Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ice Cube-icle, Ode to Bob Ross, and A Study in Citrus

If you're trying to guess what the title for this post could possibly mean, you're not going to get it. Because each of those devastatingly witty phrases is a name I've given to a particular outfit I've worn to work over the past few months. See? Told you you would never guess.

Now, it's not that I'm totally obsessive about putting outfits together. I don't have a Clueless-esque computer program matching my tops and bottoms. I just like to make sure my combos are cute. The names are something that pop into my head as I'm making coffee halfway through the morning, one of the fruits of that spare brain power which was moments ago focused on bitfields and register mnemonics.

Want the breakdown? Well, I'm giving it to you anyway:
  • Ice Cube-ice: silver flats, grey-blue trousers, grey turtleneck, ice blue cardigan, icicle-looking earrings
  • Ode to Bob Ross: canvas paint splatter flats, tweed-y trousers, sunshine yellow long-sleeved shirt, bright pink cardigan, confetti cake scarf
  • A Study in Citrus: red wedges, black trousers, orange long-sleeved shirt, bright pink cardigan, orange hoop earrings
Maybe a year from now the novelty will wear off and I'll just be grabbing whatever is clean and comfortable. But I'm still new and enthusiastically making sure to not wear the same shoes , and basing a look on a particular scarf I want to wear. Now, what about Monday...?

(I should note: yes, it was summer when I wore all of these. The temperatures were record-setting this year, but the office has been chilled like fine champagne the whole time and I'm always freaking freezing.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Serious Craving

Based on my most recent posts, you're probably bracing yourself for some wacky kitchen concoction. Oatmeal and hot dogs? Cupcakes and ice cream? Cupcakes and hot dogs?! Well, fear not, your conventional ideas about food will not be challenged today. No, I'm referring to a craving that I never expected to have.

Remember that jog around the block I took on Saturday? I did it again on Sunday. And if it wasn't still so freaking hot, I probably would have done it during the week. But as it is, I'm just looking forward to tomorrow morning.

Whoa. I know. That's totally weird. Saturday morning cartoons would seemingly make more sense as a draw for the weekend then tying up laces and hitting the pavement. But that's how I feel. I'm even looking at that Nike+ thing, with the sensor in your shoe to track your progress.

Is it possible that I'm suffering from some rare form of insanity?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Matilda: Patron Saint of the Downtrodden Bookworm

Yesterday was Roald Dahl's birthday, and that got me thinking about one of my favorite Dahl creations: Matilda.

I like to think that I was born with books in my blood, that somehow a love of words is locked into the double helix of my DNA. But when I look back on my childhood, there were more than a few figures who guided me through the wilderness of 'weird' and other labels that often scare kids away from indulging in their instinctual desires to read voraciously.

There was Belle, who, let's face it, wasn't in love with the Beast until she saw his library. And Elizabeth Wakefield, who had brains, beauty, books, and a boyfriend. All Bs, except for her report card (perish the thought!). Or Vada Sultenfuss, slightly more morbid (she was the daughter of a funeral director, after all) lover of poetry and mood rings.

In this pantheon of reading icons is Matilda. In many ways, she's a patented Dahl character: down-trodden child empowered by elements of magic to change her situation. For Charlie it was chocolate. For Matilda it was books. (For me, it's both!)

Unfortunately, read as much as I would, I couldn't tip any glasses over with my mind. Then again, I was never threatened with the Chokey at school, though I might be able to identify some slightly Trunchbullian administrators and teachers. Still, I made the connection early on between books and magic. And not just in the pyschokinetic powers sense.

So thank you, Roald Dahl, for creating Matilda Wormwood and adding to the cast of characters who helped to give nature a boost and nurturing my growing love of books. I don't know who I would have become without such characters, but I don't want to.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Havin' It My Way

So apparently I'm not the only one realizing the awesomeness that is oatmeal. Burger King is the latest place to put it onto their breakfast menu. But I find it easier just to avoid fast food altogether, unless there's something really special that I crave. For example, a strawberry slushie from Sonic, or a chocolate Frostie from Wendy's (with fries for dipping!).

