I caved. I finally tried making taquitos from scratch.

Yesterday I slow-cooked a pot of shredded beef (ropa vieja), and naturally, I had about a week’s worth of leftovers. We all know that this will last Jake and I about two days, but it became a matter of creativity. And tonight, I wanted taquitos.

I made the tortillas from scratch — at about five inches in diameter, probably too small. I stuffed these about halfway with filling, probably too much. They are currently in the oven and have already burst their seams, but are becoming delightfully crispy nonetheless.

I do not plan on taking pictures. I plan on feasting.

When I try again, maybe, just maybe, the camera will make an appearance.

And now, a happy dance.

EDIT: AND OH MAH GAWD THEY’RE DELICIOUS.

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LOOK AT THIS RIDICULOUS BASIL.

I found this at our local co-op while fiddling around in the produce section. It was harvested from a farm in Burlington, roots still attached. I kept the plant in an old pitcher with water, as there was no way in hell I could use that much basil today.

But believe me, I tried.

You see this beauty? Fresh basil, grated parmesan, olive oil, garlic, a little water, and, of course, my vibrant pink Alaean Hawaiian sea salt. Turned out to be much more salt than I needed, and I should have guessed that just by looking at the damn thing, but…well, it gave me an excuse to make a second, more basil-y batch to add to the first. It’s probably not what we’d consider a typical pesto, but it’s damn tasty.

It’s going on my pasta, my pizza, my bagel sandwiches, and probably a cracker or two.

And lest you think me the awesomest awesome that ever did awesome…the mess:

Fine, it’s not as bad as it could’ve been, and I had already cleaned up much of the counter for prior shots. But I did drop the blade at the end, causing pesto to fly all over the kitchen. You can see a few goops above, but it got worse.

Special thanks to Jen over at Put a spork in it. for the free mini food processor! In future photos you will likely see other presents from this classy dame, and you will be jealous. Very, very jealous.

I’ll try to remember to post the recipe tomorrow. For now, time to catch a bus.

I spent this past week in a five-day intensive grad course, Leading Through Collaboration. Three eight-hour and two twelve-hour days of lectures, projects, networking, and interviewing. With four hundred pages’ worth of reading due before class even began, I was terrified.

You know what, though? This turned out to be the best class of the entire program thus far. I met students from other Masters programs, including Public Administration and Education. I got to know a few of my fellow MBA classmates. I even made a few friends — you know, the people you’ll consider hanging out with once class is over.

The class itself was phenomenal. The point was to observe how for-profits, non-profits, and the governmental sector can interact in partnerships to achieve greater goods for society. We took a day to travel around Vermont and meet innovators in the upcoming smart grid technology, which will change our habits in electricity consumption. We met with leaders in the renewable energy industries, discussed single payer health care with doctors and insurance companies, and listened to a lecture by Dr. John Todd, an ecological design genius and one of Jake’s heroes (see here and here). I researched various non-profits and alliances within my beloved farm-to-plate initiative and saw it unfold in the community. I was thrilled. This felt like “it,” like where I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to be doing.

I was informed by a classmate (and new friend!) that there are plenty of opportunities in the Burlington area to intern for local towns and get involved in community-wide projects. And guess what? I’m actually considering this. I may stick around. I may try to get involved in local governments and non-profits.

This region is incredible with how its leaders come together to pursue progressive ideas and turn them into day-to-day reality. It’s on a scale that I could never imagine in Los Angeles. Shit actually gets DONE.

So, I’m jazzed. And now I have a certificate in Collaborative Studies, which I know is really just an ego-stroking but I still hugged that piece of paper out of sheer excitement. The opportunities seem endless and I actually have direction.

