Happiness Is This

Hi sunshines!

I’m sorry for the prolonged absence. It’s been a busy time for me – though that’s certainly not an excuse; everyone seems to busiest at this time of year. So what’s been going on? A few things – midterms at school. Then there was Fall Break, where I spent five of the loveliest days I can remember at home. On returning to Ann Arbor, I had a few more hurdles: a midterm in Shakespeare and a paper for British History. I’m mostly in the clear now. Things should be more scattered, though still consistent, until Thanksgiving.

Another thing: I haven’t been taking a lot of photographs lately. Not really since Fall Break, actually. I’ve found it makes me a little too obsessed with what I eat sometimes. So I’ll be experimenting with posts and subjects in the coming weeks. Any suggestions for post topics would be lovely!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Surrounded by words.

From left to right: Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Read it. Now. It is an incredible, funny, and sad novel. Three issues of the New Yorker and one of the New York Review of Books (Thanks UJ!) and a copy each of BHG (I always flip to the recipes and health sections) and Vanity Fair. Marilyn Monroe on the cover again? Ugh. I haven’t even really read this issue because I feel like Monroe’s on the cover at least once yearly.

Yeats and Gourds.

An early Christmas present! Mom took me to Barnes and Noble within hours of returning home. I had a gift card and wanted to buy a copy of Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (it comes highly recommended by two of my favorite women, Kerry and Cait). I was hesitant to spend a gift card on a DVD rather than a book, but it was worth it. The DVD is a killer work out. And I did manage to get a book out of the deal, though I won’t get to enjoy it till December. What a treat that will be!

I made Jimmy do some modeling for me while I was home. The kid’s a natural!

Heavy lies the club.

Hey cutie.

Now Jimmy’s not my only cute brother. Joe’s quite photogenic, too.

Bon Jo-vial.

Popcorn to the brim!

On Monday night, Joe made some really excellent popcorn. We watched Indiana Jones, a childhood throwback. As you can see in the pic, the pan was completely filled with popcorn. What a treat! Unfortunately, I was a little heavy-handed on the garlic salt. That’s not to say I didn’t finish my bowl!

Now let’s not forget about the eats. My mom is a serious cook; as a result, the eats were one of the highlights of Fall Break. Here they are, in no particular order:

Buddy's!

One of the best parts of going home is our Friday night pizza tradition. We usually alternate between Buddy’s, Amici’s, Hungry Howie’s, and Jets (not a fan of that last one). My mom and I split a small mushroom, while the boys devoured a large pepperoni and cheese.

Pizza, Salad, Strawberries.

On another night over Fall Break, my mom and I made Potatoes Anna, grilled vegetables, and steak. I was involved in the prep for the veggies and potatoes.

Before.

After.

Potatoes Anna are a real treat. I think my Aunt Julie made them first and they were so good that my mom found a recipe. The potatoes are thinly sliced, so it’s almost like eating a potato chip, except thicker and hot.

Grilled Veggies!

I looove grilled vegetables! I ate them all the time over the summer; I don’t have a grill at school, so I look forward to them when I come home for a weekend. They’re good on their own, or in salads or wraps.

Potatoes Anna, Steak, Veggies, Strawberries

This was a wonderful meal. The following morning, I had oatmeal, made by my mother. I’m gonna go ahead and say that oatmeal is always better if your mom makes it for you.

Pear + Walnut Oatmeal

On Tuesday, I made Pumpkin Bread. I wanted to surprise my mom with it when she came home from work. She was pleased!

Pumpkin Bread!

This is really pretty easy to make. I’m sure it would be divine with cream cheese frosting (but wouldn’t anything?!). I’ll include the recipe in a later post.

The only thing I missed during Fall Break was my dad. He was in NYC with his siblings for the weekend. Luckily, I got to see him on Monday night.

Dad's back!

And here’s one with the woman who made the weekend worthwhile:

Hey Ma!

One last thing: the title of this post refers to a line from Mrs. Dalloway. I finished the book shortly before break; now I’m reading another Woolf novel, To The Lighthouse. Both are marvelous. I’m also starting Regeneration for the British History course tonight. I’ve heard it’s really good, so I’m quite excited. Lastly, I’m sort of reading The Phantom Tollbooth. I say sort of because I’ve been reading it so sporadically that I can’t really remember what’s happening. Hopefully I’ll pick it up again sometime soon, and seriously this time.

