Easy Coconut Carrot Soup

23 Aug

So I was griping the other day about lack of recipes and mentioned I might try adding some. I don’t have pictures, but hopefully you’ll trust me. Anything I’ll publish will be worth attempting.

This is a soup of my own making. It also happens to be very delicious, very filling, and very healthy- and low calorie to boot. I know, it sounds impossible, but it’s true! Here’s how it goes…

Equipment
one largish pot (if it can hold half a gallon it’ll be tight, but should work)
a knife suitable for chopping
a cutting board for chopping
a regular capacity blender

Ingredients
8 large carrots
half an onion (red preferably, but use whatcha got.)
1 t of minced garlic (or two garlic cloves)
half a can of coconut milk, unsweetened. not lite.
one T of butter (can be skipped!)
two T of EVOO
4 sun-dried tomato bits
salt
and water

Heat the oil and butter in your large pot on medium heat. When it’s hot, toss in your chopped onion and garlic. Listen to the pleasant sizzle. Give them a good stir and while they are a softening, mince your sundried tomato and chop your carrots (if you haven’t already). Add the tomato and give it a good stir. Add the carrots once the garlic and onions have softened, but before the garlic can burn. Swoosh the carrots around so that they are coated in the oil and opening up their flavor. I also added one T of salt at this point. It turned out to be pretty salty until I tempered it with the coconut milk, but I tend to like things less salty, so it might be perfect for you. Let it all simmer for three or four minutes.

Add some water! I only add enough to cover the carrots. Bring the water to a boil. When it’s burling set it to simmer on low-med heat. Let it go for about 20 minutes.

Pour the liquid and veggies into the blender- liquid first and then scrape the veggies if you like. The first time I did this I strained the liquid first to avoid being burned, but if you use caution, you can avoid being burned in one go.

Blend all the goodies to the consistency you prefer. Depending on how much water you added it will be thicker or thinner. Don’t forget you still have to add the coconut milk, so it’ll be thinned out. In the blending process the veggies might get stuck. If you intend to shake the blender or dislodge the contents with a spoon (while of course the blender is NOT RUNNING) then please be careful. I got splattered with hot soup today because of unforeseen air pockets in the blender. Not fun.

After this, you can pour the blended stuff back into your pot and add one cup of coconut milk. Feel free to add the whole can (since you’ll have coconut milk left over) but as much as I love the creamy, richness of the coconut milk (I have eaten the whey with a spoon before) I wanted the soup to have more balance.

This recipe makes about 7 8oz cups. Each 8 oz cup has 177 calories, that’s with the butter, so it’ll be a little less if you go vegan style. If you like carrots and coconut, you’ll love this. Go nuts!

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The First Days of Middle School and College Get the Same Speeches

23 Aug

It may not seem like it, but it’s true. My first day to return to classes is tomorrow. Up until last night I felt fine about everything. For six months I have known this was coming, and never until last evening did I feel the amount of anxiety I have started feeling in these last 22 hours.

What if the other kids don’t like me? What if I can’t do this work? What if after giving it everything I have I still don’t make it to grad school?

So, maybe only the first one is the really similar concern between middle schoolers and second-time college students, but hey, it’s valid. I want to be liked by my peers. The age gap between us is not *so* substantial. Though the college tweeted today that Ferris Bueller could have been the dad of any of the freshmen. *sob*

If the work is beyond me, it’s going to make things even more difficult than they already are. I don’t have a job, and that weighs on me, but my main concern is making stellar grades so I can get accepted to a proper grad school. Science has never been my strong suit. Or, at least it hasn’t since high school. People are my strong suit. This is why I want to go into PT. There happens to be a lot of science between me and that DPT, though.

Grad school. Ha. So many thoughts come to mind. I start applying in a year. I have my list of schools, but I don’t know if in a year my resume will be exactly strong. I’ve got to have REALLY good grades between now and then. I’ve got to get to know my professors really well so I can get good letters of rec, and I think I might not have done so well in the first place on that one….

All of these concerns start quickly spiraling into something that resembles chaos.

This is the point where I eat an ice cream drum stick and CALM. DOWN. In the time that it takes me to eat my drum stick, I’m going to assess these worries.

