Archive for November, 2008

Amaranth

A few months ago, I bought a bag of amaranth grain.  The reason? I had a cookie recipe that called for amaranth flour. I was not able to find the flour, so I thought I would grind the grain in my spice grinder instead.

Heh, yeah, right. The cookies turned out a little… crunchy, prompting the recipient to ask if there was flax in them. (FYI: if there had been flax in them, it would have been ground flax– I don’t buy the whole seed– and it wouldn’t have been crunchy 😉 )

So, I was stuck with a bag of amaranth grain that I thought I would never use.

I am here today, ladies and gentlemen, to inform you that I have hereby finished that bag of amaranth grain.

Turns out, it makes a tasty breakfast cereal (especially when combined with oats).

Now I don’t know what I’m going to eat for breakfast anymore…

End of Semester

Panic Time.

Two weeks: two papers.

Three weeks: two more papers.

December 16: freedom.

Anthro Overload

I am in San Francisco for the annual American Anthropological Association meetings… holy crap there are a lot of anthropologists here.

San Francisco is pretty much an awesome city, too. I want to live here someday. Key word: some[as-yet-undefined]day.

Now I am waiting for my friend to show up so I can go get something for lunch.

Ooh! A text message! Lunchtime.

Made my evening…

I’ll be missing the Discussion from Hell tomorrow. It’s unfortunate, because the class topic is really interesting, I’m having fun writing the final paper, and the professor is really smart/ nice/ down-to-earth, but the… uh… range of personalities in the class make for a painful three hours each week. I leave every night feeling like a moron, having contributed very little to a discussion that I couldn’t really follow, because it doesn’t actually stick to the topic at hand. It turns into more of an ego-fest, with certain people engaging in 30 min-long monologues (seriously).  I think one student’s statement sums it up nicely: “You don’t have to actually *be* smart in grad school, you just have to *appear* smart.”  Uh… yeah.

So tonight, I was incredibly flattered to get an email from the professor thanking me for posting my thoughts on the articles to the website and saying that she was very sorry I would not be able to make it to class tomorrow.

Maybe “flattered” isn’t the right word… but her email really made my evening.  I feel like maybe I’m not such a huge moron after all.  I am also disappointed I’ll be missing the last discussion. It was an interesting set of articles/ book chapters this week.

“Help Support Our Graduate Students”

Sometimes I feel like I’m in a time warp.  I’ve been at this school for 6 years now, and I still have about 5 to go (hopefully just 5) until I’m actually “done.”  Granted, I have a degree to show for the first 4 years, and will qualify for a second degree at the end of this year… but it’s a little weird to think that I’ve lived in this place my entire adult life. Yes, I know I’m young. But still, it’s significant to me.

As a result of my being an alumna of this fine institution, I receive all of the usual alumni mail, keeping me up-to-date on the comings and goings while I am so very far away. 3 miles away, in fact. I get the shiny magazine telling me how great the U’s wide variety of academic and extracurricular programs are, the fliers and postcards with pictures of successful students on them (asking me to give the school money), and the forms for the alumni association telling me that my free one-year trial membership is about to expire.

Oh, and my department’s Alumni Newsletter.

This is the document which graced my mailbox this afternoon.  At first, I saw the “Department of Anthropology” letterhead and a wave of panic went through me. Isn’t most communication done over email? What would be so important that they would *mail* me something?!

And then I saw the department chair’s photograph heading up the first column. Oh hi, —-. Class was great today, thanks.

“From the Desk of the Chair” was the heading, and the letter was addressed to “Alumni and Friends.”  I skimmed through the news, noticing blurbs about my professors and fellow students and a lot of other people I’ve never heard of.  And oh hey! That’s my name listed under “student awards”! Cool.

Flip to the back, and there’s one of my undergrad students (the one who emailed me “thanks” last semester)– he’s doing a senior thesis project this year. Way cool.

Finally, the note I was anticipating with great angst: “Help Support Our Graduate Students.” The Department has conveniently included an envelope and postcard should I wish to donate to the Graduate Student Funding pool.

See, having earned a B.A. in Anthropology (and Spanish, and Latin American Studies) from this fine institution, they assume that I am now raking in the big bucks doing… something.

Someday, my friends, someday. After all, I’m in this racket for the big bucks (ahem. not.).

I conveniently put the newsletter, postcard, and envelope on the fridge, should my two cohortmates/ roommates feel generous.

Quiche

There is absolutely nothing that the average person would consider “good” for you about the following recipe. But it is delicious. And, if you’re like me, you don’t think there’s anything wrong with massive amounts of butter and heavy cream every once in a while.* Especially when it is snowing outside.

I made this quiche for brunch on Sunday (brunch being possibly the best invention ever), and it disappeared with shocking speed. Good thing I only got to have one piece, or I would have run the risk of eating it all myself (see previous quiche exploits: Easter Sunday Photo Essay, I ate that quiche with just a little help from roomie and a friend).

