31 July 2011


I made some curry today with potatoes and squash from the garden. I also added in two carrots and two pieces of coconut. It was delicious!! Even my brother agreed, and he even wants to eat it again (with rice, this time)!!! My sister didn't, though, because she just wanted to eat candy/pancakes/chips. The curry wasn't too spicy, because I didn't add any chilies (but my sister STILL thought that it was spicy. Sigh.) This goes perfectly on its own, with rice, with noodles (yes, noodles), and even with whole wheat bread! Mmmm.

Ingredients - serves 5 to 6.
1 tbsp oil
1 clove garlic
0.5 onion
2 tsp curry powder
3 tsp coriander
(1 packet chili powder/flakes or chili)
Around 300 g potatoes
2 carrots
300 g squash
350 ml liquid (I used 250 ml water and 100 ml milk)
2 chunks of coconut for fun
A lot of tofu.

1. Cook spices, garlic, onion and oil in a BIG saucepan for a few minutes.
2. Add chunks of potato and liquid to the curry mixture and stir on high heat until liquid starts simmering.
3. Add chunks of squash and let everything simmer on medium-high for 10 minutes.
4. Add carrots and let everything simmer until the vegetables are at the consistency that you prefer. We wanted something slightly mushy, so we simmered for about 20 minutes in total.
5. Pour curry into a bowl that has cubed, fresh tofu.

I'm just glad we don't have to ever buy the ready-made curry sauces from the vacuum packages that have globs of oil. I ought to add shredded coconut next time.

30 July 2011

Pesto Sauce & Whole Wheat Macaroni!!

Since we have a LOT of basil growing in our yard, I decided to finally make pesto, something I've been planning for the past 5 years. No kidding. With plenty of basil, a whole bag pine nuts, and a tray of garlic, all I needed was some parmesan cheese.
I adapted this recipe a lot since my sister doesn't really like basil. She actually doesn't like garlic either, so next time I'll just make pesto sauce without garlic specially for her and then make real pesto. In addition, I didn't use too much oil, since I used a whole cup of pine nuts and a whole cup of cheese. The pesto itself was therefore much creamier and thick, which I prefer over a light and liquidy pasta sauce. It also occurred to me that pesto is a raw sauce... Hm. Interesting. The nice thing was that I got her involved in the cooking process. Dinner was quite spectacular for my mum too because she didn't have to cook or do dishes.

1 cup fresh basil leaves!
1.5 cups spinach leaves (or more basil - again, my sister doesn't really like basil)
2 small bulbs of garlic
0.5 cup olive oil
1 cup pine nuts, toasted.
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
250 g organic whole wheat macaroni
0.5 cup water

1. Cook macaroni.
2. Wash leaves. Stick in blender with garlic and toasted pine nuts and pulse a few times

3. Add cheese, oil, and water. Pulse.
4. Scoop generous globs of pesto onto drained macaroni.
5. Sprinkle with more parmesan!
The best part is that I made restaurant-quality sauce for literally something like a dollar.
Oh, here I am again ranting on that other person's blog (see yesterday's post) who lists the price of all the ingredients.
I'll do that here too, just so I can be "famous" and "adored".

Ingredients if I want to be honest about the price
1 cup fresh basil leaves! - $0 (from garden)
1.5 cups spinach leaves (or more basil - again, my sister doesn't really like basil) - $0.25
2 small bulbs of garlic - $0 (from garden)
0.5 cup olive oil - $0 (got reimbursed)
1 cup pine nuts, toasted. - $0 (got reimbursed)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese $~1
250 g organic whole wheat macaroni $0 (used dining dollars, so it's technically free.)
0.5 cup water $0
Total: $1.25
Price per serving: $0.25

Or, Ingredients if I want to emulate the other blog
1 cup fresh basil leaves! - $1
1.5 cups spinach leaves (or more basil - again, my sister doesn't really like basil) - $0.25
2 small bulbs of garlic - $0.20?
0.5 cup olive oil - $0.40?
1 cup pine nuts, toasted. - $3?
1 cup grated parmesan cheese $~1
250 g organic whole wheat macaroni $2
0.5 cup water $0
Total: $8
Price per serving: $1.60

I guess I'm still bitter about how that person gets so much freakin' respect for something not that notable.

I'm really glad that I made pesto sauce, since we have a LOT of basil, a lot of pine nuts, and a lot of delicious cheese. It's also so simple! I tried it on fries and it was great too. I don't think I want to use any oil next time; I'll just make it with water since the pine nuts have a lot of lipids anyway. I won't use spinach either, if I'm not making it for my sister.

