Latest Posts

The relevance of reading, or why this shouldn’t come as a surprise

In light of the trending “Alternative Facts” presented by the Trump kool-aid drinkers, and the accompanying societal disbelief expressed on social media, I thought this paragraph I was reading for my own studies was particularly relevant:

…when people define situations as real, they are real. We shall try to remember throughout our inquiry that material facts in large measure are the product of what people think, feel, and believe. The actual conditions, as they are, indicate from this point of view the great disparities between the whites’ and the Negroes’ aspirations and realizations.

–Gunnar Myrdal, from An American Dilemma, Vol. 1: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy

Those disparities in aspirations and realizations between white and black people could just as easily be applied to disparities between any privileged group in this country and their relevant subject of oppression.

Also:

Trying to defend their behavior to others, and primarily to themselves, people will attempt to conceal the conflict between their different valuations of what is desirable and undesirable, right or wrong, by keeping away some valuations from awareness and by focusing attention on others. For the same opportune purpose, people will twist and mutilate their beliefs of how social reality actually is. 

–Myrdal

This mess we’re seeing is really just the same old shit on a different day with different additional subjects of social ire.

When life give you lemons…make curd…and then make a pie

A fellow dancer brought two large boxes of citrus to one of our last rehearsals of 2016: meyer lemons and oranges. I’m not a huge citrus fan; my husband on the other hand will eat 2-3 oranges at a time, and since he was sick at the time, I loaded my bag with oranges. I also have a fascination with meyer lemons, and I like the idea of cooking with them, especially making lemon curd or lemoncello. I’ll see pictures on pinterest and think, ‘Ooh, I should try this,’ but once I buy them I chicken out on trying do anything fancy with them, telling myself I just don’t have the time. I figured since I had such a long winter break, I should get over myself and try to make something.

So I grabbed a ton of meyer lemons thinking that lemon curd must require a large number of lemons, feeling encouraged by that thought as several other dancers assumed the same. A week later, and traveling to my parents’ house with the citrus, I was well on my way to chickening out again. However, because they were so ripe, I knew if I didn’t cook with them they were going to end up going to waste. So I finally looked up a lemon curd recipe. I had maybe 8 huge, juicy meyer lemons with me and all of the recipes I found called for about 1/2 cup of juice, which would be about 2 of my lemons, TWO! Guess I didn’t need that many after all.

All of the recipes I could find varied pretty wildly in the amount of eggs, sugar, and butter: some of them suggested just using egg yolks, some required the whole egg, some had 6 T of butter, another 8 T, and still another 12 T. But regardless of how much the other ingredients varied, the amount of lemon juice stayed the same. So I just picked one. I used the one from The Pioneer Woman‘s website, because I’ve tried several other of her recipes, and they’ve always been delicious…incredibly rich, not short on calories, but delicious. Hers was the richer one, with 12 tablespoons of butter and 8 egg yolks (recipe), but it was incredibly easy to make…so easy that it’s pretty absurd that it’s taken me so long to trying to make it. Fancy things just sound like they should be difficult to make, and this was not.

The curd came out perfectly. And from what I learned from my short stint working at a bakery this past year, I covered the curd with plastic wrap, laid right up against the curd itself so it wouldn’t develop a layer as it cooled in the fridge.20161222_180240

The next day, my mother got to suggesting that I should make a lemon meringue pie. Mind you, we already had a huge Costco apple pie sitting in the house, as well as a carrot cake and another jello “salad” that’s still basically a dessert, and there were only four of us in the house, so why would we need another dessert? But when it seemed like no one would be interested in eating lemon curd on some bread with breakfast or tea, I started looking up pie recipes. Plus I still had a bowl of egg whites from the separated egg yolks I had used for the curd.

I didn’t really feel like making a pie crust, but I also didn’t want the frozen flakey pie crust; I had gotten it in my head that I should have some sort of short bread/cookie like crust, almost like a tart. So I looked up tart crust recipes and found pretty much exactly what I thought I was looking for and made it.

I should’ve bought a frozen pie crust.

The pie crust came out alright, it was nice and crunchy. The tragedy came later on when the pie sat in the fridge and moisture got in the crust and it got kind of doughy again and hard to cut…then it was just not that appetizing.

