Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My Brain Refuses to Retain Any of this Nonsense

First of all, it was not fun nursing a cold/sinus infection for over a week. I'm still coughing and draining my sinuses, but no longer as severely. What makes colds and the like much more problematic for me is that any change in pressure to my head cavities seems to set off my Meniere's syndrome. Also I discovered during yoga class that any pose that requires me to be on my back with my legs up is likely to set off a vertigo spell. Not cool.

So President's day weekend was spent trying to study up for the next round of lab and lecture exams in biology while wishing I could take Nyquil intravenously. The particular subject we had just finished covering was muscles and neurophysiology. I did not enjoy having to seriously ogle the cadaver, knowing I would have to identify a muscle on it for the exam. Even though it was a dried out husk of a person, my subconscious kept going, "DEADBODYDEADBODYDEADBODYDEADBODY," and the formaldehyde stench did not help.

I also learned that week from one of my culinary classmates that people can be allergic to formaldehyde! She had discovered her husband had it the hard way, when they had new floor put in. Apparently though, she was fortunate to have left a pot of corn beef boiling on the stove when they left the house for the workers to put in said floor. The workers left earlier than expected, so no one was watching the kitchen. It seems that burnt food smell overwhelms the senses, and will drive out the smell of formaldehyde. Maybe I can convince my biology teacher I am allergic, since every time the cadaver room was opened for viewing, my eyes teared up something fierce. I do not look forward to the smell assaulting my senses again, nor having to look at a sheep's brain being dissected.

Anyways, Monday afternoon I pulled a three-hour cram session trying to prepare for the lab test. After that long, I felt I deserved a reward for dealing with nonsense I won't be using, as I doubt anyone in dietetics or the culinary world would ask me about sebaceous glands or to recite the flexors and extensors of the limbs. I decide to watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Not too bad as study breaks go, as I even had the great idea that the best reward for passing anatomy classes would be the ability to build one's very own Rocky. However, Tuesday evening I get home at 7:30pm, much too sore to continue studies on the cellular mechanisms of muscle contraction and the process of action potentials in muscle fibers and neurons, so I hop in the tub and then put the movie soundtrack on to wind down. So Wednesday morning, guess what is still going through my head? Not all the silly terminology for muscle cells, the nervous system, or any of that stuff I'm supposed to be retaining for my exam, but the dang soundtrack to Rocky Horror, along with Tim Curry dancing around as Dr. Frank-N-Furter. *facepalm*

To make matters worse, during morning lab, my classmates are tossing around memory tricks they've picked up for all this clinical science jargon. One guy mentioned salt and bananas, and next thing I know, I'm picturing bananas foster, melting all over a bowl of vanilla ice cream. Also, Rocky Horror was still playing in my head as background music. ARGH!

Needless to say, I am quite certain that out of the 80 questions on that exam, I answered 30 correctly. Although afterwards I did check with the nutrition program director to confirm that, yes, a C- grade in the course would be sufficient. I am so glad I decided not to pursue nursing, those poor schlubs have to pull a B or better to have their biology classes qualify for the prerequisites of their medical training. Still, if dietetics doesn't pan out, perhaps I could try integrative nutrition. Would anyone be interested in a nutritional consultant that doubled as a personal chef?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Guess how much fun I had last night in spite of having a head cold and an anatomy quiz to study for?

My sister managed to make chocolate cupcakes from a box without breaking anything! Then we both frosted and decorated them, with a little help from Sirenidi ;)

Those preschoolers are gonna FREAK. OUT.

Also, this picture was from a Sunday outing, at which someone wasn't watching a certain little person near the bakery cases too closely.
Kid loves frosting, just like her mama.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oy Vey

If you don't wish to read about a crazy-ass weekend, I leave you with some entertaining tidbits from Neil Gaiman and Stephen Colbert that I came across in my net surfing.

Stephen Colbert's interview with Maurice Sendak

Anyhow, the craziness started on Friday, when I made the suggestion to take my sister and niece out thrift store shopping. We had made plans for a two hour outing, with a stop at a Chinese food restaurant for lunch after my niece returned from preschool. That ought to leave enough time to take the cats to the vet for their shots at 5:00. Unfortunately, we both should have known better than to make plans with fate being the trollop it is.

My dad had arranged for a repair service to come fix our stove that morning, for which the scheduled time was any point between 8am and 12pm. To further confuse things, my older brother had randomly decided to get his truck serviced, so he would need to be picked up from the university campus after his classes ended in the afternoon. Plus, my younger brother required transportation to and from his job as a sign waver for Quiznos during the lunch hour.

