Archives for category: Creation

A lot going on this week… including my update pattern.  I think it’s very ironic that right after my blogging class concludes that I have increased motivation to write everyday.

Class at the University is wrapping up (I only have one, awful, long paper left to write), and then it will be S-U-M-M-E-R.  Not the real season, but the ridiculous, long four months of what should be planting season in our previously agriculture-based society, and like every year for the last six or so years, I am in a quandary of what my plans will be.  I have a general outline (working, reading, cooking, and blogging, of course), but there’s an anticipation for something wonderful, something exciting to happen, and I don’t know what that something is!

Obviously, one of my goals for the summer is to be coherent. =P

My usual state, which doesn't require verbal articulation, unless... something's on fire.

Anyway, this Wednesday, I practiced the favorite art of procrastination by baking; my un-studying was made better by the fact that a). it was done with friends and b). we brought joy (and cookies!) to other people.  I have a very self-focused philosophy of living to enjoy myself, and most other people’s happiness is of negligible import, but I do find it self-affirming to occasionally spread good cheer.  Happy people munching on my baking is like getting hugged, except I don’t even have to touch a person (long story short… I had a traumatizing experience with superglue as a teenager, and now have extreme aversions to physical contact).

My Bible study group got together at the apartment of our Fearless Leader (aka Rosalie), and we spent three hours baking cookies to pass out to hungry, harried students studying in the libraries on campus.  It was part outreach in that there were Bible verses printed out and wrapped with each cookie, but it was, for me, mostly another way to avoid studying and fun to do a random act of kindness.

The boys, left to right, Josh, Nathan, and Sassypants (Andy), at work.

All the eggs and butter we used... mmmm butter.

Benefit of unorthodoxly using one's hands to make cookie dough: eating the residue.

Fearless Leader/Rosalie taking over. That's Nathan in the back, still eating cookie dough.

The chocolate chip cookie dough Nathan was eating.

Sassypants Andy trying to mix the oatmeal raisin cookie dough with a spoon. When that failed...

...he decided to emulate Nathan's hands-on method (not... really sorry for the pun. =P). Josh is in the middle, and Jodi and Iris are working on sugar cookies to the right.

I was assigned white chocolate macadamia cookies. They're my mother's favorite!

Bert, the oven mitten monster that took over Josh's arm.

The overflowing box and basket of wrapped cookies. We made a lot of students happy. =3

And… finally… the last part of this post.  The Life of the Humble Sugar Cookie:

Iris creaming the butter and sugar together for the sugar cookie.

Rolled out and dusted with sugar before baking...

...and here they are, out of the oven.

There were good ones. They got wrapped up and paired with a Biblical message; don't really agree with Matthew here... but who reads inserts when there's a cookie right there? Besides with fortune cookies. =P

The many rejects. :D


Living in #8 was not my first experience living on my own outside of the dormitories; last year, I took spring semester courses and sublet a one-bedroom basement studio for two months.  My diet, for a number of reasons, shrank until I was approaching anorexia–luckily, spring semester ended, I moved back home with my parents, and my mother oversaw that I regained normal eating habits–but one of the lessons I learned was how to cook for one.

Cooking for one is very different in that your only obligation is to yourself; my problem, and I imagine most people are similar, is that I’m lazy.  To be responsible for three meals a day is sometimes kind of daunting, and it’s so easy, especially on a college campus or busy town, to just stop by a restaurant or diner and grab some takeout, or just pop a TV dinner into the microwave and nosh on that for the night.  That route, however, is definitely unhealthy, and when you enjoy food as much as I do, sometimes, the craving for some home-cooked, healthy, fresh goodness is insatiable unless I bust out the knives and the pots and do it myself.

In #8, we’ve got a pretty snazzy way of navigating feeding.  Because our kitchen’s small and impossible to fit more than two people comfortably, we don’t do a lot of communal cooking like they do in some of the local co-ops.  What we actually do is assign at the beginning of each semester one night where each of us is responsible to cook dinner for the others, and then, because of our varying class schedules, breakfast and lunch are individually executed.  As a college student, then, most of my cooking repertoire is portioned for one; the easy thing about one-person recipes, though, is that it can easily be multiplied!

While I’ll occasionally wake up early and make breakfast for everyone, lunch is always my own affair.  A lot of times, it involves reheating leftovers, but I usually have enough time to make something from scratch.  Below is what I call my ‘Lazy Pasta,’ a combination of tri-color fusili (the orange corkscrews are from tomatoes, and green from spinach), blanched spinach, diced tomatoes, sliced salami… and cream cheese and pasta water, swirled together for an easy, near-ridiculous, “white sauce.”

I was clearing out my refrigerator last year, and all I had left were a package of cream cheese and a box of pasta.  It kind of reminded me of macaroni and cheese, so I experimented in throwing the two together, and it then transformed into an easy way to dress up noodles.  Having all of my nutrition in one bowl is also convenient, for eating and for clean up.

