« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

September 28, 2008

You should be my friend

On Netflix, at least.

September 23, 2008

Now, That's a spicy meatball!

I had a list of things that I was running low on, so I killed two birds with one stone. That's right, I went on a grocery shopping study break. The things on my list were simple: yogurt, veg, fruit, fake lunch meat...you know, stuff. I was only intending to get lunch box fruits and veg. That is, until I saw the wide array of just-now-in-season squash.


Oh, squash, how I love thee.


I did what any squash-loving human would do. I remembered that my parents, on the recent whirlwind visit (that's right, they were here and you missed them. Now they are not here, and I miss them.) had brought me a stack of cookbooks including the weekday-vegetarian's best friend: 5 a Day cookbook. (Even if you are an everyday meat eater, I highly recommend checking out this cookbook. It is incredible and has a number of tasty,meaty recipes like Pork tenderloin in orange-basil sauce and catfish with tropical salsa. Yum.) And, instead of making note of the lovely and delicious squash that is now in season, I decided to wing it and buy what I thought went into the recipe for their "South of the Border Squash Soup". I bought vegetable broth, one large and lovely butternut squash (I had to go back out for tomato puree and a carrot). I was sure that the recipe also included garlic and onions and I had both of those at home. And, peppers. The recipe called for jalapenos, but I was in the grocery store milling around the produce and therefore was not looking at the recipe. I went for the lushest-looking local peppers I could find. I bought three of them. The sign said they were Hungarian hot peppers. Well, that's not quite right. It said they were Hungarian HOT peppers.

I used all three of them in the soup. My lips are still red from last night's feasting. To had injury to injury, I thought this lovely soup needed to be served with chicken nuggets. I selected Quorn's Southwestern Chik'n wings which have a lovely chipotle and lime coating. Dipped in the soup they added fire to the FIRE. It was awesome, in that what-kind-of-an-idiot-would-intentionally-set-themselves-on-fire sort of way. Although, I did end up dropping a dollop of sour cream on the top, which mellowed it out a little.

In case you needed more incentive to check out the cookbook, this lovely soup (is not as spicy when made correctly, but still packs a punch) has something like 126 calories a serving (it makes 8 of those) and provides you with two servings of vegetables and 5 grams of fiber. How awesome is that?

September 16, 2008

Experiment Q

If I am honest with you, I would have to say that I only really ever cook one thing for dinner. And, that thing is called "Experiment Q".

Q is the result of adding R S and T together. What are R, S, T? They are whatever happens to be in my fridge (which, at least for me, is why it is so important that I have so many vegetables in my fridge.)

This evening, that happens to be salmon with mushrooms, broccoli, onions with a peach and pepper glaze. However, just because it sounds good, doesn't mean that it will be good. Or, that my cooking process (meat, veg, foil) is the way forward. (400 degrees, twenty minutes. Although, I started it at 350...) Tonight I got lucky. The salmon needed an extra 15 minutes in the oven, but the veg was nice and, well, anything involving a jam glaze is hard to say no to.

September 15, 2008

In Which I pretend I am a dancer.

Today I pretended like I was a ballet dancer. Sadly, this is not something that is new, it just happens that today I am going to admit that I do it. Most days when I pretend I am a ballerina, I do so be listening to a lot of great classical music while I swan around cleaning or cooking or enjoying a study break. I took ballet classes as a child and I do still remember some steps. I will make up little combinations like sweep, sweep, portibra, changement, changement and repeat.


In order to fuel my ballerina-centric lunacy, in August I bought the New York City Ballet Complete Workout. And, I've been doing the first three sections and calling it quits. (In my defense, I also own Bollywood Burn so I've gotten used to the notion that I only have to workout for fifteen minutes as that DVD is divided up into three fifteen minute workouts.) Not so today. Today, I was reading abstracts and attempting to work on my project proposal for Introduction to Cognitive Science and I was having incredible focus problems. I made a deal with myself, if I was just going to dick around and not get any work done, I would have to dick around in a way that would be somewhat productive.

