Thursday, May 28, 2009

a dozen muffins

When I noticed the overripe bananas in the fruit bowl, I decided to try a recipe I'd found for vegan banana bread. The original recipe is here, but of course, I tweaked it to my own tastes and for the amount I wanted, so here's what I did:

2 ripe bananas
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/3 c whole wheat flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mash together bananas and oil. Combine wet and dry ingredients until smooth. For muffins, bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes. Yields about a dozen muffins.

I also added an impromptu mixture of plain oatmeal (uncooked), sunflower seeds, and brown sugar to the top of some of the muffins before baking. Yum! The original recipe called for nuts, which I would've added, but this was a spontaneous baking venture and there were none in the pantry.

They are very delicious--I'll definitely keep this one for the recipe box!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

a healthier cookie?

I have been in the kitchen as long as I can remember. I probably can't recommend you the best restaurant in my hometown, but I can cook you a mean insert food here (don't ask me about meat though--that knowledge left the building a long time ago!). Really, I don't know how to cook everything, but I have made my share of dishes and am a good recipe hunter when it comes to the rest. As I approach a time I have long-awaited--finally having my own kitchen--I have been in search of suitable recipes for everything I've always wanted to make but haven't.

One thing at the top of my list is vegan baked goods. And not just vegan, but in other ways wholesome. Whole grain, whole wheat, no sugar added, made with fruit, etc. (not all in the same recipe, obviously) When I was about nine or ten, I took up the task of baking, because my mother only bakes for holidays and I found it was a kitchen job I could have all to myself. I now find myself in search of a little something sweet that won't make me feel as guilty. I'm trying not to rely on fat-free this and artifically-sweetened that. I want something homemade and wholesome. I know in the end, a cookie is a cookie. It can never be as healthy as an apple or a piece of broccoli--duh. But I'm going to try my best to make something a little better.

So, today, I started with a recipe I found here...Vegan Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies! Just what I wanted. I doubled the recipe and modified it a little. I posted the version I used below...

Vegan whole wheat chocolate chip cookies!

(My 16-year-old brother ate three in a row if that says anything about their taste.)

1.5 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (w/no milk fat for vegan cookies)

Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Yields about 2 dozen medium cookies.

I think I'll call it a success! I've bought a little house-shaped papier-mache box that I am going to keep all of my recipes in. I'm going to add pictures of the finished products too! It's very exciting.

Monday, May 25, 2009

"grazie e arrivederci"

This time last summer, I was roadtripping to St. Louis with Corey, and getting ready to study abroad in Greece and Italy for two months. I miss traveling and all of the places I've been, especially Italy. It's very dear to me and I know I will be back there in the future, one way or another. It's destined to be true.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

tofu is good for you

I had a lovely visit with Corey, Ben, and Lexie on Thursday and Friday. We did a lot of cooking. Corey and I had the idea to make a vegetarian "catfish" dinner out of tofu. So we made tofu nuggets, hush puppies, a few fried pickles, and threw in a salad to counteract all that was fried! It turned out really well!

The night before, Ben, Lexie, and I revisited old times by cooking dinner together at Lexie's house. When we all lived in Italy, we had nightly dinner parties. Almost all of our meals were based around potatoes, so we had a side of baked potato pieces with our dinner. We also had fresh pineapple and salad, and I had stir-fried tofu while they had chicken.

This is a rosebush I snapped from the car window not too long ago, while waiting for a train to pass. Its petals were forming a pretty puddle on the grass.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

beagles and summer

These are my family's one-year-old beagle puppies. They are a joy, even though they're a handful. They make me feel special by getting really excited whenever I get home, even if I have only been gone an hour or two.

So far this summer...

1. I started my internship. I've been putting in a lot of hours. I have a lot left to go. I am learning things about being a professional photographer, and putting lots of other skills to the test.

2. I've been unpacking. I have an apartment's worth of gadgets (the only thing I lack is furniture) and whatnot. Making it all fit into a 120-square-foot room is challenging. I haven't been giving it enough attention, so I need to work on that.

3. I volunteered. I volunteered at the Arts Center last weekend, which was a really good opportunity and fun. I hope to be able to do so at least a few more times over the summer. I helped kids do a craft (make an origami boat and decorate it) before they saw a play related to what they made (Wind in the Willows).

4. I hung out with some of my best friends. Casey volunteered with me at the Arts Center, and we also got coffee. Callie and I got coffee too before she headed up to Michigan for her new job! Congrats, friend, you deserve it. I will miss you, however. Visits with both of them were definitely highlights of my week last week!

