Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving thanks

Hey, it's been a while since I posted! The week was as crazy as I expected, and it's not going to stop until December 12. At least I was able to give myself a break for Thanksgiving! We had 9 people over, including Syl from Boston and Jerry and Winnie from Davis. It was really awesome to see them because I hadn't seen Syl in a year and Jerry and Winnie since we left Davis in August. Nick and I used to see them almost every week for dinner!

We were also joined by close friends from the Nicholas school and we crowded around the table eating the delicious turkey that Nick made. He worked his ass off the night before and the meat came out moist and nicely flavored. Yay for Alton Brown! He made some great gravy, too. To go with the turkey, I made (with lots of help):

Green bean casserole
Buttermilk caramelized-shallot mashed potatoes
Cornbread stuffing (I made the cornbread from scratch the day before)
Golden-crusted brussel spouts
and Emily made sweet potatoes, and two pies: pumpkin and apple
and Robyn made apple crisp

Pictures from Thanksgiving here.

After dinner we were cleaned out of everything but turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes. We played some Wii and Uno and called it a night at around 11ish. It was a really nice way to have our first Thanksgiving away from home.

The night before we had dinner at Rockwood Filling Station. Lyndsay, if you're reading this, the ham and egg pizza with the fried farm egg on top was as delicious as it sounded. I was let down again by their spinach salad, but I've only got one more salad to go before I write off their salads completely.

Yesterday we took Syl to the taco stand La Vaquita, with the cow on top. She had two tacos, I had two tacos and a tamale, and Nick had a burrito. The tamale was my favorite thing, and came wrapped in a banana leaf. It really reminded me of my favorite Vietnamese dish that's also wrapped in banana leaves. Afterward we went to Target, had gelato at Francesca's and checked out the cute stores on Ninth Street. Nick said one store reminded him of Nucleus in Alhambra.

We came back and I got to watch the No Reservations episode on Hawaii that I had been wanting to see for the last 8 months. It was exciting because he went to a couple places that we went to when we were there. Then Nick and I made curry turkey pot pie as our first turkey leftover remake and it was delicious. After dinner and watching Transformers, I packed Syl a travel bento.

It had a mini bagel with cream cheese, leftover turkey meat, mini cucumber slices, fresh-baked (by Nick) banana nut bread, roasted red pepper hummus, and an almond-raspberry jam cookie from Francesca's.

Here's to another 10 years of friendship, Sylvia!

Did you notice I'm wearing my old SGHS sweatshirt??

Friday, November 14, 2008

Finally, it's the weekend

I got through a horrible week only to prepare myself for the one that's coming up next. This past week I had two papers, a presentation, GIS, and homework due. This next week I have a take-home midterm, GIS, a 6 page single spaced paper, an abstract and press release write-up, and another presentation. All of those things except GIS are due Wednesday. Crazy!

Last night we watched "Rachel Getting Married" with some friends at the Carolina Theater in downtown Durham. The theater was creepily empty and I felt like I was in an ensemble bad horror movie. I don't think I'd be the main character so that means I'd probably come to some grisly end.

The movie proceeded to make me feel nauseated because of the shaky camera movement and quick cuts from shot to shot. I think I would have liked it better without all the movement...but it wouldn't be the same movie. I thought Anne Hathaway was excellent in it. The wedding itself was great in all its quirkiness. Not like any Chinese wedding I've been to...but those are crazy in their own ways.

Today we stayed in because of the rain, but this afternoon we stopped by the post office and small Asian market. There's a Habitat Hand-me-Up store next to the post office. It's a store that people donate things to, which customers can buy. The proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. They have kitchen wares, books, furniture, and building supplies.

Nick and I were looking for casserole dishes. We missed the ones we left in California, and we needed some for Thanksgiving. This is what we found:

Two covered casseroles and a ceramic loaf pan. All for $16. They look like they'll last a long time, which is great because we are planning on keeping them for a while and not buying new ones and contributing to the downfall of the Earth. I love that they're plain white, too. Yay for secondhand stores! They also had a kitchenaid mixer for $75 that we briefly considered getting. You know, for all the baked goods Nick plans on making. =)

p.s. We might also be hearing good news next week. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The right to marry is about love, not politics or religion

I am so sad that people I know voted for this ban. Even my own mom. I could only post this now, a week after the result came out, because I was so depressed. I questioned humanity and my beloved home state last Wednesday. I thought that we could be progressive there, as we have been with global warming and eliminating cigarettes from public places. I think it is fear of the unknown and of the lies that the proponents of the ban spread throughout their campaign. It is not taking away the rights of heterosexuals to marry. It's just opening the doors for them to have the same rights as we do.

People use religion as reasoning for all sorts of things. And most of the time, this is their own personal space. But when it is used to oppress a group of people, that's when it makes me angry. It is hard for me to sort out my feelings about whether there is a God and whether the way religion approaches Him is the right way. However, I feel that God, if He is there, loves everyone equally and would not support what Prop 8 denied as a basic right to every human being. I think He is wondering what we are doing to ourselves.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Basketball and dinner

On Wednesday I scored some tickets for us to watch a Duke basketball exhibition game. They were from campout, where I camped out for 3 days with 6 hours of sleep total and didn't get a ticket. However, my group got some so I reserved two for us and borrowed an ID from one of my half-Asian guy friends for Nick to use. Score for all Asians looking the same here, right?

