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Friday
Aug222014

Creating Space

Food photo props in my apartment.Lately, I've been struggling with space. Finding enough.

Apartment space.

Work space.

Physical space.

Social space.

Creative space.

Mental space.

Everything seems to be lying on top of each other—all around and in my head. If I shift something over to make room for something else, I'll knock over a bike or step (yes, step) on a plate. Or, more dangerously,  all my ideas will come loose and bounce all over my brain like one of the 70's toy poppers:

Not good.

I had a biking accident a few weeks ago in the New York City Triathlon. One minute I was pedaling my heart out, pushing as hard as I could downhill in the pouring rain. No fear.

In an instant, I was on my side, skidding down yards of badly paved Henry Hudson Parkway and coming to an unspectacular (asp)halt in a puddle somewhere in the Bronx, my bike skittering sadly a few feet ahead of me.

I stood up and immediately began to cry. And not the owy-I-have-a-boo-boo type of crying. The kind when you're gasping for breath and practically screaming or coughing or dry-heaving or all three because your poor brain can't process what's come before. Or what will happen after.

Snap. A pure break in time.

Space.

And in that space, there's a regrouping. An honest mental assessment of what's going on and what needs to happen next.

I was asked my roadside assistance if I needed an ambulance. I said yes. When none showed up, I got back on my bike (which is fine, as I broke it's fall), and pedaled back to transition at 79th street.

I decided in that instant that I got back on my bike that what I really wanted to do was finish the race. In whatever fashion I could manage, even if it meant — GASP! — walking.

My original plan was not going to pan out.

I got to transition, put on my running shoes and walked up the steep hill to 72nd street. On 72nd I started to jog and met cheering friends, family member and teammates. I heard my dad shout, "We love you!"

I started to run faster and I finished the race running. It wasn't glamorous. In fact, it was a little gross. And slow. It made me think about every step I took and if I really wanted to take another.

No one would have questioned my decision to get into an ambulance (should one have showed up). Or stop running. But in the new plan (made somewhere around 250th Street), I was just dealing with the moment. The intention changed from running to the finish line (which is always moving, folks, not to get too philosophical on you but...) to running here. Now. And being ok with where I am, which at the time was a little banged up and bloody.

Vertical running!Since then, I've been trying to slow down. If only in my head. I fight it a lot. I'm a doer—I like getting things done. Races, work, food shopping, whatever, it feels good to cross things off the list. But the thing is, there will always be more things on the list.

I've been trying to shift those things over and create space for...

...dinosaur moments.

You read about them first here. For me, these little Paleolithic plastic toys create little moments in which I can creatively play. And as my photographer friend Steve says, these little moments are where the big ideas come from.

Sometimes there are tacos involved.

So I'm trying to create space for more dinosaur moments, and reframe this mental headspace a bit.

There are risks we take every day — and not just the ones that potentially involve falling off self-propelled vehicles. You can put your whole heart and mind and energy into a single effort only to fail spectacularly and literally in front of an audience.

And that's ok. But if you can pick yourself up, reframe it, and keep going after that, you've already won. 

Friday
Aug152014

Best Coffee This Side of the Park. And That Side, Too. Parkside Coffee Roasters

 

If you make coffee, I'd be willing to drink some of it graphic

A long time ago in a land far, far away, I didn't drink coffee. I'm not sure I was every properly awake during that time. Now, the above graphic (which I created back in my stationery design days) seems to be my mantra. But instead of having other people make it for me, I'm starting to make it for myself.

I have a French press (apartment of 1, people!) and I fire up the grinder and grind my beans fresh every morning. And then over-caffeinate to the point of delirium. And that's how I likes it, folks.

Now, in the world of coffee beans, I certainly have my favorites. Right now, I am singing the praises of Parkside Coffee Roasters, owned, operated and roasted by my good friend Tim Tate.

Tim is an entrepreneur. He's established Parkside as a micro roaster that carefully selects exquisite beans that are guaranteed to caffeinate you in the most delicious way possible. Tim studied and researched coffee bean roasting and has created Parkside to offer you the fruits (or beans) of his labor. 

Parkside offers various blends, including a cold brew option (which I like to chug first thing in the morning before workouts) and you can buy them all here.

It would delight the bujeezes out of me if you would wander over to Parkside and show those beans some love. I have sampled all the varieties and am a huge fan. Tim's not paying me to say that — Parkside is a start-up, folks. START UP. 

Want to learn more about how a cup of Parkside coffee is brewed at my place? Check out the informative video below (Note: note to scale)

Parkside2WithSound from www.johnandelana.com on Vimeo.

How do I take my coffee? With a little half and half.

Monday
Jul282014

They Live On!

I woke up with a headache. I slept well, but spent the night dreaming fear dreams...dreams that I was getting sick before a race, dreams that I had too much work and wasn't able to do it, dreams that someone didn't like me anymore.

