Monday, November 29, 2010

Time for a New Look

Since my blog will turn 2 in a few weeks, I have decided to pick a new template. This was a very hippy background and it caught my eye. Hope I don't blind anyone with it! I can't believe this blog turns 2 but only has about 30 posts. I didn't live up to my goal of one new recipe per week, but I learned a lot of new stuff about cooking and I was able to thrive in my vegan lifestyle. :)

This means that my private blog (maintained elsewhere) turns 7 in December! My personal blog should be closer to 8 or 9 years old, but I had to get rid of my modblog account in 2003 because I was being harassed by the friends of my first boyfriend. I never imported those entries into my second personal blog. Whoops. Not that I was doing anything super exciting at that age, but it would be nice to have them for completeness. I was already focused on graduating at the top of my class at 15 (yeah, nerd alert), so my social life was just okay. You don't get any recognition for graduating 3rd, so I was determined to become our valedictorian by the spring of my freshman year of high school. In high school, I had friends and a boyfriend, but I was reasonably tame in my behavior (read: my wildest moments were sneaking out of my stepmom's house for late night bowling with my sister and making out with my boyfriend when my mom wasn't home).

Me at 14

Oh well, I definitely let that wild side come out hardcore at FSU. I do not regret picking a party school that just happened to have a decent science program. My other scholarship offers were from USF and University of Tampa. Both were back-up schools because they were too close to home for the freedom that I wanted. I didn't want debt (thanks Mom for that advice), so I took the scholarship at FSU and spent my Honors stipend on partying. Thanks, Honors College, I'm sure you'd be thrilled to know how I wasted that money.

Fast forward to FSU

This post highlights the fact that I need to scan some older photos of myself. I had quite a different look once upon a time and I think my friends would find the humor in it.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Although this year has been REALLY rough, I am thankful for the friends that have helped me through everything. I think Ling, Bri, Cristin, Jess, Elliot, the kickball guys, and some of the guys from work have helped me the most through the drama and the hell that is your existence during exams.

Ling, Bri, and Me

In an attempt to expand my friend circle, I went out of my way to meet some of the external graduate students at my institute. I got some cookbooks as a gift from Cristin and I was introduced to Jess through a guy in our environmental health & safety department. It's nice having friends that are a little older, so they can offer advice for situations with a different perspective from my other friends. The three of us have really hit it off, and I truly appreciate all the advice they've given me as I've struggled with school and life. When we played kickball this summer (Bri was also on our team), we met some hilarious engineers and we've become friends with them too. It's nice to feel like I have a life outside of the workplace, even though my work friends are really great.

Cristin, Me, and Jess

Outside of my friends, I am thankful for my family. We might be the definition of dysfunctional, but I love my mom very much and my sister even told me she loved me over the holiday repeatedly. (This is a rare event, I usually get a single "I love you" when we talk.) I was disappointed that my dad was drinking and everyone in our family ignored it. *le sigh* Anyways, I didn't cook a very elaborate meal for the holiday. I made chicken-less nuggets, baked potatoes, and fruit salad for my Thanksgiving meal. Not traditional at all, but simple and reasonably healthy.

In the American spirit of materialism, I went shopping today with Ling. I bought 2 identical pairs of jeans from Express, a corset-style top and a vest with ruffles from Arden B, and an Olympus Stylus Tough digital camera and pre-ordered the Twilight Saga: Eclipse DVD set from Amazon. Ling bought a TON of stuff, but she definitely deserves it after taking her candidacy exam last week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Four Loko Friday


If you live under a rock, you haven't heard the news about the evil that is Four Loko. For those of you out of the loop, Four Loko is an alcoholic energy drink. In a 24 oz can, there is enough caffeine to equal 3 cups of coffee and 12% alcohol (that's 4 to 5 beers). FOR $3.50!!!!!! Considering a single mixed drink costs $7 here, no wonder these drinks are so popular on college campuses due to their low cost and high alcohol content! I never would have wanted to drink one if the FDA wasn't pushing to ban alcoholic energy drinks. I convinced some friends (Jess, Elliot, and Lee) that we had to try this monstrosity before it became illegal. The manufacturer also said they'd release a caffeine-free version to appease the FDA prior to a decision being made about a ban.

