Pretending to Sleep (v. 2)

Tags

The air was stale beneath the blanket

My mom had crocheted

There were hearts on it

But the air –

It was cold as it tickled my face

I couldn’t twitch my nose

I had to lie

Still

The sounds weren’t still

I could hear my sister’s breathing

Steady and even

It took eight lullabies

To put her to sleep tonight

I could hear the television

Blaring game show network downstairs

I think it was Match Game

The radiator was crackling

Blasting warm air into the chill

And I could hear his footsteps

Coming up the stairs

The tread was uneven

He went over to the old white dresser

The broken drawer from a former tantrum

Squeaking as he opened it

I could imagine the mirror reflecting

His dark, dark hair and swarthy skin

I knew he could see my books on the floor

My secret yellow notebook was exposed

The heavy tread again

Coming towards my bed

All I could see was blackness

I couldn’t open my eyes

I forced my breathing to sound

Steady and even

He touched my shoulder

And a tear trickled down my cheek

Pretending to Sleep (v. 1)

Tags

,

The air was stale beneath the blankets
But cold as it tickled my face
I couldn’t twitch my nose
I had to lie still

The sounds weren’t still
I could hear my sister’s breathing
Steady and even
I could hear the television
Blaring game show network downstairs
The radiator was crackling
Blasting warm air into the chill
And I could hear his footsteps
Coming up the stairs
The tread was uneven

He went over to the dresser
The broken drawer from a former tantrum
Squeaking as he opened it
I knew he could see my books on the floor
My secret yellow notebook was exposed

The heavy tread again
Coming towards my bed
All I could see was blackness
I couldn’t open my eyes
I forced my breathing to sound steady
And even
He touched my shoulder
And I felt a tear trickle down my cheek

The Meaning of It

Ding dong                                                     

The witch is dead

We all thought she lived

to be a villain

Perhaps, not so

Sometimes these things are not

so easy to understand

Flying like a fury                                          

She would soar through storms                 

Unabated

Telling her tale

Casting her spells

Felling heroes

Or were they villains

Who was she, this witch

Witch

Such a word – implying all

the bad

the brutal

the beastliness

the debauchery

But we forget

Glinda is a witch,

too

 

This is a poem I wrote for my Creative Writing class at UMass. Yes, I’m at UMass now, and it’s simply amazing. I love no longer being at MIT; it wasn’t the right fit for me.  I’ll be revising this poem, adding some more details, hopefully. It was influenced by Stephen Schwartz’ Wicked, one of my favorite musicals.

 

January Scholars in France Application Essay

Tags

, ,

I’ve applied to go on the trip to Paris & Marseilles this January through MIT.  I’m very excited and I hope I get to go.  The app was due today, so I thought I’d share my essay.

The prompt:  (500 words)  What one aspect of French life and French culture is most intriguing to you? (Write in English.)

Here it is:

I can hardly imagine what having a history that is thousands of years long must be like.  But while trying to imagine it, I can be utterly amazed by how the French, who do have such a rich history, are affected by it.  I’m fascinated by the history of France, but also by the visible influence that history has on the modern culture of France.

From what I know of French culture, they are far more aware of (the very cliché) “what’s really important.”  Lunch is two hours long, work is not the be-all, end-all, and time for relaxation and enjoying life is extremely important.  Somehow, through hundreds of years, this mindset has permeated the culture and become the norm.  I want to experience this way of life, because here in the United States it is rare to find such simple enjoyment in meals and walks around the corner.

The Revolution, of course, is one of the most lasting and prevalent examples of how history is an important part of French culture.  Marianne, Lady Liberty, graces every city hall, and even in the 21st century personal liberties and the “fraternité” of the French is an important topic in politics.  The United States was made possible by a Revolution, as well, and we have our ways of showing our patriotism; but to have a thousand-year-old history before a Revolution is another matter entirely.  For example, the materialistic court of Louis XIV and the plight of Jean d’Arc also show their influence in modern French culture.  Isn’t Paris the fashion capital of the world? And Jean d’Arc is seen as a national heroine and is one of the five patron saints of France.

In Professor Turk’s Introduction to French Culture, we have discussed the painters David, Delacroix, and Ingres and their influence on their contemporaries.  Yet their effect is also on modern culture.  Unlike students in the United States, students in France are very aware of such famous people in their history and revere them.  The other day I asked one of my friends what she thought of Ulysses S. Grant’s Reconstruction of the South, and she responded, “He was a President, right?”  It saddens me my peers do not know even some of the most basic history of their own country; I would be afraid to ask if they know of any celebrated American artists.  While I hardly expect everyone in France to be a history aficionado, I do think they at least know – and are proud of – their basic history.

