I don’t know what to do anymore.

My attention is 95% diverted towards school 100% of the time, and yet, I still find myself sleeping at 2:30 AM and walking into school like a zombie at 7:50.  I lug around a backpack that I have to carefully place on the floor, strap over my shoulders while sitting down, and then work my thigh muscles standing up in order to lift it.  When I try to get a head start on homework to avoid 2:30 AM naptimes, the words on the page blur and enter my brain as a jumble of jibberish about how ____ the Great did x and y and killed lots of people.  After that waste of time, I push through the crowds with the green monster on my back, taking long strides that will carry me to the heaven-for-sleep that is my warm bus.  For 1 and a half hours, I zone out to mah tunes and fill the deep well of disappointment in my conscience.

Bit by bit, I am shutting down.  I know my limits, and I’ve chosen time and time again to flat-out ignore them.  My body can’t survive on 2 and a half hours of sleep each weekday and Sunday evening Monday morning.  Hell, can anyone’s body?  How do these kids do it? 

Obviously, I’m not superhuman.  So, I resolve to sleep at 12 AM tonight, like a (more) normal person.  Thus, I shall crank up the history studying and will hopefully finish that up before I start reading cruel jibberish again. 

~ full love from the half-alive c a n d i c e

The more times I see Avatar, the more I seem to like it.  This second time watching it, this time in IMAX, opened my eyes to all the subtleties of the music-visual pairings, the Na’vi language, and the tiny, tiny details of the amazing CGI work.  The only quip I have wasn’t even within the movie itself—it’s that the screen was too small (I could see the edges in my peripheral vision!), so it was impossible to become completely immersed into the movie’s world. 

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I also adore the soundtrack.  Just pure love… makes me feel like I’m flying :)  Though I don’t think “pretty” is the right word to describe the soundtrack album art.  Some things just look better in (CGI) motion, haha…

I won’t be falsely optimistic here… school was a hellhole this week after that (wonderful?) huge snow break, and next week will probably be just as bad.  Piling up missed assessments, which I still happen to be in the middle of finishing up, is NOT cool nor fun.  I think I got ~3.5 hours of sleep for the past 3 days.  I’m freaking exhausted.  I think I’ve been running on adrenaline lately or something… it’s that weird feeling where you know you’re tired, but you don’t “feel” tired until you go somewhere ideal for sleeping.  Such as a dark movie theater.  But of course, Avatar was just that good—I was unable to fall asleep while it played.  ;P

Before our Avatar adventure #2 ver. IMAX, we picked up a quick dinner in the mall’s food court.  This was my first time at this particular mall, and the food court was “strange” in that it wasn’t really fast food except for the actual fast food places… you placed an order and actually waited for them to cook it for you.  :)  I ordered from a multi-ethnic cuisine-serving place called Sakura Grill, and when I saw Caribbean and American-Chinese food on the menu along with sushi and hibachi stuff, you can bet that I was more than a little skeptical on the quality of the food. 

Can you say “pleasantly awed”?  This is the first time I’ve had legitimately tasty mall food court food!

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My dad said that this oxtail meat reminded him of Chinese soy sauce-braised beef (hongshao niurou).  Well, there’s a question of authenticity… I’ve never eaten Caribbean food before, so I can’t exactly judge.  All I can say is that it was fairly yummy—warm, not overly-spiced, and fall-off-the-bone meat.  Rice + veggies = look typical, taste typical. 

The brown crispy things were deep-fried plantainsI liked these more than the oxtail, haha!  They were freshly fried, so they weren’t soggy in the least—perfectly crispy, crunchy battered exterior with a subtly sweet, banana-like creaminess on the inside.  And hot.  :) 

I’ve got looots to accomplish tomorrow.  The plan is to get a ton of stuff done in the morning, go out to eat lunch and buy a gift for my friend’s birthday gathering, do some more homework, and then go out to eat @ The Cheesecake Factory with the b-day girl and some old friends.  :)  Should be fun.  I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my friends, whom I haven’t seen for a year or so now, I think.

