. The ingredients came packaged in a cardboard box, complete with an icepack and an insulating bag, eco-friendly air packs and those green bags that keep produce fresh for longer. (I’ll save those for later, thank you!)
It includes three beautiful, illustrated recipe cards and a bio of the chefs. And each ingredient is labeled. It’s so freakin’ adorable.
For my first taste, I invited a friend over to help me. (“Please, help me eat this high-brow drunk food I ordered.”)
I showed him the cards, and it turns out he’s a good friend of the chef who designed the sushi bowls. But we decided to do the cod, and worked together to get it crusted and in the skillet, the fries in the oven and the simple salad tossed.
As promised, preparation was simple and fast, at a half hour, and only required basic kitchen tools. (FYI: They don’t include common kitchen ingredients in the package, like olive oil, salt and pepper. Not a big deal if you’re a semi-regular cook.) And as we ate our meal, I kept interrupting my friend who was trying to hold a conversation to exclaim, “Wow, this is so good.”
The sushi bowls I made for myself later: delicious. I threw the pork chops in the freezer but managed to find time to cook them before the produce went bad within the week, and loved them.
Reader, this service is amazing. But to be fair, I will point out the downsides:
- Despite their commitment to sustainability, some ingredients, like apple cider vinegar, come in tiny plastic jars. The others all come in plastic baggies. I’m sure they are aware that this isn’t ideal, but I can’t think of a solution either. Would it be too hard logistically to allow a customer to check a box that says, “I actually already have apple cider vinegar” to cut down on packaging?
- They need a few days’ lead time to assemble, so you have to plan ahead. No last minute ordering–you’ll have to hit up Seamless for that.
If you like what you see, Greatist actually provides a discount. Go get it!
Those were the words declared by Agatha of A Good Hostess Knows When to Use the F-Word in an email to me after we settled on our yummy, wintery menu for our Friday night dinner: beet and parsnip soup with dill cream, parsley root gratin with gruyere cheese, and jicama, radish and avocado salad.
Our selections came straight from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool (don’t you love that name?), one of my favorite cookbooks. I love it so because it is finely divided into eight seasons, from first of spring through indian summer and all the way to deep winter. It makes choosing a good farmers market recipe easy.
And we were definitely into deep winter. I made a mid-work foray to the farmers market–a benefit of working near Union Square–but it was past three and many farmers had already packed up to go home. I don’t blame them, the high for that day was 23 degrees.
I packed my bag with root vegetables: parsnips, beets, beautiful and garish watermelon radishes, and potatoes. I picked up some yogurt and swiss cheese as well, and peeled my dollars off with frozen fingers. Poor farmers.
After work the snow came down hard, glinting underneath the streetlights, like glitter on the black pavement. Agatha and my roommate E picked up what they could at Whole Foods, but oddly, jicama and parsley root was not available. C’mon, Whole Foods!
We made a quick stop at the Trader Joe’s wine shop. Exiting, we bent our heads against the wet snow, but finally gave up and shared a cab home. I beg your forgiveness, readers. I had on spindly heels that day and was sure I would twist an ankle during the 20 minute walk home.
Back at the apartment, we poured ourselves glasses of red wine, and I settled E and Agatha in at the dining room table to chop while I bustled around the kitchen getting my mise en place. We nixed the salad, since we were short on root vegetables, and moved the radishes to the gratin. Problem solved.
The apartment filled with the smell of stewing and roasting vegetables. Outside the wind blew, but we were cozy in our little place.
I highly suggest you have a wintery dinner in like this soon. February is the perfect time to hunker down and let your body luxuriate in doing nothing. You know, hibernating.
Some sustainable to-dos are annoying and almost impossible (seriously, where am I supposed to take my batteries again?) But some sustainable to-dos are shockingly easy. Here’s my first in what I hope to make a series:
It’s hard to believe now that tuna, up until the 1960s, was a fish that no one wanted to eat. It was often put straight into cat food, and sold for pennies on the pound, according to The New Yorker. Not even the Japanese ate it.
But after World War II, the Japanese developed a taste for tuna in their sushi. And now it’s as common on a Japanese menu as pasta is on an Italian menu.
The thing is, our appetite for tuna has put it in danger of becoming extinct. It’s actually a sea predator, and like it’s land-dwelling equivalents the wolf or bobcat, Americans have hunted it to dwindling numbers. One scientist estimates that only 2% of the original stock remains.