I made it to section seven of the first ballet DVD. The section after you work on your abs. The section in which you work your thighs and butt through a series of moves that involve not letting your legs touch the floor. Someday, Someday soon, I will have the strength, patience and coordination to make it through the end of this section. Today was not that day. Today, my thighs and butt are already screaming at me. While I do consider this a triumph (now I want nothing more than to sit and read abstracts...and maybe knit.) I am not sure I will feel that way in the morning.

September 13, 2008

Friends and Family

I'm in a competitive Knit Along on Ravelry and a new pattern came out on Thursday. This was perfect timing for me because, even though this means that I'm a whole sock behind the rest of the knit along I had just finished a project and so was in perfect position to cast on.


So, I frogged a scarf that I found when I unpacked my boxes of books (it had some unintentional increases and decreases in places it shouldn't have them) and I sat down to try to make some progress on this new pair while watching the glorious Michael Weston pretend to be a weakling with asthma. The pattern was inspired by The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and I was very excited about it.


Sadly, I could not get the cast on ( for which I found a online tutorial) using my double pointed needles. I finally gave up, frogged that, too, and decided I would take this opportunity to investigate a Michaels that is near an awesome mall not far from my house (but further than the Michaels at the Mall just practically down the street from my house.)

When I reached my reading threshold for Friday afternoon, I put myself in the car and headed out that way. I wandered around the Michaels (which had a better yarn selection than the one near my house) and filled my basket with some lovely Bernat yarn in some pretty, pretty colors that was on sale! Excellent. I also picked myself up a pair of circular needles that were the same size so that I could make the Turkish cast on work.

I wandered around for a while, looking at their Halloween decor and just enjoying being alive in the Autumn in Buffalo as a first year PhD student ( one has to enjoy such moments as this is only time I will ever be a first year PhD student...or, at least I hope this is the only time I will ever be a first year PhD student.) and then I made my up to the counter. There was one register opened and then the customer service desk. I was in line behind an adorable gay couple buying a floating ghost. The woman at customer service finished up what she was doing and said she could help whoever was next, I deferred to the couple, but they told me to go ahead.

The woman started scanning my yarn and said, "Wow, those are down to a dollar now?" And, we had a nice little chat about yarn and needlecraft. She gave me the total and as I was about to swipe my card, she said, "Wait a minute, I don't work tomorrow." She reached into her apron and pulled out a friends and family coupon. Apparently, it was friends and family weekend and she had them to give discounts to her people. But, she gave it to me! I was shocked. That was so kind.

So, I'm thinking that I may, when I'm done with these socks, pop back over to Michaels (pick up some more yarn) and give her the socks. Unless I chicken out because that's a little weird.

September 10, 2008

Experiments

I'm a little weird. In my (not so copious) spare time, I like to read diet books. I read all the low carb books. Then, I read all of this psycho-spiritual diets. Recently, I've been moved to read things by Naturopathic Doctors. One of the books (I forget which one) suggested that you try to be a vegetarian during the week and only eat meat on the weekends. I have two caveats to my weekday vegetarianism: I get to eat fish. Fish is brain food. And, bleeding women get to eat as much red meat as they like. (How's that for a reason to look forward to "that time of the month"?)


This week, I've eating Yves's veggie turkey and cucumber sandwiches. I've also been eating tuna salads.

The Yves meat is nice. Its very moist and the texture isn't bad. Plus, four slices is only one hundred calories. That is so much (fake) meat! Especially, on a diet. Its very exciting. One of the other flavors they have is bologna, and I'm thinking about trying it. It all depends on how brave I'm feeling.

The other benefit is that I have inadvertently discovered that cooking once on one weekend can make food for three weeks. Last Saturday, I made lasagna. More than half of it is in my freezer now. It might not be three weeks of meals in a row, but I figure having my freezer full of tasty food will be handy at the end of the semester.

