Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the MAGNIFICENT ambersons

This is the book I am reading.* As of now, it's about as interesting as it's cover.

Ok. I'm being a hater.  The Magnificent Ambersons won the Pulizter Prize for literature in 1919, the second year of the award's existence. The book is one of a series of three (it is the middle book), but it doesn't read like that, thankfully, I was able to start and didn't feel like I was stepping in the middle of an epic.  The Magnificent Ambersons is a book, I think, that is about a post-Gilded age (~1900) "dynasty" of the (you guessed it....) Amberson family who reside in small-town Indiana (I gather the author modeled the town off of Indianapolis, where he is from... THANKS WIKIPEDIA!!)

So far, the Amberson heir, George Minafer, seems to be a bit of an ass, and has a mother with a past.  He is, as you would imagine, incredibly spoiled (by the aforementioned mother, and the rest of the town who lives in fear of the Amberson wrath), and the author hasn't given him ANY redeeming qualities.  Manipulative bastard.

Of course, the mother seems to have a story with the father of the new girl in town (and OF COURSE the new girl has caught the eye of the young George.)  I'm calling it right now that the new guy (Mr. Morgan) is really the true love of George's mom (I really should know her name by now) and that George's father is not really the brow-beaten shadow of a man named Mr. Minafer, but is Mr. Morgan. BA-BAM!

That being said, the book really isn't too difficult to read (my main fear), and perhaps it's because of books like these, which were obviously deemed good literature, are the reasons we have the stereotypical situations that I am so keen to hate on.  I'd like to think so.

*I am also attempting to read other books, but I'm not sure how long I'm going to be able to keep that up,  stay faithful to this resolution, AND satiate my internet t.v. addiction.  Right now I am reading an e-book copy of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which truly has been delightful.  I have two Stephen King books checked out now, after my SUPER experience with 11/22/63, but It and Under the Dome   will (probably won't) get read.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Alright, so I can't figure out how to change the title of this thing, so for now, this will have the title of a cooking blog.  And that's fine, and is something I plan to continue, however, my goals for this space have widened in scope from simply cooking.  Like the rest of America (and perhaps the world) today is a day for the making (and within a week, breaking) resolutions for this new slate of a year.  I'm not overly pessimistic at heart, however, since I'm not a very dedicated person either, I've never had a propensity to even make New Years Resolutions, much less keep them for more than a day or two.  This year, however, I think I've stumbled upon some goals that I'm excited about (attempting!) to maintain.  First of all, I think what I have chosen is not only concrete, but also they are goals I can measure and catch-up with, if need be.

1.) I want to read all the Pulitzer Prize winners (in the literature-fiction category.) Here's a copy of the list (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize_for_Fiction), my one caveat is that I will only be reading books present in my local library system so I can not only have easy access to them, but so that the completion of this goal is not fiscally daunting, and so I can recommend books to patrons!  I am starting with The Magnificent Ambersons (winner for 1919, the 1918 winner is not held by the library... yay?) I will correct my math for accuracy soon, however, I believe that I have about a week to read each book.  I will read at least 1 hour per day per book, and will only continue to the next book after the allotted time (1 week, 1 hour per day) has been exhausted.  I will be re-reading the books that I have read previously, and if I have a copy of the book, I will be reading my personal copy.

2.)  I want to drink (at least) an 8oz glass of water every day.  I do not at this time.  I want to change my default settings, from drinking "anything but water" to actually considering water a viable (and legit) choice!

3.) I am going to try to re-create a new (and optimally, healthy) recipe each week.  I believe (I haven't been keeping track, though) that I am doing this already, however, I want a log of what I try, what techniques succeed, which fail, and what ingredients I tend to use more than others.

I'll probably post here more often in the beginning of this year, however, I really want to keep up with this.  I've never been a diary/journal/ blog person and I think it's a very admirable habit, something I need to become adapted to.  It takes 21 days to make a habit, right? Here's day 1!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

faux fried eggplant!!

