Olivia ’12 RSS feed

About Me:

My name is Olivia and I am a senior at Butler University. I spend most of my time in Lilly Hall as a BFA Dance Performance major. When not in rehearsal or ballet class, I write papers for my English Literature second major. In my super-abundant, never-lacking, this-is-highly-sarcastic spare time, I attempt to cook in my apartment kitchen, watch Youtube videos of ballet, knit sweaters that never seem to come to an end, and read books both silly and serious. If I could take any class at Butler just for kicks, I'd go for DiffyQ.

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Posts Tagged “cooking”

Senior Week

As Steph already wrote, Senior Week is the last week between the end of finals and Commencement. Besides Commencing, I did a myriad of other things with my Butler friends.

For instance, I went to lunch with all the senior dance majors and dance faculty. Before we left, our very talented photographer friend was kind enough to take several class photos of us with some beloved Butler landmarks:

Later that night, I attended the senior champagne toast with President Danko and much of the rest of the senior class. Hink, our mascot, was also in attendance:

As Steph mentioned, we got letters we’d written to ourselves during Freshman Orientation. Others wrote about concerns, friends, housing… I did that too, but I also had formulated a theory of art, something about the audience becoming a living gallery after they leave the theater. It was interesting. It was also classic freshman-Olivia. Oh dear.

And I cooked for a last few times in my first kitchen with my boyfriend. We crafted an asparagus tart à la Forest Feast, though we used cream cheese instead of brie and crescent roll dough instead of puff pastry. Delicious:

On Thursday, I played with my friends on the mall. There was inflatable Twister, a moonbounce, those jump-y trampoline riggy things, a photobooth, a raffle, food (snow cones!), those huge human hamster balls, and, of course, Blue II and Trip. It was great fun:

It’s been fun, friends.

(Thanks for the pictures, Anna.)


College Cooking: Leftover Soup

Thanksgiving Break had begun! And Thursday night I found a bunch of perishable items in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten. How does one get rid of onion, carrots, celery, and pasta? One makes soup!

This is the first soup I’ve ever completely winged, and I messed up a fair number of soups last autumn so I was a bit wary. My schoolteacher roommate makes soup all the time and brings delicious smells into the apartment, so I was inspired to try once again… and it worked! Hence this addition to the College Cooking series (which now has the grand total of two recipes — see the first here).

Leftover Vegetable Soup:

  1. Sauté some onion in olive oil (or butter if your apartment has run out of olive oil like mine). Add a few pinches of thyme or another herb of your choice.
  2. Heat about two or three cups of vegetable or chicken stock in a pot.
  3. Add chopped up carrots and celery or whatever vegetables you have leftover. Add the onion.
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for a while.
  5. While simmering, throw in some already-cooked pasta. I used angel hair pasta because that’s what I had. You could also do a cup of cooked rice. You could also add some canned chicken (or be fancy and cook it yourself) if you want meat in your soup.
  6. Add more spices — I chose to add a few large pinches of dried parsley, some onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  7. When the vegetables are soft, remove from heat. I let mine go a little longer because I was doing laundry, and the noodles just absorbed more liquid and it was delicious.
  8. Eat!

College Cooking: Recipes for the New Chef

Let’s set the record straight. When I entered my first apartment in Butler’s Apartment Village last fall, I set the stove on fire. I’m not a horrible cook, but making meals when the fancy strikes remains a far different beast from the responsibility of feeding oneself every single meal. That said, I still did not want to take the commuter meal plan option, since my schedule didn’t allow for convenient meal times in Atherton Union. Also, this way ended up being cheaper.

So I learned a few quick and dirty recipes perfect for the college student chef. In the next few posts scattered randomly throughout the semester, look for recipes like:

  • Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
  • Fried Rice
  • Chocolate Banana Pancakes
  • Curried tofu, spinach, and chickpeas
  • Not Quite Ramen
  • Tomato basil salad
  • My friend’s Healthy S*** in a Pan

If you are an experienced cook, I guess some of these might seem obvious. For the new cook, half the trouble isn’t making the food — it’s trying to think of what to make. On that note, if anyone has some easy (quick, inexpensive, yummy) recipe suggestions, please chime in!