Lazy Pasta

Ingredients
3/4 cup dried fusili (or 1 serving of your choice of pasta)
1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped salami (ham would be yummy too)
1 small tomato, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons cream cheese
salt&pepper, to taste
pasta water, as needed

Directions

Boil lightly salted water and prepare pasta as directed on the box!  My fusili calls for 8 minutes until al dente…

…so at 6 minutes, I also add in the spinach to lightly blanch it.

Take out a few tablespoons of the pasta water and set aside for the sauce later.

Drain the pasta and spinach, and then put it back into a warmed bowl.

Add the cream cheese, and toss until it’s melted and coated the pasta evenly.  Add pasta water, as needed, if you want to thin it out (although it’s likely you won’t need it).

Toss in the salami and tomato, then season with salt and pepper! :)

This last Saturday, the sophomore class of AIV invited the freshmen to an afternoon of studying and bonding at Palmer Commons.  There were snacks, a sandwich bar, games, shenanigans, and lots of fun!

Most of the food. It was consumed quickly.

The freshmen, stick-figured. =)

In the throes of laughter and the middle of playing Mafia. Grace is laughing in the striped tank on the right.

Studying hard... or hardly studying? Jason is one of the three guys in this picture. Guess a). what these guys are playing, and b). which ones Jason!

Multi-tasking... studying AND Catan.

I wasn’t the only one taking pictures!  Here are some pictures of other friends taking pictures:

Maggie, to the right, and Rocky, on the left, snapping pictures.

My friend Kelli, and future neighbor in #4.

Christina, another future #4 resident, with Rockys camera.

And finally… the cookies.  My friend James dropped off a lot of the groceries at #8 the night before, to facilitate easier transportation to Palmer Commons than where he lives near North Campus, and the morning of, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies for everyone.  They also did double-duty as Jason’s breakfast.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from AllRecpies

Ingredients
1 cup (preferably dark) brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon  salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl, then add the eggs and vanilla until smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.

Fold the wet ingredients slowly into the dry, then fold in the chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets, and then bake 9-11 minutes.

Makes… lots. ;)

Another quick post today… my friend and fabulous photographer Winnie Jeng (the visual genius behind Attention to Eating, written by the great Jason Siegfried) surprised me today with a photo from a shoot we did a long while ago.  The screenshot below is from her blog Snapshot Aesthetic, where she dumps all of her pictures taken from her growing vintage film camera collection.

This was taken between lighting changes, and the fabulous model is none other than Maeve.  To check out the full shoot and the final pictures, click HERE.

Partly because our cupboards are full, partly because we’re bored, and mostly because we can, Rocky and I built our Leaning Tower of Tupperware atop the refrigerator.  That last container is about one inch away from the ceiling.  One false move and some poor soul will be besieged with plastic container after plastic container! :D

Martha (not that one, but similarly great–Martha of the awesome Thought Collector!) asked me last week what I was reading.

I am currently tackling:
  • Waylaid by Ed Lin; great, great book, a tiny little thing you can carry easily on the go.  Also adapted into a film, called The Motel, which, in a rare circumstance (preceded only before by The Devil Wears Prada and Julie & Julia), I like the move more than the book.  But you should still read the book (don’t read TDWP; it’s a waste of time. J&J was ok).
  • Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo; if not for my Asian-American Literature class, I would probably avoid this book, and probably because of my Asian-American Lit class, I will avoid post-colonial fiction for a while.  This is really well written, though, and if you like magical realism or explorations of sexuality, you’ll probably dig this.
  • Bad Heir Day by Wendy Holden; awful.  Probably because I’m not really feeling into little-cognition-needed reading right now, but I couldn’t get past the first ten pages and just sort of threw the book down the library chute.
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel; for my English class.  It’s a graphic memoir, sort of like Maus, and their are hundreds of references to other works of literature throughout the work.  It’s interesting.
  • Nureyev: The Life by Julie Kavanagh; apparently, when a book is about 800 pages long and two inches thick, it’s a big book.  When this book arrived in the mail, though, I was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning–I adore, worship, revere Rudolf Nureyev like no other pop culture figure (yes, even more than Martha), and Kavanagh’s biography of his life is regarded as one of the best biographies ever written.  I concur; it is definitely great, even if you’re not into iconic ballerinos of the 20th century. READ THIS!
  • The New York Times Tame Crosswords by Will Shortz; not really reading… struggling through.  With some help from my roommates.

Today was the last day of classes… and there’s really a perceptible frustration in the air!  All my roommates and I are scrambling to finish projects, study for final exams, and write last papers, but oh, in just a week and a half, it’ll be all over.  We’re restless but there’s also an insatiable urge to procrastinate from finishing the last dregs of this semester.  !!!!

Usually at this time, I also get the urge to just go out and buy things.  So… I did, if you consider clicking on Amazon and then opening the packages two days later “going out” to buy things.  I bought a book of crossword puzzles, the Monday ones, but despite the entire book being “tame,” it takes a collective mind to solve just one.  Lily, Jason and I will sit down with the book opened flat to the puzzle of the moment, squinting and passing a pencil every now and then to scribble in some letters.  When we get stuck… I’ll admit it. I look in the back, where the answers are, after which, I’ll write in the answer to one line and then Jason will endlessly shout “CHEATING, CHEATING, CHEATING!”