I hate those. So I lay in bed deciding which side of it to get up on—the side with the cranky dreams that would come with me the rest of the day, or the side without them. Keep in mind because of the tiny-ness of my apartment, I only can get out of the bed on one side.

But you get the metaphor! Or do you? You see around here in Elana-land, it's not all about food and triathlon. Mixing it up keeps things interesting, and it also keeps the gremlins away. 

Sometimes, when I really want to branch out, I have to do something silly. Something so far removed from cooking or racing or even thinking about those things. Once, I went to Duane Reade and bought a pack of plastic dinosaurs.

They were on the clearance rack. Just staring at me. I had gone in for saline solution and instead was eyeing a cylindrical pack of multi-colored, miniature, plastic dinos. They had Stegosaurus, Pterodactyl, T-Rex, Brontosaurus, and even some I couldn't name.

I brought them up to the check out counter. What followed was a very LOUD price check on the plastic dinosaurs that alerted the entire store to the fact that a 37 year old woman SANS child was buying them. Hi, everyone, look at me! I'm nutty!

But buy them I did. And I escaped the odd looks of my fellow Duane Reade shoppers, only to enlist more bizarre looks from street passers-by as I strategically placed the figures along Columbus Avenue and commenced taking pictures of them. This delighted me so much that I took more photos, texting them around to my friends and family members.

Here are some of the results:

Steggie by the museumDino parade

Triceratops wants to make a call

Pterodactyls can't read, apparently.

When I took this last one, I actually had people stopping on the street to watch me as I attempted to balance the little guys in the links of this pull-down fence.

The point here is that there wasn't one. I did this just for sh*ts and giggles. I didn't have the intention even to post them on this blog. Just to do it. And sometimes I need to do that kind of thing. It helps me lighten things up a bit. 

But getting back to bed...In addition to the headache, I also woke up hungry (BIG surprise). So I made myself a Fear Dream Banishing/Creative Day Inducing Summer Cantaloupe and Nectarine Smoothie. Here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

5 chunks of frozen cantaloupe (this was a fresh cantaloupe that I chopped up and froze, but you can use unfrozen)

half a fresh summer nectarine

1 cup almond milk

1 scoop protein powder

1/2 tsp ground cardamom (my new favorite spice)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp coconut oil (it's good for ya)

NOTE: If you didn't freeze your cantaloupe, add some ice cubes for a frothy, chilly smoothie!

Instructions:

Blend it all together post-haste and drink up! I use a Nutri-Bullet, but you can use a normal blender.

Headache gone.

Saturday
Jul122014

I Don't Know Where We Are Going, But We Are Going There

The title line of this post was first used during a hair-raising, moutainous French biking experience a few years back. Since then, it's become one of my favorite lines for life. And now, I am going to apply it to this blog.

John and I started this blog as a happy place — a breakfast nook on the internet where we could discuss our passion for Italian food (perhaps redeeming Italian-American fare), run around like maniacs in search of cannoli and pizza, and discuss our father’s fascination with Diet Orange Crush.

But more than that, the blog was about our lives. Food feeds our bodies and also our souls, so we thought of the blog as a reflection of who we are as people, not just what we choose to put in our mouths.

But life changes, and sometimes things get a little out of hand. John's been focusing on his career (and his golf game), and I've been engulfed in mine (and spending about 239071092 weekly hours on my bike). Where is the time for blogging, people?? I just don't know.

John is currently on hiatus from blog posting. But I'm going to be throwing you some bones once in a while. It's going to be different around here, brace yourselves and don those safety goggles I'm always promoting.

Here's a little explanation of where I'm coming from and where I'm going: 

I consider food an art form. Preparation, cooking, presentation… Every ingredient that is used, every fork that accompanies a dish adds to the piece. It’s about the entire effect. And I cook and eat with an eye toward design.

Please click on the photo to see my friend Marite's beautiful pottery (some photos courtesy of yours truly!)

I’ve been a graphic designer for 14 years. Some of that time has been spent as an art director and creative director. I truly love what I do. I’ve always been an artsy kind of gal. I like throwing fonts, colors and textiles together. When I was a young, I would set up my own still life situations: cereal boxes, salt shakers, and wooden spoons, pilfering from my mom’s kitchen. This was perhaps my first foray into combining food and art.

Now I get paid to do this. How cool is that?? It's actually bananas. I've been working on my own for over a year now trying to focus in on where all this is going. I don't have that answer yet. What I DO have, however, is a ready-made spot on the interwebs for all this food and design experimentation (often accompanied by my wack-a-doodle thoughts on same). So, I am going to use this blog as a place to demo my work, and hopefully solicit reader reactions. Because I love reactions! Good ones...

And if John ever feels like pulling his head out of his golf bag and throwing up a post, so be it. In the meantime...let's get on with the show!

Also,

Xo,

Elana (and John...sort of...)

Wednesday
Jul092014

The Cap'n