My sous chef stirs the chili (recipe courtesy of my Latvian Roommate).

Summer at Butler: The Food

University Terrace, where I am staying this summer for Butler Summer Institute, has no microwave. This has not been too much of an issue. I did go upstairs to use a neighbor’s when I had a microwave Palak Paneer for dinner. (Is it still a “neighbor” if I live on a different floor, on the opposite side of the building?)

However, I am currently writing a blog post while my butter slowly comes to room temperature for the banana bread. Today I baked a cake for a potluck, roasted potatos/carrots/onion, and am about to finish banana bread. Since operations have stalled, I shall instead post pictures of food. Because I really, truly love food.

Pancakes– regular, chocolate chip, strawberry, and chocolate batter with banana

Quiche. A magical quiche my best friend made for me. It was quite a successful meal we had. Breakfast for dinner never fails.

The aforementioned quiche

Then I made a cake with my roommate.

We did a double-decker type model with my roommate’s homemade icing between the layers. I put blueberries on top. Then we put a glaze over the powdered sugar–and then it looked like a giant doughnut:

A huge doughnut

It was just a mix, but it certainly tastes good enough!

And then, I ate curry for lunch and dinner and lunch again. I left out the potatoes and chickpeas and added extra carrots, so it’s a lovely orange color.

So many good meals. I wonder if the banana bread’s butter has reached room temperature yet?

A Midwinter plug, plus food pictures

What does one do after a long day of dancing? This week, our rehearsal schedule was relatively light, but last week was fairly typical. The dance department is in the thick of preparations for our Midwinter Dance Festival.

If you are in the area, please come and support us! Not only will you see a piece by one of the biggest names in American choreography (though Balanchine was Russian, true), but you will also find new works choreographed by Butler’s faculty. The Clowes box office is open from 10-5 on weekdays, 10-2 on Saturday, and 2 hours before ticketed events begin… hint hint.

Tickets you will buy aside, what does one do after a long day of dancing? One embarks on a spice adventure!

  • Gather most every spice in the apartment’s kitchen.
  • Add lemongrass, olive oil, and onion to fish.
  • Add spices at will. Mix and match
  • Bake in a foil packet for 20 minutes.
  • Eat.
  • Consider the spice adventure a success, but wish you had not added quite so much paprika.

Afterwards, I fried a banana in cinnamon sugar. My friend kindly arranged it for me to optimize the photo shoot.

Come to Midwinter!

Cooking Adventures III

Well, classes resumed on Thursday. I had my Intro to the Discipline of English class, Romanticism, ballet, pointe, and rehearsal. Then I waited around on the main campus to met my Irish Lit professor: She is serving as my mentor for my BSI proposal, which I finally finished writing. Snow days are for Welsh/Irish literature comparisons, apparently.

BSI is the acronym for Butler Summer Institute. Look for a post detailing my experiences thus far with the BSI application process. Research, however, builds a healthy appetite, right? On to the food!


1. This was another recipe from my Moosewood birthday cookbook: Six minute chocolate cake. (Thank you, Mom and Dad! It was the perfect gift.) Supposedly, it take six minutes to mix all the ingredients together in the baking pan; then one sticks the pan in the oven to bake for twenty minutes.

I think it took my friend and me twenty minutes to put the ingredients in the pan and twenty minutes for it to bake. The photography might have slowed us down somewhat.

We chose this recipe because:

  • it was for chocolate cake. You can’t go wrong with chocolate cake.
  • the mixing and such all happens in the baking pan, so there is little to clean.
  • I actually had all the ingredients in my apartment. (Ingredient substitutions are usually my downfall.)
  • Did I mention? It’s chocolate cake.

Aesop would be proud: slow and steady won the race. Though it took us a while to get everything happily nesting on the center oven rack, the cake was delicious.