But oatmeal is something that I can rock out on my own, no drive-thru required. I've had it three times already this week for dinner. I use the term dinner loosely here, since one of those oatmeals was a Salted Caramel Cocoa Oatmeal:

Yum! It's adapted from Hungry Girl's recipe here. In this case, adapted mostly means no chips, more caramel. Didn't have the first one, had the second stashed in the fridge thanks to Super Target clearance. Because really, present me with something tasty, lower calorie, and on sale, and there is simply no way I can resist.

The second oatmeal was so good I made it twice: Barbecue Brisket Oatmeal. Again, I must confess the convenience factor which lead to this concoction. My uncle is in town visiting, and along with fajitas, barbecue is a required culinary part of his trip. We went to Rudy's on Monday, and while he and my dad ate their extra moist brisket and sausage, I carefully weighed out four ounces each of smoked turkey and extra lean brisket. And I ended up with leftovers to take home with me.

So that leftover beef was chopped/shredded into a savory oatmeal (cooked in half water, half chicken broth) along with some onions, which just happened to be leftover from the fajitas we made. Once that was bubbling and delicious, I drizzled on the elixir of life, otherwise known as Salt Lick sauce. Is it wrong to mix the meat and sauce from different Qs? Perhaps. Do I care? Nope. It's tasty!

(This would be where a picture would go if I hadn't been so hungry after my workout last night that I gobbled it up before remembering to document my dinner.)

And tonight it's back to the sweet oatmeal with an ooey-gooey S'Mores Oatmeal:
Again, inspired by scavenging. Someone at the office had extra marshmallows left over from their weekend, and they were so ridiculously huge I had to grab one and bring it home. What can I say? I can't resist free. Or marshmallows.

It's the same as the Salted Caramel Cocoa Oatmeal, except instead of caramel, I added the marshmallow, chopped up a bit, then sprinkled Fiber One Honey Squares as the graham cracker element. I also used a tablespoon of actual cocoa instead of hot cocoa mix for extra chocolate-y goodness.

There's almost nothing that can't be brought home in a doggy bag from a restaurant or found to be in overabundance in the fridge that I can't whip into an oatmeal. And aside from tasting awesome, you get that added sense of righteousness from not only frugally using every food source, but getting lots of fiber and other trendy health benefits at the same time.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wait, the Nike endorsement isn't automatic?

This morning, I woke up in a commercial. I got out of bed, brushed my teeth, laced up my sneakers, popped in my earbuds and took a run around the block.

Yup, that was me, jogging past your window as you crunched your cornflakes and brushed the sleep out of your eyes. Don't worry, I wasn't judging you. Okay, maybe I indulged in a little superiority, but I needed it to keep huffing and puffing past. Because while Beyonce is inspirational, sometimes that woman mocks me with her booty-shaking tunes.

While I get 10,000 steps in every day, this was the first time I've really maintained more than a walking pace for any length of time other than on the elliptical. So it was just the one block. But I jogged the whole way, letting each milestone of the short journey pass without slowing down, though I told myself I would at the next.

There are still steps left to complete on my pedometer for the day, but after actually following through on a morning jog (it's been a concept I've toyed with many a Friday night), taking a refreshing shower, and diligently writing this very blog post, I think I deserve a rest, don't you?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gum Geek Gets Moment of Glory

Sorry, I like my alliteration. Anyway, I was made disproportionately excited by the quickfire challenge on the latest Top Chef: Just Desserts because it involved Extra Dessert Delights.

Take a peak in my purse and you'll find a Ziploc full of sugar-free gum. I love the stuff. I chew it after practically every meal. I'm partially convinced this is the reason I got good remarks from my dentist at my last check-up, because my daily brushing and flossing didn't change. I have a snack bag of them because I never know what flavor I'm going to want. In my arsenal are all of the Dessert Delight flavors, so when the pastry chefs were challenged to create a tiny dessert to inspire a new edition to the line, I was kind of stoked.

