Saturday, October 30, 2010

MORE Matrimony!

On October 23, 2010, my dear friends, Meg and Luc, got MARRIED!
Bride Minnie and Groom Mickey!
Oops, that's not their wedding. We'll get back to it.

Luc is in my class at Princeton. He's kind of like my twin in the program. We worked for the same advisor first year, and now have the same thesis advisors. We both had tough times studying for our major exams, but passed with flying--well, with good enough colors. He keeps me sane when I get frustrated. He's pretty great. We went to Disney World:

Luc and Jess in Epcot, Nov 2007

Meg is in our year at Princeton, but in a different department. We knew something special was goin' on from the beginning with those two--they seemed like the right mix of quirky, geeky, and smart. Meg and I independently started going to the same church, and then joined a Biblestudy together. I was thrilled when I realized she wasn't just my friend's girlfriend, she was actually my own friend, too! :) We went to Disney World:

Aren't we beautiful and matching?!

Oh that's RIGHT. Meg and Luc ran the Disney World Marathon with me (and our friend Audrey) in January. If that experience won't bond people, not much will.

So, on Thursday, October 21, I hopped on a train in Trenton and knitted five hours all the way up to Providence. The fall leaves are amazing right now!
Fall colors from the train to RI

Droid pictures from a moving train don't really do the leaves justice. Use your imagination.

That evening, the gals rock climbed (indoors) for Meg's bachelorette party, and then Meg's sister, Mart, treated us to delicious margaritas and appetizers at their house.

On Friday, I checked into the Hotel Providence, where I shared a room with Luc's darling 17-year-old sister, Annika. By "darling", I mean fantastically precocious and geeky and brilliant. (Kind of like my OWN 17-year-old sister...) I was greeted by this sight:

Meg's dress in Annika's and my room.

We were temporarily guardians of The Dress. Thankfully only temporarily. That is too much responsibility, man.

While the wedding parties were off wedding partying, I headed out for a run. Providence is charming! I ran around the State House, across the river, and up up up the hill to Brown University.

I need to visit Cornell and Dartmouth, then I've got a complete set of Ivies!

I just have to visit Cornell and Dartmouth and I'll have the full set.

There's a beautiful river walk. The sunshine and chilly 40 degrees were perfect for running.


That afternoon, I found Tom! Tom is a Princeton alum who is now at UMich. He needed a Brown scarf for his collegiate collection, so we ventured out for lunch, Starbucks, and the university store. And a photo op.

Later, Tom and I walked back to Brown.

That evening, we had a delightful rehearsal (Tom was videographer and I was a reader, so we got to participate) and then deeelicious rehearsal dinner. We finally saw Josh, the other member of our close posse, and met more of Luc's awesome friends. He has good taste. Meg does too, incidentally. Actually, we like their families a lot also. Gold star, both of you!

Saturday morning was hectic for the families and wedding party, but not for me! I slept in til 9 (bliss), wandered to Starbucks for breakfast (and met MORE of Luc's awesome friends, geez...), watched ANTM (I have a problem) on free hotel wireless, wandered back to Starbucks for lunch (not even joking and you shouldn't even be surprised). I finally showered and beautified. My dress was fabulous, even though that cute sash popped off anytime I bent/sat/breathed. Stupid sash.

The ceremony was held in a beautiful historic mill in Pawtucket, RI. I greeted and handed out programs and watched the rows fill with happy family and friends. Finally the flautists and cellist played the processional (a theme from Star Wars). Luc bounced with nervous excitement as the groomsmen and bridesmaids walked down the aisle. When the congregation rose to signal the bride's entrance, he peered through the crowd anxiously. The moment he glimpsed her, his face crumpled in tears of love and joy. That set the mood for the rest of the beautiful and emotional ceremony. (My reading of 1 John 4 was clear until *I* teared up on the last sentence. Ah well.)

Yaaaay Mr. and Mrs. P!!!

Back at the Hotel Providence, we had a cocktail hour and then beautiful formal reception. The newlyweds entered straight into their first dance, to the live jazz band's rendition of Fly Me to the Moon.

The reception

I sat with Princeton people and Annika. The soup was my favorite part of dinner:
Close replica of Disney World's Smokey Portobello Mushroom Soup.
It was a very good replica of the Smokey Portobello Mushroom Soup from the Artist's Point, the restaurant at the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World. I hate mushrooms, but THIS IS AMAZING.

Between courses, we danced up a storm! I love to swing dance, and some leads were actually legitimately swinging. Particularly, the groom himself and his new sister-in-law. Yes. Martha is a solid lead. Go her.