Maybe the kids won’t like me. Yeah, maybe, but no one’s going to beat me up for my lunch money. I’m good with relating to different people, and respecting the time and circumstances they have come to in life. I have a measure of wisdom, that I don’t mind sharing, but for the most part I will leave people alone if they want to be left alone. I’m friendly, but I don’t want to be overeager, which is probably the cardinal sin of secular society these days. Or at least, when it comes to the Canon of Cool.

The main point is that I know who I am. I don’t have to worry about impressing people. I have enough faith (and enough memory from my previous college experience) to know that there WILL be people I will connect with. I won’t be alone the whole time. It’s going to be pretty much impossible to avoid people. Haha, that’ll be a post for another time (not).

So what if I can’t do the work? What if I’m no good? Well, during orientation one of the declarations made during our campus tour was exactly how far the student retention service center is willing to go to help students. Tutoring, for free, in any subject. I’ve already promised myself (and now I reiterate it to myself!) that day one, if I have problems in any courses, I am going to tutoring center. If I can’t learn from a professor, I’ll have another student break it down into baby-sized bites until I can digest it all. I will CRUSH MY COURSES.

And grad school? Well, there are a few hundred in the US alone. I’m sure that one of them will take me. I’ll be realistic about where I apply. If I apply to ten they won’t be (only) the very best top ten in the country. I’ll be flexible, be aware of my own limitations and their expectations. And if I have to take more courses, I’ll take more courses. The five year plan I have going is flexible. Whew…

Four courses, and fourteen credit hours start tomorrow:
Elementary Statistics
General Psychology
Anatomy and Physiology I (and lab)
General Chemistry I (and lab)

Cooking Up Final Schedule

22 Aug

It took almost a month, but I’ve finally gotten my dream schedule for university classes! Ironic, since I planned out from day one what I needed and I ended up having to move through several unintended drafts/stages/backups before it was finalized. I won’t harp on this anymore since my last few entries deal with this process. Suffice to say, patience and perseverance have prevailed.

One professor I met this morning for my biology class was actually quite likable. I think I was preparing to be soured on the entire experience of non-traditional student life (aka second-time studenthood) when this gentleman made the entire process of squeezing me into an overloaded class bearable and, dare I say, mundane? It’s nice when people act like compassionate people, instead of career professors who dangle your future over your head.

Didn’t I say I wasn’t going to harp on this? *cough*

Classes start WEDNESDAY, which is exciting and dreadful. Exciting for obvious reasons. I’m moving out of the waiting-place and into the doing-place. Dreadful for equally obvious reasons. I’ve been trying (though, not very hard until today) to get on a more efficient sleep schedule, waking up earlier in preparation for all of my 8AM classes. It’s been… Well, it hasn’t been happening. Not even close. This morning the attempts came to fruition, though. I did another trial run for actually getting out of bed (as opposed to waking and lying there for another fifteen minutes) making breakfast, dressing, etc. 45 minutes after waking, I was out the door. After the thirty minute commute, (not including the finding an on-campus parking and walking to class) I’ve decided I’m going to need an extra thirty minutes for walking, traffic, etc. This is an assumption, but from every indication, it’s a good one. Even if I plan on biking everywhere. That won’t happen until I can get a bike rack, anyway. Anyone know how much a car-intended, strap (as opposed to trailer hitch) bike rack costs? I’m hoping to get one around the 30 dollar range. Or less, if possible.

The other thing that has my curiosity up is the general lack of WordPress posts with the combination of “college healthy cooking” tags. Seriously. I just searched and there are NONE. I’ll have to rectify that. It might be a bit misleading since I’m living in a house with all of the normal cooking facilities, but if I can keep it easy, maybe some one will find some of the recipes helpful.

Let’s start with this one taken from Runner’s World: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-303-504-14000-0,00.html?cm_mmc=Twitter-_-RunnersWorld-_-Content-Nutrition-_-BowtiesTomato One needs the ability to boil pasta and saute some veggies, but it’s super duper easy to make, fast, filling without being heavy, and yummy. I subbed the bowtie pasta for rotini, and subbed parm for the feta. You can easily make it richer with more salt and a little bit more cheese, but considering how easy it is to put on calories in college, it’s probably best left as is :D

Trials, Tribs, and Trig

18 Aug

READY for school to start. School. University. Potato, potahto?

I had a near melt down this morning when financial worries all started piling together. By the first day of classes, it will have been six months of waiting for…. something. The waiting place is not a happy place. Or rather, it doesn’t start out a happy place. It’s very easy to get bogged down in thinking about the way you feel things ought to be, or should be.