29 July 2011

Cheese n Crackers

Cheese and crackers.
And grapes, blueberries, and lemon cheesecake.
There were actually brownies and bar cookies too. I suppose this internship pays off, huh? I get paid a little, I get lunch on Thursdays, and now I get some lab experience!
Smoked cheese is delicious, but too much makes me feel nauseous :O. Actually, does any one know what kind of cheese that is? There are two kinds up there; they're both delicious but I don't know the names of them :(

28 July 2011

"Two-Ingredient" Brownie

Yay for college kids with "no food" and a microwave!!
This brownie recipe requires you to purchase two ingredients.
1. Chocolate. I used baking chocolate, which is bitter (no sugar), though you could just use a candy bar. It was about $0.125.
2. Flour/bran/potato flakes/crushed cereal/whatever.

Actually, let's say your co-worker gives you a candy bar. A Twix bar, for instance. In that case, you only need to purchase one ingredient, the flour/bran/whatever.

You probably have the other ingredients in your house, or you can probably pick them up at Wawa or at some restaurant.
1. One packet of mayonnaise.
2. A few packets of sugar. I used four, but I think I could've done well with three. Some people may want to put in 14. If you use a Twix bar, you could put in less sugar, of course.

1. Melt chocolate in microwave in a ceramic bowl.
2. Add mayonnaise, sugar, and a few tablespoons of water.
3. Add in flour/bran/crushed cereal/etc. until you have something that looks like cake batter. If you want something super gooey (like the chocolate brownie in the picture above), make it the consistency of pancake batter.
4. Microwave for a minute. Add a few more seconds if you want.
5. The brownie firms up a little when it cools.

...so next time you have all those random mayonnaise/sugar/artificial sweetener packets, you know what to do!
The price of chocolate is now the price of that flavour of cake! Whoo!

Mayonnaise is basically eggs and oil, which give the cake the fatty taste and the rise (eggs). No baking soda/powder needed!

As a side note, I found a super-widely-followed-blog (that I won't name, because I'm not impressed by it anymore) that gave out recipes listing the exact cost of the ingredients and the price per small serving. Everyone, including me initially, is so damn intrigued by it because it shows that a serving of pound cake is some 0.46 cents, or whatever, and that a batch of cookies is $5.21 or whatever. Right, if I follow the recipes on this blog, I'll make delicious cheap food.

What I realised after reading some of the recipes, though, is that the recipes are normal. They're the kind you can find ANYWHERE ON THE INTERNET. ANY blog could stick out its ingredients with the prices. ANY person can buy and make food using cheap ingredients from Walmart. My mum does. She just doesn't blog about it. I don't get why this particular blog gets so much fanfare; if I make a batch of cookies using someone else's recipe, it's probably going to cost around $5.00 as well. Only, the blog won't tell me it's $5.00 (my grocery receipt will, though). I mean, this blog says, oh, make cookies using flour ($x), eggs ($x), sugar ($x), butter ($x), chocolate ($x). $x per serving.

My blog says, oh, make cookies using flour, eggs, sugar, butter, chocolate. Eat them.

So, after I thought of this, I realised that that blog wasn't a big deal after all. And I also got turned off with the shopping at Walmart part. Meh. Haters gonna hate. I'm gonna hate, haha.

26 July 2011

Juhhhst Peachy!

The Clark Park Farmer's Market has been selling peaches for $1.75/lb. I bought some peaches, including yellow peaches, a white nectarine, and a yellow nectarine. According to Wikipedia, nectarines are the same species as peaches... it's just that they have a recessive allele for a gene that gives peaches fuzz. I love both peaches and nectarines equally, because peaches remind me of China, and nectarines remind me of Australia (we used to have a nectarine tree).
Look at that beautiful skin! I love peach skin...I love peaches.
However, like the guy who was selling me the nectarines, I prefer white nectarines over yellow ones. The white ones are sweeter. The yellow ones are more sour and tangy. I also prefer nectarines slightly unripe (crunchier rather than soggy). The guy (sorry I can't be more descriptive... I wish I knew who I was buying these from; after all, that's the point of the Farmer's Market) actually let me try a piece of white nectarine because I couldn't decide which to get. I ended up getting one of each. He told me to come back next week and tell him which one I preferred. I don't know whether I'd go this weekend, since I want to try get on the 11:30 bus rather than the 12:30 bus.
The left nectarine is the yellow; the right is the white.
White nectarine. Delicious! Fresh!
Yellow nectarine! Delicious! Definitely more sour.