Oddly enough, it was delicious after it had been sitting on the counter (covered, obviously) for a day or two. The initial dessert was rather cakey. I prefer the moister consistency, and this cake rose beautifully to the challenge after we had given it a day or so to adjust to life after the heat of the oven.

2. Filipino hot chocolate. My friend’s father brought some chocolate tablets back from his trip to the Philippines. Boil water, drop in a little chocolate cylinder or three, add butter, and simmer. We clink our mugs together like they do in Despicable Me. What a tasty treat.

Thus ends my Cooking Adventures series. I am rather proud of my accomplishments. Living in my own apartment with my very own kitchen has been fun, and my cooking skills are vastly improved. Having friends over to assist and using my roommates’ cooking/baking knowledge to full advantage helps the process.

Successes are getting more common: Last night I cooked fish in a foil package with a random assortment of spices, green beans, and stuffing. Though I might have gone a bit easier on the paprika, it was still more than edible, which would not have happened at the beginning of the year!

Cooking Adventures II

The string of cooking successes continues with dinner! I talked last time about lunches being leftovers or sandwiches, which is very true. I guess I should admit, however, that I’m often just not hungry for lunch after having such a huge breakfast. Dinner tends to come early on these days, leaving plenty of time afterward for dessert!


1. Salad with homemade dressing roughly obtained from the Moosewood Collective cookbook my parents gave me for my birthday this past year. I had been mixing my dressings with the end of a long wooden spoon in the largest plastic cup I could find. This time, I used an empty (and clean) yogurt container to shake up the dressing.

However! I got a drink mixer at Target which I intend to use for mixing dressings, since it is construction for the purpose of being shaken without spraying garlic and milk everywhere. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

salad with homemade dressing

2. Thai Sweet Potato Stew. My dad made this sometime last year, and I periodically crave it now. It’s made with sweet potato, onion, spices, coconut milk, and other things I can’t recall just now. Serve over rice while watching a Miyazaki movie with a friend. (This was before classes began, obviously.) Yum.

Thai Sweet Potato Stew

3. Here’s the mission. You have a can of refried beans you accidentally started to open because you thought it was black beans. (Actually, not you, but that’s a minor detail. :) Smile, friend!) You must use these refried beans now. And the leftover tofu from a tofu dish. And using some of the lettuce and the lone onion would be nice as well.

What do you do? Throw onion, garlic, tomato, tofu, and a boat-load of spices in the skillet. Heat the beans and add cheese. Serve with a pile of lettuce. Use either Italian dressing or salsa verde, and TA-DA! You have yourself a burrito-like pile of ingredients that taste shockingly delicious.

Seriously, that tofu thing was bamf. I think it was the high-volume of onions.

Tofu thing

4. Taste roommate’s chili. Decide it’s the best thing ever. Crave chili for months. Stockpile every different type of bean under the sun. Finally, finally make chili. I’m still eating the leftovers, and they are pretty much the bees’ knees, except, you know, more substantial and heartier.

Chili in said roommate's (AKA, The Chili Guru's) enormous Dutch Oven

The preparation options: plain, or with salsa verde and cheese

Dessert to follow! Stay warm in this snow storm!

Cooking Adventures I

This huge snow storm has done wonders for my blogging schedule, and now I finally get to brag about the collection of pictures I’ve acquired since the beginning of the spring semester two weeks ago.

Sometimes my cooking adventures turn out to be very, very wrong. Often they are almost right and thus edible to one in a generous frame of mind or in a fit of extreme hunger. Occasionally, however, they have been exceedingly successful–as in “exceeds expectations”–as in I would get “E” were I taking a test at Hogwarts–as in they were delicious.

So I’m going to brag a little as I share my cooking adventures with you.


1. Egg, onion, spinach, omelette. Never fear, I only ate half. The rest I’ve squirreled away for tomorrow morning. I added rosemary, thyme, garlic, pepper, and a bunch of basil as well. Yum.

Spinach/egg/onion thing

2. Banana pancakes! These were delicious. I found a questionable banana at the bottom of my backpack at the end of the school day on Friday. (It was only there for one day, don’t worry.) I just call it “questionable” because it had turned, by some miracle of chemistry, entirely brown. And therefore it was perfect for a Saturday morning pancake party. We put a smidge of Nutella on top too. Yum.

