Since I’ve been diagnosed with a fun autoimmune disease and have gotten halfway decent at running, my writing has now shifted gears and focus a bit, and moved to a new blog: therunningyak.wordpress.com

  Please follow me there. Thank you!

Hello!

I realize it has been a while since I’ve been on here, and plan to change that soon. Engineering school is time consuming. Also in the past six months I’ve been fighting through several serious family problems, as well as being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. While it’s easily the most annoying food intolerance my body could think of, I feel better than I have in almost a decade and can’t imagine to going back to eating gluten. This also means all of my cooking from now on will be gluten and dairy (mildly lactose intolerant too) free. Get excited!!!

Life is all about the balance of Ying and Yang. Mine loves to exaggerate this tendency. Along with the very bad I’ve also had some great things happen I can’t wait to share! From rock climbing in an extremely cool indoor place to getting back into running and traveling all around the area I live in, I’ve been more active than ever with this new-found energy. Plus, I have some very very unimaginably awesome news to share, but I’m saving that for just a little while longer until I at least know all the details. Brace yourselves; it’s about to get exciting.

For the past few years, I would normally run three times a week. However since May, my right foot has decided it wanted to be a little turd and screw everything up. Each time it gets better something else happens to it, and quite frankly it almost amuses me to see how else it can cause trouble. I mean like most people it gets stubbed, frostbitten, stepped on by horses occasionally and I’ve broken a toe (that sounds about average, right?). Now I’m starting to wonder if just chopping the darn thing off would be less painful.

I was so excited to have this Derby party. After growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was eager to show my college friends how awesome the Derby was since they didn’t seem to understand. On the way back from the store with boyfriend, I managed to so gracefully trip and fall over a curb. Long story short, I just caught Animal Kingdom crossing the finish line while being wheeled by the nurse’s station in the ER on my way to the X-ray machine. My right foot was broken.

It's all your fault!

A couple months, crutches, and a pretty sexy plastic boot later, I was back on my feet and starting to jog again! Yay! All seemed well in the world until I decided to make a pasta dish and managed to spill the boiling hot water. Right on that unlucky foot.

About a week later the burn had finally healed and I was back up and running. I was so happy! Totally forgetting about the small universal rule that bad things come in trees threes.

Meet the honey locust tree.

Oh what a pretty tree.

What the picture fails to show is this tree’s extreme paranoia. To explain this let’s go back to the days when the mighty Megatherum (giant sloth) roamed North America. Apparently these sloths had a taste for these trees’ leaves, legumes (which can be cultivated into beer?), and bark. At some point one tree must have decided enough was enough, and started designing defense mechanisms. (Seriously, how do things like this get started anyway?)

Right. Forget all those hundreds of millions of years of evolving into an efficient tree. Taking ~10 million years of time and energy to create a defense to ONE SPECIES makes perfect sense, while all the other sane trees simply increased how many seeds they put out allowing them to overcome MULTIPLE issues like drought, disease and predators at the same time. Then, using up energy to keep/intensify these defenses approx 10,000 years after giant sloths died off also is a great idea. Who knows, maybe they’ll come back?

WATCH OUT!

So we’re stuck with these ghastly things:

That ruler reads six inches if you can't see it.

Just don’t run into its equally paranoid brother the black locust tree. Not only does it have these ridiculous thorns, it’s also poisonous.

Pay attention to me with my poison!

I make poison so I can feel important!

Anyway moving on with the story…

I was over at boyfriend’s house one day when we decided to take his lab/husky puppy for a walk. Well, more like a run/jog/walk. You see, lab/husky puppy is pretty much a clone of special dog, who if you haven’t met you can head over here and read about. If you’re not convinced there could be a special dog clone, here she is chewing on her back foot.

Om nom nom nom foot

Tastes like chicken.

Since simply going around the neighborhood proved to do nothing to lab/husky puppy’s energy level, we decided to wander down to the lake with (unknown to me) those wonderful paranoid trees waiting around it.

Off we went through the grass and took our run/stroll around the lake. It was really fun, and at one point while we were chatting I guess I shifted my weight and stepped to the side. Upon doing this subconscious action I immediately felt a surge of pain from my heel (which is amazing since I have decreased feeling in my feet from being frostbitten, but more about that some other time). Since normal people don’t walk looking down all the time, and I was unaware of the sloth-fearing trees around me (they were probably snickering) my first thought was I had been bitten by a snake.

