Wednesday, October 19, 2011

dreary day dreaming.

dreary day dreaming
There's a golden snitch pin in there because mine broke.  Yes I had one.  And I wore it.  And it's little wing snapped off.  I don't want to talk about it.

Some pretty things I'm thinking about / inspiration for a gross day weather-wise.

Just because the day decided not to dress up doesn't mean you should follow suit!

I'm saying this more to myself than to you.  I considered it a major triumph that I put on a sweater and jeans yesterday instead of sweatpants.  FIGHT THE GRAVITATIONAL PULL TOWARD WEARING ALL BLACK!  YOU CAN'T WEAR YOUR NORTHFACE EVERY DAY, KENDRA!  HAVE SOME PRIDE!

Sorry.  

I made this lil collage situation on Polyvore today.  

Mmmm.  Color.  Leather, critters, flat-forms, molar-rings.

I feel better already.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

no oven no problem.


I don't usually keep sweet things or large bags of snacky things in my apartment because I have little to no self control when it comes to stuff like that.  It's bad enough that I can inhale entire packages of freeze-dried strawberries in mere minutes, which are supposedly good for you; a box of Cheese-Its poses a real threat, and that threat is called I'm Going To Eat This Whole Box in 30 Minutes.

The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

But sometimes the heat in your apartment gets turned on for the first time, and it starts raining outside, and you need some chocolate.

These cookies require no baking, and only the simplest of ingredients.  You probably already have all of them in your pantry, so whip up these fudge-tastic beauties right now.  Eat a handful, freeze the rest, and then remember them next time it rains.


No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal Cookies
from Brown Eyed Baker

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
Heaping 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups quick-cooking oats

Heat butter, sugar, cocoa and milk in a large saucepan until it boils.  Allow to boil for one minute before removing from heat.

Add peanut butter and vanilla and stir until smooth.

Add oats and stir to incorporate.


Plop heaping tablespoons of the "batter" onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Use the back of the spoon to smush the batter into a flatter, cookie-esque shape.


Refrigerate for 30 minutes before eating so they set.  Keep cookies cold.

funny(!)(?)

We’ve been playing a game recently.  It’s called “Make Up A Fake Blog and Name It The Same Name As Kendra’s Blog But Change One Word.” It started at a concert in between sets and I almost fell over laughing. 

North South East Sketched, the drawing blog.
North South East Nest, the birdwatching blog.
North South East Guest, the hosting blog.
North South East Test, the SAT prep blog.

Literally why is this so funny to me?  I’m dying.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

if i were a boy.

GAP sweater; Hanes undershirt; ReRock jeans; Aldo shoes
This sweater used to belong to my boyfriend, until the day his mom shrunk it past the point of no return.  It was in the give-away pile in his bedroom one afternoon in high school and I snatched it up like an impoverished creature who feeds only on stripes in primary colors and said, "CAN I HAVE THIS PLEASE?!"

Similarly, I was incredibly jazzed in fourth grade when I had the same pair of shoes as a boy in my class named Jake.  He sputtered a little bit when he saw mine, but I assured him that I had picked them up in the boy's section of the Vans store (I was cool), and thus his ten year old masculinity was upheld for another day.

I have always loved shopping in the boy's section, much to my mother's initial chagrin.  Pac Sun has a great one.  H&M has a SUBERB one.  And GAP, ladies and gentlemen, is where I bought my first oversized man's button down to wear over leggings.  People with clout in the fashion world tend to decide that androgyny is "in" every couple of seasons, but the meant-for-boys section of my closet doesn't seem to listen and instead just steadily increases in size.  Boyfriend jeans, big boxy blazers and loafers will always be cool in my book, due equally to how comfortable they are to wear and how effortlessly fashionable they look.  I don't know if I'll ever go full-tilt man glam (she's a goddess, how dare I even try), but stealing bits from the boys here and there can be a fun and funky way to update your wardrobe.

Side note: brown, and black, and pointed, and wedged?  Marry me, Aldo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

she be cakin.


NOT poppyseeds.  Crazy, right? 

I was really excited to see that today’s Joy the Baker post was quinoa cakes as I’d been thinking about making some for a while.  When I saw it I said, aloud in my bedroom, “YES!  I will make these today.”  Then as an afterthought I added, “But I can’t put them on the blog.  Too much quinoa on the blog.” 

We’re going to ignore the initial issue of me talking out loud to myself and skip instead to my false idea that I always post about quinoa.  There has only been one (illustrious though it may be) quinoa recipe on this page so far; I think it feels overdone to me because it has become my sort of back-up dinner plan.  If nothing else inspires me, I make a bowl of quinoa and throw in whatever I have in my fridge.  The other day it was chicken and broccoli and pesto.  In the quinoa.  I know.  I’m crazy.  Look out.

But BECAUSE there has only been one quinoa recipe, and BECAUSE this one is so very different, I feel ok sharing it with you.  The process reminded me a little of making falafel (lots of stuff in a bowl, mush it around, cook in little patties) and the product tasted just as good. 