Well, I’ve got to go. Regeneration calls!

Goodnight,

Mary

 

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Fat Talk

My friend Erin (second blog mention this week what what!) sent me this link. I’ll admit it – fat talk is something I struggle with fairly often. I’m working on it though, and every time I see a video like this, things get a little better. So bravo, ladies! Thanks for reminding me that there’s more to life than what I weigh.

- Mary

 

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A Brief Overview of Eats

Hey all!

This is a quick one, because I really should be studying (midterm time is killer).

In no particular order:

 

A plate full of Zingerman's.

 

Zingerman’s Whole Wheat Farmhouse bread (so good toasted and dipped in hummus), Zingerman’s pickle (words can’t describe!), Salad with sauteed mushrooms, toasted acorn squash seeds, goat cheese, and balsamic vinagrette.

 

Toast, Salad, Pickle, Soup - A perfect lunch.

 

More Zingerman’s influence (bread and pickle). Accompanied by a salad of spinach and mixed greens topped with lemon juice. Additions: tomatoes, cucumbers, chick peas, feta, store bought Tabbouli, TJ’s hummus. Such a perfect lunch. On the side: some leftover Mushroom-Barley soup.

 

Couscous and sweet potato fries + ketchup.

 

An autumnal meal, eaten on the front porch with my gurl Laura. I sauteed an apple in a little butter and brown sugar. Towards the end I tossed in some walnuts. I saved half of this mixture for breakfast this morning (but more on that later). I added that to the whole wheat couscous, along with a little maple syrup, brown sugar, and goat cheese. On the side, I had some sweet potato fries and ketchup.

 

Typical dessert.

 

These almonds (from TJ’s) are incredible. They’re dark chocolate, and a little salty. My mom tried one and was a convert. This is what the box looks like:

 

Yum!

 

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Happy Birthday, Erin!

First things first: Happy Birthday to my beautiful friend Erin! You are wonderful, witty, and so smart. I’m so grateful to have you as a friend.

 

Birthday love!

 

Erin and I lived together during Spring Term. Needless to say, she was a killer roommate. We planned to cook a lot more than we actually did, but the meals we did make were enjoyable (I’m thinking of a pear and gorgonzola pizza in particular).

 

Fun times in Fenton.

More on my daily eats later tonight. For now, I’ve got to study for my Spike Lee mid-term tomorrow afternoon. Wish me luck!

Love, Mare

 

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Afternoon Delight

I’m in bliss. Where to start? It’s Saturday, also known as the best day of the week (if done right – there’ll be little to no homework done today). It’s gorgeous. I was just outside for the past four hours, walking from house to house for pregames to the big game. I went to my good friend from high school’s house, and saw a lot of girls I used to play sports with. Actually, that’s one of the things I like best about football Saturdays – unexpectedly running into people I know and love but don’t get to see too often. I’m also full, thanks to Sarah’s dad. He bought the house a big box of Zingerman’s goodies. Treats abound!

 

I <3 Zingerman's!

 

Inside: Pecan blondies, ginger scones, brownies, palmier’s, big o’s, mandel bread (like biscotti, I dipped mine in coffee), and more. The best thing I ate? The pecan blondies or the oatmeal cookies. In absolute bliss.

But because sweets alone do not make a balanced breakfast, I also had an omelette and half a pickle (also from Zingerman’s).

 

Spinach and feta omelette + pickle

 

Right after I took this picture I doused the omelette in ketchup. To which one of my roommates raised her eyebrow and said: “Jesus. That’s a lot of ketchup.” Go big or go home!

My posting this week has been sporadic at best, and I’m sorry about that. I’ve been so busy that I often didn’t take photos of my meals, but here are some of the highlights (in no particular order):

 

Salad + Squash + Soup + Sides

 

 

Yum yums.

 

 

Soup + Baby Carrots + Basha Hommus

 

I think this was Wednesday’s lunch. I was famished and wanted a ton of food as quickly as possible. So I made the salad (the basic – tomatoes, feta, cukes, signature dressing, all over mixed greens), warmed up the squash (and spooned some yogurt and Kashi GoLean on top), and heated up the soup. The result was a delicious and bountiful lunch.