This morning I finally got my lazy ass out to the organic farm. Playing with tomato vines gave me a new appreciation for the fruit. The smell is unreal — I now know that what I’ve tried in the past are hardly “real” tomatoes. Real tomatoes are refreshing, juicy, flavorful. They’re grown down the street or in your backyard, not thousands of miles away. My fingers were caked in black dirt, green residue, and yellow pollen after just a few hours. I even met a couple of hornworms (do not want). The girls I worked with were a fantastic bunch as well: patient, helpful, and simply a lot of fun to be around. I think I’ll try to return as often as my schedule will permit — at least once more this week, if not twice, and again when I return to Hanover in a few weeks.

I also got a patty pan squash. I’m guessing it will go well in a stir fry or pasta, but feel free to pass along suggestions. Today was my first encounter with one, so I’m a bit perplexed by its uses.

God, I love salsa.

I don’t have any pictures for you today. Just a damn delicious recipe for one of my favorite salsas of all time.

  • 1 lb tomatillos, peeled and quartered
  • 1 habanero pepper (include seeds for extra kick)
  • 1 onion, chopped (I usually only use half of one brown onion due to my sensitivity)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 chipotle chilies in adobo (original recipe calls for 1-2; this will NOT satisfy my tastebuds)
  • 1 lime (juice of)
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro (original recipe also suggests parsley, basil, or a blend of all three — but I love cilantro)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Toss in a blender and puree. Taste and add more ingredients as necessary. I usually end up dumping about half the adobo sauce in, plus more lime juice.

I have seen grown men sweat over this. I used to make it over summer in LA, sitting outside at night with a group of friends and a bunch of beer, passing around a giant tupperware container of the salsa and a bag of salty chips. We were trashy, but we loved every second of it. If I had any left at the end of the night, it would pair up deliciously with quesadillas or fajitas the next day.

Originally found here.

There have been a lot of posts all over the interwebs these past few weeks about Harry Potter. Having never read the seventh book but still curious as to how it all ends, I have been trying to avoid all the spoilers. Unfortunately, I have a rabid internet addiction, and thus have unintentionally stumbled upon both obvious and cryptic clues to the close of the story.

I have decided to list my predictions before I see the movie on, hopefully, Sunday. Safe to put them here, I figure, as I’ve got a whole three readers to mock me when I’m entirely off-base. Or is it five? I can never keep track of all you hooligans.

I have no idea how much I’m spoiling, if anything. You’ve been warned.

  • Fred and Tonks die. I’m guessing Lupin gets it, too. And probably Snape.
  • Molly Weasley says the word bitch and everyone in the audience erupts in cheering and applause.
  • Snape is “good.” He’s probably been protecting Harry due to his love for Harry’s mom, Lily.
  • Harry is Voldemort’s last horcrux. Can a horcrux be human? I have no idea. But I’m fairly certain Harry’s supposed to die in order to kill Voldemort. They have some strange connection that I don’t think has been fully explained yet (maybe I tuned out), and all the horcruxes have to be destroyed in order to kill Voldemort. Thus, dead Harry. Although, why would Voldemort want Harry dead, then? Out of pride, as he failed to kill him when he was a baby? MAYBE VOLDEMORT DOESN’T KNOW HE’S A HORCRUX! …ugh, my HP world is a soap opera.
  • Harry resurrects, somehow. Although Rowling has not pulled any punches in killing off characters, so I’m less certain over this one.
  • We have some sort of flash-forward in which we get to see the survivors as much older people. Which reminds me, Malfoy and Ron live.
  • Neville Longbottom does something awesome. Actually, maybe he’s responsible for killing Voldemort after Harry’s death. Oh, and we have a moment in the film where we surprisingly realize that the actor playing Longbottom got oddly hot.
  • Movie ends with “Mischief managed.” Half my Twitter feed was smothered in that line this morning.

Now I have contributed to the Harry Potter internet obsession.

I ordered the poach pods from the last post. At a time when I should be more frugal and deliberate about my spending, yes, I caved. Am I sorry? No.

Okay, so they haven’t arrived yet. But so help me, they WILL be excellent.