Jess, Elliot, and I went to an ABC liquor store, only to find out they pulled the drinks a week ago. Lee called to say he found some at a local gas station. We immediately went there and bought one can each. We weren't trying to end up in the hospital or die, so we agreed one each. We sat out on the public green space in our neighborhood, where the movie Inception was being shown. Since the movie is supposed to be weird, the logic was, "Hey, let's get drunk and watch a crazy movie!" We didn't end up seeing any of the movie, because we were goofing off!

Jess, Elliot, & Me

Me and Lee

I would agree with this evaluation of the taste. I bought Cranberry Lemonade It tasted like cat piss + carbonated water (like you get at the soda fountain when the soda syrup runs out) + cheap cranberry/Koolaid taste. That was the flavor that Jess and Lee selected also. Elliot wanted to be different and bought the Orange flavor, which he described as Tang + cat piss. So a very nasty taste. Literally, one of my first comments was, "How did people drink several of these?"

The caffeine definitely hit me before the alcohol. It's a very weird feeling when the caffeine is already in effect and the alcohol starts to kick in. We were being loud and goofy. I drank my can in a little under two hours. The taste is so gross, so I can't understand how people pounded 4 cans to end up in the hospital! We walked down the little Main Street strip and ended up at our "favorite" neighborhood bar. (I put that in quotes because it's a little dirty considering how nice the area is.) A few friends from work ran into us and said we seemed really hyper. There was a polar bear there.


No, I was not hallucinating. Someone was in a polar bear costume promoting Ursus Vodka. They were handing out free shots and slap bracelets, like the ones from elementary school. The shots were blue and red, so I picked red. It tasted like cough syrup. Just gross. I had ordered a Bacardi and Sprite, so I used that to get the cough syrup taste out of my mouth. I did manage to finish that Bacardi and Sprite, causing someone to buy me a second one. I ended up dropping that second Bacardi. I like to think it was for the best. I don't know if being 7 drinks into a Friday night is the best choice... Thankfully, we walked to and from the bar (no DUI!).

Overall, I would say it was a fun night. However, I can see how the caffeine makes people unable to realize how drunk they are. I was afraid to fall asleep in case I threw up in my bed, so I managed to position my small trash can between my desk and my bed at a height where I would be able to just roll over and throw up if needed. Thankfully, I did not get sick in my sleep. I woke up the next morning feeling like I drank gasoline. My entire GI system felt like it had been burned, literally everything from my throat to my intestines hurt. I ended up swallowing toothpaste on accident, which caused me to gag. Yuck. Never again. Nice to know you, Four Lokos, but I won't be sad to never drink you again. The FDA effectively banned the drinks this weekend. I spent the rest of the day: (1) having Cristin drive me to Chic-fil-a for hangover-curing lemonade and fries, which taste different since they switched to canola oil, (2) eating Panera with Jess, Elliot, and Cristin, (3) running errands with Cristin, including getting an amazing raspberry jelly-filled vegan yeasted doughnut at Whole Foods, and (4) watching History of the World while eating pizza with the three of them. When the shit hit the fan this year, I never would have imagined making three such great friends. Too bad Cristin passed out after Indian food and didn't make it to Four Loko Friday!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another Massive Update: Book Review, Food, & More :)

