Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Motivation. It's hard to come by these days

Well guys, the semester is starting to come to an end, there is only one month left. You think this would life my spirits and give me energy to do what must be done. Nope. I am sitting in my little apartment thinking, "I want Taco Bell, then a movie, Ooh then research for my next blog post, and I am DEFINITELY not going to do my homework or study for any sort of big and important test." Yep, reeeaal motivated, a shining example to my peers.

Luckily I was able to drag myself to Taco Bell and get some burritos and awesome Baja blue Mountain Dew. For some reason caffeine makes me feel focused and I immediately can take on anything. I am feeling the caffeine kick in, time to take advantage of that feeling and do some statistics homework.

OH and speaking of blog research...

I am in search of the perfect topic to learn about for my next blog post. I am thinking Mozart piano solo, graphic design, orrrr maybe a really famous artist. The first two are very appropriate, seeing as I will (hopefully) be studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria for a semester this fall. For your information, Salzburg is the home town of Mozart, but there is also a good chance I will be studying graphic design at the University (random, I know).

The fate of my blog will probably lie in the ever capable hands of Eeny, Meeny, Miny and Moe.

*Strangely this makes me think of a Justin Bieber song. I feel my motivation wavering I better go now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Julia Child's Spinach Turnover Experience

A couple weeks ago I was inspired by the movie, Julie and Julia. It's all about Julia Child and her cooking. Ever since I have had the strongest desire to buy her book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking and learn how to really cook.

Not having enough money to buy the book, I looked up episodes of her old cooking show, The French Chef. She had me hooked! I decided on the spinach turnover; not too hard but definitely the do-able challenge I was looking for.

So here's how I made it!

I began by making pastry dough. I found my mom's favorite electric mixer recipe. It makes enough dough for two 9 inch pie crusts.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 2/3 cups of shortening
  • 6 tablespoons of ice cold water

I mixed the flour, salt, and shortening in the mixer until the shortening had made pea sized clumps. Slowly I mixed in the water, making sure not to over mix the dough. (Mom warned me of that) I have to say I think that a little more shortening would have made the dough better. If anyone tries this let me know what you did. Once the dough was mixed I wrapped it and put it in the fridge.

Now Julia says you can use fresh or frozen spinach. Well I decided to use fresh, for the experience's sake. I de-stemmed and cleaned the spinach  (about 2 cups). I dropped the spinach into boiling water and left them there until they were limp (around 3-4 min.), then put them in icy cold water. This is called blanching. Once the spinach is blanched, chop your spinach. Here's some advice to anyone who would like to try this, just go for frozen spinach. It is a much quicker process and gives you the same thing. It is already blanched and probably pre-chopped for you, so save yourself the trouble.
Freshly blanched spinach. It was a pain but is such a beautiful green.

Next saute the mushrooms and ham. I made up my own amounts since Julia so kindly forgot to mention them. I am glad she didn't, because I am not a fan of mushrooms. For my turnover I didn't cook very many and chopped them fine so that I could forget they were there. I cooked each of these separate so they could develop their own individual flavors. That is what she recommends in this episode.

Now in a pot, cook around 1 cup of onion (next time I might use a tiny bit more) in 2 tablespoons of butter. Cooking them until they are very soft. Then put 1/2 the onions with the spinach in a different pot. Adding to the other half of the onions,  1/2 cup flour and 1 1/3 cups of milk; mix well with a whisk. No lumps. Put this pot over heat and beat the mixture as it comes to a boil. This is NOT supposed to be lumpy, I had to put some muscle into it. It will be a thick mixture, take off the heat and mix 1 egg, a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper and just a tad of nutmeg to keep 'em guessing. Put about a 1/2 cup of this sauce into the spinach mixture over a very low heat for 8-10 minutes just to finish cooking the spinach.

Next is to finish the sauce so we can serve it with the turnover. Over heat, mix cream into the sauce to thin it out. You want it thin enough to easily serve but not drip off the plate. Once you have it at your preferred viscosity take it off he heat, clean the sauce off the sides with a rubber spatula and float cream on the top of the sauce This is to keep it from forming a skin. Top it off with about a 1/3 cup of shredded Swiss cheese. Let it slowly melt. I would wait until you are almost ready to serve before finishing the sauce, because you want it to stay warm and the cheese still melted.
      *To float the cream put cream on a spoon and spread the cream over the entire surface*

Next we need to form the dough. Roll the dough into a rectangle, the dough being about 1/4 inch thick. (I had wished that my recipe had made a little more dough. I'm not sure how modify it though.) I trimmed the sides with a knife so that my dough had straight edges, as if it had been cut out by a cookie cutter. Then place on a baking sheet.

Now the fun parts!