You can't tell, but Jason would say that I'm a pumpkin eater. Yes, I do eat pumpkin.

I meant for the crosswords to be for myself, and they became a group activity; ironically, the blender I bought for all of us has only so far been utilized by myself.  That, however, doesn’t stop the roomies from asking me to make them smoothies instead of doing it themselves!

The great thing about this blender is that it’s kind of tiny; it can bust out at most 17 ounces (my smoothies average out to be about 14 ounces), and it’s super easy to clean.  I really like icy, light, fruity smoothies–any yogurt in liquid-y form makes me gag–so beware of brain freeze!

Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie

Ingredients
1 kiwi, peeled
1 cup strawberries, hulled
1 cup ice
1/2 cup orange juice

Directions

Put all the ingredients into the blender, then pulse until smooth!

Grace dressed hers up by adding whipped cream and strawberries!

Though the oven is sort of my best friend in the kitchen, it does sometimes feel like a big hassle–setting the temperature, waiting for it to preheat, putting in whatever it is I’m making, letting it bake, then taking it out and remembering not to touch the racks else I burn myself… it takes a lot of brainpower. XD

I’m also a bit of a veggie-ho.  Though I don’t think I could give up meat (like Caroline!), I’m not too much of a carnivore either; I was raised in a veggie-focused household, and there was this movie I once watched thinking it’d be really cool, but instead, gave me a new perspective on alternative meats (from cow and pig to… well, dog and human).  There are times where I crave protein, but for most of my diet, I rely on greens.  And sugar.

So my friends Nancy and Aries came over for dinner the other day, and I wanted to make a nice salad; forgive me, but I think leafy salads are a pain-in-the-rear to do at home, unless they’re prewashed and out-of-the-bag!  Totally awful of me, but I’m more of a lazy bum than a salad spinner kind of gal… my favorite salads are also kind of heavy on the fatty stuff, like potato and egg. Heh.

We had a bit of a theme–Nancy’d asked for taquitos–and so I wanted to throw together a Latin-y, tex-mex kind of salad; first combination that sprang to mind was tomatoes and corn.  It’s yummy.  (My mommy also told me that it was pretty ^^).

Summer Corn Salad
Adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients

1 bag frozen corn, thawed
3 large tomatoes, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 jalapeño peppers, diced
1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white vinegar
salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil; add corn and boil 5-7 minutes.  Drain and cool.

Toss all the ingredients together, then chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

Eat!

I was never a PB&J kind of kid; jellies are usually too sweet for my liking, and though I still haven’t read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, I have a healthy distrust of manufactured foods, especially peanut butter (though that doesn’t stop me from consuming all those processed goods!).  My mom only recently allowed the regular use of butter (mayo is still banned) at home, so when I was a kid, I didn’t have much in the way of spreads to put on my breads…

…until Nutella.  Modified from the traditional gianduia, Nutella is a chocolate/hazelnut spread by Ferrero (includes the famed Ferrero Rocher) that is fabulous in, on, around anything and by itself.  It’s creamy and delicious, yummy and nutritious, and so fabulous, it can be used in lots of baking and I buy it from Costco in obscenely large jars. :D  Below is the easiest, simplest recipe I often employ:

Nutella Brownies/Mini Cupcakes
Adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings

Ingredients
1/2 cup Nutella
1 large egg
5 tablespoons flour
(additional: chocolate, nuts… even raspberries)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl, mix Nutella, egg, and flour until fully incorporated. Spoon batter evenly into 12 lined/greased mini-muffin cups.

(This is the fun part! If you’ve got anything extra on hand, little chocolates or some chopped nuts, or a dozen small berries, top each brownie off with whatever you want.  I usually do some chocolate, like above, peanut butter chips or toffee pieces).

Bake! The recipes I referenced all say 11-12 minutes, but my oven’s a little weird, so at 350, it usually takes me 15-17 minutes to get it right. Go with the 11-12, and just add a few minutes if an inserted toothpick comes out gooey. :)

Last step: nom nom (is officially entered in the Oxford English Dictionary).

One of the most abysmal baking failures I’ve ever had was a few months ago, when I attempted to make fortune cookies. They kept on popping up on many of the food blogs that I follow, and I wanted to try making them–it seemed so easy!  Just mix, drop, bake, scrape, fold and mold… but they kept on going to pieces. =(

What was great about it, though, was that all five of us in the apartment had some fun.  Jason, Grace, and Lily all tried making them with me (Jason made the best ones!), and Rocky even joined in when we were writing fortunes to insert into the cookies.  No pictures of the fortune cookies (too ugly to photograph and keep my dignity!), but here are some messages we put up on the board for memories:

These could be called mottoes–top one is mine, bottom one is Grace’s!

Messages from Jason; you should especially take the last one seriously. ;)

Lily’s just looking out for your wellbeing.  heheheh :D

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