Quinoa Cakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker who adapted from Super Natural Every Day

¾ cup raw quinoa (Do you know the thing about how you have to rinse quinoa?  Joy says its because if you don’t it tastes dirty.  I learned to soak it in water and remove the kernels that float.)
1 cup water
½ medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded parmesan 
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 eggs, beaten

Put quinoa and water in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer until water is incorporated.  Fluff with a fork, and let cool.


In a large bowl, mix onion, garlic, cheese, breadcrumbs, zest, salt and pepper.  Add cooled quinoa, and then the beaten eggs.  Mix until moist, adding a little bit of water if necessary. 


Form “dough” into patties – mine were about ¼ cup each.  Heat a skillet over medium and fry on each side for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.


I threw mine on a salad (boring? typical?) but they would also make a great alternative to potatoes in the morning.  Omelets and quinoa cakes, ya dig?  I smell breakfast.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

fenomenal.


As a born and raised Californian, one of the things I miss most when in the Midwest is good Mexican food.  I see you waving your arms, Chipotle, but you do not count.  NO.  Neither do you, Taco Bell!!! Stop it.  I mean the real deal: bean dip and flautas from The Mecca, homemade guacamole and of course, my mother’s fajitas.  Marinated chicken, grilled onions and peppers, Spanish rice, and every topping known to Mexican mankind.  I crave them big time when I’m at school, and they are always among the first home cooked meals I beg for upon my return to the Bay (as far as non-home cooked goes: this).  Surprisingly, it wasn’t until a few days ago, when a fellow Californian and I were bemoaning the absence of Mexican cuisine from our Chicagoland lives, that I decided to make some myself.


Californian friend Spencer and I made some kickass shredded chicken tacos, and if you know what’s good for you/your stomach/your general state of well-being, you will do the same.


Chicken Tacos with Mixed Pico de Gallo and Guacamole
Serves four, makes supergood leftovers the next day

For the chicken:
3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
water
1 teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
½ teaspoon ground mustard
A small pat of butter (about ½ teaspoon)

For the pico:
½ of a large tomato, diced
¼ of a large white onion, diced
1 ear of corn, grilled and with the kernals cut off
1 meager handful flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

LOOK at this cool onion dicing technique I learned from Spencer!  Cross-hatch slice it from the center outwards, and then slice the opposite direction!  Insta-dice.  Magic.
For the guac:
2 ripe avocados
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Cumin
The other ½ of the large tomato, diced
Another ¼ of the large white onion, diced

For the shells:
Small round tortillas (we used flour)
Canola oil

Additionally:
Shredded cheese of your choice (we went with a pepper jack/munster mix, it was called FIESTA! Fitting.)
Limes

Place chicken in a large pot and fill with water until the pieces are just covered.  Add the spices and stir.  Cover the pot and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is evaporated.


While the chicken is cooking, mix all of the pico ingredients together.  Set aside.


Mash the avocados, and then mix with the remaining guac ingredients.  Play it by ear with the spices and lemon juice.  Make it how you like it.  Guacamole is a highly personal experience.


To make the taco shells, heat an inch and a half of canola oil in a large pan.  Using tongs, hold the tortilla in a shell shape so that the base of the shell is submerged in oil for about 15 seconds (enough time for it to set in that shape).  Lay the shell down in the oil on one side, and then the other, about 5 seconds each side.  We wanted our shells slightly crunchy, and not overly fried.  If you want massive crunch, fry for longer.  Drain each shell on paper towels and pat off the excess oil.


When the water is completely evaporated from the chicken pot, turn off the heat and shred the chicken on a cutting board with two forks.  The pot with have a bunch of the spices hanging around the sides and the bottom.  Drop your small pat of butter and a little bit of water into the pot, and return the shredded chicken to it.  Turn the heat on very low, and toss the chicken until it is coated with the spice mixture.  Use the chicken to get all of the spices off the sides of the pot.

Assemble tacos by filling the shells with a little bit of everything, and topping with a sprinkling of cheese and a small squeeze of lime juice.


Uhhhhhh, yes.  Yes.

The guac will go bad if you keep it longer than 24 hours, but I piled everything on a bed of lettuce the next day it was an awesome taco salad.  Also fully stocked nachos would have been a great idea.  Just some options for you.  You know.  Whatever you’re feelin like. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

playtime.


What a lovely weekend.  Fall colors, incredible weather, and really good food.

Sometimes you have to be real with yourself and remember that it's going to snow soon.  Figuratively or very, very literally.  So you'd better get your butt outside while that's still a pleasurable experience, and spend as much time out there as possible.


While you're at it, watch somebody that you like play a sport at a field with a skyline view.  Also buy 4 different flavors of single serving ice creams because you can't choose anything to save your life and then share them while watching a super hero movie.  Crunch all of the fallen leaves under your boots.  Eat brunch at M Henry aka Heaven aka Inducer of Happiness Comas aka UGH.  Wear some ruffles.  Sleep for a lot of consecutive hours.  Write a letter and send it in the mail to someone who lives in a different state.





