swine flu’d


Accidentally got swine flu and had serious malaise (an actual symptom, promise!) for a few days there. So my plans to actually make food that wasn’t pasta and sauce from a jar were somewhat foiled. However: I do have a few new things.

1. We got a tiny tiny kitten! Her name is Morris and she looks like this:

mo money mo problems

mo' money mo' problems

2. I made snickerdoodles from a Nigella Lawson recipe. I wanted them to be big and chewy but they were small and more like tea-cakes. Still tasty though:

snickerdoodles, sort of

snickerdoodles, sort of

3. The latest in the series of dinners-that-are-easy-for-a-poor-college-student-to-make: Dijon chicken. I’ve been buying these 4-lb. bags of frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts at HEB. I just take one out in the morning, put it in a plastic bag in the fridge to defrost, and by night it’s thawed and can be cooked pretty much any way. Chicken breasts are nice because they taste like something other than pasta sauce. Plus, Joy of Cooking has a bunch of simple, reliable chicken recipes.

Anyway, tonight I just smeared the defrosted chicken all over with Dijon honey mustard and then coated it in a mixture of a handful of bread crumbs, about 1 1/2 tbsp. melted butter, half a clove of garlic, salt and pepper. Then I baked it for 45 minutes at 350F. It was actually pretty delicious. I probably should have flipped it over halfway through so the coating would stick on both sides, but I was fine with it not looking perfect:

Dijon mustard chicken

Dijon mustard chicken bite

4. Busybusy finishing my costume for Layne’s Marie Antoinette-themed birthday party on Saturday. I hope it will feel like this.


My old computer is officially dead, but that means I had an excuse to get the new 13-inch MBP and it’s lovely. This means I will soon be able to upload pictures again, which is awesome because these posts look so sad without them.

My friend Ceci G released an EP, “The Sleep,” earlier this month, which was just reviewed at PrettyMuchAmazing (!!!), an excellent music blog. They are hosting a couple of free tracks and the rest of the album can be downloaded at iTunes, Amazon, and Lala. I am super excited for her and if you live in New York and get the chance to see her perform, you definitely should.

(P.S. If you recognize the photo in the review, it’s because I took it!)

Spent yesterday evening making an apple pie with Isabella. I’d never made an apple pie before and it felt like a very end-of-summer kind of thing to do. I modified a basic recipe I found online and ended up with this, which was simple and tasty and looked exactly like I wanted it to:

apple pie pre-assembly

apple pie pre-assembly

1. Core, peel, and slice 6 apples (I used 4 Granny Smiths and 2 honeycrisps, which helped offset the mushiness of Granny Smiths alone).

2. Make a caramel-y syrup for the apples by melting one stick of butter in a saucepan and stirring in 3 tbsp. flour to thicken. Then add 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup of white sugar, and 1/4 cup of water and blend (For the future, I would reduce the amount of sugar – I found myself wanting a tarter pie in the end). Add spices: 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tbsp. vanilla (i would probably reduce these the next time as well). Bring to a boil and then simmer for 5 minutes to reduce.

3. Mix the apples with the syrup to coat. I squeezed in half a lemon at this point to cut the sweetness a little.

4. Put the bottom pie crust (I cheated and used pre-made since we don’t have a food processor) in a round pie dish and brush with milk to keep it from getting soggy. Dump the apples in and slice the other pie crust up to make a lattice on top. Isabella had to help me with this. I didn’t realize you actually had to weave it. It was definitely worth how pretty it looked, though. I forgot to do this, but you should also brush the lattice with a little milk or egg white to make it brown faster.

raw apple pie

raw apple pie

5. Bake for 15 minutes at 425F and then 40-50 minutes at 350F, or until the filling is bubbly and the top crust looks nice and golden brown. Wait for it to cool a little before eating. We had it with vanilla bean ice cream on top and it was exactly what I wanted from an apple pie.

bubbly and delicious

bubbly and delicious

I took some before-and-after pictures, but unfortunately my computer has killed itself and I’ll have to wait to upload them.

//EDIT: new computer, pictures now working!//

We also spent some time exploring the backyard and ended up making a fire pit with some cinderblocks stolen from the neighbors’ yard. Fall is coming. I can’t wait to fix up the backyard more. It will be a great place to hang out.

For the upcoming week, I want to make:

1. Gazpacho, before it’s truly fall

2. Yellow curry – send me a good recipe if you have one!

3. This canvas thing with some Christmas lights I bought last week

In lieu of my own pictures, for now, I’ll forward you to Layne’s tumblr, which is filled with adorable and wonderful things.

food therapy


Layne’s creation of a tumblr reminded me that I hadn’t updated this in months. In that time I have become busy, stressed, unproductive, unfocused, and generally overwhelmed by the number of things to do to the point where I can hardly do anything.

general house-vibe

general house-vibe

However: I have moved into a new and adorable house, and I am trying to learn how to cook, for real, an endeavor certainly worth documenting if only so I can remember what worked and what didn’t. Instead of being impressed with myself for “cooking” pasta with tomato sauce from a jar, I want to be able to throw together cohesive meals for myself. I want to have fancy dinner parties. I want to bake tiny cute hors d’oevres.

