Monthly Archives: February 2012

Weekly Check-Up 2/27/12

WMC 2.27

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a half gallon of skim milk. Yay for a virtually no spend week!

2. Today I am thankful for spring beginning. I just love the flowers popping up everywhere.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy help a friend bake a cake. We got vaguely sick off frosting and drank too much wine, but it was soo much fun just to giggle and have fun. 

4. I will consider this week a success if I do well on a midterm.

5. The thing I am most excited about spring is the weather getting warmer. I’m so tired of the 50s and 60s: bring on the 70s and 80s!



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Eleven Eleven

I was tagged by Zhenya from Being Zhenya in a post called Elevens:

This is how it goes…

  • You must post the rules
  • Post 11 fun facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you & then create 11 questions to ask the people you’ve tagged
  • Tag 11 people and link them in your post
  • Let them know you have tagged them.

Unfortunately, I’m new enough to blogging that I don’t have 11 people to tag, but I’ll do the first three.

Fun Facts about Mary:

1. I lived in a tent for 3 months.

2. I tasted fermented mare’s milk once and never will again.

3. I love broccoli the way everybody else seems to love bacon.

4. I worked as a restaurant chef for a year, before deciding that science was a better career for me.

5. I ran cross country in high school for 3 years, and came in last place almost every race.

6. I studied ballet for 12 years, but still trip over my own feet on a daily basis.

7. I once set a course record for highest mini gold score that stood for over a year. (Are you picking up on the fact that I’m not exactly Athletic?)

8. I can touch my nose with my tongue.

9. I’ve been to 4 continents and want to make it to all 7.

10. I was born on a farm.

11. I love to scuba dive.

Now my answer to Zhenya’s questions.
1. If you had to be named after a city, state, or country (etc), which would you want it to be?
I like the name Virginia, which can be nicknamed Ginny.
2. What did you do for your latest birthday?
I had just had oral surgery a few days before, so my friend came over, fed me pancakes, and then I slept on the couch in a Vicodin haze. Don’t worry, I plan on making up for it this year.
3. What is your favorite commercial?
I love the Coke commercials at Christmas.
4. Have you ever been in a food fight? Where and when? And who started it?
Several times: I went to a lot of summer camp and I grew up with brothers.
5. Have you ever sold/donated your blood? If you haven’t do you want to?
I donate blood on a regular basis: the needles are not so fun, but I get to help people and munch on cookies.
6. Which cartoon character do you resemble the most?
Optimistically, Ariel from Little Mermaid: red hair, likes to sing and swim.
7. What do you think Victoria’s secret is?
That Victoria doesn’t like boring panties under a boring outfit.
8. You can select one person from history and have them truthfully answer one question, who would you select and what is the
Marie Curie and how did she do it.
9. If you join the circus, what would you perform?
I always wanted to walk the tight rope.
10. Have you ever eaten a crayon, or glue? Or what strange thing have you eaten?
No crayons or glue, but I did eat paper in elementary school.
11. What is the strangest name someone has introduced themselves as to you? What is their real name?
A girl in middle middle school wanted to be called Twinkle, but her real name was Theresa.

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A Busy Girl’s Best Friend

Last Saturday, the day I normally cook for the week, after running errands, gardening, cleaning, grooming the dog, washing clothes, baking bread, and wrestling with a tricky lunch recipe, I ran out of steam before tackling my dinner recipe. Sunday turned out to be a 14 hour day, followed by 12 hour work days on Monday, Tuesday, and yesterday. My ingredients are all neatly prepped in my refrigerator, but I just never got around to making the stew. Thank goodness for leftovers.

Every time I make a big pot of kitchen sink soup (I throw in whatever beans, veggies & starch I have on hand) I freeze half of it. It was so nice to pull out a quart of frozen vegetarian Italian soup and have something tasty, nutritious and cheap for dinner, otherwise I would have had to resort to take out, which might be tasty, but is usually less nutritious and cheap than my own cooking. Microwave the soup, toast a slice of homemade bread, pour a glass of Two Buck Chuck and I almost feel like I’m in Europe somewhere. Almost.

Now this overworked student is going to ignore the pile of laundry that still needs to be folded and the opportunity to make more flash cards, and go lounge on the couch, read something trashy, and watch Grey’s just because I can.