I tried to jot down each entrant quickly, and here are my thoughts:
  • Pina Colada: Two chefs did this. Sorry, guys, but Orbit already makes that one, so I'm not interested in a duplicate.
  • Lemon Pancakes with Strawberries: They already have Strawberry Shortcake, so this bored me. It ended up winning, but it 'inspired' Lemon Square as the possible new flavor, so I'm okay with that.
  • Dulce de Leche: Yes! I would love a caramel gum. Extra needs to make this happen.
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookie: I like that this was a recognizable, iconic dessert, but it's not one I'd be rushing to chew. I feel like Apple Pie already covers the creamy cinnamon category.
  • Banana Latte: So I know it would be weird to chew coffee gum, especially since my morning gum is usually to get the coffee taste out, but it did sound kind of good to me. I think it could be done right. Also, banana is a good flavor. Which I guess is why Bananas Foster was one of the options Extra has going up against the challenge winner.
  • Raspberry Panna Cotta with Linzer Crust: Um, what? Ah, yes, that beloved dessert recognized around dinner tables everywhere. Failure to 'get' the challenge in my view. But they mentioned a gingerbread flavor, which would be a great holiday edition gum.
  • Passion Fruit Gelee with Coconut Tapioca: Yet again we have something which, while a dessert, isn't a standard. Blah.
  • Chocolate Cream Cookie with Orange Cheesecake: I'm confused. Is this an orange-flavored Oreo, basically? No. Cheesecake, maybe that would be interesting. Oreo might be interesting, but tough to pull off. And having to call it something non-branded is just silly-sounding.
  • Black Forest Cake: I'm totally on board with this one. It's a classic dessert that sounds good and doesn't overlap with the current catalogue of available flavors.
The third option you could vote for was Root Beer Float. I'm good with that too. It's a hard candy, so they should be able to recreate that flavor pretty well. It makes me want them to come up with a soda line of flavors, because Dr. Pepper, Mountain Dew, and Coke all sound good to me now.

Also, I have one more suggestion not covered in any of these instances: Cherry Pie. Come on, it's the All-American classic! It doesn't cover the same ground as Apple Pie, and I would think cherry is within their range to make chewable.

And so ends the disturbing glimpse into how much I love gum. Good night!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

No, You're Not Crazy

Well, maybe you are, but it would not be indicated by any confusion you may have about the appearance of this site. After my last post, I decided to finally play around and choose a new template. I never liked the dark background with light text, but it seemed apocalypse-appropriate. This is more like an apocalypse caused by an avalanche of books. Anyway, enjoy, and don't forget to read the new tagline...

Cupcake...Leftovers? Are Those Even Possible?

Well, my friends, it's true. Even I, with my great love of all things cup and cake, can find myself with too many on hand to feasibly eat fresh. It's those darned Groupons and their deals on a dozen. I'm too selfish to share them with others, but too calorically limited to just gobble them all up at once as I would like. So into the freezer they go.

Once they come out, depending on how good I was about putting them in something airtight, and how long they were lost in the black hole that is my freezer, they may or may not be best eaten as is once thawed. Often they'll have lost a little moistness, and while the frosting is still sweet and delicious, it's also not quite soft.

But waste not, want not, and that's a lot of goodness to want. And so, my culinary inventiveness was called upon to rescue deliciousness from the void. Would I respond to the call?

You know it.

Here's what I started with:

A Bavarian Cream cupcake from Lick It, Bite It, Or Both in Austin. Yum.

Here's what I did:
  1. Unwrapped it. (duh)
  2. Took off the frosting piped on top and set aside for later. It was still cold from a fridge thaw, so it mostly just chipped off.
  3. Cut the cake into four flat slices.
  4. In a small-ish Tupperware, I mixed: 1/8 cup egg substitute, 1/8 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a dash of cinnamon, and a splash of Torani sugar-free syrup, chocolate flavored.
  5. I set the slices of cake into the eggy mixture and swirled it around, spooned it over the top of all the slices, just generally made sure that it was going to absorb it all as much as possible.
  6. With a lid on the Tupperware, I put it back in the fridge to absorb for a few hours.
  7. When it was time to feast, I sprayed a frying pan, turned the flame on medium-high, and carefully spatula-ed the slices into the pan.

  8. After they seemed to be sizzling, I flipped them over. This is really a judgement call, and I'm sure I'll get my skills fine-tuned, but those experienced in french toast would know better than I what to look for.

  9. And then it was just a little more waiting before I had cupcake french toast ready to enjoy.
And enjoy I did. That frosting that I set aside? Totally forgot about it, but I just ate it later when I saw it in the fridge.

So, yeah. I took a cupcake and made it into french toast. I didn't eat it for breakfast, if that makes it any less horrific for any of you. And I'm not really sorry if it doesn't, 'cause it was good.