Some background, that maybe I have not posted before, is that I already have a B.A. I actually managed to find a job related to a degree most people think relegates one to working in a coffee house. The job was “well-paying,” though I think most people would have rather slept in a ditch than accepted it.

The problem in the job came down to cultural breakdowns. Cultural expectations on both sides that were not stated, and were therefore never met.

Short story, I left. After five months. Granted, I tried to leave after three weeks into the position when, after a snow storm, it took me three hours to get to work (as opposed to forty minutes), I had a car wreck on the way in, and my employers didn’t give a shit. It’s not an exaggeration to say that that attitude was par for the course.

So, before my irregular heart beat (that started at that job) could develop into full blown arrhythmia, I left. As soon as I found another job. Working in a coffee house. Oh, karma.

I have a boatload of residual guilt. Guilt that I’m not fulfilling my potential, or my BA’s potential. Guilt that I was making decent money and left. That I’m living with my parents when I should be standing on my own two feet by now. This is what our culture and society says, isn’t it?

The question I have now, the guilt-ridden question, is whether overcoming my guilt means buying in to an entitlement mentality, even in a small way. Is it truly justifiable to claim recession as part of the reason my financial status sucks? Without going into too much detail, that is.

Maybe my problem is just too much self-flagellation?

Cher Horowitz, Take a Bow

5 Aug

Roughly this time last week I was coming out of the whinging binge regarding classes and the lack there of. I felt unable to get the classes I wanted because of my transfer status and the fact that most of them were already closed. Well, most being half. Half out of four I’ll need, and two labs on top. Just writing that makes me wonder what kind of crack I’m smoking.

Fortunately, I did my best Cher and got in touch with the professors of the closed classes to squeeze in. In addition to calling and emailing, I visited their (empty) offices. Email was the most successful and both professors contacted me within a few days of messaging them. Now I get to drop the stupid classes (really, speech 101? or some such nonsense. I must have really been panicking, because it feels like much more than week has passed since that hectic day of scrambling for classes.

So this is my reminder. Don’t do it. Don’t fall for the games that some universities play, riling up students into a frothy mess feeling some manufactured burden of necessity and doubt. DON’T DO IT.

Weakness for Posterity

29 Jul

Sometimes in my weakest moments I want to lie down and forget about my problems for a while. Escapism? Maybe. Or maybe it’s taking a few structured minutes to recuperate and regroup.

purported whinging/
This morning is one of those times. Yesterday was the orientation for University of North Alabama transfer students. After scraping the bottom of the barrel for courses, some of which I don’t even need, I was feeling a little low. For work this morning I took the durango, which is a gas guzzling monster of ridiculous proportions. Seriously. 14.9 miles per gallon? Granted, that’s pulling a trailer full of lawn equipment, but I’m barely making money to pay for the gas. Barely. On top of freaking out about the 34mi DTE I had left in the durango with a forty mile round trip, I was nearly run off of the narrow road I was navigating and knocked over someone’s municipal garbage can. Thankfully empty. I finished the yard, only to find that my envelope of payment was nowhere in sight and in addition I had busted the guts out of a 200.00 weedeater that I just bought about a month ago.

Everything started falling apart. I realized that I never have any kind of discretionary spending- I can barely pay the bills I do have. Of the thirty or so places I have applied to since being here, NONE of them have hired (obviously) and the feeling at the moment is that I am just going to be stuck here forever.

This is when it gets really bad and the self-loathing becomes almost tangible. I have a brain. A really good brain. It learns extremely well. I also happen to be pretty empathetic and have some decent people skills to boot.

SO WHY IS THE WORLD DOING ITS DAMNEDEST TO HOLD ME DOWN?

That’s the question that is in my head. I feel like I just need a break. One break. Maybe with some proper class scheduling so I’m not getting thousands of dollars further into debt waiting to be an “actual” student so I can do scheduling properly. Maybe if I had a job I wouldn’t have to worry about dodging concrete trucks and breaking expensive equipment. /whinging

This perspective is simply the product of several bad hours and too little change of scenery. Things *will* be better tomorrow. I need to record moment’s like this so years from now when things have worked out and are smoother, I can laugh. Or at least not cry.

Orientation for Transfer Students

28 Jul

So.

