July162012

Creamed Spinach Stuffed Chicken, Gruyere Asparagus Tart, and Balsamic Vinegar Strawberries

So, this past weekend, I made a delicious feast for my family! I started out with a couple of recipes and then somehow deviated a lot from them… I’m relieved that everything still turned out tasty, though. I supposed that is part of cooking; experimenting with other people’s recipes to add your own personal touch. Often, it seems like those “personal touches” are accidentally, but hey! If it turns out well, who cares if it was an accident or on purpose?

Cream Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Serves 4

What you need:

1 package of Boursin Cheese (herb garlic)

1 package of frozen spinach (defrosted)

4 chicken breasts

Salt and pepper for seasoning

What you need to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a skillet over medium heat, melt the cheese. Once the cheese is about half way melted, fold in the defrosted spinach and combine well. Keep it on low heat until you’re ready stuff the chicken in step 4.

3. Slice a large pocket in the side of each chicken breast.

4. Place a couple of spoonfuls of the creamed spinach into each chicken pocket.

5. Season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven for about 45 mins - 1 hr.

Gruyere Asparagus Tart

Serves 4-8

What you need:

8 oz phyllo dough (half a package)

2 cups shredded gruyere cheese

12 oz of asparagus

~2.5 tbsp olive oil

Salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar for seasoning

What you need to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the phyllo dough sheets (about 15 sheets) on a foiled baking tray. Place the tray in the oven for a few minutes until the sheets start to brown a bit.

3. Remove the tray from the oven. Evenly sprinkle the cheese in the center of the phyllo dough, leaving about a 1 inch border without cheese. 

4. Place the asparagus on top of the cheese side by side, again leaving a boarder.

5. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Put the tart back in the oven for about 45 minutes. Once the asparagus looks like its roasted, remove from oven.

8. Allow the tart to cool. Before serving drizzle balsamic vinegar on top.

I was a little considered about the phyllo sheets separating too much because typically, you need to have some sort of butter or egg to bind them together. What ended up happening was the oil from the cheese seeped through the dough, creating the perfect binding! It worked out really well, considering all the other vegetable tart recipes I saw called for puff pastry. I got phyllo dough on accident :) 

The border was crunchy and flakey, which I also liked.

Balsamic Vinegar Strawberries

Adapted from All Recipes

Serves 4

What you need:

1 lb fresh strawberries

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup sugar

Pepper for seasoning (optional)

What you need to do:
1. Wash, halve, and hull the strawberries. Place them in a large mixing bowl. 
2. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix gently.
3. Allow the mixture to sit out at room temperature for 2-4 hours. 
4. Before serving, crack fresh pepper over the strawberries. Serve alone, or with cake, ice cream, or yogurt.
June192012

The Last Week!

Hola. I had a lovely weekend full of relaxation and sun. Sunday, I went to San Sebastian again, and it turned out to be a beautiful day. When we first got there around 11 AM, it was cold and overcast, but by 1 pm, it was completely clear, sunny, and warm! I was so relieved! Like I said before, it’s only a little less than an hour away, so it’s super convenient for people from Pamplona to go for a day or a weekend. 

In my final week, we’re learning about food processing. It seemed like my professor has some pretty strong feelings about (or I guess, against) organic foods, and that processed foods aren’t really trying to kill you. I don’t know how I feel about that. I mean, clearly, you have to eat some processed foods, and some are good for you, of course. And any organic food that isn’t raw is a processed food. He made a pretty big deal about how it’s a lie that people say big corporations are trying to minimize nutritional content in food… but I don’t think that all that many people are saying that they’re purposefully making it bad for you. I do think that they haven’t always put nutrition first. Perhaps it’s more true that they’re putting more of an emphasis on nutrition now… still, whatever is cheapest to make and sell will probably always be the number one priority of those corporations. 

