Thoughts on Java

Warm drinks make me feel great. Work is a tad slow this morning, so I’ve been sipping on my coffee for about an hour now while scrolling through e-mails and finding small tasks to do. It’s not really warm anymore which kind of stinks, but it still tastes awesome because it’s vanilla flavored and anything vanilla flavored is automatically awesome in my book.
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The above image is from http://www.tazzadoro.net/, the website for my favorite cup of coffee in Pittsburgh. I have yet to find an amazing place in California (rec’s are always appreciated!), but I’ll be back in San Francisco this weekend and plan on visiting North Beach just for some cappuccino.

Sometimes I worry that I drink too much caffeine, but usually 1-2 mugs a day is more than enough. Mostly, I love the taste of coffee. Don’t worry tea, you have an eternally special place in my heart too, but morning coffee takes the metaphorical (adorned with cinnamon, sugar, and pecans in my fantasies) cake. Perhaps I could switch to decaf, but the thought of not being incredibly awake and focused after breakfast every weekday morning is downright scary.

I blame college a bit for my quasi-addiction. I do know people, who at 20, cannot function without a cup of joe. This brings me to another thought. Why Joe? Were Bill, Ted, Chris, and Nick (those were the first 4 generic male names I could think of) automatically energized every morning?  They probably drink super-antioxidant-infused kale smoothies with a side of raw nuts for breakfast. Man, that sounds awesome but who has the will to blend themselves a fresh smoothie everyday? After working at a Robek’s one summer, I don’t usually voluntarily blend things.

I guess the free, unlimited, and usually fresh, coffee at work is contributing to this habit. But it’s just soooooo good.
How do you take your coffee, and how awesome does it make you feel?

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City of Colors

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Apparently, the way I post on this blog is the way I write in journals: sporadic and only when I’m settled enough to put some thoughts together. So I hereby announce that, upon publishing this post, I’m going to add “blog posting” along with my other midsummer resolutions. Midsummer resolutions are kind of like New Year’s resolutions but not as daunting because a. I just made them up , and b. summer is warm and comforting and full of ice cold drinks that make me chock-full of happiness. Other resolutions include eating less, taking advantage of the California sunshine before I head back to grey-skied Pittsburgh, and kicking butt at my internship.

Now, on to my real blog post. Last week I visited what I think is the coolest city I have ever seen. Sure, some people can argue that I lack reference levels when expressing my love for things, but San Francisco has a magical, quirky ambiance that I might (just might!) want to be a semi-permanent part of after I graduate.

The people are a mix of cool, fun, educated, and bat-sh** crazy, and the neighborhoods I visited were truly awesome. A couple of intern buddies and I stayed in a great hostel on Post Street that offered all kinds of entertainment as well as a day walking tour that was worth the muscle fatigue after trekking up San Fran’s iconic hills. The photo opportunities were numerous and the food was delicious, but the best part was meeting up with friends from school on different street corners. I’ll be back soon, SF!

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I pulled out my nerdy-looking zoom lens for this view of Alcatraz from Pier 39

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Shady balconies towering above Chinatown. According to an eccentric fellow named Jackie Chan who lives in an alley in Chi-town, this is where the word ‘hooker’ originated.

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I wish I was as cool as this hipster-chic lady. Behind her is some historic bar.

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No post about a new city is complete without a photo of mouth-watering food. These are pastries at an Italian cafe in North Beach.

Cheers,

M

Making Bread is a Delicious De-stresser

Sometimes I get a little bored of my usual store-bought whole wheat loaf. Since it only takes a few basic ingredients to make bread (water, flour, and yeast), it’s fun to get your hands a little dirty and make some when you’ve got the time. I frequently enjoy kneading and punching the dough until I’m stress-free. Some people use punching bags, I use food – don’t judge me. The only other bread I’ve ever made is Challah (I use this recipe with whole wheat flour), and I wanted to try something a little more savory. I combined two Focaccia recipes and ended up with this delectable rectangle of bread-ly heaven.
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To make your own Italian Herb Focaccia, use this recipe for Basic Rosemary Focaccia Dough but instead of topping the dough with olive oil and fresh rosemary, I used the Herb Olive Oil from this recipe. The only fresh herb I had was basil, but I added a generous amount of dried Italian herb blend to the garlic infused olive oil. Any herb blend with marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and basil will work!

Here are some photos of the steps in this recipe:

Gathering of supplies
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 Dough!
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Olive oil simmered with garlic and Italian herbs
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After I waited patiently for the dough to rise, this is stretched, “dimpled”, and covered with the herb olive oil
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Shmeared with some hummus, a little culturally confusing but whatever.

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What kind of bread do you like to make? I’d love to hear your suggestions! 

Pasta is Food For the Soul

I absolutely adore pasta. I eat it far too much and am constantly looking for ways to make it interesting. I make pasta at least once a week and have come to love it more since becoming a pescetarian. This is one of my favorite ways to make it – it’s easy, healthy, and most of all, delicious!

Garlic and Vegetable Pasta

Ingredients:
1/2 box of any kind of pasta, I like to use whole wheat or pasta made with vegetables
1 large ripe tomato
any kind of vegetable that you have lying in your fridge, I used about 6 mushrooms
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
olive oil
dried basil
Parmesan cheese
fresh basil leaves for adornment

 Directions: 
1. Cook pasta and prep the ingredients by chopping the garlic, tomatoes, and your choice of vegetables.

2. Place a generous amount of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add chopped garlic along with a pinch of each: salt, pepper, and dried basil.

3. Add in vegetable of choice and cook for about 3 minutes or until the veggies are a little under-cooked. The add in tomatoes and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

4.  Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta, sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top, and enjoy!