Saturday, April 30, 2011
Yesterday I bought a TV!! This is the first TV I have ever actually owned - the one I have now is just on loan from my sister. Her current roommate has a TV and they were using that one, but now she's moving into her own place and needs it back. But, this TV is definitely more along the lines of what I need... hers is pretty tiny which wouldn't be a problem except that Ben and I love watching foreign films and on such a little screen, we couldn't read the subtitles from the couch! So now I have a 42" Insignia Plasma TV which the dudes at Best Buy said is great for watching sports.
Tomorrow I'm having some friends over for brunch and to help address some wedding invitations. I haven't cooked anything in the new place yet (except oatmeal) and I'm pretty sure most of my measuring cups and spoons are still at the old place. The menu for tomorrow includes:
Red Lentil Soup (ala Heidi Swanson)
Fruit Salad (also ala Heidi Swanson, but from her new cookbook, Super Natural Every Day)
Bread (likely from Lucia's)
Brown Butter Bars (ala Deb) - I was going to do cupcakes for dessert, but the thought of frosting individual cakes with all of the unpacking/organizing/laundry I have to do in order to make my apartment remotely guest-ready sort of made me balk, so I opted instead for something I can just put in a single pan and cut up later. I don't think I will regret this decision.
I'm sorry these picture-less blogs are so boring. I will attempt to make this one more interesting by using pictures of rainbows and unicorns:
Which actually reminds me... finals are upon us (or at least upon me). If you're looking for a good way to procrastinate:
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I'm in my new place now, but most of my stuff is still in boxes everywhere. I moved everything myself except the large furniture, so packing and hauling carloads of boxes took up most of my time over the last week. I also had a night planned with my sister to have dinner and move two carloads last Tuesday... but then I discovered I had a flat tire so it ended up being like, half a carload.
Does that deserve an exclaimation point of excitement? Not sure.
We're entering the home stretch, but now all these projects are ramping up so I have to, like, work on stuff... so powerpoints are another thing that have been keeping me away.
Easter means holy week at church, which means lots and lots of choir obligations. We usually have rehearsals with orchestra, a Maundy Thursday service, a Good Friday service/concert where we performe a large work with orchestra (this year it was Faure's requiem), and two huuuuge services on Sunday. Easter is not subtle at my church - there are trumpets and lots of high notes
I'm also pretty sure the good folks at Bull Run coffee think I am homeless... I show up every day with my entire backpack and computer. But really it's jut because a) I don't have internet yet, and b) I haven't unpacked my coffee grinder. So they serve sort of a dual purpose. Plus they have great coffee and are pretty close to my new place.
Off to work I go!
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Professor: So what did Shell do that was unethical?
Classmate 1 (immediately): NOTHING.
Professor: So...wait what was that quote again.... the tragedy of the commons...something about good men....
Classmate 2: It's a tangent let's move on.
I can't think of anything to write so I'll let Rumi and Ghandi do it for me:
Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,there is a field. I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase "each other" doesn't make sense. Today like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down the musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.
(p.s. the quote the prof was trying to remember is from Thomas Paine: "The only thing required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing")
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I guess the answer is, I don't reconcile them. I think they are both interesting, so I read them both. I love thought experiments and reading material that challenges me to look at the world in new ways, so even though I don't fully agree with either viewpoint I want to hear what they have to say. Reading something is not the same as accepting it.
I'm not Christian (yes, I do sing in a church choir...yes this probably makes me weird...) but I do believe in God, or at least in a higher power. I have nothing against any one belief system but I feel like ascribing to a single religion suggests that I have the answer to an unanswerable question. Whatever spiritual power is out there in the world, I do not think we can ever truly know or understand it.
(In a related story, Ayn Rand hated agnosticism and referred to it as the "enshrinement of ignorance" or just plain cowardice... so obviously we don't see eye to eye on everything. I feel like you can believe very firmly that you do not and never will have the answers, and that belief is just as strong as any other.)
