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It’s true. I know you do too.
When I’m at the library, I scan the shelves for books with interesting titles. It often means that the book itself is interesting. “What the Dog Saw” by Malcolm Gladwell (who, by the way, is my favorite author. He is brilliant.) is a case and point example. Interesting title, fascinating book about people. Anyway, the other reason I like books with interesting titles is because I don’t want people to see me reading a “stupidly” titled book. I feel kind of lame. I know someone who uses book covers so people don’t see what she’s reading. But I don’t want to do that. I’ll just pick and interesting book in the first place.

Because I know that people judge a reader by the book’s cover.

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They say you know who someone truly is when you have seen them under pressure. (“The Shelter,” anyone?)

That, or you can look at their kitchen. Here is a glimpse of mine.

There’s an open binder, flipped to a wrinkled page for a cheesecake recipe. I’m watching yogurt strain into a mug for yogurt cheese (details on how that works out coming tomorrow). Across from me is a jar of cookie cutters. Next to that is my sister L, who is looking at 50 animal  cookie cutters that she got for her birthday.

Exciting, isn’t it? Okay not really. But for some reason, after the day of fighting and screaming, the kitchen neutralizes all of it. Just for now.

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Juice Truce

My sister L inhales juice like it’s oxygen. Me, not so much. I liked the occasional cup of juice, but it was never something that I needed/wanted. At least, I didn’t used to be. Because of my environmental lab (see yesterday’s post), I had to drink seltzer water. And because seltzer water is just bubbly water, I felt like it needed a splash of something. That something turned out to be cranberry juice. I won’t wax on about the benefits of cranberries, but regardless it is hands down my favorite juice.

So anyway, I fell in love with seltzer water and cranberry juice. I went through at least 4 cups a day when we first bought it. My jug of cranberry juice sat next to L’s apple juice in the fridge. And suddenly I was catching up to her. My juice levels sank just as fast as hers, and it became a little race of ours.

I left her a note that said “eep! you’re losing!” on her apple juice jug.

This afternoon, I came home to get some cranberry juice and this is what I found.

I lost the juice truce. Maybe I’m not a true juice drinker after all.

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I Hate Shopping

It’s a partial truth, at least. I like cute clothes, but I’ve never been a huge shopper. All the people downtown, the tweens in the store taking pictures with their cell phones, the piles of rumpled clothing, not being able to find the right size/color/look, waiting in line for the dressing room, and realizing it doesn’t fit or doesn’t look good. I can’t deal with it. It’s why I love retreating into the peace of my kitchen, the order of the cabinet, the beauty of the ingredients.

But today I HAD to go shopping. The whole family went to go find a wedding dress. Okay not really. Not getting married…yet. The graduation tradition at my school is for everyone to be in long white dresses. And where do you find long, white, dresses? Well no where but a bridal store because who else besides brides want to wear long, white dresses? I don’t waltz into school in my Cinderella dress or waltz in a ballroom in my gown.

So anyway, the wedding hunt begins. Of course my sister L is irritated, especially because she abhors shopping with me. And dad is completely clueless, proven by the following conversation:

Dad: Laughs This one looks like a scary Halloween pumpkin. (Unfortunately, there was a bright orange bridesmaid dress. I feel sorry if that will be draped so lovingly over you)
M: Yeah, not what we’re looking for. Focus.
Dad: How about this one?
M: No.
Dad: Why?
M: Because it’s ugly.

Anyway, L found the MOST BEAUTIFUL wedding dress, though it happened to be $700. It will be my wedding dress when I get married. Either that, or a Cinderella-style dress with a tutuish sort of bottom. We did find a pretty dress that should do quite nicely for graduation. Hopefully it turns out like it’s supposed to.

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College Visit

Last year in May I went on a college visit to a school which I thought I would really like. It’s set in a small town that has a farmer’s market every Thursday, and some cutesy little town features like an alleyway where the walls are covered with bubblegum. The school itself is a nice school. The campus facilities are a little above average (it’s a state school, so don’t have high standards). I really wanted to like the school. I even sat in on a science class when they were talking about drosophilia flies, an extension of something that I had learned in my biology class. I really wanted to be interested in the class. But maybe it was the teacher. I asked him if I could sit in on his class, and he seemed confused. He let me sit in anyway, but he didn’t put out the welcome mat.

