Monday, February 28, 2011

Bloody Lord Mayor's Dinner

A feast, for no particular reason. 

Steak and potatoes with mushrooms, sauteed with shallots, sherry, and lots of parsley. With sides of brussels sprouts and swiss chard.

Sunday's dinner was a giant feast, requiring more space on the stove than we have. Who knew cooking for two required so many pots and pans? It was worth it, though. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pleasant Valley Breakfast

Up first: sliced pear and melon. Treating food as abstract art is the perfect antidote to physics homework. 

Next, a fried egg sandwich with pita and lettuce. I will never tire of pictures of these eggs.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Cheesecakeless Factory

Three cheers for the end of ISSMA! I woke up at 5:30 this morning to catch the school bus to Indy for State ISSMA. In the world of excellent timing, my events were scheduled for 9:00, 9:50, and 3:10, so I spent the entire day there for just a few minutes of playing. It was torturous, but I suppose I should say that it is all worth it, because now it's done forever.

Maybe I'm abnormal, but sitting in a gym with hundreds of teenage violinists practicing at the same time is not my idea of a good way to spend five hours. In my long break between my solo and my large ensemble, I escaped the middle school gym, with much thanks to Haesun Park. Mrs. Park took Christopher and me to lunch and Borders to fill some of our time.

I had never been to The Cheesecake Factory before, but now I can say from experience that their burgers are awesome. I had one with cheese and grilled mushrooms and onions with sweet potato fries. It was excellent. Maybe a little too cheesy, but I'm not a huge melted cheese person. And remember that for me to deem excellent a lunch consisting of a hamburger and fries when there is no ketchup in sight is unprecedented. In addition to the meaty goodness of the hamburger, I appreciated the appearance of the food. The cup for the fries was a very nice touch, and Mrs. Park's luau salad was just gorgeous. Thank you so much, Mrs. Park, for rescuing me and making me family for a few hours!

P.S. Remember my solo in the WVYS concert last weekend? My awesome dad not only flew in to see it (and my stepmom and sister and grandmother, too, so a big thank you to all four of you! I love you!) but he also video taped it and posted it online. Thank you, Daddy! So in case anyone here loves classical music as much as food and wasn't in town to see my concert in person, watch me play Haydn's Cello Concerto in C major! You'll have to excuse the little fumbles due to nerves, but overall, I'm very proud. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

I rarely bother to type out recipes here, but today I will. The main reason is just that I really really like this cookie recipe and I think you will, too! 

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from 500 Cookies by Philippa Vanstone)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 stick butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (half each semisweet and white, or all one kind)

Preheat the oven to 350. 
Mix together first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Add the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Dollop the dough onto a baking sheet (or if you want to save the dough for later, roll the dough into a log 1.25 in thick, wrap in foil, refrigerate, then cut into .25 inch slices when you are ready to bake).
Bake for 12 minutes.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Olive Oil + Balsamic

At New Year's, my grandmother gave me a beautiful bottle of balsamic vinegar glaze from her most recent trip to Italy. I was paralyzed with excitement over what to drizzle it over first. Steak? Asparagus?  I finally decided upon something so perfect that I took the plunge and uncorked my pretty little bottle this evening. 

The inspiration, of course, was Jeni's. With a pint of the divine olive oil ice cream in the freezer, I dreamed of salad dressing for dessert. Olive oil and balsamic cuddle happily on my salads all year long, so why don't they meet at dessert, too? Here is my result: rich olive oil and pumpkin seed ice cream with tart balsamic glaze. 

Don't ask me how many white bowls are sitting by the sink smudged with balsamic glaze... 


This weekend's was quite possibly the most stressful I've ever had, but in the end, it was a smashing success. And I have a plaque and many bouquets of flowers to prove it.

Chicken and rice and carrots and zucchini and squash and onions (which are the best part) to celebrate the fact that I'M GOING TO DALLAS.

When my mom mentioned that Noam might bring Jeni's, I requested the olive oil with sea-salted pepitas, since it is my favorite. He also brought Kir sorbet, with an intense raspberry and currant flavor. I was surprised at how well the two go together. The sorbet has a light, almost foamy texture as it melts, and the olive oil ice cream is smooth and dense, complimenting each other perfectly.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Morning Sun Is Shining

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I've been a little crazy, but I think the worst is over and within a few days life will be calm as usual.

In eight hours, I'll be almost in Indianapolis at Congress districts, which will determine whether I (and Alex and Neha and others) go to Nationals this summer. It's unbelievable that this is my very last Saturday debate meet, my last early morning bus ride. No matter the result from tomorrow, I've had so much fun and learned so much over these past three years. I'll never forget the friends I've made.

I'll barely have time to get over debate before I'll have to wake up Sunday for even more stressful. I'm playing a solo with the Wabash Valley Youth Symphony in our second concert of the year. (If anyone in the area is reading this who I haven't yet pestered about attending the concert, come to my concert! It's going to be a great concert, plus it's free and there's a reception after. 7pm at the Long Center!) I'm equally nervous for messing up the memorization of my concerto and for tripping over my dress as I walk on stage. To make matters worse, my first finger has been the victim of a vicious crack. When it's not wrapped tightly in band-aids and tape to make playing cello possible, I'm keeping it smeared with bag balm and covered with a white glove, channeling my inner Michael Jackson. Hopefully, I'll be able to avoid wearing a band-aid on stage, because I don't think it'll really go with the rest of my outfit.

