A person in the world. An information professional. A feminist, humanist and occasional Latinist.
I like stuff and things, so I'm going to try to write about them.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Food Blogger Fail or This Is What I Ate

I don't think I'll ever be a food blogger. Some people are blessed with the creativity to produce innovative cuisine and stage it just right. Good food blogs have more than desirable recipes and clear instructions, they also have delectable photos.

This is where I fail. Photographing food items is tricky! And while lighting is important in any photo, bad lighting for food photography can make something fresh and tasty appear yellowed and repulsive.

Also I'm usually making food because I want to eat it soon. I'm too hungry and focused on what I'm making to stop and think, "oh wait! I need a photo of the chopped onions before I saute them." No, instead while making dinner this week I thought, "oh wait! I could take a photo with my actual camera." (This is instead of with my camera phone.) Of course when I went to grab my very nice 8 megapixel point-and-shoot, the battery was dead. So I borrowed EC's iPhone. The camera on my phone is actually pretty solid, but I have to say the iPhone 4 is better. Shinier. Oh no, I'm drooling again.

So I will possibly, one day, maybe, have a food post in the vein of Pioneer Woman or Simply Recipes centered on a recipe with actual, nice photography. But for today, you get photo hodgepodge (mostly taken on my phone)!

I love breakfast tacos anything in a tortilla. I was thinking about this taco when I went to bed and was very excited to make it when I woke up. I put down a base of guacamole on a wheat tortilla, added some scrambled egg, fresh hashbrowns and sliced tomato. Not sure why the plate is on the edge of the counter. Probably trying to get better lighting. If it fell, I definitely would have eaten this off the floor.

Wow, look. More food in a tortilla. Well, these are just ANY tortillas, people. These are Central Market hatch green chile tortillas. I can eat these plain for breakfast and then again for lunch. I really wish there was more nutritional value to them. Sadly they're only around during the Hatch Green Chile Festival at CM, but no worries. I have a few extras stored in the freezer, and will probably stock up more before the 31st. Above I filled them with refried pinto beans, avocado and corn salsa. The best part of this taco was the roasted corn salsa. I drizzled corn, jalapenos and garlic with olive oil and then baked them in the oven (~30 mins at 400 degrees). Then I cut the corn off the cob and combined it with the jalapeno and garlic and squeezed half a lime over it. Yum.

Caramelized Tofu (Link to the recipe)
It's always nice to find new ways to prepare tofu. I try to be protein conscious since I'm not eating meat. My friends brought this to a potluck earlier this summer and I was excited to make it for myself. Brussels sprouts are a turn-off to some people, but I swear this is very very delicious. (Without spellcheck I definitely would have written Brussel sprouts. Learn something new everyday...)

Photo taken on my actual camera! But these were made from a mix, so it kind of negates the food blogger legitimacy. I'd hope to get up early and make these muffins as a Saturday morning surprise, but EC is an actual morning person (as opposed to me, who is an aspiring morning person) and is regularly up way before me. She was making coffee when I was pulling the ingredients together at 8am.

So this isn't food. But it is related to something I ate! In celebration of what would have been Lyndon B. Johnson's 102nd birthday, the LBJ Presidential Library & Museum was serving cake on Friday. So we enjoyed some awesome cake (lemon filling!) and I learned a few things about our country's 36th president. This photo is a view from the 10th floor where there's a replica of LBJ's oval office.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Last (Summer) Supper

Apparently I'm really hung up on the season ending. I guess it's hard to avoid that I'm coming into a time of transition. Yesterday I went to orientation, met with my academic adviser and looked my grad school future square in the eyes. Right now I'm waiting (impatiently) for my registration period to start (at 3:00 this afternoon) so I can hopefully get the classes I want.

Tuesday night, the eve of my orientation, we had a chill night at the apartment, watching TV and making dinner. Photos from Tuesday are below. I just realized that if my phone didn't have a camera, I wouldn't have taken any of these.

Earlier in the day, we made it to Barton Springs! It was 194 degrees outside so the -25 degree water was perfect. At first I could only dip my toes in, but I eventually bit the bullet and went in the water.

Back at the ranch, EC chopped up a colorful array of veggies for a soy-ginger stir fry.

I think this was taken moments before she broke the spatula.

My contribution to dinner were these spring rolls, a recipe I learned from my former roommate and fellow vegetarian, Jenny. (See below for the recipe.) It's a really fresh, summer-time food. I didn't make too many so we'd have room for stir fry, but I think we both could have eaten twice as many.

Stir fry rainbow and accompanying seasoned tofu triangles.

Finished product.

Our small kitchen was trashed by the end of the evening, but it was messy in a satisfying, good-food-was-made-here, kind of way.

Tofu Spring Rolls
- rice paper
- firm tofu
- rice noodles
- assorted veggies, I like avocado, carrots, cucumber
- mint
- basil

Dipping Sauce
- soy sauce
- sesame oil
- garlic

This recipe is very flexible on portions. Last night I only made 4 rolls, but you can scale it up to as many as you'd like. The rice paper was hard to find (not at HEB, but at Central Market), and a safe bet would be getting it at an Asian grocery store. Cook the rice noodles ahead of time and rinse with cold water. Cut all the ingredients into stick-like shapes so they will fit well into the wrap. A little of the fresh mint and basil goes a long way, so I rip up 1-2 leaves of each per roll. The rice paper becomes soft in hot water, then put the ingredients in and wrap like a burrito. Refrigerate for a while, (~30 mins) so they are nice and cold when served. The sauce is roughly 5-6 Tbsp. of soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil and 1-2 minced cloves of garlic.

