A not-so-cool chick(en)

If I’m being honest, I’ve never been the coolest kid in school. Or one of the cooler kids. Or cool by any means.

Here’s a photo of me after winning second place in a Texas state science competition:

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As nerdy as this occasion already was, I managed to make it even worse by neglecting to take off my Mickey Mouse sweatshirt when I got on stage. In my defense, I didn’t expect to win anything, but still, I think we can all agree that when it comes to being not-cool, I’m a PRO.

While many transcend their nerdy phase when they escape the clutches of middle school, I did not. I managed to stay very uncool by morphing into one of those really annoying girls who’s way too invested in her high school newspaper.

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Of course I was also a self-proclaimed captain of the backpacking team because as I’ve mentioned previously, I am not anywhere near athletic enough for real sports.

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When you enter college, there’s an expectation that the concept of “coolness” changes radically from what it was in high school. This is definitely true, especially when your freshman floor is full of other former way-too-invested-in-the-high-school-newspaper types.

Yet here I am, standing ankle deep in my senior year of college, still proving to myself and others that I am without a doubt not cool.

On Sunday night, I spent two hours standing in my kitchen keeping watch on a whole roast chicken. With my cat as my sous chef.

(I’m often told that I’m going to become a cat lady, to which I respond: already there, buddy. Case in point.)

So why was a slaving over a whole bird? Because I like to feel fancy from time-to-time. And because Bink’s birthday was last week and I’m trying to spoil him in his old age (that little thing is 17 years old, people.) And for you, my kookie readers.

I’m not going to give you a recipe spiel here because salmonella is a very real thing and I don’t want to be on anybody’s hit list because I’m just not qualified to be directing anyone in their chicken-roasting experience. Instead I’ll just give you a few tips:

-Google “How to roast a chicken,” there’s no shortage of recipes. For starters I’d go for a simple S&P combo **link

-When buying the chicken, don’t be stingy. You’re investing around two hours in this project so you may as well start with quality. Sometimes bargain meat says stuff like “96% real chicken!” and that scares me a lot. What is the other 4%?? Did you expect me not to wonder??

-When you unwrap the chicken, check the inner cavity. There will likely be a small bag of chicken guts in there (yes, chicken guts is the culinary term.) If you forget to take this bag out, you will have a very messy, very displeasing roast.

-Rinsing the chicken is no small task, and if you’re like me you will look like you’re performing a comedy routine. Be ready to deeply sanitize your sink after you’re done cooking.

-Beware of finicky ovens. My cheap college-apartment oven was very temperamental, so I had to keep an extra eye on it. That’s right, three eyes. My kitchen and living room also had a real sultry (read: smoky) vibe when I was done.

– The moment you pull it out of the oven, you’re going to want to dig in. The house smells like Thanksgiving and you’ve been waiting for at least an hour and you’re just tired of being patient. But good things come to those who wait, let the meat sit for at least 15 minutes.

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(You’ll notice in the photo above, despite some strategic angling, that I in fact dug into the skin immediately because it was 9:30 and I was starving. And as I mentioned previously, nothing that I do is cool).

So there you have it, another rowdy night with Megan.

I may not be conventionally cool. But what’s cooler than being able to roast your own chicken? That question is rhetorical, please don’t answer it.

 

 

Challenging the cosmos with cupcakes

According to my sister, Mercury is in retrograde, so “everything is eff’d up.”

You may think that horoscopes are a load of baloney, and most days I would think you’re right. For example, today my Cosmopolitan horoscope said that “a love connection with someone unique and quirky” could “light up” my weekend and quite frankly that weirds me out.

Yet I still know every word to Beyoncé’s “Signs” and check my horoscope at least three times a week because you never know…

Last night I found myself in a terrible mood. Some yucky cocktail of post-game day blues, Sunday sadness, a few personal conflicts, and presumably our buddy Mercury, made me feel like this:

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I’m not a very confrontational person, so instead of facing my problems head on, I decided to make cupcakes.

I admit that baking is not my forte. My kitchen demeanor is just a bit too undisciplined (read: sloppy). Because of this, I am a slave to cake mix. But the options are so endless, how do you possibly pick just one?

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I knocked out white and yellow right off the bat because those are colors not flavors and I didn’t want to reward the lack of creativity by Betty Crocker’s marketing department. Also I’d like to start a petition to remove the word “moist” from literally everywhere.

Next out were carrot, spice, and gingerbread because I knew they would just remind me that the holidays are still a ways away (104 days until Christmas, yes I’m already counting down).

The remaining contenders were an array of chocolates and of course, Funfetti. I got the chocoholic gene from my dad, so I couldn’t go wrong there. At the same time, Funfetti is the most deliciously whimsical cake flavor out there. So I bought a box of both (Devil’s food as my chocolate choice, you know why *wink* ).

In the interest of restraint, I decided to make the Funfetti box first and leave the Devils Food box for a later bad mood.

Staring into a bowl of confetti-filled batter, my icy attitude began to thaw. I think I may have found a prescription for grumpiness.

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I’m really terrible at A) waiting for cupcakes to cool before icing them and B) actually icing them, but their final appearance didn’t matter since 10/12 of them were gone within 20 minutes after my roommates smelled the sugar and swarmed the kitchen.

