Chilling at Bedtime

July 21, 2014

 

d4jm9-331.jpgI love to sleep in a cold bedroom at night. I prefer to burrow under the covers, rather than have the room warm and toasty. While it can sometimes be a bone of contention , this article in the New York Times gives another, perhaps more compelling reason to turn the thermostat down at night.

Sleeping in a cooler room can alter the amount of brown fat our bodies carry.
Brown fat, which has been discovered in tiny amounts in the upper backs and necks of adults, is thought to have be metabolically active.  This healthy fat aids in   burning calories, maintaining core body temperature, and taking sugar out of the bloodstream.

Studies performed on healthy men showed that sleeping in a room cooled to 66 degrees, allowed their bodies to double their stores of healthy brown fat in just four weeks, and improved their insulin sensitivity.  When the same men slept in an 80 degree room for four weeks, their brown fat levels fell lower than they were at the onset of the study.

While the effects of these findings were minimal, it is interesting to note that subtle tweaks in temperature could offer small metabolic health boosts.

The original article can be found here.

photo: glasshouse images

Walking Papers

July 17, 2014

 

8034100025This summer, New York City will host 53 million tourists. While we love the international flare and the added income it brings to our fair city, we frankly hate the crowds who seem unable to keep up with the flow.

You know who you are. The groups of people, strolling along idly, side by side on the street, three or more abreast making it almost impossible to get past you. And we need to get past you. Please walk in clusters of no more than two, stick to the right side, and even better, keep up with the flow.

It’s called a sidewalk, not a stand there and gawk walk. If you wish to stop and look up at our lovely skyline, please step aside to do so. Same story with texting, photo ops and general rubber necking. We need to get past you.

1806700078As hard as it is to believe, we have places to go, people to see and things to do. This is why we need to get past you. While Chelsea Market is an amazing place, with all of it’s remarkable food shops and cool interior, some of us go there to buy our food. Step away from the produce, and let us shop. I mean, haven’t you seen arugula before? Ditto, fresh fish and other day to day delicacies that constitute our dinner. Feel free to act like a tourist in Times Square, Macy’s, and South Street Seaport. But when you are on our turf, try to act like a local, or at least be considerate of us.

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It’s proper to let  people off the train before boarding. If the train is crowded, please take your backpacks off and move your gigantic pieces of luggage out of our way so we can get on and off. Try not to block the doors so we don’t miss our stop climbing over your stuff, or worse yet, break a toe trying to navigate our way around it.

Walking is a frequently used mode of transportation for us locals. Think of walking, the way you would driving. Imagine the chaos if you and your friends all drove very, very slowly in a pack during rush hour, making it difficult to get around you. And what if you all just stopped suddenly to look at the sunset with out any warning to those behind you? Are you starting to get the picture?

And about getting the picture: Selfies, seriously? Here in the middle of the street? Now?

I think you get my drift. Enjoy your visit to the Big Apple!

 

*This has been a public service announcement from indigo jones. Thank you.

photos: Glasshouse Images

Chic Trackers

July 16, 2014

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Fitness tracking devices have been gaining prominence, and it seems many of the chicest women are sporting rubber wrist bands, to record their activity, calorie expenditure and even sleep cycles.

It certainly comes as no surprise that Fitbit, one of the early adopters of fitness tracking bracelets has teamed up with designer Tory Burch to create a line of fashionable jewelry with tracking technology.

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From colorful printed bands with Burch’s signature logo, to gold caged bracelets and pendants, these pieces are designed to house Fitbit’s “core”, which pops out of the original bracelet.

While Tory Burch is not the first to merge fashion and fitness, she certainly is the most high profile.
Watch for a flurry of activity around this concept as fashion firms and tech firms begin to collaborate on this type of product. It’s only a matter of time before Apple steps in and blows the competition out of the water.

pictures courtesy of Tory Burch.

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Peeling Tomatoes

July 15, 2014

 

1635400438This time of year, I can’t get enough tomatoes. The current bounty is a far cry from the mealy, styrofoam-like tomatoes we have around here most of the time. These ripe, juicy, deep red beauties are full of flavor and vitamin C.

