sarah
two words: Blake Griffin



you're welcome
sarah
this. right here. is my. Swag.

this yummy salmon and rice bowl was a spur of the moment concoction to recreate my beloved Pineapple Fried Rice i used to order from My Thai, which was damaged in a fire this past February. it was also made while a favorite show of mine was airing, so it’s super simple, takes very little time and effort, and everything cooks at the same time. i tweeted a picture of it and was asked for the recipe, so voilà!

salmon rice bowl
this medley serves 2 people, or one hungry me, and is incredibly sweet, nutty, which just a kick of spice.


ingredients
½ lb salmon
2T agave nectar or honey
2t Adobo spice mix (which is onion and garlic powder, with salt and pepper)
½t cayenne pepper
1t olive or sesame oil
salt and pepper
½ cup perfect rice (recipe follows)
2T golden raisins or any dried fruit
2T toasted, slivered almonds
2T chopped spring onions

method
1. preheat oven to 425-450°F

2. make perfect rice by placing a pot over a high flame and throwing in ½ cup uncooked rice with 1T olive oil. toast rice in the hot oil while continuously stirring so rice doesn’t burn. toast the rice until it turns from translucent to chalky white, then add in 1 cup of water. bring water to a boil, reduce heat to low, then cover and let rice cook for 18-20 minutes. this makes the best, fluffy rice and is foolproof! it’s the only way i make rice.

3. while rice is cooking, take out salmon and pat dry, then mix together the agave nectar, Adobo, cayenne, oil, and enough salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. rub the glaze onto the fish, place into a baking dish and cook in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the fish is flaky but still a bit pink in the center.

4. chop about 2 large spring onions and add to a bowl with the raisins and almonds. you can substitute the golden raisins with any sweet, dried fruit such as cranberries, apricots, or currants (which i wanted but it wasn’t available). i would keep with the almonds because of the mild taste and high crunch, which you need with the soft rice, fruit, and fish, but you can also sub in peanuts or cashews.

5. enjoy the next ten minutes of downtime or you can do what i did and toss some asparagus (or green beans or broccoli florets) in some olive oil and Adobo, then place in a roasting dish in the oven until the fish is done. see, veggies are easy.

6. rice should be ready, so remove from heat, fluff with a fork, and place lid back on top to steam.

7. take fish out of oven, get excited about how it smells, then gently flake it apart with two forks.

8. fold the fish, fruit, nuts, and onions into the rice, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, grind in some fresh pepper, maybe add a little parmesan or pecorino cheese if you’re feeling frisky. i didn’t have any pecorino ( ._.), so i just had a glass of wine... enjoy!
sarah
i’ve got a dirty little secret.

somewhere between the second glass of wine and the chocolate spoon cake i had last weekend, i decided to stop pretending. my closest friends have always known this, but it was always shared with an air of embarrassment on my part, hoping i wouldn’t be judged for not wanting to be a part of the clan. that maybe if i made this revelation too loudly, the very hinges of society would squeal and crack and chaos would ensue. i don’t want to be successful.

no Drake. but, the traditional sense of success, the degrees, the big job that affords a penthouse and two cars, one for sport, one for everyday driving, the serious titles… i don’t want none of that. the measure of being successful for me means something else. a warm, cozy home, the smell of pot roast and chocolate chip cookies wafting in the air, the smile of my husband as he walks through the door and takes me in his arms, after waiting all day to get back home to me and tell me about his meetings, me waiting all day just to listen and provide any type of support and insight i can. sounds stupid, right? i’m still a little ashamed to admit it. i just want to be a good wife.


back to this weekend, Tiffany and I had dinner with one of her parents’ friends from home. you probably know how married couples usually only hang with other married couples, and you can probably remember how it was when you were a kid, in the playroom with the other kids, while the dads were in the den watching sports loudly and the moms were in the kitchen gossiping over half-filled wine glasses or mugs of herbal tea (as was the case with my step-mother, who never touched alcohol). well, while visiting this couple who was a friend to her parents, we talked until the wife had to go work her nursing shift. as she left, she whispered to me to let her husband pay for dinner and i watched her kiss him goodbye, with the same loving look in their eyes as was in the 30th anniversary portrait on the small table behind them.

halfway through the ridiculously delicious and equally expensive dinner, i got to asking him how he met his wife and he told a story that i just don’t hear anymore, at least not from many in my generation. he met her in college, he was a fifth year senior, she a freshman. they dated for three years and got married. he got a job and she left school to move with him. three years after that, they started a family, and 30 years later she’s still insisting he pay for dinner. the wistful smile on his face told me that he didn’t regret a moment and that he couldn’t imagine his life any other way.

i sat on the other side of the table beaming, smiling to cover up the fact that i might never have that. i am 27 years old. at that age, they were already married with a daughter. what have i missed? the sacrifice.

i am reminded time and time again of just how proud everyone is of me. i did the whole going away to college thing and got my Bachelor’s in chemistry from a good school, i had job experience in my field, was accepted to one of the most prestigious research institutions in the world, and just passed my Master’s exam. but that was never my plan. and, at the risk of sounding ungrateful, i’m not yet proud of myself. my plan was, at this age, to be married at thinking of having a child, more on that another time, that way, by the time my high school reunion rolled around, i’d be settled and glowingly pregnant. as a kid, i never wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer; i wanted to be a good wife.