At first, the arrangement would be for my dad to take my brother to work if we would pick him and my other brother up. Fair enough, as we would have to wait for my niece's school bus anyway. Repair person arrived in the designated window, but took three hours to fix the faulty burner on the stove. During that time I had to make an effort to clean the revealed stove siding, since it was incredibly disgusting. Also we all snacked on one of my homemade ice creams while we waited. By then it was late, and we had to have my dad pick up younger brother.

Since it was nearly time to pick up older brother, my sister suggested getting a snack at Sonic. BEST IDEA YET. She paid for onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and slushes, aw yeah. When older brother called with his location, I thought it would be best to get a map to the building, since I am horrible with finding things, especially at the university. My sister fires up the dang GPS, which takes us to the clear opposite side of the campus where my brother is at. *facepalm* After some finagling on the phone with older brother, we figure out where to actually go. He is much more calmed after chugging a Sonic Cherry Slush. I drop him off at the auto shop, since his truck is done.

Good grief. It is now after 3:00, and we finally make it to the restaurant. We get some quick combo plates, and I indulge in lemon chicken even after the deep-fried snack I had, because I needed to be pacified from the enormous time wasted already. My niece predictably takes a shower with her chow mein. It was estimated at least 80% ended up in her belly, anyway.

Finally we arrive at the thrift store. My sister asks to wander off for pants and bags, so I take it upon myself to find some dressy play shoes for the niece. They have nice shoes at the thrift store, but not many in her size. It was also difficult to get niece to understand the concept of wiggling her toes to check growth room in the shoes. Still, she ended up with a nice pair of strappy tap heels, that she promptly decided were for her to wear to "ballerina class," and thus kept asking the rest of the time we were in the store when we would go to said "ballerina class." I cannot wait until this child can understand concepts of time.

By then it was past 4pm, and while I was all for heading straight home, my sister brilliantly changes her mind and wants me to drive to pick up her girlfriend. Ugh. Girlfriend happened to live over in east Sparks, while we were in south Reno! The easiest way to get there would be to do some freeway hopping, but with the recent remodeling, people were stupider than usual and clogging up the exits to change freeways. So I had to pull a little back street maneuvering to get to girlfriend's house.

After picking up girlfriend, she apparently needs a sandwich, having not eaten for awhile. Sister also wants to pick up booze, and younger brother called to have us pick up DVDs at the store, please. I am thoroughly surprised at myself at this point for not banging my head repeatedly on a hard, firm surface. Mother arrives home from work early on Fridays, so at least she was on hand to deal with the cats' visit to the vet. Girlfriend and sister argue about where to get booze while we make a stop at Quiznos for a sandwich and Office Depot for DVDs. Niece is incredibly cranky from sitting in the car so long, as am I.

I solve the booze dilemma by driving to Raley's, which happens to be near the vet. I check in with my parents, pulling a double hit by showing off niece's new shoes. Now, since school started, I have made a habit of checking on what dinner will be, so I can either a) join the family or b) buy/make something healthier. My father claims we will shop briefly at the store to pick up some things for a dinner of steak for the boys and meatloaf for them, this way we can grab something me and my sister would be willing to eat. I agree with this plan, and head from the vet's to Raley's with my niece to get a head start. Apparently my sister and her girlfriend picked out their liquor really quick, because they were already in the parking lot looking for me. I tried to explain the plan to them, but apparently my dad pulled a typical 180º and decided that, no, we would not be shopping, as all we needed at the house was sour cream.

Trying not to punch something, I quickly decided that I would shop for my dang dinner as I'd planned. Returning my niece to her mother, I returned to the store to get sour cream, arugula, and turkey thighs. I also found some nice red bell peppers. Arriving at home with my purchases, I found that creating a pulled turkey sandwich with an old poultry spice blend I'd made was a really satisfying meal. The wine slushee probably helped too. Then of course, nothing could stay perfect and I had to help my dad bake the meatloaf. Which didn't come up to temperature even after over an hour of baking at 350º. This situation is why I tell my father to stop shopping at cheap grocery chains like Scolari's.

As for today's happenings, all I will say is that opera, Krull, and spiced pumpkin ice cream make things happy in my brain.

Also, before I forget, this was a recent Pastry Arts project:

White cake with chocolate fudge buttercream, coffee syrup, butterfinger chip sprinkles, and topped with brown sugar caramel (penuche). The layering turned out well, and I'm rather proud of the piping! (Yes it's only five rosettes, but it's sadly the best I've done). We are also going to be making intermezzo sherbets for the up and coming culinary school student's restaurant experience, and I was granted permission to make this sorbet. I'll be making the soda from scratch, but I'm considering running to the store for the ginger beer just in case ;)