Antidote to Desperation: All the Food Groups Salad

I hit rock bottom while holding a bag of frozen succotash. Two years ago I was standing in Trader Joe’s, fifteen minutes before closing, next to a basket so full that I could only get it across the store by dragging it. I had no food in the house and no time to cook whatever I could purchase in the next few minutes.

A week before this episode, Special Correspondent Na’ama pointed out that I could order groceries online and have them delivered. I considered that but there were two problems; I was never home – left at 7am and returned at 12am – and I still didn’t have time to cook. Could I have gotten around that? Probably. But I didn’t have the wherewithal.

I was tired.

I was overworked.

I wasn’t thinking straight.

So, for the months that my work schedule subsumed my life, I ran to the grocery store late at night and grabbed anything that didn’t require preparation and appeared marginally nutritious. I don’t remember what else was in my cart when I picked up the succotash; I do remember wondering wondering why a grocery store would close before 12am and how I was going to get my basket all the way to the registers – and somewhere in the back of my mind was the question of what succotash tasted like.

I wish I had had this recipe then. Because it turns out that I don’t like succotash. Maybe because it’s not meant to be eaten straight out of the freezer.

All the Food Groups Salad

1/2 package frozen corn [If you have time to buy and cook corn, go for it.]

1 cup barley [cooked]

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup cannellini beans

1 to 2 cups chopped vegetables [I used 1 cup sliced snap peas]

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

spices to taste

It’s excellent served warm. Or cold. And it’ll last until it’s time to go shopping again. At which point, head straight past the succotash.

Have a Seat, You’ll Feel Right at Home

I’ve lived in New York City for a long time, but few places feel like home. My optometrist’s office is one of them. It’s not about the welcome – the owners are always busy talking with customers in Korean when I walk in, and can only nod for me to wait my turn. It’s not the doctor – her professional, albeit personable, distance assures me that she doesn’t remember me from one visit to the next. The reason I feel at home is the chairs.

At Sam & Anna Optics, the chairs are covered in a richly patterned emerald cloth. It’s elegant and tasteful and when I first saw it, it seemed so familiar. It seemed like something from home. But my home never had a whole lot of cloth lying around. In fact, the only cloth I saw frequently was the tablecloth. When that thought struck me, I realized that was exactly why the chairs seemed so familiar. They looked like someone had staple-gunned a deeper-hued version of my tablecloth over a cheap office chair. I looked closer at the chairs. They were, indeed, upholstered in my tablecloth. A very tasteful version of it.

After ten minutes in the offices, I knew that Sam and Anna – the couple who owns and manages the store – were my kind of people. They know what matters in business – quality, location, professionalism – and what does not. Their chairs look good. Their chairs are comfortable. Their chairs are a great place to try on glasses. But their chairs are not expensive and are even cheaper to maintain.

And from there, it just got better.

Sam always makes sure I’m ok waiting a few minutes for my appointment, and gives me an accurate time frame of when the doctor will see me. Dr. Lau herself is fantastic. She checks in on me, as well as my vision. She explains what she’s doing, and answers any questions thoroughly. She also does not dilate my pupils, which my former ophthalmologist explained was an unnecessary procedure performed by lazy professionals. Dr. Lau also has an excellent sense of style, which she generously shares when helping me pick out new frames. Both she and Anna get involved in the search, and do their best to ensure I get something beautiful, functional, and affordable.

And that’s just the basic service.

When I showed up for a contact exam and forgot a case for my glasses, they gave me my choice of name brand cases. I didn’t even realize that Kate Spade carried a line of glasses cases. But Anna did.

When I forgot to ask for a letter to substantiate my appointment for my employer’s medical leave requirement, Anna wrote her first one for me.

When I called for an appointment as soon as possible, Sam offered me one that day.

When I show up for an appointment weighed down with grocery bags – the shop is a block away from Trader Joe’s – they don’t even blink. Instead, they help me arrange my heavy bags in a corner of the show room where no one will disturb them.

