Saturday, September 26

If it's not already apparent, I've ended this platform for budding, frugal home cooks. Please head over to to check out musings on personal development and leadership. These two areas have been my focus for the last several years.

Thanks for the support!

Monday, July 25

Summer Reading

I hope you all read my post introducing the concept of minimalism. I took the challenge to heart and for the following week I recycled the same 6 articles of clothing AND made a list of my 100 most essential possessions. I admit that I cheated a bit by making my pots and pans a single category of item on the list. But I’m happy to have gone through the exercise, because now I’m more aware of the things I own, the things I need, and it helped me to scale back a lot on what I consider to be nonessentials. And best of all, it helped me to feel extremely productive. With the added sense of productivity and the organization and uncluttered-ness of my living space, I feel that my mind is a lot more uncluttered and I am ready to put toward higher pursuits.

I personally feel just because I've graduated doesn’t mean that my learning comes to a standstill. With the added free time and the lack of obligatory reading from classes, I want to start ramping up my reading. I don’t just mean reading the newspaper or blogs (though I certainly appreciate you all reading my “local voice”!), but picking up a paperback (or an eReader device) and reading a full-fledged novel. I've already made it through Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Kate Chopin's The Awakening and Other Selected Short Stories. Below is a list of more classics and other novels that I hope to read, compliments of The Lisa Simpson Book Club on Tumblr:

 The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
Ghost World, Daniel Clowes
The Adventures of Tin Tin, Hergé
Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton
Man and Superman, George Bernard Shaw
Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren
The Master of the Senate, Robert Caro
The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
The Babysitter’s Club, Ann M. Martin
The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
The poems of Emily Dickinson
The works of Jane Austen (1 down!)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
The poems of Robert Pinsky
The work of Joyce Carol Oates
The work of Gore Vidal
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
A Separate Peace, John Knowles
The work of Tom Wolfe
Moneyball, Michael Lewis

Friday, June 3

Introducing Minimalism

After going through 3 moves over the past 18 months, I've realized I've acquired a massive amount of things, many of which I do not see on a regular basis. I think that most people, particularly recent graduates, are in the same situation that I am. Now I'm planning on sorting out things I need, things I don't, things that have no reason for assigning any value, and really tackling the mound of things I have acquired.

A year or so ago minimalism started to get really popular. The New York Times wrote an article on an experiment that called for people to only wear the same six articles of clothing for a month. This movement is called Six items or less and it is still active. There were exceptions of course, including undergarments, swim wear, workout clothing, work uniforms, outerwear, shoes and accessories. But the findings were still salient. People didn't realize that they were wearing the same clothes day after day, and the time freed up from picking out an outfit allowed for higher endeavours. The "100 Thing Challenge" also became a popular way to build up to (or maybe pare down toward) a minimalist lifestyle, by keeping only the 100 most necessary items. In this day and age, everything is being pared down, from personal spending habits to the portions on our plates, and there is no reason why this shouldn't be extended to the testaments to consumerism that take up your valuable space.

Perhaps your unneeded items can find a new home. I find a lot of satisfaction in donating unused clothes. Clearing out your pantry of non perishables can lead to some needy people benefiting from the can of tuna you'll never open. Or if you're a capitalist, sell your goods on Craigslist. I've personally had a lot of success and it's only 10 minutes of your time to make a posting.

Here are a few tasks to experiment with:

Pick out 6 essential items of clothing and only wear those for a week.

The satisfaction and added time that will come from not having to sort through your closet will help make this your most productive week yet.

Make a list of the 100 things you could not do without.

That ice cream maker that's been collecting dust since you bought during the last scorching DC summer, or the unused crepe pan you bought after that life-changing trip to Paris? It better not be on the list. The rest of the items doesn't need to be immediately thrown away. Just take care in what you chose to add to that list once you reach 100.

Start by tackling your clutter in a hands-off manner, that way you don't overwhelm yourself. Perhaps clearing your space of the clutter can help clear your mind as well, that way it can be used for higher pursuits. More on that in my next post.

If you are interested in reading more on minimalism, the blog Zen Habits is a great resource and provides a great list of further reading.