I hope you all had great weeks, and I hope your weekends are even more exciting!  :)

Lovelovelove,
c a n d i c e

I’m finally back at school!  Not exactly lovin’ it 100% though, y’know?  Bio three times this week + chem midterm (which I hoped would be canceled/rescheduled) = not my cup of tea.  I suppose things will start to fall into place by the end of the week, but I’m going to miss my glory week of sleep, to say the least!

I’ve found a new study tactic that will hopefully reduce the amount of time I spend kneeling at my bed doodling and playing around with my iPod.  Yes, because whenever I start to get distracted, I’m going to start doing jumping jacks.  Yes, the evil ‘jacks that I used to do obsessively each night when DE was the dominant persona in my life.  But I am determined not to abuse them again.  Seeing as my exercise routine has been nonexistent for the past… 5 months, I think I need to start doing something little heart-stimulating again every so often.  Okay, more like every day.  :P

After I do 100 or so jumping jacks in the time that I would be spending dilly-dallying, I feel so refreshed and ready to work again.  When I was exercising obsessively and not eating enough to boot, I just felt fatigued and nauseous after jumping jacks, and accordingly, I absolutely dreaded it.  Now I actually am able to feel the little endorphin rush, and that exercise is not supposed to be a chore!  If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my “break” from exercise, it’s that I will NOT become a whale if I don’t! 

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The highlight of lunch today was a bowl of ludou tang—mung bean soup, I believe?  I’m tempted to say “green bean soup,” since that is what it is literally, but that’s so obviously wrong that I won’t even go there.  ;P  Chinese-inspired because the Asian party that we were supposed to go to was canceled due to snow.  I wasn’t too disappointed about that.  ‘Twas probably just another opportunity to be totally and completely awkward with people I haven’t talked to in years…

The soup is supposed to be sweet, so I added some unconventional maple syrup to it and topped it with my precious lentil-potato crunchies for added texture.  It was the purrrfect combo of savory + sweet.  :]

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Crrruunch.

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And I just realized that practically every dish I feature in my posts is held in Asian-looking dishware.  Yup… the bowl above was from China, brought back in who-knows-what-year.  The majority of our dishware is made up of stuff bought in Japan in the ‘80s, haha.  ;]

I’m going to study now.  I’m sorry if I don’t comment as much (or at all?) this week—things are picking up again, and I don’t want to get distracted or end the night feeling “guilty” about reading blogs instead of working… I still love you all, and I will try to get the scoop on what’s what come Friday evening.  :)

Lovelovelove,
c a n d i c e

… because the grass isn’t less green on your side.

After all that whining about having cabin fever, I was completely blessed to be able to get out of the house and into the slushy, sunshiny real world yesterday.  And better yet, I was able to spend an entire day away from home.  Curse snow days?  Hmmm, maybe not.  Still not happy about having to make them up somehow, but I can honestly say that I enjoyed today 100%.  No worries.  Schoolwork, midterm stress = pushed alllll the way to the crevices behind the back burner (if that makes sense at all).  I am slightly excited, and yet slightly worried, that I did not do an ounce of homework yesterday.  Nada.

Whenever I start to relax and get into this “don’t worry, be happy” mindset, my first instinct is to panic.  Why?  Well, I’m dead scared at the prospect of become a slacker for life.  If I get into this mindset, I believe that I will become eternally lazy and not be able to get into my college of choice and end up as a bum on the streets.  No homework done for one day = bum for life… how ridiculous do I sound right now?

Still, I think I better start working tomorrow, lest school hit my like a brick bomb on Tuesday.  :P

Come lunchtime, cheerful “Annyeong-haseyo!”’s greeted our little Chinese trio as we stepped into Lighthouse TofuVit Goel Tofu according to the letters on the concrete outside.  It’s a Korean restaurant that had recently opened near my dad’s house, located just short of the Korean grocery store, no less.  Not surprisingly, it was filled with Koreans.  Good. That’s a sure sign of authenticity, no?  ;]

Sadly, I was too chicken to whip out my huge SLR and snap photos of the huge spread of food we ordered.  For the record, I was also too chicken to say “thank you” in Korean to the waitress, something that I amazingly picked up from the hundreds of “kamsahamnida”s that must frequent the Korean dramas I’ve been watching lately.  We were seated smack-dab in the middle of the tiny restaurant surrounded by a sea of chit-chatting Koreans, and I felt kind of awkward and out-of-place.  For some reason, I always feel more self-conscious when surrounded by Asians.  I’m not sure why… point being, no pics of awesome food.  Boo.