Crust:

1 cup+ 2 tbs whole wheat pastry flour

pinch of salt

1 stick of butter, chilled and cut into 8-ish pieces

3 tbs ice water

•••

1. Go to locally-owned specialty foods store to purchase pastry flour. Discover that they do not carry pastry flour. Go to second, hyper-commercialized, national specialty foods chain to purchase pastry flour. Feel guilty for setting foot in hyper-commercialized national chain. Buy flour and some chocolate to make yourself feel better. Pick up eggs, cheese, and cream while you’re there.

2. Return home. Get out food processor. Realize that roommate did not properly clean food processor after last use. Give food processor more thorough cleaning.

3. Put 1 c. + 2 tbs. pastry flour in bowl of food processor. Cut up chilled butter. Put in food processor with a pinch of salt.

4. Process. While processing, clean other roommate’s dishes. When the flour/ butter mixture resembles tiny pebbles or sand, turn processor off (about 30 seconds- 1 minute).

5. Put flour/butter concoction in a bowl with 3 tbs. of very cold water. Mix with your hands until it forms a ball. Wash hands. Steal a little plastic wrap from roomie because you “don’t buy that sort of thing.” Disentangle clingwrap from damp hands. Wrap dough- ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

6.  Set alarm to get up early to finish crust and filling, and assemble the quiche. Hit snooze button on alarm no fewer than 4 times. Drag self out of bed, disturbing sleeping cats in the process.

7. Take chilled dough out of refrigerator and let sit for 20 min. While dough is sitting, make coffee and start the steps for the filling.

8.  Realize countertop still has dried dough on it from last baking experiment. Scrub countertop with biodegradable spray cleaner that roomie claims is as effective as orange juice. Scrub harder. Sprinkle now-clean countertop with a little pastry flour. Unwrap dough from clingwrap (discard plastic) and place on countertop. Roll ball out into a disc, starting from the middle and alternating directions so it stays round.

9. Become increasingly impatient with dough’s increasing stickyness.  Flip several times to roll on both sides. Give up as dough breaks apart and sticks to the rolling pin.

10. Find pie tin in the back of the cupboard. Clean pie tin with soap and water. Take pieces of dough and stick into pie tin, until the entire tin is covered with pieces of dough of more or less the same thickness. Mush together so that it looks like a “rustic” crust. Refrigerate for an hour. Forget about it until step 6 in the filling process.

Filling:

5 or so small-ish blue and red potatoes

two sprigs of rosemary, the needles removed and chopped finely

3 large cloves of garlic

1 medium sweet onion

1 tbs of butter

salt to taste

pepper to taste

a hefty drizzle of olive oil

asiago/ parmesan/ fontina shredded cheese mix

8 eggs

1/2 pint or so of heavy whipping cream

•••

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Clean remnants of whatever vegetables you ate last night off of the cutting board. Dry cutting board.

2. Wash and dry small potatoes. Chop into 1/4-inch pieces.

3.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place potatoes in single layer on baking sheet.

4. Chop rosemary and garlic until fine. Sprinkle over potatoes, along with a little salt and pepper. Use knife to scrape off the rosemary and garlic that has stuck to your fingers. Drizzle the whole pan with about 3 tbs of olive oil.

5. Realize that this whole endeavor would have been much better in a casserole dish.

6. Carefully transfer parchment paper into a casserole dish. Pick up spilled potatoes from the floor. 10-second rule! Place potatoes back on parchment paper with their compatriots. Put casserole dish into oven, and check every 10 minutes or so until the potatoes are soft enough to break with a wooden spoon.

7. While the potatoes are roasting, chop the onion into 1/2-inch slices. Melt 1 tbs butter over low heat in a large frying pan. Add onions, and cover. Let ’em sit there for a while, until they get soft.

8. Meanwhile… remove the pie crust from the fridge. Trim off the unsightly edges, or find a way to make them… sightly.

9. The potatoes are burning! Remove from oven using hot pads. Let cool. They smell delicious. Refrain from eating them.

10. Poke crust all over with a fork. Weight down with beans as shown in Easter Sunday: A Photo Essay. Bake at 400 degrees F (oh hey, the oven is already there, how handy!) for about 10 minutes.

11. The onions are burning!

12. Oh… no, they’re just getting caramel-y. Stir them around a little and let them get nice and brown. Remove from heat.

13. Beat 8 eggs with some heavy cream until you have a pale yellow, thick liquid (as shown in Easter Sunday: A Photo Essay photo.)

14. Remove crust from oven. Remove beans and parchment paper. Add potatoes. Add onions. Add a couple of handfuls of the cheese and mix around. Pour egg mixture over all of that. Bake at 350 degrees for about a half hour- 45 minutes, until it is set in the middle (no longer liquidy).

14.5. Quick go shower so you’re ready for brunch.

15. Add an extra couple of handfuls of cheese to the top in the last 5 minutes of baking, or so, so they get nice and crispy-brown.

16. Eat. Enjoy.

•••

*If you’re otherwise a very healthy person…

And there’s more!

This is me:

http://xkcd.com/231/

And this is my life:

http://xkcd.com/122/

http://xkcd.com/238/