Friday, January 7, 2011

Cooking: An Art of Trials and Tribulations... Mostly Tribulations.

In considering the 7 deadly sins, I'm most definitely guilty of gluttony. I mean, moderation was never my middle name. In this instance, my gluttony pertains to food! This was especially epitomized last week while I was scarfing down prawn tacos, carne asada, salmon filets, garlic bagels covered in cream cheese topped with black olives and green onions, crab legs, lamb skewers, cioppino, sourdough bread bowls filled with clam chowder, and many more tasty creations I shamelessly indulged in while I had access to fresh seafood... despite a rising number on the scale. My point being, I love food. COOKING FOOD, however, hasn't exactly been a forte of mine. Three specific examples of traumatic cooking debacles are forever burned in my mind.

Number one: Ugh.

My "first junior year" of college, when I was 19 or 20, and was introduced to my very own kitchen in a crappy little on-campus apartment. Let's just say I had trouble boiling water at this point in my life. I was absolutely clueless as to what to do in a kitchen. So, one night I invited my then-boyfriend over for dinner.. little did he know after accepting this seemingly harmless invitation, he would spend the rest of the night defending my burned-noodle-overcooked-chicken-flacid-asparagus dish in an attempt to console me. I figured it wouldn't be exceedingly hard to follow a recipe, so I found something on the internet that caught my attention which entailed a chicken and asparagus pasta. Easy, right? Well, I had no idea how long to cook noodles, how to tell if they were done, and how to go about baking chicken. The directions were no help at all in this matter. By the time my victim arrived, the smoke alarms on campus were going off, I was crying, my apartment was filled with smoke, and every door in sight was open as I was frantically waving a binder around trying to usher in fresh air. To go further into detail, my noodles were cold, the chicken was overcooked and too dry to swallow, and the asparagus had no life to it. Told you it was traumatic. To my dismay, he asked for seconds. I started crying again and refused to serve him seconds because I knew my food wasn't edible and he was just trying to be nice.

Number Two: Spaghetti-Crockpot Shit Show. This happened in my current kitchen.

I'll give you a preview, it looked about like this:

This was the day that Alicia and I wanted to cook her delicious spaghetti for a large amount of people. Alas, I did not have a big enough pot. Somewhere in the cyberspace of brilliant ideas, we came up with using a crockpot. Now, that sounds pretty normal, but, there's more... We were pressed for time and couldn't wait a few hours for the spaghetti sauce to cook in the crockpot, so we decided to put it directly on the stove. Disclaimer: Never put glassware on a hot stove. Most of you little geniuses out there are aware of that universal rule. I was not. I had some qualms about it, but decided to defy them and see what the outcome would be. My general learning style is learning from my numerous mistakes. As you can see from above, the crockpot exploded and all of its contents spilled out. Gotta admit, that was a pretty good life lesson. We saved the sauce and put it in a pan. Pans are evidently more durable.

Number Three: Best Friend Visits.

This last example isn't as terrible as the preceeding two. Thankfully. Sadie came to visit me in Oklahoma and I wanted to make her a tasty dinner that her appetite would thank me for. So, I bought a pork loin. I don't have much experience with pork loins, so I threw it in a 13X9 glass pan, cut up some fresh vegetables and threw them into the mix, and doused the entire concoction in some kind of marinade. I let it cook for maybe an hour to an hour and a half.. whatever the directions stated. Then, I pulled it out. It was still frozen. I pulled it out of the pan and threw it in the microwave to defrost, then let it cook for maybe another hour. Everything looked alright after that. I got our plates out and began cutting into my prized pork loin. The middle was an unmissable pink. By this point, Sadie and I decided we could probably eat the ends because they would be cooked enough. Wrong. I served my bff a raw, pink, chewy pork loin. Not exactly desirable. But, we're still friends so it's ok. Just make sure you defrost your loins first. Nobody likes raw loins.

I am proud to say that as of late, I think I've learned a thing or two about cooking and I'm kind of getting decent at it. Chicken, anyway. I stray from pasta and pork. I can report that last night I made a successful dinner! If you don't believe me, here's some proof.