After lunch, we stopped by the aforementioned Korean grocery store and Trader Joe’s per my request on our way to the Build-A-Bear Workshop at the mall for my dad’s birthday present for my sis.  I brought five lovely bags of food back home with me today.  Roasted black sesame seeds are back, baby Tat.  ;]

Dinner was at a different Clyde’s than the one I usually go to, since we were all a-starvin’ after stuffing and dressing the new Hello Kitty plushie.  :]  I loved the decor, even though the route the bathroom seemed like a scene out of a horror movie.  Think dark wooden stairs, practically nonexistent lighting, and mirrors on all sides… creepy.as.hell. 

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Our server was super-friendly, and the mood was fantastic, but with that awesome mood came lighting was too dim for good food pictures.  Shutter speed slowed majorly = more chances to take blurry pictures.  :/

We were started with some sad sourdough.  Sad because it was cold.  :(

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Won’t lie; it took more than a few shots to get a “good” (aka not blurry) pic of my order:

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Maple-glazed acorn squash with wild rice, wild mushrooms, toasted walnuts, and spinach and cranberry vinaigrette.  I had eaten acorn squash only once in my life, and it being the first squash I ever tried to prepare on my own, it… failed.  It was horribly undercooked and tasted really gross.  i wanted to try a “properly” prepared one before I blew it off completely… but it turns out that I will blow it off anyway.  It was meh.  The flavor was too weak even with maple-glazing.  I much prefer starchy squashes like butternut or kabocha.

I struggled to identify what was what for the accompaniments because of the awful lighting.  “Wild rice” consisted of a few grains of rice over the other ingredients.  It seemed to be chicken broth-flavored—I like.  :D  The wild mushrooms were richly flavored and incredibly juicy, and the spinach and cranberry vinaigrette tied everything together into a sweet package. 

Highlight of the meal = toasted walnuts.  They were hands-down the tastiest walnuts I have ever eaten, and I am not a walnut girl at all.  I’ve always thought they were eh, but I was jabbing around in the darkness with my fork searching for those little morsels of yum!  :9

There were, as expected with dim lighting, little white-brown bits that I just could not descry.  Sweet garlic?  Parsnips?  Not sure.  Oh well, they were good anyway.  :)  In fact, I liked the accompaniments so much that I actually boxed the leftovers, even though there were only two or three bites left!  :P

I leave you with extra-fortuitous wishes for the New Year and a delicious Valentine’s Day, whether it be with your love, your friends, your family, or yourself.  You can count on being loved by me, anyhow.  ;)

ox ~ c a n d i c e ♥

I think I finally understand the meaning of “cabin fever.”  And “perspective.”  It did not occur to me exactly how much snow I was suffocating in before I went out and tried to shovel it yesterday.  It also didn’t occur to me how much pain I was going to be in the next morning…

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There’s only so much I can do to entertain myself indoors.  But you know, I relish the feeling of being bored nowadays.  Nothing feels better than wondering what the heck I want to do.  Besides, if this is cutting into my summer break, then hell yes I’m going to enjoy myself!  Watch TV?  Blog?  Play video games?  Bake?—that became my favorite way to waste time.  I’ve baked twice this week already, which is more than I have in my entire, albeit short, life.  There’s something magical about squatting down in front of a bright oven with hot air gushing out of the vent, watching piles of goop miraculously puff into glorious, richly-spiced muffins, or stiff balls of chocolate-studded dough expand into half-spheres of heaven.  (Feel free to be liberal with your interpretation of that :P)

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Okay, well, that last part made the kitchen smell like smokin’ hot oil.  Hot.  I didn’t happen to have proper cookie baking sheets on hand, and I wasn’t about to ask for a trip to the grocery store, so I had to be resourceful.  Friends, aluminum foil + PAM can answer all of your oven woes.  Even if you’re using the grill spray for cookies.

