Monday, December 17, 2012

Contemplate Your Toenails

Finals are finally over! Yay! Now, I get a month off.  My month off is desperately needed and much appreciated.  I need this time to find me again.  Somewhere between cramming for tests and running to classes and activities, I lost the part of myself that is whimsical, creative, and very non-scholastic.  The part of me that likes to read and browse blogs for hours, that likes to make collages from inspiring magazine pictures, for no other reason than because it feeds my spirit.  The part of me that likes to take slow walks, thinking about absolutely nothing.  This part of me was swallowed up by my 18 hour course load.  But, for the next four weeks, my textbooks are no longer my bible anymore. And It is time to get the non-academic me back!

As I was flying home from college, I sat next to two cute, old ladies who really clicked and started talking.  They, coincidentally, worked in the same field, and started reminiscing about how much hard work and long hours they put in to build their careers.  One lady mentioned that she feels so much more productive when she has time off from work to think, and that taking time to walk in the backyard or pet her cat helps her think of innovative ideas for her work.  She said, “As my momma puts it, sometimes you just need time to contemplate your toenails.”   

Yes, yes, I thought: that would be me! I want to do nothing but contemplate my toenails for the next month! I am exaggerating, slightly, but you get the idea.  And my contemplation, the type of contemplation where I can completely bliss out and feel at ease in life, comes when I am cooking.  

So, let the cooking begin! I just got home last night, and, let me tell you, I am already on a roll.   The first stop after the airport was the natural grocers, of course! I cannot express how filled with gratitude I was to walk into a store with so many different varieties of produce and organic food, after going a whole semester with very limited options. I seriously took that for granted before college.   My co-op is amazing and I am so blessed and grateful that they have agreed to deliver to my college, but there are only so many choices the co-op can offer; plus the amount of baking I actually have the time and cooking supplies to do in college is very limited.  
Japanese sweet potato fries
Suddenly, all of the memories I had - of late night studying with unhealthy popcorn and chips from the college convenience store - all washed away as I ate homemade comfort food: Japanese sweet potato fries, and Lima bean soup.  I never knew how much it would mean to me to cook food  from a real  kitchen, as opposed to bending underneath my lofted bed, trying to prepare all of my food on top of my dorm room desk.  I never knew how much it would mean to me to be so blessed to be able to cook food from home, from scratch.  Home, is a wonderful place to be.  

Lima beans, soaked overnight and cooked in a crock pot, with a bit of balsamic vinegar. 
Wish me luck as I embark on my four week journey of contemplating my toenails and, of course, cooking.  I hope all of you have time to contemplate your toenails during this busy time of year.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chocolate Sweet Potatoe Fries with Chocolate Honey Dipping Sauce

Finals are cruelly approaching.  Only 2 more weeks left, and then imma out of here! But in the meantime, there is always chocolate.  Dear chocolate, thank you.  Thank you for so many things.  Thank you for being that last calming nudge I need to help me get down and dirty with my philosophy paper and actually write it....

Thank you for reminding me of cold nights next to the fireplace, reading, with a warm cup of hot chocolate in my hands.  Reminding me of those times I carried a whole bar of your wonderful deliciousness in my ski jacket pocket, and discreetly nibbled you away on chair lift rides so no one would be able to steal you away from me. 

Oh, chocolate, you have been with me through thick and thin.  We are not quite to the holiday chocolate shenanigans YET, but in the meantime, thank you for giving me solace in the form of chocolate sweet potato fries. 

What's that you ask? Can chocolate and sweet potatoes really go together? YES. Yes they can, and in times like these my friends, they must.  And they do so beautifully.  The dipping sauce is optional, although I would highly encourage it.  However, if you are a tired and stressed college student cramming for finals like me, then you are in dire need of chocolate's wonderful blissing out qualities, and the dipping sauce is a must. Stay sane my friends, and remember, chocolate is always there for you.

