Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Story of Purim.

Purim starts today at sundown! Purim is my favorite Jewish holiday because it includes all the elements of a good party: an epic story, cookies, booze, and lots of noise!

Here's a quick summary of Purim: in ancient times there was a very stupid king named Ahasuerus who married a beautiful Jewish girl named Esther. She had to keep being Jewish a secret because King Ahasuerus' advisor, Haman, was an evil man who hated the Jews, blamed all problems on them, and decided that they should all be killed. Luckily, Esther confessed to Ahasuerus that she was a Jew, convinced him that Haman was evil, and helped arrange for her uncle Mordechai to take Haman's place as vizier to the king.

Who wouldn't love such a juicy story in which good triumphs over evil and we celebrate by baking delicious pastries called hamantaschen? Other common ways to celebrate include people using noisemakers called groggers to boo Haman's name every time it is mentioned in retelling the tale of Purim, and drinking a lot to celebrate the fact that Esther saved the Jews! Also, people masquerade in festive costumes, which I plan on doing at various Purim parties this weekend. Happy Purim everyone!


Delicious hamantaschen!


Groggers used to boo Haman!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

College Cooking Class: Cheesy Pasta with Chicken and Veggies

Tonight's recipe is cheesy pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and spinach – a delicious alternative to ordinary spaghetti with marinara sauce.

- 1/4 of a package of spaghetti (or any other noodle)
- 2 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 of a bag of fresh baby spinach
- three to five small mushrooms
- 1 oz. mozarella cheese, preferably a string cheese
- dash salt and lemon pepper (a tangy taste over regular pepper)
- olive oil

1) Turn on the stove and set up water to boil for spaghetti; defrost chicken in a bowl of warm water.

2) Wash and chop mushrooms and rinse spinach.

3) Let spaghetti cook on the stove; saute mushrooms and spinach in a pan coated in olive oil.

4) When spaghetti is done, drain in a colander. Place it back in the pot it was cooked in, and add a little olive oil to avoid sticking.

5) When spinach and mushrooms are done, stir them into the pot of spaghetti.

6) Cook the chicken in the same pan used for veggies for a few minutes on each side; add some salt and lemon pepper while turning it over.

7) When chicken is done, cut into smaller pieces and add into pot of spaghetti and veggies.

8) Toss spaghetti, chicken, mushrooms, and spinach in the pot on a low heat. Slowly add small cut up pieces of mozzarella cheese.

8) Serve and eat! Bon appetit!

Pasta with Chicken

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bacon Beans Bonanza.

It's been pouring all day, so this is just a quick post to cheer up. On Valentine's Day I received an amazing gift, a container of bacon flavored jelly beans. For those who don't know, I am absolutely obsessed with bacon. You know those people who wear those "I heart bacon" t-shirts? Yeah, I'm one of those, except I can't actually purchase and wear such an article of clothing because I work in a setting where many of my colleagues keep kosher and I wouldn't want to offend anyone.

Anyway, I'm sad to report that the bacon beans turned out to taste disgusting, but it was still a great thought. I'm assuming the gift-giver googled "bacon fetish" to find such a creative bacon-inspired gag gift, and I really appreciate the effort. Although they aren't delicious, I still have them in my desk drawer to keep that yummy bacon smell. And I get to keep the tin too!

Bacon Beans

Thursday, February 18, 2010

College Cooking Class: Tortellini with Chicken and Peas

Welcome to my first college cooking class installment! Tonight's recipe is quick, healthy, and can supply a hearty amount of leftovers for the next few days. It is cheese tortellini served with chicken breast, petite peas, and vodka sauce. That's almost all the food groups!

- one package of cheese tortellini
- 2 to 4 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas
- half a jar of tomato sauce, preferably vodka
- shredded parmesan cheese
- dash salt and lemon pepper (a tangy taste over regular pepper)
- olive oil

1) Turn on the stove and set up water to boil for tortellini; defrost chicken in a bowl of warm water. Pour 1/3 of a bag of frozen peas into a bowl and fill slightly with water.

2) Let tortellini cook on the stove; take defrosted chicken and place in olive oil-coated pan.

3) As tortellini cooks, let chicken cook for a few minutes on each side and add some salt and lemon pepper while turning it over.

4) When tortellini is done, drain in a colander. Place drained tortellini back in the pot it was cooked in.

5) Cook peas in the microwave for a few minutes; cooking times will vary, then drain in the colander.

6) When chicken is done, cut into smaller pieces.

7) Toss tortellini, chicken, sauce, and peas in the pot on a low heat. Slowly stir in parmesan.

8) Serve and eat!

Enjoy! Bonus points go to those who eat while watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians to avoid studying for a midterm, that's how you know you're in college.



Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Art of Fauxalizing.

I recently came up with a concept called fauxalizing, which is faux socializing. You know those awkward social interactions, desperate attempts to make small talk, or routine greetings to acquaintances you know but don't really want to actually be talking to? All of the above can be considered fauxalizing.

Here's the thing about fauxalizing – it becomes a routine thing in life, as normal as brushing your teeth or checking your e-mail, even if by definition it is uncomfortable and meaningless. It is empty, and especially sad when you consider that there are many people in your life who you want to actually socialize with, instead of the people you waste your time fauxalizing with on a frequent basis.

Take for example someone in your major who you have several classes with but aren't at all interested in getting to know on a deeper level. You are still obligated to be friendly, exchange niceties, and discuss commonalities in your field of study. Does this mean you can't wait to make this person your new best friend and automatically schedule one-on-one time every weekend? Nope, not at all. It just means you have to engage in fauxalizing behavior whenever you see that person.

I've found that fauxalizing can be pretty exhausting. Next time I find myself in a situation when I have to make the effort to have a forced conversation with a friend's roommate or a floormate from freshman year who I haven't talked to since then, my goal is to take the easy way out and smile to avoid another awkward instance of fauxalizing. So the next time you find yourself fauxalizing, remind yourself that it's alright not to chat up that person, and figure out a way to avoid it next time.


You don't have to be a Mean Girl, but you don't have to fake nice with fauxalizing.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Call Me Old Fashioned.

I spent the day shopping in San Francisco yesterday, and I discovered that I'm stuck in between categories of shoppers. Being in college means I'm trying to find my own style – I'm done with high school trends but not yet ready for the daily grind of boring work suits. At the same time, it's hard to be fashionable when you have class at 8 a.m. and want to succumb to wearing fake UGGs because they are warm and comfy, not because they are at all nice to look at.

I figured with all the shopping options in the city, I would be somewhat successful in picking up a few things I was looking for. Nope.

I felt out of place at Forever 21, where I usually find several basic clothing items, because I was surrounded by 13 year olds shopping for sparkly accessories and neon dresses that hurt my eyes. Not to mention that this store is notorious for blasting club hit remixes at maximum volume, with no regard for their customers' sanity.

After getting the feeling that I needed to look for something a little classier, I headed to Express, but their combination of button-down business casual for the workweek and shiny weekend clubwear just didn't do it for me. I couldn't deal with GAP, which I am not preppy or wealthy enough to shop at; and besides I'm not middle aged. Even Urban Outfitters let me down, because I'm not a chainsmoking hipster with a penchant for ironic mustaches, and I don't want to pay good money for clothes with more holes than fishnet stockings.

I guess I'm stuck in limbo, where I'm too old, thrifty, or not experimental enough to shop at stores I once frequented. At least I still ended up getting a pretty cute pair of ballet flats I had been looking for. Next week I'm hitting up Berkeley thrift stores to give it another try.


Forever 21 Fashion Don't.

I don't want to dress circa 1983 or incorporate leopard print.