My first batch of cookies (EVER) came out a wee bit burnt.  Just a smidgen, see?

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If only those were raisins at the bottom.

Luckily, I still had a few balls of dough left over and ready to be baked!  And this time, I actually followed the recipe and baked for 15 instead of 24 minutes, so they came out the way I assume they were supposed to.  Cookies are supposed to be soft when they come out of the oven, Candice.  Lesson learned: cooling = firm cookies, extra baking = burnt cookie butts. 

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I can’t follow a recipe without adding my personal touches along the way.  This was no exception, even though it was my first batch of cookies ever.  I tried to follow the recipe for chocolate cherry granola cookies from bella eats, but a combination of my hate-to-waste mentality and weird imagination made it physically impossible to follow the it to the letter.  Though, I think I’ll just stick to twisting the ingredients around next time.  :P

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I was surprised by how much my family loved these cookies.  If it helps, I baked them yesterday, and they are all gone now.  o__o

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Just as the title of this post implies, these are on the crunchy side, with gooey chocolate chunks, nuttiness from whole wheat flour and oat bran, and a distinct grittiness from the instant grits I threw in there.  They’re the little white specks—you can see them if you look closely.  Not only did they add grit, but they also contributed a nice cornbread-y flavor.  It’s unconventional, but it’s pretty good, if I must say.  :] 

I’m not gonna lie—I was seriously doubtful about how these would turn out when I took the cookie dough out of the fridge after a nearly-24-hour winter vacation.  It was hard, smelled sort of like Play-Doh, and seemed like it would become burnt little cookie dough balls in the oven.  And whaddya know—the burning was MY mistake, and the cookies were gone within a day.  More culinary trash –> worthy of critics’ cash action?  Mmhmm…

Recipe is here if you’re interested.  I was going to sprinkle a little coarse sea salt over these to make them extra delicious, but lo and behold, I ran out.  Bought a huge bag for $1.99 at the Korean supermarket today… nice.

Q1: What was the first thing you ever baked?
Q2: How many days does it take for you to get “cabin fever”?

Off to bed now.  Sweet dreams!

ox ~ c a n d i c e

… and this:

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Poor trees!  Everything is drowned in snow.  There is no way they’re going to open schools tomorrow, seeing as how we lack the awesome snow-removing equipment of the more northern states (and Canada, lol).  Maybe not even for Friday.  NY trip = as good as rescheduled.  Please cancel the bio field trip.  Please, please, please… I love how my bio teacher is the only one who doesn’t keep us posted on schedule changes.  We’re not seriously going to just keep using the calendar from the beginning of February that is now completely invalid?!

Sigh.  Well, let’s talk burgers.

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After turning my failed spaghetti squash-black bean pancakes (with no eggs for a binder… thank you, rustique! ;]) into baked “burger” patties, I well, built a burger from it.  I confess: I’ve always hated veggie burgers.  “Gimme the real stuff!” I would proclaim in elementary school as I stood in line in the cafeteria with my pink Styrofoam tray, eager to grab my burger and baked potato wedges.  Well, those burgers were actually straight-up nasty. But they weren’t as horrible as the veggie burger I grabbed by mistake in my rush to stuff my face one day.

*shudder*

I’ve mostly avoided veggie burgers since then.  However, the ones I ordered at Ruby Tuesday’s not too long ago (or at least it seemed that way) weren’t so bad, so I decided that maybe veggie burgers aren’t evil after all.

Cue crazy burger ingredients time!

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I actually bought this jam awhile ago, but it’s just been sitting in my pantry unopened, since I had all these other random jams /fruit butters still open and waiting to be eaten.  Well, I finally finished my vanilla-cantaloupe jam from I-don’t-want-to-think-about-how-long ago, so I decided that it was time to open the fig jam.

