Monday, September 27, 2010

Eating out: The Pita Pit

I tried out a new restaurant on Sunday night called The Pita Pit, located at 16th and Sansom streets in Philadelphia. Their cuisine is basically design-your-own-pita, and you can get anything -- meat, veggie, breakfast, etc. I ate there Sunday night, and I chose the Philly Steak pita with provolone cheese, green and red peppers, and ketchup. Sorry for the terrible picture; it was the best my phone could do.
The Pita was really, really good. It wasn't greasy in any way, and I'm really glad I discovered this place. I'd even like to go back and try several other types that they had.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Foods: Sharp Provolone

Yesterday, my boss took me and another coworker out to lunch. We went to Shanks, which is a famous Philly sandwich place that I had never been to before. I was told that the key to their sandwiches was the Sharp Provolone cheese, and the chicken cutlet sandwich was recommended. I decided to try the chicken cutlet with the cheese on it. Here's what my sandwich looked like:

I am not, honestly, a  big cheese person. I particularly don't like strong cheeses, and I found sharp provolone to be too strong. I ended up taking it off and just putting ketchup on the chicken cutlet sandwich. The chicken cutlet sandwich with ketchup wasn't terribly exciting but it was alright.

I think next time I'll try one of the pork sandwiches they are apparently known for.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cooking: Pasta with homemade sauce!

So last Monday I hung out with my friend Terry, and he had me do most of the cooking. We had Penne pasta with a homemade tomato sauce. The sauce was mushrooms, onions, garlic, basil, red bell peppers, roma tomatoes, and salt and pepper.

Here's what it looked like:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Indian Food

I am known to be a picky eater. Since one of my missions in creating this blog is to open myself up and try new things, I have recently decided that for the next month or more, I am not allowed to order any of my regular dishes at restaurants. This means no Chicken Fajitas, no Eggplant/Chicken/Veal Parmesan, no Fish and Chips, and no Pasta Bolognese. I plan to blog about some of the dishes I try.

Well, last night I went out with my mom's office for a dinner to say goodbye to a couple of departing staff members. Turned out the location was an Indian restaurant. My number one food rule is nothing spicy. I just don't like it. I don't even like pepper. But, I was there, so I decided to try to make the best of it. The food was laid out in a buffet, and I went down the line and took a bunch of different things. I'd tell you what there was, but I have no idea what any of the names were.

I tried the first item on my plate, and it was spicy. I tried to just keep going, but it got worse. So, I moved on to something that was like potato in a puffy crust. The outside was good, but I definitely got a kick of something as I kept eating it. I continued on and tried everything I had picked up. Ultimately the only things that were mild enough to be edible were the chicken and the pita bread. The bread was really good, while the chicken I didn't like all that much.

So what did I learn? That I can't will myself to like spicy food. But also that even in an Indian restaurant I can probably find something to eat. I think I'm still inclined to avoid Indian food though, unless someone can arm me with knowledge of which foods are completely not spicy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So this past week my plan was to tweet more. I wanted to tweet more often in general, and I also wanted to try tweeting at specific people or replying to tweets. So, what is scary to me about twitter? Mostly just that I don't want people to judge me for using it, whether it be other twitter users for doing it wrong or one of my friends in that very vocal "Twitter is stupid! Facebook status updates are stupid! Why would you use those!" camp. Consequently, even though I created my account way back in 2008, I didn't start actively reading tweets or contributing my own until a few months ago.

So how was it? It was actually pretty fun. I had trouble finding five people to tweet to because it seems weird to tweet at celebrities or Phillies beat reporters, and not many of my (few) followers are people I actually know. Interestingly, it seems that my tweets during Phillies games have earned me a few new followers, none of whom I know. Thanks guys!

So, moral of the story is I'm gonna stick with this twitter thing for awhile. Stupid or not, it's pretty entertaining, and I find it a good way to access the news too.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mini Adventures

My twitter post is coming, probably tomorrow, but first, here are some mini adventures I had this week:

Adventure #1: Cooking. 
On Tuesday for lunch I decided to try to use up the leftover tortillas from that Fridays Chicken Fajitas meal I made a couple weeks ago. The supplies I found that seemed most compatible were eggs and cheese. After consulting with my sister, I fried an egg, took it out, put a tortilla in the pan, put the egg back on, put some cheese on, and put another tortilla on and then flipped it a few times. The tortilla on the bottom got rather burnt.

Here are a couple of pictures of what this concoction looked like when I took it out.

Burnt side of Egg and Cheese Tortilla
Other side of Egg and Cheese Tortilla

I decided that the burnt side was gross, and so I took it off and folded the remaining tortilla for a sort of egg-and-cheese soft taco effect. Here's what that looked like:

Folded Egg and Cheese in Tortilla.
Turns out, this was a pretty tasty concoction once I took the burnt side off. I will probably try to make this again some other time and improve on it.