Speaking of processed foods, the Coke here is so much better than it is at home. Also, everyone drinks it with lemon here. It’s so great. I don’t order it very often because it’s at least 2 euros everywhere, but when I do… it’s just great. I’m not sure if it’s because the Spanish formula is all that different or because all the drinks seem to come out of glass instead of cans.

Also, speaking of food, I’m really going to miss all of the food that I have at my host family house. The Special K is definitely different here, but I like that better too. Also, the yogurt is so much better. You can FEEL the probiotics in your mouth. The other day, I had some yogurt that ACTUALLY tasted like raspberries and kiwi. Speaking of things that actually taste like what they are, I had some strawberries that actually tasted like what you think strawberries are supposed to taste like. I don’t think I’ve EVER had a strawberry like that. They didn’t look particularly big or juicy, just like little strawberries… but they were without a doubt, the best I’ve ever had.

Back to what I was saying about the food from my host family: it’s great. I don’t know if I’ve explained what dinner is like, but I will now. Every night follows a bit of a pattern. We always have a salad with lettuce, white asparagus, tomatoes (they’re SO good), corn, onion, tuna, and olives with a dressing of olive oil and white vinegar and a bit of salt. Of course, we have fresh bread because Spanish people are all about their daily bread and all of that. Slices of chorizo. Now, this isn’t like some crappy deli meat that you find at BiLo. Oh no. This is grade A delicioso chorizo with made red pimientos and white wine. Sometimes we have chistorra, which is a sauteed sausage, thinner than chorizo cut into segments. Also, a little bit spicier. Then, you have the red pimientos. They’re sliced and jarred then warmed up a bit. And then we have whatever’s for dinner… either Tortilla Española, or pork or chicken breaded and panfried. Mostly everything else but the main course is my favorite, but it’s all good.

I feel like I’m talking about food this entire entry because I’m so hungry. I have a bit of a stomach virus so :(  I’m only sick after I eat… But other than that, things are going well.

June162012

Week 4

I haven’t written this week, mostly because it’s been a fairly ordinary week, but I’ll recap some of it for ya-

This week in Food Science (I feel like I’m talking about a television show or something…), we talked about food safety. Overall, it was pretty gross. I think it was kind of cruel to give us a unit about delicious Spanish food and then a unit about how you can get sick from eating that delicious Spanish food and what happens. Yup. Mmm.

We did visit the Palacio de Navarra, which they described as basically Navarra’s white house. Within Spain, there are several different regions (Pamplona is the capital of Navarra). To me, they seem a bit like states, so in that case, it would be more like the state capitol than the white house, but oh well. They call the head person the “president,” so that’s probably why. Also, it’s much cooler than the Georgia state capital. Even though I’ve never been inside the Georgia one. I feel like I can say that without question.

Sadly, I forgot my camera, so you’re just going to take my word for how cool it was. It really was a palace. Lots of velvet walls, gold things, fancy painting, intricate floor designs, neat chandeliers. HOWEVER, if the president of Navarra really wanted to make some money for the region, they could maybe sell that Gaudí painting in there or something. Anything really. Europe should just pawn off all its million dollar artifacts. I think that would help them a lot. Also, the president has an unnecessarily large lamp in her office, approximately 7 to 10 times the size of a regular lamp, without exaggeration. She could afford to downsize I think. Still, it was awesome. I got a free pin with Navarra’s coat of arms, too.

Also, we went to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim, and I actually DID remember to bring my camera. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take pictures inside. I think my favorite one was a huuuuuuuge painting called The Renowned Orders of the Night by Anslem Kiefer. I wanted to get a print of it at the museum store, but they really only had prints of the building itself which seemed silly. I guess the exhibits change too often or something. The main exhibit was about a guy who did “paintings” of landscapes… on an iPad. Everyone was so obsessed with it, and he had an ENTIRE FLOOR of the Guggenheim. Well, Mr. David Hockney, I was not that impressed. Cool, you have the highest score EVER on Draw Something (not really [note to family: it’s drawing game on the iPad]), but seriously? An entire floor? One room, and I was satisfied. Not 8 galleries. Some woman walked into the main gallery at the same time that I did and just said, “Oh. THIS IS ART.” Well, thank goodness. I’m so glad we had the Art Authority there to explain what is and isn’t art. I’m not saying it wasn’t art. I just wasn’t that impressed (not that I could do better, but still). Everything else in the museum was amazing, though. Actually, the guy who did the iPad paintings also did some other art that was pretty cool. He used various mediums to portray multiple perspective of a landscape, which I liked. The film he made of landscapes was very nice, and I like one of his photo collages of California too.