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Spread it on a Thomas English muffin like so.  It’s really, really sweet, so just a little was enough for a flavor pop.
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This is a post-toaster oven picture of the whole thing.  On the right, we have the last of the emmental cheese (in cubes) sprinkled with a little fine sea salt (I’m saving coarse for something else) with the last of the roasted cashew pieces atop the fig jam.  I forgot how delicious cashews tasted charred. My tastebuds threw a party. Spicy, hint-of-miso-flavored burger + sweet fig jam + nutty, rich cheese + CHARRED, CRUNCHY CASHEWS (self-explanatory) = holy flavor explosion.

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And on the left, we have the burger.

Of course, no burger is complete without a side of fries.  However, seeing as I was too lazy to slice potatoes, season them, preheat the oven, and wait, I settled with my new favorite snack from TJ’s: lentil-potato crispy things.  I forget what they’re really called, but they’re absolutely amazing.  Potato-y from the potato, but with a new dimension of nuttiness from the lentil flour, and perfectly crispy and airy.  If you have a TJ’s nearby, get these ASAP!

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I’m obsessed.

Threw a few edamame crackers in there, too…

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Holy. freaking. yum. :]  I’m going to try and perfect this recipe (or a similar one), hopefully one that solidifies the first time I fry it.  :P

Yesterday was spent watching FFVII: Advent Children Complete, playing Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, and finishing up a bio note card for Chapter 37 at 2 AM.  o__o  Erm… well, I had to get something done, ya?  The thing is, though I woke up four hours later than usual, so it balances. out.  :]  5 AM on school day vs. 9 AM?  I take the latter.  x)

Things to accomplish today:
* Chemistry problems
* Reading for 3 chemistry chapters (midterm prep)
* Chapter 38 note card
* Chapter 35-36 articles
* Finish the vertebrate notes chart for hominoids/hominids.  I’ve been putting this off because I haven’t been having bio, and the last thing I want is to study and forget everything by the time I actually have to know it!
* Bake cookies if there is school tomorrow. It was my friend’s birthday yesterday, and I already had the cookie dough prepared, but *BAM* no school.  I hate living so far away from all my friends.  I can’t go to gatherings as frequently (e.g. the one yesterday for her birthday), and I don’t have anyone in the vicinity who(m?) I really know or can talk to.  I’m living practically in the middle of nowhere, close to the ‘burbs but not close to my friends, my school, or my dad.  :(

The cookies were an experiment. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, seeing as this is my first time baking cookies!  I’ll let you guys know how it goes once they’re done!  :]

Q1: What is your favorite burger combo?
Q2: Have you ever felt isolated from your friends?  How did you deal with it? Give a girl some advice.  :(  Email + Facebook don’t quite cut it for me…

Love you ALL!
ox ~ c a n d i c e *

Yes.  Yes they did.  The county proclaimed both Tuesday AND Wednesday snow days.

My immediate reaction?  “HALLELUJAH!”… not.  Actually, it was pretty much like the title.  Oops.

Why did I curse two more days off from school?
1) That’s one more day cutting into spring or summer vacation.  Would I prefer staying in during winter on a snow day doing nothing, with homework at the back of my mind, or going shopping, sightseeing, traveling, and hanging out with friends in the WARMTH of spring/summer?!  I’d pick the latter, thank you very much!

2) Welcome back to school!  Here is your chemistry midterm!

3) I haven’t had bio for three classes.  In bio time, that’s like three weeks!  We were supposed to take two tests and three quizzes within that time period.  And now there’s even more. Rarrgh.  There’s also an “extra credit” field trip on Thursday, and that’s something I’m praying the snow will give me (and everyone else) an excuse not to go to.

4) I won’t be going to school on Friday + Saturday, ‘cause I’ll be in NYC.  HOWEVER.  Friday, if we have school, is precisely the day I have bio.  So I’ll miss a class, except this time, no one else will have missed it!  And I’ll have to make up so much crap next week… awwww shiznit.  >:(

Should I be ecstatic about the snow?  Everyone else seems to be.  Am I thinking too far ahead?  Is my mind too old?  I know I’m putting unnecessary stress on myself, but the stupid, “worry worm” (as my dad calls them) thoughts just won’t go away!