Here is the group picture from my department:

After the reception, we had a sweet mini-after party in Tom and Josh's room, in which about ten people consumed leftover bachelor-party-camping-trip victuals.

Sunday morning, the events CONTINUED with a brunch. Again, the food was delicious.

Finally, Josh and I said goodbye. I rarely am at an event--especially a wedding--in which I have to hug so many people on the way out, because I know and love so many of them. I guess four days of wedding ensures your guests get to know each other, eh?

Then, Josh drove us home. Through the leeeaves.
More fall colors on the drive home!

It was beautiful, Meg and Luc, just like you two are! Thank you for letting me share in the weekend and for being such wonderful friends. Love you!

My dear friends got MARRIED!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dessert and matrimony

Today, I received two links to delicious and simple recipes: Pumpkin Pie Poptarts, which I can't wait to try with my homemade puree, and Nutella Cheesecake, for which I had all of the ingredients! In my kitchen!

As this evening I will watch GLEE! with a friend, and we both have strong sweet-teeth, I whipped up a half batch of that Nutella cheesecake. It was super quick and quite yummy (I may or may not have snatched a bite already). Go look at the recipe blog for better pictures than mine. :)

Nutella Cheesecake! Oct 19, 2010

Nutella Cheesecake!


On October 16, Dave, a graduate from my program, married Heather! A few friends and I drove an hour north to Perona Farms in Andover, NJ, where the ceremony was outside on a sunny, but rather windy cold morning. Brrrrrr. Thankfully, it was short and sweet, and then we warmed up with brunch inside. :)

Dave and Heather

Do you like my yellow dress? I feel kind of like a jellyfish in it. A twirly one.

On October 23, this Saturday, my dear friend and classmate, Luc, will marry my other dear friend, Meg, in Rhode Island. The festivities will last FOUR DAYS, starting on Thursday. I will debut another ModCloth dress. I cannot wait!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Autumn Weekend

Let's pause and take a deep breath. The air's crisp, cool, and fresh. And vaguely tinged with nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. It must be FALL!!!!

I had one of my favorite kinds of weekends. Possibly my most favorite. I barely left my apartment.

Except for Saturday morning, when I ran sixteen miles. (I've said it before and I'll say it again: I adore cool weather running.)

And Sunday morning, when I went to church, Wegman's, Target, and Starbucks. It was a triple grande nonfat no-whip PSL kind of day.


But other than THAT, I stayed HOME. With my CAT.

And America's Next Top Model. YouTube is both a blessing and a curse-of-a-time-sinkhole.

In between ANTM marathon sessions, I managed to clean my apartment, sort 25% of my wardrobe into "wear", "keep for next season", "modify?", and "goodness have we really kept you that long??" piles, and cook up a STORM.

My farm share this summer has been genius. I've eaten a boatload of veggies and learned how to cook many new things! The fall crop has been a bit overwhelming: almost more squash, eggplant, arugula, and pumpkin than I can handle. Some make a beautiful centerpiece:


Sunday afternoon, I hacked open a pumpkin:

Clean out that pumpkin!

Cleaned the seeds:
Drying seeds

Baked the pumpkin:
Baking pumpkins

Decorated the cat:
Squash the cat

Roasted the seeds with cayenne pepper:
roasted seeds!

Pureed the pumpkin:
Making puree
Finished puree

And baked pumpkin bread:

Finished Pumpkin Bread

Here's another obligatory picture of Faraday:
Silly kitty

I also used my six cups of arugula and made pesto!
Arugula-sesame-honey pesto

I only had enough Parmesan cheese for 1/3 of the arugula, so I experimented and added sesame seeds and Israeli date honey to the last 2/3. The honey cuts the arugula's bitterness and is quite tasty. I froze about half and plan to eat the other half this week.

My baby food processor deserves break now.

Other farm veggies consumed this weekend: tomatoes, radicchio, and lettuce in a beautiful salad, and kale, blended into my signature post-run smoothie and broiled into kale chips.

To consume this week: more tomatoes, radicchio, kale, carrots, broccoli, squash, and another pumpkin. :)

Backen auf Deutsch, Part III: #89 Apfel-Cidre-Auflauf

Last week, I had the pleasure of hosting the last little book club meeting for His Dark Materials (rating: gold star). Knowing that my dear friend Meg is slightly picky when it comes to desserts, I started emailing options from 100 Kuchen to her a few days before. She's allergic to peaches and caramel. She doesn't like coffee-flavored things (except coffee milk). She doesn't like nuts or lemon. She said, "it doesn't matter! Make whatever you want!!" But I was now on a MISSION to create something delicious for her. Finally, approval went to...