On a side note, I wrote a Python script that will convert my images from the Blogger size of 400px x 300px to my preferred size of 700px x 525px. It's weird; despite taking CIS110, it never occurred to me that I shouldn't have to do it manually every time I want to poof up pictures. So, for the past 8 months, I've been manually backspacing the "4" and adding a "7" and backspacing the "300" and adding a "525".
The good thing about my script is that it also accounts for when Blogger makes images 399px x 302px due to rounding errors.

I also realised that there are definitely programs out there that do conversions (e.g. Microsoft Word's Find and Replace), but it feels pretty good being able to write my own program.

25 July 2011

Baked Polenta!!!!!

I decided to bake my last tube of polenta.
Oh! How I lament not baking slices of polenta in my past!
It was absolutely delicious! Crispy (not really crunchy) outer poofy skin, soft and gooey center...
I'm still pondering how that happens, actually. What causes a poofy skin to form on a uniform corn mixture? Why is the surface of the polenta all crispy, enrobing a poof of air and soft, creamy (but still hot) polenta filling? It's like gruyeres. Cheese puffs.
In terms of physics, I know that when the temperature increases, volume increases. Therefore, when you stick polenta in the oven, the pockets of air within the polenta, which get closed off by the crispy surface of the polenta, expand. The expansion causes the poofiness. However, I don't understand what causes the surface of the polenta to stick to form a crisp. I initially thought, hm, gluten. But, gluten isn't present in polenta, is it? In corn? so what causes the surfaces to stick? Water? Water soluble proteins forming a matrix? The Maillard reaction? Of course, the outside is exposed to a higher temperature, meaning that it has a higher chance of burning. I suppose this means that there is less moisture on the surface of the polenta. Because the temperature is so high (425 deg. F), there isn't enough time for the water within the polenta to diffuse down its concentration gradient to distribute itself to the surface of the polenta. With a low temperature, the polenta would cook more evenly. With high temperatures, the outside is crispy, and the inside is moist (not as cooked). I could be wrong, but this is what I've gathered from science. I suppose it would be cooler to be a food scientist rather than a molecular biologist.
It's very delicious... Next time I ought to make thinner slices (though, these were already hard to slice). 425 F for 15 minutes on one side, 15 minutes on the other. Bottom rack. It's like a chip... but not really. No oil, either. Just slice polenta from a tube (I know, I should make polenta from scratch.) Delicious!

24 July 2011

Hong Kong Bakery Shop

Yet again, I yearned for Chinese bakery food.
This time, I found three items of intense interest at the Hong Kong Bakery Shop. These were the pandan Swiss roll, the taro bun, and the pineapple lemon bun. Unfortunately for me, the pandan cake was sold by the roll, which was $5.50. I asked whether they sold slices of cake, and she said no, even though they DID sell slices of green tea cake along with the roll of green tea cake! Ah well. I guess next semester I'll just have to buy a whole pandan cake.
I got a taro bun because I felt like biting into big, starchy cubes of freshly cooked taro. I was severely disappointed; the taro was pink and mashed! PINK! and not textured like taro at all! It was cold and lacked the sought-after flavour! The bread was poofy though, but that still didn't make me feel good about spending 80c on a mediocre, unsatisfying bun. Especially when Mayflower Bakery sells taro buns for 70c.
I also got the pineapple lemon bun, this time careful to ask whether there was actually lemon inside the bun after the fiasco at Mong Kok Station Bakery last time. Of course, the "pineapple" part refers to the pastry top.
This bun was amazing! The pastry was like all other pastry (although there were a few sesame seeds on top), the bread was like all other bread... but the lemon curd filling simply rocked! It was also a pretty generous ratio of lemon curd:bread. I now have to learn how to make lemon curd. I am definitely coming back to get more of this bun. It's squished in the picture because it had been in my bag for 4 hours, but it was still scrumptious!

In retrospect, however, I'm thinking that maybe Mong Kok bakery just gave me the wrong bun when I asked for a lemon bun. Maybe they put the pork floss buns in the lemon bun shelf by accident. Either way, I wouldn't want to risk it again, and since Hong Kong Bakery sells lemon buns, why would I go to Mong Kok Station again? Plus, the buns cost the same.
I guess this is how businesses win over customers. Serve the correct food item.

Next time I'll try the taro bun at Mayflower Cafe. It's probably better than the one at Hong Kong Bakery.

