Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Prelims are Over!

As of 2:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday, Prelims have been finished. It was a long, exhausting week, filled with constructued sociological terms, such as "gendered" "embodied" "medicalization" and "hegemony", but I've come out on the otherside of it in one piece. My brain does feel a bit like jelly, but I can't figure out if that's because of the intense last two weeks of writing or the intense last two days of drinking in celebration.
prelim celebration 001
I made Alison pose for this picture, she protested, but it was useless. I needed to capture the moment when we officially turned our work in to the graduate secretary. And that's a lollipop in her mouth, not a cigarette.
prelim celebration 027
Then we hit the bar.
prelim celebration 018
And another bar...
prelim celebration 029
We laughed.
prelim celebration 030
And really, what am I doing with that little cup?

Good times were had by all. Hopefully, upon news of my passing, there will be more debauchery.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Cheese and Dessert

Recently, I had someone over for dinner I was trying to impress. Not necessarily impress with my cooking, but I definitely wanted this person to think something like "wow" when they remembered dinner at my house. I opened with a cheese plate:
cheese plate
My favorite environmentally sustainable bamboo plate filled with goodies! A white peach, toasted walnuts, grapes, Edam, olives, black pepper crackers, herbed crostini, and some saga blue cheese.

We had pasta with portabello mushrooms, baby arugala, tomatoes and mozzarella for dinner, but I didn't take a picture! Too excited.
Strawberry apple crisp
Earlier in the day I'd made dessert and baked it so that I would just have to put it back in the over for 10 minutes so it would warm up. This is my strawberry-peach-apple crisp.

Filling:

3 apples, peeled, sliced
one large container of strawberries, hulled, cut in half
one white peach (I only used this because I had it leftover from the cheese plate) sliced, I left the skin on because whit peaches don't have as much fuzz.
3 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of flour
Juice of one lemon and some zest
vanilla extract

Mix these ingredients together and place in a buttered 13X9 glass dish.

Topping:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds (you can used whatever nut you like)
1/4 cup oats

Crumble together until all flour and brown sugar are moistened. Sprinkle mixture over fruit layer. Bake for about 45 minutes at 350. Serve warm with ice cream!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The most recent addition to the 884 collective is Jamie. Jamie has been friends with Alison since like, forever. And we were happy to have her join us after Andy departed the middle room.
Jamie and e
Here I am, pictured with Jamie. I don't know what is wrong with my hair, but there is certainly something wrong with it. I also have eyes like I've been drinking for hours, but I swear I had only two beers. Anyway. This is our new roommate and she just had a birthday!
action
Jamie is a bit of a picky eater. In the weeks she's lived here, I've been trying to piece together her eating habits into something that makes sense. Here's what I have so far, nothing green. We took her to Toccanelli's for her birthday. Toccanelli's is by far the best pizza in the city, and you can read my previous post on it here. This is the plain pie, Jamie's favorite. So amazing, you should come to Philly and visit me and I will surely take you here for your mouth to be dazzled.
white with spinach and tomato
Unfortunately for Jamie, and despite the fact that it was her birthday, we got two pizzas that had stuff all over them. This is the white pie (i.e. no red sauce) with spinach and tomato. As a commenter on Flickr noted, "This pizza looks amazing, but the beer selection needs improvement" and how true they are. All I'm saying is I didn't pick up the beer.
sausage and mushroom
We also ordered a red pie with sausage and mushrooms. This pizza was very tasty, but it was almost too much topping for the delicate and thin crust.
plain white
Finally, we ordered a plain white pie. This basically is just the great Toccanelli's dough with garlic and olive oil and maybe a little cheese. If you were counting, we ordered 4 pizzas for 5 girls, so of course we had more than whole pizza left over and took it home to eat later.

Jamie then went to her parent's house in New Jersey for some homemade lasagna of which she brought leftovers home. However, I can't take anytime to talk about the lasagna because the cake she brought home deserves all my attention.
Hoho cake box
I had no idea what wonders were lying beneath this gold seal and white cardboard, but as soon as we took it out of the box, I knew it was going to be good.
Hoho cake
It was like a GIANT Ho Ho! Oh my stars (I have never said that before, but it seems appropriate, so I'm leaving it)! This cake was a huge replica of those snack cakes we loved as kids, only better. Not just better because it was bigger, but better because the very center held a treasure of chocolate cream, and the chocolate topping was spiked with some sort of liqueur to make it suitable for grown up palates.
cake 2
Here is a slice that does a better job of showing the details. I could not stop thinking about this cake after I ate it, and was impressed with it so much that I'm glad I live nowhere near the bakery so as to make purchasing one very troublesome. I would be in grave danger were this bakery down the street from me.

For those of you that want to experience this cake for yourself, which you should, because it's the closest thing to Nirvana in a baked good, you're going to have to travel to NJ.

McMillan's Bakery
15 Haddon Avenue
Westmont, NJ 08108
856.854.3094

Monday, October 09, 2006

It was cold and rainy at the end of last week, and I had canned soup two nights in a row. Now, some canned soup is excellent, but there is nothing like homemade soup, so after doing a mini lit review of white bean soup recipes, I came up with a little something that looks like this:

soup

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Italian bulk hot sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
fresh oregano (but I only really used it because I had it in the fridge)
2 cans white beans, drained
Salt and pepper
4 cups chopped broccoli rabe and greens
1/2 cup white wine (if you have it)
2 quarts chicken stock
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Romano

Cook the sausage until browned in an oiled pan. Add onions, carrot, garlic, potato and bay leaf and 1 can plus half of the other can of beans (mash the other half can of beans with a fork, and then add to the pot). Stir. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 mins. When veggies are slightly tender, add the wine. Cut the broccoli rabe into ribbons and add to the pot, stir to wilt. Add the chicken stock and raise heat to bring soup to a boil. Cook for at least 25 minutes. Serve with grated cheese and some sort of bread to dip.

soup and grilled cheese

I used grilled cheese with tomato as my soup accompaniment. Italian white bread, provolone cheese and roma tomatoes with a little basil. The soup was really amazing. Next time I'd add more red pepper flake to give it more kick. It was the perfect consistency to make you warm and fill you up. And it's a really easy soup to make in about an hour.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Three of my good friends,Mindy, Jamie and Marissa (picture below), participated in the 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer this weekend.
breast avengers 3
I wanted to make them some treats to have along the way and to keep up their energy. Jamie is a picky eater, but everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, so kept it simple and made the very best chocolate chip cookie for my friends.
chocolate chip cookies
The recipe is simple, you mix the ingredients, chill for an hour and spoon on to sheets.

1 stick of butter, softened,
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

You don't even need an electric mixer to do this, I just made sure my butter was very soft before I started and just used a wooden spoon. Cream the butter with the sugars, add the egg and vanilla and stir, don't overmix it. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Stir till just combined and fold in the chocolate chips. I would normally put nuts in them, but I know nuts aren't everyone's thing, so I left them really classic; sans nuts.

At 350 degrees, it took about 8 minutes to bake a single silicon mat lined tray of 12 cookies. Let them sit on the sheet for a minute and carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

cookie closeup

This recipe produces a sort of flat, but deliciously chewy and buttery sweet transport for the rich chocolate chips. Makes about 3 dozen.