*deep breath*  Okay.  Rant over.  Moving on to the *fun* things I do when stuck at home in a snowstorm!

I joined TasteSpotting and FoodGawker a couple of days ago, and submitted some pictures yesterday.  FoodGawker’s verdict?  Dingdingding! Green light!  To say the least, I was a very happy kid when I noticed.  I didn’t even feel that bad when I realized that TasteSpotting rejected them!  :D

With my culinary trash –> worthy of critics’ cash experience not too long ago, I had a little déjà vu with that today when my idea for clean-out-the-fridge-and-pantry pancakes totally and completely failed.

I still had half a roasted spaghetti squash (my first!) from last week that was sitting in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.  Okay, need to use that up. I scrounged around in my bookmarks to find a suitably scrumptious recipe to use, and the spaghetti squash gratin from Chocolate & Zucchini happened to be the only one.

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Clicky clicky.  Read read read… cheese… PANCAKES?  She mentioned that her friend used spaghetti squash to make pancakes.  Pancakes?  Dingdingding! Green light!

So I set out to make some très délicieux pancakes with my little squashie.  But I couldn’t make pancakes with just watery squash, oh no.  The answer to that should have been “bread crumbs.”  Or “tofu.” Or “flour,” maybe?

The answer was year-old canned black beans.

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Mmmm.

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Scoop, drain, mix, mash; spice, taste, fold, smash.  Ergo—

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… Gross-looking stuff, isn’t it?  It tasted good, I promise, especially with the addition of various goodies such as chopped emmental cheese, red miso, white sesame seeds (I need to buy toasted black, but I’m kind of stuck here), and a big scoop of hot gochujang. To balance out the spiciness, I finally stripped my orange blossom honey jar of its plastic wrap and drizzled in the sweet nirvana.

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Nirvana, say hello to goop.

And then, as what must happen to all foods tagged “pancake,” it was time to fry the goop into glorious, crispy, fragrant patties of cheesy, spicy deliciousness.

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Pan-frying, of course, with the last of my wakame furikake sprinkled on top for good measure.  There’s no way I’m going to clean up a deep-fried kitchen!

Buuut it didn’t work.  You see, without the magical addition of breadstuffs, the goop was much too flimsy to be flipped.  Basically, it went from cold goop –> hot, charred goop.  Fail.

Maybe it’ll work if I spread it out over the pan so the edges can crispify?…

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… Uh, I guess not.

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At least the goop didn’t stick to my pan…

I began racking the corners of my mind for a way that I could use this goop.  I contemplated using it as a burrito filling or just… *gulp* eating it straight up as goop?  No, no, no.

Gimme my oven… I popped these in there for 15 minutes at 350*F.  I wouldn’t say they came out crispy, but they were definitely firm, and if anything, the pan-frying beforehand really brought out that deep, charred, spicy flavor.  It smelled amazing, too.  Not quite like the heaven that is eau de freshly-baked muffins per se, but my mom and sister were swooning from the aroma.  Needless to say, they were pretty disappointed when I told them it was spicy.  :]

So, this is the result of my supposed-to-be pancake goop turned pattie turned burger pattie…

… Actually, I think I’ll post about that next time.  This post is getting much too long!  :P  I’ll try to get a recipe for this, too.  I think this would’ve worked fabulously had I used rice as my carb base, seeing how good it tasted when I ate two patties smashed into rice today for lunch.  Crispy, pan-fried rice = love love LOVE… = idea for Sophia’s challenge?

Okay, I’m off to fill my brain with fun chemistry stuff!  Hah… fun.  I’d burn the book at the end of the year, but in cases of $$$ vs. rebellion, $$$ wins.  Always.

Question: How do you use up your leftovers? All of my cooking lately has involved using up leftovers from long, long ago.  That’s pretty much the ONLY reason I cook, haha!

Have a wonderful day, everyone!  I wish you warmth and good eats… love you lots and lots more :]

ox ~ c a n d i c e

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