So far, I have been mildly successful. The recipes I have tried and succeeded in making since moving in, with links and pictures where available:

1. Baked Orange Juice Chicken (from The Joy of Cooking, which everyone should have – it’s indispensible for basic, relatively foolproof recipes) with braised lemon-garlic spinach, one of my favorite easy vegetable sides (which is just minced garlic cooked in olive oil until it’s translucent, then spinach dumped in and tossed constantly til it’s wilted, and squeezed lemon juice, fresh black pepper, and salt on top)

2. Chicken Pot Pie, which I liked a lot as it is – the gravy is delicious – but would have been even better with cubed potatoes, many more vegetables and a lot less chicken. The “pi” was Dylan’s touch, of course.

3. Tuxedo Brownie Cups, a Pampered Chef recipe that I’ve made many times and always with great response – basically brownies from a mix (I always use Ghiradelli Double Chocolate) with a white chocolate cream cheese filling and strawberries to garnish – tedious but not difficult. I made these for our housewarming cocktail party. Use mini-muffin liners or else these are nearly impossible to get out of the pan intact

4. Lemon-Almond Tuiles from The Modern Baker, another tiny dessert from the cocktail party

5. To end on a classy note, because I know I’ve made more than this but I can’t think of anything: tiny pizzas, a staple of my and Layne’s diets, consisting of basically heated-up pizza lunchables 🙂

Hopefully there will be more and better things to come.

1. Family vacations are always weird. Combine that with the kind of people who go on Carnival Fun Ship Cruises (everything is fun – even the cash registers read “FUN TRANSACTIONS” at the top) and I had a very strange week, involving many outspoken Republicans, depressed piano players, and magic-performing Indians. As well as a good amount of time spent underwater:

underwater in Grand Cayman

underwater in Grand Cayman

The surprising thing, to me, is that the water is really the color it looks in pictures. Even while scuba diving.

my favorite fish in the Caribbean

my favorite fish in the Caribbean

a pair of starfishes

a pair of starfishes

Using my dad’s underwater camera was really fun, plus now I have some really HAWT pictures of me in a wetsuit. Soon to be available online. Pictures from above water will be tomorrow’s feature.

2. I found this blog post from another former Angelika Film Center employee that I thought was sort of hilarious – maybe just because I, too, remember the sneaky single-serving nacho.

3. Interesting article on the science behind swearing – it actually reduces pain to swear after hurting yourself.

4. Really cool street art in Buenos Aires, especially this “evolution” graffiti.

5. I really like the new video for “See Fernando,” still don’t care much for the song, though. Acid Tongue (the album, not the song) is pretty bad compared to everything else Jenny Lewis has put out.

Jenny Lewis “See Fernando” from Team G on Vimeo.

i know a place


1. Fourth of July is always a strange holiday. What I would like to do, every time: get a red and white checkered blanket and have a picnic on a hill. Somebody should be grilling cheeseburgers. There are fireflies everywhere as the sun goes down, and then we watch the big fireworks show and ooh and aah. What I did: stand on my balcony seeing only smoke through the trees. Watch my sister go swimming. Eat pavlova.

Marina, or a shark

Marina, or a shark

2. Tomorrow I leave for the high seas for a week. I return Sunday, at which time I should have a million pictures of stingrays and sharks and dolphins and sundry creatures of the ocean — not to mention the many friends I will make while playing shuffleboard and drinking things out of coconuts. This cruise promises to be absurd. I hope it is exactly like an Agatha Christie novel, minus the murder.

3. As a (temporary) parting gift, I give you Dean Martin in one of my favorite musical performances, singing Blue Moon. You almost can’t tell how drunk he is.

on the road


1. I took 290 home this time. There was a “scenic farm” and a ghost town right out of an old West movie and a peach stand on the side of the road. For comparison’s sake, if you are like me and have to speed or you feel like you’re going too slowly, stick to I-10/71 for the Austin-Houston commute. 290 is prettier and gets you there in the same amount of time but there is hardly anything more frustrating than passing a pick-up truck going 60 in the right lane only to find yourself behind a pick-up truck going 63 in the left lane, thinking that is okay.

this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about

this is a long drive for someone with nothing to think about

I feel like I am living out of suitcases.

2. If you haven’t been to Kaboom Books yet, check it out and be sure to talk to the folks working there. I was reading Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski (it is brutal and unfiltered and honest and I’m really enjoying it) at Antidote and decided to stop by the Studewood store asking for more recommendations like it. The guy working there talked to me for twenty minutes about the movements Bukowski influenced and admired and not only recommended authors to me, but prevented me from buying one book by Celine because he said it would be better to start with a different title, not in stock, which he would get for me tomorrow. This is what a used bookstore should be like.

3. My car is totaled due to somebody being wasted at 11 p.m. on a Wednesday and deciding it was a great idea to drive. Anyone selling a car with working A/C and stereo for two thousand bucks? FML.

4. Had a dream that I was swimming in the ocean playing with jellyfish. It was dark. I wanted to touch one that had a big squishy top and long white tentacles. It looked lazy and I pressed my hand into the top. It started to wrap its tentacles around my arm and I moved away but it just grabbed on tighter and pulled me underwater and I woke up terrified.