I defrosted my chicken and seasoned it without a hitch.

Added the good stuff.

Prepared a salad without losing a finger.

And ate a delicious dinner!

If practice makes perfect, I'm going to be practicing cooking for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Life on the edge at a Baptist college.

So, the unoriginal idea of starting a blog has piqued my interest. While I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly good writer, it’s something I kind of enjoy. As I sit on my couch eating a bowl of tuna and egg whites smothered in salsa (I don’t currently have money to spend on groceries), I wonder what to begin with. How about a nice heavy subject? I am once again residing in Shawnee, OK after being devoid of all responsibilities while off vacationing in California for a week. Why am I back here a month before school starts, occupying my house alone and eating tuna instead of raiding my parents’ heartily-filled pantry? Well, because I had a fleeting moment of motivation to knock out a three hour course to lessen my load in the spring and have Fridays off. This being said, I am currently enrolled in Biblical Ethics. Since this is a three week course, life moves fast. By fast, I mean I have a research topic due after sitting in on the class for two days. I thought I would try to squish together biblical ethics and something meaningful to my future profession. What did I come up with? Abortion: a topic that continuously keeps democrats and republicans at bay.
Being that sometime in my near future I would like to be a labor and delivery nurse, this topic hits close to home since I will likely come across a certain aggregate that is comfortable in making the controversial decision to go through with abortion, for whatever reason. Thus, I need to know my own stance on abortion. After growing up in a conservative Southern Baptist home, I am decidedly pro-choice. While abortion is not a route I would ever take personally, I don’t agree with legislation telling women what they are and are not allowed to do with their lives and bodies. Furthermore, sometimes there are medical reasons for abortion in order to save the mother’s life. Is this a muddy topic to wade through? Absolutely.  Is it a solid rebuttal to say that it is not only the mother’s life and body that is affected, but also that of an unborn child with no defense and with no advocate? Absolutely. While I am going to go through with my stance on pro-choice, I am not as cold-hearted as I come across. Being that I previously said I would not personally follow this route, I obviously have some objections to abortion, but still do not think they outweigh personal freedoms. I also live in a town that has a starkly painted billboard that says “Abortion is murder” with blood dripping down the sign. Grotesque. And I attend a private Baptist college (although, I have to question my sanity in making that decision). There’s some republican in me, after all.
After going through a labor and delivery clinical last year, I have to say that seeing three healthy babies brought into the world was one of the most miraculous things I have ever witnessed. I cried every time. In front of people I had never met. While I have pretty much always firmly believed there is a God, it was in those precious moments that there was no doubt in my mind of His existence. Furthermore, it helped me understand that faith and science can co-exist, and even support each other, contrary to many opinions. In regard to my objections of abortion, I base my thoughts more on personal experience and scientific encounters than the traditional biblical view that abortion is murder. Let me explain. While sitting in class last year, I LEARNED SOMETHING. Dad, my tuition dollars have not been a total waste. 
  • Roughly 10-14 days after conception, implantation occurs.
  • Sometime around the 5th week of fetal development, the heart starts beating.
  • Around 4-5 months, the mother begins to experience "quickening," which is a sensation of feeling the baby move in the womb.
Taking all of these things into account, I came to the realization that faith and science can co-exist. To me, there was no way to justify SEEING a little wet ball of cells, handled like a football, provided with fully functioning systems (limbic, digestive, endocrine, neurologic, muscular, nervous, reproductive, etc.), birthed into the world after a mere collision of a sperm and an egg except for the practical answer that God exists. I say practical because, to me, believing that there is a governing force somewhere "up in the sky," with a plan for His creation, seems much more practical than total coincidence.
            SO, in wrapping up why I love studying fetal development, the awestruck state that it leaves me in, and why I would like to be a labor and delivery nurse in my little tenure here on earth, I now need to figure out an argument that is pro-abortion. In finding sources for this argument, the Declaration of Independence stands out... p
eople have "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
." The pursuit of happiness being synonymous with personal freedoms... which leads me to the fact that I must refute my pro-choice opinion with bible verses that align with my topic. I don’t have any idea how I am going to do that just yet, but hopefully I can.