I was overall unimpressed. Which made me depressed, because I had so badly wanted to want to go to the school. Everyone says that you’ll know that a school is right for you when you step on campus. You’ll just “feel” it. And this place didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to keep sitting in on that science class. The subject was confusing

Today I went on a different college visit. And I really really liked it. Like, really really really really REALLY like. So much that I started picturing myself there. It’s so pretty and friendly and cutesy and big and well, perfect.

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Today, instead of a mid-term, we had a guest speaker come. Ugh. Now you’re thinking, But M, you’d rather have a mid term than a guest speaker? You’d rather write essays than listen to some guy? Well maybe not that far, but it was still pretty bad. 

The speaker had come before once to speak to us and we disagreed with him to the point of rudeness (from my class). Then he came again today. His presentation was a series of disjointed and contradictory definitions. Everyone was confused and he kept side stepping the questions.

But the clincher came when he said, “I use Wikipedia for everything.”

OOHH. That explains everything. I’m not against Wikipedia. I think it’s a really good tool, especially in terms of the movment and speed of information. But that debases all of his credibility. I guess I expected more of a man from the field of academia. Maybe that’s just me.

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Real Food

My dad makes dinner every night. There are very few occasions where he’s out and my sister L and I are left home alone. A lot of times he makes extras of dinner the night before so we just have to reheat it. But I love it when he leaves the meal decisions up to L and me. L likes to stick to her Kraft mac and cheese, but I always jump at the opportunity to make something that I know my family won’t like. (Translation: vegetarian). In general, I don’t make things with meat because I hate touching raw meat and I’m afraid of food poisoning. But these are my chances to experiment making some real food (shocking, isn’t it?) I’m not out to make something sous vide or tuna tartare. My food ideas generally fit these categories: vegetarian and homey. My first idea was something  with beans, like lentil burgers, but I was not in the mood to watch a pot of beans boil (that, and I’m in the middle of quarter exams right now…details). So I decided to make an alfredo sauce. Except, I didn’t know how to make an alfredo sauce. Then I found out that it’s basically melted cream, cheese, and butter. Sounds delicious, right? No. I’m not a fan of those meals where I feel insanely guilty after eating it (does that change my eating habits? not really). So I opted for a cream sauce. After reading about 10 different recipes, I came up with this one. I poured it over some Japanese soba noodles (they’re a dark colored buckwheat noodle that cooks in about 6 min.) I don’t have pictures because my dad took the camera out with him, and the pile of noodles did not look apetizing and no amount of light could have fixed it. I may have put too much chicken bullion, and it was a little too salty because of it so next time I’ll cut it down. Other than that, I liked it. It was creamy and held up well with the soba. So watch the saltiness carefully.

Yogurt-Cream Sauce
adapted from
Self

Ingredients:
1 tsp oil
some veggies, thinly sliced (as much as you want, really. I had 1 shredded carrot and about 2 in of an onion)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 cup nonfat chicken broth (I used water and some bullion, but I didn’t read the proportions so I added too much)
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup fresh basil, or 2 dashes of dried
2 tbsp reduced fat parmesean cheese (
I didn’t add any, didn’t need to)
1 tbsp light cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook pasta as directed. Drain and set aside.
Heat oil, add veggies. Reduce heat to low and cook until almost tender.
Add broth and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and mix in rest of ingredients.
Toss and serve.

 

Tonight, dad went out to dinner with some friends. L broke out the Kraft and I made..

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Fizzy Saver

So I’m not really into that whole buying useless kitchen gadgets. For example, I don’t need a marshmallow shooter. I have no use for the GT Express 101. What would I do with a grapefruit segmenter?
Except this weekend. We are making ecotainers in my environmental science class, and I needed to bring in 2 2L sized soda bottles (that’s 8 cups per bottle). The problem is, I don’t drink soda (at least not in that quantity). So I planned to buy seltzer water instead, because there was no way I was going to drink 16 cups of Coke, strawberry soda, or even ginger ale. The other problem was, I hate the taste after the fizziness goes away. It’s a little bit salty. Ew. So I wailed to my dad about how they should make things that keep the fizz in, or better yet, make water that doesn’t fizz.
Dad: We have one of those.
Me: REALLY?!?!?!?
Him: Umm yeah, it’s in the kitchen somewhere.
Me: Oh….really….

