Thursday, October 18, 2012

Foodie Finds: Toad-in-the-Hole {And Other Novelties}

 This being my second posting on the topic, I feel ought to explain my fascination with food. I realize that I am in no way unique in my love, but nonetheless 'there is no love sincerer than the love of food' {George Bernard Shaw}. I think the unifying effect of food is fantastic- it is where traditions are made and cultures are experienced. That said, it should come as no surprise that the creation and consumption of tasty vittles is an international obsession in which I heartily partake. In fact, there was a time where I considered dedicating my entire life {in addition to many Pinterest boards and bookshelves} to learning how to sautĂ©, flambĂ©, and generally cuisiner {using the correct pronunciation, this continues the rhyming scheme and means 'to cook'}. No longer my sole focus, I would still say that for me, to eat is to live. This brings me round to my main point, in my adventures abroad, eating has become one of my primary hobbies. Especially eating regionally unique foods. I will and have walked miles to try something interesting. Happily, this week required no such effort, as British specialties were practically given to me on a silver platter! That is to say, the refectory {cafeteria} chose to celebrate 'British Food Fortnight,' a glorified meat-and-potatoes week, or so I thought. Yes, they served three variations of Shepherds pie, but, no, it was not all bland and uninteresting. Exhibit A: Toad-in-the-hole. A piece of meat, often sausage, in a crust of yorkshire pudding. Evidently, it surfaced twice a year on the menu of an upper-crust dining society, the Thursday's Club call'd the Royal Philosophersbefore falling from grace. Now a working man's dish, it is affectionately known as 'toad-in-the-hole,' the hole being the stomach and the toad being something to fill it. And filling it was, though the refectory's version was vegetarian, it was still a lunch to ruin my dinner. A little thyme, simple batter {the pudding bit}, and roasty veg, lovely! Exhibit B: the Custard Tart. The English custard tart has long been a local favorite, gracing the tables of countless Royal feasts,  but according to the internet, it pales in comparison to its cousin, the Portuguese custard tart. Thus, this lightly nutmeged tart has gained a reputation more for its political statements than its popularity. I must admit, I think I may have enjoyed today's tart as much on someone's face as in my mouth. Not that it wasn't delicious, just not enough to warrant a cult following like the 'pie-to-the-face' practice. Finding its way into avant-garde theatre, conferencesnewsrooms, and comedies, it is much beloved in British society, if not for reasons completely apart from its culinary value. Really, this is one lovely thing about British food, they don't take it too seriously. Here, there is space for play and gourmet. More to follow.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Month of Sundays

Hitting the Streets. 
The other day, I took a commemorative city walk to celebrate the one-month anniversary of my landing in London. Yes, odd as it is to say, I have been here a month of Sundays, or so it seems. I remember my first walk through these streets, the awe and wonder at this ancient, green giant rising up ahead of me. Each street felt like its own town, I would get off the tube and walk to and fro as if I had been teleported to a parallel universe... Oxford Circus opened up a retail paradise,  Piccadilly Circus revealed Soho, Victoria Station became the 'Kensington portal'. Only recently did this image of a fragmented city of neighborhoods give way to the cohesive, spirited, and utterly walkable city that is London. I feel I have become a student of the city rather than a real student. The groove of classes and papers still doesn't fit, only the groove of ambling streets and twisting river. At the same time, I have become acutely aware that whoever said "to be tired of London is to be tired of life" hit the nail on the head, metaphorically speaking, of course. The more I study the streets and their inhabitants, the more mysterious the city becomes. Though the neighborhoods now connect, woven together in a sort of fabric, they still hold thousands of untold 'London particulars.'
the photographer. 
My first month of Sundays at a close, yet the season of firsts  certainly is not. For each of the firsts in I have had in my time here- there are a hundred more waiting in those endless avenues. Camera in hand, I venture once unto the breach. 



