what’s been going on

there is so much to update… august was a very busy month, and i am still in denial about summer being over (although i can’t help but be excited about fall weather), but in a large nutshell (like a walnut-sized shell?), here’s what happened:
culinary school took a break for a few weeks, but that vacation was filled up very quickly – celebrating family birthdays in princeton, lots of meals from the garden and many prepared by mom from these cookbooks, my cousin visiting from upstate NY (a fun week of picnics, a trip to Philly, The Dark Knight Rises, and running to get my cousin ready for cross-country season), as well as the daunting task of moving into our new home in Philadelphia. the latter event took much longer than anticipated. there was the actual moving-truck-and-friends-wearing-workout-clothes-getting-our-stuff-in-the-truck day (and we are so very very grateful for said wonderful friends and mom and dad), but there was also that long lingering, gradual transition (the “oh, on second thought, maybe we should bring that step ladder / box of scarves / cologne / other thing”), which i guess inevitably happens when you are moving out of your parents’ home and there is no concrete deadline. there was also a lot of “homemaking” to be done, including cleaning, re-touching the paint, organizing, and a handful of do-it-yourself projects.
but once all that settled down, we realized, “oh wow, we just moved to Philadelphia. we are starting new jobs, a new phase. even bo (the dog) has a new park.” even as i write that, it still surprises me. there are moments when i feel very used to this new phase already, but other times when it still feels new and temporary. i think my opinion of culinary school is already pretty clear: i absolutely love it. i look forward to waking up at 5:20 am on sunday mornings to commute to manhattan. and this city, dear philly, i am learning more and more of each day, and quickly developing a real soft spot for it. i kind of gush nostalgically about our neighborhood whenever people ask (e.g. the other night, on one of the first beautiful fall nights we’ve had, there were even a few guys camped out around a mini fire pit on one of the cobblestone half-streets. how.cool.is.that). and teaching at community college (no, i don’t watch community, but i love how that is one of the first things i am asked when i mention my job) has been interesting, terrifying, enjoyable, and overall rewarding. i am grateful to have the experience, especially since teaching has always hovered in the back of my mind as something i might be good at and/or enjoy. i love encouraging people to push themselves to think outside their normal parameters, to follow a thought process through to its logical end, and to engage in discussions they didn’t even realize they were passionate about. these have been the positive aspects of teaching, so far. the same qualities i love about teaching could also apply to my passion for food and for community development. it’s all a bit connected, really. i do look forward to to the day when i can channel my energy in one general direction, but i think having varied interests and causes will always be part of who i am. and with that, i need to go prepare for tomorrow’s lesson and bake up some okara chocolate chip bars.

p.s. okara (or soy pulp, a.k.a. the stuff left over from making tofu or soy milk) is just one of the many leftovers from culinary school that i’ve been cooking with recently, and i plan to post some of those recipes here soon!


move-in condition

picked up the apartment keys today. picked up some Sriracha, too. i would call that move-in ready.

also, it hasn’t even begun and on-street parking is already proving to be a pain. hopefully one worth living with…

now that the olympics have begun…

we can unleash our patriotic spirit.

and on that note, today i participated in my own olympic sport: packing. at least it felt like an olympic feat because i was exhausted and just wanted to sit on the sofa and watch the games in London (and not go through boxes and drawers and everything and decide the fate of our belongings). but since i did clock some good olympic-watching, it was probably a good idea to get a move on with the move (on) since it is approaching so quickly. also, despite having lived in (basically) one room with my husband in my parents’ home for the past two years, it hit me that somehow our Philly apartment is going to be more compact than i realized. but, it will all work out… as my suitcase instruction manual once said: “don’t stress, compress.”

