Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Damn.

I think my hands may actually fall off. It's so cold that my normally insanely dry hands are not only dry, but are actually swelling (is that even possible when they're dry?) and turning all shades of red and purple. I just caked them in Neutrogena's Hand Cream, which is wonderful, but it's now hard to type because my fingers are all gooey. And I'm pretty sure I will not be able to put on gloves any time soon! Bah! Go away winter!

Monday, January 28, 2008

JUNO Trailer

Just in case you needed more incentive...

JUNO

If you haven't seen it yet. Go. Run. It's fabulous. It's everything you want a movie to be. Good tunes, perfect casting, an adorable lead, a heart-wrenching story, and a great ending. Plus, it's just plain fun. Seriously, go. I guarantee you will fall in love with Juno.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

OH BABY!!!!

Tom Coughlin may need plastic surgery, but the GIANTS ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL!!!!!

Frostbite, anyone?

I'm pretty sure the coach of the New York Giants is going to have frostbite on his face tomorrow- get that man a scarf!

Oh, and also - what's with Eli making his fiancee' sit in the freezing stands just because he's superstitious - get over it and let her stay warm!

So cold!

Yikes! We've basically been hibernating since Friday evening - with the exception of the short trip to drop off my car at my brothers since his refused to start! The highs for this weekend were at or below 0 degrees! Luckily we had to reason to be out and about, so we've been hanging around the house, watching movies, doing some cleaning, and yesterday we even made a large pot of good old fashioned beef stew! It was the perfect way to stay warm. Since it's so cold out, we brought Jonas into the kitchen and dining room to hang out with us for awhile. While we were making supper, we remembered why he doesn't live in the house with us - he's big enough that his nose was even with the stove top! I'm lucky he didn't grab the spoon and help himself! Good thing he's pretty spoiled and has his own igloo inside the garage, with a heat pad in it, so he stays nice and warm on these cold days! The pics are a bit blurry because Jonas is constantly in motion!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ouch!

Sometimes I wake up with a small, inflamed taste bud on the edge of my tongue. I'm not exactly sure what it's from, but it always hurts for a day or two then disappears. Today I was noticing that my sore taste bud is back, and since I needed a break from making figures for my paper, I decided to google 'inflamed taste bud.' There are multiple theories as to what causes these irritations, none of which seem to be entirely accurate - or maybe it's one of those things that can be caused by a variety of factors. Some people think it's simply due to the sides of the tongue rubbing against the edges of the teeth overnight. Others think it's some sort of ulcer, or a dead or dying taste bud. The majority seem to think the irritations are due to excess sugar, acids, or cinnamon, in some cases. Interesting... Even more so after my boss just asked me how I can eat an apple while drinking a can of 7up - evidently he thought that would be too acidic, but I've never really thought about it. Come to think of it, I did have a can of 7up yesterday, too! Hmm... I'll have to pay a little more attention the next time I get one. Also, some people talked about cutting off the tip with a small fingernail clippers or scissors - yikes! And one person tried to say that there was a link between inflamed taste buds and gastric problems - and that if you get them frequently you should get yourself cultured for Helicobacter pylori because you might be at risk to develop ulcers (in your stomach, not on your tongue!). That's probably bull - but it's always fun to see what kind of crap medical advice is available on the web!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Healthy Orange Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 large onion thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. Chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 orange-colored bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 3 cups of broccoli florets
  • Zest of one orange
  • Rice or noodles, if desired

Method

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and onions. Lightly saute onions then add the chicken breast cubes. Cook until chicken is browned. Stir cornstarch, curry powder, salt, ginger, and cumin into the chicken mixture. Add orange juice; cook until thickened and bubbly. Add vegetables. Cook until veggies are tender-crisp. Add orange zest. Stir thoroughly. Serve over rice or noodles, if desired.

Recipe from betterrecipes.com.

David made this for me last night for supper! It was super good - the curry powder adds an interesting twist to the citrus flavors.

Chocolate Sheet Cake

This is THE BEST chocolate cake EVER! I make it every year for my birthday - but it's so big I have to share!

Ingredients:
1 1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 c. water
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 -14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. chopped nuts (optional - I never use these!)

1. Preheat oven to 350deg. Grease jellyroll pan (15"x10").
2. In small saucepan, melt 1 c. butter; stir in 1/4 c. cocoa, then water. Bring to a boil; remove from heat.
3. In large mixing bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add cocoa mixture; beat well.
4. Stir in 1/3 c. sweetened condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour into pan.
5. Bake 15 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched (watch edges because they cook much quicker!).
6. In a small saucepan, melt remaining 1/4 c. butter; stir in remaining 1/4 c. cocoa and sweetened condensed milk. Stir in powdered sugar (and nuts). Spread on warm cake.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Yea for Birthdays!