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Foodie Finds: Brown Sauce

Pardon me, if I offend, but I was scared of Brown Sauce. To my inner foodie, the allure of what appeared to be preservative-riddled, bottled gravy has always escaped me. I saw it on the shelf at World Market in the States, in the cabinets of countless homes, I even watched Maggie Smith smuggle it on her trip to India in the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but nothing could make me the least bit curious. Then, to my shock and horror, I found 'tangy-fruity' HP sauce in someone's kitchen. All hell must have broken loose!  Fruity, tangy gravy?! Please, Brits can't be that mad! So, it was then and there that I determined I must try this... this... whatever it is. Luckily, after days of agony, I finally gave the dreaded sauce a try and found that my mental image could not have been farther from the truth. To my delight, brown sauce is not gravy! Not even the least bit gravy-y! It's really more like a party of malt vinegar, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce with  maybe a little BBQ sauce thrown in for good measure. Now,  I am no convert {I tend to be extremely picky about my condiments} but all in all, it's not too shabby. I also realized, upon further research, that brown sauce isn't even foreign to the American palette, it has been hiding in countless American kitchens under the guise of A1 steak sauce. Evidently, A1 made it across the pond around 1895 and quickly became a steakhouse staple. Meanwhile, HP sauce {the most popular, if not the original brown sauce created in the 1870's}, became   "The Official Sauce of Great Britain," the accompaniment to the famed full English Breakfast and favourite of royalty and common folk alike. Given Great Britain's culinary reputation, comes as no surprise that this tangy, complex, sauce is slathered on just about everything. So, while I have not completely bought in, I am starting to get this brown sauce and who knows maybe by the time I head back to the states I, too, will be a nostalgic brown sauce-lover! 



Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curious about London...

the view from my window.
Regents College, London
According to a friend of mine, a criminal offence comparable to Jack the Ripper's murders to keep my dear blogofriends in the dark as to recent happenings. The issue has been not the lack inspiration, as oft is the case, but more an issue of overwhelm. While my summer friends have all returned to their home schools, many of them to Marymount, I find myself nestled on the broad windowsill looking over the rather picturesque gardens of Regents College, London. Bizarre indeed. Yet, eight hours (which translates to sixteen days of jetlag, so I'm told), thousands of miles and worlds away, I feel strangely at home in this city. From what I can tell, Regents is a school of much the same spirit of Marymount, in its  quintessential setting it is daring, pushing you to great heights, yet supportive, giving you all the tools you need to succeed. They have created an ideal environment for exploration of both self and city- creating opportunities to define yourself in relation to an dynamic and eclectic metropolis. For me, an acute case of sticker shock- that is the  condition of perpetual amazement at the price of any given item compared to its price at home- forced me to come to terms with the type of Londoner I am, I realized that there are a lot of things which I just don't care enough about to sacrifice even five pounds while others are worth thirty (trying the best fish and chips? Heck yeah! Tigertiger? not so much...). This is all to say that this first week is eye-opening and adventurous to say the least, but there is much, much more to come. 



Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Day Hobbiest Bakes

Granted, I am a long time baker, shamelessly indulging in pies, cupcakes, crostatas,  and cookies of all sorts since my youth, nonetheless, I feel that baking might just be the perfect day hobby. Imagine starting your day with a cup of coffee and a wild determination to conquer a confection! To truly pursue baking as a day-long hobby, your post-coffee day may include a trip to your local, acclaimed bakery {pilgrimage to Sprinkles, perhaps?}and a post baking soiree to flaunt your new-found skills. But, the glory of baking is that requires little to no mobility, which, for the wheel-lessly impoverished college student is icing on the proverbial cake. Whatever route you choose, baking as a day-hobby is not without challenge. For the impoverished, dorm locked collegiate, it is not easy to pull together a dessert out of the contents already present in your hopelessly small kitchen. For the inspired confection conquerer, while the possibilities are endless, time, skill, and availability are always obstacles. 
{With my own photos woefully lost in
cyber-space, this prime example of your potential
was one of the first images under 'hipster baking'}
Here are a few ideas: 
For the Gun-Ho
The Timely Classic, the Cupcake. 
For their adorableness, enduring popularity, and the simple fact that entire boutiques have been dedicated to their existence, cupcakes are a fabulous place to start in baking. While not bite size, they are certainly not more than any amateur baker can chew, metaphorically speaking. For a little inspiration, check out Cupcake Wars, Sprinkles, and my personal favourite recipe for 'Coco-nilla-licious' cupcakes {having no affiliation with chocolate or Nilla wafers}. 

For the Aformentioned Student
Easy, Breezy, Summer Fruit Crostata 
The glory of the crostata is its incredible adaptability and versatility. Using this recipe as a guideline, you can create innumerable masterpieces out of flour, butter, and that frozen fruit you have long intended to turn into a smoothy. Literally, you can throw any filling, even chopped candy bars, in this dough and it would taste amazing! Top it with whipped cream, if you have it, and voila!