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Homemade Deodorant

The Friday before last, I used the last of my deodorant. As I might have mentioned before, I’m really sensitive to most scented products, with deodorants being one of the worst culprits. Plus, with my sensitive skin, a lot of them irritated my skin. As I was contemplating going to the drug store and paying $9 for the one type of anti-perspirant that does not give me migraines or a rash in my arm pits, I decided that there had to be a better solution. I turned to my friend Google, and found several pages with recipes for homemade deodorant. Most included only coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils, all of which I already had in my house. I figured, for little cost, I could try it for a few days and see how it went. The first day was one I spent at home and could frequently sniff my armpits to check. The next day I hung out with a friend and made her tell me the honest truth: no smell. It’s been over a  week and I’ve been fine. No dampness or smell after my pilates class, and I’m fine for strolling around campus. It didn’t survive my 12 mile bike ride to school, but nothing does: that’s why I take a shower and reapply once I’m on campus.

Homemade Deodorant

  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil
  • few drops lavender essential oil

Melt coconut oil in the microwave. Mix in baking soda and essential oils. Pour mixture into a tin or jar and allow to set overnight. In the morning, rub a little onto your fingers, swipe under your arms, then rinse your fingers off. Enjoy!


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Mustard Braised Leeks

Last week’s CSA box included a bunch of leeks and I already had a bag of potatoes in my pantry. Naturally, my mind went to potato leek soup. But, I’ve done that a thousand times before and still have a quart of it in my freezer from my last batch. Fortunately, my box also contained eggs, which led me to make a Spanish tortilla for lunch this week. Spanish tortilla is actually a cross between an omelet and a frittata, typically filled with thinly sliced potatoes. I’d offer up a recipe, but I’m still experimenting with my proportions of egg and potato and more importantly, my technique. My tortilla turned out more like scrambled eggs with potato: delicious, but not so visually appealing. However, my veggie turned out lovely. I turned out to one of my crushes, Mark Bittman, and the bible of my kitchen, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. His braised leeks are incredibly simple and taste delicious.

Mustard Braised Leeks

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb leeks, cleaned, halved lengthwise, then cut into 4-6 inch lengths
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp prepared mustard (I used spicy brown)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

In a large skillet that has a lid, heat oil over medium heat. Add leeks, salt, and pepper, and saute until beginning to brown, ~5 minutes. Dissolve mustard in water, pour over leeks, then cover and reduce heat to medium low. Allow to cook undisturbed for 20 minutes. Before serving, add lemon juice and adjust seasonings. Serves 4.

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Weekly Money Check-Up 2/20/12

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on gas, again. I seriously need to find something more exciting, but once I pay my bills at the beginning of the month, gas is my biggest expense.

2. Today I am thankful for finishing an assignment early.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was use a friend’s extra ticket to go hear a latin jazz concert. The music was amazing, we got to dress up and it was so much fun to discuss music with a fellow fan.

4. I will consider this week a success if I walk my dog every day. Poor baby’s been limited to laps around my complex or trips to my backyard for the past few days.

5. The last thing I ate was roasted garlic hummus and sourdough baguette.

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Almond Soup

Deborah, my favorite farmer, tends to be very generous with almonds. Last week, when I was putting away my latest delivery of 2 pounds of almonds in my freezer, I realized that I already had 9 pounds in there. I’ve mostly been using them for making almond butter and having a batch of spiced almonds at my desk for when I get hungry. Clearly, I needed to branch out and step up my consumption. While checking under almonds in the index of my copy of Cooking in Spain, I discovered a recipe for almond soup. This was a bit labor intensive, but sooo tasty: rich but not heavy. It also called for bread, and since I still had had half a loaf of failed bread on hand, this recipe was a win-win. A word to the wise, it calls for blanched almonds, which weren’t too hard to make myself. Simply put the almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, let them sit for 1 minute, drain off the hot water, rinse with cold, and drain again. Then spend 20 minutes or so in front of the t.v. popping the skins off.

Sopa de Almendras

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 lb blanched almonds
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 lb bread, diced (preferably stale)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat, and in it, toast the almonds, saffron, garlic & bread, until they are lightly golden. Poor into a food processor or blender along with peppercorns, cumin, vinegar and 1 cup of broth, and process until smooth. Heat remaining broth in the same pot, whisk in the puree, and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.

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