This weekend, I’m just chillin’. Most of my friends are in Bordeaux, but I decided to stay in Pamplona today for multiple reasons. I know it is overall a great deal to be able to go to Bordeaux for 200 dollars, but that’s still a ton of money and I didn’t particularly want to sleep in a hostel again. It was a fine experience, but I have a bed here in Pamplona already paid for, so lovely.  Also, I have things I want to do today, like check out “Todos por 2 Euros.” Tomorrow, I’m taking a bus and meeting my friends coming from Bordeaux in San Sebastian. It’s such a great deal… It’s about 15 euros roundtrip, so I’ll just go to the beach for the day. Also, they’re getting to San Sebastian around 2 AM and are just going to sleep on the beach. As it turns out, I’m 60 years old, and that sounds miserable and possibly cold. So again, that’s also why I didn’t want to go!

Since everyone left for trips yesterday from Bilbao, my friend Grace and I were the only ones who came back to Pamplona. But we had a great night! We went to a movie theater downtown and watched something called Las Chicas de La Planta 6ta. It was good but weird in the typical European movie sort of way. I think it was originally in French but dubbed in Spanish. Basically, it was about these maids who had come to Paris from Spain during the Spanish Civil War who worked for rich Frenchmen, and they all lived in really small, dirty, old apartments on the sixth floor (hence the name). Well, this one old rich French guy, who used to be really picky and snooty towards his maid, found out how the maids were living and tried to help them and then realized how interesting and cool they were. So… he just spent all of his time with them, and his wife kicked him out of the house because she thought it was weird, so then he lived with them. It was all very weird and just got weirder at the end, but in case you want to watch it, I won’t spoil the ending. I fell asleep for about 15 minutes, at least, but not because it was boring. I was just sleepy, just like I usually am in movie theaters. I think it was worth 6.50, though! It was fun, and we were confused at some parts since there were no subtitles but understood most of it, which was awesome.

Here are some pics:

The famous flower dog outside of the Guggenheim!


Out in front of the Guggenheim!


Bubble sculpture outside


Guggenheim in the distance

May172012

Leaving…

I don’t really like transitions. I never have. I wonder if anyone does. The transition itself is always the hardest part of change; everything else, you can get used to, either bad or good. In that case, why should we fear or loathe the transitions to good? I guess probably because if our lives are already “good enough,” then hell, why bother changing it in the first place?

On Saturday, I live for a month for Spain. I’m excited. I love to travel, I love Spanish, I love Spain, and I love learning about food (I’m taking a Food Science course, just on a whim). This should be everything I’ve ever wanted to do. But still… I’m apprehensive. I know why, though. I’m not afraid of what it’s like there. I’m not nervous about meeting my roommates or not fitting in with the rest of the group because I don’t know anyone. I’m a little worried about communicating, not because I lack ability but because I lack confidence in my ability. I’m a bit concerned about finding my way to class. I’m really bothered by the fact that I can’t bring everyone from home and school with me. I don’t wanna miss out on stuff while I’m here.

April202012

Oh hello, thought I should return to blog something since my last post was really heavy. Not because I really felt like blogging today. I’ve been lazy. I was about to say I’ve been working on my other blog some, but I haven’t really. I should be. I’ve been taking pictures for it every time I cook something deliciously weird, but the posts just take up a lot of effort, and I don’t really have that. And yes, by that, I mean the ability to put in effort. 