For the Oven Challenged
Perhaps now is the time to master the no-bake subculture of the baking world. While I have yet to explore it much myself, Epicurious is a fantastic resource for everything in the food genre. 


Thursday, July 5, 2012


{Image of the the original
Star-Spangled Banner
snatched from the Smithsonian}
Curious, isn't it, the traditional American Independence Day? I never stopped to ponder the significance of the fireworks, cook-outs, and apple pies that rule the day until I found myself surrounded a crowd of international students who could really care less about the Declaration of Independence. Sitting with them around a campfire, eating s'mores, and observing as representatives from all the world over sang their national anthems,  I found myself pondering the meaning of being an 'American' relative to being French, German, Spanish, or Russian. There was a certain reverence in the voice of a boy we affectionately call 'Phil'as he sang "Deutschlandlied" {the German National Anthem} solo, hand over heart, eyes to stars, as if he could see the very reflection of his homeland in the sky. This soul element present in almost every anthem was markedly absent from our playful version of the "Star-Spangled Banner." Why the lack of reverence for the nation that empowered me to influence its future, encouraged me to use my voice, and   gave me the chance to pursue happiness as I see fit? My question was interrupted by a sudden burst of what has apparently become the theme-song for the summer,Fun.'s 'Some Nights'. The recurring question, 'What do I stand for,' ushered in the realization that perhaps my generation is taking this question outside of its original musical microcosm and asking,
"What do I stand for as an American?" While we could point out a thousand different meanings of 'American' in years past, at the end of the day, "Most Nights, I don't know."


Friday, June 22, 2012

The Day Hobbiest Infiltrates Bicycling Culture

Photo Filched from Urban Outfitters 
Sadly, recent events have kept me from pursuing my true passion, day hobbies. I find it very challenging to carve out time for virtual bird watching, an intriguing suggestion from one of my cousins, or water tasting in the midst of moving and starting a new job. My deepest apologies if, in my absence, you have finished the last season of Mad Men on Netflix and have sunken into a state of depression. While I can't make any promises, I might have a daytime activity to restore the life in your eyes. Picture this- cleverly disguised as a hipster, you infiltrate the bicycling culture for an adventure of potentially epic proportions (or at least you could make it seem that way on Facebook). Infiltrating the secret haunts, tasting the cuisine, and experiencing this unique subgroup of the American public. 

While cyclist culture varies from city to city, keeping in mind a few key points would allow you to experience cycling hipsterdom just as easily in Los Angeles as in New York. To point out the elephant in the room, you must first have a bike- I plan on renting one for the day. After that, try to do something unique and you'll fit right in. This could include riding your bike to a farmers market where you procure the fixings for an artisan picnic then heading off to a small, local bookstore to pick up BikeSnob's latest book, The Enlightened Cyclist for the full immersion experience. 

Here are a few resources to help get you started: 

The Bike Snob NYC blog- while far from strictly cycling, the Bike Snob explores the various elements of cycling culture in New York City. 

Urban Outfitters- they have teamed up with Republic Bikes to create an online venue for designing your own bike. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Day Hobbyist

Ah! The third week of summer! Not to tout my liberty over my many friends still struggling under the yolk of that heartless slave driver, finals, but I have reached a point in my summer where most truly productive endeavors have already been done. Whilst I slacked in my blogging (my deepest apologies), I have renewed my passport, vacuumed under my bed, finished Downton Abbey, had a family reunion, and even baked three batches of cupcakes! Faced with the threat of a listless existence, wholly dependent on Netflix's availability of tolerable entertainment, I have determined to pick up a hobby! Upon further consideration, however, many hobbies are lifetime or at least summer-consuming pursuits. Consider the classics, like playing guitar, golf, or painting - lifetimes have been absorbed! No, I daresay that a modern student like myself would do well to choose a hobby befitting the fast pace of the modern world, that is, a day-hobby. Such a hobby would not only occupy said student in a pseudo-meaningful way, but would arm them with a plethora of interesting tidbits and witty quips to impress their various followers or mitigate the awkwardness of chitchat.
Hence, over the next few posts, I will be delving into a few day-hobbies which piqued my curiosity.