#89 Apfel-Cidre-Auflauf
Auflauf=casserole...apparently...let's go with loaf, instead.

My best laid plans for finishing the reading, having a clean house with pumpkin spice candles lit, and baking the apple cake before they all arrived TOTALLY failed. The apartment was mostly clean, but I finished the book after Meg arrived and just as Josh did. Meg was happily recruited to assist me with the cake while Josh offered moral support. I forgot about the candles completely.

This recipe was extremely straightforward, with only "herber Cidre" tripping me up. I decided that it must be hard cider, but it could well have been spiced cider (if you know, do comment or email me!). I mostly chose hard cider because I only needed two tablespoons for the cake and it is DELICIOUS.

The apples were supposed to be whole and tiny and just shoved into the cake batter, but mine were too big, so Meg sliced them and we mooshed in the pieces:


The consensus: if the cake stinks, at least the batter itself is incredible.

Luc arrived fashionably late. We discussed Lyra, Will, and Dust while enjoying olives and wine. Soon the apartment smelled of spiced apples. Finally, it was done!


We thoroughly enjoyed it with vanilla ice cream:

Over the next few evenings, I paired it with the rest of the cider. Fabulous.

Changes made:
~used apple slices instead of whole apples.
Next time would:
~it was a wee bit dry...maybe add applesauce to the batter?
Perfect for:

P.S. if you'd ever like a recipe, I will email a translation to you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Backen auf Deutsch, Part II: #25 Schokolade-Rum-Torte

A week before my fellow grad student Matt's 23rd birthday, he marched into my office and declared that lab had not seen enough cake lately. "How about you make something for my birthday out of that new German cake book of yours?"


After paging through each of the one hundred options, declaring many to look "bland" or "too fruity", he settled upon:

#25 Schokolade-Rum-Torte
Torte=torte/fancy cake

I do not keep rum on hand, so he kindly offered to provide it.

This recipe's German wasn't too mysterious. I did struggle with whether "Zartbitterschokolade" (translated as dark or plain chocolate) was completely bitter baking chocolate or just partially sweetened dark chocolate. The cake itself needed a couple hundred grams, the ganache needed another couple hundred grams, and the top was garnished with chocolate shavings. I bought unsweetened Baker's chocolate, a bar of Godiva 75% dark chocolate, a bar of Lindt hazelnut dark chocolate, and a bar of Lindt Touch of Sea Salt dark chocolate. Throw in a carton of heavy whipping cream and bless the grocery checkout lady for not batting an eye.

Matt and his housemates invited me over for dinner to pick up the rum, so I rushed to get the cake in and out of the oven in time. As I bake a lot, I have an efficient rhythm and haven't made a serious mistake in recent memory. Add an episode of the Biggest Loser (is that ironic?), though, put the extract bottles next to each other in the cupboard, and BAM: suddenly, my beautiful chocolate cake batter smelled strongly of peppermint, instead of the intended vanilla. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

I frantically texted the birthday boy to see if he liked peppermint, and IMed several dessert aficionado friends to make sure rum, chocolate, and peppermint would taste good together. He does like peppermint and everyone agreed it sounded like a delicious, if wintery, combination.

Focused a bit more, I finished the cake, only to discover that while the picture showed a three-layer cake, my round tins were so big that this was going to be a two-rather-thin-layer cake. How big are German round cake tins, anyway?

The baked cake smelled DELICIOUS. I ran off to eat dinner and find that rum for the ganache.

Returning with my Tupperware full of rum (I put it in the trunk of my car. No driving with open containers for me!), I found another episode of the Biggest Loser and began the ganache.

I ended up using the Baker's chocolate in the cake itself, as it had plenty of sugar. I used a mixture of Baker's chocolate and the Godiva bar for the ganache, as it was just heavy whipping cream, rum, and chocolate. No added sugar. The recipe called for everything to be dumped into a pan and heated gently. Or so I think.


Soon the chocolate and cream mixed into one big ball floating in a sea of warm rum, no smoothing or combining. I gave up, microwaved it for a bit, and then whisked it. Hard. It finally resembled frosting, so I frosted the cake. I used the Lindt Touch of Sea Salt bar for the chocolate shavings. It looked pretty!

(I apologize for the dark Droid photo. I'm going to use my real camera next time.)

The next day at lab, everyone loved it! It was a bit rich for a couple of folks, but the plate was practically licked clean and I had no leftovers to bring home. :)

Changes made:
~added peppermint instead of vanilla extract.
Next time would:
~add vanilla instead of peppermint extract.
~follow another ganache recipe, like this one: internet ganache recipe
~add rum or rum extract to the cake itself?
Perfect for:
~people who really like dark chocolate.