Hong Kong Bakery Shop
917 Race St.

23 July 2011

European Republic

European Republic. A shop tucked away at the corner of Strawberry St. and Chestnut St. Intersection of food! I got there at 11am, but they weren't open until 11:30, so I walked around town a bit. I entered promptly at 11:35, and there was already a guy ordering. From then until around noon, around 7 or 8 customers had purchased some sort of wrap and/or fries.
The only reason I wanted to check out this spot was that I had a small amount of hope that there would be cheese curds and gravy flavoured dip for my fries. A.k.a. poutine. A.k.a. something I've been wanting to try since I found the snack on Wikipedia! In retrospect, it doesn't make sense that a store called European Republic would sell something Quebecois. I went anyway, because I wanted fries. Oh delicious potato fries. Chips.

Unfortunately, no poutine on the menu. Ah well, at least they had fries! I liked the way the guy at the counter spoke. I ordered the large fries so that I could get two dips, but out of 22 choices, I really didn't know what I wanted! So, I stood there awkwardly, mentally crossing out dips that I was certain that I didn't want - olives, lemon dill, honey dijon, jalapeno cheddar - all the flavours you can get at a grocery store or another restaurant.
I asked what the European sauce was, and he said that it was mayonnaise. European ketchup was apparently mayonnaise, ketchup, and onions. Well! I decided that I'd have to try European ketchup then! I also was debating between the Jamaican curry and the avocado dip. The guy at the counter said that once my fries were out, he'd let me sample them. That was really nice, because I'm really indecisive.
The fries took about 10 minutes to make; I'm guessing they make these from scratch. There were tiny grains of salt lightly sprinkled on my serving (Okay, I believe this is probably 4 or 5 "servings" of carbs and fat. So delicious!). For $4.05 (including tax), I was very satisfied. I was afraid that I'd have some dip left over, so I severely over-dipped during the first half of my serving. I was out of dip near the end :(.
The fries: Thickly cut, extremely potatoey, and slightly soggy, these remind me of "diner fries". They're delicious, of course, but maybe I am conditioned to enjoy thinner crispier fries. They were very hot, and stayed warm in the paper wrapper. I don't think I love them to the point that I'd go out of my way to come back here.
The European Ketchup: I've had mayonnaise and ketchup together before, and I've been indifferent to it. With a hint of finely chopped/blended onions, however, the whole dip becomes much better! I really enjoyed this slightly sweet, slightly tangy dip.
The Jamaican Curry: A splendid green colour, with visible spices, this vegetarian dip was simply amazing! The creaminess helped ameliorate the spicy flavour, but it did get a tad too spicy (after chugging half the sauce in a few super-coated fries). I would eat this dip with everything! The best!
The Avocado Dip: I sampled a big blob of this one, and it was really mild and creamy. I mainly tasted mayonnaise, and didn't taste or smell any avocado at all. Therefore, I didn't decide to pick this dip.

Overall, it was a mouth-watering, satisfying meal. I'm not sure why I would come back though, because there are so many other places that sell equally delicious fries, and there are a zillion restaurants that I've yet to try in Philadelphia.

Something I'm confused about, though, is how the wraps relate to Europe.

European Republic
213 Chestnut St.

22 July 2011

Baked Acorn Squash and Seeds

Despite it being something like 38-9 degrees C today, I was determined to finish the acorn squash in my fridge. Right now, all that's in my fridge is about one serving of Colby-Jack cheese, a pound and a half of carrots, one tomato, cherry cough drops, and those disgusting candy sticks from a while ago. I need to clear out my fridge by the 28th so that it can defrost properly. I also have two cans of beans, a tube of polenta, and some amount of oat bran left.

I wanted to make acorn squash and chips but after not being able to slice the chunks thinly enough, I figured, eh, I'll just bake them. Bake them without oil or seasonings at 400 degrees F for some 15-or-something minutes.

I also toasted/baked the acorn squash seeds, and they smelled phenomenal! They smelled like... popcorn.
They tasted like... popcorn. Slightly. I loved it!
I actually also love baked acorn squash! It's deliciously sweet (but not too sweet) and has a potato-y texture! The acorn squash skin also smells and tastes like nori. What an interesting plant... popcorn, nori, and a delicious sweet interior...

The "baked" carrots, however, were still half raw when I ate them. They were a little sweeter than usual, but it wasn't too much to talk about.

