Saturday, June 27, 2009

From "Whip-Poor-Will"

...It is good
to wake early in high
summer with work to do,
and look out the window
at a ghost bird lifting away
to drowse all morning
in his grassy hut.

(Donald Hall)
Today has not been so productive. It's 1:50 PM EST, I'm unshowered and groggy, and my house is a mess. The shower thing will be easy to remedy; the house thing, less so. The bad news is, I stayed out later last night than I have all year (& consequently slept until 10:15 ), but the good news is that I've already packed three boxes of kitchen stuff today! And I cleaned up all the bacon pans left over from last night's [early this morning's] boozy bacon extravaganza. The extravaganza was not my idea - I was a mere spectator - but it was greasily hilarious! Eric and Darren cooked and ate a pound of bacon, then commenced a series of arm wrestling competitions! HA!

The cleanup was not hilarious, but I survived.

Finally it is sinking in that I'm leaving Western Mass, and I am going to miss a lot of people and places. People, you know who you are, and you best come visit me in Wisconsin. I will bake you pies and take you out for boots of beer. Among the places I'll miss most are the bike path (Norwottuck Rail Trail), the Smith Gardens, Forbes Library (where I spent many an hour editing the old thesis), and the Hangar, which serves the best boneless wings in the country. I'm not joking about that: I do not joke about chicken wings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I did not sign up for this weather package

(and other tales of New England meteorological discontent.)

What a week! What a weekend! Highlights (chronologically, not in order of importance):

1) Thursday, Ali and I made an awesome batch of blueberry muffins. Alright: I did the prep, baking, and cleanup, but Ali kept me company and later taught me the basics of needlepoint, so we're even. I'd be remiss if I didn't include the recipe for said wundermuffins:

Blueberry Oat Muffins
(Yield: 18 muffins)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups fat-free or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  1. Combine oats and buttermilk in mixing bowl. Cover; let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray muffin pan cups with nonstick cooking spray or use pleated paper liners.
  3. Combine buttermilk mixture, flour, sugar, oil, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs and orange zest in second mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Fold in blueberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling them 3/4 full.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on wire rack to cool.
(Recipe taken from Vegetarian Times, January 1, 2005. And yes, we did use walnuts.)

Not only were the muffins ueber-easy to prepare (I grated orange zest and measured the other ingredients while the oats and buttermilk sat, undisturbed), but they're healthy, too - 130 calories each without the nuts, about 155 with. They are also unstoppably delicious.

2) Also on Thursday, I began my first ever cross stitch project: a small hamburger! I only have a few rows of stitching thus far - packing has sort of taken over my life - but I think I can finish the project by the end of the week. Maybe.

3) This weekend, Cecily and Chris got married. The ceremony, held in an orchard at Quonquont Farm, was simple and beautiful. Congratulations, C & C!

4) Today I started a RunningAHEAD account so I can track my runs (and bike rides). I was hesitant to open an account before, mainly because I was running like, 1.5 miles and felt (perhaps inaccurately?) wusstastic. But today I overcame this mental block and joined the site. My name is Garky. If any of you all are on the site, friend me! (If that is an option.)

A small, mid-year goal of mine is to update more frequently, rather than having these giant, dump-truck posts. But when there's so much happening, it's difficult to find the time, yes? Excuses!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aw, man: I was planning to ride my bike today (to Maple Farm Foods, to campus, around), but now it it raining and is supposed to rain all day. At noon, the chance of precipitation lessens to 30%, but I'm going to amend my daily plan to include the baking of cupcakes/the packing of boxes/the perusing of internet wonders. Sigh. Mostly, I am bored with my gym routine and was looking forward to exercising outside, but the world would have it otherwise.

Again: sigh.