but, none of that ever happened. and i never even came close. i thought i had found the man of my dreams, but that thin façade shattered and i was left with making decisions to kill time. oh, i don’t have a serious boyfriend, so i’ll get my own apartment. oh, i’m not even close to being engaged, i guess i’ll move to Bmore and just get my graduate degree. and, if he comes along, i’ll happily cross that bridge when i get to it. i can get married and stay in school, but if i had to move to be with him, without a doubt…

i’m sure someone reading this will think of it as the saddest piece of drivel ever written, and that i am trite and should be mortified. don’t worry about it, i used feel that way. i am haunted by the words “strong, independent Black woman” and how i have to have my own. but having my own goes against my wanting someone to share it with. sure, i can bake all the cookies, but if there ain’t no one to eat them with me… what’s the point?? and let’s not keep tally of all the cookie baking i’ve referenced, m’kay?

my mother drilled into me that i should never rely on a man for things in life, that i should put myself in a position to provide for myself. but what if that thirst to always provide for myself impedes any possibility for someone to share the load and the journey? no one should have to do everything by themselves. i never got that same message from my gramma. she raised six kids, including my momma, on her own after her husband died. she was strong because she had to be, because that’s what happens when life deals you a certain hand. the strong Black woman is always inside of you, so there is never a reason to parade it for fear of kowtowing to an antiquated societal paradigm.

there has been a shift, where now the sacrifice is the status. and now the status lies in the job you have and the ends you bring home. to an empty, but large condo in the city. “i don’t think i’m ready to sacrifice my dreams for a relationship. it’s okay for me to be selfish right now.” i should never quote Twitter, but that particular sentiment is ubiquitous amongst those of my generation, so it seems fitting. selfish. no love, no sharing, no community. i was never taught to be selfish, so maybe my need to give sets me apart from my peers, but i don’t fundamentally believe that. i wonder… just how authentic that attitude actually is. how many of us truly believe that to sacrifice love is more detrimental than to sacrifice to love.

at the end of the dinner and this conversation, Tiffany’s father’s friend paid for dinner, held open ours doors, and vowed to have this talk with his own daughter, who was just about our age. she, too, is in grad school. she, too, is extremely driven. i wonder if she, too, feels as if she is missing something.
sarah
this past weekend was my 5 year reunion for the graduating class of my undergraduate college. i. feel. old. but amazingly, i still feel really young. like, i have so much more to do.

the weekend started out on a high with my bff Tiffany flying into town. and from the moment she arrived, we were off like a shot, driving around, just like in undergrad, expect Tiff lives in the south now and doesn’t drive as fast or reckless as she used to. i still love her though.
Tiffany, looking excited

we started off at an Asian café we used to frequent in undergrad and got to talking about what’s been going on in our lives… me, nothing much except a Master’s; her, she might be dating someone new ;) then we planned out the rest of our weekend, knowing full well that we might not exactly stick to the plan, and i wouldn’t have it any other way.

the next day, we were up early to move the car. seriously, i love living in a downtown area (although any other city's Downtown would laugh at Baltimore's Downtown), but i don’t drive. this weekend, i got confirmation that i should never get a car because finding parking in an area near clubs, bars, and restaurants was a real headache. all weekend.

thus began our weekend of gorging. first stop, Chipotle. there aren’t any where Tiffany lives and it was a real sacrifice. later, we got ready for the main event: the Reunion Happy Hour and Crab Feast at our alma mater. when we arrived, the thin crowd surprised us. this was a reunion for all classes, mostly for 5, 10, 15, 20, etc. years, but their may have just been 20 people at the happy hour. we didn’t care, there was good wine to be had. we talked it up with some of our favorite professors, filling our cups with encouragement and Chardonnay. and, slowly, we made our way up to the dining hall for the crabs. and, let me tell you, they were excellent! as a DC native, i know my crabs, but i haven’t had some that good in years!
Crabbies!

we continued Gorge Weekend by having brunch the next day at another old favorite, Papermoon Diner. it’s different than when we went to college, and by “different” i mean “more expensive”. but, the food is still pretty damn good; even though they messed up my order, i didn’t realize it until i was halfway done. that good. then, The Drive. we did was we do best, which is hit the road. it felt really good to be zipping down the road, even though we couldn’t sync music properly, so we had to suffer through the radio. as a result, i know every word to every Drake, Chris Brown, and Weezy song that’s come out in the past two months.
random beach in Prince Frederick

after sitting with some friends and family in Southern Maryland, we were treated to a dinner by a friend of the family at Saphron Restaurant, where we had some decent wine and crab dip and i had some killer Vietnamese catfish and grits. literally, the grits were plain and tasted better than any spiced up variety i’ve gotten anywhere else. we met the owner and her son, who runs the kitchen with no formal training, other than being a Marine. i live for days like this, where meaningful conversations happen on accident, but have the potential to change your life, or at least how you view it.

Sunday, which was supposed to be relaxed and random, as Tiffany was getting ready to return to the south that night, was really frenetic. brunch started out okay. Tiffany got to meet Samantha, who works in the lab across from me and has sort of been Tiffany II; Samantha and i will easily spend a whole day together, when we really just intended to go to the grocery store. we all met at Cheesecake Factory, which is good because it’s on Samantha’s preferred list and there isn’t one in Alabama, so two birds, one stone. we made it three for three in terms of days eating crab. i got the crab hash. yummy. check it out. but, after brunch, we decided to head to DC to see the MLK Memorial. we figured since the weather was yucky, no one would be there. WRONG! not only were there three major events on the mall, everyone decided to bring their mom take a stroll. there was no parking and tons of traffic. sad.
MLK Memorial, with tons of people

but the weekend ended on a cool note. we made it back just in time for Tiffany to connect with another old friend before dropping me off and heading back to the airport. i was sad to see her pull off, after we both gave each other a quick pep talk about life and love, which interestingly enough was in reverse order… she needed love advice, i needed life advice, i headed back to my apartment and drifted off to sleep, wondering about when that road trip might happen.
sarah
the other day, i woke up to a room that was 45°F. i just lay there, staring at the ceiling, and found myself snuggling deeper and deeper into the four pillows on my bed. just the previous day, i woke up kinda sweaty, my apt kinda humid, cursing and grumbling, wishing for Autumn to hurry along. i think i got my wish.