Let's start with the book review, since it's something that I don't do often enough. I've decided to go back to reading more, since I prefer non-fiction it gives me something non-science to contemplate. I have been slacking lately on reading and working out (two weeks off - oh no!). I recently finished reading Pornified: How Pornography is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, and Our Families. I definitely think the book was written from a reasonably conservative (in the family values sense) perspective. I wish the book had a stronger classical feminist stance against porn. I think that porn should be legal and regulated at a certain level (no kids, limited access to kids, documented consent - although there is a whole other argument to be made about consent we won't go there now!). However, personally, I am a classic feminist in that I believe porn is absolutely degrading to women. Just because I think it should be legal doesn't mean I condone porn. I don't find anything sexy about watching women being treated like objects in real life, much less on film for a profit! Let's face it, porn is about men getting off, not women. The emphasis is on how the woman is there to serve the man, to help him climax, etc, but she could easily be replaced by another woman willing to get paid for sex on camera. (Note: How is porn legal but prostitution not? It's all sex for money really...) Anways, I would much rather focus my sexual energy on being with someone I am close to. I find that my desire is driven more by the person I'm interested in than in the act of sex itself. I mean, everyone has moments of "omg I want sex!" but for me I find that my desire is almost always focused on a particular person. I found two points from the book to be really interesting. The first is the paradox of a porn user saying that a certain act is demeaning to women, so they'd never want to do it to a partner or have someone do it to their daughter, but yet they get off to it while watching porn because it's a fantasy. Fantasy or not, I don't get how demeaning women can ever be sexy. That woman is someone's partner, someone's daughter, so how is it okay for her to be treated that way? Just because she's getting paid it somehow makes it okay? This goes into the "she's consenting to it" argument. Yes, she is, but why? Like I said, I think the idea of whether or not women can truly consent to be in porn based on the patriarchial structure of the industry is a whole other argument. Is she "consenting" because she thinks she's liberated, as pro-porn feminists claim? Is liberation really allowing yourself to be objectified? The pro-porn feminists claim she's liberated and is taking control of the situation. Have you seen porn? The women are almost never in control. She's not controlling her sexuality, she's being tricked into thinking she's liberated so that porn companies can turn a profit on her body. The system tells her lies that she's liberated but ultimately she is an easily disposable vagina. Even companies run by female directors who claim to be making more female-friendly porn are still producing porn that places the emphasis on a man's pleasure. The second point is the concern of how younger people (teens, even young teens who are not sexually active) will have access to internet porn and how this will shape their views on sex, the roles of each partner in sex, etc. It is definitely going to be interesting to see how young people develop their view of sexuality and what's appropriate with such easy access to internet porn. Will younger generations treat each other with intimacy and respect? Will they be able to separate the "fantasy" of porn from real life when they're exposed at prepubescent ages?

Speaking of objectifying women, I see more and more girls going along with being objectified in public. (I've been doing WAAAAY too much people-watching lately.) If you treat yourself like crap, no man will ever respect you. If you stand up for yourself and say I'm more than just a nice pair of tits and a girly figure, then you can gain the respect of the people around you. To just roll over and allow men to talk down to you will never get you anywhere. I think many people could benefit from knowing, "Treat yourself the way you want other people to treat you." People may think I'm a bitch because I'm blunt, but they certainly don't get away with objectifying me based on my appearance. I guess I wish I had been born in an era where classical feminists existed. It seems so hard to find these days. Everyone wants to be hip and they forget the struggle for equality along the way. :(

Now on to the food!

Baking for my fall kickball team, The Narragansett Lagers, "sponsored" by the brewery:
- Peanut butter coconut bars - would not make again, I left out the peanuts so there was no texture whatsoever. :(
- Peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - always a winning combo, I used the tiny chips from the cookies I made in January.
- Chocolate glazed mini doughnuts - used regular wheat flour, instead of pastry, so they were tough and nowhere near chocolatey enough.
- Coconut oatmeal drop cookies - decent but not spectacular
* Note for the substitutions, I used Ener-g egg replacer powder for eggs and Earth Balance for butter.