September 08, 2008

Someone's Got a Case of the Mondays

It is Monday morning. I'm showered. I've dressed. I've blended fruit, yogurt, tea, and flax seed together to make a tasty breakfast smoothie. I've made a cuppa tea. I've made my list of things that need to be accomplished today. And, yet, I feel like I'm toodling around my apartment like one of the flesh-eating zombies in the film I saw Saturday night. (All things being equal, that isn't a bad representation of what it is to be a B-horror flick. And, the zombie locomotion in it I found to be particularly hilarious. Its like the zombies are half-cognizant flesh-eating maniacs doing their best impressions of the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. Classic.)


I feel a bit like someone might pop out of the nowhere, covered in flair, and offer me a cup of coffee with a cliched remark about how awful Mondays are.

But, it isn't Mondays. I'm not even sure its mornings. To say I'm not a morning person would be inaccurate. I do not have a problem with the idea of mornings. In fact, I tend to set my alarm as early as I think I can get away with because I find that (once I get going) I can be very productive before 11 AM. A more accurate description is that I am an inertial creature. I find that changing states (asleep to awake, awake to functioning like a normal human being, any of those processes in reverse, etc.) to be difficult and, as the term "inertial" will attest, unless there is a reason I pretty much can't be bothered. Lucky for me that "a good reason" includes things like, "no longer being badgered by the insistent alarm", "hot shower water", and "cuppa". That being said, even though I've been up an hour, I could still probably pass as an extra on the set of George Romero's next film.

September 06, 2008

The Inaugural Smoothie

Kohl's had a two day sale. And, I've been without a blender. I was just going to buy a twenty dollar blender at Wal-Mart, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a look. So, I was wandering through the store and I found a blender. But, not just a blender...a twelve speed blender with an extra attachment so that you can use the motor to run a food processor.

Have you ever tried to make squash soup without a food processor? Its a pain. Also, you can make salsa without all that chopping and hummus. I love hummus.


I took the blender out for a spin tonight. I used the last of the fruit salad that I made earlier in the week with a little milk and a little vanilla ice cream. It was delicious. And, purple. (It had the end of the blueberries in it.)

September 05, 2008

Persuasion

There is nothing better than turning on the TV, hitting the wrong channel and instead of getting what you are used to (like another episode of Law and Order) only to stumble upon the BBC's version of Persuasion at the very beginning.


I love Jane Austen. Her books are funny and clever and her heroines are all delightful. There's Catherine Moreland, everyone's favorite nineteen year-old. (She actually tells the man she loves that she thinks his father killed his mother. Its hilarious, in a schadenfreude kind of way.), And, Emma, everyone's favorite matchmaker. Fanny Price, who is quiet and overlooked but his good and wonderful and in the end gets the guy. There's the Sisters Dashwood and let us not forget Elizabeth Bennett and her sisters.

And, there's Anne Elliot. Ah, Anne. This book is so wonderful and so painful. Anne Elliot is old for an unmarried woman of her time and this is made worse for her because she was once young and in love and her Father (and Godmother) didn't approve of the match. Her father and her older sister have been living outside of their means, and so they have to let their home in order to pay off their debts. And, who should rent it? But Admiral Croft, who is married to a woman who is the sister of her Beloved. Of course. He comes back into her life. He's kind of a dick about her rejection (because he is still bitter and maybe, just maybe has feelings for her). She obviously still cares for him. Its wonderful. You should it. I'm watching it.

September 04, 2008

Chickpea Salad

All of this week I've been having chick pea salad for lunch. Don't turn your nose up at me, its good. Or rather, the idea of it is good. There is something about my implementation of it this time around that is a bit off.


For example, I used to be able to get this magnificent feta in oil. I would mix the feta with a whole mess of vegetables (grape tomatoes, cucumber or zucchini, onions, and peppers) a hard boiled egg, the chick peas and maybe just a little bit of bacon. I would then add vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. It was always lovely. This time around, I couldn't find the feta and I decided to forgo the hard boiled egg. Without the feta, I didn't have the oil for a do-it-yourself vineagrette, so I bought a bottle of low-fat roasted red pepper salad dressing.