Beat one egg yoke and wipe it all over the inside of the dough, cover it thoroughly. Then on one half of the dough put a thin layer of your spinach mixture, carefully leaving a border of dough. Just enough to enclose your filling. This is followed by a thin layer of ham, then mushroom and a final layer of spinach. You don't want it to be piled too high because you have to fold the other half of  the dough over it and be able to seal it shut. Less really is more! Gently seal the edges with a fork by pressing the two edges together and then pull the excess dough upward blending it into the top. Then paint the dough with an egg glaze.
       *An egg glaze is 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water*

Decorations! Yep it is a decorated turnover, verrry fancy. Whatever dough you didn't use on your rectangle you can use to decorate the top. I cut mine into strips and placed them in a design I liked. Once those are on, you do a finishing layer of egg glaze. You want it to be beautiful so make sure the edges are neat.
It may not seem very neat or perfect, but it is harder than you would think!!

Place on the middle rack of a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until it is brown and feels crisp. I had to cook mine the full thirty minutes.

Serve in slices with your oh so delicious cream and cheese sauce!

This was so fun to make and the end product just as enjoyable. Oh yummm.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delays and more Delays

I feel bad I have yet to blog my first experience, but I am a little overwhelmed by my life. I am getting together all my study abroad things... SO MUCH. And struggling with the decision of where to go. Then to top it all off I traveled eleven hours in a car filled with cigarette smoke to go my dad's wedding to a woman I met once. I am now forced to make friends with not only her but all her children (greeeat) and help set up this ridiculous event. Can I go home yet? Good thing they don't know this blog exists. Even if they did, OH WELL. I am at the end of my little rope. It is time for all this insanity to end.

Once it starts to simmer down, I'll be sure to share my cooking adventure. Poor blog, so neglected and alone.

**in her defense she did buy us panda express, made us a huge dinner and gave us beds, but that does not change my feelings**

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time for an upgrade in blog quality. Blog version 2.0!

Lately I have been evaluating my blog and I am not satisfied. Up until now I didn't really have a direction mostly splashing around, and being naive about blogs in general. So I started checking out other blogs, blogs people actually LIKE to read. Seeing as I am writing one I should probably read some.

As I dug through blogs I started seeing things I like and things I wanted to do with my own blog. Smack! Inspiration hit me. Now it is not very clear cut but here's the idea. I am going to pick a topic every month or two weeks, learn all about it and share it. I want to focus on; art, bands, piano and viola solos, cooking, technology, and books/poems. If I find anything else that grabs my curiosity it surely will be thrown in there.

This blog will provide me with the creative outlet I am in dreadful need of. See I do ALL math and science courses. So this will be the place for me to keep my sanity and learn the things I've always wanted to. (you'd never find these topics in a biology major's course list) Then comes the question why I am a biology major? Well I'm not completely sure of those reasons myself.

Alright, so I will be OObber busy until this Friday so I will be posting the first topic sometime after that!

This is a Ray Johnson collage. I thought that a 
collage was an appropriate metaphor for the blog.
(look it's already getting interesting!) 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Today: A new perspective, public tears, and inspiration from the Italian Stallion!

My new perspective on life came to me last night while I was pondering my unhappiness with life. My complaint is that going through the motions each day is NOT living. Sure I may be alive but I don't feel like this is what life should be like. So the question that arises is, What is living? Then it came to me. 

Living is finding:
  • Happiness
  • Adventure/Excitement
  • Love
  • Accomplishment
  • Gratitude
In each and everyday. At least that is my own personal definition. 

Well 'finding' is a verb, an action word. So it is my responsibility to search for these things in each day. All of those characteristics of living can be found in everyday, I just have to look for them. 

My personal challenge is to ask myself each day, what was happy, adventurous, loving, accomplished today? And what am I grateful for? It is my hope that I will start realizing these things without intentionally asking myself and see if I feel like I am living a full life.

After such an inspirational thought, you may be thinking...."public tears?". Well yes it is possible to have negative things happen in the midst of a full life. Sigh. To keep a long story short, I am in Math 1040, Statistics. I have always struggled in math, and this class is no different. Two weeks ago I started preparing for the second test; making flash cards, going to the free tutoring lab with my homework. I really put an effort into studying for this test. Well the test rolled around, I knew I had prepared the best I could. Second problem in I hit an issue, from there it is panic! Time is running out, and my mind is blinded with fear. I get 10 of  20 problems done. I know I missed some of those as well. Hot tears started to burn my eyes in the classroom but I held off the sobs until I left the room. I sobbed for an hour or so. 