I looked down to see about 5 inches of oh-my-god sticking out of my foot.

Merely touching the thing hurt like, well, you know. Eventually boyfriend valliantly pulled the darn thing out of my foot and I limped back to his house. The next few days were full of a swollen heel, and the happy realization it could have been worse.

The Honey Locust's evil brother the Black Locust.

Next time....

One final note: what’s the obsession with naming obviously not sweet things “honey”? You’ve met the honeylocust, now treat yourself to the honeybadger.

Need a quick and easy side dish? These simple yet delightful green beans are a healthy option.

Ingredients:

Green beans
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
.5 clove garlic
.5 Onion
.5 teaspoon Sugar
Salt
Pepper

What’s cookin’?

Prepare the green beans by snapping the tips off each end of each bean, and rinsing the beans off. Then dice the onions and finely dice the garlic. Put the olive oil in a pan, and set to medium-high heat. Then add the onions, garlic, and sugar. Saute until the onions are soft, and caramelized. Then turn the heat to medium and add the green beans, and some salt & pepper. Saute until the beans are hot (you don’t want them to get mushy!). Take off the heat and enjoy!

Note: If you don’t plan on eating these immediately and don’t wan them turning army green & mushy, put them in a bowl and toss with ice. Once you take the beans off the stove they actually continue to cook. So by flash cooling them, you stop this process and get your desired fresh, crunchy green beans!

I love egg rolls. Ever since I was certain my egg allergy went away they’ve always been present whenever I eat Chinese food. The mere thought of the flaky, crunchy exterior with an indulgent juicy interior is enough to make my mouth water. So what’s an amateur cook to do? I had to try and make some myself. Of course after putting my co-op money to good use and buying myself a 12 inch wok. I love my wok…

NOTE: If you want these to be veggie spring rolls, simply leave out the pork.

Even though I’m fairly certain I got the wrong type of egg-roll wrappers, let me point out these were the most time consuming things I have ever made. That being said, I encourage all who wish to continue on to the recipe, as it is delicious. Also I’ll go ahead and admit that this recipe is based off the recipe you can find here: http://steamykitchen.com/13029-my-mothers-famous-chinese-egg-rolls-2.html. I felt the need to blog about these because I don’t feel the website has a very thorough explanation of how to do these (besides the rolling technique), and because I altered a few things.

Here it goes…

INGREDIENTS (makes 25):

25 Spring/Egg Roll Wrappers, defrosted unopened at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight **
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or flour) mixed with ¼ cup of cool water
Oil, for frying (You will need a depth of 1.5-2 inches of oil to fry these suckers in. Keep that in mind and buy extra oil.)
If you like, find delicious looking spring roll dipping sauce at the store. I wasn’t adventurous enough to try and make my own.

For the pork…
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
.25 teaspoon sugar
freshly ground black pepper

For the veggies…
1.5 cloves garlic
.25 head of cabbage
1.5 carrots
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried black mushrooms soaked overnight)
1 tablespoon cooking oil (canola, vegetable, peanut)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Freshly ground black pepper

**Make sure you get the egg roll wrappers that are in the frozen section. I made the mistake of getting these rice spring roll wrappers that were such a pain to work with. They tore left and right, and many exploded when I fried them.

Prepare the Pork

Begin by putting all of the ingredients for the pork in a bowl, wash your hands, and mash it all together. This is a great time to get out all of your anger/stress about the world. Set it aside as it needs to marinate like this for about 10 minutes.

Veggie Prep

Time to get out your favorite knife and start cutting things up! But first, think about what you see when you look into an egg roll you just ate half of. Are things in chunks? Teeny tiny little pieces? Nope! They’re in thin little shreds. Keep that in mind as you cut your veggies. Shred the cabbage (not too thin, as it cooks down), mushrooms (throw away the stems) and carrots. I know shredding carrots (cut into tiny strips) isn’t fun, but it’s definitely worth it. Finely chop the garlic. My three favorite smells are horses, boyfriend and ginger. While grating the ginger, I suggest breathing in as much as possible.

Cooking up a Storm

And now the wok comes in. Seriously, invest in a wok. I feel like I can do anything!