One of my favorite quotes on religion comes from Osho:
All words are just fingers pointing to the moon, but don’t accept the fingers as the moon. The moment you start clinging to the fingers – that’s where doctrines, cults, creeds, dogmas, are born – then you have missed the whole point. The fingers were not the point; the point was the moon.
Marcus Borg also discusses this quote in his book Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, which is one of the few books from college that I kept as a reference. Don't worry about which belief is right or wrong, or how to decide what to believe - just enjoy the beauty of life.
And if you didn't already know I was a huge giant nerd, now you do.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
4/8/2011, 10:30 AM- Further examination reveals all of my files and programs have been wiped and Windows is flashing something called a "critical hard drive error". I freak out.
4/8/2011, 10:40 AM - I realize that only the files and shortcuts from programs not currently running have been wiped, and luckily my itunes was running at the time of the incident. Heart attack averted.
4/8/2011, 11:35 AM - After making sure all of my music files are backed up on discs, I throw my defunct laptop in my backpack and drive to school to meet up with a first year student who wants tips on interviewing with my employer. I am 8 minutes late.
4/8/2011, 12:45 PM - After my meeting I head over to the laptop repair center with my sad little computer. The guy working there looks shockingly like Zac Efron from High School Musical but with shaggier hair and a much lower-cut shirt. The low-cut shirt weirds me out. I explain to Zac Efron that there is a virus on my computer which has wiped out everything since the dinosaurs, and then open up my computer to show him said virus and the weird "Windows Restore" malware program. "Oh yeah," he says. "You've got problems."
4/11/2011, 9:14 AM - I get a call from the repair center that my laptop is ready to be picked up. Oh joy! Unfortunately I don't have class on Monday and wasn't planning to be at school at all that day. It's been a rough weekend without my computer and I feel utterly usesless and unproductive, but I figure one more day won't hurt, and if I can make dinner plans with my parents maybe I can mooch off of their computer.
4/12/2011, 8:30 AM - I go to the laptop repair center again to retrieve my hopefully fixed computer. Zac Efron greets me and hands my my laptop. He explains that they ran a bunch of diagnostics on it and it looks like nothing was even wrong with it. I am skeptical. I sit down and open my computer to see if the malware is still running. It is.
"Hey," I say pointing to the screen. "Remember this virus thing that the whole reason I brought my laptop in in the first place? Yeah... it's still here."
Zac Efron scratches his head. "Huh. I have no idea how they missed that."
Yeah me either.
"Well, it looks like we're going to have to re-image your computer."
4/12/2011, 3:00 PM - After a few meetings in Burnsville for one of my school projects, I head back to campus and pick up my laptop. Good as new.
4/13/2011, 9:35 AM - I decide to get all clever and try to restore my files from dropbox. However, it turns out backing up on dropbox is not the same as backing up on an external hard drive - when you just drag and drop an entire folder into dropbox it only saves the .lnk shortcut, and not the whole folder. Also it turns out that if you foolishly decide to act like you know what you are doing when it comes to technology and attempt to convert the .lnk file into another type of file you can actually open, it will f up all of the .lnk shortcuts on your laptop and turn everything into an encrypted word file. Oops.
4/13/2011, 9:35 AM - After another short stint in the laptop repair center, sans Zac Efron, everything is fine. Never again will I attempt to fix something on my computer by myself. Never.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Also thank god for disc backup.
Monday, April 11, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
"Now it so happened that the moment when Luka shouted out in anger was one of those rare instants when by some inexplicable accident all the noises of the universe fall silent at the same time, the cars stop honking , the scooters stop phut-phuttering, the birds stop squaking in the trees, and everyone stops talking at once, and in that magical hush Luka's voice rang out like as clearly as a gunshot, and his words expanded until they filled the sky."... who doesn't know exactly what that feels like? :) If you love reading and nerdiness, and want to check out Rushdie I'd recommend starting with Shalimar... I think it's probably the most accessible while still giving a good introduction to Rushdie's style of magical realism. Midnight's Children, while also awesome, is so full of allusions and metaphors involving Indian politics and history that you'd pretty much have to read an entire textbook to really understand it...which I did not do.... and The Enchantress of Florence is lovely as well. I've been meaning to pick up The Satanic Verses, but I haven't had a) a large chunk of time, or b) a chance to read up on my muslim theology... I learned my lesson with Midnight's Children and knowing the subject matter of Verses I don't want to make the same mistake twice!