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While I’m not going to assert that cupcakes can fix everything, they sure don’t hurt. I’m raising a cupcake to what’s sure to be another crazy week.

Mercury will be in retrograde until September 22nd, so whether you subscribe to horoscope mumbo-jumbo or not, keep calm and eat refined sugars.

Happy Monday!

Get chopped

I realized recently that I have yet to actually give my readers any proof that I do in fact know how to make food. Unless you’ve physically made a visit to my kitchen, you would have no reason to believe me. This blog could be fully a result of some savvy google searches.

But I promise it isn’t.

Well this week I decided to try my hand at some multimedia evidence that I know one of cooking’s most basic skills: chopping.

Knife skills are one of those things that you don’t acquire overnight. It took me years of eating irregular, offensively-sized onions to get to where I am now.

As I mentioned in the post before this one, I find chopping to be therapeutic because it forces me to focus on one thing when I probably have a million things to worry about.

Much like how I eat carrots exclusively as a vehicle for ranch, I use my mom’s Greek Salad as a vehicle for vinegar because I am a weird person and I love vinegar (this probably explains my taste for cheap wine).

The best thing about this is that it can easily be tailored based on what you like and what you have on hand. I would say that the must have’s are tomatoes and vinegar, but here’s a kitchen sink list of ingredients:

  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Onion
  • Olive
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Hearts of Palm
  • Avocado
  • Feta cheese
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Oil
  • S&P

Here’s how mine comes together:

So there you have it, I know how to use a knife. My kitchen also clearly has really terrible lighting, but I’ll work on that for next time.

 

At the intersection of quality and convenience

These past couple weeks have been insane.After a 12-hour day of running all around campus for classes and all around town for work, sometimes I just don’t have energy to stand at the stove and feed myself. At the same time, I don’t want to expend the time and energy necessary for stopping at a restaurant and picking something up.

Fortunately, modern technology is constantly finding new ways for us to get food real quick in the kitchen. Here’s my breakdown of culinary timesavers:

1. Frozen dinners- America is an incredible place because nearly anything you could ever want to eat comes in frozen-box form. The quality of different products, however, really runs the gamut. There are literally dozens of doors of options (pardon the freezer-aisle pun). Some of them are awesome, like my personal favorite, the Amy’s section:

These meals are all around $4, they taste delicious, and they don’t make you feel disgusting. I attribute this partially to the fact that they have no meat, because let’s face it, you’d be hard pressed to find frozen entrée meat that doesn’t have a texture similar to the bottom of your shoe.

Some of them, however, are a little frightening. Would steer clear of seafood options entirely, if I were you.

2. Pre-chopped vegetables- Absolutely not. Yes, it’s true, I’m a bit of an anomaly in that I find chopping to be therapeutic but be real here, you’re paying considerably more for something that will only take you a couple minutes to execute yourself, and you’ll probably end up doing a better job anyway (okay that may be a stretch depending on your knife skills.) But seriously, buy your produce whole and chop it yourself. It’s cheaper and it’ll last longer plus if you’re like me you’ll feel a bit like Bobby Flay.


3. Pre-chopped garlic- Okay so I’ve suffered from post-pasta-night-garlic-fingers just as much if not more than the next guy. But are you tryin’ to  tell me that this looks acceptable???? NO.

4. Frozen Pizza- As fun as make-your-own-pizza night is, I’m a firm believer in frozen pizza. I’ve never found a frozen pizza that I didn’t devour entirely too quickly.

5. Quick rice- Rice is a staple in my diet, mostly because it seemingly lasts forever and you can put anything on top of it. Making rice from its raw form, however, takes a pretty damn long time and consistently boils over making a mess that I don’t feel like dealing with. These barriers are probably why your local grocery store has pretty extensive shelves of quick-rice options.


a. Pouch- this is probably my favorite kind because it literally takes a minute to prepare. The downside: they’re often pretty chalk full of salt and other not-super-great additives. While my pantry is always stocked with this stuff, I try to avoid it if I have time to spare.

b. Minute rice- This is a bit of a misnomer because unlike the aforementioned pouch-rice, this stuff does not actually take one minute. While it doesn’t have the same sodium problem, the texture can be a little off-putting if you don’t cook it correctly.

c. Box rice- This stuff cuts down on the time and adds some funky flavor, but combines the sodium problem with the not-so-speedy problem.

The problem that plagues all of these options is that they cost a lot more than plain old rice. My suggestion? Take an hour every weekend to make a big ol’ pot of regular rice and dress it up quickly every night.

6. Instant mashed potatoes- Usually located in the same aisle as the rice is this ABOMINATION. ‘Nuff said.


7. Premade grocery store sandwiches- My relationship with these sandwiches is akin to the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. To be fair, my “over and over again” is like, three times, but you’d think that my first experience with a volcano of slimy mayo would have been enough. These things are just not good. Why have I fallen into this trap thrice? Shopping while hungry like a rookie. DON’T BUY THESE.


Life is busy. These past few weeks have been downright crazy for you as much as me, I’m sure. But don’t fall victim to 5-minute microwaved seafood cream sauce and chop your own darn garlic.