Category Archives: Food

Wow

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I’m done with school. Done with clinical, done with classes, my last assignment is turned in- it’s hard to believe. This year has felt like a lifetime. I’m a little too shell-shocked to fully process what being done means, but it’s big. So much has happened in the past 13 months.

The responsible part of my brain is telling me that I should start packing up my apartment, but I don’t want to. I don’t feel terribly attached to the place (even though it was my first solo apartment), but I don’t feel ready for things to be over. I don’t want to live in that weird, half-packed limbo just yet. It’ll come soon enough. Instead, I spend half the afternoon cleaning to get ready for my inspection- I want that security deposit back!

I had the most incredible biscuit for breakfast this morning. I was late getting to the market today, and when I got there it seemed like everywhere I turned people were eating them, and they smelled incredible, so I had to get one too. They were out of the chicken sandwiches by then, so I just got a plain biscuit, but it was still fabulous. It had to contain lard- there’s no other explanation for all the deliciousness.

I spent the night at my friend Judy’s house last night because we were up until the wee hours of the morning playing games and watching Wreck-It Ralph (which was actually really good. I thought it looked dumb, but was pleasantly surprised). It’s weird to think that these evenings are going to come to an end soon. I know there will still be game nights in Alaska, but it won’t be the same without my Baltimore friends.

Roots

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I went to the Charles Village Festival yesterday, and a band that I saw while out on a date with Peter Parker was playing. Then I went to a party at a stranger’s house, and I ran into people from contra dancing. More importantly, I had a super wonderful day, with live music, and cheap beer, and cantaloupe, and water fights. It was cool realizing that I fit into a community in Baltimore that isn’t 100% nursing students, but it was even better spending the first day of June with wonderful people I adore. I’ll be very sorry to move on.

It has been absurdly, cruelly hot in Baltimore, and I do not have any air conditioning in my apartment. It’s not good. As a means of coping I have decided to live off of popsicles, hummus and veggies, and bread and butter pickles, because it’s much too hot to turn on the oven or stove (I boiled an egg this morning and the fan actually made me hotter, because it blew the heat from the flame right at me). Pickles are an underrated breakfast food- I bought nice local ones at the farmer’s market, and I don’t know how I lived before without having them in my life.

Loves of late

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Sweet potatoes make the best breakfasts. A sweet potato and a cup of chai make easing into the day so much more pleasant, especially on clinical days. Regular tea is fine for lecture days and weekends, but when I need to steel myself for public health I need that extra boost.

Blended banana “ice cream”. Should I be sad that this is my go-to dessert lately? There were cupcakes at school the other day, and instead of having one I opted to wait and then go home and eat a blended banana. I do them with vanilla extract and a splash of milk (and sometimes a little peanut butter), or coconut water and lime juice, and it’s cold and refreshing, and satisfies my sugar craving. Does that make me a member of the brainwashed dieting masses? Maybe? I’m pretty ok with it though, because I don’t feel deprived.

Game of Thrones. I’m five episodes into the first season, and about a hundred pages into the first book, and it’s super enjoyable. So far the show is way smuttier (a lot of the characters are way younger in the book, so that’s for the best), but I like them both. My friends and I are going to try to play the game again this weekend, now that I know a little more about the families. I also really love Tyrion- Peter Dinklage is great.

Avocados. They’ve been 4/$5 at Safeway (whic is still a lot on my budget, but I can’t resist), and I’ve been eating them like it’s going out of style.
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I need to eat more soft-boiled eggs. They’re quick, and there’s less clean up than with scrambled, but I always seem to forget about them.

Talent

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Kids today are brought up with the understanding that they all have awesome talents locked away inside them, and one day they’ll stumble into an opportunity and discover that they’re really good at Quidditch or something, no practice required. The first time I cleaned a fish I wondered if that would be my secret talent- and I was incredibly relieved when it wasn’t (I would have been very disappointed if I was destined to be an amazing fish-cleaner- it just wasn’t in line with my other career goals). I’m not saying that this is it either, but I make some darn tasty salads. Seriously. I hit that perfect balance of goodies and filler, and I’m never left with a bunch of depressing bits at the end (that speaks more to my salad eating than making, but it all goes together).