For all these reasons, and more, I recommend Sam & Anna Optics to everyone. And I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else, unless I was forced to. But this week, I don’t have a choice. I called today to book my next appointment and Sam told me that he couldn’t schedule one. The doctor was in a car accident, and is currently recuperating in the hospital. In response to my concern and wishes of a speedy recovery, Sam thanked me profusely. He then assured me that she’s on the mend, and asked if I could call back in a few weeks when she’ll be ready to see patients again.

I look forward to seeing her then.

Sam & Anna Optics

253 West 72nd Street

New York, NY 10023

(212) 769-1174

The Ice Ceiling

The clock stuck midnight and a winner was declared; “The Ice Ceiling” is officially the title of my project.

As a thank you for giving me a title, I give you the first assignment in the project:

Executive Summary

Many people feel that ice cream makes their lives worthwhile. For others, ice cream’s worth is what makes their livelihood. The population that enjoys ice cream remains stagnant, but the population of ice cream sellers has shifted in recent years. Increasingly, the people behind the counter – designing recipes, dreaming up marketing schemes, and strategizing for the future – are women. Women, across the globe, are making ice cream their business.

However, nothing comes with a cherry on top for the women of ice cream. Their growing numbers have uncovered the slimy underbelly of this delicious industry. The ice cream business, as we know it, was not made for women. Currently, worldwide, the business is organized by large corporations with vast distribution networks. Every few years, a new company – invariably lead by a man – takes its place in that established ice cream field. But women don’t want to work that way.

Women are not trying to take the ice cream world by storm, but with a gentle flurry. Rather than dominate the entire market, their focus is on specific niches of the business which interest them. What unites these female entrepreneurs is a mind-set: using their individual skill set to make the world of ice cream their own. The resulting businesses are as varied as an ice cream shop’s display case – socially-driven companies, custom-flavored pints, and local establishments. But they are united by a belief that utilizing their natural skills and interests elevate their ice cream game. These new ice cream queens – running subscription services, non-profit shops, and truck stands – share one element: their businesses appeal to both the owner and their self-selecting audience. Because these women know their ice cream, and know you do too.

Ice Cream: Name is the Game

Help is at hand. From you. I’ve been presented with a challenge and I need your assistance to succeed.

It started with my teacher. He is pretty smart, but he made one mistake. Though it’s his first time teaching, he’s managed to keep everyone engaged and productive from 8:15pm – 10:15pm, twice a week, for a month. That takes a force of will, sharp wits, and a drive to educate. He needs all of those to make it through a class, and the effort has worn him down so that he forgot one key ingredient to success – foresight.

Our teacher assumed that because we’re in a business communications course that we would want to focus on business issues – finance, marketing, account, or maybe management. So, he told us that for our final project we could deviate from the assigned topic – business issues in 2016 – and instead work on whatever topic we wanted. His instructions fell on hungry ears. Rather, I strained to hear his directions over the rumbling of my stomach. It’s no coincidence that my topic came to without any thought.

Ice cream.

I’ve written out my essay, cited my sources, and I’m nearly ready to lecture the class about it. But I have yet to choose a title. The story, as it has come together is about ice cream, women, and the challenges they face in business. From Rwanda to Milwaukee, women are selling ice cream in new and novel ways. And my classmates will be hearing all about it. To capture their attention – and an A – I need a title that hooks them from the get-go. Thankfully you’re here to provide it.

 

Friends with Peanut Butter Benefits

Today’s blog post is brought to you in honor of Special Corespondent Yaelle, Peanut Butter, and the letter J.

Dear Hannah,

I have an entire jar of uneaten peanut butter whose expiration date is today. It occurred to me that today might be the first time I bake in my apartment; after almost 2.5 years, I couldn’t hold out forever. You’ll be happy to know that your blog was the first place I decided to look for peanut butter baking recipes. I knew you’d have peanut buttery stuff. I was right–and I was so tempted by your “no bake” peanut butter-chocolate-oat dessert recipe…alas, I think I will have to bake my peanut butter so it doesn’t go bad. Onwards I turn, thinking of you, my fine friend.

Yours,
Yaelle