2) Organization!! Did I mention I'm in total denial about that whole moving thing? Yeah... over the last few days I've been busy re-arranging all my closets and cupboards. I love these glass door built-ins in my apartment... they give me motivation to keep my dishes neatly stacked :)
3) Helpful Books So as it turns out, there's like, a whole ceremony thing that goes along with the wedding? What's up with that? I'd been so busy planning the music and food for the reception (aka party time) that I completely neglected the actual part where we get married. Like, we have to say stuff to each other. And other people have to say stuff. Ack! Luckily, one of my yoga friends recommended this book to me:
Since our officiant(s) isn't planning the ceremony for us we're basically on our own - which is great because it means it will be more personal, but also scary because it means a lot more work for us. This book is great though, and it even has a section on co-officiated ceremonies. Hooray!
4) Things that smell like summer I pretty much can't get enough of anything that smells or tastes like a coconut. I also have a mild obsession with body products, and Pacifica is one of my favorite lines - they're quite committed to using natural ingredients, no animal testing, and no sulfates which are harsh on skin. So, when I saw this new scent at Sephora this weekend I had to snap it up. Here comes the sun (and hopefully warm weather...)!
Monday, April 4, 2011
Chocolate chippers seem to be somewhat polarizing and everyone has really specific preferences - some people like nuts, some people hate nuts. Some people like big chunks of chocolate, some prefer smaller chips. Some like them chewy, some like them crunchy. So obviously, my version of perfection might not be someone else's cup of tea at all, but it's nice to have a signiature. some of the tweaks I've made have been inspired by things other friends have done, some of them I made up on my own:
Cinnamon: During my freshman year of college, my friend Kristin brought chocolate chip cookies back to the dorm after one of our fall breaks. As soon as I bit into one, I noticed a subtle, unique and delicious flavor - I asked her what it was, and she said it was cinnamon! From that point on, cinnamon became a regular addition for me.
Milk Chocolate Chips: I even have brand loyalty on this one - always Guittard or Gihardelli. I'm not sure why, and I know using milk chocolate goes against every foodie trend in existence but I just like the flavor balance better with milk chocolate. Totally personal preference - but it has to be the good stuff, Nestle and Hershey's won't cut it!
Dark Brown Sugar: I discovered this purely by accident one day when I bought dark instead of golden brown sugar, figured it couldn't hurt and went ahead and made the cookies anyways. I am pretty convinced that dark brown sugar is the secret to awesome chocolate chip cookies - can't explain why, but it does something to the texture.
Silpat: No, this isn't really a recipe trick but if you're at all serious about cookies you need to have one of these. They're pretty critical for getting cookies to bake evenly, with that perfect crispy around the edges but soft in the middle thing going on. Unfortunately my silpat, while still perfectly usable, has a huge gash in it from being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting in the way of a Wusthof... which is why I registered for two more at Williams Sonoma. Buy them for us please. They're cheap (as wedding gifts go) and useful. Kthanks!
OK now about that recipe....
- RECIPE: MY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use dark brown) 2 eggs
- 2 and 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 and 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 tsp salt (sometimes I leave this out)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 bag (or slightly less than) high quality chocolate chips
- cinnamon (to taste... I just add enough until you can taste it but it isn't overwhelming)
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs and vanilla. Then add dry ingredients in 3 parts, stir to incorporate fully. Add chocolate chips and cinnamon and stir again. Spoon on to a baking sheet (with silpat or parchment), bake for about 10 minutes but keep in mind this will depend on the size of the cookies and how crappy your oven is...for example in my oven, it would take 10 minutes. In my parents oven god only knows, because it is posessed by demons. OK not really, it's just a terrible oven and I can't figure out the cooking times...whatever.... anyways I like them when they are just barely starting to brown around the edges and on the bottom... crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside ;)I bring these things everywhere - parties, potlucks, the student lounge, road trips, etc. They are my favorite... but like I said, everyone has their chocolate chip preferences, what are yours?