Put the wok over high heat, adding some cooking oil to coat the bottom. Pour in the pork, and watch it begin to cook. I used a spatula to stir it around, while also cutting large pieces (bigger than a pea) up. This has to fit inside a roll with veggies, so if the pieces are too big you’ll essentially have deep fried pork bites. Which don’t actually sound that bad…

After all of the pork has turned white on all sides, and cutting some pieces apart doesn’t show pink centers, pour the pork into a clean bowl and set aside. No need for washing the wok; all of these things are going together in the end anyway. Turn the heat to medium-low, and add a little oil, the garlic, cabbage, carrots, ginger and mushrooms and stir fry until the cabbage and carrots are pretty soft. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and black pepper. Stir fry for about 30 seconds and then pour the pork back into the wok, while turning the heat to medium. Stir fry for about a minute, and then take off the heat and turn off the stove.

Scoop the stir-fry mixture into a colander, and let the juices drain. Scoop it into a cookie sheet with edges, spreading about until it fills the sheet (see picture below).

Pat down the stir-fry in the cookie sheet with a paper towel, to ensure all of the oil is gone. You see, oily filling apparently can make soggy egg rolls, and that would be a crime.

The mixture needs to cool for 15 minutes, so in the meantime get out your egg roll wrappers and get a space ready to wrap. I suggest a clean space for wrapping, and an adjacent large cookie sheet or counter area for putting wrapped egg rolls on. Keep in mind that depending on the wrappers you’ve chosen they might stick together so don’t stack or put your wrapped rolls too closely together.

Once everything is set up and the mixture is cool, it’s time to get wrapping. I suggest looking at http://steamykitchen.com/13029-my-mothers-famous-chinese-egg-rolls-2.html for wrapping tips, because they do an amazing job of explaining how to wrap egg rolls correctly. Only use an overflowing tablespoon of filling, or else the rolls will overflow and it will be hard to wrap. I also suggest making sure things like carrots aren’t sticking perpendicular to the direction in which you’re going to roll. They make nasty holes that will ruin and possibly explode your egg roll upon frying.

Now you’ve got your egg rolls ready, it’s time to deep fry them! Get the wok back out and fill with your cooking oil to a depth of 1.5 – 2 inches. The steamykitchen site says to “heat the oil to 350 degrees (F) or until a cube of bread will fry to golden brown within 10 seconds”, however I have neither a thermometer nor white bread (I eat already brown wheat bread). So I just decided to stick the heat somewhere in between medium and high (closer to medium) and go to town once things started simmering.

I could fry at most 3 egg rolls at once (they stick to the walls, each other, the spoon, etc…) while keeping my sanity, so I suggest doing 3 at most. I’m guessing the wrappers I used stuck to the spoon because the spoon got hot, so I kept a glass of ice water nearby to dip the spoon in every so often. Again, I used the wrong kind of wrappers so this might not happen to you.

Finally when the rolls are either golden brown, or hold their crisp cylindrical shape when held up with tongs or your spoon they are ready! Once you’ve fried them all, let them cool down on a wire rack, and pat the oil off with a paper towel. Finally, get out your dipping sauce  and enjoy!

Clean up on aisle 7

I decided to keep the oil in old spaghetti sauce/apple sauce jars in the fridge for later use. There’s so much of it and I have some unused chicken in the freezer 😉 If you don’t want to keep it though, DO NOT POUR IT DOWN THE DRAIN. You will have very unhappy pipes. Pour the oil into jars as if you were to keep it and put it in the fridge. When it’s cool, THEN feel free to pour it down the drain.

So if you’re like me you are obsessed with Chinese food. The delivery guy knows me, and I even live in a big city. Once I realized I was no longer allergic to eggs, I’m pretty sure my brain decided it would spend the rest of my life making up for it. Seriously, I crave egg rolls and beef & broccoli like only pregnant women should. Since I now have an actual kitchen to cook things in, I’ve decided to take it easy on my wallet and cook my own delicious Chinese food. This particular recipe is my mother’s, but in the future I plan on making won tons, egg rolls, shao mai, etc. So keep an eye out for those. Anyway, on to the actual food…

This is quite easily the most delicious food I have ever had. It’s sweet, salty, savory, and the option of being vegetarian, if you’d like. I mean come on, check out all those veggies!! How could something healthy be so freaking delicious?!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tree?? of broccoli
  • 1 Napa Cabbage
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 1/2 clove Garlic
  • 1 Bell Pepper (I love bell peppers)
  • Chicken tenderloins or breast (or whatever meat you want, really. No meat is always great too!)
  • Soy Sauce
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Veggie Oil

Prepare the Chicken (or any other meat you want to use):

Dice the chicken, and then put the pieces in a plastic zip-lock bag with soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper and a little bit of olive oil. Close the bag and  move the pieces around to make sure each piece gets coated with the marinade, and then set it aside to let it marinate until it’s time to cook!