I did these things this weekend instead of my homework.  But listen.  This is my life homework.  These tasks were happiness assignments.  And I got an A+ on all of them, ya heard?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

meatless.


How do we feel about tofu?

And by "we" I mean "you" because I already know how I feel about it.

I feel very positively about tofu.  I am in the middle of what some would call a sordid affair with tofu, in fact.  I consume it, in one form or another, nearly every day.  I feel no remorse.

More often than not, I buy marinaded sesame tofu from the Whole Foods prepared foods counter (I'm noticing that I only name drop my grocery shopping location when it isn't Jewel Osco.  Don't be misled: its almost always Jewel Osco) and inhale it.  It's sweet and funky, and I was thrilled to discover a version of the sauce online to experiment with and completely rearrange in my own kitchen.


Perhaps you are afraid of tofu.  I understand.  Its white and jigglyish and comes in varieties like FIRM and EXTRA FIRM.  Like a mattress.  Or a handshake.  Except tofu tastes much better than mattresses and handshakes, especially when coated in a savory marinade, pan-fried, and chopped up on a salad.

Face your tofu-based fears today.  You will have garlic and soy sauce and me on your side.  Together we can do anything.


Sweet Sesame Marinade/Pan-Fry Sauce

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon tahini
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard


Whisk together all ingredients. Working in batches, dunk your protein of choice into the sauce, coating both sides.  Fry briefly on each side in a pan over medium heat until golden brown.

Alternatively, you could switch a kind of vinegar (rice wine would be great) in for the oil.  That would mean frying the protein in Canola oil first, draining on a paper towel, and then tossing with the sauce.  Pick your poison.


Use leftover sauce as a salad dressing!  So smart.

Monday, October 3, 2011

blurry and focused.

Zara shirt; Kimchi Blue trousers seen here; Steve Madden pumps; Hurley jacket; Coach bag

These pictures are all over the place.  Clarity was a big issue today in more ways than one. What are you gonna do.

I was thirteen when my mother gave me Bobbi Brown's handy how-to entitled Teenage Beauty.  It was, I think, an attempt to usher me out of my gigantic hoop earring/thick liquid eyeliner faze as quickly as possible, and the book eventually proved to be the Bible of my early adolescence.  Cosmetics mogul and preacher of self-confidence, Bobbi Brown taught me many things, not the least of which was that a classy lady wears something tight on the top or the bottom of her outfit, but never both at the same time.  She said something like, "If you aren't rail skinny, you can't pull it off.  And if you are rail skinny, we don't want to see you wear all tight things because we will all decide that we hate you."  Awesome, right?  There was also a whole chapter on braces.  She understood.

Today I went 100% anti-tight, which I'm sure is also something Bobbi would condemn.  Sloppy, she'd call it.  But I'm of the camp that all-over baggy can work, if done carefully and with the proper tools.  A cinched waist is key, fun colors and patterns keep it from being frumpy, and tiny heels give it that last boost of put-together-ness.  

Nude heels, guys.  Leg elongating gold.


Also included in today's ensemble were a paperbag waist and some purposeful earring changes.  It takes a lot for me to stray from my normal birds and bees earrings (I'll show you them eventually... I literally don't take them out ever), but somehow today it felt right.  Some fiery blown glass and flat black polka dots circa a street fair and Nordstrom, respectively.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

letting things get rich.


Sometimes things look like mush but taste like heaven, and this is one of those times.  You're going to look at these pictures and be very skeptical.  Please remember that nothing involving sugar, butter, whole milk and pumpkin can possibly be bad for you in any way, and that's a scientific fact.


It's October, ladies and gentlemen.  Time to start thinking of what you want to be for Halloween (I've gotten mixed responses to my most recent idea of moth.  If Martha can do it, so can I.  Right?) and making things to eat that are orange.  This is a very simple, very filling, very incredibly fall-icious way to start.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
adapted from smittenkitchen 
1 1/2 cups whole milk (this scares me a lot.  I am afraid of whole milk.  I am a skim milk girl.  2% tastes like a milkshake to me.  But the custard needs some fat to hold itself together so....go big.)
3/4 cup canned solid packed pumpkin
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs plus one yolk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of cloves
5 cups cubed day-old baguette or crusty bread
3/4 stick unsalted butter


Place the butter in a 8 inch square baking dish and stick that in the oven while its preheating to 350 degrees.  Remove when the butter is melted.  Add cubes of bread and toss so that cubes are completely coated.

In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients.  Pour over the cubes and toss so they are evenly coated.  Bake until custard is set, about 25 - 30 minutes.


This bread pudding did not last 24 hours in my apartment, and we ate a lot of it straight from the pan.  If you want to be fancy / make this look less like a plate of mush, serve it with vanilla bean ice cream or spiced whipped cream.