Sunday, April 3, 2011
As I was driving to my friend's house in St. Paul yesterday, I drove passed an old, beat up looking truck stalled in the middle of the intersection at Snelling and University, which is probably one of the busiest intersections in that area of town.
It took me a while to even make it up to the intersection, since everyone was trying to merge left to get around the stalled car, but once I was able to see what was going on I saw the truck, sitting sad and defunct on the north-ish side of University, being valiantly pushed out of the way by maybe the most random conglomoration of people I have ever seen - a petite middle-aged soccer mom, a black guy in his early twenties rocking the saggy pants/boxers look, two random hipster guys, along with probably three other people all pushing that truck with everything they had. It probably didn't help that what appeared to be either the muffler or part of the mechanics was dragging partially on the ground and it was definitely slow going, but you could see them strategizing and working together. These people probably had never even seen each other before that moment, but it gives me renewed faith in humanity that amidst all the increasing cynicism about human nature, random people on the street will still rally to help someone in need.
Friday, April 1, 2011
I feel like I have been living in a perpetual state of unpacking and re-packing my duffel bag.
Yesterday, I almost dropped my bus pass in the toilet.
I have not even begun to get ready for moving (this includes hiring movers).
I had soup and beer for dinner last night.
I haven't watered my plant in days... even as I sit here, I am looking at its droopy leaves and thinking "poor little guy... I should probably do something about that."
AND... someone broke a bottle of wine in the front entryway of my building and did not clean it up in a timely fashion. Now the whole stairway smells like wine. Obviously I have my suspicions.
Yet, amidst all this chaos (and laziness) there is order - I present to you... healthy fried rice! An oxymoron in terms, yet it exists here before your very eyes. I know I say this about...almost every recipe I post...but this is one of my favorites. If you're looking to wow your friends, beguile your enemies and impress important people with minimal effort and investment, look no further! It's amazing how a combination of such simple ingredients, thrown together in less than 30 minutes can produce such a delicious result.
This dish is based on a recipe from Ellie Krieger's So Easy cookbook (which is fantastic, by the way) for sesame ginger shrimp. My version contains asparagus and tofu but is otherwise basically the same as Ellie's recipe. The asparagus and tofu were what I had on hand, but you could really use any veggie/protein combo (or meat, or just veggies) as long as the volume is similar. This version of the recipe is vegan!
RECIPE: HEALTHY FRIED RICE WITH CABBAGE
- 1 Canola Oil
- 1/2 t red pepper flakes
- 1/2 lb extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2ish inch pieces
- 1/2 lb asparagus, cut into 1.5ish inch sections
- 4 Scallions (green and white parts) thinly sliced
- 1 T grated peeled or minced fresh ginger
- 5 Cups thinly sliced green cabbage (cut crosswise into 3 inch pieces)
- 1 T toasted sesame oil
- 4 Cups cold cooked brown rice
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 T toasted sesame seeds (you can buy them already toasted, or toast them yourself).
Heat the vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet/wok over high heat. Add asparagus, tofu, scallions, red pepper flakes and ginger and cook--stirring frequently until the asparagus is almost cooked and the tofu is starting to brown a little.
Add cabbage and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until it softens but is still a little crisp. Then add soy sauce and cook for another minute or so. Add the rice and sesme oil and cook, stirring until it's heated through (about 3 minutes). Add/stir in the sesame seeds and voila!
Ideally this should be made with rice that is already cold and probably a day or two old. You can make the rice at the same time as everything else, but if you make it this way don't add the rice to the rest of the dish while it is still in the skillet - add the sesame oil and sesame seeds to the cabbage mixture and serve that over the rice. Then, when you store it in the fridge mix everything together - you can re-heat it in a skillet and it will still be just like fried rice :)