Later that day, I was hungry, but wanted something sweet for dinner. In comes the couscous:

 

Couscous with apples, goat cheese, and walnuts

 

This was so easy, and so delicious. I made the whole wheat couscous while sauteeing a Honeycrisp apple in butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Once the apple starting getting soft, I threw in some walnuts. I mixed the apples and the couscous, drizzled on some maple syrup, and topped it with a little goat cheese. It was so good! I can’t wait to make it again – maybe for dinner tonight?

For the past few Thursdays, my friend Jed and I have gone to dinner and then did some studying together. Last Thursday was no exception. We ended up going to the People’s Food Co-op, where I made my own salad. The picture is terribly blurry, but the salad itself was great.

 

Garbage salad.

 

In the mix: spinach, purple onions, tomatoes, organic garbanzos, balsamic lentils, hummus, quinoa tabbouli, sesame crackers, roasted beets, and more. The roasted beets were the best part. I want to make some of my own, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Any suggestions?

On the side, I got a cup of Potato-Leek soup. I topped it with kale, which ended up saving it. The soup itself was pretty bland.

 

Potato-Leek soup hiding under kale.

 

Ehh. I wouldn’t get the soup again. But the salad and the company were lovely!

Hi Jed!
Jed and me.

Yesterday I had a bit of a melancholy morning. I don’t know why – it was Friday and I was done with classes. But lunch turned things around. It’s that easy to make me happy – just give a good sandwich and I’m set.

 

Wrap with hummus, spinach, cucumber, carrots, feta.

 

I just thought it looked really pretty.

 

Wrap + Apple + Dark Chocolate + Almonds

 

So much crunch. It turned my mood right around.

And that’s everything. Right now I’m watching a movie with my roomie Lauren. A monster nap is definitely in my future. Enjoy your Saturdays!

Love,

Mary

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Marie Claire, Food Blogs, and Body Image

Hey there,

This afternoon, I read an article in the November issue of Marie Claire magazine called “The Hunger Diaries.” It is an intriguing depiction of the world of food blogs. Basically, there are six famous food bloggers; in the article, each woman’s blog is dissected. The article claims that food blogs may encourage eating disordered behaviors, particularly because some of the women are incredibly active (most are in training for marathons, and not for the first time).

The overall tone of the article is negative. I think there are some valid points – the way the six profiled women catalog their food is near-obsessive (some post three times a day). Personally, since I started reading food blogs eight months ago, I’ve become much more aware of food. I’m not yet sure if it’s in a bad or good way.

On the whole, though, I think it’s laughably ironic that Marie Claire scolds the food bloggers for potentially encouraging eating disorders while simultaneously publishing pictures of emaciated models. I don’t know about you, but photographs of sample size models are more likely to affect my self-esteem than pictures of what women I don’t know eat. If anything, food blogs have inspired me to be more creative in the kitchen; an unfortunate side affect is that I can sometimes be semi-rigid in maintaining healthy habits.

And this is not to say I don’t love magazines – I always have. But it’s baffling that women who try to encourage healthy self-image (check out Operation Beautiful ASAP) are made pariahs while the publishers of magazines escape unpunished yet again.

Vogue’s Shape Issue last spring captured the contradictions Marie Claire presented this month perfectly; unfortunately, it proves that this type of thinking is not restricted to just Marie Claire magazine but rather stretches far and wide accross the fashion industry. On the one hand, there was a ground-breaking (for a fashion magazine) piece about top model Kim Noorda’s painful struggle with anorexia. It was encouraging to read an article that finally acknowledged a huge problem in the fashion industry (click here for more info). But then, on literally the next page, there was a picture of a naked Daria Werbowy, another top model. The caption read: Warbowy represents the ideal female form. I was shocked when I first read the issue. I thought it had to be an editorial mistake – if only that were true.

This all brings me back to food. Some days I feel a little silly photographing most of what I eat. I’m uncomfortable bringing my camera into a restaurant, for example. But the purpose of my blog is not just about food; it’s about learning, whether that be through cooking, reading, or writing.