Action shot!

3. Caramelize onion. Add garlic. Add pepper, spices, and eggs. Then when it can’t get any better, put pepperoni on top. And cheese! Serve with toast and tea and maybe a friend or two.


I’m kind of on a pepperoni kick right now, thanks to my youngest sister. I have been putting pepperoni on my sandwiches, having a slice or two for a snack, having a slice or two while I’m cooking breakfast, having a slice or two for dessert. Thank you, sister.

Right, I want to assure the gentle reader that I did not consume all of the above at once. This was more than one breakfast. So there.

Dinner and dessert will follow. My lunches tend to be leftovers or sandwiches, and therefore will not be covered in this series.

When Arborio rice is necessary

Classes start in one week! Some students have been back on Butler’s campus for a while now for Greek recruitment. I, however, have been savoring the last days of winter break with my family. This requires a lot of sleeping. And reading, knitting, Skyping, tea-drinking, and dinner-eating.

Risotto, anyone? I tried to make this dish with a friend back during Fall Break. Apparently, brown rice is not a good substitute for Arborio rice. My mom, however, has the recipe down to a science and demonstrated her skills when my godfamily came to visit. Let me tell you. We feasted. And then we played in our firepit on the patio in our backyard.

And we ate it all.

With luck and a bit of bookish help, I will no longer make errors like my Fall Break, ill-conceived rice swap. My parents gave me a great book at Christmas called Recipe Substitutions. As one might expect, it contains ingredients and lists of possible substitutions. I immediately noted that brown rice is not listed under arborio rice. That would explain my al dente risotto.

Anyway, if you are the friend, family member, or frequent victim of a new college cook, a book like this is one good gift you might try. I rarely have all the correct ingredients. I rarely have immediate access to a grocery store to rectify the error, not having a car. I also rarely have the good sense to decide whether an ingredient may be swapped for another or not.

On the merits of dawdling

I kind of like hanging out at Butler for a few days after I’m finished with my last exams. I am always anxious to see my family, but I like staying afterwards for several reasons. Which I shall list:

1. I have time to clean my room, my kitchen, my restroom, my living room… Towards the end of the semester, items tend to pile up. I know myself. I know I won’t suddenly become organized in the last days of cramming for finals. I know I won’t do laundry when my monster physics test makes menacing sounds from its corner. I know I won’t be packed and ready to go right after my last final. I definitely won’t have cleaned my refrigerator of items like milk and spinach.

2. I like spending time with my Butler friends. The people I have met at Butler are among my closest confidants (as dramatic as that surely sounds), and I often feel like I don’t have a chance to enjoy their company during the academic year. For example, I watched my roommate watch her croutons brown in the oven on Thursday. How often does that happen during the semester?

3. I have unintentionally developed a ritual at the end of each semester. For the third semester running, I ended up in the basement of Irwin library, reading Shaun Tan‘s magnificent Tales From Outer Suburbia. Obviously I budget time for this.

4. Living in the Apartment Village this semester, I first experienced the challenge of eating all perishables before leaving the campus. I like to think my roommate and I did a rather good job. All I had to throw out was some homemade whipped cream, half a stick of butter, and some carrots. We managed to eat a bag and a half of spinach in two days. I made a spinach-egg frittata on Thursday night, and this morning? Well, this was the epic morning of crepes.

A friend and I have had a long-standing date to make banana pancakes. However, I decided to admit that pancakes are not exactly my strong suit, so we made crepes instead.

The last time I had a pancake-breakfast party with a friend, this is what happened:

Looks good, right?


Very false!

Crepes, besides being in my grasp skill-wise, are excellent vehicles for using up ingredients like bananas and cheese and spinach. I would include “not all at once” in that statement, except my friend concocted–and ate–a banana, spinach, cheese, and Nutella crepe. I decided to give that one a pass.

All this said, I am excited to go home for the winter break! Richmond, here I come!