Friday, July 27, 2007


We're going to see Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova tonight - has anyone seen them live yet? Just wondering what it will be like.
I have a departmental presentation on Tuesday. Basically once a year the students in micro/immuno (third year and above) have to get up and present their research and respond to questions from faculty. I am... not as nervous as usual. Maybe this itself should make me nervous?? But the presentation is finished, I just have to talk it through (you wouldn't believe how many people just get up there without practicing - it's usually painfully obvious) and try to prepare for questions. I'm only speaking for 15 minutes, which is not much time to get my point across!
So, other than picking up the CSA tomorrow morning and a little lab work, that's what I'll be up to. I'm looking forward to having it over and done with.
Update: The show was incredible - we were in the front row! The opening act, Amy LaVere, was also a nice surprise. Here are some examples


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh the possibilities

I'm not sure if I have mentioned this before but one thing I really like about cooking involves transformation. You know: sugar+water into caramel, crunchy rice+stock into creamy risotto, flour+yeast+water into bread. Here's a new one for me - citric acid+milk+rennet into mozzarella cheese.

I bought a kit from New England Cheese Making Supply (their site seems to be down at the moment) and a gallon of milk. Ultra pasturized milk (heated to very high temps to lengthen storage time) won't work. Unfortunately, most organic milks are ultra-pasteurized, so I ended up buying the non-organic stuff.

First you mix milk and citric acid (lowers the pH, which denatures some milk proteins and helps from curds and whey) and heat to 88 degrees F.

Then you add rennet and wait for the curds and whey to separate. Rennet is basically a mixture of enzymes that digest milk proteins so that you end up with soluble proteins in the whey and insoluble proteins in the curd. Once the curds are firm, you can cut them with a knife:

In the case of mozzarella, you pour off as much of the whey as possible, heat the cheese in the microwave and knead until it is shiny, smooth and stretchy:

This was just a test run - I didn't add any salt during the kneading process, so this had a nice creamy taste but it was very subtle. Bruscetta with homemade cheese is in our future, and also possibly a ricotta cheesecake?

Dragon boat practice tonight - I'll take pics if I can.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thanks Chrisi!

Chrisi (front and center in this photo) sent me an action shot of the rafting trip:

This is before we hit Dimple Rock. We all look so motivated and ready-for-anything. I'm embarrassed to note that I am doing exactly the opposite of what everyone else is doing, hopefully I wasn't that bad for the whole trip. I should probably mention that the company that we used was White Water Adventures and someone associated with that group took the photo.
By the way, is anyone else out there reading the new Harry Potter? I've been taking it to school with me to read during the day - I can't put it down!


Sunday, July 22, 2007

CSA week 9 - oops.

I thought my SIL was picking up, she thought I was picking up... so no photos this week.

Damn you, Dimple Rock!

This weekend we drove towards western PA and went rafting in Ohiopyle. The weather was perfect; around 75, sunny and not too humid:

99.9% of the trip was fantastic. We were paired up with this great group from the DC area:

As we got in our raft I told myself that boat #213 was not the same as boat #13 and that of course we would be totally fine.

I swear our boat navigation and teamwork skills were impeccable until we made it to Dimple rock, the terrors of which had been described in detail by our guides while we were eating lunch. Apparently there is a big suction hole at the base of this rock and death awaits the inhabitants of any raft that happens to overturn in it's vicinity.

Well, we overturned. It was terrible and I think I still need to have a big cathartic cry to get over the trauma. I won't go into the details but judging by the enormous bruise on my right thigh I believe that was my point of impact.

Oh god I shouldn't have googled Dimple Rock.

I'm honestly glad we gave it a try but I'm thinking that if I find myself in that particular situation again I will be choosing the portage option.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

From the car...

... on our way to Cleveland this weekend:

Monday, July 09, 2007


Despite the fact that we have been in this apartment for 3+ years, we don't have a lot on the walls and our 'living room' area needs some serious help. We have a nice TV stand and hutch from Material Culture, but a lot of our other furniture is IKEA and has not traveled well (SF-Baltimore-Philly). Basically we have a long rectangular kitchen, a large main room that serves as the living/dining area, two bedrooms, and a small bathroom (which inexplicably 1. Has a window in the shower and 2. Has impossible to match teal tile + a black/white checkered floor). We also have nice hardwood floors.
Part of the reason why we've waited to do anything is because for a long while we assumed we would buy a house in Philly and remain there for a good 4-5 years before I finished school. But we've scrapped that plan and have decided that we like this place and will probably stay here until we move again (currently we think that will be to Pittsburgh).
So it's time to begin Operation Tastefully Decorate our Rental with Grown Up Furniture and Wall Hangings. On a relatively limited budget.
I'm starting small : I bought two of these lamps at Target this weekend

They were a tad pricey (about $50 each) but I love the glass base and they work with our couch. I haven't been able to find them online.

I've also started to collect a few prints to hang, mostly from etsy

By Ashley G
IKEA frames


Substudio (love the lure catalog!)

A few other shops that I've been checking out:


And some design sites where I look for ideas:
Apartment Therapy
print & pattern

To do list:
1. Hang prints above couch
2. Hang prints above extra bed
3. Find 2 endtables
4. Find a piece of furniture (barrister cabinet?) for empty living room wall
5. Eventually buy corner cabinet for dining area
6. Massive computer/bookcase area purge

On an unrelated note, I tried the eggplant recipe suggested by Nina and it was really good! We had it with fish and brown rice. Now all we need is a house that has a porch big enough for a grill so I can try Nik's idea.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

CSA week 7 - what's cookin'

Sorry for the dark photos - our kitchen really doesn't get much light.

Leeks, milk, cherries, onion ciabatta, eggplant, cousa squash, pork chops and longhorn colby.

We also picked up some cherry tomatoes, blueberries and a bag of baby arugula.

Late afternoon pre-dinner snack: toasted onion ciabatta, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, olive oil and basil from our plant.
We made the pork chops in the crock pot and ate them with arugula + thinly sliced pecorino + lemon-infused olive oil.

And for brunch this morning, yeasted waffles (well worth the 1.5 hour incubation time) and fresh blueberries.

I don't really like eggplant, and neither does R. But I don't think I've ever had a really good eggplant dish, and I don't ever order it when we're out. I'm not sure what to do with it - any ideas?

We also tried a new restaurant in Fairmount called L'Oca. I had Pappardelle A Ragu D’Oca (Goose ragu) and R. had Spaghetti Di Zafferano Alle Capesante (saffron spaghetti+seafood). It was a bit pricey I suppose but the food was good. Afterwards we walked around downtown and checked out a few galleries. Today we're just laying around and enjoying the fact that we don't have anything much to do.


Sunday, July 01, 2007


A Thousand Splendid Suns
Even better than The Kite Runner

In the Company of Cheerful Ladies
There's something comforting about the simplicity of this series.

Eat pray love
On page 41 and loving it.

Animal Vegetable Miracle: a Year of Food Life
Haven't started this one yet.

Cooks Illustrated
As a lab person, "test kitchen" really appeals to me for obvious reasons.

The Petch House
Restoration of a victoran home

Lucy's Kitchen Notebook
French cooking blog