Without further ado, I present my eats for the day:

Greek yogurt + Pumpkin + Kashi GoLean Crunch

I really enjoyed this breakfast, but first I had to get acclimatized. It’s strange indeed to be eating pumpkin for breakfast (well, maybe not if it’s a piece of pumpkin pie). So I definitely added cinnamon and a drizzle of honey to the yogurt mess. And it was really good! So good, in fact, that I had a similar meal for dinner today. But more on that later…

I packed some of those yummy smokehouse almonds for a mid-morning snack.

By the time lunch rolled around, I was starving. So I went for what I know, the tried-and-true salad and sammie combo.

Salad + Sammie + Strawbs

In the sandwich: goat cheese, roasted red pepper, and spinach. Delicious and creamy. In the salad: mixed baby greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, and feta, all dressed in EVOO, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Right after lunch I got to work making Mushroom-Barley soup. I feel a cold coming on, and I want to nip it in the bud. This is my third time following this recipe. I find it yields far more than six servings…

Mushroom-Barley soup (recipe from the Healthy College Cookbook)

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped (I used three carrots)
  • 1 small celery stalk, finely chopped (again, I used three stalks)
  • 15 medium white mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
  • 3 (14.5 ounce) cans low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Prep:

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and saute until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the broth and barley to the sauteed vegetables. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the barley is tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The finished product made a cameo at dinner tonight.

Mushroom-Barley Soup

Along with…

Plain Yogurt and Pumpkin on top of Carmelized Apple and Walnuts

Ahh, it was a good little meal.

It’s super early, but I can barely (or should I say barley) keep my eyes open. An early bedtime is in my future. Goodnight loves!

Mare

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Good eats.

Hello all,
It’s strange – it’s late Sunday night and the thought of the Sunday blues is just now coming to mind, for the first time all day. Usually the blues hover over my head on Sundays, particularly in the afternoons. Not today. I’m not sure why that was the case today – I was literally at the library from noon until nine.

Yesterday morning I volunteered for the first time with a student-run organization called Kids Kitchen. It’s a nascent organization, and was originally created with the intent to bake with kids. Unfortunately, health regulations abound, so instead Kids Kitchen bakes goods for organizations like the Ronald McDonald House and Child Advocacy Center.
The theme for yesterday’s baking event was Maize and Blue. I helped make mini banana cream pies and sugar cookies. It was great – combining cooking with the high I get from volunteering was a wonderful experience. We cheated a bit and used pre-made pie crusts, but we did actually make the pudding. It was strange to see how Jello pudding is actually made; to watch lumps of flour, sugar, and salt turn into a smooth consistency when tempered with milk, butter, and vanilla. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but the mini banana cream pies were adorable. We also made sugar cookies, which amped my anticipation for the holidays (I know it’s far away, but still), when mom and I will undoubtedly make batches of festively shaped sugar cookies. It’s one of my favorite holiday rituals.

My brother Joe and I worked together at the library today. He’s my go-to guy for any and all technology questions, and we brainstormed ways to make the blog better. During Fall Break (only two weekends away!) we’re going to do some major work, so stay tuned!

I made lots of new-to-me dishes on Saturday. It started at breakfast with Pumpkin Muesli. On Friday, I went to Meijer, and I made sure to buy two cans of canned pumpkin. This is not the pumpkin pie filling – it’s the real deal. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with all the pumpkin I now have on my hands, but it’s a good problem to have.
My first pumpkin dish was Pumpkin Muesli. I’ve never actually had Muesli before, so I don’t know how this dish compares to the original, but I enjoyed it.

Pumpkin Muesli

I used a recipe I found on Self.com. I altered it slightly to fit what ingredients I had on hand.
Pumpkin Muesli
Serves 1
INGREDIENTS
* 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
* 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
* 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 1 sliced fresh strawberry
* 2 tablespoons slivered almonds walnuts

PREPARATION
1. Combine pumpkin and oats in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 20 seconds; set aside 10 minutes (so liquid will be absorbed). Mix yogurt, honey and zest in another bowl. Swirl in pumpkin mixture and top with berries and almonds.

