Thursday, March 3, 2011

BudgetFood: Chocolate Lava Cake (with Cayenne and Sea Salt)

Skipping ahead to dessert, here is a great way to finish off a home-cooked meal for your date. If a home-cooked meal is the bases loaded of dating, a chocolate lava cake is the walk-off grand-slam. Add the pink peppercorn whipped cream, and you've pitched a perfect game.

Not entirely sure why I'm using baseball metaphors - I'm a football guy. Oh well... GO PIRATES!

Chocolate Lava Cake (with Cayenne and Sea Salt)
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (3-4 people):
For the cake:
6 oz. Dark or semi-sweet chocolate
6 oz. Unsalted butter (diced, room temperature) + 1 oz for ramekins or cupcake cups
3 Eggs
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp good sea salt

For the whipped cream:
Heavy cream
Vanilla extract
Sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, etc...)
Pink peppercorn (ground)

4 ramekins or 6 cupcake cups/muffin tray

Preheat oven to 350°F
1. Melt chocolate in microwave, using 3 to 4 30-second bursts, stirring after each burst. When melted, remove and
2. Stir in diced butter, until melted
3. While microwaving, in another bowl, beat eggs and sugar until it starts to get frothy and whiten.
4. Gently stir in melted chocolate, and then the flour.
5. Butter 4 ramekins or, for smaller portions, 6 cupcake cups, and pour in chocolate batter until not quite full.
6. Bake for about 9-10 minutes for cups, 10-12 minutes for ramekins. Check often in the final minutes to avoid overcooking.
7. Run a knife gentle around the edge of the ramekins/cups.
8. Gently turn container upside down onto dessert plates or rack and serve immediately.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

BudgetDate: Hot Chocolate Festival at City Bakery

Need a quick, simple "coffee" style date, but hate Starbucks? Well, for the month of February (yes, that leaves you 8 days), New York City residents are in luck, because City Bakery is having their annual Hot Chocolate Festival, featuring a different flavor of hot chocolate every day, in addition to their regular, super-thick-and-rich variety.

A single $5 cup is usually too much for most people's sweet teeth (not mine, unfortunately), but they do have smaller 1/3 cup shots for $2.50. This is perfect, as you can get one of the special flavor and one of the regular for the price of a single cup, and both you and your companion can then get a nice sample of each without going into diabetic shock.

Speaking of which, you can also get a home-made marshmallow in your cup. Now, I've been told by some people that this makes the whole thing way too sweet. These people are dead inside.

If your date doesn't want to share a cup or shots... well, after all, first dates are for weeding out the crazies, right?

Grab a muffin or biscuit ($2.50-$4.00) to go along with your chocolate delight, get some water to cleanse the palate between sips and all's good with the world.

If you don't live in NYC, I'm sure your town has some cafe or restaurant that can boast a really good cup of hot chocolate. In Philadelphia, for example, I'm told of an Argentinean restaurant that has one of the best cups in the world (We shall see.... oh yes, we shall see). Regardless, it makes for a nice, little destination event to meet someone and get to know them, whether it's for the first time, or a familiar lover who you want to see smile over a steaming cup of cocoa.


(The old cups were even BIGGER.... sigh...)

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Putting Lot

It's been a while since I've posted. Sorry.

That said, it's your last weekend to combine the inspiring spectacle of public installation art with the joys of Putt-Putt Golfing! It's The Putting Lot, and it's closing Sunday, October 4th!

Head out to Bushwick, where a mere $5 will get you a ball, club and the chance to play on 9 putting holes designed by 9 different artists in a formerly empty lot deep in East Brooklyn. Mostly designed from reclaimed materials, the different installations range from a pink soda bottle forest and lake to a storefront bodega where you have to shoot your ball through an old stand-up video game. The first hole is a clever simple stretch of "green" that is simply a photo poster of the garbage that was in the exact spot where the green sits.

It's easy enough to get to. Just take the L-Train out to the Jefferson stop, get out at the Jefferson/Wycoff exit and walk a block to 12 Wycoff. Done. Afterwards, grab some cheap tacos from the highly rated Tortilleria Mexicana Los Hermanos, a few blocks away at 271 Starr Street (between Wyckoff Ave & St Nicholas Ave). There's a map on the link.

It's a mite chilly this weekend, of course, so take a jacket.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BudgetPolitics: Vote. It's Free. Plus, FREE SEX TOYS!