This influence of history is not only relevant to the people of France, but to the places, as well.  There are buildings in France that were built before Plymouth was settled by the Pilgrims.  There are works of art older than the idea of a spherical earth.  I want to stand in one of these buildings, see one of these works of art, and marvel.  It may sound odd, but I want to feel my own insignificance compared to the grandeur that is French history.  I am, in a way, envious of them, who have such a long history.  There are so many stories, so many changes, so many incredible figures to learn about and admire.  I intend to learn about as many as I can, and give them their due reverence.  But how much more amazing would it be if I could do so while walking along the Seine?

A busy week

This past week has certainly been one of my busiest in a very long time.  Classes started, I clocked over 50 hours at my two jobs, and I was sick through all of it.

Let’s start with that second job: I recently got a job at Starbucks, which I’m doing on top of TechCalling (rent to pay and all that).  It’s a LOT of fun, surprisingly.  The other baristas and my boss are great, and the whole atmosphere is very inviting.  I’m an opener there, which means I’m getting up at 4 am four or five mornings a week.  Jeez! But while I wouldn’t call myself a “morning person”, I have really enjoyed waking up at that early so far.  I finish a shift at work, and I still have the whole day ahead of me.  That’s a very invigorating feeling.

As for TechCallers, things are hectic, to say the least.  I have a new boss, who only just started 2 weeks ago.  That’s problematic because he hasn’t yet been totally trained up, and we started recruitment and training a week ago.  Which means my co-student-supervisor and I have been very busy.  We’ve been interviewing, revising forms and training materials, copying and stapling en masse, and setting up the call center.  Calling starts Monday night, and we also have several more training sessions to get through.

Just for the record, colds suck.  It started with a sore throat last Sunday evening, which developed into a stuffy nose and worsening sore throat Monday, along with a fever.  While the fever broke during the night, it returned Tuesday afternoon, while I lost my voice.  The next few days were an interminable stuffy nose, mild coughing, and a voice that sounded hoarse and sickly. Today, Saturday, I am finally, finally, feeling somewhat better. I’m not nearly as stuffy, and while my voice still sounds funny, I’ve begun the “cough up gunk” phase of a viral infection, which means the end is near!  All in all, it was pretty much the worst possible week for me to get sick.  C’est la vie, n’est pas?

And another semester has begun! This year I’m taking Biology and 3 French classes:  Writing (Like the) French, Intro to French Culture, and Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Contemporary French Society.  The French classes are all great and I’m looking forward to them immensely. Biology – not so much; but I need to pass it, so here’s hoping.

That’s the update on my life at the moment.  I’ll have more posts soon about cooking a delicious meatloaf and my trip to Nantucket, but I’m tired now and need to rest up.  À bientôt!

Spinach balls, Haircut, and French!

Tags

, , , , ,

Hello long-neglected blogosphere!  I have no excuse for my neglect, simply that I’ve been enjoying my summer.  A lot has happened!  The Fourth of July weekend was incredible, with my mom and brother visiting Boston for it.  The weekend of course included shopping, wonderful food, and a phenomenal fireworks show on the Charles River!

Then my French class at UMass Boston started.  It’s not too difficult, which is great, since I’m hoping that means my French is getting better, n’est pas? We’re reading L’Étranger by Albert Camus – a truly mind-boggling experience.  I’m enjoying it, but analysis is a bit difficult when you’re already trying so hard just to understand what’s going on.  And my legs are in fantastic shape thanks to my daily commute on my bike:  Cambridge to UMass and home is a total of 12 miles!  Four times a week = 48 miles!  Plus I bike to work, the grocery store, etc. etc.

I’ve recently made the infamous Spinach Balls again.  In fact, I made a double batch for the 4th of July weekend!  So I’m posting my tweaked recipe here:

Spinach Balls

1 16-oz. package frozen chopped spinach

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

4 eggs, well beaten

2 1/2 cups *seasoned* bread crumbs

1/2-3/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cook frozen spinach in a pot of water on high for 10-12 minutes.

2. Strain the spinach and get out as much water as you can.  After the first strain, wait a few minutes then try squishing water out again. Spinach should still be moist when you’re done.

3.  Dump the spinach into a large mixing bowl and break it up so it’s not one big clump.  Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine it all.

4.  Preheat oven to 325° F.  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll the spinach mixture into balls (about 2-3 T in each ball) and place on baking sheet.  Pack them as tightly onto the baking sheet as you can. Place on the middle rack and bake for about 16 minutes.

These are delicious served warm and fresh, but can be stored in the fridge and reheated for several days.

My final bit of news is from today:  I got a haircut!  My hair was getting pretty ragged, and I wanted an update on my layers, this time with longer hair.  Supercuts to the rescue!  I’ve never understood paying $60 for a haircut when I can get one that’s just as good for $20 – plus a wonderful relaxing shampoo!  So here’s my cute, layered look (it’s longer in the back), complete with pink hair clip:

And let’s not forget about the truly fantastic teal nail polish I snagged for $2 in Rite Aid yesterday:

That’s all for now. I need to get back to studying and doing my French homework!

Pear & Goat Cheese Papillote

Tags

, , ,

I’ve wandered back to this recipe on frenchwomendontgetfat.com over and over again in the past few weeks, but never had the pears and goat cheese on hand at the same time.  So last night, I decided it was time to finally try it.  On my way to my boyfriend’s, I swung by the Harvest Co-op Market in Central Square.  I picked up Bosc pears, fresh goat cheese, and a small wedge of blue cheese.  This recipe is incredibly simple and delicious.

The original recipe called for making a yogurt sauce, but I was feeling lazy.  It is summer, after all.  So instead, I drizzled the dish with honey after removing it from the oven.  No yogurt sauce needed!  Ta-da!  I also went a little light on the cheese.  I used the amount called for of goat cheese, but only about half of the called-for blue cheese.  The cheeses do melt and mix wonderfully, it just seemed like a lot of cheese as I was piling it on.  Feel free to adjust to your taste!  The parchment paper papillotes are a little tricky, but that could’ve been because I was at the end of the roll and my pieces were particularly curly.  Still, some good squishing and folding will do the trick.

Lesson of the day: en papillote means “in parchment” in French.  It is a method of cooking in which the food is put into pouch-like folded parchment paper and then baked.  This steams the food.  It’s not only for fruit – try it with salmon, veggies, other meats, etc.

Pear and Goat Cheese Papillote

4 pears

juice of 1 lemon (I used a lemon juice squeegie and guess-timated how much lemon juice to use)

4 oz fresh goat cheese

2 oz fresh blue cheese

2 T olive oil

1 T fresh chervil or tarragon (use 1/3-1/2 T if using dried herbs)

Salt and pepper (optional)

Note:  This recipe yields 4 smaller servings or 2 platefuls.  Divvy up the pears amongst your choice of 2, 3, or 4 servings.  The recipe directions are written for 4 servings.

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2.  Peel the pears (optional – I didn’t).  Slice into quarters and then cut the quarters into thirds (large chunks).  Add lemon juice. (I dumped all the pears into a bowl and smothered them in lemon juice until I had the parchment paper ready.)

3.  Cut 8 pieces of parchment paper (use aluminum foil if you don’t have the paper) into squares large enough to hold 1 pear’s worth of pieces and 1 oz. of cheese, with 2 inches extra on each side.  Brush 4 squares with olive oil (these will be the bottoms of the papillotes).

4.  Arrange the pear slices equally among the 4 oiled squares.  Slice the goat cheese and arrange on top of each papillote.  Crumble blue cheese on top, sprinkle with chervil (I used dried tarragon leaves), and add salt and pepper if desired.

5.  Place the other squares of parchment paper on top of each serving and fold up all edges to make the papillotes. (Double folding each side and pinching in the corners works well.)

6.  Place papillotes on a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes.  (If your cheese was fresh out of the fridge, you’ll need closer to 15 for the melted consistency.)

7.  When done baking, remove from oven; open each packet and carefully slide onto a plate.  Drizzle with honey and serve warm.

Enjoy your summery dessert!

I’d also like to give a shout-out to all Dads, particularly mine! Happy Father’s Day!!! 🙂

Roasted Carrots, Pearl Onions, and Mushrooms

Tags

, ,

Here is the promised recipe for the side dish I made with the stuffed acorn squash!  I’m on a Bolt Bus on my way to NY at the moment.  I’ll get to see my mom, brother, puppies, and friends this weekend!  I will, of course, be doing some cooking with my mom. 🙂

This dish is done in less than an hour (half an hour in the oven, then some stove top time), so it’s great to prep and then pop in the oven while you work on the main dish.  It all comes together quickly once the roasting is finished.  I love the pearl onions because they’re so sweet.

