Yes, I’m still alive…

I’m an irresponsible blogger.  There’s no getting around it: my behavior over the last year has been absolutely inexcusable. Not a single post!

In my defense, I haven’t had a proper kitchen, nor have I had the time or resources to do much cooking other than my coffee and morning oatmeal (with apple and cinnamon–very yummy, but hardly blog-worthy).  But all of that is about to change (temporarily)! My freshman year of college is over–yesterday was my last final (you’ll be pleased to know I got an A), and as we speak my parents are in the car, drawing ever closer to the college of St. Olaf.

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Me with my good friend Lucia

Now I guess I’d better talk about college.  It was a great year!  I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve made friends who have become like family to me.  I’ve loved all my classes (except for chemistry, which is too difficult and should never have been invented, and psych, in which I had a very boring professor) and learned a ton!  I know more about Medieval theology than anybody in their right mind would ever want to, I can produce a literary analysis paper en francais, I’ve become quite the expert at B.S.ing my way through psychology exams,and if you need someone to balance a chemical equation, I’m your girl.

And now I’m heading home to Iowa City, which I have never truly appreciated.  I always thought Iowa City was kind of boring and quiet, but I’ve missed it this year.  And I’ve also missed my kitchen.

Now that I’m a responsible adult (ha) I’m trying not to eat so much dessert, so you’ll notice that Vivre will be transitioning from a baking-centered blog to a blog about proper cooking.  I’ve done my fair share of cooking with vegetables, grains, and soups, but I want to work with meat! That is my personal goal this summer: get good at meat.

Let’s see–what else has happened in my life? I got a haircut (ten inches off and I hate it. Note to self: do not cut hair short. Ever) and am now impatiently awaiting the growth of more hair.  I’m probably going to major in political science, and I think I’ll be doing pre-med.  Now I’ve got to finish packing the ridiculous amount of stuff I brought with me to college, so I’ll stop writing now and end with some pictures.

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From left to right: Poonam, me, Megan, Monique, and Monica

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Gretchen, Megan, me, Monique, and Maddy

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies aren’t just alliterative; they also happen to be amazingly addictive and absolutely delicious! I tried them out on a lazy at-home sort of day and I have never made a better decision.

You will need…

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix the sugars, salt and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour and baking soda, then mix in the chocolate chips. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On lined baking pans place large dollops of dough about three inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

   
   

Mint tea and graduating

I can’t believe how late this post is–it’s already mid June and so much has happened this summer! I graduated from highschool, my grandparents from India visited and I got a job (yes, I know it’s out of character). 

 
So long West High! 
  
Well, what with preparations for my grad party, a housefull of guests, yardwork to be done and working, I’ve sometimes been in dire need of a de-stressor. So I thought, why not try herbal tea?

We have no shortage of mint in our garden (actually, it’s quite invasive) so mint tea it was. I picked two stalks of mint (taking only the top half so each stalk would grow back) and rinsed them. Then I poured a mug-full of water into a pot over the stove and brought it to a boil. Next I added the mint leaves, reduced the water to a simmer, and covered the pot. After three minutes I poured the tea over a strainer and into my mug.

  
Mint tea doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but it’s calming and comforting and supposedly eases stomach pain! Plus, it makes your breath minty fresh. Enjoy!

  

Strawberry Oatmeal

My mom is a doctor, so I’ve grown up being lectured as to the importance of a healthy, hardy breakfast.  And you know what? She’s right. If my breakfast is less than ideal I fall asleep during physics, which is bad because I am currently walking the line between a B+ and an A-, and I still can’t wrap my mind around rotational motion. So I need to stay awake, meaning I need to start my day right, which brings me to oatmeal.

It’s delicious, cheap, simple and filling, not to mention healthy (speaking of health, I went for a run! You should all be proud of me). Especially when mixed with seasonal fruit, oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day right.
You will need…

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/3 cup liquid of choice (water, milk or a combination of the two)
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

Place a pot over medium heat and add the liquid and oats. This will need to cook for a few minutes; keep an eye on it and stir once in a while. When the oats start to bubble and come together, reduce heat and add sugar. Cook a while longer, until oats have reached a nice thick consistency. Add the berries and stir well. Enjoy!

  
  

    Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette

    Now that I’m an adult, on the cusp of independence, I have decided that I should probably start thinking about my health.  I will never give up dessert, of course–I just mean that I should be a bit more conscious about consuming things that will help me to live to be 105 (this has always been my goal.  It seems like a good age).  So I’m going to make an effort to bike and walk more (my mom wants me to run. I do not want to run.  I should probably run) and to incorporate more healthy things into my diet.  And what’s healthier than a salad?

    Once in a while I’ve made myself salads for lunch, using a dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  While good, this combination never tasted as nice as the salads I would eat at my dad’s restaurant (fancy that).  So I asked him, and he told me that the secret was honey-balsamic vinaigrette.  He was right–the vinaigrette provides just the right combination of salty and sweet to pull the salad together into healthy perfection.  I drizzled a tablespoon of it onto a salad of mixed greens, avocado and sauteed vegetables, packed it in my lunchbox, and ate a restaurant-worthy meal in my high school cafeteria.

    So, you will need….

    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

    Place all the ingredients in a jar and stir thoroughly.  Drizzle over salad for use.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.  Enjoy!

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    store in a cute jar and take awkward selfie

     

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    Drizzle over greens and revel in the healthiness

    Spring Break: what I’m eating

     It would have been nice to be able to enjoy the weather during Spring Break. Alas, this was not fated to be–thus far the week has been snowy, snowy and snowy. But of course, snowy days mean more time spent indoors cooking–and eating.

    Here are a few of the things I’ve eaten so far this week:

    Mayan fish salad at Moonrakers

     

    my favorite things: waffles, berries and strong black coffee

     
     

    Sardinian roasted and stuffed eggplant

     

    blueberry hand pies

    Chicago and Hamilton

    If you haven’t yet listened to the Hamilton soundtrack, you must. Ever since I first searched it up on Youtube last September I’ve been obsessed. From the genius polyphany to the witty lyrics, Hamilton is truly a masterpiece–a masterpiece that, I thought, I would not be seeing any time soon (it isn’t cheap).

    And then, lo and behold, my parents surprised my brothers and me with my graduation present:

      

    Did I squeal? Maybe. 

    Out of the blue we took a day off and drove to Chicago.

      
    Upon arrival we stopped for Sasha’s favorite lunch: sushi.

     

    Then, my day got even more magical as we visited the Art Institute (I just love the Impressionists). After a quick coffee (essential, you know) it was time to get ready. Our dinner reservation was quite early since the show began at 7:30. By 5:30 we were comfortably seated at Avec, a cozy Mediterranean restaurant run by the same people who own one of my favorite Chicago restaurants: Blackbird.
     
      I’ve just been waiting for an excuse to wear opera gloves 😉

     
      So maybe I’m pretending I’m at Downton Abbey

      

    Cod brandade

      
    Paella

      

    Chocolate mousse

    And then came the show. It was phenomenal, beautifully done and beyond comparison. I just have to say: my parents are the best. I could never have asked for a more fantastic gift.