Wednesday, June 1

Is There a Difference Between Blogging and Being a Blogger?

I've had this blog for several years at this point. I used it to cover the radio show I and a college roommate had together my Sophomore year. It followed me to China, as I shared my perspective on being abroad in a country where access to my blog required circumventing the great firewall of China. I used it to follow my attempts at budgeting eating in and eating out over the summer after Junior year, when I lived and worked in DC. After all of these years, I would tell people who inquired, "I blog," yet I never considered myself to be a blogger.

I was recently invited to be a part of the "Local Voices" section of the Georgetown, DC Patch, part of a network of blogs that follow local news and events. I find it a bit ironic that I am part of the "Local Voices" at a time when I am searching for my voice beyond Georgetown. As an unemployed, recent graduate, the transition is and will be bumpy. However, this opportunity is a way to reach out to other young adults in transition and show them that it is navigable and a part of growing up.

Was this invitation the call to blogger-hood? What about this makes my blogging more official? Is it the fact that I have a larger platform and a larger audience? Was it because now there was an authority who can dictate whether or not my posts deserved to be posted, whether or not my voiced deserved to be heard? I like to think that there is no difference between blogging and being a blogger, just how there is no difference between running and being a runner. I guess it is a matter of doing versus defining oneself by the action. Regardless, I'm beginning to feel like a blogger. And I believe that it will only be more real once my first post goes live.

See for my posts as a contributing blogger! Add the RSS feed to your Google Reader, make it your homepage, do whatever you need to do...

Saturday, May 14


In approximately one week and 50 minutes, 'll be walking across the stage to accept my diploma from Georgetown University. I wanted to take this semester in particular to celebrate my time here and prepare myself for the future. And so my blogging deliberately lapsed. I saw this blog as a way to escape from the daily grind that will characterize my post-graduation life, and that is a conception that remains.

This post marks a recommitment to post-graduation blogging plans and a rethinking of my blogging process and theme.

Friday, January 7

Pasta Inspiration

In light of my having to cut more gluten out of my diet, I followed up my breakfast of gluten free oats with fully gluten-ized penne pasta (didn't have any brown rice pasta, which would make this gluten free)!

My initial inspiration was carbonara pasta, which I deconstructed a bit. I had red leaf lettuce that I wanted to use up so I cut that in a chiffonade and used in place of the peas that I always include in my carbonara. I diced up the prosciutto and cooked that until crispy, using the rendered fat, and a bit of olive oil, to cook the onion and garlic. I added the prosciutto and pasta to the onions and garlic. While I poached the egg I added the lettuce so it would wilt slightly from the residual heat. I topped the pasta with the poached egg and Parmesan shavings.

The runny yolk coated the pasta very nicely and tasted great with the sweetness of the onions and garlic ad saltiness of the prosciutto. I thought it was reminiscent of a carbonara, sans the butter (which I was going for).

Penne with Red Leaf Lettuce, Red Onion, Prosciutto, Poached Egg and Parmesan Shavings

Wednesday, January 5

Breakfast Smoothies

I've been on quite a smoothie kick lately. With the added green powder, I know that I'm getting my daily vegetable servings in one glass, and the brown rice protein powder also enhances the nutritional aspect and is being dairy and gluten free, two things that I have to be more mindful of in my diet, apparently. The ingredients are few, the flavors solid and they are very filling (a tablespoon or so of ground flax would definitely add to the fiber filling-ness). Here are a few of my recent recipe developments.

Blueberry-Almond Smoothie

1 C frozen blueberries
1 C almond milk
1 t almond extract
1 T brown rice protein powder (vegan and gluten free)
1 T green food powder (I use Amazing Grass Green Powder, which you can get on Amazon)

In order to get a smoother product, incorporate the two powders into the almond milk. Add the extract and blueberries. Blend until smooth. (If you require a sweeter product, add a bit of stevia to taste, but I prefer not to.)