Other links:
- Made Beach Cookies for a Sunday Funday with the lovely Cristin (I could write a whole entry about what a blessing she has been in my life, but I won't). So good, but they got crushed in the cooler.
- Made these simple tortilla cups but I didn't like the canned green chiles. They were really slimy and nasty. I will definitely pick a fresh chile next time and dice it.
- Attempted making Mac and Cheese bites but messed up the pasta portion. Not enough pasta so it was nasty. They ended up in the garbage.
- Made a simple pasta with veggies dish for NWIS. It was my first time cooking zucchini so I was happy that it turned out okay. I used the leftover zucchini and cherry tomatoes to top the leftover pasta from the mac and cheese bites. I added white beans and Italian seasoning for protein and flavor.

Photographed food: I absolutely want a new digital camera so I can take better quality photos. Black Friday goal: Acquire kick-ass digital camera. The Canon Powershot A400 from 2004 needs to be officially retired.

Spicy Thai-style red beans with coconut milk - SOOOO ADDICTING! Would definitely make this again.


Mexicali sliders with Cajun yam fries - These were also really good, but they don't freeze well at all! I ended up tossing out 4 of them after defrosting them. Also, never burn sweet potatoes! The sugar becomes really disgusting and they taste terrible.


Cajun chickpea cakes - baked them and they fell apart really easily. Served with Cajun creamy rice - rice recipe should be cut in half!


Quinoa loaf with mushrooms and peas - This recipe was recommended to me by some friends. It sounds really weird, but it is so damn good. I learned the proper way to store mushrooms is in a paper bag and they're only good for a week max. I had to toss my baby portabellas and buy new ones.


Cajun meatloaf with a Bourbon glaze - boiled the tempeh for 10 minutes before breaking it up for the recipe, because I heard that removes the bitter taste. I'm undecided on my taste for tempeh... Served with mac and cheese, which made a little too much.


Gumbo with Andouille-style Sausage - Definitely not spicy enough and okra is disgusting. Way too many leftovers that I threw away.


General Tso's Tofu - definitely could become a regular in my menu planning.


Peppers stuffed with bulgur and herbs - This was served at a Greek-themed girls' night at Jess's house (another blessing!). The other dishes included hummus with pita bread, Greek salad, eggplant, and a couple other dishes.


Thai-style sweet and tangy noodles - I didn't really get sweet and tangy from this recipe, but it was still good. I wish I had thought to separate the rice noodles a little more before dropping them in the boiling water. They were tough to separate once cooked.


Recently, we had our yearly student symposium at the lovely UCLA conference center at Lake Arrowhead, CA. It was fun to meet students from the other campus, plus we got an afternoon off to have fun! After the trip, I stayed with my friend Eric in Solana Beach, CA. Although I didn't get a photo of the two of us together, I did snap this one of the beach with my phone.


I had time to myself, since he had to work during the day. I did a lot of thinking and read the book The Meaning of It All: Thoughts of a Citizen-Scientist by Richard Feynman. It was an easy read. When I wasn't sleeping, doing p90x, or reading, I was cooking. I made this beautiful curry from a mix of ingredients I picked up at the grocery store. Another iPhone photo, so don't judge too harshly.


In other non-food news, I went to see Ryan and Marigny for Halloween. Again, I failed to get a photo of us together. Whoops. Ryan and I went out to the local bars in costume and bicycled, as usual. There's nothing greater than drunk bicycling with Dr. Boostie. We went to see Bad Religion, the best punk band ever, at the Orlando House of Blues. I have been waiting since the 8th grade to see them live, so I jumped at the chance to go for only $30! The venue is really small, so I was only about 8 people back when I went on the floor. I got pummeled in the pit but luckily some big dudes rescued me. My Converses ended up getting stepped on repeatedly, so I lost my shoes. I found one because a guy was carrying it around the pit waving it in the air. Several people told me they saw a similar shoe go on stage, so I had a roadie throw it back to me once the show was over. This concert was definitely better than the Kings of Leon show I went to recently where I got separated from my group and missed the entire show. The Cruzan Amphitheater gets absolutely no cell phone service so I got lucky to find a friend who parked near us.