Sorry it's been a hot minute since I've posted- things have been hectic!  I started working full-time at one of my internships (FOR MONEY!), I graduate this week, and I was offered a real library job! I have been waging an ongoing war against pests in my apartment (they are strong, but I will prevail!!) During all this, however, I always have time to make dinners!  This week I made little eggplant kinda pizzas??! I used the basil I was going to make pesto with, but I don't have a food processor, so pesto seemed a little impossible for now. 

Eggplant Pizzas!!!

1/2 eggplant, peeled
Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup egg substitute (egg whites or regular eggs, beaten, would work as well) 
Pesto sauce (or regular pizza or spaghetti sauce would work finnnne)
Mozzarella cheese 
Basil Leaves 
Cooking spray 

Pre-heat oven to 350. Cut eggplant into circles about 1/4 of an inch thick.  Dip eggplant circles in egg mixture, and then coat with panko breadcrumbs. Set prepared rounds on a cookie sheet. When all eggplant you care to use has been prepared, put in preheated oven. Spray with the cooking spray.  After 10 minutes, flip eggplant rounds.  After flipping, put about 1 tbsp of sauce on the upward-facing side of the eggplant, as well as  1-2 basil leaves, and the cheese.  Leave in oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until cheese is browning. Take out of oven and let cool.  EATTTTTT!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Shepherd's Pizzzzzie

I love warm, satisfying foods.  It's one of my (many) epicurean downfalls.  I love corned beef & cabbage, New England clam chowder, baked spaghetti, etc etc etc x 1,000,000.  When I was a kid, my sweet tooth was my biggest issue.  Bean and I used to sneak candy all the damn time. Now, though, it seems like perhaps my taste buds have matured, and while I love a good cookie or piece of pie every now & again, savory, and consequently, calorie & fat laden, foods are my faves.  This recipe was from a few days ago, and I loved it a lot.  I definitely will make it again! If you try anything I've made here, this would be the one I would recommend first, it's easy and really tasty!

Veggie and Ground Turkey-filled Shepherd's Pie

1 pound 99% fat free ground turkey
1 pack instant mashed potatoes
1 can mixed vegetables
Any other vegetables that you might desire, I added asparagus, yellow squash, and onions
1 tsp olive oil 
2 tbsps margarine (for the potatoes, if the package calls for it) 

Thaw ground turkey. Heat olive oil in skillet and start sautéing any fresh vegetables you are adding to the dish.  While vegetables are still al dente, add ground turkey, break up turkey with back of spoon and cover. While turkey is browning, prepare mashed potatoes according to directions on package.  When turkey and vegetables are cooked, drain and deposit turkey & vegetables into a glass 8 x8 baking dish.  Let mixture cool slightly, then dollop mashed potatoes on top of the turkey & vegetables making sure the potatoes cover the entire top of the dish.  Bake in preheated oven on 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until the mashed potatoes have browned on top.  Enjoy!

The good thing about this recipe is that it will last for a few meals, and I promise that it really doesn't get boring!

Monday, April 11, 2011


Today, I decided to forego work, because, why not? I was looking for a nice lunch, different from what I usually have, but something which could last for dinner as well.  During my thinking party, I remembered a tuna pasta thing that my mom used to make for us after church on Sundays.  Her version included fusili (curly) pasta, tuna fish, cheese, and mayonnaise.  Of course, since it is my mother, it wasn't all that bad for you, but I decided to make a more adult version of this filling and satisfying lunch.

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 can chunk light tuna, packed in water
1.5 cups whole wheat pasta, uncooked
2 tbsps mayonnaise, light
2 tsps dijonnaise
Various veggies (I used some pre-cut ones I had around, including carrots, peppers (red and green), red onions, squash)
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 dash powdered garlic seasoning
1 dash sea salt 

Bring water to boil, and throw in pasta, boil until cooked, approx. 10 minutes.  Drain tuna, and scoop it out of can into a mixing bowl.  When pasta is complete, drain (I didn't wash it off post-drain.) Stir together pasta and tuna with mayonnaise, dijonnaise, vegetables, feta, salt, and garlic.  Season further to taste!  