I emailed my professor searching for a way to salvage my grade, willing to do anything! The only response I received was, "there was a problem with the test, we'll talk in class Monday". Not a comfort. Fast-forward to today (Wednesday), he hands back the tests explaining that three of the problems didn't offer the correct answer and that the test was made too long for the period of time given. To make it up to us he would be giving us an automatic 15 points for the three questions and would offer an extra credit work sheet to balance out the other injustices. I knew right away that wouldn't be enough to save my grade. 

As he handed me my test I felt like I had accepted my failure, that I was so zen and ready to move on and work harder. I looked at my score....50.....50 out of 100. I thought to myself, "Okay, I don't feel very upset, I knew this was coming, there is always a solution!". When class ended a friend and I talked about the test. The professor came up to me to comment on the class today and ask how I felt about the test. I told him, I knew I failed, so it wasn't unexpected. He asked me how it happened... did I over study? Now this is where the story gets good, so hold onto your bloomers people.

This is the point where the wall holding back all my frustration, disappointment and sadness crumbled. I told him, "I don't know, I can't really talk about this right now or else I'll cry." At which point I begin to cry... of course. My professor goes on to apologize and ask if he can get me a tissue. They are starting to really flow now and I am mad for letting them fall so easily. I quickly and kindly decline the afore said tissue and say I'll be in to discuss the test in your office tomorrow. I then proceed to leave his presence and the OH SO public Science building foyer, ASAP.  

I can't believe I cried in front of my professor! Real mature....real adult like! He probably thinks I'm a big baby, not ready to take on such an adult experience. Well whether he thinks that or not, it isn't true! Those tears fell for a perfectly sound reason. I put my all into studying for that test, and used every resource I knew! I honestly don't know what more I could have done to prepare for that test! And for me to have gotten an F...It crushed me. 


I always believed that if I gave it my all, using all my resources there is no way I could fail. To be proven wrong was a severe blow to my self esteem. My best was not good enough. Even at this moment I am struggling to make it through my math assignments, trying not to let this horrible defeat stop me in my tracks. I know that to give up now would be the ultimate failure. There is still a very small window of hope of getting an A. I guess as long as there is a probability of success I will keep giving my all. I have to tell you all (All .5 people that read this) that this is the most difficult part, getting up and washing the blood and dirt off to try again. 

In a way this math class can be compared to the movie, Rocky I. Yes, Rocky. The most inspiring and epic boxing movie the world has seen. The one to a million odds, Cadence VS Math 1040. I go in strong knowing it'll be the fight of my life. The fight is about half way through, I am bloody, bruised, and fatigued... but success can still be mine. If only I can push through, get back up after a hard hits, and fight against the odds, I'll come out a Champ! 

I gotta say, if I make it through this math class with an A, I deserve to have the Rocky theme song played as raise my fist in the air. Blaring trumpets, choirs and all....*dreamy expression*. 

"Trying hard now, It's so hard now, Trying hard now...
Getting strong now, Won't be long now, Getting strong now...
Gonna fly now!
                         Flying high now!
                                                   Gonna fly, fly, fly!!!"

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I was going to rant...until I saw this

Thanks to Conner I can't stop randomly laughing out loud (in rather inappropriate places) after seeing this clip. I was NOT having a good day today. I slept through my biology class, had headache all day, and still need to figure out this stupid service project I put myself in charge of. After all that I found that a three second clip of a cat can break the tension of a bad day. Note to self: use this technique in the future.

The clip is called, Hungry Cat Snack FAIL
*Not for the faint of heart (or stomach), but those who have a querky sense of humor.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the award for best supporting man goes to....


Well for all of you out there wondering why such a prestigious award was handed out tonight, here's why. First he is my #1 follower. (One out of two total followers! But still, that says something right there). Secondly, when I am searching for any kind of help, he does whatever he can. Then I in turn pridefully don't accept the help but then whine for help! Leaving the poor guy in a vicious cycle of trying to support me the best he can, while I seem to push him away. What valiant effort in a losing fight. Finally and for so much more, he has earned my trust and a place in my heart. Bravo!

*the audience applauses while the band plays music to his exit off the award stage*

Technologically Frustrated

Well day two and  I am trying to figure this blog thing out! Not working. It kind of makes it hard to start a new project in the while being a full time student, working, volunteering and trying to live a life. Or maybe that is my life? Anyway sad to say, blogger has not exactly woo'd me. I came across tumblr, thanks to my dear friend Taryn and their flashing colorful pages are luring me to join them. Blogger you may soon be abandoned if I don't start getting what I want out of you.

Blogger rant fulfilled. (Sigh)

The new obsession on my mind is the study abroad program offered at SUU. I am meeting with an advisor tomorrow and the butterflies are fluttering in my stomach. I feel excited by it, leaving the country all alone, what an adventure. But on the other hand, how TERRIFYING??!! I have to step out of my comfortable bubble. I have to find my adventures, I can't expect it to fall on my lap. Adventure...Here I come.