5. I've been making things. I've been making lots of clay necklaces for future craft sales this summer. I also tried out a feature on Etsy called Alchemy, where people request things they need and you can make a "bid" to make them. I had two of my bids accepted and am now in the process of designing a save-the-date card and a birthday invitation! It's interesting work.

6. I've also been doing other art-related things like researching and entering photography from my portfolio into various shows and publications. I hope to hear at least one yes or two this summer! It's hard work finding a lot of things to enter (especially student-budget friendly) but definitely worth the happiness of getting just one acceptance letter in the mail and the chance to put that on my artist resume. I'll be starting work on my final senior photography project (which will be exhibited in my university's fine art gallery in December) shortly. The proposal has been approved and I know what I am doing, I just have to get started. The earlier, the better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

delicious things

I love food photography.
I plan to invest a lot more time in it this summer!
I've been reading up on tips and such. We'll see.
Here are my favorite food photographs of 2009 so far...

At a Japanese sushi restaurant over Christmas break.

Pizza made by my friend Zach.

Zach making the sauce.

Carrots! I'm doing a series on vegetables.

Rice and vegetarian stir fry.

New potatoes.

My most typical breakfast, as well as one of my favorite coffee mugs.

From my formal dinner project.

Devil's food caaake!


Burrito recipe created by me and Corey (mostly Corey):

Hash browns, romaine lettuce, stir fried bell peppers and onions, fresh tomatoes, and homemade salsa on a whole wheat and flax tortilla. Delicious!

In other news, my photography internship started Monday. It's going very well so far. I've been learning a lot and doing various tasks. More updates to come...

Friday, May 08, 2009

happy thesis day

I'm moving out in two are some pictures of my beloved dorm pre-packing!

Also, this is one of my two final watercolor projects, which are due today. I'm so close to being done with the semester! (it's around 2 feet by 3 feet)

Today I present my thesis at 2:35 this afternoon! I'll write more later.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

summer, surprise me

I am pleased to announce that a short series of my photographs has been featured on the online literature and art magazine, Anderbo. It's really a great online publication, and you should check it out if you like short stories, nonfiction pieces, poetry, or photography. I'm very excited about being on the site!

Well, this week is finals week, and I'm moving out of my dorm on Sunday. It's my last few days in the dorm...ever! For my final semester, I will be living in an apartment. I feel I have earned that privilege after four years sans-kitchen or my own furniture. Living on campus has certainly had its perks, however, and I'm glad for the time I spent here.

I was so fortunate this semester as to have only one final exam...and it was online. However, before anyone tells me how lucky that makes me, keep in mind that the life of an art student revolves around projects more often than tests. My finals week = final projects coming out of my ears (if that happened literally, I would not be surprised), my thesis on Friday!, packing, cleaning, seeing friends graduating (am I really that old already!? yes, I am...), etc.

This summer I hope to accomplish a lot. I've been making lists and setting goals for myself. As someone who loves school, I am trying to adjust to the concept of no deadlines, no professors, and no assignments. I am learning. By the time I graduate (December!), I'll be good to go.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

tiny art

A professor at my school is putting together what she is calling the Tiny Art Auction. Tiny works of art will be auctioned off for charity tomorrow night. This is my submission...

It is a tiny papier mache box (2.5" wide by 1.5" tall) which I decorated with watercolor and ink, and filled with 78 tiny photographs from my study abroad in Greece. Each photograph is 1.5" wide by 1" tall. It was fun to make! Tiny things are cute. I got two of everything so I can make one for myself as well.

Friday, May 01, 2009

before the discovery

I am finally finished! Yesterday I had my final critique for my semester-long advanced photography project, twenty-one rolls of film and nearly 200 sheets of photo paper later. I'm so appreciative of everyone who helped me with this project and offered words of encouragement. Here is my artist statement:

A close inspection of one’s self quickly reveals personal fears, doubts, and insecurities. It may be our nature to believe that these negative feelings are unique unto ourselves, but really, they might be so common that they could be labeled the threads which tie us all together.

My intent was to create a series of self-portraits which metaphorically revealed my own fears, doubts, and insecurities, believing that by doing so, I would not only be able to face the things which bothered me, but also connect with viewers who shared the same sentiments. By making the series, I came into several realizations, the best being that truly, our biggest, most overwhelming fears and doubts are unnecessary. Admitting what we are afraid of, no matter how big or small it may be, is the first step to relieving the burden and believing, “Everything is going to be okay.”