fall is my favorite season. most people make new year's resolutions. others see new beginnings in the budding trees and chirping baby birds of spring. me... i love the fall. irony much? maybe it's because i love school, and the day after labor day meant the first day of school and i get caught up in the newness. new books, new back-to-school clothes, new shoes... things slow down a bit, the sky gets dusky a bit, the air smells like crisp leaves, chili with cornbread, bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, and my mother's leather driving gloves... the navys, the yellows, the aubergines, the hunter greens.

the season pulls at my nostalgic center. i'm already back to drinking hot mochas with a dash of salt and i can't wait until the toasted marshmallow flavor returns... a s'more in a Starbucks cup. and even though i wear cardigans year round, because my lab is so frigid, i'll be sure to fall in love with new cardis just to celebrate. can't wait to break out my leather bomber, my pea coat, the Pashmina scarves... here is what the season already put me in the mood for:


lab loungin
weekday
no need for me to get all glam to go work in the lab, so i'll stick to my basic wardrobe of sneaks (which i do own now), v-neck pocket tees, and pants. i am on the prowl for a cute blazer this season though, something slouchy and androgynous, maybe offset it with a boss scarf.

wrangling the weekend
weekend day
i'm in lab generally six days a week, so the weekend is saved for running errands and wearing semi-casual clothes that i can't exactly afford to ruin with random chemicals. since i love sweaters, maybe i'll invest in a few really nice ones to wear about town, maybe perchance to catch the eye of some cutie in the process. i really like the idea of this chic and unique sweater, offset by androgynous pieces, such as stovepipe black pants and brown motorcycle or cowboy boots, then bringing in whimsical earrings with a pop of color.

you be killin' em
going out
on the rare occasion that i might have it in me to go out and celebrate, i might find it in me to show a little leg, wear some lipstick, and don some pretty jewelry, all the things i can't do on a day to day basis. i wouldn't mind vamping it up for a night out in this asymmetric top, wrap skirt, trench and nude platform wedges. and these safety pin earrings are a must have for me this season. they remind me of the Tartan wrap skirts i wore in middle school.

who knows how i'll afford such style on a grad student budget, but i think thrifting and couponing are in my immediate future. which i don't mind. one of the things i've developed as i've gotten older is a love of shopping and cultivating a wardrobe. i was wearing a bracelet this past weekend that my younger sister, who just turned 18 years old, kept eye balling. i've had that bracelet for years and i hope to add more staple pieces to it.

i wonder... what does the fall season brings for you?
sarah
i never crawled. according to my daddy, it was as if i got tired of just sitting there and just took off running. all the while before i became mobile, i was sitting and plotting, thinking about what it took to move my chubby little legs and get them in motion. the wheels turning in my infantile head so early, i must’ve studied the moving patterns of my elders and worked out the physics so well that i was able to skip scooting and get to standing. then walking… and running.

i remember my daddy telling me this when i was about 17 years old. starting my senior year of high school, i guess he had to reminisce about his little girl, his first born, who was getting ready to take the next step in her life. never crawling, never crying, reading at the age of three, i was always slightly ahead of the game. when i wanted to be.

needless to say, i make very calculated moves. i think things out. i even think about the steps i take going down a staircase. i have to look down at each step; if i look out at the end of the staircase, i’m liable to fall, which has happened to me on a couple of occasions. i can see two steps ahead of myself, but focusing on the long term goal can trip me up. and a moment of spontaneity is great, but i love the feel of making a list and checking things off, one by one. depending on how serious the move is…

when i turned 16 and it was time to get my learner’s permit, i took driving seriously. my mother is the best driver i know and i wanted to take after her, but my father encouraged me to slow down. “Driving is dangerous and can be very scary. It’s not as easy as it looks,” he said. really?? because i had it all mapped out in my head how i could drive the car, even without having any experience. after studying and acing the learner’s exam, my mother let me drive on the road as a surprise. i could drive home from the parking lot. it wasn’t that far, but i hadn’t really planned for that just yet. i wanted to think things through a little more, but i jumped behind the wheel, turned on to the street and made a left hand turn into oncoming traffic.

yeah. i don’t know what happened after that really. i covered my eyes, and when i opened them, my mother had magically driven the car to the parking lane all from the passenger’s side of the car. best driver i know. i vowed to never drive again.

fast forward 6 years, my senior year of college. somehow my friends had put up with me always being in the passenger seat, but having permanent shotgun in my homegirl’s car wasn’t really cute anymore. and i really hated needing to get somewhere and always having to bum a ride. so, after graduation, i signed up for driving lessons and got behind the road again. it was terrifying. my driving instructor was a little put off by my white-knuckled grip of the steering wheel, since in his experience a lot of people drive to relieve stress. not me! i needed to learn how to get from point A to point B without maiming any senior citizens or pedestrian children. and that’s it. i had the eye of the tiger and a goal in mind.

initially, i remembered why i never wanted to see behind the steering wheel of a car again. it was gut wrenching trying to anticipate when the next asshat was going to cut me off, but over the next month it became increasingly easier to not have palpitations about whether i was going to get t-boned at the next intersection.1 and i managed to pass the road test quite proficiently. my first time ever parallel parking, i sat quietly in the car, perched before the space and did a few cleansing breaths. no big deal Sarah… it’s just parallel parking, which is simple physics, and you love physics! i had it worked all out in my head, and successfully parallel parked on the first trial.

now, i do drive for fun. you might catch me around the city, cruising in a Zipcar. even though getting behind the wheel of a car does initially give me anxiety, i do a few cleansing breaths, i say a little prayer, and get on the road. by the time i have my stations picked out, or connect to the MP3 port and make my second turn in traffic, i’m cruising and bopping my head to the music. i love the feel of moving through time and space and getting successfully to my destination and back. but i wonder… when and how will i learn to fly?