See this is where I explain to you that my kitchen is a jungle of everything since 1972. Okay not really. But there’s a lot of stuff piled up in various places. It also ate one of my piping tips that I’ve been looking for since September of last year. I still can’t find it. But now I have 2 so it’s okay. But that’s beside the point. It’s the principle, isn’t it?

So anyway, I present to you, the fizzy saver! Or at least, that’s what I call it.

You put the little hat on the bottle instead of the cap, and it actually preserves the fizz! yay! I had the I ended up drinking one bottle over 2 days, so I didn’t need it long. But I definately appreciate having it. I am currently almost done with bottle #2. For the record, I bought the bottles on Friday afternoon.

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I was sitting at lunch with my best friend S, who had gotten a sandwich from the deli/corner store. She pulled out the sandwich, took off the bread, and began hollowing out her sourdough in an attempt to be “healthier.” I knew people did that with bagels, but with bread? I didn’t know it at the time, but I subconsiously do it too. I reach for the whole wheat bread when I can, even though it’s just a slightly less processed version of white bread. Whatever. I love bread too much to give it up. I had planned on making a whole wheat yeast bread that seemed really simple to make. But then, a) I couldn’t find the right sized pan and I didn’t want ugly bread and b) there was molasses on my packet of yeast so I didn’t feel like using it (because I’m a princess). Then I stumbled along this New York Times article/ (gotta love the NY Times) for a quick bread version of whole wheat bread. I loveloveLOVE quick breads. They can be a little dense, as dad thought this bread turned out, but it has a light molasses-ey flavor at the end. It’s denser than your average whole wheat bread, but also a little sweeter and chewier and moister (hah M, because that’s a word).  Recipe, adapted from NY Times (link above)
        Ingredients:
             oil or butter for greasing pan
             1 2/3 cups buttermilk or plain yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups milk and 2 tbsp white vinegar
             2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
             1/2 cup cornmeal (I used regular flour since I didn’t have cornmeal)
             
1 tsp salt
             1 tsp baking soda
             1/2 cup molasses (I used 1/4 cup molasses, 1/4 cup honey for a sweeter flavor)
  

  • 1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-by-4-inch or 9-by 5-inch loaf pan, preferably nonstick.
  • 2. If you’re using buttermilk or yogurt, ignore this step. Make soured milk by warming the milk gently — 1 minute in the microwave is sufficient, just enough to take the chill off — and add the vinegar. Set aside.
  • 3. Mix together the dry ingredients. Stir the molasses into the buttermilk, yogurt or soured milk. Stir the liquid into the dry ingredients (just enough to combine) then pour into the pan. Bake until firm and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
  •  

    It’s amazing with yogurt and preserves.
    It’s good for lunch.
    It’s good with peanut butter too, in case you’re wondering (actually, there are better pairings. The thick pb and dense bread didn’t work out as well as I had hoped)  

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    Not a Writer

    I’m not a writer.
    I think four English teachers just fainted. (Sorry!)
    Each day I open wordpress and I think to myself, Meg, you should write something today. So I stare at this blank box that stares back at me. And maybe I start writing something. And then I usually hit the “move to trash” button that is so red and glaring and I hate to click it but I do anyway because I don’t think whatever I had to say was worthy of being on the blog or on the internet in general.

    Today is one of those days. About an hour ago, I signed into wordpress. And then I signed out because I felt like I had nothing to say. And now it’s an hour later and I’m writing about it. And then I realized, I don’t want this blog to necessarily be about the next big thing. I want to remember what I baked in February, how I got excited by seeing whale-shaped crackers (like goldfish but whales) and what I was thinking when I was seventeen. I don’t have to come up with some elaborate story or a grand philosophical topic. I.just.need.to.start.writing.

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