20 July 2011

Frozen Peanut Butter

While browsing the internet trying to find how much ice cream costs per pound (or per ounce. I've still found nothing...), I realised that I've never frozen peanut butter before.
I've frozen bananas, gooseberries, apples, blueberries, currants, cookie dough, grapes, bread, and nut brittle. I've never tried freezing peanut butter.

Hm, when I lose my frosh 15 I'll eat a jar of frozen crunchy peanut butter. Perhaps I will even add some chocolate, cereal, breadcrumbs, tortilla chips, and yoghurt into the jar (after I pour out all the oil at the top and use it in cooking). It will be peanut butter froyo, but the ratio of peanut butter to yoghurt will be something like 97:1.

I realise that I probably sound a bit crazy.

However, I think it is really crazy when people drive over a mile to get to a chain ice cream store, spend $3-4 on one measly scoop of ice cream, and drive back home. (In the case of Philadelphia, walk to a brand-name ice cream store, purchase a $4.25+ ice cream with tax).

It makes more sense to pick up some a whole container (1 pint to 1 quart to whatever value-pack-size) of ice cream for $1-7 while doing the weekly/monthly grocery shopping. (In the case of Philadelphia, walk literally 300 m further from the brand-name ice cream store, purchase a $2 pint of the same brand's ice cream flavour, with/out? tax).

I also learned today at Trader Joe's that the goat cheese on crackers is called chevre and it's even more delicious when it's spicy.

16 July 2011

Storming of the Bastille Etc.

Today was rather food-filled!

1. I had some spaghetti, TVP, and onions at breakfast-time. No, not conventional breakfast fare, but still food!

2. Took a trip to Clark Park to get some lemon balm for mother, but it turns out that lemon balm will no longer be sold (for a while) due to irrigation issues on the farm! Oh well. I did get three delicious local peaches, with really thick and lovely-textured skins, and extra-fuzz! $1.75/lb.
3. My lips are sunburned. I can feel it.

4. At noon, I went to Commons intending to go the "Snack Time: Making Healthy Snacks With Local Ingredients" event. It was apparently free and I was hoping that I could get a sample of fruit leather or something. When I walked towards the entrance, I saw a sign saying "Snack Time", and a tail of a line. "Oh No! What if there's a space limit for how many people go to this event!?" I joined the line, and found myself being chauffeured up the stairs, with a guy apologising to me for some reason (for holding up the line or something? He told me I could go ahead...). I looked around. No one looked ready to make kale chips.
When there were about 8 steps between me and the salad bar, I realised something.
I looked down from the stairs. No, more down, into the basement. I saw laminated paper with arrows, pointing down. Then it hit me: the Snack Time event was in the basement! My quandary now was this: Should I observe people cook for an hour, and perhaps get a chunk of fruit leather, or should I follow the crowd and obtain a whole meal?!

So, Commons food over the summer is pretty good (so much fruit!!), especially when they're cooking for really hungry football-camp guys from various high schools, and their parents. The male:female ratio was maybe 95:1. There are also very few empty tables. I haven't had sweet potato fries in ages...they were delicious, but potato fries are definitely better. I also ate eggs. I haven't eaten eggs since the end of May.
5. Global Fusion Festival... because I was full from eating at Commons, I didn't buy any food here, although there were sundry choices...

...and even two vegetarian food stands! Surprising!
There was also a game by a company that I will not name because it didn't let me play its game. All you had to do was roll a 7 or 11 on two dice, and you could get a shirt or an umbrella! Its game was apparently only for people over 21, and when it was my turn, the lady asked to see my ID. I was like... wow. This sucks. Dude, a 2 year-old can roll a dice! Why stick the restriction to 21?! So, apparently I don't look like I'm 21. Which is fine because I have no intention of going to bars and clubs, but to merely roll dice?!
6. Storming of the Bastille! In honour of celebrating Bastille day, le 14 juillet, Eastern State Penitentiary has been doing this re-enactment of the Revolution in 1789. It was obviously tinted with American culture; there were litres of beer, hundreds of plastic cups and glass beer bottles, face painting and kiddie stuff, pizza, and other foods. During the re-enactment, I happened to be standing next to people who were smoking cigarettes and cigars. How putrid.
The re-enactment itself was quite interesting, although I don't understand why everyone (else) sang "God Bless America" before the re-enactment. Dude. This is supposed to be French.
The organisers also sang the French national anthem, but no one in the crowd was paying attention during this part. Philly also got mentioned a few times during the re-enactment, as did other American icons including Lady Gaga (Marie Antoinette "was the original Lady Gaga") and Star Wars.
Then one of the organisers recited the sacred sentence: "They have no bread!" and Marie Antoinette yelled out, "LET THEM EAT TASTYKAKE!"...
...And aristocrats/Marie/Darth Vader/Stormtroopers shovelled out Tastykakes to the crowd, which promptly started either smooshing them, or throwing them back.