I would like my next cooking post to be an adventure of making gnocchi from scratch, but I'm not sure if that ambition will ever be met. For now I need to get out of the house because I'm just refreshing the registrar's website and watching my classes become waitlisted and closed...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

So Long, Sweet Summer

Summer is over.

Ok, so maybe I'm calling it a little early, since I have 5 days until orientation and 12 until the first day of classes, but it feels like the care-free days are already gone. I'm starting to think about my class schedule, volunteer opportunities and my super powers of distraction and procrastination (and how that might affect my graduate education).

The last few months have been pretty great. I've been getting used to a new town, having fun and relaxing. I had pretty high expectations for Austin before I moved. Most people rave about it and I'd always loved visiting. So far it hasn't disappointed. There's endless amounts of good food, beautiful places to visit, and live music. (I can't wait until ACL!)

Below is a hodgepodge of summer photos with accompanying explanations.

Here I am on moving day! Everything went smoothly and a couple of months later, I feel like the apartment is now arranged how I like it.

This is the bamboo forest at the Zilker Botanical Gardens, one of our early outdoor excursions. Being outside is hot, but bearable. I feel like the evenings are better than Houston because the humidity doesn't smother me.

This is the view of downtown Austin from a park bench in the botanical gardens.

Also at the gardens. I love this photo.

We spend a lot of time in these chairs on our balcony. I miss my spacious patio in Houston, but this is a decent substitute.

I've been trying a lot of new beers this summer (remember I'm relaxing?) and this is definitely my favorite. I'm still mostly fond of wheat beers, though I'm trying more ambers and other kinds too.

Visiting Zilker Park on a random Tuesday afternoon. We had a sweet blanket set up and mostly the whole park to ourselves. (That's my car, all alone in the background.)

It was pretty warm that day and I believe her reaction was: "mmm. Fresh-baked cheetos."

Lots of backgammon, rummy and euchre this summer. Like.

I know Montana is considered "big sky country" but I feel like Texas deserves the title sometimes too.

We've had a pretty constant stream of visitors (people love Austin). Here are Terri and Charlotte hanging out at Toy Joy.

I think Houston will always have a special place in my heart, especially as long as I have great people to visit. Here's Teddy, Matt, and Katelyn on our blanket at Miller Outdoor Theater for the 4th of July.

Tess on the 4th. We had delicious refreshments and a sweet spot for watching the fireworks.

EC's uncle rented a house on Lake Travis and this was the view off the back porch. We had a lot of fun hanging out at the house and out on the water. Overall I enjoyed the weekend despite...

...the hole in the patio my leg made. Apparently not all porch construction materials are created equal, and these particular tiles were not weather proof and had started to rot. My wounds are pretty much healed two weeks later, but I saw some fun colors on my leg in that time.

I made a trip home, and this is the view of the coast in downtown Beaufort.

We took a short "hike" (glorified walk) to part of the green belt in Austin.

People are hanging out, drinking beer... with their pet snakes. Like you do.

Me: "Aww, you're not smiling in this photo."
EC: "That's my face."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

iPhone Day!

No, I am not getting an iPhone. However, my roommate, Emily (heretofore referred to as EC), is (according to FedEx delivery tracking) getting an iPhone 4, TODAY. It's hard to communicate how exciting this is. Not just because of the ooo, shiny! aspect, but because this day is a loooooong time in the making. I believe her initial order was placed 2 months ago. At this point iPhones are not real to me, instead they are things that are "waiting to be shipped."

I'm not going to detail all of the trials and tribulations EC (and me by proxy, but obviously way worse for her) went through for this iPhone, but I will try to convey some of the frustration. See the trouble is apparently a lot of people like/want/need new iPhones. And AT&T and Apple are pretty terrible at producing/processing/shipping said iPhones. So after multiple trips to the Apple Store (two different locations), AT&T Store ("sorry we can't help you because you ordered online with Apple") and a lot of time spent on the phone ("you should call Apple." "AT&T placed the hold, call them.") it is (hopefully!) on it's way.

With EC at work for a few hours, the duty of accepting the FedEx delivery falls to me. So I am sitting on the couch with the blinds open, refreshing the tracking info every five minutes, willing the package to come. Earlier I propped open the front gate (sorry neighbors!) to insure that FedEx would have no obstacles to our apartment. I've watched Make It Or Break It, the best gymnastics show on television! And now I'm starting in on Project Runway, which is inexplicably 90 minutes long. Seriously Lifetime? No matter. I fast-forward through most of the critiques and deliberations on reality shows anyway. Obviously the only opinion that matters is mine. Shut up, Tyra.

I'm kind of hungry and we have no groceries, but I'm told my patience will be rewarded. I'd also like to take a shower, but that can wait. It's iPhone Day!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Aspirational Living

There are a lot of things I aspire to be.
I aspire to be a writer (of a blog or something longer). I aspire to be a good friend, loving daughter, and productive member of society.

I read a lot of blogs.
Blogs about friends who are Peace Corp Volunteers and Teach for America teachers. Blogs about celebrity gossip, feminism, motherhood, cooking, weight loss, and personal finance. No seriously, I read a lot of blogs.

I'm making a lot of declarative statements. There are things that I want in this world and I don't know if a blog is a way to help me get them, but maybe it's better to write down my thoughts than to let them collect dust. I loved writing a blog (and getting comments!) when I was abroad and now I've started one that isn't tied to a location, since sadly I'm not really tied to anywhere either.

In less than three weeks I'll be starting grad school, which will either be fodder for blogging or a foil to it. I don't know how busy, excited or overworked I'll be once my new schedule starts, but I'll try to keep this up. There are so many people in the world I'd like to stay connected to and maybe this is the best way to do it.