1i realize this is all very melodramatic, but my mind plays tricks on me sometimes. and tricks are for non-driving kids.
sarah
whoa! this blog looks something like a blog that was. or tried to be. I know that i’ve personally always tsked bloggers who couldn’t keep up with the simple demands of a blog. like, I didn’t think it was all that big a deal to write a blog. you pick a topic, write from your heart, throw in some stock photo and BAM! you’ve got a blog. so, for the life of me, i just couldn’t dig a blogger who let the blog collect dust for weeks without updating.

so yeah, about that… (¬_¬) *side eye to myself* silly me. this is much different that writing an online diary, which i had convinced myself it would be. i used write in a conventional diary and decided to make the leap so others may hold me accountable to my words and whimsy. it’s also odd because i out and out REFUSE to get an e-reader, but i was all down with the idea of an “online journal”.

but enough of that. where has my lazy ass been? especially since one of my last posts speaks on being a lazy ass… well, there is good news and bad news.

the good news is, i have NOT been lazy actually. no, i didn’t lose weight… i actually prolly gained some. my life have been so stressful lately that i didn’t even have time to think, much less think about what i’m eating, when i’m working out, and if i’m drinking enough water. the reason for all of that is i passed my Master’s exam. i officially have a master’s degree in chemistry. and all it took was a strained conversation with my advisor, some pushing on my part, 2 weeks of writing, and 2 weeks of marathon studying. the build-up to the main event was something i don’t ever want to put myself through again, even though i will have to 3 more times before i get my PhD. one thing i do know is that i handle stress very poorly. seriously though, i should be someone’s fucking housewife because i am just not cut out for stressful situations. i know some people thrive on that shit, but iCan’t.

the even better news is that i did pretty well. i impressed myself, my advisor, and even some of my colleagues. the oral exam was pretty quick, i got decent remarks, and i’m sure some people thought i would just plain fail, especially since a couple of my labmates came really close. yikes.

the bad news is that it can’t stop, won’t stop. diddy bop for me. i’m only halfway through my PhD program and i’ve got three more requirements to fulfill in three more years, including my second oral exam, the one which transforms me into Sarah, PhD candidate. even though i am relieved the first part is over, i just don’t wanna stomach a second one, not right now. i was losing sleep and hair from the stress. also, i’ve got a ton of work to catch up on. i essentially halted all reactions for a month while i was writing and studying. it paid off in the end, but getting back in my hood was very surreal. and of course i broke a piece of glassware, just to get the party started (-___-)
 

this is what i came back to. sigh.

my boss is leaving for the following semester and he usually goes on a rampage right before he leaves and right after gets back. i’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot to make up for. but it seems that my never-ending quest to prove myself to my advisor just isn’t over yet. and that, dear children, is the bad news.
sarah
i have weight issues.

like, i'm not obese, but i am overweight. i got my my yearly check up and i'm perfectly healthy, but my BMI puts me at risk. which is a mess because i know more unhealthy thin people that i know unhealthy overweight people. you could argue that it's because bigger people are more aware and under a scope and thinner people feel as if they can eat whatever the hell they want. actually, you couldn't argue that because i would have no comeback. congratulations.

be that as it may, i could stand to lose some weight. i know that it would not only make me look better, but feel better. you know what sucks about losing weight though? a lot of things. but, here are four of them right off the top of my head:

1. the damn gym

heaven if you're a fit gay man. hell if you're a fat anything else. let that irony wash over your brain.

scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, i stumbled on this status:  "i shoulda took my chunky butt to the gym, but no what did i do. i stayed home and relaxed. UGH WHY DO I HATE THAT PLACE SO MUCH! WHAT CAN MAKE THIS EXPERIENCE BETTER BESIDES MUSIC! JESUS...I KEEP PRAYING ON IT."

and i felt an immediate understanding. here's the rub though. it's not the actual working out that makes the gym uncomfortable. it's the people. here is another status i read on Facebook: "ugh! so many fatties at the gym today hogging up the ellipticals!" all i'm trying to do is defattify myself and i have to field stares and snarky laughter, whether real or imaginary, from all of the hot people who seem to be working out for no damn reason. i just wanna yell, "get your skinny ass off the machine! what are you doing here anyway? don't you have a perfect party for perfect people with perfect asses to attend??" which brings me to point two, because the damn gym is full of...

2. judgy people
there is no denying the stigma that surrounds being overweight. most people believe it to be as simple as 1,2,3. put the fork down, jump on a treadmill, stop being a loser. but no one takes the time to realize the huge mental roadblock involved in being fat and losing weight. people don't put on weight for no reason. i can easily say that at the happiest point in my life so far, i was also at my healthiest in terms of weight. conversely, at the most unhappiest and stressful point in my life, i am the heaviest i have ever been. some people thrive on stress... others do not. just tune in to one episode of biggest loser and you will see that emotions and weight go together like hazelnuts and chocolate. it's not so easy as jumping on a treadmill, and those that do take this route will not see long lasting benefits. you have to deal with the inside and let the outside follow suit. which brings me to...

3. losing the protective force field
i watch ruby, on style channel. it's the journey of a woman who lived most of her adult life being over 400lbs, being 716lbs at her heaviest, to lose weight. this past season, she got down to 330lbs before she hit a wall, finding life approaching the 200s as scary and unfamiliar. she was just starting to explore more options in terms of food, fashion, and dating. but, subconsciously, she started to eat more and put back on the weight that she had worked so hard to lose. why? neither she nor the audience knows the answer, but there was a traumatic event that occurred when she was younger that she cannot remember. she only has memories after the age of 12 and in all of those memories she was fat. in talks with her counselor, friends, and family, they all believe that she was probably abused. her mother knows more that she lets on but does admit that she may have contributed to her being larger to protect her from people. (o_O)

i can't lie and say that i don't understand this thinking, even though intentionally fattening someone up just to "protect" them is akin to abuse, but there are countless anecdotes from people who are overweight who also have troubles letting go of tragedies and past abuses. I can say that when i was thinner, i would get a lot of attention from people. not all of that attention was positive and i've ended up with a broken heart or two. conversely, i can say that, being larger, i am usually surrounded good natured people. the men whom i date seem to like me for who i am inside and aren't so much hung up on physical attributes. the friends i have made are true, because if you don't like a person just because they're fat, you're an asshole right?

4. nothing
i have to say, compared to cuisine and travel, being fat is escapism at it's worst. it's expensive many times over. i have a group of friends with whom i do dinner once a month. once a month, we pick a restaurant, preferably one that none of us has been to before, and we catch up on life. it's great because we are all in grad school, which dominates +50hrs of our lives a week, so we have a chance to stay connected. however, since we are all in grad school, looking at the bill for these lengthy dinners, which almost always is at an upscale restaurant and includes much needed cocktails, my student budget suffers.

on top of that, when the seasons change and i switch over from winter to summer wear, or vice versa, and things don't fit like they did last year, that means i have to invest in a whole new seasonal wardrobe that i, again, can't really afford. not to mention, it feels really wasteful buying clothes for what one deems as a temporary phase in their lives, all because "i'll start working out tomorrow" has been a mantra for three months. if i actually did work out today, instead of tomorrow, and continue that pattern, i would unlock a wardrobe of fly clothes that i haven't been able to wear in years.

living in tomorrow doesn't work very well for the overweight. when i think about how much time i have wasted so that my today can be better, i get really depressed about it. if i had kept up with working out/yoga/tennis that i started last semester, i'm pretty sure The Life of Sarah would be a much different one. on the flip side, dwelling on yesterday doesn't work either. lamenting about was happened or didn't happen last week/month/year only digs a deeper hole. and when you're fat, climbing out of a hole seems damn near impossible.
sarah
while in Club Wegmans, i saw some good looking wings and decided to take them home and spice them up. i rarely eat wings, mostly because i didn't really grow up eating them a whole lot. rarely was night in my house where my mother would fry some wings, or anything else, for dinner. it was baked chicken or baked fish. but this wasn't my mother's house. i was NOT going to bake these wings.

i saw a good recipe on Food Network the very same day, thanks to my DVR, on Big Daddy's House. i sort of don't care for the show because the host really grates on my nerves with his loud voice and over-usage of the words "can you feel the love?" and "tuhmaytuh". but his food is banging. must be all the garlic.


Ginger Wings
by Aaron McCargo, Jr. of Big Daddy's House

this recipe originally serves 6 people and comes with a peanut sauce recipe. but, i'm only lil ole me and i had one pound of wings, so i easily scaled down this recipe for 2 people and kept the leftovers. and, yeah, i didn't make the sauce because, who cares. there is already a TON of flavor in the wings; no need to muttle it with a sauce.

ingredients
1T any hot sauce (i used Frank's Red Hot Sauce)
1T soy sauce (i use San-J Tamari in place of soy sauce every time as it has a richer, rounder soy flavor, instead of just being salty)
1T grated ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1T sesame oil
2t sesame seeds
1T hoisin sauce
1lb chicken wings

method
1. combine all of the ingredient, except the wings (patience my friend) in a bowl and stir to combine. taste it. roll eyes in the back of head. proceed.



2. put wings the in bowl and toss to combine, making sure all of the wings are coated in the nooks and crannies.


3. place the wings on a wire rack atop a baking sheet that is lined with foil. the wire rack helps the air ciruclate the chicken to make it crispy and the foil makes for easy clean up :)

4. put the baking sheet in a preheated 400°F oven for 15 minutes. then, turn the wings over, baste with any leftover marinade and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

5. take the wings out of the oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes... if you can. enjoy!


i paired my wings with some sesame noodles tossed with sauteed onions, carrots, mushrooms, and kale. i seriously just threw some stuff together in a pan while the wings were cooking, but you can find a more legit recipe at the Food Network website.
sarah
so, i basically had a redo of last week. seriously. i followed the same exact script. cereal for breakfast. veggie sukiyaki for lunch. i gotta spice things up, because i think monotony is also a killer of the Meatless Monday.

but change came around dinner time, and i realized that i could either choose to fail or succeed. so, i mosied on to the kitchen and, realizing it was already clean and waiting for me to just cook, i made the decision to stop being lazy and just keep steadfast. it wasn't as hard as i was trying to make it seem. i whipped up my favorite summertime pasta dish with a bit of tweaking, using olive oil instead of pancetta. check it.