- Raspberry or Blackberry for blueberry
- Coconut milk yogurt (6 oz) or 1 C (light) coconut milk or rice milk or coconut milk beverage for almond milk
- Vanilla extract for almond extract, or no extract at all

Ginger-Peach Smoothie

1 C frozen peach slices
1/2 inch ginger, finely diced
1 C coconut milk beverage (So Delicious makes coconut milk, as well as coconut milk yogurt which I feature in other smoothie recipes, both which you can acquire at Whole Foods)
1 t almond extract
1 T brown rice protein powder (vegan and gluten free)
1 T green food powder (I use Amazing Grass Green Powder, which you can get on Amazon)

In order to get a smoother product, incorporate the two powders into the coconut milk. Add the ginger and peach slices. Blend until smooth. (Once again, if you require a sweeter product, add a bit of stevia to taste.)

- Mango chunks for peach slices
- Coconut milk yogurt (6 oz) or 1 C (light) coconut milk for coconut milk beverage
- Vanilla extract for almond extract, or no extract at all

Recipes I hope to try out later
- coconut-avocado
- cucumber-avocado-basil/mint
- pineapple-mango
- blueberry-raspberry-blackberry
- Cacao/Dark Chocolate (+ Coconut)

Monday, January 3

Basic Cooking Skills

I was reading one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Kitchn, when I came across a post about basic cooking skills that all beginners should know. I wanted to share this with you all and spend the next couple of days going through each technique so that you can slowly begin to add to your kitchen repertoire.

image via

Bourdain’s basic argument, which has also been made elsewhere, is that every person should have the basic knowledge and skills to feed themselves a decent meal. This is knowledge that has been gradually lost with the demise of home ec classes in school and the convenience of pre-made grocery store meals.
Of course, no one really wants a return to the fussy, boring home ec classes of yore. (Yes, I’m old enough that I remember these!) So Bourdain’s idea is to make cooking cool. Or more to the point, to make not cooking decidedly un-cool. Wouldn’t it be great, he says, if in the future “it’s the kid who can’t roast a chicken who should be considered the ‘spaz.’”
But back to those basic skills. Here’s what Bourdain thinks everyone should know:
• Chopping an onion
• Making an omelet
• Roasting a chicken
• The correct way to grill and rest a steak
• Cooking vegetables to desired doneness
• Making a vinaigrette
• Shop for fresh produce
• Buying a fish, cleaning it, and making it
• Roasting meat
• Roasting and mashing potatoes
• Braising meats and vegetables
• What to do with bones (a.k.a. How to make stock)

New Year, More Posts?

I hate New Years Resolutions. I usually don't even think to make any until after the New Year and by then it seems as though there is no point. Same thing happened this year, and so I have no substantive or well-throughout plans to better myself throughout 2011.

I, surprisingly, have enjoyed my time at home. I've relaxed, slept late, tried to overhaul some of the horrible eating that occurs at my parents' home (fries and chicken wings for breakfast, chips for breakfast and waffles for lunch and dinner -- some of the more incriminating occurrences). Now I think it's time to get back on that blogging tip.

I am heading into this last semester with no meal plan and a goal to overhaul my grocery budget. And so there is lots to look forward to for this new year. I've got more recipes in development, shortcuts for cooking, tips for shopping and menu planning, and more.

On that note, let's hope for more willpower this year and happy new year,!

Sunday, November 28

15 Minute Shrimp and Bean Stew

One of the best things I did was buy 1/2 pound bags of different types of beans when I was at the bulk section at Whole Foods sometime toward the end of the summer. I spent a day soaking and cooking all of the beans, and then freezing them on a pan, so I could store them in the freezer to be thrown into a soup or stew at any time. A can of beans can be used in place of the frozen ones that I keep at home. Either way this is a nutritious and delicious Mediterranean-style meal, perfect for chilly autumn evenings

15-Minute Shrimp and Bean Stew

Yields 4 Servings


2 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1 cup diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried thyme, or 3-4 sprigs of fresh
1 C chickpeas
1 C white cannellini beans
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional: cut shrimp in half)
1 lemon, juiced (~1 T)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and garlic slices on medium-low heat, until the garlic begins to sizzle. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, water, pepper flakes, thyme, and beans. Turn up heat to medium-high and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shrimp, and simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked. Turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot in bowls with bread.

The shrimp could easily be substituted with langoustines, fish, scallops, or chicken.


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