We ate dinner at Nosh with Emily A. before the game. It reminded me of Pluto's in Davis because it was order at the counter and the menu was full of sandwiches, salads, and pizza. Nick went for a BLT with pasta salad, and Emily got an egg salad sandwich with couscous. I originally was going to get a sandwich as well but I saw a picture of one of their pizzas that had asiago and caramelized onions served with a mesclun salad on top.

The game was against Lenoir-Rhyne which wikipedia tells me is in Hickory, NC and is evangelical-Lutheran affiliated. Needless to say, it was a blowout. 95 to 43, I believe. The thing that was cool about going was that Cameron stadium is tiny. I think it holds 9,000 people total. And the student section is pretty much standing room only. The atmosphere was crazy and I swore I could almost touch the Duke basketball players. I can't imagine what it's like for the big games against Maryland, Georgetown, and of course, UNC. Pictures here.

On Friday night we hosted an impromptu dinner at our house. We didn't eat until really late, 9:30, but it was delicious. Nick made lentil soup with bacon and chicken with garlic, shallots, and herbs. I made sweet potato risotto and salad with the local lettuce we had. Emily made collard greens stir fried with soy sauce and sesame oil, and apple crisp with the apples we had. She even bought me lactose-free vanilla ice cream! They apparently add lactase to the mix.

I was very happy with how the risotto came out. I was a little worried when I started cooking it because I haven't ever made that much before. The arborio rice and sweet potato went together really well. Of course Nick's food was delicious, and Emily's stuff came out really well too. We brought out the last of our parmesan-black pepper bread from Guglhupf and we spread the soft garlic from the chicken on it.

Afterward we talked a lot and got to talking about boy bands of the late '90s. Emily, Lisanne, and I started singing along (and in Lisanne's case, dancing) to old Backstreet Boys videos like "I want it that way" and "Quit playing games with my heart." The guys (Nick, Martin, and Mick) got tired of this and started playing Wii sports. Later we joined them and had lots of fun. Things ended around 1am. Hopefully this bodes well for our Thanksgiving party!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Local Food Challenge

Nick and I are participating in the Local Food Challenge this week, where we pledge to eat local foods and be mindful of where our food comes from. To help, we ordered a local food box. It came with:

Apples, butternut and acorn squash, a bell pepper, yellow and sweet potatoes, kale, collard greens, lettuces, half a pound of black eyed peas, 1 lb of Chapel Hill Creamery farmer's cheese, two loaves of locally made bread, half a dozen free range eggs, and 1 lb of grass fed ground beef. We also got a free range roaster chicken.

Needless to say, I've been trying out new things just to use all this stuff up. Sunday we made shepherd's pie with the ground beef, potatoes, and cheese and I braised the collard greens with ham hocks for my first southern dish. Yesterday I braised the kale with chicken broth and red pepper flake. Tonight we're roasting the acorn squash. I saw a recipe for sweet potato risotto and we have some Arborio rice so I might make that.

Have any recipe ideas for what i have left? I was thinking of making a black eyed pea salad but I haven't decided yet. Let me know!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Museum and Gardens

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful day on Saturday by visiting Duke University's Nasher Museum of Art to check out the soon-leaving exhibit entitled "El Greco to Velasquez: Art During the Reign of Philip III." We didn't take any pictures in the exhibit or in the permanent collection, but there were some awesome Spanish and Greek paintings and abstract art exhibitions that we really liked.

Nick and I ate in the museum cafe for a late lunch. Everything served there is from local food sources, from farms to bakeries. They have a Spanish-inspired menu at the moment to go with the current exhibit. Nick ordered a bocadillo with NC free-range chicken, Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella, and romesco sauce with local greens on the side. I got the butternut squash soup with white beans, marcona almonds, and saffron and a local greens salad with shiitake mushrooms on the side.

Then, we shared a sampler plate of tapas. We chose the braised local greens with turnips, garroxta, and aioli, green lentils with cremini mushrooms, roasted potatoes with chorizo, and a tortilla de espana with onions, peppers, and cheese.

It was delicious, and we ate it on the patio under an umbrella on a beautiful 72-degree weather day.

Afterward, we wandered over to the Sarah P. Duke gardens. It reminded me of the Huntington, but not so distinctly themed. Fall is definitely here.


I have the pics up on facebook. It was insane. Here's a teaser picture of me and Nick:

I will tell you that I can see the weekend is going to be a "Only on Halloween" sort of story for a lot of people in my program. There was some crazy stuff going on!

Nick and I went to a dinner party on Friday and then to house party later on that night. Then Saturday night we went to the official student social group party in the Duke Forest. It was FREEZING. Nick and I were cool and wore different costumes each night. Go us! And he actually danced with me. I can die happy now. =)

More to come on our visit to the Nasher Museum of Art (and its cafe) and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.