Monday, February 27, 2012

Oxy-cookie-done


I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but I have a super power.  I seem to have this incredible ability to get sick or injured at the most inconvenient times possible.  Right now, I am teaching 4 Zumba® classes a week, and I managed to either tear or seriously pull a muscle in my lower back.  It could have been the 7-mile outdoor run I did on Thursday, or the super-intense Zumba® class on Friday, or a combination of the two.  Whatever the cause, I've spent the last 2 days hobbling around like a little 80-yr-old woman with osteoporosis.  Today, the pain was unbearable, and nothing I did seemed to help, so I reached for an Oxycodone I had left over from last semester's idiopathic pain episode.  As helpful as this was for my back, (and my mood!), it kind of took away all hopes for productivity.  So, instead of doing my readings, I decided to bake some cookies instead!

A few weeks ago, I had to go to San Francisco for a grad school interview, and promised that I would make cookies for whoever covered my shifts in the mail room.  My dear friend Mel came through for me, as she always does, so I decided to make her some cookies as a way to say "thank you."

She and I have had several conversations about language, like how certain phrases mean different things in different languages, or how some words don't exist or aren't translatable to other languages, or how the languages we use shape our personalities.  When I decided to translate "thank you" from English to cookie, I came up with this:

Coconut Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe adapted from The Cookie Bible
Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sushi Serenity

Tomorrow is the 3-year anniversary of the worst day of my life: the day I lost my best friend, Kurtis.  February 24th and the days leading up to it have been pretty difficult for me the past 2 years, and this year was no exception.  In addition to all the stress of trying to choose a grad school and overextending myself, I have been trying to grasp the passing of three entire years since that 5am phone call that changed my life forever.  To say that I've been a complete emotional wreck the past 2 weeks would be a bit of an understatement.


Over the years, I've found that the best way to cope with the loss of someone you loved that much is to surround yourself with the love of those that are still here.  Love is not something I'm short of these days.  I am so fortunate to have some of the greatest friends and the most supportive family anyone could ask for.

Birthdays are special events that tend to multiply all the love that's floating around.  A birthday is a marking of the passing of time that is completely different from New Years.  New Years seems to represent renewal, a chance to start over.  New Years is the time to forget all the bad parts of the past year and give yourself a fresh start.  Birthdays, however, mark the continuation of time.  They are milestone markers to celebrate all the things you've accomplished in a year.  A birthday is a celebration of life and having lived it with the people you love.

My new friend, Alyssa, had a birthday today, and it's proven to be a great way to get me through this week.  She and the rest of our friends decided on a three-day celebration, aka, Rassi Fest 2012.  Last night, we all went out for all-you-can-eat-sushi at Sushi Palace in Hamden and then bar night on Main Street.  Tonight we celebrated with dirt cups and sushi cakes, and tomorrow night is the big fiesta.  Being a part of all this birthday love is helping to remind me of how fortunate I am to still be here, surrounded by dozens of people that I love.

As much as I love Alyssa, I didn't really have the energy to do an all-out cake this week.  I decided to replicate a cake made by my baking twin and fellow blogger, Meg.  I have been wanting to make this cake for a year and a half, but just never had the right occasion.  When I found out that Alyssa loves sushi, I knew I had to make it for her.


Sushi Cake (AKA- Rice Krispie Treat)
Replicated from Meg's sushi cake for Jillian

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Vexation

I am a hopeless romantic.  I will come straight out and admit it.  I am, by no means, a cynic about love or relationships.  I do, however, loathe Valentine's Day.  I think it's a far too commercial and materialistic manifestation of "love."  It takes all of the beauty and romance of love and turns them into a billion dollar industry of cards, chocolates and flowers.  Some say it is a day to "remind that special someone that you care," and I will let them think that way.  However, I completely disagree.  I think there are much better ways to show someone that you care, and that those little things can be done throughout the year.  Valentine's day has become the one day a year to make up to your significant other for screwing up the rest of the year.  It's even better than an anniversary, because it's so in-your-face and on the same day every year, so you can't miss it.

I used to love Valentine's Day in grade school, especially when my "boyfriend," Jeffrey, gave me chocolates and a teddy bear and colored-in coloring book pages of the 101 Dalmatians in Kindergarten and the 1st grade.  In college, however, today is a day I despise, mostly because I work in the mail room.  I see everyone else get care package after care package, all reeking of chocolate and decorated with glittery hearts and lips.  We also get dozens of flower deliveries, and you can imagine how I feel about those given my allergies to every plant under the sun.

Despite my strong feelings of hatred for this day, I still like to use it to make my friends smile.  If I am annoyed on Valentine's Day, I'm sure all of my friends feel the same way.  So to make their days a little brighter, I bake all my Wes friends cookies, and send a few care packages out to Rochester.  I used 8 hours of baking yesterday to cope with my negative feelings about today.  If that's not using baking as therapy, I don't know what is.

Valentine's Sugar Cookies with Almond Glaze
Recipe adapted from a Sweet Pea Chef
*I made two batches, one with butter and one with Earth Balance (for my dairy-free friend, Leada!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Real Reason to Celebrate

Things have been going really well lately in the busy life of Hannah.  I finally have a complete schedule that I am happy with, I'm getting to see my friends more this semester, I have a grad school interview in San Francisco at the end of the week, my birthday is on Thursday, and my first Zumba® class of the semester is today.  I really don't think my life could be any better right now.

Of course, when things are going so well, I tend to get very appreciative and emotional.  I've been so happy I could cry, and in fact, I have, several times this week, actually.  One of the things that I have been so happy about is being at Wes.  As hard as I try to not think about my impending graduation in 111 days (but who's counting?), the beautiful weather and all the fun I'm having with the people I love is making me think about how much I'm going to miss this place.

One of the things I love most about Wesleyan is the people, and how everyone supports one another.  My friend, Joe, and I met through Active Minds last semester, and despite not knowing each other super well, we have somehow become each others' mental health supports.  He is an incredible individual with so much passion for life and helping others, and I truly admire him.  He lays his issues out on the table for everyone to see, in the hopes that it will help others come forward with their problems as well.

Last night, Joe threw a party to celebrate a very important accomplishment.  Joe is a recovered alcoholic, and this month is the one-year anniversary of his sobriety.  I am so incredibly proud of him for this, and I asked him to have the honor of making his cake.

Now, what cake could one possibly make that would encapsulate all of the feelings associated with this kind of event?  I wanted something innocent and whimsical that represented how we used to enjoy ourselves as kids, before alcohol became the supposed prerequisite for a good time.  The first thing that popped into my head was a root beer float.  Ding, ding, ding!  We have a winner.  I decided to turn a root beer float into a cake.  So, without further ado, I present to you, Joe's 1-Year Sobriety Cake.

Root Beer Float Ice Cream Cake
Cake recipe adapted from Joy the Baker