Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on contradictions

by Lisa

I don't bake. But that's for another post. Because today (and a few weeks ago) I baked.

My roommate, Elizabeth, went to Apple Hill this weekend. When I got back from Chicago, I saw apples and pears everywhere. I mean, everywhere. On the dining table, on the counter. A whole drawer in the refrigerator had been emptied in order to be filled with pears. She promised she would make me applesauce (with the skins on, the way we both like it). So I knew I'd be enjoying something tasty soon. (--I thought you would like to know that I just restrained myself from making a pun on the "fruits of her labor.") But the memory of a recent and delicious pear crisp (thanks, Jennifer!) was plaguing me enough to impel me towards turning on the oven.

So I made a pear crisp. I looked up some recipes; most of the ones available were for apple crisps and had way too much sugar. One called for vanilla, and I figured, why not replace that with rum? -- both have alcohol that cooks off to leave a good flavor. And besides, I needed to give myself more motivation to actually bake. I also compensated for my aversion to baking by not measuring. I realize that that makes it difficult for a food blogger to share recipes, but I'll try my best.

A few weeks ago when I made banana bread, I surprised not only myself, but also my roommates. I'm spooning out sugar into the bowl (not a measuring cup) and my roommates standing by are worried. ("You're not measuring?" one of them pipes up. "Oh no," says the other.) I get into my younger-sibling-poutiness and say, "I want to be good at baking, I do! I just... I just don't try hard enough!" Sarah and Maria try to be empathetic. "Me, too," Maria offers, nodding her head with understanding, "but not really..." Ah, well. I guess it's the youngest-sibling part of me that notices something needs to change but doesn't want to make the change.

Anyway, the bread turned out pretty well. Moist, banana-y. The way my mom makes it.

Pear Crisp

6-8 pears, cored and sliced thinly

a few tablespoons of white sugar, depending on taste (apples require more)

1 tablespoon flour 1 tablespoon (or more to taste) of cinnamon
2 tablespoon of dark rum (optional)

a few tablespoons of water

1 cup quick-cooking oats

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix sliced pears in bowl with white sugar, flour, cinnamon, and rum. Lay mixture on bottom of greased 13 x 9 pan. Add a few tablespoons of water over pears.

Mix oats, flour, and brown sugar. Cut butter into dry ingredients to make a crumbly mixture. Spread evenly over pears in pan. Bake at 350-365 for 40 minutes or until pears are done.

Sarah's Banana Bread

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup each white and brown sugar
2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup each regular and self-rising flour
pinch salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4-1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream butter and sugars. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and pour into a loaf pan that has been greased and floured. Bake at 375. for 50 minutes

Friday, November 9, 2007


by Stephanie

I do not sit well with contradictions. What this means: I am one of those people who tends to make discrete categories. I am also one of those people who freaks out when things don't fit into my discrete categories. Honestly, if I'm going to the trouble of making discrete categories, you (insert element here) should fit! Because I am a thorough person, and the world should be nice and neat. (My room is not an excellent example of this principle.)

So since I've come into my own at Berkeley, I've definitely become more aware of my preferences regarding food, and they've definitely grown more upscale since high school. Some foodie interests include absolutely anything produced by Cheeseboard , Peet's coffee (Mocha Java, thank you Lisa), chic cupcakes from Love at First Bite. I disdain things like "secret sauce"; that stuff is usually trashy. What can I say; my palate is continually refined by the wonderous paradise that is Berkeley.

But this is the weird part; this is the part that creates unrest and tension within myself. Sometimes I have cravings for the most terrible things, awful non-ritzy things like Jack in the Box tacos, a bowl of Cheerios with whole milk, Planters cheez balls (apparently these things are discontinued...ugh). I feel as though these urges are so contrary to my passion for the gourmet, so I usually try to ignore them or satiate them quickly so I can continue on my way to food actualization. (I don't know if that is an actual state that one can reach, but I can hope.)

Two days ago, we had these for lunch at the house:

You know what you're looking at? Happy face fries. That's right; these things are the most processed potato product you can get. The exterior is hopelessly greasy and crispy; the inside warm and mealy. They really are your ideal fried potato product, but LOOK AT THEM! They're the most low-brow food item to ever exist. And somehow I enjoy them as much as my 70% Scharffen Berger chocolate bar. I try to make this work in my mind, but it doesn't. I think I'm learning to be okay with that because I might kill myself otherwise. Also, it's kind of fun and freeing to let contradictions be. It means that I am letting go and refusing to let my control impulses get the best of me.