I love them raw, baked, sliced, diced and sautéed.  Sometimes, it’s nice to take the skin off, and cook them down to a thick, rich sauce, to pour over pasta, chicken or spiralized zucchini ribbons.

The easiest way to skin a tomato, or other fruits and vegetables with a thin skin and fleshy interior, is to drop them into a pot of boiling water. You only need to leave them in the water for a brief time; less than a minute, before the skin cracks.
Remove them with tongs, and place them in a bowl. The skin should come off easily, leaving you with a naked, but still very much intact tomato. Be careful not to leave them in the pot too long, as they will begin to cook, and eventually fall apart.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Spiralize Me!

July 14, 2014

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I am not a big fan of random kitchen gadgets, especially the plastic miracle machines that are the fodder of late night infomercials.  Yet, this little guy has me smitten!

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It’s called a spiralizer,and with a quick turn of a handle, it converts vegetables into long, noodle-like strands that give pasta a run for it’s money.

Tonight, we enjoyed zucchini noodles, quick sautéed and bathed in a sauce of garlic, basil, oil and fresh tomatoes, sprinkled with a little freshly ground Parmesan cheese. For a fraction of the calories, and far more nutritional value than it’s flour based counterpart, this was a fast and delicious meal that was whipped up in no time flat.

Try it! You’ll love it!

 

 

 

Dress Code Violated

July 10, 2014

purse, gloves

Getting dressed for an event used to be easy. People were expected to look appropriate, and those perameters were  clearly defined by the occasion. The casualization of America, as well as many other places around the globe, has served to make getting dressed more difficult.

Long ago, women never even thought to enter a place of worship with out a skirt or a dress, and stockings. Now,pants are not only permissible, but are often the norm.  Jeans have found their way into many churches, begging the question of appropriateness to many.

Jeans have become a mainstay in most people’s wardrobes, and fashion often dictates how they are worn. Men dress up jeans with open collared shirts and blazers. Women add heels and a dressier top for a night on the town. Jeans have become acceptable in many workplaces, restaurants and at social functions.

Shorts are an item that fashion has endorsed in recent seasons, with women wearing them back to crisp shirts, tailored jackets and chunky heels for a polished look that is suitable for many occasions and venues.

But what happens when those who are not fashion conscious decide that shorts or jeans are right for them?
Often, chaos and bad taste ensues. Shorts suddenly become too short, or too casual. What was once a “look” easily becomes sloppy, when shorts are paired with casual tee shirts and flip flops, or heaven forbid, Crocs.

Torn jeans are a big trend right now, but when placed in the wrong hands, they become a reckless, slovenly mess.

How do you enforce a dress code, when you can’t enforce good taste? The answer sadly, is that you can’t. If you want people to look “appropriate” you have to prevent them from making fashion faux pas with a stringent dress code.
I recently experienced this first hand, when I became stranded in Florida due to inclement weather at home.

I was lucky enough to be invited to a July 4th soiree at a country club, but discovered that I didn’t have anything in my bag that was deemed appropriate for the occasion.

My jeans, strategically torn by the designer, and paired with a printed silk top, hand knit flyaway sweater, a statement necklace and heels were on trend and in my opinion very pulled together and fashion right. Unfortunately, they did not meet the criteria of appropriatness  for this venue. Although I would have been the most fashionable one there in that outfit, I ran through the local mall, frantically searching for something to wear. I ended up with a white tee shirt, paired back to some other pants I had with me, and while I looked fine, I didn’t look chic. And for the most part, neither did anyone else.

It is sad that places need to have a specific dress code in order to ensure that people look “nice.” And even sadder when looking nice equates to looking bland. In this case, the dress code of “country club casual” meant white pants, a colored tunic length sweater or blouse, and gobs of makeup for the women. Pleated trousers, often white, worn back to collared shirts, were the uniform for the men.

