Food Diary

Hey all: Here’s a podcast I put together! Enjoy (:

I like to think that I ultimately have the choice of what foods I chose to consume but I don’t think that’s the end all. So much of our choices revolve around the kind of lifestyle you lead, and as a student I can be sure to find food all around campus. I think if I were to go grocery shopping and make sure I had enough food on hand for mornings and healthier alternatives to pizza and noodles, I would be a much healthier person.

I hope that one day I’ll be able to consistently keep myself healthy in my food choices!

Adventures in Food Service

I went out to eat lunch yesterday with a very special friend of mine. She knows I haven’t been taking care of myself recently, so she tried to cheer me up by bringing me to our favorite Thai food place in Highland Park. It’s Zagat rated, and while I’m not entirely sure what that means, I know the places I’ve been to that are Zagat rated are pretty good. It’s called Pad Thai and I can’t count how many times I’ve been there with her. I’m a little frightened of spicy food even though my ethnicity makes people seem to think that I am an expert at eating all things that will set fire to the roof of my mouth and incinerate my tongue. I tend to avoid spicy food, but the curry at this place is just way too good.

I’ll admit it: I’m a wimp and get the least spicy one, but its still curry! It’s delicious, and doesn’t seem to upset my stomach the way most spicy foods do.  We packed up the leftovers and I ate curry again for dinner and then again for breakfast the next day. I’ve always been one to eat what’s whats in front of me, so I don’t mind eating the same food for a couple days at a time.

 

Then, today I went out to eat again. I wasn’t happy with the service there, as the food was incredibly salty.

 

But this made me start to think about environment. I like to eat while watching something, or while sitting at a table. Intellectually I feel environment should not effect how you enjoy your meal, but lets face it: it does.

 

 

Mac and Cheese

 

Mac and cheese again today. I like pasta. I like carbs. I like cheese. So it makes sense that macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. I’ll always be down to have some mac and cheese. Once I became a college student, I thought I wouldn’t mind having mac and cheese all the time: it’s fast and cheap, and I could never get sick of it. I quickly realized that having mac and cheese every day is a surefire way to get sick of it.

 

I once tried to make mac and cheese by taking some pasta and putting american cheese on top. Then I put it in the microwave: not that great. The cheese blistered and the pasta didn’t cook. It seems like common sense that this wouldn’t be a great idea but I guess I was too young to realize that cooking isn’t that easy. Easy Mac makes my life so convenient, but it’s not the best thing to eat. Every day. There’s less than one gram of dietary fiber and 470 grams of sodium! You are what you eat, right?

I would prefer making my own pasta in bulk and then eating the leftover for a couple days rather than eating a new package of Easy Mac every day, definitely. So, I went out today and tried to buy the ingredients for  home-made easy mac… I gave up and went to Au Bon Pain instead. What even goes into macaroni and cheese, I wondered. Vaguely, I understand that it’s some combination of butter, cheese, milk, and pasta.

I pulled up my favorite recipe website: smitten kitchen 

But let’s face it, if I can only afford Easy Mac, how am I gonna make Martha Stewart style mac and cheese?

like i said

(image from smittenkitchen.com; credit to smitten kitchen creator Deb)

The recipe calls for:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

 

Good Lord. To put all of this together to make mac and cheese, you must:

 

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

 

I have neither the time nor the patience for this. Not to mention $$$$.

 

Au Bon Pain leftovers for dinner, haha.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and it was good while it lasted. It is my favorite holiday and I don’t just mean for the really special family time I get to enjoy. Yeah, that sounds super sarcastic, but that really is why I love Thanksgiving so much. Growing up, my family and my extended family were very close. My mothers side of the family is very large: she is the sixth of three boys and three girls. My mother and her two sisters all moved to the good ol’ USA to establish lives for themselves and consequentially didn’t want to distance themselves from each other ( I think ). When I was a youngin I lived in a small town in a small culdesac with my family and my extended family, so we were always playing together and tried to keep each other in our lives. It was all very picturesque and lovely and I really wouldn’t trade that for anything. Thanksgiving is a time I’m reminded of those younger days, when it seemed like there were no problems but what was going to go on the table for dinner. And hey, what’s the biggest dinner of all except Thanksgiving? I really can’t help but look forward to Thanksgiving every year.

This Thanksgiving, my older sister (who recently moved to Chicago) was not able to make it back to Jersey. It was my younger brother, me, my parents, and my cousins. I began to think, what’ll happen one day when we’re all far away from each other for Thanksgiving? Will my siblings and I go to my parents? Will we each have our separate Thanksgivings with our friends? What if I’m too poor to make any turkey?

Not much on the way of my present eating habits, but Thanksgiving reminds me of the value of eating with the ones you love, the value of taking care of yourself, and the value of taking care of your loved ones.

Why eat healthy? Because there are people who love you! /sap&idealism

$$$

So, recently I haven’t been very good at keeping an eye on where my money goes. A couple days will pass and I’ll suddenly have a fifth of the money I had left, with nothing to have shown for it. I consider myself a smart spender, but my recent spending habits have taken a complete turn from that. I’ve taken to eating out frequently and while I don’t factor those meals into my budget, I’ve realized that those meals take a huge toll on personal finance. I made the decision that in order to cut down on those expenses I can stop eating out. Eating out so often, even once a day for a couple days a week comes out to at least $40. For two, say at $20 a meal just once a day for a week is $140, which adds up to $560 a month. This amount of money can pay for any number of other, more lasting, things.
It took me a long time to realize how expensive eating out so often can be, even at a slice of pizza a day. I grew into this habit at a time when I was out and about too often to stop home and eat. At this time my income was high enough I could support myself without worrying about an extra couple dollars going toward food cravings during the day, but I look back to that time with many sad regrets. If only I had saved a couple hundred of those dollars for now! If only I had taught myself then to budget my money! If only I had started being a little smarter a little earlier.

But of course, there’s not much I can do about what past-Grace did. I look at myself now and wish I had the same amount of income, but more importantly I wish I was better at managing that income. This blog is an effort at improving this deeply unfortunate habit I’ve learned. I have always known grocery shopping is cheaper than eating out, and I’ve always known I could enjoy cooking. I supposed the question is who has the time for that? Who has to the energy for that? (adult humans)

Let this be a declaration, then, of my intentions. I probably need to find a job, though.

An Introduction

Hey people out there:

I’m Grace and I’m here to say welcome. Welcome to the good life, a blog meant to guide me in my ambition to become an adult human. Specifically, I want this blog to record a collection of  recipes that are simple and usable for a college student such as myself with little time or ambition towards feeding myself. I find myself skipping meals or making do with whatever’s around and frankly it’s pretty gross. I’m gonna try to start taking care of myself from the inside out and this blog will hopefully keep me committed to learning a bunch of things to cook.

Stick around!

Grace

wednesday thoughts

Hey:

This is a podcast I recorded for the blog. These days I’ve been having a lot of uploading responsibilities for the classes I’m taking for the fall semester. While I could keep the blog up to date through my phone or at night like I do for those classes, I didn’t want to add another thing to upload to my agenda. I thought that by recording a voice memo once in a while and creating a podcast from those memos would keep me more accountable for the progress I’m making. Otherwise I would probably take a bunch of notes and write a really long post once every blue moon until I decided it wasn’t worth keeping it up. This way I get to play around with garageband (which is what I used to create the podcast) and give a little life to the blog with some music!

The music used for this podcast by Lupe Fiasco (Til I Get There & Sunshine).

If you have any pointers or have a similar experience, share your thoughts!