My commute to and from work every day is just under an hour from door to door, each way. That means, I’ve spent a LOT of time on the trains since moving to NYC. Luckily, I’m not one to mind a commute, especially when someone else is driving. And plus, interesting things happen on trains, so what’s not to love?
So, how does one spend their commute time on the NYC Metro?
1.) Study shoes. I’ve learned so much about shoes from my commutes, mostly because if you don’t want to stare blankly at the person across from you (who will likely give you the stink eye back), the next best place to look is down. Work boots, high heels, fashion pumps, the occasional flip-flip — one can learn a lot about a stranger from close inspection of their footwear.
2.) Listen to the performers who come through with an instrument or an act in search of a little spare change. Their gigs are often more exciting than whatever’s been playing on the iPod for the last few days.
3.) Sleep. The subtle vibrations from a moving train are often enough to knock me right out. Luckily my stop is the last stop on the line. I just have to hope I don’t slump over onto the person sitting next to me, or, God forbid, drool.
3.) Eavesdrop. Because when else do you really get the opportunity to listen unobstructed to strangers’ conversations for more than a passing second? Best part is, it’s totally legal and not at all creepy.
4.) Read or listen to music. It’s amazing how much of a book one can get through in a week from train time alone.
5.) Think about what you’re going to eat when you get home. My commute home is usually the first chance I get to sit down all day, and when I do, my appetite really kicks in. My mind often spirals through the contents of my fridge, creates shopping lists for the grocery store near my apartment, and just really, really craves food. It’s the best when I know I have something delicious and ready-to-eat waiting for me the minute I walk in the door, which is when cooking en masse comes in handy. This week, I made a vat of sweet potato chili with my farmers’ market finds of the week. Some is for the freezer, but the rest is for immediate consumption and ease of mind so that I may focus on more important train-time tasks, like studying shoes and eavesdropping.
Almost Home Sweet Potato Chili
This recipe is a great base recipe for any chili. If you see a vegetable you don’t like, substitute the same amount of another vegetable. Most beans work wonderfully, and you can easily tweak the spiciness of this recipe by adding more or less cayenne. Makes ~6 servings. Adapted from Cookie + Kate.
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Ground sea salt and black pepper
28-ounces canned diced tomatoes, including the liquid
1 can black beans (or your favorite bean), rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
Sour cream or plain yogurt, chopped white onion, grated cheddar cheese for serving
In a large stockpot, sauté the chopped vegetables in one to two tablespoon of olive oil on medium-high heat. You’ll need to stir the ingredients every few minutes so they can cook evenly. Once the onions start turning translucent, turn the heat down to medium-low. Add all of the spices and canned ingredients, and stir. Cover for about two hours, stirring occasionally. By the time your chili is done, the sweet potatoes should be nice and soft and the liquid should have reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency that we all know and love. Serve with a slice of homemade cornbread, and you’re golden.
How do you spend your time commuting to and from school or work?