The international management of bluefin tuna has been called a disgrace. Add to that the Deepwater Horizon spill right in its spawning grounds, and you get the picture. It’s actually one of many species of fish that have been mercilessly ground under the heel of our appetites, along with halibut, haddock, swordfish, marlin, and skate. Predictably, even as scientists have sounded the alarm, governments have been unable to come to a consensus on putting limits on fishing them. (Blame Japan.)
By now you see where I’m going. The sustainable choice is to avoid ordering any tuna rolls or sashimi when you get sushi. But there’s even another compelling reason to avoid tuna: it’s a little bit poisonous.
I’m talking about mercury. Mercury is a heavy metal that is picked up in a little amounts by little sea creatures. When those sea creatures are eaten by bigger sea creatures, that mercury stays in the bigger sea creature, who collects more and more all the time–it never flushes out. The result is that the bigger the underwater carnivore, the more mercury it has in its body. Tuna is a very large carnivore. And you, my friend, are the biggest carnivore of all. Canned albacore tuna has especially high levels, but in 2008 a report found that tuna sushi in New York City had such high levels eating six pieces a week would be dangerous to your health.
There is no I’m going to tell you to stop eating sushi. It is one of New York City’s great pleasures. So don’t worry, there are plenty of sustainable options, according to Monterey Bay:
- Wild-caught salmon from Alaska
- Striped bass
- Rainbow or steelhead trout
- Sablefish (also known in sushi joints as gindara)
- Arctic char
- Giant clam or geoduck
- Sea urchin roe (also known in sushi joints as uni)
- Or vegetarian sushi, which is available in many restaurants around the city
So, put this on your sustainable to-do list: Stop eating tuna!
Photo credit: Flickr/Blue Waikiki
I love myself some rummage-and-cook food. I have a bunch of great cookbooks, but I never use them, because I’m in and endless loop of trying to use up the ingredients from a former recipe, and then trying to use up the ingredients from that recipe.
This time, I took it a little far. You see, I had a 30 rack of Coors Light in my fridge left over from a party. I hardly ever drink beer, and my roommate hates the stuff. I happened to be looking for a good recipe to use up some leftover items, and found a risotto recipe. Risotto is a great rummage-and-cook item. You can put anything in there and it will taste awesome, especially if you top it with truffle oil.
The recipe called for chicken stock, which I never keep on hand and which also goes bad after a week. Having read that you can cook rice in beer, I thought, “Hmm, does Coors Light count as beer?”
Thus was born Rich Frat Boy Risotto. The name comes from it being cooked in watery beer and topped with truffle oil. I’ve adapted this recipe to suit my taste, substituting cheaper veggie Italian-style sausage for regular sausage.
As a bonus, you can find almost all of these ingredients–save for the olive oil, Coors, arborio rice and truffle oil–at your local farmers market.
Surprisingly, it’s delicious, creamy and … rich. I hope you enjoy!
Note: Any beer will do. If you would rather make Trust-Fund Hipster Risotto, PBR or Brooklyn Lager will work too!
Rich Frat Boy Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound veggie Italian-style sweet sausage, crumbled into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out, caps diced
10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, diced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 cups Madeira (or another red wine you have on hand)
6 cups Coors Light or any other leftover beer you have on hand
1/2 stick butter (4 tablespoons)
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups arborio rice or other medium-grain rice (about 13 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
Black truffle oil
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and sauté until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add all mushrooms, thyme, and oregano and sauté until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup Madeira; boil until almost absorbed, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Bring beer to simmer in large saucepan; remove from heat and cover to keep hot. Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup Madeira; simmer until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot beer; simmer until almost absorbed, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, adding more beer by cupfuls, stirring often and allowing most beer to be absorbed before adding more, about 25 minutes. Stir in sausage mixture. Top with grated cheese and a drizzle of truffle oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Here is the intro to Eco-Glamorous: A Fail-Proof Guide to Ditching Toxic Beauty Products, Protecting Your Health and Greening Your Beauty Routine, by the gorgeous Sherrell Dorsey:
I’m that girl that gets ridiculously excited about a trip to the farmer’s market and fervently tweets photos on the abundance of affordable organic items I find during my weekly trips to Trader Joe’s. On the off chance I forget my reusable shopping bag I toss on my shades and go incognito feeling as though I just committed a sin against the planet. If I could recycle everything (and believe me when I say that I’ve tried), I would. Composting has become my new pastime alongside discovering one-of-a-kind items from a consignment or thrift store. And to top it all off, I’d rather mix up a batch of beauty products at home using ingredients I can easily pronounce than struggle with beauty counter trivia.
I read this and though, “This is a girl after my own heart. Where does she live? We should be friends. Shoot, she lives in Seattle. Oh well.”
I quick perusal–and it is quick, if it were printed this would be more of a pamphlet than book–proves her e-book to be a quick and easy course on greening your beauty routine. It includes:
- A list of chemicals to avoid
- A list of brands you can trust, which is extremely helpful, if not comprehensive. (Though, to be fair, listing every single natural product out there would probably be a Sisyphian task.)
- A few beauty product recipes
- A short list of beauty items you didn’t know you could recycle
- References and organizations that can give you more information
- Eco-beauty retailers
- Blogs and apps
Sherrell’s book is by no means encyclopedic. (I do wish she had spent less space on the intro and bio, and more space on useable tips.) But while Sherrell’s blog is specifically targeted to “brown” girls, it would be a mistake to pass this little guide over–everything in here could be used by anyone, from the newbie to a seasoned gal like myself. It’s more than worth the low price.
Grab a copy from these places:
I wrote this piece for the amazingly entertaining website Narratively, which tells the most interesting stories in New York City. If you enjoy it, do me the favor of “liking” it via the wee Facebook button on Narratively’s page and/or sharing it with your friends. Grazie!
I emerge from the L at the Montrose stop along with several other people. The sidewalk is busy, plenty of cars pass. But as soon as I take a right down a side street, I’m alone. Squatting on either side of my route are warehouses, their windows dark and their brick walls tagged with graffiti.
I scan the locked doors as I hurry down the lonely street, looking for a certain address that was emailed to me in the middle of the week. I wonder what the chances are that the party got cancelled and if I’m here for nothing. Then I spot the man ahead of me, standing by himself. He’s big, and he looks bored. Bingo.
As I get closer, I hear the bass thudding. “You here for the party?” he asks me. “I’ll need to see your I.D., but we can check it inside.” He opens the door, checks my I.D. and directs me up the concrete-and-metal staircase with lime green walls, toward the deep bass and down-tempo of minimal house music.
Read the rest on Narrative.ly.
Sometimes I love my life, sometimes I don’t. In those moments when I get down, I remind myself that it’s not the life you have, it’s what you do with it.
I took this picture from the top of The Standard Hotel. From there, you can look out over the glittering city, which always causes a warm flush of gratitude for my experiences and the opportunity to be here. Turn and walk to the other side, and you can observe cabs whizzing up town and downtown with their fares, and trace the white reflections of New Jersey skyscrapers in the black Hudson. What are all those millions of people doing out there in the city tonight?
New York City sometimes has a way of making you feel like you’re missing out, especially at night. There’s always a better party, a prettier dress, a more expensive bauble, a more fascinating person to meet, a more prestigious career and more ridiculous story. You never have to go to bed, if you don’t want to–you never have to stop.
But there’s also a lot of sadness and grime here, which is easy to forget at night as you barrel toward the next party. After dusk, when the grey of pavement and steel fade to inky black and the windows turn to gold squares of light, you can’t see the grime, just the glitter.
I think it’s important to remember that getting a more impressive job or hanging out with “cooler” people or getting into that more desirable club doesn’t lead to happiness. It’s appreciating what’s been set before you that does. And remembering that this–this party, this loneliness, this elation, this hangover, this beautiful view, this disappointment–this too shall pass.
First of all, I want to applaud Solomon Liou for his commitment to good jeans. How many men do you know who would search high and low for the perfect pair of jeans, and when he isn’t satisfied, just go out and make them himself?
That’s what Solomon did, and now he’s raising money on Kickstarter to get Parke jeans started. The jeans will be made here in NYC of selvedge denim, a kind of throwback denim created on antique shuttle looms, that is higher quality and lasts longer than the cheap stuff you see in department stores today. Less than 1% of jeans are made using selvedge denim anymore, though it was the chief mode of production before World War II.
They sound like ridiculously nice jeans, but because Parke will craft and send the jeans straight to you–without middlemen or marketing–they will only cost $125. Eventually they will retail for $195.
- Are locally-made
- Use a higher-quality, vintage fabrication process
- Will last a long time so you won’t have to dump them in a landfill after a year
- Cost less than most designer jeans
- Support local craftsmen and women
- Look damn sexy
To get a pair or two, just pledge to support Parke on Kickstarter. $45 gets you a Parke t-shirt, $125 gets you a pair of jeans, $250 gets you two pairs. $1,000 gets you a pair of custom-made jeans with your name embroidered on them and subway token buttons–for the locavore who has everything.
They need $50,000 by January 18th, and they are only halfway to their goal. Go support them!!