Adventure #2: Take Me Out To The Ballgame!
On Thursday night I went to the Phillies game, and I went basically by myself. I bought a ticket on Tuesday, and I think it must have been the last available seat because I was all the way up in the last row of the top tier in that area of the ballpark. This was my view:

View of Citizens Bank Park from Section 307, Row 22.
I did have a friend who was also at the game, but since I arrived by myself, left by myself, and sat by myself for 95% of the game, I think this qualifies as the first time I've been to a game by myself. I had a good time at the game, even though the Phillies lost that night.

Coming up tomorrow will be my post on twitter, and also look out for a new segment on trying different foods in restaurants.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Wall-posting on Facebook

I am not afraid of, but definitely a little bit uncomfortable with, writing on my friends' walls on facebook. I don't really know where this one came from. It's a pretty stupid thing to be uncomfortable doing. Like many people, I participate in wishing people Happy Birthday on their walls, but I never really post on people's walls for other reasons. I was sort of surprised about a year ago to realize that people really seem to have whole conversations on Facebook walls, and the notion that I was expected to reply to a wall post. It just seems sort of awkward to have a conversation in public. It also seems awkward to post on the facebook wall of someone I talk to often on Instant Messenger or text message, but I suppose I shouldn't be so weird-ed out by it.

In any case, this week I decided to post messages on the walls of five friends and see how it went. I mostly posted "hey, how are you" messages. I chose four friends that I have not spoken to in months, and one who I speak to often. Almost everyone responded to my messages, and I responded back. However, I sort of censored my responses though, lest anyone from my company see my responses and see me writing negative things about my job on someone's wall. I'm not sure whether my coworkers would care, but my sense is that it would be bad form to write such thoughts in a public forum, even though in a private email or IM with the same friends I would say as much.

I'm not really sure what I learned this week. Maybe that facebook wall conversations aren't so scary after all? Still, I think one should be careful what ends up in public on facebook, and maybe that is why I prefer instant messenger communications to social networking ones.

Up next: I will post 5 status updates and 5 @ messages on twitter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cooking and/or Kitchen Adventures

As anybody who knows me knows, I don't cook. If it can't be made using a microwave, a toaster, or cold, I likely don't know how to make it, and the only cold foods I can male are sandwiches and cereal.

Let us explore, for a moment, why I don't cook. Partly, this relates to my fears of pain/injury and failure. I worry about injuring myself on the hot or sharp cooking devices or tools. I also worry about being clumsy. As for failure, I am nervous about anything I am unsure I can do correctly. I do not know how to tell when something done, so I worry that I will over- or under-cook something.

But there are also philosophical reasons why I don't cook. As a feminist, I believe there is a sexist double standard that women are expected to know how to cook, but for men cooking is optional. Amongst my friends, I know many girls who can cook, including some who cook as a hobby or stress reliever.  Among my male friends, I know at least a few guys who do cook. I have no idea if any view it as a hobby. I do not know how or why my friends learned to cook. I just know that most of my friends can cook at least some.

Some of my friends and family keep insisting that I need to learn to cook. Really, in the 21st century, there is no need no know how to cook. It is entirely possible to keep oneself fed by eating out, or eating takeout, fast food, tv dinners, cereal, sandwiches, and other people's cooking. Eating this way may be more expensive, less varied, or extremely unhealthy, but it is all still food. I know a few adult women and men who have never cooked in their lives. I agree that cooking is better in many cases, because cooking is cheaper and usually healthier than most of the other ways to eat. However, that still doesn't mean that I have to learn to cook.

Because I am stubborn, when someone tells me to do something, my instinct is to rebel and do the opposite. Ideally I want to try cooking on my own to find inner motivation for it, but my fear of failure tells me to cook supervised. These two desires conflict with each other and leave me ambivalent about learning to cook.

Despite all that, I've been easing myself into cooking over the past year by focusing on one dish at a time. I've learned to make eggs (sunny-side up, poached, breakfast sandwiches, scrambled, hard boiled, egg salad) and hot dogs unsupervised. With assistance I have baked a cake, made breaded tilapia, Blintz Suffle, and burgers. I have assisted others in making Pasta Bolognese.

Over the last four days I have tried several projects in the kitchen, all of them unsupervised.

First, last Thursday night there were no frozen meals in the freezer, so I took a chance on a TGIF frozen Chicken Fajitas meal that required an actual skillet. The main issue I had was opening the plastic bags and folding their contents into the hot oil. With all 3 of the baggies -- the chicken, the veggies, and the tortillas, I had trouble getting the contents out without burning myself. I think overcooked everything in the skillet, but the fajitas tasted pretty good. My only afterthought taste-wise was that I should have put sour cream on the them. And I learned that I can probably add frozen, skillet-requiring meals to my repertoire, provided I can figure out this folding-in-from-plastic-bag issue.

For cooking adventures numbers 2 and 3 of the week, on Friday evening I made hot dogs again, and on Saturday morning I successfully made poached eggs -- my first time unsupervised. The hot dog was more cooked than last time, and that was definitely better. The eggs were really good too. Only complaint: my dad's 7-grain bread. Every time I eat bread with the word "grain" in the name, I regret it.

