… 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 ♥

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… 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

Aughhh.  I feel like such a lazy bum.

I was supposed to get a lot of homework done today.  Like prepare for my bio test Wednesday, which I’m probably gonna fail now.  Or my math quiz on Thursday.  Or study the damn spelling for all those Aztec words for the history quiz Thursday too.  Or read my English novel.  Or read my history textbook.  Or chem textbook.  Or how about reading bio articles and doing genetics problems?  Hm???

-_-

Eiya, I really screwed up.  All I did was “do” a note card for an article and finish (the majority of, not even *all* of it!) my note card for chapter 17.  All those stupid diagrams to draw… grrr.

Must.  Not.  Procrastinate.  ><  It’s so hard to relax on four-day weekends… all I’m thinking about is getting a “good start” to the new quarter by studying my ass off for all the upcoming assessments!  I have trouble living in the moment, seriously.  And I know I screwed up the chem test last Thursday (that’s what happens when I trudge day-by-day through tests, studying for one after I take another…), so that’s not a very “good start.”

I need to extenuate this pressure to be “perfect.”  I know I won’t be able to get all of those 100%’s this quarter, but I’ll still feel immensely disappointed in myself… because it seems like everyone “expects” that of me, and thus, I expect it out of myself.  Like… just… stop, please?

Damn, I feel like a bum… no… a bumpkin. I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds kind of funny.  Yes, it rhymes with pumpkin.  Which brings me to my next topic, because in the hours of wasted time, I roasted the relative of the pumpkin…

… its fellow winter squash, red kuri!

DSCN3096Eat me now.

Delicious-looking, no?  At least, it’s that way for my strange tastes.  Yes, that is butter on the squash.  Yes, that is sunflower seed butter, too (HEAVEN IN A JAR!).  And yes, I put sesame seeds on everything.  I’m a sesame crack addict… so sue me.

(That’s Back to Nature chocolate delight granola in the squash, along with raisins, peanuts, sea salt, and roasted kabocha squash seeds buried beneath it.  And a barbequed chicken wing on the side.  Squash fries in the corner.  Mmmm.)

DSCN3098Sunflower seed butter for dipping, yo.

Verdict on this squash?  Not as good as the esteemed kabocha, for which there is plenty of reason for adoration of.  But it was still pretty tasty, though I much preferred the fries over the squash in… squash form.  I think the only squash I can actually eat like that is kabocha because of its starchy deliciousness.  ;)  I wasn’t even sure how to properly roast this baby, it was so small.  It was about 30 minutes at 350*, squash butt up.  I probably should’ve given the butt an extra 10 minutes or so, but it’s alright… happy belly.

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I will follow your lead, red kuri, and get my butt off this chair after I do some work.