Four months is probably plenty of time to go without a blog post, but really there was not much to say.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. Lots of things happened. Dad came home for nearly two weeks before shipping back to TX. Since shipping back to TX, he’s already gone to Amman, Jordan, and as of 5/31 has been in Baghdad, Iraq. There are probably things that could be said about his time over there. Obviously, none of what he tells me is confidential, but it’s not that exciting. Really.

He goes for weeks at a time with nothing happening. It’s very hot as a norm, about the same temperatures that are putting the US in a panic, though the reasons for both are understandable. His dog verges on overheating and has to take a rest. Dad remains bored and blissfully safe. For days.

Then in a matter of moments everything turns upside down for him. A bomb goes off somewhere a few hundred meters away and shrapnel is flying through the walls, taking out sheetrock and studs and he has left his kevlar helmet strapped to his backpack and by the time he gets it unclipped the warning is over. Yeah, that happened a few weeks ago. Stuff like that doesn’t make the news, because though Americans desensitize themselves to violence, they can’t handle this kind of news day in and day out.

Religion-wise I feel like I’ve gotten sunstroke; floating in a stagnant pond in some place comfortable until I can no longer function. Rather, I felt that way. I’ll let you think about that one.

I’ve been doing a lot of baking, a lot of running. The two are probably countering each other in some sort of polar chemical reaction. The last baking experiment was a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter, cream cheese frosting (it was actually quite good) and the last running venture was a five miler yesterday in 92F. Also quite good. I think I’m about 25% mentally committed to the idea of running the full Mercedes Marathon next February. This is a good thing.

Orientation for classes was today. I felt very good about the whole idea of class registration and meeting other students- confident, self-assured, but not snotty or arrogant. I had to tone it down a few times when asking questions to avoid the latter, though. It kind of stinks when the people leading a group discussion lead in such a way that doesn’t present confidence. Not to say that they aren’t comfortable with their position, but I don’t like feeling like I am overrunning someone when I am just giving a detailed question. And even writing that seems a little jerky.

UNA strikes me as a pretty conservative university, especially for a public uni. Normally, I consider myself a pretty conservative person as well. Taking those two facts into consideration, I feel like I am one of the more liberal people on the campus. Socially, that is. We’ll see.

This assumption is amusing because of all the new people I met today, and the new (hopefully) friends I made, the one to whom I best connected was a Buddhist lesbian. This is probably the last person I would socialize with if given a Venn Diagram. She, however, was quite lovely. We had a few good, emotionally-invested discussions. At lunch time, I almost started tearing up because of some experiences she shared with me about her family and the reason she, too, was returning to college. We’re going to be in the same college and even in the same program.

Relating this news with my mother was what jump started my blogging again. This stuff is too good to not record. It’s going to take some practice writing in an organized fashion again, which leads me to the next info dump.

My adviser, I must say, at this point, seems rather douchey. Of course, I’m coming from a previous college experience where professors were extremely supportive. When those previous-professors asserted that they were in their offices (literally and figuratively) for the students, they really meant it. On more than one occasion, some of them bent over backwards for me when it came to the inner workings of the college and getting paper work done. Letters of rec., etc.

Today, this would-be adviser consistently apologized for the nature of his own university- won’t speak on behalf of students to other professors for courses they need and was a little on the discouraging side even about graduate programs, specifically the PT system, going as far to promise that a percentage of us (half, perhaps?) will not make it into PT school. “It is a closed system. It is extremely competitive. If you don’t make it in the first year, or the second year, you need to realize you’re just not going to make it.”

I’m not arguing his points. I think anyone going for a doctorate-level program is going to encounter competition (har har). I’ve applied for very good masters programs before and been rejected on more than one occasion. I just expect a little more encouragement from an undergraduate adviser. Don’t borrow trouble. Don’t discourage your advisees before they’ve even started classes. That just sucks.

It makes me wonder about the level of scholastic achievement set as a standard by the university. The level of discouragement he gave, balanced with the practical tutelage of registering for classes, etc. made me think that he either doesn’t believe in the scholastic achievement of his students, he doesn’t believe in the scholastic achieving power of his own university, or he just doesn’t give a rat’s ass. Sorry, but if any of those are the case, please get the hell out of higher education.

Obviously, his manner rubbed me a bit of the wrong way.

Note to self, stop using the word “douchey” so much. It’s gross, and really doesn’t add to the conversation.