Chocolate Sweet Potato Fries and Dipping Sauce 

Sweet Potato Fries: 
1. One sweet potato
2. One tablespoon olive oil
3. One tablespoon cacao powder

Chocolate and Honey dipping sauce:  
1. Two tablespoons honey
2.  One tablespoon cacao powder
3.  Dash of water

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Slice the sweet potato into thick slices.  Coat them with the olive oil and cacao powder and bake for about 40 minutes.  In a small bowl beat together with a fork the honey, water, and cacao powder.  Add salt to taste. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

the last supper

 I wrote this blog post the night before I left for Thanksgiving:

Tonight is my final night at college before I travel back home for Thanksgiving.  My treat to myself for making it through the semester thus far is to prepare a special meal for my final night, the last supper....
No homework immediately due, no club meetings, just me and my never ending desire to eat yummy food.  Ahhh. 

The only food I have left from my co-op delivery is three humble sweet potatoes.  At first I was skeptical for tonight's it really possible to make a meal out of only sweet potatoes?  Then, while I was in my French lab supposedly listening to my French audio, the wonderful Orangette blog kept beckoning to me.  In between frantically trying to memorize the conjugations of avoir, Molly Wizenberg's blog post about hasselback potatoes gave me a type of solace.  The end of the semester would soon draw French class to an end, but a good hasselback potato, that is timeless....

It's true though!  The hasselback potato is a timeless classic that originated in Sweden in the 1700s at a restaurant called Hasselbacken.  These lovely potatoes display a fancy accordion cut with olive oil and garlic glistening in between their crevices. 

I thought I would give hasselback potatoes a healthy twist by using sweet potatoes instead, as they are literally the only food I have left in my dorm room.  Yay for vitamin A!

Hasselback Sweet Potatoes: 
  1. Three sweet potatoes 
  2. Three cloves garlic 
  3. Olive oil 
Cut the sweet potatoes thinly without cutting all the way through the bottom.  Mince garlic and place into the crevices of the sweet potatoes.  Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes to an hour.  The inside should be soft and mushy and the outside should be crisp. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kale and Beets are a Sweet Treat

KALE AND I NEED TO CROSS PATHS MORE OFTEN.  We have spent way too long apart. Seriously. My food from the co-op came on Wednesday, but because of classes I haven't had time to really cook.  Unless you count shoving almonds into my mouth in between classes, which I don't. But because it is a Saturday I do not have to be frantically scampering off to classes, yippee!  Even better, it is a football Saturday! This means the basement in my resident hall will be completely empty for me to use the communal kitchen.  I can blast Nora Jones from my laptop while I'm cooking; it will be just like I am home....kind of.  I suppose I know I am a foodie when I would rather be cooking by myself in a basement than going to football games.  But that would mean eating hotdogs from one of those sketchy stands...eww!

From the co-op this week I received beautiful Russian Kale and lots of beets so...I'm gonna roast them!

I roasted the beets and Kale with a pan that my dad shipped to me.

What a lovely gesture! This pan is getting more use than he could ever know.  First, I roasted the beets for an hour, and then in the same pan I put some oiled kale on top for about 15 minutes.  I then drizzled with honey.  A lovely, simple meal.

Sometimes, I feel incredibly defeated trying to be a moonlight cook with very limited cookware.  But you would be surprised how far one tiny pan can go.  I try to be efficient with all of the cooking gear I have cramped into my dorm room.  I use a mason jar as a container for silverware, I put a hook up underneath my lofted bed to hang my pot on, I hung a fruit holder underneath my bed.  Some people probably think I'm crazy.  But for me, its something I have to do, or else college wouldn't feel like home to me.  So thanks, Dad, for that awesome pan.  Proof that, just like you only need a few ingredients to make a good meal, you only need a few pieces of cookware to get the job done. Hopefully I am on my way to being a true "dorm room" cook, if there even is such a thing. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello fellow foodies! I am so excited to start my new blog on eating healthy meals from nature while in college!  College cooking doesn't only have to be microwave cooking. I'm on a mission to cook my way through college using wholesome and healthy ingredients. Stay tuned :)