Sunday, May 31, 2015

Egg and Tomato (Shakshouka)

It's Sunday, which means I'm back in the kitchen! This time I tried out a more substantive dish, a recipe that Food Heaven Made Easy calls, simply, "Poaced Eggs in Tomato Sauce". Apparently this is supposed to be a simplified version of a Tunisian dish by the name of Shakshouka.

The only change I made to this dish was adding mushrooms, since 1) I anticipated that the dish might be too spicy for me on its own, 2) I had a bunch of unused mushrooms in my refrigerator 3) I just really like mushrooms.

So here's how you make this version of Shakshouka. Chop up half of a red pepper, half of a jalapeno, and half of a red onion (and 3 mini bella mushrooms, in my case). Saute all of them together in olive oil for about 5 minutes, then add a cup (or slightly more) of tomato sauce. Let that cook for another 3-5 minutes. Then crack an egg into each of the four "corners" of the skillet. Cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary. Then gradually turn down/off heat so that the dish can stop bubbling and solidify. Serve and enjoy. Thanks, Food Heaven!

Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

PostSecret Realness

Was up late thinking about things late last night/early this morning, and I made my way over to PostSecret to see if they'd updated yet (new postcards every Sunday!). These two are my favorites for this week.

Girl, YASS! Working isn't something that I have a problem with, but I agree with the sentiment of not wanting to spend 40 years sitting in a box. Umm, but you can keep the organized crime bit, though.

Being alone in the house for the past couple weeks had me thinking some pretty morbid thoughts the other day, but reading this secret, though also about death, gave me a warm sense of comfort in an odd way. I can't look at Madison without thinking about how old she is. But she trusts me and is always going to need me, even when it's her time to go. Thinking about it that way makes me feel like I've done something right.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

BOOKS! (The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl)

Whew, it's good to have my nose back in these books that I actually want to read! I read this one in two days, and I forgot how validating it feels to just spend all day reading, unbothered. The written gem I just finished is Issa Rae's first book, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. It bears the same title as her groundbreaking web series "AWKWARD Black Girl", which has catapulted her to online (and increasingly mainstream) renown since it premiered four years ago. I wrote about her briefly two years ago while discussing black Youtube channels that kept me sane while in Japan (part 1 / part 2), and I'm glad to have a chance to sing Issa Rae's praises in more depth. 

The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

Rather than a linear, straightforward autobiography, this is more a collection of autobiographical essays in which Issa Rae recalls various awkward moments or phases in her life, occurring from around middle school to the present. She basically posits herself as the titular "awkward black girl" or ABG (and why not, since she came up with it), and reveals how she's dealt with being different from how people expected her to be, struggling to be accepted, navigating pop culture and her bi-continental identity, and finding her way through love and life. These stories are interspersed with "ABG Guides", in which she offers tips on how to deal with specific awkward situations such as eating in public, handling people's reactions to her natural hair, dealing with various types of co-workers, and the undesirability to which Black Women and Asian Men have been unfairly relegated.

In all honesty, this book isn't as funny as I hoped it would be. Once you get familiar with her work online and her persona on social media, you'll see that Issa Rae, though not a comedian, is an incredibly witty individual. (If you really want a taste of Issa Rae's wit, check out the hilarity that is her YouTube series, "Ratchetpiece Theater"). So while I wasn't expecting to bust a gut laughing, I thought I would be more amused than I was. But it's cool, because I got something else from her book that I wasn't expecting--some honest, open vulnerability. I already knew Issa Rae was an interesting individual, but her story is quite remarkable. For all the jokes she makes, how successful she is, and however put-together she seems, Issa Rae's really been through some stuff. She has a past, she has baggage. But she's dealing with it, and sharing it with the world as she does,  and I greatly respect her for that. I especially appreciate her "African Dad" chapter,  where she discusses her parents' divorce and her ruptured relationship with her dad. As someone who also has her own set of daddy issues, I related to and was moved by this chapter the most. Other highlights include "ABG Guide: Connecting with Other Blacks" where she gives examples of different kinds of black people one might encounter (very reminiscent of Baratunde Thurston's How to Be Black). I also related to her chapter about food and weight issues entitled "FAT", for obvious reasons.