Tonight’s salad was similar to my standard, but better, because I sauteed the kale with garlic and lime juice instead of eating it raw. I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately, but I think cooking the kale is a game changer, because this one was awesome. Green bell pepper, carrots, celery, cabbage, Chiavetta’s chicken, half an avocado,and sauteed kale. Heavenly. A girl in my exercise class this evening was talking about how she was having salmon for dinner tonight, so I was a little jealous, and ambivalent about my planned dinner of rabbit food, but I think I came out ahead.

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Pesto!

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One of my big kitchen goals is to make things without using recipes. Toss in a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and voila! Deliciousness! I’m getting better at it, but most of the time I just use a recipe- food is expensive, and if I screw up I have to eat whatever mess I made. Sometimes I’m able to compromise though, and recreate something I’ve made using a recipe in the past, but without strictly following the directions. It isn’t as good as inventing my own recipes, but it makes me feel pretty cool when I can whip up some legit dish from memory.

My friend Sam is a man of many talents, and one of my favorites is his ability to make knock-your-socks-off hummus. The boy has a gift. He made some truly dazzling pesto hummus for our friend’s birthday last weekend, and I’ve had basil on the brain ever since (his girlfriend confessed to me that she gets up in the middle of the night when she stays at his place and eats hummus with her fingers, and I don’t blame her in the least). Of course the best pesto in the world is made by my mother (Happy Mothers Day!), but even though I knew I could never live up to that standard I had to try. I just got a new blender (with a Target giftcard I got as a thank-you present from a Birth Companions mom, which made it even nicer), and so I made sure to pick up a big bunch of basil at the market on Saturday so I could give it a proper christening.

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I know people like to get all fancy with pesto, but I keep it simple- basil, garlic, olive oil, walnuts, and Parmesan cheese. Heavy on the garlic, and because I wanted a smoother texture (so I could use it on salads), heavy on the oil as well. I didn’t use a recipe, and just sort of guessed at proportions, tasting as I went. I was a little skeptical that my little blender would be up to the task, but it handled like a dream, and now I have a jar of gorgeous pesto, just begging to be eaten on toast for breakfast (a habit I picked up from my childhood babysitter).

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Where have I been?

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(Not in Geneseo.)
Instead of recapping all the exciting stuff that has been going on (school, being a big lump), I’m going to focus on right now. I actually went for a run today, for the first time in way, way too long. It was warm out, and around mile one I threw in the towel and walked, but then instead of just giving up entirely I got myself to start running again, and did about three miles. I know, that’s a little nothing distance, but I was proud of myself for not quitting. After my run I came home, threw some chicken breasts in with Chiavetta‘s sauce to marinate, and hopped in the shower. I set the smoke alarm off multiple (three? four?) times actually cooking the chicken, but it was entirely worth it, because the first bite transported me back home. Poof! Summer in Western New York. It was super magical.
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I ate half a chicken breast on top of a kale salad (my disbursement money just came through (the last one of nursing school!), so I did a big grocery shop today and bought all kinds of nice foods. I bought avocados! And pistachios!), and then the other half by itself, as dessert, because it was so good.
Now I’m watching old episodes of Degrassi, and feeling pretty good about life. Tomorrow is a big (HUGE) study day, but tonight I’m relaxing.

Oh wow

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I had a pretty awesome day. I wrote essays, and went to Mass AND the gym, and picked up a book at the library (after being helped out by a friendly librarian). I went on a prenatal visit, and out to dinner with a classmate/colleague, ate a tasty burger, and came home and read. My apartment smells like (pilfered) flowers and cookies, and I’m tucked into a bed with freshly laundered sheets that I successfully whitened by boiling them with lemons.
And I just found a beautiful new song. Ok, not a new song, but new to me.

And this one!

It’s so pretty! I sometimes forget how much I like The Decemberists, but that just means I get to re-realize how great they are every few months. It’s like discovering a new band, only lazier!
It’s gotten cold again, but I’m too stubborn to put my duvet back on my bed, and so will instead just sleep in heavier pajamas. I actually like the chill- I’m leaving my window open, and it’s nice.

SALAD!

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I vividly remember sitting in the dining hall in college and having a girl from my house plop down across from me, tell her friend that she had just run home from UMass, and then sing a little song about her salad. I had never seen someone so excited to eat a salad- even between bites she would exclaim “Salad!” and do a little wiggly dance in her seat. It clearly left an impression (I don’t remember her name, but the salad song stuck with me), and I think about her whenever I’m excited about salads.
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I’ve been in a good salad-eating place lately- all my classmates love them, and bring them for lunch most days, so I hopped on the bandwagon. Tonight’s salad was standard stuff- kale, carrots, celery, and cabbage, with some roasted red peppers that I made a few days ago and have been storing in olive oil, and topped with chicken. The chicken was the star of the show- it smelled incredible while it was cooking (I just roasted it with olive oil and Cajun spice), and made the whole meal more satisfying. I dressed the salad with a dressing I made myself using lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, a tiny pinch of brown sugar, and olive oil. Salad!