Prepare the Veggies:

I always begin by chopping everything I’ll need, and setting them aside in bowls. Especially with stir fry, it makes life much easier. So cut up the broccoli to the desired size, and dice the onion and garlic. Chop the Napa Cabbage, and remember it WILL cook down when you add it to the pan. I cut off and discard the base, and then continue cutting up the cabbage to make long strip-like pieces. Dice the pepper, and note that it’s much easier to get those seeds out of the middle under running water. Eat a piece of the pepper to “ensure quality.”

Let’s Get Cooking:

Start by cooking the chicken. Pour the chunks and a bit of the marinade into a pan and set it to medium heat. Cook the chicken, until done. Meaning cook it until all the pieces have turned white on all sides, and are firm if you push on the center. Try not to over-cook it, as dry chicken is not quite as delicious as juicy chicken. Try a piece to “make sure it’s not poisonous.”

Once done, pour the chicken out of the pan into a bowl and set aside. Don’t worry about cleaning the pan, everything will be cooked together in the end anyway. So, put in a little veggie oil, some soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Then add the diced onion into the pan, with the heat somewhere between medium and high, but closer to medium. After a few minutes add the garlic. Cook the onion until soft and a little browned, and then add the chopped peppers, a little more soy sauce, and another pinch of sugar. Once the peppers seem to be soft, add the broccoli, a little more soy sauce, and another pinch of sugar (notice a pattern?). After the broccoli has softened, add the cabbage, and (you guessed it!) a little more soy sauce, and another pinch of sugar. Usually at this point my pan is about to over flow and it seems like there’s not going to be enough room for the chicken, let alone stirring the thing. Calm down, turn the heat to medium, cover the pan with a top and slowly back away. It will all be okay, I promise. Check back every 15 seconds or so, and finally you’ll notice the cabbage beginning to cook down. Try to fold it under the other things in the pan to keep it from burning, while doing this also allows the cabbage to cook down more quickly. Eventually, it will cook down enough for you to fold the mixture with a spoon and not spill from the pan. Or if you’re not a goofball like me, you’ve invested in a bigger pan. In which case, just wait for the cabbage to lose its crispness. Add the chicken, and that magic touch of soy sauce and sugar and stir. Smell. YUM! Keep folding for a few more minutes until the chicken is warm again and there you have it! Delicious stir fry! Try not to overdose.

So you don’t know this yet, but I work in a lab.  A little white room in the basement of a building where I sit and work by myself all day. It has no windows, but there’s a keypad to get in so I feel important. As much as I like the lab and have started naming the robots, I hope I eventually get to work in a room with windows. For my own sanity.

Anyway, every week another student comes down to visit my little cave, and helps me with debugging and we bounce ideas off of each other. This week I was doing mainly research, which meant there was little programming to be done and in turn we ended up on some random tangent, which is what we normally do after debugging anyway. Yesterday’s tangent was Steam (www.steampowered.com), and he convinced me to try it.

So here I am, a person whose parents wouldn’t let have video games in the house (yep, I left my GameBoy in the car) being thrust headfirst into this wonderful world of oh-my-god-there-are-so-many-games. If I wasn’t so poor, I’d have bought some and would be playing instead of blogging. Lucky you!

Being a nerd who doesn’t like war games (oh unless I’m flying something. And the aerospace engineer peeks out….) and loves graphics I went right to simulations. As the page was loading I was unsure of what to expect! I imagined flight simulators, racing simulators, more versions of sim city or even something like the tycoons (you know, rollercoaster, zoo, etc). The page loaded and to my surprise, the ridiculous number of train simulators were only being beat out by expansion packs for this:

What? A farming simulator? Even if you watch the trailer for the game (yes they did) for $29.99 you are confined to driving large machinery over a tiny square. Or dumping grain into a bin. Or driving said bin down a road at roughly 1 km/hr by means of pulling it with a tractor. Or milking cows. For only $9.95 more you can have better grain for said cows and more tractors, and for $11.95 more you get even more equipment and can even “use renewable energy”, which really means stick a wind turbine on your land and watch it spin!

 …. seriously, people?

Who would even be interested in this type of game? And why would you pay that much for it? If you like farming that much I’m assuming it’s your job. Which probably means you’d like to spend your free time doing something else, since you just did those things ALL DAY. Which brings us back to the question of how on Earth this is sucessful.