Finally, this morning I finally conquered a kitchen appliance I have been avoiding for quite awhile now -- the coffeemaker. Coffeemakers are not that complicated, but for some reason every time I've asked for a demonstration of the machine I've walked away uneasy about using one. Finally this morning I followed my dad's instructions and successfully made coffee, and it went just fine. I'm not sure I'm ready to try my mom's coffeepot-less machine, but I think I'm one step closer.

All in all, I think I learned a few useful skills on the road toward cooking one day. Tune in next week, as I try to use facebook to actually communicate with others, rather than just post status updates.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I did not go driving this past week (I did last weekend -- does that count?), but driving is high on my "nervous about" list. I have been learning to drive for about a year now. What scares me about driving? Well, first, I think my main three fears are failure, danger, and pain/injury. Most every specific worry on my list derives from one or more of those three.

Driving definitely can be dangerous and painful, so the stakes if I were to fail - drive badly - are higher than in other situations. I also have no sense of direction and am worried about getting lost, but the fear of getting lost is secondary to the fear that I will get into an accident if I drive less than perfectly. I haven't been in or known about any bad accidents in the lives of close friends or family that have contributed to my fears; I think the fear is just an extension of my other fears.

Recently, my dad suggested that I should to decide if I want to get my license or not, because the amount of practice I am getting -- driving once or twice some weekends, approximately -- is really not enough practice to be useful, and if I really want my license I need to commit and practice more often. I am having trouble deciding which way to go. I have outlined below some of my thoughts.

Reasons I should get a drivers license:
  • Having a license would give me a lot more independence and flexibility.
  • Having a license means I don't have to base apartment or city choice on the availability of public transit.
  • Having a license means I can run out to the pharmacy or convenience store if necessary.
  • Having a license means I can rent or borrow a car when I want or  need one.
  • Driving is a life skill, a right of passage, something almost everybody learns to do at some point.
Reasons for not getting a drivers license:
  • I am still ambivalent about wanting to drive, and about my comfort level when driving;
  • I know plenty of people who live in big cities and don't need to drive, and I think I'm a city girl anyway;
  • I'm a little bit stubborn, and I don't react well to people telling me I "have to" do something;
  • My "over 21 licensed passengers" keep pointing out stop signs or red lights that I'm not sure I saw (sometimes obscured by trees, but still) and if I am going to drive, I think I need to practice a lot more to try make the awareness stuff more second-nature.
Another issue is that usually when I do things that make me nervous, I do them with the utmost caution. For example: I ski very, very slowly and carefully. But with driving, slower and more cautiously are not safer. Driving slower than the speed limit can get you into an accident just as much as driving too fast. If you take your time at an intersection or merging, you're likely to miss your opportunity to go.

I know that driving is a very common thing that practically everyone does, and that people a lot dumber than me have learned to do very well. However, I feel in part like I'm learning to drive more because I should than because I want to, even though I know there will be benefits in the end.

Part of me thinks I should stop learning to drive, live somewhere near public transportation, and perhaps revisit the issue in a few years. The other side thinks the flexibility would be nice, and that I am so close that I should just go for it. That way I would have the option of driving in the future if I wanted to.

So for now, I remain on the fence. I will keep you all posted if I make a decision.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Salsa Dancing!

Tonight I went to a Salsa Dancing class.My dad had been urging me to make the most of staying in center city, and attending a dance class seemed like a good choice of something that I could go to by myself and something that would not bring me into contact with people who were drunk or creepy.

Salsa Dancing, or any other kind of dancing, is not something that scares me, and it is even something I don't mind looking silly doing. The more monumental facts about tonight were that I went somewhere (and back) by myself, and I made the decision to go only 90 minutes before the class started.  In the space of about 20 minutes, I went to the website of a dance studio I had considered joining before, concluded I could make it to the 7pm class, consulted one other person, and decided that I would go.

The class itself was pretty fun. There were 9 students and the instructor, for a total of 5 women and 5 men. Most of the students were a group of young people (20-somethings?) who seemed to know each other and were pretty nice, and there were a couple of older guys as well.  We learned a few basic steps, and then we spent the rest of the time practicing them in sequence and rotating partners. There was one guy who seemed a bit confused, but everyone else was able to lead sufficiently. All in all, this was a successful experience, and I think I would go back for other classes in the future.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Am I So Afraid Of?

I over-think and over-analyze almost everything. Not so much what to eat or what to wear, but what gadget to buy, what activities to participate in, why I don't want to do things, how to structure my television watching and DVR-recordings to make sure I don't miss any of the shows on my rather long list. One of the problems with all of this thinking is that I can talk myself out of pretty much anything. If someone has ever so much as hinted that something was dangerous or bad, there is a good chance I've never or rarely done that activity.

One of my goals for the summer is to become more comfortable asserting myself and expressing myself. Writing this blog, in itself, is something I am afraid of doing, but seemed like a perfect venue for learning to open up and express myself. Along the way, I plan to use this space to document my experiences as I try some new things and see how they go. Some possible new experiences may include learning to drive, learning to cook, moving out, tweeting and social media use, and speaking to or introducing myself to people I don't know. Stay tuned, this should be fun!