Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sundays Are For Food

I am not a big fan of Sundays. It's the day when I know that tomorrow, I'll be back to work, I'll have to go to bed early tonight, and I usually wake up late on Sunday morning as a result of Saturday night's late bedtime. Sundays seem to pass by so quickly this way, which makes sense, since it seems that I have less than 12 waking hours in one Sunday so often...

I woke up at 8:30 this morning and felt so uncharacteristically energized for a Sunday that I hopped out of bed, did my makeup and hopped back in to bed to have a FaceTime session with my friend G. Work just gave me an iPad for various classroom technology lessons. So far, it's been good for two things: FaceTime and Pinterest.

Oh Pinterest. Your endless walls of well-lit photos and how-to links. Admittedly, I've started going down the usual route of pinning cooking and baking photos to my boards, but have also taken towards the DIY crafts and-- bum bum bum-- wedding planning.

Nope. Not engaged. Not even close to it yet. But hey, it's going to happen someday. A girl can start planning ahead a little bit...

I love the metal work on this one. Designs like this are more or less more appealing to me than the stone itself! *cough cough*
Pinterest has also brought me back to eating-on-impetus. As I went about my morning, after cleaning the kitchen and taking stock of my refrigerator before the weekend grocery run, I remembered that I had a half dozen tomatoes in the vegetable drawer. Still good, but maybe I overshot on how many I would need last week. Recently I pinned a recipe for oven-dried tomatoes that looked pretty simple, if not a bit lengthy in bake time (5 hours!?). I decided to go for it and, boy, are they hard to save any for later. They're so good by themselves! Chewy and tangy-- I can't wait to throw this into my next pasta.

Not the most attractive photo I've taken, but oh are these good. Right now, they're soaking in olive oil with a few cloves of garlic.
- 5 Roma tomatoes (sliced 1/4" thick from top to bottom)
- Olive oil (enough to drizzle lightly over the slices and enough to cover them if saving for later)
- Kosher salt
- Thyme (optional)
- Garlic (optional, for soaking)
Bake at 225 degrees for 3-4 hours on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Today's lunch was a stellar sandwich that took it to the next level with some leftover pesto sauce that I mixed with mayonaise. Thanks to a fabulous little Cuisinart food processor, I can have pesto whenever I want! This was a sandwich worthy of a product info-mercial. Now, all I need is an actual toaster oven. For the last 8 months, I've been grilling bread on a baking sheet over a stove burner. I have to say, the process makes for pretty crispy bread with the right amount of give in the middle...

And pesto I shall have-- on EVERYTHING.
- Wheat bread
- Basil
- Sharp cheddar
- Tomato
- Oven roasted turkey
- Pesto mayonaise
Now that I've finished my sandwich, it's time to make a first attempt at homemade ice cream. Blackberry cheesecake ice cream. Oh kitchen gods, please let this work. I don't want to shell out for an actual ice cream churning machine. I've been scouring Goodwill almost twice a week for a second-hand machine-- once, a few months ago, there were three of them!-- but none lately. Darn! Should have picked one up when I had the chance.

Whether or not this works though, it's not even 4pm yet and I've already done so much today. And I'm in pretty good spirits about it, too. From here on out, I proclaim-- Sundays are for food.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Trying again.

So... unsurprisingly, it has once again been a while. But this is Work of Mouth after all, so lots to mouth off about regarding the last 6 months especially.

In July, I finally finished school. Early August, I was hired a for a high school chemistry teaching position. I moved to the other end of California as a result of said position and for the first time in my life, I am living alone. Having my own space is great, for about a day, until you realize that "alone time" isn't going to end when your roommate comes home. There is no roommate. There is only a now 8-month old cat named Phi to get riled up when the sound of your keys jangling in the door rouses her from her day-long nap.

Phoenix N-G... Phi, for short.

The school that I now teach at is fabulously wealthy with educational resources, awesome teachers and hundreds of hard working students. I've encountered a few of the more... shall we say, relaxed students in my time there so far. Incredible to think that I've already survived a semester there and teaching chemistry, no less. It's funny to consider that when I first decided to become a teacher, I wanted to teach chemistry, was required to student teach biology instead, and am now teaching chemistry for the first time as a professional. Holy crap. I'm a professional.

The view from the top of the stairs of my hallway.

The kids at first were weary of me. I look young-- young enough to be a student. About once a week, I'm still being mistaken for a teenager, be it by a distracted secretary, a well-meaning security guard, or an office TA "looking for my teacher". I may be young, but I'm still something of a hard-ass when it comes to my classroom. Having the role model that I do-- my own high school chemistry teacher-- it was inevitable that I'd try to emulate her teaching persona. Despite this, the kids warmed up to me and I to them.

Drawn on a quiz by a student in a fit of boredom. She did well on the quiz, too!

Living alone means suddenly cooking only for one, which, I admit, has been a bit of a struggle for someone who grew used to cooking for two, three, or fourteen people. After realizing that one pasta casserole lasts me more than a week even if it's the only thing I eat, I gave up for a while on doing what I always did and just drank wine and ate cheese. I lost 10 lbs in the first 4 months of living here. That being said, I still do it right-- no Kraft singles and 2-Buck Chuck in this joint.

Wine and cheese party for one.

Recently, I started cooking properly again. It took some acceptance that food simply is NOT as good when you constantly eat alone. Work has settled down enough that I know what I'm doing (most of the time) in advance enough that I'm starting to have some free time for baking and cooking. I am a grown woman with an income now. Bring on the gourmet ingredients! 

Filet mignon with mixed vegetables and Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon

Turkey meatloaf with spinach and pine nut salad

You can guess where one who lives alone eats alone... Yes. At her desk. With her laptop. Sometimes with people on Skype! Every now and then S comes up for a visit and I gain back a couple pounds after consecutive nights of real food. Long distance love is probably the most difficult part of my life right now. Not just with S but with every person of importance in my life-- I've never been this far from my family and so many friends are still in LA and San Diego. Thankfully a few really good ones reside in nearby cities up in the Bay Area, but it's still not quite the same as being able to roll over to someone's house in 5 minutes and spend the rest of the night noshing on snacks and watching stupid YouTube videos.

Meet Henri. He is probably one of my favorite cats, after Phi and Simon's Cat, of course.

As a result of this persistent solitude, I've taken up a slightly haphazard search for hobbies. So far, the list includes interior design, DIY kitchen organization, crochet, a rebirth of abstract painting, and eating my way around the neighborhood with only impetus as my guide. Results have been varied. 

Phil's Sliders, Berkeley

From left: Blossom Bee, Dublin; The Cheeseboard, Berkeley; La Boulange, Danville

La Boulange, Danville

Maybe now with all of this idle time that I want to spend not thinking about work, more cooking posts will come. For now... leftovers for dinner.