The skinny: 377 calories per serving, 8.5 g fat (1 g saturated), 66.8 g carbs, 6 g fiber, 12.4 g protein

When I make this again, I won’t use so much lemon zest. As it stands, the lemony flavor overpowered, rather than enhanced, the pumpkin. Otherwise, I thought this dish was pretty tasty. I hope to experiment with different variations.

I also tried a new recipe at lunch. It too involved a microwave. Last year, I was wary of over-using a microwave. Perhaps it’s the connotations to frozen microwave meals – I don’t know. But I’m over that now. I use a microwave almost daily. I’m not sure if there are any health concerns associated with using a microwave. Does anyone out there know of any?
But back to lunch. Over the summer, my mom and I made a few killer frittatas. We found a recipe in a cooking magazine (the actual name escapes me) and made a potato, asparagus, mushroom, and goat cheese frittata. But we used a cast-iron skillet in the oven.

My frittata is definitely the college version – no cast iron skillets here. I found the recipe on Shape.com, and made some adjustments of my own.

Peppers, Corn, and Parmesan Frittata.

Easy Vegetable Frittata

Ingredients:

  1. Cooking spray
  2. 1/2 cup packaged egg whites (or 4 large egg whites) I used two eggs
  3. 2 t prepared pesto
  4. Coarse salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  5. 1 cup cut-up salad-bar veggies (such as broccoli, mushrooms and bell peppers)
  6. 1 t grated Parmesan

Preparation:
Lightly coat a shallow soup bowl with cooking spray. Pour in egg whites, pesto, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk with a fork to combine. Stir in vegetables. Place in microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove, stir once and cook for 1 minute more. Check for doneness. If the vegetables appear too raw, cover loosely with plastic wrap and cook an additional minute. Otherwise, cook uncovered for one more minute. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.
Here’s the scoop: I found it took closer to four or five minutes for the eggs to be completely cooked. I mixed frozen peppers and corn in, though, so that could be why. I thought this dish was delicious, and there are a lot of variations that can be made quite simply. This will definitely go into the rotation.
On the side, I had the other half of the acorn squash filled with yogurt and sprinkled with Kashi GoLean Crunch and a drizzle of honey, along with some strawberries. Yum.

Frittata + Acorn Squash + Strawberries

Good Eats.

The rainy, cold weather yesterday afternoon encouraged me to watch bad TV. Jackie, Lauren and I watched some of Georgia Rule, which was at the same time awful and compulsively watchable. Oh, Lindsay Lohan…

By the time the credits rolled, my mind was on dinner. I threw the acorn squash seeds in the often for twenty minutes while I prepped the other components of dinner. I bought couscous for the first time on Friday, and I love how simple and quick it is to make. I’m hoping to buy it in bulk next time, rather than in a pre-packaged, fairly expensive and small box. Does anyone have any good suggestions for what to do with couscous? I had an incredible couscous salad at a graduation party this summer. I actually took a picture:

Mystery couscous.

Last night, I tossed the couscous with sliced tomatoes, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and feta. It was nice and light.

Couscous with tomato and feta.

I also sautéed some mushrooms and threw those on a salad, dressed in my signature EVOO, lemon juice and balsamic mixture, with goat cheese. Once the seeds were toasted, I scattered those on the salad, too. It was delicious. Very autumnal.

Mushroom, Toasted Acorn Squash Seeds, and Goat Cheese Salad

Dinner is served.

Today’s been a day of scattered eats. The massive amounts of work I had took priority over creativity in the kitchen, so I had a carb-heavy breakfast.

Toast with PB and B

I packed a baby lunch for the library because I assumed I’d come home for an afternoon snack/dinner. That wasn’t the case, though.

Kashi Pumpkin-Pecan bar, Honeycrisp Apple, Smokehouse Almonds

A full review of the Kashi bar coming soon!

I ended up going out to dinner with my friend. We got sushi at Sadako, which is one of my favorite restaurants in Ann Arbor. I got my usual order: seaweed salad + sweet potato roll + the complimentary miso soup and house salad. Yum! I love going out to eat. I needed a little sugar fix after all today’s work, so I also got some frozen yogurt, topped with blueberries and granola, at Amer’s. And I forgot my camera! Sorry!

Okay, I’ve gotta go to bed. Early wake-up time tomorrow. Goodnight!

Mare

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