Sarah's Summertime Pasta

during the summer time, i make this pasta dish probably once a week. it's easy and fast but has big time flavors thanks to simple ingredients. you can sub in certain ingredients, like i did this time... i usually don't add anything else, but i had some leftover asparagus and decided to throw it in.

ingredients

pancetta (i used olive oil this time. you can use bacon too if you like.)
a pasta of your choosing (i recommend penne, linguine, or even angel hair)
white, yellow or sping onions (i prefer spring onions, but i didn't have any this time, but found out that regular onions work just as well)
garlic
wild card ingredient
fresh tomatoes (any type/size, just make sure they're ripe and sweet)
splash of wine or stock or even pasta water
squeeze of fresh lemon
basil
parmigiano reggiano
salt and pepper to taste

method

1. bring water to boil in a large pot, add salt then throw in pasta of choosing, making sure to stir so it doesn't stick.

2. in a sautee pan or wok, render pancetta over medium heat untile crispy, then remove. if using olive oil, just heat until fast in the pan.

3. cut the rest of the ingredients as small or large as you like. seriously, this recipe is easy as a summer's breeze, so you don't have to worry about cutting things just right. if you want large bits of onions and tomatoes cause that's how you roll, do you! i do suggest that you salt the tomatoes after you cut them, but before you add them to the pan to draw out it's natural juices.

4. first heat onions until almost cooked (about 5 minutes for regular onions, but about 2-3 minutes for spring onions), then throw in the garlic and your wild card ingredient and cook until done, heated through.



5. add tomatoes. cook until just heated through, which should take about a minute or two. don't cook too long or the tomatoes will becoming mushy pulp, unless you like it that way.

i used heirloom tomatoes in my dish, tis the season, and they were sweet and succulent.


6. here's my favorite part! add a splash of wine to deglaze the pan. if you don't have wine, you can use chicken/veggie stock or even some water from the boiling pasta, which will help the pasta amalgamate anyways. take this time to put your face over the pan and smell the goodness from the food. it's intoxicating.

7. add a squeeze of lemon, turn off the heat and stir in the cooked pasta.


8. roll about 6 leaves of basil into a cigar and cut it into ribbons (congrats, you just did a chiffonade of herbs!) or just rip it in your hands :) shave some parmigiano reggiano cheese (you can use the stuff in the green canister that we grew up on, but getting a small block of the real stuff is well worth the investment. just keep in wrapped and in a cool, dry place).


then add to the pasta and stir through until it's fragrant and you can no longer resist from sticking your fork in the pan.

in the end, i put a a lot of freshly ground pepper atop, because i just love pepper. what i didn't miss was meat. okay, maybe i missed the pancetta. baby steps. enjoy!
sarah
i really tried my hardest. no wait, that's a lie. i could have tried harder. but, in real life, i didn't actually fail; the opportunity to start fresh again or makeup for it the next day is always an option.

seriously though, i only made it through 2/3 of the day the past three weeks before my progress came to a screeching halt by dinner. the first week was not to bad as i ate cereal for breakfast. but i generally don't eat meat during breakfast, except during brunch on weekends and when Starbucks had these maple sausage scones, yum! but they discontiued those (._. ). for lunch, i went to my favorite Korean spot on campus and instead of having bulgogi or chicken sukiyaki, i had veggie sukiyaki. it was a particularly long day for me and when i got home i didn't feel like cooking or eating. but, the later it got the more hungry i started to get. so, i broke down and made chicken hash with an egg over easy on top. i could have easily left out the chicken and the egg, but i was disoriented by my hunger headache. i've got to plan better.
veggie sukiyaki - score!

chicken hash with fried egg - fail ( ._.)

the next week, i got a Facebook notification that Kooper's Chowhound Burger Wagon was going to be on campus. i ain't even gonna lie... i knew i was in for it. the Wagon rarely comes to campus, but they have a DEElicious turkey burger and sweet potato fries. THEN, my labmate informed me of dinner plans to go to this authentic Chinese restaurant i have been dying to get to since i moved to Baltimore. fail all around. well, not really. i held as strong as i could, skipped the burger, and had a Caprese salad for lunch, but i sho nuff scarfed down beef tripe & tongue, braised beef stew, and Schezuan Shrimp that night for dinner. bad Sarah!

beef tripe and tongue

and we're not gonna even get into Memorial Day, smh. i only ate meat once yesterday, for dinner, and it was salmon so it's not too bad, but i didn't even realize it was a Monday until most of the way through it. God kept me.

salmon & scallion rice with roasted asparagus

the one thing i am happy about is my increased consumption of fruits. i normally eat a lot of veggies, but i bought a variety of fruit for this endeavor and am glad that i have been grabbing a piece or two before heading out to lab each day. that reminds me, i have an apple in my bag...
sarah

i love food and cooking and restaurants and much ado about the Epicurean, decadent, hedonistic lifestyle. although i am not really an over indulger, except when it comes to dark chocolate, it wouldn't hurt to practice a little restraint.

i'm not a big meat eater, but in the grand scheme of things, evaluating my meat consumption and protein levels are important. i could rattle off a bunch of scary health facts, but that's not fun or entertaining. when you think about it though, Americans in general eat a LOT of meat. this isn't Brazil or anything, but i know for a lot of people, a meal just doesn't make sense unless a piece of meat takes center stage, unless it's breakfast, for which my poor stomach cannot handle a lot of heavy foods or flavors. personally, i arrange my menu based on the meat i'm going to serve. i defrosted a piece of steak... i guess i'll go low-country/southern and make cheese grits and sauteed french green beans. that's just how i roll.

i was once told that i could undo a meat-tastic week by just taking one day off from eating it. and that, kids, is how i was introduced to Meatless Mondays 4 years ago. Meatless Mondays is an endeavor to decrease the average amount of meat consumption by 15%, but it is also instrumental is reducing a host of health and environmental factors as well. a lot of people are not aware of how much energy goes into transforming meat from farm-to-fork. chickens don't hatch eggs of vacu-packed breaded tenders.

back in 2007, when i was trying to become the real adult to go along with the job and midtown apartment i had, i looked into Meatless Mondays as a way to not receive scary health reports from my doctor. i tried it out for a month, got bored, and ditched it. it wasn't as though i didn't have a wealth of information and recipes to keep me busy, but, as i've said, a meal just doesn't seem to make sense without meat. once, i made rigatoni with a carrot ragu, which was delicious, but i couldn't help to think how much better it would be with a piece of broiled salmon perched atop of it.

well, i am actually a real adult now and i have to make real changes. changes that stick. that frame of thinking no longer suits my maturity level. the goal is not to become a full fledged vegetarian, because i do have theories on whether or not humans should eat meat altogether. i remember going to a NY restaurant with my vegan bff Rachel and getting a burger, much to her disgust. but i do wish to change the way i consume food. i wish to be more conscious and considerate, not to mention more creative. i'm gonna start next week, which will give me time to re-up on some veggies and fruit.
sarah
so, i was watching TV and on the rare occasion that i had to sit through a commercial1, this ad came up:





i am not in the market for a car, but at that moment i wanted to jump up and buy one if it meant that this dude was part of the package deal. They don't even know me, but they knew how to pull at my heartstrings by taking a fully padded and grimy athelete and cleaning him up in a nice sharp suit. so, i rushed to my phone (hooray!) and googled this kid. Turns out he is a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, whatever that means. the stats i only cared about was him being 6'5" and 240lbs. yum. too bad he is only 25... and out of my league. bah! enjoy!

Calvin Johnson




so, i was cruising one of my favorite new blogs when this feature came up:

and i said to myself, self! why is a half naked man on a natural hair blog and why does it not matter right now?? oh... pecs, that's why. seriously, doe! i stopped staring just long enough to read that he is a male model and artist. explains the exposed Calvin Kleins. or not, who cares. but he is definitely selling something to me. all the women who commented on the blog mentioned what a nice person he was and how powerful his painting are, and all i could think of is how well he fit into those jeans. but, much to my pleasure, he can also hang a suit ;-)

Ibrahim Baaith


1 i have a DVR, so most shows i watch are pre-recorded to some degree which allows me to skip commercials/save time. sometimes, i watch a show while one is recording so i can conserve time, like watching 5 1-hour shows in 3 hours. it's a problem. but i miss a lot of commercials, so when my friends ask me stuff like, "Have you seen that Doritos commercial? It's hilarious!" i give them the stuck face. the only time i do not do this is if i am watching TV with my friends. my bff and i, since we live far apart, watch the same shows at the same time and text/tweet our commentary to one another. it sounds lame, but at least we've ended up on Texts From Last Night. i'm famous.
sarah
if you've been peeping my Facebook or Twitter page, you'll notice that i've been lamenting my shitty shoe collection for about a month or so now. i've been whining non-stop about how all of my shoes are run over, out of season, or have been melted with lab-grade chemical solvents. so, i set out to re-do my shoe wardrobe and promptly failed.


my mother could tell you childhood stories about how shoe shopping with me is a nightmare. i am very particular about my shoes; i know what i want and won't settle for anything less. the problem with that is i don't necessarily follow trends. my sense of style is very intuitive and, not to toot my own horn, about a season or two ahead of a lot of people. blame it on the fact that i'm a psycho psychic Capricorn, but i was wearing moccasins and screen tees a whole year before the rest of the world ruined the trend. i'm classy and whatnot.

but, forreals, i get into my head about what kinda shoe i want based on how i'm feeling about the season and expect to walk up in a store and find it. this makes for very frustrating shopping experiences, a few "Come to Jesus" talks, and tons of settling on my part. i hate settling. but, it has gotten trifling at this point and my shoes are embarrassing. i've been scouring the net to see what's available, and of course all the shoes styles i like aren't available in the color/fabric i'm lusting after. #fail. something is seriously wrong with me. anywho, here is what i'm settling for thinking about buying for the summer. hopefully i'll be so busy and happy about getting something accomplished that i'll be distracted from the fact that i'll have to do this alllll over again come autumn, for which i haven't bought new shoes/boots for like 4 years. embarrassing.

want                                settling for


want                             settling for

i also want some Nike Dunks and some Sperry Top-siders, but i can't decide on which style to get... HELP!!!
sarah
My fam came to visit me Saturday, which put a serious kink in my plans, but when real life comes knocking, it's okay to defer. After getting about 20% of my day done, my mother called from downstairs with my sisters to finally go to that restaurant we've been anxious to visit for months. We get there and it's packed. By an act of God on this Easter weekend, there were four seats at the bar. People were in a good mood and scooted down and over so we could sit together. Later, I figured it was the fantastic food that had the patrons in such great spirits. Immediately after sitting, Greg, our server, handed us simply chic menus and some of their house made bread, butter, chips and smoked onion dip. Something about learning the food was made that morning less than ten yards from where you are currently sitting makes things taste thatmuch more delicious. Seriously though... that good. Similarity, my glass of Virginian Pinot Gris, my mothers kettle of peach blossom tea, and my sisters' special strawberry basil sodas awakened our palettes and had us ready for our entrees.