I don’t know why I don’t blog more. I should. I say that endlessly. I should just be satisfied with a sporadic blog because, you know what, sometimes NOTHING interesting happens that day. Cool, I woke up, ate some yogurt, worked out, went to class, came home, napped, homework, got on facebook, went to sleep. I think that’s fine… but I used to write every single day when I was a little kid. Yes, in a journal or whatever, but even when I first got access to the internet, I started a blog, and wrote all the time. And I don’t think anything all that interesting happened everyday of a 12 year old’s life. But I wrote about it all. I’d advise you not to go looking for that blog, although, I believe it’d be a little bit difficult to find. In high school, I blogged almost everyday too.

And then I got to college and just got distracted.

I kind of feel that was about a lot of things. I used to read all the time, now I only do for school. And believe me, I’ve got the time to read. I could be reading right now, but I’m not. Sometimes I wonder if I just kind of burned myself out when I was a little kid. Before I started going to school, I wanted to do homework when I saw my brother working on his. I remember my first piece of assigned homework from Kindergarten, or at least I think I do. Some math counting worksheet torn out (messily, of course) from my book. During summers, other kids hated that their parents made the do the Summer Bridge work books so that they wouldn’t fall behind and forget everything they learned. I lived for those, no joke. It was the best day when they came in. Then, after I finished those books, (I’d try to ration myself to only a couple of pages a day, but that never really worked) I used my allowance to buy other workbooks. I really can’t tell you why, but I just enjoyed it. 

I wish I was still that way. Sure, sometimes I enjoy my schoolwork, but not in the same way. I was so productive. I feel like I burned myself out. Or maybe I just waste too much time on Facebook. 

Speaking of Facebook, sometimes I really feel like it would be much healthier to delete it. It makes me think of junkfood, and I hate the concept of that. Ugh, like a bag of greasy gas station brand potato chips. But at the same time, I like it because it helps me keep up with friends, and I use the chat part all the time.

So, this was a good rambling rant post about nothing. Like I said, just wanted you all to know that I’m alive and all that jazz. I’m actually doing a lot better since I last posted, but I wasn’t really doing poorly then, either. I just had to get that out. This semester has been kind of like… well… I feel like I’ve done a lot of growing this semester. I was about to say physically and mentally, but I haven’t physically GROWN at all (:() since the fifth grade or something.

Anyway, I work out regularly now, and in return, I no longer regularly have panic attacks. It’s helped me loads more than the medication and probably equally helped as much as the therapy has. In fact, the medication started making me feel really sick, so I’ve just abandoned that, aside from the Lorazepam which helps in emergency situations. But yeah, I actually look forward to going to the gym. I’m still a little weary about running, but I enjoy the feeling when I’m done so much that I’ve been going back day after day. It’s not that I find running particularly hard (although it does kinda hurt my knees and ankles [probably because I’m getting old]), but I just feel a little nervous when running. I think the more I do it, it will become more comfortable. That’s what I’m hoping at least.

Some days are better than others of course, but things on the whole are improving.

P.S.- I’m leaving for Spain in a month and a day!

March202012

This is what it’s like.

Think back. It’s your first visit to Six Flags, and you’re about to ride Batman, or whatever first roller coaster you rode. The ride is about to start and you feel a little nervous… maybe you’re breathing a bit fast; your heart is doing backflips. The ride starts, and you’re jerked from your reality and flying 100 mph through corkscrews and sudden drops. It feels like you’re having a heart attack, literally. You know you aren’t, logically, but you can’t quite believe it yourself because of the pounding in your chest. You probably want to scream, but you can’t because fear and excitement is constricting your throat. All your muscles are tensed, and because of this, you start to feel a little faint, all the while flying on your first roller coaster ride. Blurred colors fly by you. Your mind becomes a little fuzzy, thanks to your hyperventilation. Is this real? Am I really on this ride? And then, before you know it, the ride ends, and you get off. You’ve been initiated into the roller coaster riding club with the rest of the universe. Congratulations.