Relatedly: red velvet cupcakes. Maybe I will bake some.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The beets turned out really well; I was hoping to post pictures, being that beets are awesomely hued, but I had to peel and chop them in sort of a rush & also forgot to bring my camera to the party. Ah, well. Less successful was my decision to shotgun a beer midway through the night. "Hey Ya" came on late in the evening, and I started reminiscing about how this song always reminds me of junior/senior year (though the song itself came out earlier), and how college in general reminds me of shotgunning beers...Right. Logic was not present in my mind, mind you, and someone said that if they found a canned beer then I had to shotgun, which I did - with a minimum of mess. I think I'll stick to beets, though.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Here is my inaugural beet recipe (Mark Bittman), chosen for its simplicity and because I love all involved ingredients:

Beets With Garlic-Walnut Sauce Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)

2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


I'm going to make the salad this afternoon, for a cocktail party this evening. I hope it goes well - for my sake & the sake of others in attendance! I don't foresee myself messing this up, though.

Sad news: the balance pods I ordered (on 5/30) won't be shipped until August. My mailing address is going to change twice before these li'l guys (conceivably) arrive. WTF, Spri? I understand that the pods' promotion in Self caused a glut of orders, but August? Really? Guess I'll stick with crunches until then...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beet it.

Lately I've been eating a lot (a lot) of Swiss chard, either with sweet potatoes and onions or just sauteed in broth. I'm not sick of it, per se, but I feel that I should branch out to other leafy greens: Collard greens, Kale, and the like. Which leads me to the topic of beets.

As a kid, I hated the cold beet soup my mom made during the summer. It was the same shade as Pepto-Bismol and made the whole fridge smell like hard cooked eggs. Summers of Borscht fostered my early, negative association with beets, which lingered until approximately April, 2005, when I tried (and loved) pickled beets. Beyond the pickled variety, though, I know nothing about this richly-hued veggie - a knowledge void I would like to fill.

Yesterday afternoon, while bumming around the grocery store (I had to stay out of the apartment while it was being shown to a prospective renter), I almost bought a bunch of beets. "Hey," I thought, "I can eat the greens per usual, and..." And what? Roast the beets proper? I chickened out, not having a recipe in mind (and also remembering the bunch of chard I already had in the fridge). Consider this a call for beet recipes: how do you all eat your beats? Baked in the oven? Sauteed? And how do you prefer the greens? I'm going to sniff out some recipes and will report back with my results.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back from the dead!

Or, in a more "Tale of Two Cities" vein, RECALLED TO LIFE.

It's been a busy few weeks around these parts of town. May 22nd was graduation, and my whole family came out for the affair. I was glad for the parental support, indifferent though I was about the ceremony. Not indifferent about the degree, mind you, just not psyched about sitting in an overheated auditorium for over three hours, hearing lists and lists of names read. Never mind that I was dehydrated & mysteriously sleep deprived & sitting by complete strangers. Phew! I am glad that I walked; lots of grad students don't, and I think that, unremarkable though the event proper was, I would've been sad if I'd passed on the opportunity. As is the case with so many missed opportunities.

I've been working at the Target food court ("Food Ave") for the past six weeks, which has fortified my character in a number of ways. It is true that I could have loafed for the month of June - I'd saved enough money for bills and minor recreation - but I wanted to earn a bit of extra cash for the move and to create a time commitment to help me structure my remaining days here. I don't know about you, but I accomplish more when I have more to do. I'm thinking back to my first summer in Northampton, when I worked approximately ten hours a week (if that) and managed to get nothing done. When I have more on my plate, I'm more conscious of time and how I spend it. The strategy has worked, so far; I've been steadily applying to jobs in Madison, researching Dietetics grad programs, reading, reading, running. I have yet to start my first needlepoint project, but that's next.

A cloudy day, birdcalls and street sounds seeming far off.

Chocolate lovers, and lovers of anything sweet: you must try Dagoba's blueberry lavender chocolate. It is the best thing ever, and by this, I mean ever. I'm pretty excited to try their mint bar (also flavored with rosemary), but not much compares to lavender infusions.