Last year at this time I was all spastic about turning 25. Now that I survived, and am officially 26 today I'm realizing that it wasn't so bad. Although my mom did remind me this morning that I've now moved into the 2nd quarter-century of my life. Thanks. The lab is heading over to Keegan's - an Irish pub just off campus - for lunch, and David and I are going to Old Chicago for supper tonight. What can I say - I'm a beer and pizza kind of girl! We are partying it up on Friday, though - we're heading over to Chino Latinos for supper, then heading back to our place for cocktails and cake and ice cream. So...not so much partying it up, as at least going somewhere more exciting to celebrate with friends. :) When I look back on the past year, I realize what a kick-ass year it's been...Duluth with David (including hitting our fave cocktail bar - Red Star, and Grandma's for beer and wings), Toronto for our general meeting with all my lab girls (and way too much drinking at the local breweries...), my little brother turning 21 (so he can finally go out with us, although we haven't managed to do too much together yet!), two of David's best friends getting engaged to wonderful women (can't wait for the bachelorette parties and weddings!), one of my good friends graduating with her Ph.D. in microbiology (there's hope for me yet!), another awesome tiki party - and our first Rice St. Pub Crawl, Gopher tailgating with my hubby, brothers, and friends, and probably many more that I can't think of right now! Here's hoping for many more great things in 2008!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Britney Spears in a LAB?

I was perusing the latest edition of Nature, only to come across a Futures essay entitled "When Britney Spears comes to my lab." Frightening. I did read the article, and I have to say it was semi-funny, but mostly just odd. Check it out at nature.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Our Adventure with Absinthe...

At the aforementioned New Year's Eve party, someone decided to buy a $75 bottle of Lucid, the newly-legalized (in MN) brand of Absinthe. After experiencing it, and then doing a little recreational reading on Wikipedia, here's what I've learned:

1) Absinthe tastes really, really bad. It's distilled with anise, which has a black licorice flavor, so it tastes like very bitter black licorice.

2) Lucid is 62% alcohol by volume, meaning it's 124 proof. That could probably explain why my mouth felt like it was ON FIRE after taking a shot of it!

3) You're not actually supposed to drink it straight. (Probably should have read the bottle first...) In fact, there is a very precise way in which you are to drink it - namely, you pour a jigger of absinthe into a glass (they actually made special glasses just for this drink!), then you put a sugar cube on a slotted spoon over the top of the glass and slowly pour cold water over the sugar and into the absinthe. This not only sweetens up the liquor - which supposedly helps with the extreme bitterness, but the water makes the absinthe slightly cloudy and is supposed to bring out the flavor of the other herbs that are used to make absinthe (hence, you should taste something besides anise!).
4) There was a lot of bad hype about Absinthe being hallucinogenic, which is why is was banned in the US and a bunch of European countries. This was probably true in some cases since the main ingredient of absinthe is wormwood, which is toxic. However, if distilled properly, the wormwood is no longer toxic, and therefore no longer hallucinogenic. Another chemical in absinthe, thujone, has also been blamed - but scientific reports have shown that by itself it's only known to cause muscle spasms and not hallucinations. Lucid is distilled to meet the strict specifications of regulatory authorities here in the US (e.g. very low amounts of thujone, which can be found in a variety of other foods and drinks). Side note: sage and sage oil also contain thujone (the oil can be up to 50% thujone), however it's GRAS by the FDA.

5) So what is it? Basically it's just a bunch of distilled herbs - grande wormwood, anise, fennel being the main ingredients. The chlorophyll from the plants gives it a slight green tint - hence the nickname "the green fairy" or "the green muse."

6) Absinthe historically was said to be a favorite among artists and writers - including Ernest Hemingway (who developed a drink consisting of absinthe and champagne), Van Gogh, and Picasso. Leading up to its ban, however, absinthe was blamed for a multitude of crimes - including Jean Lanfrey's murder of his pregnant wife and children and attempted suicide, even though absinthe was only part of his alcoholic consumption. Here's a few quotes that Wikipedia had:

"Absinthe makes you crazy and criminal, provokes epilepsy and tuberculosis, and has killed thousands of French people. It makes a ferocious beast of man, a martyr of woman, and a degenerate of the infant, it disorganizes and ruins the family and menaces the future of the country."

"Boche had known a joiner who had stripped himself stark naked in the rue Saint-Martin and died doing the polka—he was an absinthe-drinker."

7) The $75 bottle goes pretty quickly when a group of crazy people are drinking straight shots of it!

Happy New Year!

Hope your New Year's Eve was as fun as ours was!!