Although cookie cutter, and as exciting as the canned peaches on the buffet table, everyone fit in, and met the social norms of the area.  Although it would have been completely disrespectful to my hosts to try to defy the dress code, I was a bit miffed that mediocrity trumped fashion sense. Yet, at the end of the day, it should be about the company, and not the clothes that make the evening a success.

What do you think about dress codes? Are they a nuisance, or a good way to make sure that everyone looks appropriate? Would showing up in a too short skirt, or an extremely low-cut blouse be better than jeans? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

 

photo: glasshouse images

Are You Smarter Than A NYC Kindergardener?

July 9, 2014

Happy schoolboy in front of mathematics on whiteboard

Admissions into a good New York City kindergarden is more than just living in the right zip code. While New York does have it’s share of acceptable public elementary schools, just living in that school district does not always guarantee  admission. Overflow often leads to a less desirable school, driving many parents to elite private schools, and the city’s Talented and Gifted Programs (TAG), which require an admission process that rivals the rigor of the curriculum.

When our daughter, now 14, was testing and interviewing for school, the ERBs were the gold standard. At the time, it was almost impossible to help your child practice for the test, the content of which was elusive.

Girl in front of whiteboard with alphabet

Now, many schools are looking to disregard the ERB, as most of the children taking it ( at age 4 mind you) have been coached. The latest test on the scene is the AABL, or the Admissions Assessment for Beginning Learners, which is deemed to be more difficult, and “academic” than the previous one. Since it is taken on an iPad instead of being administered by a tester, it has a  lower cost: $65 vs. $568 for the old ERBs, which is leading experts to believe that even more parents will be inclined to pay to have their toddlers professionally prepped.

For those of you wondering how you might fare against a group of over-educated 4 year olds, you are in luck.

A sample test is available for the taking right here! CLICK TO TAKE THE TEST

Let us know how you do in the comments!

 

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Tasting portions

July 8, 2014

Boulette de viande au romarin

You probably know you should taste as you go when cooking. In fact, most of our unrecipes suggest tasting to correct seasonings before serving. But sometimes, it’s not possible to taste foods before they are cooked without risking serious health consequences. Raw meat and poultry, for example, need to be fully cooked to ensure that they are safe to consume.
So how do you know your meatballs, meatloaves or chicken dishes are seasoned properly? Make one tiny portion , and cook it in a pan so you can safely taste it and adjust your seasonings as necessary.

Problem solved!

photo: glasshouse images

Sneaker Stalker

July 7, 2014
The Original Stan Smith sneaker by Adidas

The Original Stan Smith sneaker by Adidas

Look out Chuck Taylor, there’s a new kid in town, and he’s been around for a long, long time.

Fashionistas worldwide are embracing the serenity of clean, white Stan Smiths as the sneaker of choice.

Adidas ode to the tennis player, Stan Smith has recently made a comeback with chic men and women wearing them across all seasons.

Here are a few of our favorite street spottings:

Stella McCartney and Adidas? Sign us up!

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A trio of lovelies all in Stans:

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Men love them too!

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Skinny jeans, a textured sweater and brand new Stan Smiths: perfection!

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They work with pants or skirts

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Style and comfort collide.

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photos via Pinterest

Frankenfoods

July 3, 2014

A while back I was contacted by a production company, who asked me to audition for a new cooking show. It showcased weird food combinations, that sound disgusting, but actually taste good. I declined, because as you all know, I am not that kind of cook.  I specialize in simple, healthy, fresh foods, with nothing strange about them.

mac and cheese hot dog sushi on a stick, with spicy marinara dipping sauce!

mac and cheese hot dog sushi on a stick, with spicy marinara dipping sauce!

Time went by, and they kept calling. In January, they asked to me to come in for an open call, and make an interview tape.  I didn’t intend to go, but the night before, I had a fortuitous conversation with someone who came up with the idea of hotdog sushi. I laughed it off, but at some point on the day of the audition, I decided to give it a try. I rolled a hotdog (organic and nitrate free of course!) and some baby gerkins in sushi rice and nori, sliced it, and garnished it with a srirachia based sauce and a mustard based sauce, and went for it.
Since I didn’t take it seriously, my tape was fun and lighthearted. Who would have guessed that a couple of weeks later, they would call me back?