I thought my sisters were playing it safe by getting burgers, but they smelled outrageously good! Premium local beef makes a world of difference. My mother ordered fried local oysters and fries and I broke a covenant a day early by testing one. Worth it. My spelt noodles were a symphony of flavors, with a pork belly ragout and a beautiful yolk perched atop like a cherry on a savory sundae. Mixing in the yolk allowed the flavors in the ragout to linger longer on my taste buds end even though the pasta itself was a little clunky, I appreciated the fact they were freshly made. My sister and I capped off the meal with a cookie, even though it was unlike any cookie I had ever had. It was more cakey and light with small morsels of dark chocolate melting throughout. Yum.

My family also told me about myself. I could see the concern for my weight, well being, and work in my mother's face constantly. She wanted to know if I'm clothing and feeding myself well. She misses the old me, a me that was more effortless and carefree. I miss that me too. I don't like to see that worry. My mother, who turns 50 in two months but doesn't look a day over 35, has never had to worry about me and I find it unsettling. She dropped me back home with promises to visit more and take me shoe shopping, with advising to get back to church and yoga, with hugs and kisses.

Back in my apartment, with 80% of my to-do list left unchecked, a DVR that's 60% full, and live jazz wafting into my bedroom from the park below, I felt so satisfied with my day. I wonder... how can I make this feeling last? And why does any other day where I do less than half of what I intended not feel as good?!
sarah
even though it's been spring for like a while now, you wouldn't really know it by the weather, or my mood. although my emotions have somewhat been on the upswing and the extra hours of the day has in fact equaled extra smiles in my day, i still have a ways to go and i really ought to clean shop.

as i was telling a good friend of mine, twelve hour days in the lab six days a week doesn't really afford me the time or energy to want to cook or clean. i realize how trifling that may sound but it's the truth. however, on my off day, there should be just enough in me to want to do better. granted, my last off day was in fact a sick day; i coughed up something that moved... i did manage to do juuust enough laundry to get by for a week or so, but that was only the tip of the iceberg.

i'm giving myself today, my off day, to git 'er dunn. i've got laundry, a messy and empty kitchen, and a rainy day to lock me up. i got plans to clean up and restock. i'm gonna hit my TJs, since it'll be too rainy and out of my budget to drive to Wegmans, then come home and clean out my fridge, wipe down my appliances, and give a good scrubbing to some dishes and counters. later, i shall gather all my laundry and while it's washing, de-clutter my apt. it might be a good idea to vacuum as well.

don't panic; i only hang about 20% of my wardrobe. the rest gets folded.

in other news, my closet/wardrobe needs an overhaul. being a chemistry student affords me the chance to be an unkempt mess über casual. but i would like to inject some much needed updates in my life. i read about a spring cleaning challenge on one of my favorite blogs and decided to discreetly take part. there are plenty of items in my closet that i just don't ever wear and would be best served to someone who will use it. i've donated clothes in the past and i believe it's time to give again. what's also missing in the picture are shoes, more that likely because they are strewn about the room. but i mostly wear sneaks. i've been seeing some lovely sandals this upcoming season though, so i'm using this spring cleaning as an opportunity to revamp my entire wardrobe. nothing to big and fancy and it's not really practical to wear $120 jeans to lab, but i can spice up my usual uniform of a v-neck tee and jeans easily, and hopefully cheap; being a grad student isn't that glamorous.
speaking of jeans, i gave them up for Lent. i seriously wear jeans 365 days a year, to the point wear they serve no real fashion purpose anymore. usually, if i can't find an outfit to wear, i just give up and throw on some jeans. i based (one of) my Lenten sacrifices on this. i challenged myself to really think about what i am wearing and coordinating my clothes. it was a success. my other sacrifices were much more mind bending, which is a surprise based on how absent-mindedly i throw on a pair of jeans. but tomorrow i get to fall into my favorite pair of jeans and i really can't wait.


sarah

Tiffany and Me, circa 2008
Before she moved 750 miles away

Tiffany. The yin to my yang; my college buddy. I miss my best friend. As a matter of fact, I miss having good friends around me in general. But I don't necessarily have the time to visit. She and I made plans to see the final Harry Potter (don't judge me) premiere together; I would travel to her this time around. YES! Time off! Meeting in Atlanta would be ideal and fun; I love ATL. I've made the trip by train before and it's not bad. But she suggested Nashville, as I guess it's closer to her and she frequents the city. I wouldn't mind going to Nashville... it's on my list of Cities to See. But there is no train to Nashville. And I could feel her aggravation.

"Sarah, you should just get on a plane... it would be so much easier."

And for a fleeting second, I considered it. The short travel time and comparable fares... and then my stomach knotted up and I got a bit dizzy.

I really have no desire to ever get on a plane. It's not my goal. I think a lot of people make a big deal of facing my their fears. And that's beautiful. But the beautiful struggle for me is to acknowledge it, rise against it, and be determined to not let it hold me back. Letting my fear be my motivator, I will be itinerant, I will see the world, it will not hold me back as long as I know it won't be easy either. I'll get there, even if I have to walk... which would take 10 days according to Google Maps.
sarah
hooray! check this baby out...

yeah, you can see the reflection of my shitty old phone taking this subpar picture

oooooh

orange!

now, i know it's not all that cutting edge or whatever, and i am late to the party, mostly because i am a contrarian. but, i am now in the realm of smart phoners. effective immediately, and per an agreement made with a certain friend, i shall be more social and also join The Twitter.

you can also expect my photo resolution to be a whoooole lot better. and i am thankful for that alone, aside from having the world at my fingertips ;)