17 September 2011

PennApps Hackathon 2011

PennApps is a 48 hour hackacthon, in which a bunch of students in teams of  four complete to make the best web app or phone app. The PennApps Hackathon has amazing food. We code. They feed us. Stuff in bold is stuff I ate:

1. A lot of vitamin B energy drink shots
2. A lot of coffee
3. A lot of bottled water
4. Other drinks
5. Milk

5. Chips/popcorn
6. Candy
7. Insomnia cookies
8. Indian food
9. Chinese food
10. Bagels, cereal
11. Trays of fruit (mango, watermelon, grapes, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe)
12. Burritos, sandwiches, pizza
14. Cheese Calzone

I'm pretty much just doing graphics (yay for Paint.Net), but I did meet some cool people (a.k.a my team members), one of whom is from Drexel.
Actually, the logo I made is pretty nifty in my opinion because it has an ulterior meaning.
Update: So I ended up sleeping from about 7:15 to 8:15 am and I learned some php, which is cool.

15 September 2011

Study Break!

In my dorm house, every Wednesday from 10:30pm to whenever is study break. Every week, a dorm room gets $40 to spend on sundry food for 25, 50, or 107 people. Yesterday was my roommate TJ and my turn, and we wanted to do something spectacular! The make-your-own sundae thing has been done too many times,  chips were too trite (but we bought 2 packs anyway)...so what could we do!?

TJ came up with the idea. Bubble tea.

So, despite the fact that I had a proof to do for maths, I ran to Chinatown, met TJ there (she took SEPTA), bought 6 packs (so, 1.5 kilos) of tapioca pearls, 1 tin of green tea and 1 tin of black tea. I didn't want to use tea bags due to environmental reasons, and I think that the loose tea leaves added a more "authentic" effect to the tea while people were scooping it up, which is always nice even though I'm sure that authentic tea doesn't mean ladling tea out of a giant saucepan.

We then bought 4 lbs of sugar (even though sugar generally comes in 5-lb packages) and 2 gallons of whole-fat milk. I know that sweetened condensed milk might've been better, but that would've meant that we'd have to add the milk into the tea, which would have been really confusing since:
1. How much tea did we need?
2. What if people are lactose intolerant?

I used this recipe as a guideline although I don't really think that I should even cite it because I didn't follow it since it is really difficult mixing ratios of tea leaves:sugar:water:milk when people are crowding around you.

Note that I used my own bag. NO PLASTIC BAGS!!

Miraculously, the tapioca pearls were quick-cooking, which is SURPRISING because last time, for the same price ($1.68) at Kamman, I bought tapioca pearls that took hours to cook. This time, the bubbles floated up to the top in 5 minutes. Less than 5 minutes.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS? I'M NEVER BUYING $3 BUBBLE TEA AGAIN! (Well, perhaps in the company of friends) $1.68 can yield me so much more bubble tea in 5 minutes (whereas walking to a bubble tea store, ordering, paying etc. takes more time than that, and it also wastes plastic).

We bought two types of tapioca pearls: coloured ones and the typical black ones. They don't taste different, and I find it bizarre that most stores sell the black ones since the rainbow ones are quite pretty; I guess it's just tradition. Unfortunately, 1.5 kilos of bubbles (purported to serve around 40 people?) was not enough to serve my dorm house (and a few people from other college houses who came because I made study break the subject of a Facebook status and I'm currently kicking myself for doing that *insert selfish angry rant*). TJ also bought bubble tea straws from a bubble tea store nearby, although I was against it (plastic waste) but I agree that it made it more "authentic".

We had a huge problem because we had three spoons, an electric kettle, one saucepan, and one giant saucepan (I borrowed the saucepans). I also had a pie pan and a glass bowl (in which we put the tapioca). We also obtained a ladle, a colander and a vegetable-washing bowl. The main issue was making enough tea to please everyone. We made enough tea to fill the two pots, brought those downstairs, and decided to wait until study break to make refills.

People ladle tea at the speed of sound. Really. Luckily, two friends lent me their kettles (and we promptly ran out of electrical outlets), and we started doing this boil-water-pour-water-refill-throw-in-sugar-throw-in-tea-stir-serve!-serve!-serve!  while attempting to communicate and transport kettles and saucepans back and forth. Meanwhile, a mob (a.k.a people in my dorm house + intruders) was scooping up tapioca pearls, sloshing out milk, chattering happily, and complimenting us. Yay!

The House Dean said that this certainly hadn't been done before. :) I must say it was a chaotic success.