Lastly, something else I was delighted to learn about Issa Rae is that she's francophone!  Her dad is from Senegal, she's spent lots of time and visits there especially during her younger days, and she's very familiar with her Senegalese family. From what I can tell from her book, she's thus a heritage speaker of French, and knows more than enough to get by. So props to her, representing for the Motherland and for French-speaking women of color! I salute you!

If you're not so much looking for big laughs but are interested in learning about the mind and backstory behind one of the most prominent young black creators right now, then The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl is definitely worth reading!

Favorite quotes:

"How hard is it to portray a three-dimensional woman of color on television or in film? I'm surrounded by them. They're my friends. I talk to them every day. How come Hollywood won't acknowledge us? Are we a joke to them?" (45).

"I was taught this caste system by a trio of mean girls in middle school who found glee in taunting me. To them, my insistence on wearing my hair in an Afro puff made me an easy target... one girl is now an actress/comedian who actually reached out to me on Facebook a couple years ago and asked to be a part of my web series, The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, when it started to gain popularity. I looked at my computer, thinking, BITCH, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHA! BOW DOWN TO THE NAPPY PRIESTESS, MUTHAF$#@&%!" (71).

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Everything Gets Old.

It's been pretty rough for me and my family since last Wednesday. My grandpa was taken to the emergency room that day and has been in the hospital since. Pneumonia, a minor undetected stroke, blurry vision in his right eye, confusion and short-term memory loss, a small blood clot in his heart, irregular heartbeat, frustration, depression. He was moved out of ICU the other day, which is a good sign. And his spirits are high. But who knows when he'll go home, if he'll even get to go home?

I've also been cooping myself up in the house since I graduated two weeks ago. That in itself was already starting to get to me, but now that Ma's in Kentucky looking after Grandpa and I've been home alone with the dog since Saturday, it's really starting to get to me.

I think about my grandpa, and I look at my dog, and I just feel sorry.

I'm sorry I didn't come with Ma to be with you. But I don't like hospitals, and just in case this turns out to be your time to go, I don't want to be there to witness it. It was disheartening enough watching you as you stopped being able to drive long distances, and your back arched more as you walked, and then you had to get a cane. The Grandpa I know is sturdy and resolute with a clear mind, and maybe I'm living in the past, but that's the image of you I want to hold onto. I want to remember you that way. I don't want to remember you as the person Ma handed the phone to the other day, who sounded tired and confused and afraid because he's almost sure that his time has come, even though he hopes to the Lord that it hasn't. So forgive me for not wanting to witness you lying in a hospital bed, looking small and frail and helpless, shriveling like a flower. I can't bear to see you like that. I can't bear to watch you dying, if that's indeed what this is. Among all the loving faces who've surrounded you in the past week, you haven't seen mine. And I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that I was so absent during the past four years while I was away at school. You've never forgotten my face and you're always the happiest to see me. My friendly, affectionate, lumpy, stubborn, sunbathing, increasingly cowardly old lady puppy. Being in this house, just you and me for the past four days, observing you make your rounds around the house as you migrate from one dozing spot to another, grunting and sighing along the way. And after all that, watching you turn in just to sleep some more at the end of the day. I think man, she must be bored. Do dogs get depressed? Because if I were you, I'd be depressed. I'm sorry I haven't had the patience to take you for strolls more often and accompany you as you waddle, taking however much time you need. I console myself that letting you out to freely explore the mini jungle out back and sunbathe on the deck for as much as you want will suffice for you, and maybe they do. You seem happy, and you have considerable stamina for a dog who's lived for over a decade. But it's hard to accept the fact that you're elderly, because I look into your eyes and still see the same puppy that I brought home at the end of my 4th grade year. The more your face greys, the more precious you become to me, and the more I wish I could've been a more exemplary owner to you. And I'm sorry.

Logically, at this moment where I'm acknowledging the regrets that I have toward these loved ones, it makes sense to act, now, while I can! Take that dog out for a walk, no matter how many pauses you have to take or how long it takes you to get back home! Call Grandpa and tell him you love him! Instead of spending your days in idle seclusion, drive down to Kentucky while you can, before you have to come back and start that new part-time job on Monday! Unfortunately, avoidance is one of my great defenses, and no action I take will change the fact that Grandpa and Madison are old, that they might be dying, and that all people and living things eventually die. I find myself wondering who will leave me first. In my head, I even beg them to stick around just long enough to reach another milestone. Please just hold on for another two years and four months so you can make 80, or Please just make it to the end of June so you can make 12.
Everything gets old. Everything eventually dies. And I guess I'm not handling the reality of any of this very well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday (Tropical Passion)

Another day, another Tuesday, another smoothie. Today's choice was another Blogilates recipe, one that she calls her Tropical Passion Smoothie. The only change I made to it was using cherries instead of strawberries, since I didn't have any strawberries and also didn't feel like going to the grocery store for the third time in five days.

But I feel like I enjoyed this smoothie more than I would've the original recipe, because I haven't eaten cherries in a while. Plus it's always nice to try something different. Reacquaint yourself with flavors you've forgotten, you know.

Anywhoo, this takes no time at all. Take a banana, about 30 cherries, almond milk, orange juice, and ice. Blend it all together, and there you have it.

Check out pics of  my other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kale Chips and Cheesecake

I guess Sunday's going to be my kitchen day. The day feels more sacred, the sun feels warmer and brighter, home feels cozier... it just makes sense. I stayed in most of the day today, and the only things that I set out to accomplish were these two treats.

Kale Chips with Cheddar

I started the afternoon off with these DIY Cheddar Kale Chips, another recipe by Food Heaven Made Easy. And they were true to their word on this snack in terms of how simply and quickly it's made. Take some kale and lay it out on a lightly-oiled baking pan or tray. Sprinkle over with cheddar, a paprika/cayenne pepper mix (or whatever other mix that you fancy), and olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Take them out, sprinkle with a dash of salt to taste, and you're done! 

I'm happy to say that my first time eating kale chips is when I made them myself, and they turned out delicious! This recipe is super spicy, though! Since it adds to all the flavors coming together, I didn't mind it. But if you don't like hot or spicy snacks, then you can either tone down the paprika and cayenne pepper, or choose different seasonings. Whichever you choose, I would totally recommend these. Make in minutes, eat in minutes. Thanks again, Food Heaven!

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

Desserts−cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes, muffins−were my strong point back when I was cooking actively in high school, and I wanted to give something sweet a shot to see if I still I had it in me. But I wasn't in the mood for anything too thick or doughy, so I opted for this Oreo Cheesecake Bar recipe by The Brown Eyed Baker. I tested out quite a few of her recipes back in the day, so it made sense for me to go back to the original source. This recipe is also fairly simple, but the time between prep and serve was a lot longer (at least 6 hours) because you have to let cheesecake sit for a long time after baking so it can solidify sufficiently. It probably took me a little longer too because I don't have a food processor and had to crush 35 Oreos almost completely by hand, but eh well.

Line an 8x8 pan with foil. Crush 23 Oreos into crumbs, mix in a bowl with melted unsalted butter, pat the mix down into the bottom of the pan, bake in the oven for 10 minutes, and take the pan out. There's your crust. In another bowl, soften some cream cheese and mix it with granulated sugar. Fold in 3 eggs, vanilla extract, sour cream, and the remaining Oreos (should be 12 or 13), chopped. Pour the batter over the crust, put the pan in the oven again and bake for 50 minutes. Take the cheesecake out and let cool for 2 hours, then put it in the refrigerator for at least another 3 hours. Cut into however many bars you like (the recipe recommends 16), and there you have it! To be honest I'm not crazy about chocolate; I was just in the mood to make something with Oreos in it because it seemed like fun. But this cheescake came out really nice! Solid and smooth, sweet with a little tartness to balance it out. No complaints at all. Thanks, Brown Eyed Baker!

Check out pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

BOOKS! (Crazy Rich Asians)

As I've mentioned many a time before, I landed exactly where I didn't want to be post-graduation. But you know what I've learned this past week and a half? The upside to graduating from college and moving back home with your mom with no full-time job prospects is... You finally have the chance to get back to the things you love! Like reading and writing about books by unequivocal choice. Last week was my do-nothing week, and this week is my get-back week, and for book reviews I'm starting back with Crazy Rich Asians.

My favorite singer Chrisette Michele recommended this book on Instagram sometime last year (even held a giveaway for it, if I remember correctly). The title and cover piqued my interest, so I got Ma to get it for me as a birthday present in December. I didn't end up getting to it until this April, and it was the only book I could squeeze in for leisure during the entire semester. And let me tell you, it became the perfect escape for me during my final month of school. Especially as my dontgiveacrapgetmeouttahere meter got higher and higher, and I became more inclined to forget that I had assignments to tackle or exams to study for. So already out the gate, a huge hug and thank-you go to Kevin Kwan for this marvelous distraction!

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Having had a stable relationship with her Singaporean boyfriend Nick Young for a few years, Chinese-American economics professor Rachel Chu excitedly takes him up on his offer to visit his home country together from their current locale of New York City. The impetus for this trip is Nick's best friend's wedding, and as far as Rachel knows, the rest of the summer will simply be an extended vacation for her and her man.

What Rachel doesn't know is that Nick is the heir to one of the wealthiest, most secretive, and established old money families in Singapore. Futhermore, his best friend's wedding is actually the A-list spectacle of the year in Asia. Nick's either in denial and being willfully and egregiously modest about his background, or he's just so enmeshed in high society that he fails to see how his experience isn't "normal" for the average person. Either way, he doesn't sufficiently explain the full extent of his family or his social stratum to Rachel beforehand, and so Rachel is thoroughly unprepared to handle the lifestyle she's immersed in upon arriving in Singapore. Overwhelmed is not even the word. And that's what makes this meeting of middle class "ABC" and old money/absurdly new rich Asia both painfully awkward and unbelievably hilarious.

I mean really. The snobbery and elitism, the absurdly extravagant displays of wealth, the even more absurd stinginess and secrecy about wealth, the adopted old-world European sensibilities, the self-hate (really, what's the deal with disdaining China and "Mainlanders"?), the petty draaamaaa, the stringent parent-child dynamics, the old money-new money dynamics, the intrigue and rumors, the two-ton weight of watchful eyes and expectations, the opulence, the power/capital to go and do whatever you want whenever you want it.... It. is. bananas. Rachel gets overloaded by this world while also discovering some long-held secrets about her own family. It's juicy secrets and family drama from all sides, and I am all for it!

You know what I absolutely LOVE about this book? I mean, other than the obvious (the focus on a group of contemporary Asian people, set in a part of Asia that I'm not familiar with). I love Crazy Rich Asians because it's so funny! Like genuinely, smartly, cover-to-cover consistently funny! In fact, I don't think a book has ever made me laugh as much as this one did. Maybe Waiting for Gertrude is a close second, but still. My point is that reading Crazy Rich Asians has been the most engagingly fun reading experience I've had in a long time, and I stan for it. (Can you stan for books? Oh well. I stan for this one.) Best believe that when the sequel China Rich Girlfriend comes out on June 16th, buying it will be the first thing on my to-do list that day. And whenever the Crazy Rich Asians film hits theaters, I'll be there.

Are you one of those nosy people who loves getting in on other people's business? Are you fascinated by the secrets and lifestyles of the rich? Are you interested in learning a little more about East and Southeast Asia? Are you in need of a humorous distraction from whatever you don't feel like doing right now? If you answered yes to even one of these questions, then Crazy Rich Asians is for you! Enjoy! And you're welcome.

Favorite quote:
 "Remember, this is Asia, and first impressions can be deceiving. You know how most Asians hoard their money. The rich are even more extreme. Many of the wealthiest people here make an effort not to stand out, and most of the time, you would never know you were standing next to a billionaire" (152).

Three more proofs!

Found the link to these hidden in my email this morning. From James Madison College Commencement, Saturday May 9th 2015, where I walked for my Comparative Cultures and Politics degree. Courtesy of Graduation Foto.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday (Green Machine)

Was in the mood for something fruity and realized that I hadn't used any of the mangoes in the refrigerator yet. Since I started back up making things in the kitchen this past weekend, I've been searching online for food inspiration and decided to give another of Cassey Ho's recipes a try. This is what she calls a "Green Machine Smoothie", and I found the recipe on her @blogilates Instagram page (same as with the pancakes from Sunday).

Spinach (or any dark leafy green that tickles your fancy), banana, mango, orange juice, almond milk, ice. Blend. Done. I chose not to peel the mango, so the texture of the smoothie turned out slightly different from what I'd expected. It makes no difference to me, but if you don't like a little grit or chewy bits in your smoothie, then peel the mango before chopping. No other comments from me other than thank you again, Blogilates!

Pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Spartans Will... Graduate!

What a treat! This afternoon I was able to access these proofs of me from Arts and Letters Commencement last Sunday, May 10th 2015, where I walked for my French degree. These proofs are courtesy of Graduation Foto, and I can't stop staring at them. They mean so much to me, for three reasons.

1) I'm reminded that I only graduated a week ago. A week ago! That makes sense to me when looking at a calendar, but internally it feels like a month has already passed. When I posted these proofs on Facebook with the caption "Was that seriously only a week ago? Wow...", this conversation ensued between me and a friend named Kyle who also graduated with me:

Kyle: Right though? It feels like so much life has happened since that day.
Me: Haha, I know! I was talking to someone today and she said, "You just graduated? Congratulations!" And I was going to correct her and say no, I graduated like a month ago (it feels like it's been that long). But then I remembered it's only been a week.
Kyle: That literally just happened to me 5 minutes ago.What. Are. Our. Lives.
Me: Tell me about it! 

2) I. look. so. good! Please allow me to toot my own horn just for this one moment, because you've no idea how momentous it is for me to say something like that about myself. If you know me personally or have been reading my blog for a while, then it's not news to you that I have image and esteem issues. I have been a champion camera-dodger since elementary school. Take a quick look through all the photos I've taken during my travels, or all the pics I have on Instagram, and you'll see my face in very few of them. In fact, seeing myself in photos or on video has been one of my biggest triggers that can set me off sinking deep into what I call my depressive "dark cloud times". On any other occasion, if you ask me, I'll tell you that I am ashamed of how I look. But not so today, not with these photographs. I look beautiful! Stunning! Even the gap in my teeth peeking out in the last photo, the gap that I've always hidden in pictures by smiling with my mouth shut (also since elementary school), makes me beam on the inside instead of shuddering. That's me. And I look something fierce. 

3) Affirmation, affirmation, affirmation! I always question whether I'm doing enough or making the right decisions. It is difficult for me to feel assured that the things I'm doing are worthwhile or purposeful. But seeing myself in these proofs, I have evidence that I can use to testify to my own accomplishments. Graduation weekend, still so fresh in my memory, was one of the best times of my life because I was surrounded by love and light (as I'd said at the time, so many good things were being thrown at me at once!). It was also one of the best times because I finally got a chance to take look at myself and all that I'd done and say, Good job, Deela. you made it. And you did so much along the way. You really have achieved something, and you've got something sooo good going.  

"You are your own best thing", as Toni Morrison wrote at the end of her novel Beloved. Graduation weekend might've been the first time in my life when I honestly felt that in my heart. And to think, just last semester I was adamant about not attending commencement, because I neither felt I deserved to celebrate anything nor believed that I had anything worth celebrating in the first place. Pssh!

Lastly, as a bonus, here's a better quality photo of my #JMCBrownBeauties and I at Black Grad. Congrats and blessings to everybody making that walk this grad season. Glory be to God for all of you.

To read about more of my memories from graduation (both leading up to and during it), check out all the posts listed under this tag: Goodbye MSU

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I made breakfast today

Woop woop! I am on a roll! I was so excited about how the avocado toast turned out yesterday that I decided to make breakfast again this morning. This time it was a little sweet, a little savory

Blogilates Pancakes

These are unbelievably simple pancakes, the recipe for which I got from Cassey Ho (@blogilates) on Instagram. All you need is 1 banana and 2 eggs (or 2 bananas and 4 eggs, if you're cooking for more than one person like I was). Mash the banana(s), mix it with the eggs, and you've got your batter. Then spoon the batter into a pan like you would with any other pancakes, cook for desired brownness and flip to make it even. Repeat until the batter runs out, and there you have it. I ended up with 14 sweet little round things.

I tend to make my pancakes kinda small (no larger than the palm of my hand), so that's what I did. To finish I topped them off with blackberries and a little syrup. As I usually do when I make something, I let Ma try it first. She said they were just aight. I think when I told her I was going to make pancakes this morning, she might have been expecting something big and fluffy. As a result, the thinner, firmer texture of what I made wasn't her cup of tea. Plus Ma generally doesn't care for fruit in her food, so she was definitely not impressed with the banana flavor of the pancakes or the blackberries that I added on top. I, on the other hand, thought they were delicious! If you're someone like me who likes fruity flavors and isn't opposed to a lighter version of pancakes, then I would definitely recommend these. Thanks, Blogilates!

Baked Egg in Avocado

This recipe comes from Food Heaven Made Easy (two sistas? with their natural curls? sharing their health and nutrition knowledge with the masses? yes, yes, and yes to all of that!). I came across it through a BuzzFeed article about what "real healthy people eat" (-_-). Imposed standards aside, the article offered quite a few interesting ideas for healthy dishes that are relatively simple to make, nice to look at, and fun to eat, and this egg in avocado dish was the one that intrigued me the most.

It looks fancy, but just like the pancakes, you can make this dish easily. Take an avocado, slice it in half, remove the pit, and scoop out enough flesh from each half so that an egg can fit inside. Crack an egg into each half, then sprinkle on some garlic. Add some chopped cherry tomatoes and then put the two halves in the oven for 20-22 minutes (I ended up doing 25). Top it off with cilantro, salt, and pepper as desired and done!

Ma actually really liked this one, so thankfully I wasn't completely 0 for 2 this morning. Thanks, Food Heaven!

Alright, if I total it all up, it turns out I've used 8 eggs in the past two days. So I think I'm going to lay off the yolk for my next experiement. Whatever that ends up being... :)

Pics of other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I made stuff this week!

It took a couple years, but ya girl is finally back in the kitchen! My how I missed this. Cooking (especially baking) was one of my most treasured hobbies during high school, but living in college dorms caused me to set it aside. Now that I'm out of school and at home all day errday, I can get back to making stuff! Case in point:

Homemade "Naked" Juice

Yesterday I was bored, and upon eyeing Ma's unused Kithen Living blendy thingy I decided to experiment. We'd just gone grocery shopping and bought a whole bunch of produce the day before, so why not?

I called myself juicing, but really just ended up making a puree. (I thought I could experiment my way into this health trend, but a quick search online will show that "juicing" and "blending" are two very different things).

Anywho, I took the bottle part of the contraption and put in the following, from bottom to top: Kale/chard/spinach, 12 blackberries, 1 banana, 1 red pear, more kale/chard/spinach, plus a pinch of lemon juice and cinnamon. Then I reattached the bottle to the blender, pushed down on it, and this is what I got. Thick, green-smelling, and filling. Certainly can't complain.

Why buy Naked Juice when you can make it yourself?

Avocado toast

This is one of those trendy health foods that I've been wanting to to take a stab at, especially given my deep appreciation for eggs and the fact that avocado is currently all-the-rage. After looking up how to cut and peel an avocado real quick and glancing at a simple recipe for avotoast with poached egg, I was ready to go!

I wanted to try making poached egg with and without water, so first I heated two skillets with a light amount of oil. Next, I halved an avocado and then cut those halves in half so I could pull the skin off more easily. Then I chopped it all up and mixed it in a bowl with salt, pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Then it was back to the poached egg, two ways.

On the left I have the poached egg variation without water. All you do is fry, flip, and let fry again. Do the same as if you're making a fried egg, except don't break the yolk.

On the right I have the more conventional poached egg, with water, according to the above-mentioned recipe I looked up this morning. Do the same as if you're making a fried egg, except add boiling water and cover to let simmer. No flipping.

I turned the skillets down and let the eggs cook while I toasted the wheat bread I had, then added a thin layer of cream cheese. Add avocado spread, add eggs, plate... et voila! Avocado toast.

I let Ma have the serving with the "proper" poached egg and guess what? She loved it! Yes ma'am, I got Ms. Never-Try-Anything-New to eat avocado toast, and she loved it! This was my first time making anything with avocado, and neither of us had ever tried this particular dish, but Ma had never even eaten avocado before today. So this morning was a great new thing for both of us!

I feel so proud and pleased to have tried something new. It feels good to be back. Maybe for the next one, I'll get back to my forte: sweet things! Hm... we'll see.

 Check out pics of my other foodventures here:

Peace, Love, and Food (Every Now and Then)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Arts & Letters Commencement!

After a long weekend and an even longer 4 years, today finally came. The day that would end it all. Early this morning, I, my family, and hundreds of other graduates and guests made our way to the Breslin Center for what was my third commencement ceremony, that of the College of Arts and Letters. Today was the day that my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in French was conferred upon me.

The senior address was given by a kid named Simon F. Zagata, and it was absolutely brilliant. He cheekily likened coming to MSU to making the worst dating decision ever; for all the hard work, trials, and sleeplessness it'll take to maintain the relationship, you already know going in that it won't last but four or five years. But in essence, that's where the joy of the experience comes from. He ended his address by encouraging us to be passionate, take chances, and not be afraid to fail and then get back up with a smile to try again (and I paraphrase): "Because no one's ever inspired when it all goes right the first time. And as Spartans, I don't think we'd have it any other way."

Once we'd switched our tassels to the left and been congratulated by the dean of the college, the MSU Symphony Band played "Pomp and Circumstance" to accompany the faculty as they proceeded out of the Arena. But as soon as they were out of sight, the symphony started up the Michigan State University Fight Song, and all of us newly-appointed Spartan alumni jumped up and sang along together! Believe it or not, this was my first time ever singing the fight song at a public MSU event. Yes indeed, in all of my four years living on MSU's campus (one year I even lived kitty-corner to Spartan Stadium), I never once went to a single a sporting event. Not even during the often-worshipped football and basketball seasons. To be honest I've just never been very interested in sports, and witnessing MSU's particular flavor of sports cult firsthand semester after semester certainly didn't make me any more eager to join the fandom. So I don't regret not attending any sports events while at State. With that said, I'd be lying if I didn't admit how mightily gratifying it felt to have one last chance to shout along to "On the banks of the Red Cedar...!" with 400 of my fellow Spartans. It was the perfect ending to an era, that era being my life as a student.

My relatives who'd stayed from yesterday posed with me for a few pictures, but they had to jet off to start on their long drives back to Kentucky. Then I treated Ma to lunch, because today is also Mother's Day! Now we're back at home. After three days of back-to-back graduation fervor and festivities, I'm relieved that it's over but also a little deflated. Now that I'm free, I can literally do anything next. But I'm 22 years old, and for 17 of those years all I've been is a student. So quite a few times this thought has crossed my mind this weekend: Well, now that I'm not a student anymore, what am I? I asked Ma this question today and she said, "You'll be Danielle. You'll be yourself." I guess now it's my opportunity to decide who I want that self to be, and go become that.

On that note, it's been real MSU. I can't say that I ever fell in love with you like most alumni claim to, but I can't deny the fact that I've benefited tremendously from choosing State. And I'd like to say that I've transformed  as a person too. Goodbye and thank you. Sincerely, a Spartan.

Congrats and blessings to errbody!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Couple More Things

One thing I forgot to mention about today's commencement ceremony. My fellow #JMCBrownBeauties and I decided to use our moment to honor our brothers and sisters who've fallen victim to police/state brutality, showing solidarity with our people and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. So on our name cards, under our names we each wrote, "walking in honor of _____________" and included a different individual's name for the announcer to read off.

I walked in honor of Eric Garner, the innocent bystander and family man who was choked to death by police in broad daylight last summer in Staten Island. The #ICantBreathe hashtag that was circulating widely in relation to protests during the latter half of 2014 was in memory of him, since those were his last words.

Another thing that I'd like to share is that apparently, my family had a surprise for me after graduation and going out to dinner together. Around 9pm my grandpa, my uncle, my aunt, and her husband walked into Ma and I's room with... A Cake! And ice cream! And cards from the rest of the family back in Loo-uh-vuhl! And a bunch of phone calls from said family members! It was a mini graduation party in our hotel room! After having such a lovely time with everybody today, I didn't need or expect anything else. So it was overwhelming having so many good things thrown at me all in one day!

I feel greatly loved and appreciated. Lots of cards, well wishes, "Follow your dreams"s , "Keep God first"s, "I love you"s and "We're so proud of you"s came my way today. I hope to continue to make everybody proud. Praise be to God for each and every one of you.