Water Connoisseur for a day.
Typically, one becomes a connoisseur only after years of dedicating superfluous amounts of time and energy caring about what few people truly care about. Their subject ranges from wine to soda, maple syrup to salt, they have their own language, sense of humor, circle of friends, and style of hat. For instance, your wine connoisseur (or at its height, 'sommelier') would wear a beret, while your maple syrup connoisseur might wear a knit beanie because he is from Vermont. While comprehending all the nuances of wine or breaking into the salt gang of friends is daunting, especially when one is too young to partake in such appreciation, armed with the right terminology and hat one could easily become a connoisseur for a day. I suggest approaching ordinary things, like water or soda, from a new angle. That way, when your date walks in with crisp Fiji waterbottle, you can whip out something like, "Oh, so you're a Fiji person? I find I prefer ethos, for its more balanced feel and superior mineral content." Or something along those lines. I recommend hosting a fine water tasting, inevitably involving a trip to whole foods, to appreciate the finer points of water; be careful, however, to wash water tasting goblets with distilled {pure and flavorless} water so as to keep from tainting future tastings. 
Insightful Resources:
The Water Connoisseur blog 
Fine Waters
Continue reading for further enlightenment on dihydrogen monoxide {H2O}

Thursday, May 10, 2012

How not to get sick:

zombie student captured here oogiboogi
You may have noticed this phenomena- picture a zombie, dragging around a slow-drop coffee IV, dark cirlces under their eyes, an ever so slight crack in their scull, and a voracious interest in books rather than flesh eating- keep this image in your mind and give it red hair. You just met this weeks version of me. To add insult to injury, the zombie is now coughing and sniffling in addition to ripping her hair out. As grotesque as this may sound, it isn't alltogether uncommon. I have run into many of my friends at the IV refill station (the Sacred Order of St. Arbucks) in a similar state. Yet why must our bodies suffer for the ailment of our minds? I think the time has come to support the body whilst exhausting the mind. I have taken it upon myself to figure out.... how not to get sick! Aside from the bioflavenoids and other flavins, there is a reason I am not a biochem major, I need a plan, maybe even five easy steps, to avoid getting sick, again.
1. Sleep. The Mayo Clinic says that sleeping allows infection-fighting cells, like cytokines, to mulitply. Also, [shocker] sleeping improves your memory, helps reduce stress, cuts down your dependancy on coffee, and makes you an overall better human being!
2. Go Orange. Apparently, oranges and other citrus are more than just the staple for your 'get pumped for summer' smoothy kick and staving off scurvy (basically a pirate's disease). Everywhere I look, very smart, healthy looking people in labcoats are telling me to eat citruses because of their vitamin C content.
3. Eat Garlic. I love garlic, I want to blame that on being italian, but I'm not. Nonetheless, I think garlic is fantastic! Apparently, in addition to being the root off all tastiness, for savory dishes at least, garlic helps your body replicate those ninja cells, it is antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant... so you don't have to worry about getting cancer while you overcome your cold! It is also rumored to protect againt vampires, thus you will also be safe at the midnight Dark Shadows premier.

More after the break

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Playlist for a 'Cluckin' Good Time'

So, apparently, spring is upon us. That is, while the season has been here for a while, the celebration is just getting into swing. 'Spring Fling' is a real thing, and it is here. Though my friends at Student Life have kept me well apprised on this golden week, the muscley version of a spring chicken as seen on the posters did not prepare me for the extent of the festivities. Not until I heard the music blaring from the poolside and found that the entire cafe had moved into the parking lot did full breadth of "a cluckin' good time" dawn on me. Yes, this is truly momentous. Faculty mingling with students in a festival of free ice cream and beach balls, AMP radio and laughter, the smell of sunscreen and burgers wafting. Anyways, this is all to say, I pulled a few strings and managed to get in touch with the Cory the Fantastic over at Student Life, who gave me her official playlist to get me pumped for a "cluckin' good time." It came in quite handy as I mentally and emotionally prepared myself for the zombie tag, rasta concert, silent disco, masquerade ball, Disneyland, and more fun this week!

