16 May 2010

Dad's Guacamole

Guacamole is an amazingly delicious dip/side/something to eat with a spoon. It pairs well with almost any Mexican dish as a spread or topping, and can also be used in lieu of salsa with tortilla chips. It is remarkably versatile and ridiculously tasty. There are many different ways to prepare guacamole, with this particular version being a favorite. It's based on a recipe found in Wine Enthusiast magazine, with a few adjustments made.
1 Hass avocado
1 tbsp diced onion (Vidalia is recommended)
1/2 tsp chopped jalapeno
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt to taste
TODAY'S SECRET INGREDIENT IS: 3 tbsp diced green apple or half a green apple

  1. Scoop the flesh (green stuff) out of the avocados and mash it up in a bowl.
  2. Dump in all your chopped veggies and mix well, adding a pinch of salt as well.
  3. Pop it in the fridge to let it cool down and to let all the ingredients become close friends.
The original recipe called for peaches and mangoes, but as it turned out the supermarket was plum out of peaches and the mangoes purchased weren't the ripest of fruits. Therefore, extra apple was added in place of these to fruits, giving the guacamole an interesting tartness. This would go well with Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas or Fajita Burritos, two favorites around here. Regardless of how you eat it, be sure to enjoy Dad's Guacamole with a Corona or a margarita! Buen provecho!

04 May 2010

The fabulous art of buffin'

Before I delve too far into this topic, allow me to first describe what "buffin" is. Growing up, I always enjoyed spending time with my Grandpop. Grandpop was a self-described trolley-buff, and spent much of his free time collecting any type of transit memorabilia he could get his hands on. Included in this hobby was riding the mass transit systems of cities he visited while photographing and documenting the vehicles he saw and rode. This affinity for trains, trolleys, and buses came from experiences as a child riding the 47 trolley from his school in North Philadelphia to visit his grandmother in South Philadelphia. Over time, Grandpop began to refer to these photo excursions as buffin, a term I was not aware he made up until my twenties. As I grew up I was one of the few who never tired of going on these day trips with Grandpop, and I have come to enjoy a few such trips on my own in the past couple of years.

My focus today is to document an ideal buffin' trip throughout the main part of Philadelphia. The trip I have planned was originally intended to start from my old apartment in South Philadelphia. This trip will be low in cost, and cover as many modes of transportation as possible. The only major modes left out are the 101 and 102 Suburban trolley lines, the Norristown line, and the PATCO line to New Jersey, all of which take the rider outside of Philly's limits. This trip will remain within the city.

Before embarking on a buffin' trip, a local transit map such as this SEPTA one is key to have handy. This is especially key for cities that are rail-heavy, such as New York City or Washington, DC. In the case of this particular trip, this map only covers a portion of the routes that will be used. Nevertheless, the map is always a helpful tool, and if you happen to be as into this type of thing as I am, check out the book Transit Maps of the World. In it you will find every metro map the world has to offer. It's a handy guide to not only getting around the cities, but how to read the maps and other interesting facts.

As previously stated, this is a relatively cheap trip. A one way fare for SEPTA is $2, with transfers costing an additional $.60. An ideal way to pay for this trip is to have a pocketful of quarters, dimes, and SEPTA tokens. A ten-pack of tokens will cost you $14.50, which gives you more than enough to get around and lowers your price per fare by $.55.

The trip begins with the Broad Street Subway. The Tasker-Morris station was a short walk from my apartment, making it a good starting point. At the station, go to the window with one token and sixty cents to get your transfer. Then catch the next train heading North.

At the City Hall station, which is the fourth stop following Tasker-Morris, you will transfer to the Market-Frankford line, or the El. Follow the blue signs to get to the El's Eastbound platform (towards Frankford Transportation Center). This is a free transfer, so you won't need to use your transfer or another token so long as you remain in the station.

Your journey on the El will keep you underground for awhile, before coming up between the 2nd Street and Spring Garden Street stops. From then on, you're on the elevated tracks going through the trendy neighborhoods of Fishtown and Northern Liberties before turning and heading through the Lower Northeast. In the interest of keeping things simple, I'm going to trim a bit from this portion of your excursion and have you disembark at the Girard Avenue stop, which will be the second above-ground stop.

From this station, head downstairs and look for the trolley stop in the middle of Girard (See photo). Give the trolley operator your transfer and you are good to go. In 2005, SEPTA brought trolleys back to this route, which had previously been serviced by buses. As a nod to their history, they restored some old PCC cars like the one seen on the left to service this route. For trolley buffs, this is a fun route to ride for a trip down memory lane. For everyone else, a stop across the street from the Philadelphia Zoo doesn't hurt.

Unfortunately, this trip doesn't include a zoo visit. Instead, in the interest in using as many vehicles as possible, you'll get off of the trolley at 19th Street where you will wait for the route 33 bus, with another token and sixty cents in hand. The main reasoning behind taking the 33 over other buses in the area is its design. The 33 is a heavily used route, and therefore has a special extended bus that many refer to as a "slinky bus" in reference the the accordion-like connection between the front and rear of the vehicle.

The 33 will take you past the Free Library, Franklin Institute, and Moore College of Art before bringing you back into Center City along Market Street. As you cross the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, take a look to your right to get a look at the Art Museum. Shortly after passing the Franklin Institute, you'll get off of the bus at Market Street. From here you will see City Hall to your left and Amtrak's 30th Street Station to your right. Begin walking towards 30th Street until you reach 22nd Street. Here you will see a stop for the Subway-Surface trolley line. Head downstairs and turn in your transfer for a quick ride to City Hall. Once at City Hall, follow the orange signs for the Broad Street Subway Southbound for a free transfer back to the subway that will take you back to our starting point at Tasker-Morris.

Throughout the trip, you will have several opportunities to snap photos on train and trolley platforms or while waiting for your bus to arrive. You also always have the option to get off whichever route you are on to do a little sightseeing, although it will add to the cost of your trip. An especially good place to do this is along Market Street. Should you get off of the El at 5th Street and walk down to get back on at 2nd Street, not only will you have a whole host of buses to photograph, but your walk will highlight some of the best parts of historic Philadelphia (Old City) including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

As you may have guessed, this trip could take quite a bit of time, and I would advise starting around 10am, after the morning rush. This should leave you plenty of time to finish your trip before the evening rush. I hope to post more blogs of this nature both in Philly and other cities, and I hope you enjoy your trip!

Originally posted on Pat's Blog