My first Butterscotch Krimpet, thrown from the "Bastille" a.k.a. Eastern State Penitentiary! It landed right in front of me. For some reason, it tastes a bit like banana bread. Having not grown up consuming these PHO-filled "foods", I don't have any emotional associations with Tastykake, so I feel very indifferent towards its products. I later picked up a few more from either the ground or the stage. I felt really bad because I watched some workers throw away at least 15 wrapped Tastykakes that people decided to leave behind... it's such a waste of food. I should've just picked them all up and kept them, but I didn't, mainly because "other people probably think I'm crazy". A.k.a. "public image". I guess it's okay for little kids to search the concrete for Tastykakes, but it's not socially acceptable for a not-21-year-old to do it.
I doubt I'd ever buy any Tastykake products. There is no reason to, when I can bake cake that tastes better, and make icing out of 3 or 4 ingredients instead of 23.

14 July 2011


I'm not sure why I'm a vegetarian anymore.
Every reason I have can be argued against.
I eat chicken/quail/duck eggs (fish eggs? I don't know). I consume cow and goat milk products. I ingest gelatine every time I eat gummies and marshmallows. I guess I'm not really a strict vegetarian.

1. The environmental reason - the one I guess I believe in the most. Less energy is used to produce grain than it is to produce a chicken. I eat eggs though, which take a lot of energy to make (by the chicken). The environmental reason also doesn't hold when a piece of food gets thrown away. For example, if I happen to have a slice of sausage pizza, and I throw away the sausage, I'm wasting all the energy it took to grow corn, grow the cow, process the cow into sausage, transport the sausage, and cook the sausage on the pizza. Also, I eat a lot of processed foods (chips, chocolate) that take a ton of energy to process, transport, and package. Finally, the most environmentally friendly thing to do is to eat the minimum number of Calories needed to be a vegetable. A.k.a. not waste Calories by exercising. Fundamentally, the best way to be environmentally friendly is to die and decay in a forest somewhere.

2. Cost/convenience reasons. Being a vegetarian seems to be cheaper (unless you're really into buying vegan cheese and fake processed soy pepperoni that sells at some $13/lb) if you live on dairy, beans, nuts, and soy. Also, I don't know how to cook animals.

3. The "disgust" factor. Factory farms, squishy chicken butts being mashed into nuggets, fecal pieces in ground animal flesh...it's gross, yes, but it's also something that is easily avoided by being ignorant, or buying dead animals from a different company.

4. The "moral" reason which I haven't been believing in ever since I read on Wikipedia that lions eat animals. Well, duh, I knew that, but in the context of "Why can other animals eat animals, yet we can't?", it makes perfect sense that we, as animals, are able to eat animals. I guess I don't have much compassion for animals.

5. The health reason, which I never ever took into consideration, really. I know that I'm not protein deficient but sometimes I worry that I'm iron and vitamin B12 deficient. I'm not obese or overweight. However, I'm a living example that "vegetarian=healthy" is false, and I dislike that stereotype. Dude, I eat so much candy.

Apr 2005 - no chicken nuggets
Oct 2005 - no chicken, no gelatine.
Apr 2006 - no animals except fish/seafood, no gelatine.
Jan 2009 - no fish, no animals, gelatine okay.
Jul 2011 - I dunno.

I think it's just that I've been a vegetarian for so long (okay, not really that long) that it's just become habit. So now, if you asked me why I'm a vegetarian, I say "I just feel like it."

Maybe I should be a flexitarian-freegan-vegetarian-freeloader.

12 July 2011

Ben & Jerry's

(You can see Ben & Jerry's in the distance)
Because I signed up for Ben & Jerry's mailing list, I am guaranteed one scoop of ice cream and cake cone per year. For merely signing up, I got a scoop of ice cream! Today, I went to obtain my scoop after buying groceries at the Fresh Grocer. It turns out that signing up for the Fresh Grocer's card is pretty useful; I got 8 oz of cheese for "free" (a.k.a. for spending $9.89 on fruits and vegetables, which I kinda need anyway). I see how this will be useful in the future; since carrots are pretty much the same price throughout all of Philadelphia, I could totally buy 10 lbs of carrots (yes... I can eat a lot of carrots) and get a pack of cheese for free... which is nice.

