Saturday, February 16, 2008

how to make fortune cookies

For Valentine's Day I got BF a Chipotle gift card (it had burritos in the shape of a heart!) and made him fortune cookies from scratch. The fortune cookies turned out fab & were super yummy. The recipe I have SAYS it makes 15, but it definitely makes about 30-35, depending on the size circle you use. Below is the recipe and some pictures of the process:

5 tablespoons butter
4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 pinch salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
Nonstick cooking spray
A clean towel or fabric napkin

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet LIBERALLY with cooking spray. Melt butter in a saucepan and set aside.

2. In an electric mixer combine egg whites and sugar and mix on medium speed. Add flour and salt and beat until combined. Add melted butter, heavy cream, and almond extract and stir completely.

3. Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of batter onto half of the cookie sheet (less for smaller fortune cookies) and spread with the back of a spoon into a thin 5 inch circle (you should almost be able to see through the batter, my picture below is a little too thick). Repeat on other half of cookie sheet. Because you have to shape the cookies so quickly, two cookies is about the most you can bake at a time. Bake until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown. This can take as little as 4 minutes and as much as 8 minutes, just stand next to your oven and watch.

4. Transfer baking sheet to a heat resistant surface. Working as quickly as possible, slide a spatula (a metal spatula is a must, plastic will work but it slows down the process) under one of the cookies. Lift it up and place it on the clean kitchen towel/fabric napkin. Using your fingers (be careful, this will be HOT), fold the cookie in half, pinching the top together to form a loose semi-circle. Hold the cookie with your index fingers inserted at each open end and with your thumbs press into the center of the cookie while bending the two open ends together and down to form the shape of a fortune cookie. This whole process should take about 10 seconds. Repeat for the second cookie. Continue shaping and baking two cookies at a time until batter is gone. TIP: If you don't feel like making 40 fortune cookies (it's a pretty long process) you can refrigerate the batter and use it the next day, just make sure to bring it to room temperature by setting it on a counter for 30-45 minutes. You could also halve the recipe and make less batter.

5. Write your message on a thin strip of sturdy paper and thread it through the cookie once it cools.

I would recommend practicing with paper shaping some "fortune cookies." I didn't do this and the first few of my cookies came out pretty sad looking, luckily they were still just as delicious!

The almond extract adds a great sweet, nutty flavor to these fortune cookies. For something different, experiment with food coloring (St. Patrick's Day fortune cookies anyone??) or dip the tips in melted semi-sweet or dark chocolate, yummy!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

1001 books you must read before you die

My mom recently bought me a book listing "1001 books you must read before you die." I flipped through the pages, marking off each title I had already read and the circumstances under which I had read it (Summer 2006 France, Fall 2007 Faulkner Class, etc). Surprisingly, I had only read 41 books on the list, so that leaves me with 960 books left to read. Assuming I'm going to live into my 80s, that means I'll have to read around 16 books a year to finish the list "before I die." Thankfully, I received several books that are on the list for Christmas, now I just need to find some time to actually read for pleasure.

I'm currently working on a second draft of a paper I'm writing on Martin Scorsese. I sent my abstract to an Undergraduate Research Conference and I was so excited that it was accepted, but now that means I actually have to finish the damn thing (a daunting task). Have you ever started writing something but you get stuck because you have so much to say and you don't know where to start? Yeah, that's what I'm currently experiencing. Thankfully, I wrote a first draft before Christmas, so I have a good nine pages of content so far. I just need to remember to stay focused, it's easy to get off track when you're writing about something for which you feel passionately. This is my abstract:

Martin Scorsese's collective works have impacted the cinematic world on an international level, and yet there have been few substantial discussions of Scorsese as an auteur. Spanning over three decades of his film career, the gangster trilogy of Mean Streets, Goodfellas, and The Departed focuses on brotherhood and the Roman Catholic concepts of guilt and redemption. These films are not only an expression of his signature cinematic style, but also provide a clear progression of his skills as both screenwriter and director. Contemporary film critics like Lawrence Friedman and Lesley Stern agree that Scorsese's passion for history and authenticity has led him to adopt a realistic, documentary style. Scorsese's approach to gangster life makes it accessible to the viewer, especially through his redemptive characters. In each corresponding film, these characters serve as mediators, referees in the inherent violence of gangster life. For each of these redeeming characters, there is a mirrored dark partner. Carl Jung's notion of the shadow will be used to show how these personae function in the framework of Scorsese's mob culture. This paper will also be interested in the concept of male-bonding and fraternal relationships in the way that Scorsese erases domestic life and replaces it with fraternal life. Sigmund Freud's theories on anxiety as well as his thoughts on obsessive actions and religious practices will be important to the analysis of Scorsese's films. Additionally, there will be a discussion of group psychology--or “mob” mentality--and its role in creating these characters and Scorsese's glimpse of the underside of America.

Lately I've been reading a lot of Freud for the psychoanalytic section of my paper. I secretly want someone to approach me in the library, "Oh, hi Nicolle, what are you reading?" so I can nonchalantly raise my eyes from my thick Freud Reader, "This? Oh, it's just Freud. You know." But of course no one asks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

valentine's day

I initiated a "Secret Cupid" at work and my secret cupid got me the most wonderfully delicious French truffles. As soon as I got home I made myself a strong shot of espresso and enjoyed a few pieces of the dark chocolate. If I could smell like anything in the world, I would want to smell like a chocolate truffles tastes.

I also received a snow globe with two pictures of me and Tater Tot inside from my secret cupid. I drove back to Modesto immediately after my exam this afternoon, so I didn't even get a chance to see BF, but he's coming over to my house this weekend so we will exchange gifts then. I like celebrating holidays "late" because that way you extend your gifts over several days instead of just one!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

adventures in crafting part II.b

I finished 3 out of my 15 squares for my quilt! I probably only have about 30 minutes or so of sewing and cutting left to finish the other 12, but I was supposed to be studying for an exam tonight so I made myself stop at 3. They came out really nice; I can't wait to put them all together on Tuesday of next week!

adventures in crafting part II

Last night was the first of three quilting classes I have this month to make Noelle's pink and Tiffany blue log cabin quilt. Everything went REALLY well and even though I was much slower than the other two women in the class (they were making smaller quilts and actually knew how to sew) I made a lot of progress and almost finished all of my squares today. This whole sewing thing is much easier than I had expected. I'm no sewing master, mind you, but I can actually thread a bobbin and sew a straight line! This is how I spent most of my day, when I was feeling well enough to get out of bed:

I woke up feeling terribly sick this morning. I had ambitious plans for the day, but most of them were nixed since I spent most of my day kneeling over porcelain or laying in the fetal position in Mom's bed. I hate when I get sick and there's no one to take care of me. I was a pretty pathetic sight, that's for sure. I'm feeling a little better now, but I haven't been able to keep food down all day...which, admittedly, isn't that big of a problem. But still, being sick is no fun and I always end up crying like a baby and sobbing "Whhhhhyyyyyy???" when I'm not feeling well.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

mexico in photographs

I was lucky enough to spend my winter vacation in Cabo San Lucas with Mom, Dad, little sister, and BF. The vacay was mostly spent lounging in the sun by the beach, but we also took several excursions to cities in the surrounding area. Here are some of my favorite photographs I took during the trip:

Monday, February 11, 2008

"a progressive religious experience" by shadows

I'm on the fence when it comes to memes (seems most bloggers are) but Rachel posted this personal CD cover art meme and it was so awesome I had to do it, too.

The CD Cover Meme group has only three rules: 1. the first article title on this random wiki page is the name of your band 2. the last four words of the very last quote on this random quote page is the title of your album and 3. the third picture here, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

My band name was Shadows, which, interestingly, is the name of an actual album. My album title came from a quote by Shelley Winters, who has been described as "one of the most respected actresses of the Golden Age of Hollywood," SO weird considering I'm a film studies major. I also LOVE the full quote:

"I think on-stage nudity is disgusting, shameful and damaging to all things American. But if I were 22 with a great body, it would be artistic, tasteful, patriotic and a progressive religious experience."

I wish I could cite my photograph, but my internet crashed and I lost all my links. I liked it too much to choose another random photograph, though. If you happen to do this in your blog, comment with a link so I can see, they have all turned out wonderfully so far. I might have to do some more.