My first summer course begins next week, so I will have officially moved in to my new apartment by this coming Sunday. Jake and I tried to get this done on Monday, but the humidity proved to be too much. I, a homegrown Californian, raised in Los Angeles without air conditioning, got heat exhaustion. In Vermont.

My Wisconsin boyfriend laughed, and then sherpa’d the large, beastly television set up three flights of stairs while I plopped my face on top of his car’s cold air vent. Trust me, I know: I OWE HIM.

Anyway, I’ve been spending my time this week attempting to research and write a paper for this upcoming class on “Leading Through Partnership.” It’s mostly about managing networks that include a combination of private businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations (does not need to be all three). So far, it’s turned out to be one of those topics that’s more interesting in theory than on paper, but hopefully that will change as I get past these couple of wretched articles. Also, if you have any examples of such partnerships in your community, feel free to leave me a comment. I’d love to look into it to help me better understand what I’m reading.

Until next time, this:

 The Ellen DeGeneres Show's photo This photo is my favorite balance of adorable and hilarious.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show on WhoSay

Has anyone tried these things yet?

They’re called Poach Pods. Love the name, but am mildly hesitant as I haven’t worked much with silicone cookware in the past. For $8 a pair, though, I may be willing to give it a try. Basically, you have a pot or saucepan of water simmering, you crack the egg into the pod, float the pod in the water, and put a lid over the pot/pan. If you oil/butter the silicone, you can pop the egg right out once it’s done. It’d be nice to be able to poach more than one egg at a time, rather than having to transfer to warm water after cooking and replacing the murky water so I can see the damn things. Of course, the inherent problem with this method is its ease — I’ll eat too many eggs and poison my body with delicious cholesterol.

I was led to these goofy contraptions while looking for alternatives to aluminum cookware. Jake’s been nervous about some studies suggesting that the aluminum in the cookware can seep into food and, over time, may contribute to cancer. I have the knee-jerk reaction of, “Doesn’t everything cause cancer?”, but as a dear relative of his battled a form of cancer while he was in high school, I understand his hesitations. I’m now looking at ceramic and silicone cookware. I love the look of ceramic, but I know I’d manage to break it whether in the kitchen or during a subsequent move. I also tend to drop bakeware while sifting through piles in the kitchen cupboards, and if it were silicone, I wouldn’t risk waking anyone up or dropping it on a delicate toe. I admittedly also have this visual of giant blobs of brightly-colored silicone bursting forth with a subtle POP! toward my face, and at the moment, the vision gives me the giggles. Sometimes, in my world, that’s enough to make it worth a shot.

Edit: I keep forgetting that ceramic-coated aluminum exists and is likely a fine substitute. But my dreams of a neon-tinted silicone waterfall will not be dried up! My kitchen shall be a playpen, and the bakeware the ballpit. Except I won’t pee on the muffin pans.

Yes! I finally got one!

I don’t have any pictures of the interior for you just yet, and the pictures of the exterior would be quite boring, so I’ll save you the download time. It’s a third story apartment, with the entire floor to myself. It’s quite spacious, especially compared to the other places I found. The kitchen is HUGE. I have counter space! Legitimate counter space! The oven is large enough to roast a turkey come Thanksgiving, but I’m guessing Jake and I will be seeing his family in Boston then anyway — the point is, it is possible. One wall in the kitchen is red-orange (more red than orange), and as the front door enters that room, I’m instantly brightened every time I walk in to my new home. The living room has taupe walls and wooden floors, with one wall that curves down, rather than your standard 90-degree angles. There’s a “fire escape,” although there’s no actual ladder. It’s essentially a tiny porch that the fire marshal forbids me from decorating. Still, it’s a lovely view. My bedroom is large, too, but I can tell I’m going to be itching for a platform for my mattress. I suppose a Boston (read: nearest Ikea) trip will be in order soon.

Oh, and there is storage. Lots of storage. As in, three closets. Plus the additional storage the manager is building in the basement.