It was certainly… thrilling, at least for me on my first ride. I love roller coasters. But when you’re actually not on a ride at all, you’re just sitting in class, listening to a professor’s lecture. And all of a sudden you feel that first drop and the ride’s begun all over again. Well, there is nothing more terrifying. 

A million things could trigger it. A closed classroom door. I’m locked in here. I can’t escape. I’m never going to get out of here. I’m trapped. I am trapped. I have to leave. Laughter. What are they laughing at? It’s probably me. I’m weird. Here I go, being weird again. The alignment of the desks. If I sit here, I’m stuck for the rest of class. If I try to leave, they’ll all stare at me. If I can’t leave, I’m going to be trapped in here, again. If we sit in a circle, they’ll all ridicule me the entire time. I have to leave. I can’t be here. Sitting in the passenger seat of a car. I’m trapped again. I’ll probably throw up, pass out, or otherwise self-combust. 

And that’s only the start of the list. You know, logically, nothing bad will happen. Aliens aren’t going to abduct you from some hovering UFO outside the classroom window. But… something could happen. And once that though pops in your head, it’s all over. Say hello to corkscrews, nausea, and derealization. You’re there, and you won’t enjoy the ride. 

In fact, you’ll despise it so much, that you’ll begin to create routines to cope with your fear. That is, if you can manage to continue to visit the places which give you panic attacks. Sit in the seat closest to the door. Close your laptop because looking at the time is a trigger, too. Oh, but wait, you were supposed to be taking notes. Open your laptop again. Ugh. The clock is laughing in your face. You’re going to be here, suffering in your misery, forever. Close your laptop again. You can’t take it, so you just leave. Walk up and down the hall way. Try to use the bathroom. Drink some water. Walk so more. Oh god, have I been outside an unreasonably long amount of time? You’ll wonder. They’ve all certainly noticed by now. God. I am so fucking weird. And here it goes again… all over again. Take a benzo, go back to class. Because after that benzo, you really don’t give a fuck who says what. You’re just going to zone out until you notice everyone is leaving. Then, you’ll leave the classroom feeling like a zombie. You get home, and you’re exhausted.

Nothing is worth doing.

But hey! Good thing you have an excuse because everyone knows you’re “sick.” You’ve got a free pass to life. All the Lorzepam you could ever ask for. Every visit to the doctor, you’re asked, “Oh, would you like a refill for your high-risk-for-addiction sedatives?” As it turns out, you don’t even have to go to class. Forget class. You’ve got an accommodation that says you don’t have to go, ever.

You’re sad about it. Why? Because it fucking sucks to be weird and different and most of all, scared of the world. It feels lonely and shameful, even if you aren’t alone and you don’t have anything to be ashamed of. If that’s not true, but you feel it anyway, it might as well be reality. 

So now, they’re going to say that you’re depressed too. Here’s an anti-depressant for all that sadness. Next week, you’re going to come back and say, “It didn’t really help…” She’ll say, “Oh, it didn’t? Here, have more anti-anxiety medication.” Come back next week and tell her the same thing. Just take more, she’ll say. You’ll notice a difference soon.   

On the upside, there are things that do help (talking, exercise), and if you’re steadfast in battling it, you’ll stomp those fears to the ground. New fears will crop up, and you’ll probably never fully eradicate the panic you feel when these new fears do appear. But you will know how to deal with them, and life will smooth out with practice.

I have panic disorder, and this is what life is like. 

March182012

Look at me go!

I feel so accomplished today. I worked out, wrote two cover letters, applied for a job for next year, and made dinner for my family. I love being productive! And in a few days, I leave for NY. Yay! I can’t wait to see Rebekel.

March62012

(Source: masterjared, via bummerbek)

February192012

(Source: importer-exporter)

February132012
donschaffner:

iPhone 5 design leaked to web

donschaffner:

iPhone 5 design leaked to web

(via ilovecharts)

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