Okay, enough with the status update, and on to food. Tonight was the second day in a row of Basil Thai take out, because my mom is sick and there's nothing like tom yum for sick people. The hot and spicy broth clears away anything that ails you. Yesterday, I had chicken satay, and today was yum woon sen. Yum. (No pun intended.)

I need to work either on my left-handed camera skills or my left-handed chopstick skills. 

I love getting the tom yum noodle soup as take out. The soup is perfectly compartmentalized with the soup and meat together in a separate container, the bean sprouts hidden beneath the garlic-topped noodles, and the cilantro and peanut garnishes each in a distinct spot. It's so simple and tidy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

For My Single Ladies

I'm not a Valentine's Day hater, one of those Singles Awareness Day types. I don't believe that you need a significant other to celebrate what Valentine's day is truly about: love, chocolate, and the color pink. This year, I gathered my single, female friends to have a single girls party. This wasn't a singles mixer to meet new people or a lonely heart party to cry about our loneliness. We got together to celebrate our friendships with cute dresses, good music, and vast quantities of chocolate. When I started planning the party, one of my first thoughts was about what I could possibly make. I knew it had to be chocolate and I knew it should be pink. Here is what I came up with: fabulous pink chocolate Valentine's Day fudge!

After a girl in my speech class gave a speech about how to make fudge in the microwave, I knew I would be making fudge soon. 

Her recipe is shockingly easy. Melt 3 cups of chocolate chips with half a stick of butter and a can of sweetened condensed milk in the microwave, stir, and refrigerate. Nothing could be easier. 

I bought some raspberry extract and white chocolate to make some sort of topping. I was originally intending to make a thick white chocolate ganache... but that didn't really work out. In the end, it was fairly liquid, like icing or a thick glaze. 

Splattering red food coloring is fun. 

I used white and dark chocolate to make a cute plaid pattern on the top, then put them in mini-cupcake papers covered with white and red hearts. So cute!

In the end, I think that they looked far better than they tasted, to be honest. I didn't like the topping, although I loved the color. The fudge was definitely good, but I wouldn't call it great. It had mixed reviews: my friends liked it, my mom did not. But even if it wasn't perfect, I still think it was perfect for the occasion. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chamber Music and Pizza

This afternoon, I participated in a chamber music concert of high school ensembles that was arranged by the Tippecanoe Chamber Music Society. I enjoyed listening to the other groups because we get so little exposure to music by our peers at other high schools. The two brass ensembles were especially enjoyable because I don't get many chances to hear good band music, and I'm afraid it's making me a bit of an orchestra snob. I think I just need to hear more wind and brass music to appreciate it more.

Afterwards, there was supposed to be a reception with pizza, but the pizza was running late (or the concert ended early). Many people had to leave before the pizza arrived, so for those of us who stayed, instead of handing out slices of pizza, they just handed out pizza boxes. Never turn down free pizza. My mom took one box that she, Noam, and I devoured when we got home, and I grabbed another box that I'm going to bring to Jenny's tonight for our Sgt. Pepper party. Get excited for pictures of that. I made something insanely sweet, sticky, pink, and plaid.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Who, me? Complaining?

Just when I thought the world would end without any crispy crunching, I realized that I have nothing to complain about. As long as my mother is taking care of me, the soft foods I'm eating are just as delicious as anything crunchy. No complaints when I've got homemade applesauce and two flavorful and healthy soups!

Gypsy soup with sweet potatoes, celery, bell peppers, onions, chickpeas, tomatoes, and lots of spices. This filling vegetarian soup was packed with vegetables just soft enough to smush carefully on the good side of my mouth without disturbing my stitches.

Black bean soup packed with colorful carrots and a citrusy punch. I can't say I'm a huge fan of beans in general, but I love this soup. 

Fresh applesauce with heavy cream and cinnamon. Cream turns something healthy and nutritious into the perfect indulgence.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

R.I.P. Real Food

Ah, how I miss you, toast. The last food I ate before the doctor decided to dig around in my gums for fun.

After the State debate tournament this weekend, I was pretty wiped out, so please excuse my absence. Yesterday, I thought that I was ready to come back and cook or bake something new, but then I remembered about my oral surgery appointment today... so no real food for me. All I've eaten today (after breakfast) is mashed banana and a smoothie. My very excellent mother made me applesauce and soup though, so I'm looking forward to another day of soft foods and ice packs. 

I have the weirdest teeth in the world. Good thing there's a delicious strawberry peach smoothie there to make this picture more attractive.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Snow... rain... sleet... hail... more snow... over the past 24 hours we've had every type of winter weather. Maybe in this neck of the woods the snow hasn't achieved the depths that it has elsewhere, but our little blizzard is enough for me. Our school corporation with a reputation of never closing even in the most severe storms has quaked in the path of the snowpocalypse. No school today and no school tomorrow! 

I woke up late this morning and made blueberry pancakes with my mom before heading to Alex's in my pajamas for a Congress meeting. It was a very relaxing day over all, though I probably should have gotten more done.  State debate is this weekend (weather permitting), and it's shocking how many folders remain empty. Good thing I have another snow day lined up tomorrow to work.