Monday, November 30, 2009


Hi All! I have some new recipes that will be posted from Thanksgiving (I made salad dressing, apple pie and pumpkin pie from scratch!) but I also have 1.5 weeks of school left and four papers/two presentations. That means it is unlikely that I'll be posting anything substantial in the next two weeks! Sorry!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Conference (Again)

I've been going to a heck of a lot of conferences recently because Nov 9 2009 saw the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I went to one last week where I listened to Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski in a round table discussion. Generally speaking, they were in agreement about everything they discussed, which was interesting considering that one worked for a Republican while the other worked for a Democrat.

What I found the most valuable was actually their discussions of America's relationship with Russia then and now. It's unfortunate that the best insights are always received in retrospect. Talking about today, they implied that it appeared that Russia was developing two camps with Putin representing a potential return to Soviet-Era "diplomacy" and internal repression and Medvedev representing a look towards the West and a new era of relations with Europe and America. Scowcroft was a lot more cautious, implying that Medvedev's behavior might be an act while he remains a puppet of Putin. At the same time, he suggested that it is important for the West to maintain a "hands off" approach. The argument, rephrased and simplified:

During WWI and WWII, the concepts of global power referred primarily to the ability of countries to exert military might. Those that could win their wars were also those most likely to get what they wanted legally, socially, and economically. This attitude carried over into the Cold War and beyond, and experienced a resurgence recently through Bush Jr. However, power no longer fits this definition. Armament has gotten to the point that the real superpowers would destroy each other completely in an all-out war. On the other hand, wars between a superpower and a minor power have also been fruitless due to the rise of guerrilla warfare and other battle tactics that cannot be countered with structured trench warfare or air raids. Therefore, in regards to Russia, American cannot say "don't do that" because it will aggravate Russia without allowing any method of reinforcing the threats. Russia is more likely to turn to the West but the West will just have to wait and see.

What he did not say, however, was what the new currency of power will be.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tom Kha

Tom Kha Gai is a chicken and mushroom coconut soup from Thailand. Since I am vegetarian, I make Tom Kha Veggie...I love this soup because it's creamy, tangy and spicy. An excellent appetizer, or entree when served with rice.

Serves: 6
1 - 4 tblsp Fish Sauce* (to taste)
1 (12 oz) can coconut milk
2 cups stock (chicken or veggie)
2 cups water
3 inches Lemongrass
1 kaffir lime leaf or 2 tablespoons lime juice
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup mushrooms
1-3 tsp chili paste (to taste)**
3 inches ginger root
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro (coriander) with stems included
1 cup chopped veggies and/or tofu
Cilantro/Thai Basil to garnish (optional)

1. Bruise garlic. Slice ginger and lemongrass into thin pieces. Put lime leaf, ginger, garlic and lemongrass in a spice bag***. (if using lime juice, add during step 3)
2. Boil fish sauce, coconut milk, stock, water, spice bag, mushrooms, and chili paste for 8 minutes.
3. Add cilantro, lime juice, and veggies and boil for two more minutes.
4. Garnish with cilantro/basil and serve

*Fish sauce is made from fermented fish, salt and water. It is VERY strong and not vegetarian. If you are ok with using fish, put this in a little at a time and taste until you like it.
**I like Sriracha brand
***Spice bags are little cheesecloth bags that you fill with spices that you want to flavor your food but that you need to pull out later - for example Lemongrass, which is tough, chewy and inedible. You can put them in without the spice bag, but then you have to go through and pick them out of the soup. They sell these bags all over the place, including Bed Bath and Beyond, Sur la Table and, and they're reasonably priced.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pumpkin Cheese Cupcakes

I made these today and then ate four cupcakes. Don't make them before you invite at least 10 people over! I also did not put in the baking powder because we didn't have any...and I was too lazy to buy any...oh me.

For the Filling
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the Batter
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pumpkin puree (or 15 oz can)
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla

1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins with muffin cups
2. Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar for a few minutes. Beat in egg white and vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl whisk flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt
4. In another bowl beat pumpkin, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla. Whisk flour mixture in a little bit at a time
5. Layer the cupcake forms with one layer pumpkin mix, one layer cream cheese, one layer pumpkin mix
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is springy. Let it cool 10-15 minutes before eating!

I also baked half of the mixture in a pan. It's useful if you want to serve slices to people with ice cream...


Recipe courtesy of spreadnjoy at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dog updates

SO, we finally decided to send Lucille back because she was going crazy. She needs meds or something and we couldn't deal with that with our schedules. We got adorable Mini Orbit, who at 15 pounds and six years is tiny and mellow. She learned to stay out of the kitchen quickly and never acted crazy.

Except that we left her in her crate for a few hours, she pushed the bottom of the crate out and then destroyed the carpet. Completely destroyed it. And then she threw up on the floor for good measure.

So she went back tonight and now we're fostering a new dog, Molly. Molly is bigger than both Lucille and Orbit, but is also mellow and learns tricks quickly. We're playing cautious separation games tomorrow to see how she does while we're out of the house (without actually leaving her to destroy the house). We'll see...

If this one doesn't work out, we're taking a dog break until next year....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Shopping Spree

Half my wardrobe stopped fitting me because my rib cage has expanded. Apparently this is normal among women, but unfortunately it means that nearly half my blouses and dresses don't fit anymore. This means two things:
1. I have to spend money while I'm in a pricey graduate school/

I went shopping last Friday and I'll be going again next week. On Friday I went shopping and spend $250!! At the end of the day I was frazzled and exhausted. I looked in the mirror and my hair was sticking up and floating around my face. I still have to buy a business dress, a pair of shoes and some more blouses but I've been putting it off because I got so tired last time. In the meantime I've been planning my outfits around my new clothes and it's really fun!

Man, I can be way too girly sometimes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Belated Halloween Photos

This is the loverly neighborhood of Georgetown the day before Halloween

Language Proficiency

I am officially certified proficient in German and Turkish, oooh yeah. One requirement for my degree out of the way...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


In a move of cruel and unusual punishment, my roommate decided that Lucille had to have a costume for Halloween. Needless to say, Lucille was not thrilled and the costume lasted all of two minutes on her. Here are the few photos we could catch:

Someone was NOT a happy camper...