on the move

“I want to hang a map of the world in my house, and then I’m gonna put pins into all the locations that I’ve traveled to. But first I’m gonna have to travel to the top two corners of the map so it won’t fall down.” – Mitch Hedberg

i do actually want to hang a map of the world in my home… and put pins in all sorts of places. in fact, i’ve been eager to do this for a long time (i love maps, evidenced here, here, and here, for example) but i’ve been waiting until we have just the right wall to fit our big old, lovely map. well, it seems that day is almost here, because…at long last… we found an apartment. Philadelphia here we come. soon, we’ll be spanning four states with our weekly schedules. between living, working, and going to school we will access PA, NJ, DE, and NY every single week. four states, y’all. we were a bit impressed. if only we could squeeze Maryland in there…

P.S. is it crazy that i wasn’t sold on our new place until i discovered this cute little market a few blocks down? after that, it was a done deal. i mean, seriously, it’s adorable and makes me feel like i’m shopping at a general store in Nebraska in 1854… that is, if Nebraska imported kombucha, coconut milk, and vegan chicken salad at that time.

*photo by Aaron Huey.

happy fourth of july

hope everyone had a wonderful independence day! the only strange part for me was that this year we missed fireworks. SO strange. i can count the number of July 4th’s sans fireworks on one hand…maybe on two fingers even. actually make that one indented thumb and one regular, because i’m not certain that there have been even two independence days in my twenty-five years without a display of pyrotechnics. i might have to go light a candle. maybe that will compensate a bit.

or maybe tomorrow, after i cross the border into the great state of Pennsylvania where the sale of fireworks is legal (and according to the billboards, quite plentiful), i will pick up a handful of sparklers so we can celebrate fake fourth of July tomorrow night. and by then, the strawberry rhubarb pie that I made with my aunt will be ready to eat. (yep, I started a pie at 7:30 pm… and it needs to cool. so there’s that.)

but, that said, pie-making was my token American activity for the day. other activities included apartment-hunting in Philly. one place we loved but discovered it didn’t allow dogs (which made us sad), but then another favorite appeared just down the street (which made us glad). so, tomorrow, decisions await. and if all goes smoothly, we could be living around the corner from our favorite.pizza.place.ever. (did there need to be a “period” between pizza and place? what’s the proper technique on dramatic period placements? i debated it…)

anyway, more later on pizza, apartments, faux independence day, and the outcome of the pie. (and, to my strawberry-allergic Grandmom: if you were coming over today I would have made raspberry-rhubarb, don’t you worry!). also, note to self and everyone else: there is a darn good reason that you roll collards (and long leafy things) on the horizontal (i.e. along the short side) because otherwise you have long spaghetti-like collards when you chiffonade them. no one likes spaghetti collards. well, we like them well enough, but they hang out of our mouths. but this is what I get for bagging practice collards from other chefs-in-training. yep, i’m a fruit and veggie hoarder. still, i’m not alone in this hoarding subset. i think it’s gaining momentum. truly. at least among the culinary student demographic, so i hear. also, i’m impressed by how many times i just said “collards” in this post; i didn’t see that coming.

and with that, i leave you with a nostalgic photo (above) of fireworks from last summer. i do believe i smell a pie in the oven. happy America. and forever thanks to all the veterans (Grandpop, Pop Pop, and the many others) for their service to this country and commitment to freedom.

city greens

two books I’ve been ogling… especially after seeing the bounty of my parents’ garden roll in… and even more so after bringing home buckets of (free) organic produce from knife skills classes:


The Edible Balcony by Alex Mitchell and Grow Great Grub by Gayla Trail.
[via Amazon here and here]

both books focus on gardening in small spaces, like balconies, apartment windows, nooks and crannies (actually i made that last part up, i’m not sure about the nooks and crannies… but, regardless, they look exactly like my kind of book.) Has anyone read these, yet? thoughts?

on the city living/ move to Philadelphia news front, however, our realtor just told us yesterday that the kind of apartment we are looking for does not exist. so, naturally, that was fantastic news. but we are not dismayed… there is still a month or so before the move to Philly. PLENTY of time.

Dear future apartment,
Where are you? Please come out of hiding. It is safe now. We are here.
Love, Us