Summer so far

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I pulled up this blog for the first time in weeks the other day to show a friend a recipe and was pleasantly surprised to find how much I had actually put into this space. I spent a few minutes flipping through the archives today and it brought back a flood of memories. It’s nice to have a journal of this time, with all of its uncertainty and excitement.

This summer has been a rough one. I just finished physics and am now struggling through organic chemistry. Summer sessions move fast and though it is nice to get these classes over with, it’s also a been a big push to get through it and honestly, I’m ready for a break.

I started a new internship this summer at a sports medicine clinic/research facility and so far, I’m loving it. I’m working with my Exercise Metabolism professor and it’s so much fun to see the concepts we talked about in class in real life. One of the researchers teased that she had never seen someone get so excited watching a respiratory quotient change during a VO2max test (but really, it’s super cool). I’m just so happy that I am doing something to remind me why I’m currently fighting my way through ochem.

I was dog-sitting for one of my TA’s for a couple weeks and the dogs were wonderful but also pretty high maintenance. I had a great time with them but it was also a nice lesson to appreciate the amount of freedom I have now. I was talking to a former boss with two young children and it helped me realize that I should take advantage of this time in my life when I have very few obligations. As someone who is a little Type A, it can be hard to let loose and enjoy my freedom but I’m realizing more and more that the period when I can do so is temporary and I want to take advantage of it.

For now, ochem though.

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Food-wise, this has been the summer of salad. Between class, interning, and living at my TA’s house, cooking has gone right out the window. My staples have been eggs on toast, yogurt with fruit, and endless salads. I’m trying to take advantage of the beautiful summer produce available now but I’ve definitely fallen into a routine, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I would like to shake things up and get some more variation in my diet but I’m not sure how feasible it is right now. For the next couple weeks, I’m more than happy to continue throwing together simple, fresh meals.

I did manage to squeeze in some baking as a thank you for my neighbors, who helped me finally change the oil in my car. After a disastrous chemistry midterm, I came home to make almond cupcakes and mini cheesecakes. I’ve mentioned before that I have trouble unwinding after a particularly stressful time and the routine of leveling flour, beating frosting, and even doing the dishes helped to calm my nerves and settle my mind.

The recipe for the almond cupcakes was from David Lebovitz, and I loved it. It was so simple to make but tastes fancy enough that I would happily bring it to a dinner party. I can definitely see myself making this over and over again in the future. The boy I was making them for requested buttercream frosting so I used this recipe from The Vanilla Bean Blog. I halved the recipe and it gave me more than enough frosting for 12 cupcakes. I did have to add a little more sugar to thicken my frosting and also threw in a couple drops of almond extract along with the vanilla.

As for the cheesecake, I used a recipe thats been in my mother’s recipe binder for as long as I can remember. I’m pretty sure it’s just off the cream cheese box but we’ve been making it for years and it’s a good one. The idea to make the cheesecake in a cupcake pan was oddly enough from a funeral where the caterers had served mini cheesecakes. Whenever I make these, I think about that day. It seems morbid to associate cheesecake with death but I really like that it makes me take a few seconds to remember those who have passed.

Mini Cheesecakes

Probably adapted from the Philadelphia cream cheese box.

Time: 90 minutes (10 min prep, 20 minutes bake, 1 hour chill)

Yield: 12 mini cheesecakes

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 8 full sheets of graham crackers (or 1 cup crumbs)
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Filling:

  • 12 oz cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Line a standard cupcake pan.
  2. Melt butter in medium sized bowl.
  3. Use a blender or food processor to finely crush crackers.
  4. Add crackers and sugar to melted butter and combine.
  5. Evenly distribute crust between cupcakes and pack down (a shot glass works well for this).
  6. Add filling ingredients to blender and mix. Evenly pour over crust.
  7. Bake for 18 minutes, until just barely brown.
  8. Cool fully before serving.

10 Second Raspberry Sauce

The measurements are estimates, this is definitely one of those things I just eyeball.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • splash of water

Instructions:

  1. Combine in microwave safe bowl and heat, stirring occasionally, until raspberries are broken down and sauce has started to thicken. Sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
  2. Pour over cooled cheesecakes.
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