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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 “kitchen”

College Cooking: Stuff in a Skillet

On this Good Friday, I give you a completely inappropriate recipe. Forgive me — I’m sure you could substitute tofu for the chicken. Or just wait until Lent is over to make it. I discovered this yesterday when casting about in my fridge for dinner after a long afternoon of Coppélia rehearsals. My stipulations: It had to be healthy, quick, and economical (using ingredients I already had).

College Cooking: Stuff in a Skillet

I used: green beans, red bell pepper, frozen chicken (diced and pre-cooked… because I’m a culinary cheat), and mashed potatoes (from a box… because I’m a college student). Also, salt and pepper.

  1. Boil water in the skillet. Put green beans in the boiling water for about 7 minutes, or until they look pretty and have the desired crunch level. Drain and set beans aside.
  2. Cook — or in my case, heat — the chicken in the skillet. Set aside.
  3. Start mashed potatoes. Follow directions on the box. Otherwise, simmer potatoes in a pot for 20 min, drain, and mash together with a bit of milk, butter, pepper, and salt.
  4. Sauté chopped pepper. Add chicken and green beans back to the skillet to warm everything evenly. Got to make sure we’re all on the same page.
  5. Add stuff to make it taste good: butter, salt/pepper, a dash of curry powder, or garlic (would add this one earlier when sautéing pepper) are all options… When I was little I liked to put a healthy sprinkling of paprika on my mashed potatoes, but that was less about the taste and more about the fact that they turned orange.

This recipe is particularly vague and rather unhelpful… the perfect addition to my motley College Cooking series!

Leek Soup: tastier than it sounds

My College Cooking series is back! If only for a brief time.

I had all the ingredients for a wonderful lentil soup — with some random things left over. I dunked the leftovers in a pot and made a simple leek soup that turned out to be surprisingly delicious.

Simple Leek Soup

  1. Heat 3 cups veggie or chicken stock in a pot on the stove.
  2. Chop some carrots and celery. (I used half a stalk of celery and 2 carrots, though I’d add another carrot next time.) Dump in pot.
  3. Wash your leek well! Chop it up. Dump in pot. My leek was fairly large so I only used one, but you could add another for good measure.
  4. Add 1 cup pre-cooked rice to the pot OR add 1 cup un-cooked instant rice to the pot and cover.
  5. The contents of the pot should be boiling by now… Add some parsley, basil, and rosemary, ect… I used a pinch of “Italian spice blend” in addition to the parsley.
  6. Let it go for as long as you like. The rice will soak up the liquid, so add a squirt of water from the faucet into your bowl just before serving to make it soupier if desired.

You could change types of stocks, add more veggies, change rice quantities, change the spices… If you wanted to be traditional, I suppose you might add potato. All my recipes sort of sound the same, I realize. Also, you might have noticed that I eat a lot of soup. Oh well.

#betterthanamealplan

The salt of the earth is in my kitchen, on my floor

It snows at Butler. The maintenance crew puts salt on the sidewalks so students and faculty don’t fall down when moving from building to building in the freezing Indianapolis winter. This is much appreciated, since I like to retain the use of both legs. Dancing is much easier with all limbs fully functional.

In this case, I don't think even salt would help remove the snow.

However, salt gets stuck to shoes. Shoes walk on the kitchen floor. Ergo, the kitchen floor gets coated with salt, and it’s disgusting.

After scrubbing and scrubbing at the kitchen floor on my hands and knees with Magic Eraser, with vinegar, and with soapy water, I hit upon a solution. Put a mat next to the front door and remove wet, salty shoes upon entry! Simple, neh?

My two remaining roommates–the troublesome one having left for Nantes for a semester abroad, leaving us bereft but thankfully free from the horrid, horrid cupcakes she forced us to eat–were kind enough to agree to go along with this plan. I shall inform you of our progress.

The physics smackdown is over. Let the war with salty floors commence.

The Butler ducks don't have to worry about salt in their pond by the bell tower. I took this picture when I was a freshman and liked pretending to be a nature photographer.

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?

False!

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!

Pictures of birthdays past

Or “birthday” past, to be precise. I gave my camera to a friend last night so he could continue to terrorize everyone with threats of pictures. (His camera had run out of battery.) When I was flipping through the photos he took this morning–most of them extremely awkward–I found these:

Eat me...

Aren't they beautiful?

Yes. This is indeed as it appears to be. Evidence that my troublesome roommate is still up to her old tricks.

For my birthday (way back in September–see how old these photos are?), she made me almond cupcakes with salted buttercream icing garnished with heart-shaped strawberry slices. That’s right. She cut strawberries into hearts. I was powerless to resist.

Choose your roommates wisely.

  1. Choose your roommates wisely. Hooray skilled bakers!
  2. Having a kitchen rocks. Hooray Apartment Village!

Kitchen tour, part II, and some physics

The kitchen tour continues! I am sorry my last post was so short, but I had to run to a physics study party. Guess what? I HELPED SOMEONE! I, the dance BFA, English lit major, helped someone. Thrilling.

On to the kitchen… Here you can see the counter with four swivel stools. This way, students do not need to buy a kitchen table or anything. This is a very good thing, since storage is a pain, and tables that won’t collapse and look decent are expensive.

In this picture, you can also see the toaster and coffeepot, which do not come with the apartment. When you get to be a junior, you will have to buy these yourself. The homework on the counter with the apple and the cell phone is mine and was terribly unfinished when I took the picture.

Over Labor Day weekend, I had some free time. It was crazy. I decided to seize the opportunity and make cinnamon-sugar bread and cheese bread. I’d folded herbs, cinnamon, and chocolate into bread before, but never cheese. The result? Beautiful.

That was gone very quickly, let me tell you.

Kitchen tour, part I

You might have noticed that I’m obsessed with my first kitchen and my first non-meal plan semester. I’m sure I’ll miss the days of ready-cooked meals when I get really busy with Nutcracker, but for now, it’s great.

The Apartment Village comes with a fairly large kitchen. Here’s the official tour:

Awkward angle to photograph

Here’s the door to the pantry next to the front door. We have a storage cart we use to hold our tea, communal baking/cooking items, vegetables, and my troublesome roommate‘s stand mixer. Then there’s the awesome chair I found at an antique store holding our fruit.

The heart of the home

Moving to the right, you can see the refrigerator, microwave, and stove. The teakettle on the stove is a replacement for the red one I bought last year and dropped during move-in. I broke so many things in those few days. So clumsy.

The kitchen tour will continue…

Lucky-plucky

I am so lucky to have the roommates I have. They’re packin’ some serious awesome. (Ha, that sounds like something from the Green brothers.) I do have problems with one roommate sometimes. We’re working it out, but I really need to vent right now.

She force-feeds me cupcakes.

Homemade almond cupcakes with homemade salted carmel buttercream icing made from homemade carmel! Horrid. Simply, unspeakably horrid.

*sinister music*

I know. And I’ve talked to her about how it makes me feel when she bakes all these cupcakes and forces us to be her taste-testers. How would she feel? Really? It only gets worse when she throws strawberry cupcakes, orange-iced chocolate cupcakes, and an airbrushed cake for Talk Like a Pirate Day into the mix.

I suppose these are just the things I’ll have to deal with now that I’m off a meal plan, living in my own kitchen.

Like I said, we’re working on it.

Look at that devious face.