Tip: You could use regular or honey mustard in place of the dijonnaise.  The vegetables could definitely be changed, or omitted altogether depending upon the contents of your fridge!  I like using the whole wheat pasta, but you could use bow-tie, angel hair, or any variant!  Any type of tuna/ canned meat (can salmon, for example) would be great!  

Saturday, April 9, 2011


So, apparently my science education was lacking as a child, because I never made ice cream!  Everyone who I've talked to has done that little experiment in school where they take rock salt, ice, heavy cream, whipping cream, sugar, vanilla, and either coffee cans or bags, and made ice cream! I have never, until today, indulged in this homemade version of the treat!  NEVERMORE, I made it today while watching TV and I'm not sure if I'll get real ice cream again.  I think I'm going to experiment with using different, more health conscious, versions of the high fat/calorie laden creams and then freezing so maybe it becomes a kind of ice-milk? Maybe thawed cool whip? Even full fat milk is, comparatively, more healthy than the disastrous heavy whipping cream.

Some ideas for add-ins.  I wonder if you put chia seeds in at the beginning, pre-freezing, if they would expand in the mixture? They would add a nice crunch to the cream.  Crumbled low-fat chocolate cookies, some honey, cacao nibs, graham crackers, raisins (oddly enough, I like cold raisins a lot), chocolate/caramel syrup, fresh blueberries, granola/kashi cereal....I could go on and onnnnn.

Homemade Vanilla Ice-Cream
Adapted from Ice cream in a bag!

1 cup heavy whipping cream 
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups rock salt
Bag of ice
2 sandwich bags
1 gallon bag

Directions: Fill one sandwich bag with creams and sugar, seal tightly and try to get as much air out as possible, then put the filled sandwich bag into the empty sandwich bag and seal.  Pack ice and salt around bag of ingredients within gallon bag. Seal gallon bag tightly.  I put the full gallon bag in a towel and then just rolled it around for 5-10 minutes, and I refilled it with ice once at the halfway mark.  Once it looks of an ice cream-y consistency, take bag of ice cream out of gallon bag and then out of the sandwich bag.  Then, put the vanilla into the finished product, at that time add any add-ins you wish. I split it into two servings, and put the remaining serving in the freezer.  It was like a very soft soft serve, so good!

Note: Land-O-Lakes had a fat-free half-and-half that I hesitated to get because it was my first time with this recipe, next time I'm going to get that, and then see if there's anyway to get a lower fat-filled heavy cream substitute, but for now it's a pretty decadent treat, but it was much needed after a stressful week!  

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nature's greatest veggie?

I love squash. I have only recently discovered this love, but it is enduring, and will be with me forever.   That was depressing.

Anyways, squash is great, and I only recently discovered a new variety...ACORN! For acorn squash, moreso than butternut, or even spaghetti, the name directly refers to its shape.  It looks just like a big green acorn, with some orange streaks throughout.  My mother is the one who introduced me to the squash, and we got some at the vegetable market right before I left a couple weeks ago.  I've been longing for a new, warm, dessert that I don't have to budget for all day long.  Unfortunately, acorn squash is more like a sweet potato and would be a very good side for a dark meat, like a tuna steak or prime rib.  Paula's acorn squash (with butter of course) is the recipe I followed, I did make a few changes though.  I used a water bath like I use for the spaghetti squash, substituted one of the tablespoons of brown sugar for a sugar substitute, and added cinnamon.

Yummers Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, halved
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp splenda (or another low-calorie sweetener)
1 tsp cinnamon/ more if you like the taste
2 tbsp margarine
2 tbsp syrup (I don't have maple, so I just used regular pancake syrup)

Preheat oven to 400.  While oven is preheating, cut squash in half carefully and dispose of seeds and stringy insides (I like to scrape them out with a spoon.)   Then, mix together margarine, sugars, syrup and a dash of salt and pepper.  Spread mixture on both halves of squash and then put squash into water bath, squash side up.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until squash is tender to the touch.  Take squash out, let rest, and enjoy! 

I probably could have made this a little more dessert-y by scooping out the insides and putting in some granola and topping with a dollop of cool whip or something like that.   How delicious does that picture look though! Even on my shitty camera phone!