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They wanted the food to be a little more “Frankenfood-y”( like hotdog sushi isn’t weird enough?) and suggested dipping it in chocolate, using pineapple in the rice and all kinds of other things that made it sound disgusting. I am all for a little fun needling, but I don’t really need to go on TV to be berated about serving food I would NEVER, ever, think of serving under normal circumstances.

With all of the traveling I do, I didn’t have much time. I came back from a business trip and immediately went on location in a snowstorm, arriving home with just enough time to whip up something else. This time, I tried a coconut, pineapple rice, and a peanut butter, (think satay) dipping sauce. They really wanted it dipped in chocolate. I tried that, and rolled it in coconut. Then I had an epiphany: what if I used mac and cheese instead of rice? And what if I breaded and fried it? And served it on a stick? And dipped it in spicy marinara sauce? It might just be edible!

I submitted the latest version, and was cast on the show. I signed a non-disclosure and was sworn to secrecy about the outcome, but since the show actually aired last week,  I think it’s okay to tell you about it.

On a freezing cold winter’s day, all of the contestants and their friends and family (I spared mine from the ordeal!) gathered outside of a studio in Harlem to introduce “Frankenfood.”  We then prepared our delicacies, and presented them to a panel of judges. The prize was $10,000 and the chance to feature your dish at a restaurant in Times Square.

I suddenly became a nervous wreck. The contract basically stated that they could use any footage of me, and manipulate it however they wished to make the show more interesting. My last minute test of frying the mac and cheese sushi left me a little skeptical as to whether or not they would dissolve in the hot oil.  Would my “Tokyo Corndogs” become the next big thing in food, or would they be a “hot mess” on a stick? It was too late to back out, so I went forward with the same “who cares” attitude that I started out with.

I made the mac and cheese the night before, and rolled and cut the sushi so that I could refrigerate it, to the point that the mac and cheese became firm.  The producers loved the idea, and suddenly I felt as though I had a good chance. I dipped the sushi pieces in egg, rolled it in a combination of panko and breadcrumbs, and gingerly placed them in the hot oil. And they held together beautifully!!!!

The judges loved the presentation, the idea and execution. They liked the fact that it was like a multi-cultural carnival food on a stick, and had a little Asian influence (the sushi part and the Japanese panko), a little Italian (the breadcrumbs and the spicy marinara) and a lot of American comfort food influences, ( hot dogs and mac and cheese.) What fell flat was the taste of seaweed, with the cheese, noodles, hotdogs and tomato sauce.

So, as you can tell from watching the show: I didn’t win. In fact, I was almost completely edited out. I didn’t sing, I didn’t dance, I didn’t wear a weird outfit, and my food wasn’t so terrible that they had to spit it out. I fell through the crazy cracks, and that was fine with me! Just when I thought the coast was clear, I discovered that I  was featured in a clip on the show’s website, as a “Frankenfail.”

http://www.spike.com/video-clips/9vhxtc/frankenfail-flourishing-onion-tokyo-corn-dogs-and-matzilla

It was fun to step out, try something completely out of my comfort zone, and throw caution to the wind about my image.  It took 2 judges votes to keep you in, and I only got one on my side, who hated the seaweed taste, but loved my personal style. At the end of the day, for a fashion designer and blogger, that was the best outcome I could have hoped for!

Feel free to watch the show. If you blink, you will miss me, but my food is featured at the beginning and the end,and actually looks pretty good, if I have to say so myself! (and appartently I do!) Unfortunately, it didn’t taste as good as it looked.

If Andy Warhol is correct in his estimation that we all have 15 minutes of fame, I am pretty sure I still have about 14 minutes and 45 seconds left for another opportunity!

photos and video: courtesy of Spike TV / Frankenfood


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