Cory the Fantastic's Ultimate Spring Fling Playlist:
1. What I got......................................Sublime
2. Pursuit of Happiness (Project X).Kid Cudi
3. The State of Massachusetts...........Dropkick Murphys
4. Feel So Close..................................Calvin Harris
5. Welcome To Jamrock....................Damien Marley
6. Ayy Ladies......................................Travis Porter
7. Santeria.........................................Sublime
8. Sorry for Party Rocking...............LMFAO
9. Sweet Child O' Mine.....................Guns N' Roses
10.What It's Like..............................Everlast
11.Shooting Star (Party Rock Remix)..LMFAO David Rush...
12.On To the Next One....................Jay-Z feat. Swizz B...
13.Soundtrack 2 My Life.................Kid Cudi
14.Erase Me.....................................Kid Cudi feat. Kanye West
15.Faded..........................................Tyga feat. Lil' Wayne
See fifteen more fabulous songs if you continue reading...

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Being somewhat of an activist, a wannabe if nothing else, I find myself quite excited about 'Awareness Week' kicking off at Marymount College yesterday. The vague title is certainly intriguing, but it begs the question "of what?!" not to mention the sure follow up, "why?!" In a world that, not to put to fine a point to it, is screwed up, to become fully aware of its various issues would be to commit mental suicide- there are just too many issues in desperate need of attention. Trafficking, child soldiers, starvation, poverty,  the dangers of plastic, the oil crisis, genetically modified organisms, bullying, education, pollution and torture to name just a few. Hearkening back to good old Tom (Thomas Jefferson), I must note that 'eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,' the freedom so enjoyed in the United States is protected by the collective awareness of her citizens. This, I believe, is why Ductus Exemplo and the folks at ResLife focus on raising awareness for issues that potentially effect the daily life of any given college student. Last night the 'Tunnel of Oppression' highlighted all of the above plus, yet it seems that more than raising awareness for
the plethera of problems they are raising awareness for the need to be aware. Gaining a few new signatures  on a petition or having students jump on a bandwagon is not the end of the conversation. The call to awareness is a call to life thoughtfully and reflectively. Oppression exists much closer to our reality than many, myself included, are comfortable with. Sadly, as I reflected I found it lurking sneakily in some of my own attitudes, people who I thought I knew by their outside appearance.
And so, my friends, the challenge is to put that education to use- think- and with that be aware.



Friday, April 13, 2012

Start Spreadin' the News...

'Trinity Roots' Sculpture
Trinity Church, Wall Street, NY
Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York’ has been my theme song ever since I came home from spring break. His smooth, jazzy baritone ricocheting around in my mind as I continue recover from five days with my neck craned at a ninety degree angle staring at dizzying skyscrapers. Setting my first experience in New York to words feels somewhat akin to teaching a pig to fly.  But if you insist, I suppose I would have to say I felt incredibly alive and connected to the world, while at the same time haunted by an odd sense of dissonance and fracture. I know it sounds odd, but on the one hand, the constant hum a city that never sleeps, the array of food, shops, and people shuffling here and there gives you the sense that this city is the veritable heartbeat of the nation, even the world. The days we spent at the United Nations especially felt this way, you got the sense that anyone you rubbed shoulders with just might be off to change the world. Yet on the other, it feels like a jungle of concrete and lights bearing little resemblance to life in the true sense of the word. As I look back on my photography, I find as many pictures of artistic tree-statues as I have real trees, which I find mildly disturbing...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A bit about myself....

This, is me. 
I would like to bring things down to a human element if I could, to break away from the  impersonal world that thrives in the blogosphere. Though you may never meet me, there is a real person sitting on the other side of this odd relationship, a  person who is probably sipping a cup of coffee that unfortunately did not go towards her starbucks gold card and wondering why her fingers are so cold. This short, quirky, almost-red head is a first-year student at Marymount College. She loves that she can see the ocean and Catalina island from her window as she writes this and that she is safely indoors where she can’t get skin cancer (she has very freckly skin). She is thrilled to be alive and loves exploring life! Thus far, her adventures have taken her into books, music (she adores that spotify connects her with mainstream and obscure artists for free!), cooking (she especially likes to explore ethnic cuisines) and all over the United States. At Marymount, the fields of Global Studies and Business have piqued her interest and she plans to major in both. And this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Hello there

I am undertaking to write, as many have before, about the curious life of a college student. As I write this, carpe diem comes to mind, along with about a million other quotes in the vein of ‘Dead Poets Society.’  In sum, much like a scrapbook, I intend to carpe as many memorable diems (pardon my poor latin) of life at Marymount College, and perhaps a few of the less memorable ones as well. To live abundantly and let you all experience it vicariously on this here blog. To Live! To Eat! To Be Merry!