I feel like it was a joke between the people at Microsoft. It’s not like plants even grow quickly. I really hope you can speed up time, or you might as well go outside and plant an ear of corn. It’s cheaper.

Of course its contender was being advertised at the bottom of the page:

Do they not know it takes four hours in a submarine to get to the bottom of that point in the Atlantic? I used to love the Titanic. Even with my horrible memory I knew everything about the ship, the crash, and what exactly happened. After clicking on the link, I was thoroughly disappointed. According to the game description you could only go through a few select parts of the ship, and even though there is control of a robotic arm, you can’t use it to pick things up. Or poke things. You just float there and look at it. Talk about exciting game play. I really wish you can at least take pieces of the ship, move benches, steal gold coins, something…

I don’t mean to be rude or anything, I’m just really curious. WHO IS PLAYING THESE GAMES AND WHY?? If you do, please, please respond.

It’s pizza! But it’s not just ordinary pizza. It’s just like the pizza you would find in Italy, where cheese isn’t the main idea. My mom made it for my friends and I one time when I came home from college, and I’ve never been able to look at american pizza the same way again. It’s savory, sweet, flavorful heaven, and not hard for boyfriend and I to make. Well now that I’ve given it all this hype, I’ll let you know how to make this delicious ordeal in your own kitchen!

Note: I’m not including measurements because I didn’t actually measure anything, haha. Just do everything to your liking!

This applies more to other recipes since pizza is fairly simple, but I always like to start by cutting everything up just to make things easier when it’s time to start throwing ingredients together. So start by cutting up an onion, garlic and thinly slice a tomato. Carmalize the onion and garlic, then take it off the stove. Due to lack of time and extreme hunger we went for a pre-made thin pizza crust, but if you want to make your own go for it! I’ve made bread before when making monkey bread, and it’s nothing to be scared of. =)

Next, preheat the oven to 400. While it’s preheating, cover the pizza crust with basil pesto and then put on the onion/garlic deliciousness. Cover the pizza with as many tomatoes as you want, and then sprinkle on some shredded Parmesan cheese. Finally put some dollops of mascarpone cheese on top. (Don’t make the dollops too big like some are in the picture; while mascarpone is delicious, it’s nice to taste the other ingredients too!)

Cook it in the oven for 10-15 minutes, and voila! Your mouth will thank me.

Nice of you to join me! So yes, I’ve started this blog which basically stemmed from me needing a bit of down time from my job/studies. Plus I do really random stuff that I think could be interesting if written down, so here I am. Well now I have no idea what to write. I guess we’ll start with the basics.

Hi! I’m Sophia, but many people simply call me Fia. I’m at a university (you’ll probably figure out which eventually) and won’t get into my year because I don’t actually know when I’m graduating. There will be a master’s degree in aerospace engineering involved on said mysterious graduation day though, so no worries. In the meantime I switch between being on co-op with lots of fun and personal time, and going to school where I rarely leave the engineering quad and don’t really know what’s going on in the outside world. So no promises on these posts when school starts in September, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. One other thing: notice I’m studying engineering. So please don’t judge me on my writing… I try! I always got A’s in English, but it was only so long before I completely forgot the correct usage of commas or the meaning of run-on sentence and use both at will. Spelling is also not my forte, but for that there’s Spell Check.

My interests are all over the place. It’s like when my brain was forming it continuously clicked random on Wikipedia and decided it liked each thing it came across. The main game plan here is when I take a short break from my work or studies to write about something I’ve been thinking about, Stumble-Uponed, or cooked last night. So neither you nor I really know what the next post might be about, but that’s what makes things exciting, right? 😉

When I was little I was incredibly disorganized. I lost everything, and of course my mother made the age-old claim I would have “lost my head if it wasn’t attached to my body”. So while growing up one of my main objectives was to work on my organizational skills. That effort has worked pretty well, and caused me to categorize everything. Including blog posts. So here are preliminary categories….

  • Last Night’s Dinner (I cook a lot and like to share it with others. I’ll include recipes on request)
  • Runner’s High (Stuff about running, my runs, etc. I never know what my runs will include)
  • Nerdathon (I’m a nerd. Let’s get real here. The really nerdy things will have this sort of title)
  • Travelry (My travels, other’s travels, places I’d like to travel)
If something doesn’t fit in one of these I’ll find something to do with it, but hey, it’s a start, right?
Ok time to stop boring you and write a real post.

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