I’m just outside of Burlington in a little city called Winooski. Over the past five or ten years the city has been rebuilding itself, cleaning up and drawing new business. I’m two blocks from a river with many winding trails (see pictures from prior post), a weekly farmers’ market, and a ton of restaurants including…drumroll please…MEXICAN FOOD. Okay, I admit, I haven’t tried it yet, but only because it hasn’t technically opened. The owners toured around Mexico for a year, learning and experimenting with the various flavors. It’s my understanding that it will be primarily a taquería, using local ingredients when available. Little nervous about the term “local” for once, as Vermont is not known for its peppers, but maybe that’s what they’ll end up importing. Either way, I’m excited to try the place.

Downtown Winooski

Above is a glimpse of the downtown area — trust me, I understand that I don’t have the greatest of photography skills, but shut up and go with it. Jake and I tried a little diner named “Sneakers.” It was DELICIOUS. I had a barbecue pulled pork sandwich with cranberry coleslaw, and he had an omelette stuffed with sweet sausage, sauerkraut, and spicy whole grain mustard. We took turns picking at each other’s plates. Down a couple doors’ is a place called “Our House Bistro,” which boasts a “twisted comfort” menu and serves, among other things, variations on mac ‘n’ cheese. Expensive, but I’ll have to try it, as they have a BBQ Mac (barbecued chicken or pork, swiss cheese, cheddar, red onion, onion straws), Cheesesteak Mac (shaved steak, caramelized onions and peppers, cheddar), and Surf ‘n’ Turf Mac (shaved steak, lobster, cheddar, onion straws). This is where I will probably have my first heart attack.

Jake was a love and took me shopping for my first big girl kitchen at one of my favorite stores, King Arthur. They’re a local bakery, café, kitchen shop, and flour mill. I’ve found a lot of organic mixes and eco-friendly products, and the prices are only slightly higher than what I would pay for elsewhere for lesser quality. In other words, I may not be able to buy much, but whatever I get, I love.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what I pilfered today — I’m on a huge bright color kick these days. I got two special hand towels, three dish towels, a set of color-coded cutting boards for beef, poultry, fish, and veggies, and a cooling rack. I’ll eventually update my cutting boards into something sturdier, but since working food services I’ve missed having designated boards. I’m not sure how neurotic that is, but it’s my kitchen, damn it, and I will be as neurotic as I want to be.

Here’s a picture of Jake, for shits and giggles.

I need to save something to write about tomorrow, as I have too much free time these days. So hey, if I remember, I’ll tell you about the farmers’ markets and craft fairs we’ve been attending. They’re like toy stores for Allisons.

So I’m freaking out because I just realized how expensive this move is going to get and how much more money school is going to cost and how I’m probably going to need to take out more loans and I’m tired and hungry and grumpy and Jake’s not answering his phone and SPLAT GOES THE BRAIN.

I know this stuff all works out if you take it step by step, but I’m bad at that, and I’m GREAT at anxiety.

I baked lemon bars today. I’m already looking for something else to cook to keep my brain and hands occupied.

In better news, my nose is no longer congested.

I am in LOVE with this lampshade.

lampshade

Admittedly, I’ve been rather obsessed with DIY and home design blogs since I’ve started hunting for my own apartment. In all likelihood I’ll never have the time or energy to start any of these projects — at least, not while taking four grad school courses — but I’ll still dream and maybe it will happen. I’m always looking for ways to procrastinate, after all.

By the way, if you’re interested in how she made the entire lamp, click here. I think I’d prefer such a base on a tabletop lamp, personally. But mostly I want that damn lampshade.

I ended up postponing my flight back to Vermont by a week due to what may have been a sinus infection. I’m finally starting to feel a little better. After eight days of three hours of sleep a night, I took some cold medicine and a near-overdose on ibuprofen and woke up twelve hours later. The next night I got a full eight, plus a solid nap later that afternoon. I can finally taste again, so I’ve been pigging out on all things delicious (and, don’t worry, still healthy).

If you have any fun summer music recommendations, I’m all ears these days. I’ve been itching for some new tunes.