That’s So Clutch

24 Jun

If you know me, you know I love a good clutch. Vintage, preferably.

In college, my roommates and I would head to the cheapest, dingiest thrift stores (the giant ones, not the boutiques) and scrounge through piles of that’s-so-’90s purses, searching for an absolute gem. And believe me, we found them — Whiting & Davis mesh clutches in black and glittery gold; nude snakeskin beauties with just a hint of fray; oversized and, in retrospect, sometimes slightly ugly, ’80s clutches in white, red and navy. All priced at under $10, all completely compliment-worthy. (Response to said compliment was always something like, “It was $2.99!”)

I still carry some of my old finds — a go-with-everything black clutch in soft woven leather, an Anthropologie-esque tapestry clutch, and a cream Whiting & Davis mesh number. They’re irreplaceable to me, sentimental almost. But ever-so-slowly, they’re starting to deteriorate, and one-by-one, they’re reaching retirement.

So I figured: It’s about time I refurbished my clutch collection. And since my favorite Boston-area secondhand store is a bit of a schlep, I figured I’d try something different — NEW clutches. (How novel!)

Here’s a sampling of my favorite finds — color-coded, of course.

P.S. There may or may not be a few cross-bodies, too. Please excuse them. They’re lovely.

Clutch Lust: Nudes & Gold

Row 1: ASOS, $33; Zara, $100; J. Crew, $138
Row 2:BCBGeneration, $78; DVF, $219; Rebecca Minkoff, $295
Row 3:Vince Camuto, $55; Miss Selfridge, $38; Zara, $100

Clutch Lust: Mint & More
Row 1: J. Crew, $198; ASOS, $66; TopShop, $64
Row 2: ASOS, $99; MadeByGirl, $96; Dorothy Perkins, $27
Row 3: Rebecca Minkoff, $195; DVF, $325; Kimchi Blue, $42

Eat this: Mexican quinoa with poached egg

30 May

I’m an impatient chef. When I cook, I flail around in the kitchen, throwing random things into the pot – too much of this, not enough of that – until I end up with a satisfactory something. I call it my “kitchen sink” method.

This method lends itself well to quinoa. So when I’m alone, I eat a lot of it… mixed with absolutely everything and anything I have on hand. Tomatoes, cukes, feta, tofu, edamame – into the pot they go, with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil and a dash of salt.

It’s easy, filling and good for me, to boot. And after a long day of work, what more could I really ask for? Except Malbec. And maybe an actual recipe to feature in this blog. So I figured, it’s about time I reigned in my kitchen-sink tendencies and got down to business.

The task at hand:

Mexican quinoa with (or without) poached egg 
Adapted from We Are Not Martha

Serves 6 ish

1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
3 jalapenos, seeds removed from 2
1.5 cups frozen corn, thawed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 – 2 avocados, chopped
3 -4 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped olives
Juice of 1 lime
2 eggs, poached (optional)

Directions and modifications:
I followed We Are Not Martha’s directions pretty much to a T, so I’ll spare you the tedium of regurgitating her steps in full. (Find them here to recreate this creamy, spicy, quinoa-y dish.) Note that I did change a few ingredients, reflected in the ingredient list above. I traded the habaneros she used — they would be INSANE in this — for jalapenos, and tweaked the amounts of quinoa, avocado and tomatoes. And, after trying the dish with a poached egg, I decided to nix it, too — partly because the dish is rich enough from the avocado, and partly because this was my very first time poaching an egg (busted!) and I now know it is not remotely easy. It simply wasn’t worth the extra effort.

Side note:
If you do want to learn how to poach an egg, though, I tried two methods – this skillet method (top egg, right) and this whirlpool method (bottom egg, right). Neither worked out so well, so pick your poison. If you prefer to search the net for your own trick, just know that there are 2990 different ways to poach an egg on the internet, and every single one claims it’s the best. Spare yourself the misery and get an egg poacher. (Or buy me one, please!)

The results:
Egg debates aside, this dish turned out to be super satisfying — the kind of comfort food you swear must contain some form of butter or cream but doesn’t. A little bowl would be perfect paired with a salad (arugula, pepitas, cotija cheese, maybe?), or even topped with a scoop of black beans.

But it left me missing… quinoa. Call me crazy, but there just wasn’t enough quinoa in there to actually taste that nutty, ancient grain-y taste I’ve grown so accustomed to. A cup of quinoa alone contains more protein than a single egg — why coat it with runny yoke or use it as a vehicle to consume immense amounts of (albeit delicious) avocado when you can dress it lightly, toss it with a few simple veggies, and dig in, happy?

I suppose my kitchen-sink ways aren’t behind me quite yet.