Anyway, I tried the Bonaroo Buzz, after MUCH deliberation (I sampled the Late Night Snack flavour, but found the lack of potato taste in the potato chips disappointing, and I didn't find it salty at all), since I really couldn't decide. I figured, hey, malt is delicious. Let's try malt!
The girl behind the counter was super nice! The ice cream melted ridiculously fast...signifying the presence of lots of cream, I'm guessing? The flavour tasted sort of just like coffee ice cream, although there was a hint of sweet, burned sugar caramel. There wasn't much maltiness, though, and I didn't detect any caramel swirls. There were small bits of chocolate, and one lump of toffee, which upset me because I wanted huge chunks of toffee! However, the toffee was phenomenal; it was crunchy and gooey at the same time. It was nice to get some free ice cream, especially as it was over 90 F today.

11 July 2011

7-Eleven Free Slurpee Day

It's July 11th, which means that it's "Free Slurpee Day" at 7-Eleven. For some reason, 7-Eleven thinks that today is its birthday.
On the company website, apart from the "Happy Birthday" sign, there is nothing saying the exact date on which 7-Eleven was established; it only gives the year (1927, or 1999, if you want to be official about the name change). The 7-Eleven actually refers to the hours it used to have - 7am to 11pm. Of course, most 7-Elevens are open 24/7 now, to be super "convenient".

I do like slushies. The only times I've had them in the past were in the form of Slurpees, at various 7-Elevens in Hong Kong (man, 7-Eleven in Hong Kong gives me so many happy memories!). My favourite flavour was the Coke, for sure! Then, a few years ago I just went cold turkey with soda, and although I don't really ever crave slushies, from now on, having them once a year seems pretty nice. Last year, JM and I ran to the local 7-Eleven at around 7pm to get a sample but they had run out. Thus, today ends my 5 or 7 year hiatus on 7-Eleven Slurpees, and slushies in general (I guess the ones I make at home don't count).

After my swim this morning (8:07 am), I went to the 7-Eleven at 38th and Sansom St., and it was pretty empty and all the Slurpee machines were neatly churning out coloured ice. The cashier showed me the "small" cups, 7.11 oz. It's pretty funny because a decade ago (oh my gosh. Has it really been A DECADE?!?!?) at McDonald's in Hong Kong, this size (or 8 oz) was considered the drink size in a Happy Meal, or the "small" drink. Portion sizes have skyrocketed...

I did have my camera but the Slurpee was melting ridiculously fast so I decided I'd just take a picture of the cup since it's pretty neat. The blueberry flavour was still liquid so I ended up with about 1/10 blueberry-sugar-liquid, 4/5 perfect pina colada slush, and 1/10 Coke slush on top. I know I shouldn't drink Coke anymore, especially as I haven't had it in yeeeeeeeeears, but I had a moment of nostalgia, of drinking/eating a Coke Slurpee at the playground in South Horizons in the humid Hong Kong summer afternoon, with KC, LW, and/or my brother.
So, I had to relive that again, except in the morning before breakfast in Philadelphia, alone. The Coke flavoured one was really caramelly. I guess I've forgotten the taste of Coke. The pina colada flavour was pretty awesome. I don't think the blueberry sugar water did much. I guess I'm a really emotional eater.

What if, way back when, 7-Eleven had opened from 11am to 11pm? Would the drink sizes on the 11th of November be 11.11 oz? Would they save more money, because fewer people would be inclined to trudge out and obtain an ice-cold drink in November?

10 July 2011

Lunch for the Next 12 Days

Let me tell you about lunchtime at my internship.
The objective: Lunch runs from approximately 12 to 1 pm every day, except Thursday. On Thursdays, we have a lunch and discussion from 12 to 2 pm. There are usually two presentations during these discussions, and lunch is catered by Allegro Pizza or Potbelly sandwiches. So far, we've had pizza, sandwiches with chips, baked ziti, and stromboli. Pictures are not taken because it is not apropos for the circumstances. On the other days, the lunch hour means that everyone else in my internship program leaves the building to go buy lunch. There is an eating area on my floor, and many people heat up food using the two microwaves.