Yesterday, I had to break down and buy some (non-floating in tasty, tasty oil) feta to add to the salad. It livened things up a bit. Next time, however, I think I will stick to the plan and keep in the egg (and maybe just a small, small bit of bacon.)

September 03, 2008

Five Dollar Dinner

Every now and then, reasonable and learned grownups forget about the food pyramid and/or the food groups and feed themselves like they would have if they had been in charge of dinner at the age of five.


I have an example.


Tonight, my friend E and I took a break from studying and went to Aldi. Now, there is a secret to shopping at Aldi. You can't go with a list. You have to go with fuzzy categories of things that you need/want. Like, "Meat for two or three meals" or "fresh fruit for lunches." If you go with a list that reads "two apples, one ripe pear, six ounces of Orange Roughy", you will be disappointed. That is just the way it is.

So, we went to Aldi with the fuzzy category of "something to have to eat for dinner" (and, I needed some sort of hard, crumbly, preferably low fat cheese). And, what did we get? A bag a stir-fry vegetables (not bad),grapes (pretty good), macaroni and cheese (not bad, but also not good), a box of scalloped potato mix (again, not bad but not good), and some oatmeal craisin walnut cookie dough. While any combination of these things probably would make a lovely meal, it was probably unwise to eat them together. But, we did eat them together. We had a grape course, followed by a pasta course, followed by a potato course and rounded off by a cookie course.

While there is part of me that is tsk-tsking about having pasta and a potato in the same meal, my inner five-year old is happy as a kitten with a new ball of yarn. And, I have to tell you, it is hard to complain about life when your inner child is that happy.

September 02, 2008

Fresh Fruit is Problematic.

I have discovered that taking a number of snacks with you is advantageous if you are going to be gone all day. It doesn't matter where you are going, it is just a good idea to go prepared. And, one of my favorite things to snack on is fresh fruit. After you've eaten the piece of fruit you get a little sugar buzz, you're ready to go. (Plus, you're getting a whole mess of fiber and phytochemicals.) While there are some fruits that I find to be good a little under ripe, I've noticed that most fruit has about a forty-eight hour window in which it is perfectly ripe and entirely delectable.

However, this is problematic.


Traveling anywhere, even just to school, with a piece of perfectly ripe fruit is a recipe for disaster. Take the pear I had for lunch today. It was fine in the morning, lovely and firm and green with that lovely pear aroma wafting off of it. And, by lunch, it was a little bruised. Just imagine how it would have looked if I had kept it for a mid-afternoon snack. Its skin probably would have started to peel off where it had been bruised and that would have caused a sticky mess. I hate having to clean up sticky messes in my backpack.

So, while I was eating my pear today I brainstormed of ways to keep this from happening. The way that seems to be the easiest would be to put all future pieces of fresh fruit in its own tupperware container. But, that means that I'd have to carry around extra plastic all day. Perhaps I will try wrapping it in foil. While this won't stop the bruising, it will certainly help with the mess.

September 01, 2008

Suggested Writing

Last year, I participated in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) and this year they have done something different. For every month, in order to encourage people to post to their blogs, they have suggested topics for every month. For the most part they haven't been things that I have been interested in or it hasn't been feasible for me to post. (I'll admit it, sometimes I'm just lazy.)

For this month, the good people at NaBloPoMo have suggested two things. The first is to write about things that make you laugh. This is an excellent suggestion but it was nowhere near as intriguing as the second option for this month. The second option is "five dollar lunch". They suggest that you spend five dollars on lunch for the first twenty-one days of the month and then blog about what you've been spending your money on. Five dollars doesn't go as far you it used to, but there are a number of places that have been offering five dollar deals (must notably places like Subway and Quiznos. Or perhaps, those are just the places that I have heard commercials for.)

Here is the problem: I am on a budget. And, spending thirty-five dollars of my food budget on just lunch is more than I'm willing to spare. Or rather, more than I'm willing to spend. I'm going to be telling you about the creative and wonderful things that I'm putting together for under two dollars and forty cents. This is going to be interesting.