An hour later, the crowd has dispersed, the bystanders were trampling stray bubbles on the carpet or sitting on the sticky-tapioca-studded tables, and TJ and I were packing up. We went to the kitchen and had a nice laugh and evaluation of the event while we picked out tapioca from the leftover 2 L of sweet Chinese tea and  tea leaves (There were a LOT of tea leaves) and drank tea. I note that this is something I won't forget, and I can't wait to make 5-minute bubble tea again!

I will definitely take better photos in the future. I really wish that I had the time while shuttling hot water around to shoot the crowd - I mean, shoot pictures of the crowd.

11 September 2011


There's no actual topic today. Instead I'm just going to round up what's been up the past two weeks.
1. I sorted trash. It was fun because I had a sharp box cutter and I got to talk to parents/students about recycling. This was just ... 3 hours on one of the move-in days, at the Lower Quad.
2. I wonder what Penn does with all that left over food. I sort of feel personally responsible for not taking extra food at all of the NSO events.
3. At convocation, I got a lot of cake, doughnuts, and cookies. Apparently, no one takes the doughnuts or cookies and I just saw the workers later just shoving stuff in the bin. I guess the thing that irks me the most is that a lot of people just take a bite of a cake, and then leave the rest on a table, and the whole cake gets thrown out. The convocation desserts should be the size of prunes, not the size of grapefruit.
4. Here's a piece of chocolate with pistachio.
5. I have a lot of food so I don't think that I'm going to be purchasing any food except for yoghurt in the next month or so.
6. For the past few days, I haven't been craving food. Perhaps this means that I'm finally on schedule with work, and that I find other things more exciting/of a higher priority. This is an improvement, because when food becomes the top in my list of priorities, it means that I'm upset about something. Also, the lack of blogging on here implies that I'm socialising with real people, haha.
7. I made my first cappuccino on Wednesday the 7th, and my first latte on Thursday the 8th. I think that my job is awesome...so, go to the Darkroom Cafe!!

10 September 2011

The Darkroom Cafe

Guys...I have a job that involves kitchens!! Somehow, this semester, I'm going to take 6 credits and ALSO make delicious drinks/food at the Darkroom Cafe, located in the basement of the Class of 1925, a residential building that is part of Gregory College House. I am proud to say that I was the first customer last year, when the cafe opened, and I bought a muffin with carrot and other plants in it. However, after that one muffin, I never went back because I had a meal plan. This year, since I don't have a meal plan, I get to finally sample food trucks, restaurants, bread (LOTS OF BREAD), and leftover coffee from here! Whoo! So... if anyone wants free coffee :P
 I have introduced recycling to the Darkroom Cafe, and I'm going to do something about the coffee grounds if the Penn Garden replies.
 The pastries are from Le Bus Bakery, somewhere in Center City. It's a shame that we can't actually bake the pastries, but I guess that would require a lot more planning, effort, and an actual oven. However, we do serve grilled cheese sandwiches!
 Here is BUNN, our energy-hoarding-coffee maker.

This is my first receipt. An RA bought a cup of coffee from me!

So, WHY would you want to come here instead of any other coffee place?
1. Our hours are:

SUNDAY closed mornings; 10:00pm-1:00am

MONDAY 8:00am-10:15am; 10:00pm-1:00am
TUESDAY 8:00am-10:15am11:00pm-1:00am
WEDNESDAY 8:00am-10:15am11:00pm-1:00am
THURSDAY 8:00am-10:15am; 10:00pm-1:00am
FRIDAY 8:00am-10:15am10:00pm-11:00pm
In other words, we stay up late for you guys! We get up early for you guys! We care!

2. We're nice people, who can give you advice on anything! There are four cafe managers, and we will try to remember your name.

3. We make fresh coffee. We grind our espresso beans. WATCH US grind the espresso beans! Applaud when we use actual shot glasses for the espresso! Gasp as we poof up the milk for your latte (and promptly overpoof it and spill it everywhere...)!

4. $1 for a cup of delicious coffee at the Darkroom Cafe is cheaper than whatever Starbucks sells it for ($1.69 last time I checked, during my college interviews hahaha)

5. The profits maybe (possibly very indirectly or directly... I have no idea) go to Gregory College House, which then use it to buy DVDs and games, fund house events, and purchase food for the house. Therefore, you're reaping the benefits of it somehow. Actually, this last statement may be completely false, so please don't quote me.

6. Bring your own mug... and you can get coffee for $0.75 instead of $1.00.

Stuff the Darkroom Cafe sells:
Chocolate croissants
Plain croissants
Grilled cheese paninis
Hot chocolate
Milk (whole, skim, soy)
Gregory College House mugs!!