Anyway. I made the crust, added the lemon curd to it after it cooled off, realizing I probably didn’t have enough curd for the pie, but it was so rich I don’t think anyone would’ve wanted more in each slice anyway. Then I made the meringue using another pro-tip from my bakery time. I never knew anything more about making meringue than– put egg whites in a bowl, whip them with a hand mixer, add some sugar to stiffen up the peaks, and then pop it in the oven to cook it and brown it. At the bakery, we had to top one of the donuts with meringue, but obviously couldn’t put it in the oven without cooking the donut. So we did an Italian meringue, where you cook the egg whites in the process of making it so it doesn’t have to go in the oven (which if you bake a lot, or eat meringue cookies, which I do not, I’m sure you already knew about this, but my mind was pretty blown).

Not wanting to put the curd or the pie crust back in the oven any longer than it would take to turn on the broiler and brown the meringue, I decided to try and make an Italian meringue. The instructions seemed fairly straightforward, but I was still terrified that I was going to mess this up, especially since I was supposed to make a sugar syrup on the stove to the temperature of “soft ball” stage, and my mom didn’t have a candy thermometer. I gauged the temperature the old school way, dipping a spoon in the cooking syrup and letting some of it drop into a glass of water to see if it formed a soft ball. I whipped my egg whites until they were a little foamy, and then slowly poured in the hot sugar syrup while I continued to whip egg whites. It worked perfectly!

In the end, I think I had way too much egg whites in proportion to the lemon curd…but I think it worked given how delicious the meringue was, and how its lightness balanced out the density and richness of the curd. There were certainly no complaints; that pie was finished before we left to go back home.

20161223_184848

20161223_201513

20161223_202107

20161223_212416

Fun with Squash

Tis the season for all things squash and gourd-like, namely it’s pumpkin season, or rather, it’s pumpkin-spice flavored season. I typically rail against the flood of pumpkin flavored things this time of year because there’s literally zero pumpkin in the majority of the things marketed, and most of it is supremely over processed. However, I usually do go and buy a pumpkin, bake it, and make some type of pumpkin dessert. And by the way when I say dessert I’m NOT talking about pumpkin pie; I’m pretty strictly anti-pumpkin pie given how close it comes to tasting like sweet potato pie without quite making it.

This year I doubled down on the squash family: I bought a sugar pumpkin and then I saw a strange looking squash on sale and decided to buy it–a buttercup squash. The past few years I’ve made flan with the pumpkin puree I baked, but this year I didn’t feel like putting in that much effort or eating so much dairy. So this year, upon scouring recipes for the buttercup squash, since I’ve never cooked one eaten one or even seen one before,  I found a recipe that looked interesting. But I didn’t actually use the buttercup squash for the buttercup squash recipe, I used the pumpkin.

The end result

-Pumpkin bars in two variations, the first as the recipe read (minus the butter in the puree), and the second with double the pumpkin puree and the crust divided into two pans for a thinner crunchy crust. Of the two experiments I preferred the puree without the butter but I liked the thinner crust on the second. If I did it a third time I think it’d be perfect

20161026_071323

Attempt one: regular recipe

20161104_184924

Attempt two: thinner crust


-Mashed maple bourbon buttercup squash with crumbled bacon on top. Delicious!

20161025_173954

Remember Me?

Today a professor I’ve taken three graduate school courses with, who was my advisor for a year, and whose research I worked on for a bit, didn’t see me as I waved at him from down the hall, as I made not one but two verbal attempts to say ‘hello’ and congratulate him on his upcoming retirement, well within his visual range and earshot.

The classmate I was walking with, who witnessed the snub/oversight/whatever, remarked at how fucked up that was.

Two of the three classes I took with him had no more than ten people in them. I was the only black girl in all three. I even won an in-class competition on who could clean a data set the best (nerdy, I know); I was the dark horse in the class, literally and figuratively.

I guess I should’ve known better. That a professor who discouraged me from even registering for the first class I took with him on the presumption of my lack of ability to do advanced data analysis, could forget me just as quickly as he praised me out of shock that I was actually exceptionally capable of succeeding in not one, but all three of classes (in which I got all A’s)