The subjective (my lunchtime): I brought spaghetti or sandwiches with me in my lunch box and ate with two of the interns occasionally, initially, but I don't anymore because I don't really enjoy social interaction. Sometimes, I don't bring lunch because I didn't cook anything or feel guilty about eating. Either way, I always finish my lunch within 20 minutes so I spend the other 40 minutes attempting to read, or attempting to chill online. The reading doesn't work well because I hear a ton of laughter and Chinese and English chatter. The chilling online doesn't work too well either because most of the time, my mentor finds some reason to talk to me about work or give me work to do just because I happen to be physically sitting in the lab while everyone else is physically outside of the lab. I highly resent this because I prefer to interact with work only from 9-12 and 1-5. Therefore, recently, I have been leaving the premises from noon until 12:58pm when the weather permits it (but it hasn't much, due to intense sun, rain, or thunder).

A few weeks ago, I decided that in order to have a healthier eating schedule (coupled with the fact that I've begun swimming before work and biking/running after work), I ought to actually make lunch every day. On Monday, I took out my lunch box, took off the lid, and microwaved the spaghetti. I put the lid on the coffee table, sat on the sofa, and twirled spaghetti around while I read. I was vaguely aware of a guy sat briefly on the other sofa chair, taking out his lunch from his lunch box. A few minutes later, his friend turned up, so he packed his lunch and they went out to the balcony to have lunch and chat.

After finishing my lunch, I glanced up to notice that my lunch box lid was missing. I didn't panic too much, though, since I figured that maybe the guy had taken it by accident when he packed up his lunch. So, I went to the balcony and asked if he had seen a lunch box lid. He looks at me and said no, and I felt like he was mad at me for some reason.

I asked the people at the dining table whether they'd seen a lunch box lid, and one person said "(to me) Maybe a squirrel took it. (to the rest of the table) What? It happened to me before!"

Uh. We're indoors, on the 3rd floor.

I checked the floor, the tables, the sink, under the sofa...So, someone stole my lunch box lid or threw it away. Fun. Thanks.

So, what will I do for lunch for the next 12 days? I do have a non-microwaveable container, so I guess I can still bring food and bread, but half of me is just irked, because I liked my lunch box, and I still have a box of spaghetti to consume. I still do not understand why anyone would want to take a lunch box lid. Either way, I'm pretty fed up with my internship already (not just because of this; I have my reasons) and I can't wait to go home and start this project with my sister - it'll be throughout all of August!

09 July 2011

Dorney Park

TJ invited me to go to Dorney Park with her and her family. Although I have been to Dorney Park before, 3 summers ago, I still found it fun since I love roller coasters (I've never been to a water park before, and I guess I'm just not interested in them).

Knowing amusement parks, I should've brought along some food. I did bring my steel water bottle, and there were water fountains (so I didn't have to waste $3.50 on water!!). The food was overpriced, of course, which is why I got fries. I haven't had fries in at least two months, and I've been craving them, even though I could get them for $1 somewhere nearby. The fries I got were $5.83, although I later saw them for about $5 at another part of the park :(. The fries nice and crunchy though, and sort of fulfilled my craving.
Since TJ's mum is part of a union, they got this free buffet meal thing (it was union day at the park), although TJ told me that there was no real vegetarian stuff there - it was all burgers and hot dogs etc. There was mayo-covered potatoes ("potato salad") and macaroni (sweeter... "macaroni salad"), which TJ brought out of the catering area in my bag, which got soaked in some mayo. Haha, oh well. The potato salad was mediocre, but not terrible since it was free. While we were eating, I was watching the three guys at the table next to ours; two were eating pizza/fries/milkshake, while the other one was eating a burger/fries/milkshake. While he went off to get some ketchup, the other two guys grabbed about half of his fries. He came back with ketchup, and seemed unaware of the fact that half his fries had been stolen. Just an anecdote.

TJ was determined to get funnel cake, so after we had gone on all the rides that we wanted to go on (except Possessed, because we saw it break down four times), she bought one with powdered sugar ($7). I've never had funnel cake before, and I think that it's basically a doughnut with more exposed surface area...it's delicious, yes, but definitely not one of my favourite foods. I'd prefer doughnuts solely because I have more of an emotional attachment with them. The portion is huge, though. We ate only half of it, and boxed the rest for later.
I do like the crunchy bits of funnel cake with a lot of powdered sugar, actually.
Throughout the day, I basically saw foods in shades of yellow. (Such is America, right?). Actually, I did see some coloured foods in the form of sugar+food colouring. Oh, and somehow having real insects in a candy store is a good thing.
I wonder if I can bake funnel cake? Low-free funnel cake? I know that my sister likes it.