Don't know where your polling place is? Go here:

But aside from doing your duty as a citizen, you can also get free stuff from various corporations trying to get some free advertising, and small businesses with a civic minded bent.

Starbucks is giving away free coffee with proof of voting. Whole Foods is doing the same. And Ben and Jerry's is giving away free scoops of ice cream. You can get free star-shaped donuts from Krispy Kreme and some Chik-Fil-A's are giving away chicken sandwiches.

And perhaps best of all, Toys in Babeland is giving away free sex toys. Both men's and women's.

So go vote, you deadbeats!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

BudgetSex: Free Condoms (and Testing!)

In these hard times (no pun intended) it's difficult to find cheap, or free, entertainments to pass the time away. However, there is one activity that will always be available to the masses free of charge: Sex!

Or is it? Condom prices are pretty ridiculous these days; a 12-pack of condoms at Duane Reade will run you anywhere from $11-$15. That's about a dollar a condom! Ridiculous!

Fortunately, there's a free alternative in New York City, with no loss in quality. NYC offers the "NYC Condom" at it's health clinics in all five boroughs. They're just regular Lifestyles brand condoms with a fancy wrapper and you can take as many as you want. They also have female condoms and lubricant packets as well!

"But, I need extra large condoms," you say? To which I say: Aww, poor fucking you... do you actually expect pity for that? Turn your head and cough up the money! That's what you get for having such a big penis, you dick (pun intended). Though, seriously, try the female condoms and lubricant if the regulars are too small and you need another free option.

And just as important, NYC provides free STD and HIV testing at these health clinics as well. There's often a bit of a wait, so the trick is to get there before they open (Doors open at 8:30am at most locations, so get there at LEAST at 8am). That way you'll be in and out within an hour or so, rather than sitting there all day. In any event, bring a book just in case things take longer than you expect.

Oh, and if the clinic is closed and you're in need of protection, also know that Lifestyes is a brand that also is sold in three-packs at 99-cent stores. But being a Budget Bachelor is about PREPARATION! Have condoms on hand before you need them.

Knowing and protecting your health status, whatever it is, will be a big relief and let you enjoy your life more. And that's what a Budget Life is all about!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

BudgetDate: Whatever You Like

The economy's a mess, people have lost a good portion of their net worth and prices are higher than ever; but romance and life aren't something you can press the Pause button on. So what's a boy or girl to do to keep on dating in the middle of a Recession Depression?

Well, here's the thing about dates: the point is to get to know the person. And vice versa. So rather than trying to dazzle with theater or concert tickets, or dinner at four-star restaurant, share something with them that you enjoy doing. Most everyone has a few simple, free activities that they enjoy: wandering around used bookstores, sitting in the park, trying a new recipe, window shopping, going to the public museum. Why not try to connect with a new special someone on that everyday level? Something that doesn't require a whole itinerary and reservations.

Here's an idea: look up a nice fall soup recipe. Then, take a trip to the local farmer's market with someone you want to get know better. Grab a cup of cider and some carbs, then walk around visiting the stalls, talking about whatever. Pick up the various ingredients you need, and anything else that appeals to the both of you, and then have her over for some tea and cooking.

Then you'll be cooking with gas*!

* Unless your stove is electric. Loser

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Roller Skate for Free in Coney Island this Saturday!

Lola Staar, a boutique owner and an active part of the Save Coney Island movement, recently won a Tommy Hilfiger "Make Your Dreams Come True!" contest. She's using the opportunity to open a roller rink in the historic Child's Building in Coney.

The rink will be opening this Saturday, March 22n
d, and there will be a FREE celebration skating party from 6pm-Midnight. If the party goes well and a lot of support is shown, the rink may be here to stay. If not, it will be very fleeting.

So come support roller skating in NYC (we have no rinks left!) by skating your pants off on Saturday night. There will be rentals, but they will likely be limited, so come early. I asked Lola if it would be okay to wear roller blades instead and she said, "Sure!" (She also said that I'd have to wear a Wonder Woman outfit as well, but I suspect she was being facetious about that part. I think...)

On a personal note, I lived out near Coney Island for 10 years and would often run along the boardwalk past the amusement park and the boarded up Child's Building. It's a beautiful old building, with wonderfully detailed exterior ornamental sculpture and tiling. For decades it's remained empty and unused, slowly deteriorating with the passing seasons. A roller skating rink would be fantastic in this venue and would help breathe new life into the area.

The Child's Building is at 3052 West 21st St (enter on the boardwalk). RSVP to 866-211-1629. Some more info at Lola's myspace: