Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bonus day ≠ bonus post

Dear readers,

I'm a terrible blogger. I made these amazing cookies. Really. Amazing. I can't stop eating them.

Instead of remembering to take pictures so I could blog about them to y'all later, I just wanted to eat them, nice and hot and fresh out of the oven. This might have been because I felt like baking cookies at 1am Monday morning. It might have been because I'm such a mean, terrible person.

This weekend should prove to be full of FUN and EXCITEMENT. If I survive, I promise that I'll share the recipe for the World's Most Habit-Forming Cookies. It involves quick oats, so they're kinda healthy right? Exactly.

Yours truly,


Thursday, February 23, 2012

I love you but...

We all harbor love/hate relationships. Some people love chocolate...but it makes them fat. Other people love scrapbooking...but their sister's neighbor's sister-in-law does it better. In college, I knew some people who loved running...but not track season.


In high school, I never even wasted my energy on pretending to have a love/hate relationship. I hated track. I sucked. I was slow. I got the pity clap, and there was nowhere on that stupid 400m oval of crushed rubber to hide my shame and slow, slow legs.

But then...

Along came college. All of a sudden, track wasn't just one season long but two. I told myself I'd just run cross country (never mind the fact that this is what Drew Wilson also did, and the guys crucified him. I'm not a guy, obviously, but girls can be just as mean as guys, only with less humor and more self-loathing if you are the target.) This is how I got sucked into indoor track. I managed to avoid the 800 (outside of workouts) and only ran the 1000 a couple of times. I believe Maus made a very kind-to-me comment about how 'well, at least we know that you're not a middie, let's try the mile next week' and I wanted to hug him and make him all the cookies.


Outdoor season came. I was intimately acquainted with the joys (read: HS mortification) of the 800 on my good friend Outdoor Track. I vowed to never race one for fear that all the bad memories of high school would come back to haunt me and the next thing you know, I'd be curled up in the fetal position, twitching away in lane 1. The beauty that is the 10K replaced the gaping, festering hole in my track psyche instead. Instead of two laps of mortification, there were 25 glorious laps. Time to bask in the sunshine, have your teammates go take that really necessary poo, and for you to run through states and their capitols in your head. Or positive split that sucker and spend the next 15 minutes of your life wondering what on earth you did wrong besides race like an idiot.

Obviously I had a love/hate relationship with track at this point.

Running on a red track...
...or the blood of its victims?

In the course of a typical indoor/outdoor combo season, my thought process went something roughly like this:
January: Son of a biscuit, I hate indoor. I can't breathe.
February: It's so warm inside! I love watching it snow as I run! Yay!
March: Farrrrrrrt. Outside is cold.
I wish I could have bundled up this much
April: Yay! 10K! Conference!
May: Wait. What? Track is done?! CROSS COUNTRY TIME!

Since graduation, my track season has consisted of 1-2 indoor meets, lots of indoor workouts, and 2 (or so) actual outdoor track races. At this point, track and I are best buds, probably because we don't spend enough time around each other to get to the point where I want to kill Track and say Mean Hurtful Things because, darn it all, I should be running faster and why is it always windy?

Right now, track and I are on very good terms. 

I love you track, but I know that you will be a cruel, cruel mistress come March (and possibly April, but we'll take it one month at a time). At least let me love chocolate in peace, ok?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's dinner for one

Back to our regularly scheduled (Regular? Who am I kidding...) food programming!

It's been a crazy past few weeks out here at Purdue. Good thing Valentine's Day happened after area exams. Otherwise somebody would have probably found me in a sugar-induced food coma due to overindulging on February 15 from 50% off holiday candy...

Since I was cooking for one on Valentine's this year, I decided I was going to make an effort to do something nice for dinner. (Nice being not soup from a can or ordering pizza.) I ended up making this chicken along with steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes (since I wouldn't be kissing anyone, it didn't matter how garlic-y they were). This is a pretty easy recipe and you end up with really juicy, tasty chicken. Enjoy!

Pan Fried Chicken

1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. paprika
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 - 3 1/2 lb. cut up chicken (boneless, skinless, bone-in, skin on, doesn't matter)
Vegetable oil

In a shallow dish, mix flour, paprika, salt, and pepper. Coat chicken with flour mixture.
Spices can be so pretty
In a 12" nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium high heat (put enough to coat the skillet, then add just a little more). Cook chicken in oil (skin side down if that's what you have) about 10 minutes, or until light brown. Turn chicken over and cook (without turning again) until chicken juice is clear when you cut the thickest part.

I used too much oil...oops.

(If you're only making about a pound of chicken, cut all the quantities in half.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sharks and minnows

I feel like Purdue brings out the inner "that guy" in many engineering graduate students as they slowly (some more slowly than others) realize that they are no longer a big fish in a small pond. Or even a big fish in a big pond. They are now a minnow in a shark tank...and this really, really bothers them. Uh oh. Many minnows (those guys) decide they can either make themselves bigger minnows (so impressive?) or smaller minnows (so pitiful?).

Type A: Bigger Minnow
These people might have pretty hot stuff in their circle of friends at Undergrad U. Maybe they played guitar (in a band? extra points!). Maybe they studied/traveled abroad and every other story when you first get to know them begins with "So this one time in Argentina...". Maybe they just  feel better if they're the center of attention. These are usually the folks that love to name drop. Doesn't matter what you're talking about, they'll always find a way to one-up the conversation. I feel like this is usually in attempt for the non-Alpha males to pee on bushes and attract females. Ladies, I'm not sure about y'all, but I don't like pee, especially if it's not mine. If I find myself in the middle of a male pissing match, I just really want to hit things. Preferable the peeing males. In their faces. With my fist.

Clues you're dealing with a Bigger Minnow:

  • This is the same software that NASA/Pixar/Disney/Steven Spielberg/Boeing uses!
  • Oh, that's nothing...(begin story here, usually only made better by the fact that it ends, possibly with the phrase 'and then I found five dollars')
  • I'll contribute a random fact! This fact isn't really a fact because I know nothing about this subject other than you're talking about it! Look! I'm part of this conversation now!
  • I was a fan of that band/food/mode of transportation before it was cool. I was so ahead of that, I came out of the womb as a fan...
I do believe the phrase 'douche canoe' will adequately describe those in advanced stages of Bigger Minnowness. 

Type B: Smaller Minnow
Smaller Minnows attempt to win over their circles with a pity party. (I met a lot of closet Smaller Minnows in the fall while some of the MEs were studying for area exams then.) The only parties I like involve food, music, and fun/cutesy party favors. If your party does not have at least one of these items in abundance, it's not a party. Sorry.

If these folks are really good, they'll probably make you feel guilty about skipping their study session to bury your dead cat. Somehow, their life always sucks just a little bit more than yours does. I'm not going to supply you with clues to see if you're dealing with a Smaller Minnow or not. Usually they smell like despair and/or sadness and have dark circles under their eyes, right above their nonexistant and/or ironic smile. 

I'll sadly admit that I occasionally find myself sliding down the slippery slope to Smaller Minnowdom, but (thankfully) someone catches me before I feed myself to the sharks. Usually this is in a feeble attempt for free food. Sometimes I get dinner. Sometimes I just make myself feel like a terrible person. 

If you're an awesome human being, you don't care about how big of a minnow you are. If you just keep swimming, all the big minnows will end up on fishhooks and all the small minnows will be eaten. Eventually you'll outgrow your minnow pond and Purdue will spit you into a nice ornamental landscaping pool where you can spend the rest of your days having people throw pennies and duck food at your head. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Why, hello there!

Yes! It's really me! I'm back, honest-to-goodness! I made it through my PhD qualifying exams in one entire piece. That doesn't mean that I've gotten rid of my baggy raccoon eyes, lost the 5-10 pounds of chocolate/candy/sucky diet/stress weight I've gained, or reclaimed my cozy bed as my snuggle buddy


I did return ALL of my study materials to the lab. This means I have a kitchen table. On which to decorate cutout cookies.

Insomnia leads to some crazy ideas, so I'll have some pretty good blog posts over the next few weeks. So glad I'm back to normal grad student life :)