So, I'm blatantly advertising because I work here on Wednesday and Friday mornings and Sunday and Monday nights. :) Come visit me!

05 September 2011

House BBQ!

Note: I realised that this year, all the cookies during NSO were soft and moist. Last year, they were all hard. Anyway.

Every year, my dorm house has a welcome (back) BBQ followed by baked goods and karaoke. Last year, I missed parts of it because I was taking a Chem placement test and... I'm not really sure what I was doing. This year, however, I participated much more and the double cheese veggie burger was delicious! TJ came late so she had a veggie burger in a hot dog bun (which I lovingly prepared for her. Haha).
I also played volleyball with the frosh. This year's new guys [at my dorm house] are hotter than the new guys at my dorm house last year. Haha...Karaoke was fun, actually, even though I embarrassed myself beyond the edge of the world. It was spectacularly entertaining, and I met a lot of cool people, including a guy from Australia. So, I feel much closer to my college house now. :)

04 September 2011

Hummus (The Restaurant)

At Pennfest, I got to sample pretty much half (or 25%. I don't know Hummus' serving sizes) a meal from Hummus. In fact, I could've sampled a bucketful of falafel and pita if I really wanted to... the next morning, as I walked around campus for MI Green, I saw that the whole platter of pita (kilos and kilos!) was on the floor. Delicious, but social suicide to pick up. The servers were friendly (well, of course they would be; here was the one chance to win the allegiance of some 2000 college students!), and the food was all vegetarian!! It was surprising, because before that, I had passed a whole herd of dead cooked animals in the form of deli food, subs, pepperoni, chicken curry...
I really liked the spring-roll-type-thing, and I'm not sure what the filling was but it was really umami. The hummus was beany and the pita tasted gluteny/yeasty (which was unexpected) and pillowy, which contrasts with the normally more dry pita bread that I'm used to. In all, I did enjoy the food by Hummus.

In other news, SR (who gave me the peanut butter cookie), abides by the vegetarian-most-of-the-time-unless-the-animal-flesh-is-getting-thrown-away. This sort of encourages me to be that type of vegetarian (in that case, I wouldn't be a vegetarian anymore), because it means that less food is wasted. Interesting concept, since I've been trying to figure out the logistics of being a sorta-freegan. More on that when I feel like typing an essay.

Hummus Restaurant
3931 Walnut St.

03 September 2011


TJ made me some iced peach juice. Actually, I think's more of a... hm... It's basically ice and peaches stuck in the blender. I really liked it, since it was icy cold (frozen peaches, I found out, don't taste as juicy or sweet as fresh peaches), but there was still a pleasant peach taste. TJ didn't enjoy it though, and proceeded to throw away a plate of cut up peaches, which kind of irked me.

 In other news, SR gave me a peanut butter cookie that his mum made for him. It's funny, because my mum came to Penn to give me my glasses (whoo!!! I can see far away now!) and brought along a bag of broccoli, cauliflower, mangoes, peaches, and basil from the garden. She also brought me a slice of pizza, which is pretty silly considering I have at least 9 slices of pizza in my fridge right now.

02 September 2011

Pizza Rustica

At PennFest (I know that I'm a sophomore, but everyone's allowed to go to PennFest...I believe), Penn tried to get students involved by asking us all to vote for our favourite pizza place near/on campus. After consuming way too much Allegro Pizza, which is, well, normal pizza, it was sincerely delicious getting some change and sampling other pizza places. However, only one stood out in my mind - Pizza Rustica. All the other pizzas were large and round (with the exception of one company's being a rectangle), or just plain cheese, or anything-but-vegetable, and Pizza Rustica trumped them all!
Pizza Rustica, according to the woman I talked to, uses local and fresh ingredients. She seemed genuinely happy when I voted for Pizza Rustica, and later, when there was a surplus of personal-sized pizzas, she gave me two boxes of them! Seriously! They just started handing out boxes of delicious, crunchy-crust, tomato-saucy pizza. I ADORED the vegetable pizza with mushrooms, artichoke pieces (erm, that's what they look like), and other stuff. The crispy bread with dip was also delicious and savoury. 
There was also an accordion player, who told me that he plays at the restaurant every Friday.

I suppose PennFest is a great advertising tool for all these restaurants. On one hand, you have these caterers who just put food on the table and sit back while you take it; on the other, these Pizza Rustica people smile, push more food and coupons into your hands, and remind you exactly where they are located.

3602 Chestnut St.