Perfect

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I think it’s important to have a good breakfast party piece. You never know when it’ll come in handy- friends in from out of town, friends in from the same town, random brunch event, it’s always a good idea to have a nice go-to dish. I’d like to be able to make delicious pancakes, but that’s still a work in progress. Instead, this morning I made a really special dutch baby.

My dad occasionally makes a dutch baby that I really love- it’s lemon-y, and sweet, and it has a nice, kind of dry edge that I adore. I’ve never been able to reproduce it on my own, but today I made something that was very different, and very, very good. Dutch babies are supposed to puff, which mine only did around the edges- most of it settled into a fabulous custard. 005

I made it using Martha Stewart’s recipe, with the addition of strawberries. I think the extra liquid kept it from rising, but it was still delightful. It’s the perfect breakfast for a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning- it makes me wish I had a deck, and a newspaper, but mostly someone to share it with, because it’s truly too good to be eaten alone.

Hiding

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Today I’m social-ed out. If I had a car I’d love to drive out to a hiking spot and spend the whole day by myself in the quiet. Because I don’t have a car I’ll probably just walk over to Druid Hill Park and hang out there, but that should also achieve my goal, because more than anything I just need to spend some time by myself.
I went to two parties last night, and while they were both interesting, they were also incredibly draining. It started with a barbeque with some classmates (though not my usual crowd), and then somehow I ended up at an art show in a basement surrounded by hipster art students drinking wine out of jars. Everyone I encountered last night was nice (if not necessarily my type), and I even had a good time, but now I’m done in. There was some talk last night about going to the Spring Fair on campus today, but I emphatically don’t want to do that, especially not with the people who made these plans, because I don’t know them very well, and I don’t have it in me to get to know them. It’s a rare thing for me, but I don’t want attention, and I really don’t want people to flirt with me. I’ve gotten too much of that recently, and it freaks me out, and makes me feel like I’m cold inside when I can’t respond to them in the way they want. I can give the right impression, but I can’t actually meet them halfway, and it’s distressing. I want to be open to new people, but I’m kind of just…not. At least not right now. I wish I had a dog to keep me company today- people are too much, but a dog would be just the right amount of interaction.

Because it’s Spring Fair there were fireworks on campus Thursday night, and because I can’t resist fireworks I dragged my friends away from their homework to check it out with me. I was actually really impressed by the display- it wasn’t some teeny little sparklers event- they went all out. Fireworks are legal in Maryland, so I suppose it’s probably a higher bar than what I’m used to, but I was impressed. It was 100% worth abandoning my schoolwork for a couple of hours, even though I then had to stay up until almost 1:00 in order to accomplish everything I had to do. Granted, most of what I had to do was baking- it’s standard practice to bring food for the clinical floor on our last day, and I also wanted to bake for my instructor.

I haven’t been feeling terribly inspired lately, and so I actually bought brownie mix to just throw something together. I misread the box though, and actually followed the recipe for brownie cookies. In an attempt to not feel like I was totally phoning in my contribution I decided to use browned butter instead of oil, two eggs instead of one, and lightly sprinkled them with sea salt. It worked too well though, because they were a hit, and when people asked for my recipe I had to sheepishly admit they came from a box.
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I also made a loaf of cheese bread, which I think turned out well (I didn’t try it, but it made my apartment smell like heaven. Delicious, cheesy heaven). I sort of followed this recipe, but I also made it my own with replacements and substitutions. Instead of using cheddar cheese I used Manchego, and I used more than it called for- I joked that I used a 1:1 cheese to bread ratio, but I did use about as much cheese as flour. I didn’t have any fresh herbs, so I just tossed in some dried thyme, I used half a head of fresh garlic instead of 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and yogurt instead of milk (because I didn’t have any milk). It was fun to play around a little, and I’d like to make another loaf for myself to see if it’s any good. Normally I don’t try new recipes when I’m making food as a gift, but none of my tried-and-trues appealed, and I’m glad I got to experiment.

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