Roasted Carrots, Pearl Onions, and Mushrooms

adapted from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

1 1/2 lbs pearl onions

2 lbs baby carrots

2 T olive oil

1 tsp thyme

1 1/2 – 2 tsp tarragon

1 1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground pepper

8 oz mixed mushrooms (your choice, I used shiitake and baby bellas)

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 T balsamic vinegar

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add onions and blanch for 2 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  Trim stem and root ends, then pop onions out of their skins.

2.  Preheat oven to 450° F.  Place carrots and onions in a large bowl.  Add 2 T olive oil and toss to evenly coat.  Arrange onions and carrots on a large baking sheet with sides.  Sprinkle evenly with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and thyme.  Roast for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally.

3.  Quarter or slice mushrooms.  Sauté in 2 T olive oil until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add roasted onions, carrots, broth, and vinegar.  Cook, stirring often, until nearly all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Add tarragon, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper; toss.

Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Tags

, , ,

Despite the fact that the heat and humidity was nearly unbearable on Saturday night, I opted to use a lot of oven time to make these stuffed acorn squash.  They came out absolutely delicious.  I recommend splitting one and only eating half, unless you’re very hungry.  I almost finished a whole one, and I thought I was famished.  The side of roasted carrots, pearl onions, and mushrooms I’ll detail in another post soon.

The original recipe called for bacon, but I substituted turkey bacon for a healthier option.  It was incredible.  Also, this recipe calls for Swiss chard, and I must admit I had to do a Google search to find out what exactly chard was.  It’s a leafy green vegetable related to beets, although the leaves are eaten and not the roots.  It’s like spinach in taste and texture, and bitter if eaten raw (though the bitterness disappears when cooked).  My last note is that this recipe is rather time-intensive.  Overall, since I made the side of roasted vegetables as well, I was in the kitchen for a little over an hour and a half.  I want to stress how incredibly worth it it was, though!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

adapted from The Oprah Magazine Cookbook

3 medium acorn squash
5 T olive oil
salt and pepper
12 slices turkey bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 1/2 lbs. Swiss chard, washed, dried, stems and
center veins removed, and ripped into salad-size strips
10 oz. assorted mushrooms (any kind you’d like)
1 tsp finely chopped thyme (or use 1/2 tsp dried)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1 T butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.  Soak about 20 toothpicks in warm water.

2.  Using a sharp knife, slice off a little of the squash bottoms so they sit flat.  Turn squash on their sides and cut off tops (about 1-2 inches), exposing the seeds.  Slice away all or most of the green peel (it is edible but you want a lot of the inner vegetable exposed so the bacon juices cook in).  Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds and membrane.  Brush squash with 1 T olive oil and season inside and out with salt and pepper to taste.

3.  Working one squash at a time, wrap 4 slices of bacon around each so they resemble the spokes of a wheel, tucking one end of each strip under the squash and securing the other end inside the rim with a toothpick.  Place a rack in the bottom of a shallow baking dish.  Arrange squash, hollow side down, on rack.  Bake on center oven rack 30 minutes (baste every 10 minutes with pan juices if using regular bacon, which will release much more juice than turkey bacon) – until bacon is brown and squash is nearly tender when pierced with a knife.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

4.  Warm 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently, 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is soft. Increase heat to medium-high and start adding chard in big batches.  As greens wilt, transfer to a plate and add more chard to pan until it is all wilted.  Return all chard to pan and cook until tender yet still quite green.  Transfer all to a plate to cool.

5.  Add 2 T olive oil to the same pan on medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms.  Stir until mushrooms are tender and no liquid is left in the pan.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  When chard is cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess juice.  Toss chard and onion mix with mushrooms.  Add thyme and nutmeg.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6.  Preheat oven to 500 F.  Mix bread crumbs with melted butter, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Remove toothpicks from squash and turn them right side up in the baking dish.  Stuff squash with the chard mixture so it’s packed and creates a small mound.  (You will have plenty of filling to really pack in the chard mixture.  When eating, this will be a plus, since there is a lot of squash and you want plenty of stuffing to eat with it.)  Top each squash with a layer of bread crumbs.  Bake 10 minutes on center oven rack, until crust is golden brown and squash are heated through.  Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.  Use a sharp knife to cut each squash in half (between bacon slices).

me securing the bacon with toothpicks

stuffed squash just before the final round in the oven

delicious final meal!