Monday, August 29, 2005

NEW FEATURE: Erin's Recipes for People Who Can't Cook

As I have discussed on more occasions than I care to link to here, I am a special kind of dumb in the kitchen. So when something actually chances to work out (that isn't a pan of brownies or some sort of powdered macaroni item), I like to share with you the process so you can either (1) make some use of the information or (2) laugh at me.

So today's recipe is for chicken salad, and I made it up all by myself, more or less. As much as one can make up a recipe for something that is simple and ubiquitous like chicken salad. But anyway, the almonds are the secret to the whole thing, because the texture contrast makes it interesting. You could also add celery for that purpose, but I hate celery. Stringy pseudovegetable. Bleh.

Protein-Tastic Chicken Salad, which is not unlike all chicken salad, but with more explicit directions and almonds

3 chicken breast halves
15 grapes (I like purple, but it's up to you)
handful slivered almonds
salad dressing (mayo if you're a heathen)

Cube chicken breasts. Tip: This is most easily done if the chicken is still partially frozen. Boil chicken breasts on medium heat until they're done (or, if you're me, until you remember to take them off the stove). Drain. Salt and pepper cubes. Get out a new cutting board so you don't die of salmonella, or at least flip over the chickeny one. Dice slivered almonds and add. Slice grapes and add. Note on grapes: if it bugs you to have random pieces of grape skin floating around in your salad, peel your grapes, because the skin will separate from the grape slices when you stir. Dump on salad dressing "until it looks right," as my mother likes to say. This means about four big spoonsful to start. Stir. Sample. Adjust salt, pepper, and salad dressing to taste. Salad dressing may need to be readjusted after refrigeration. (I don't know; it always seems to need more later.) If you are on a low-carb diet or hate bread, serve on top of a lettuce salad. Otherwise, serve on a hamburger bun with lettuce. Makes 5 or 6 sandwiches, I would guess; I haven't used all mine up yet so I don't know.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I'm a new graduate student, so here are some LISTS

Things I had to read this weekend, which is the first weekend after classes started, mind you
South Asian Literature: Four articles (~100 pp.), plus 80 pp. of Waiting for the Mahatma by R.K. Narayan (done)
Theory and Criticism: Four passages from De Sassure's Course in General Linguistics (~60 pp., bonus for REALLY boring and also somewhat pointless)
Chaucer: One article (50 pp.), 75 lines of General Prologue (bonus for Middle English), six passages from Sources & Backgrounds book (~25 pp.) (done)
Literary Journals: 12 essays (~100 pp.)

Ways I deal with all this reading so I don't go nuts
1. Bitching. This is universal to graduate students, apparently. The Association of Graduate Students of English (I know, clunker of a name) had a picnic this weekend, and the top two topics of conversation were (1) how much reading everybody has and (2) how much everybody doesn't want to do all their reading. Oh, and this one girl told the story of how she got shot in St. Louis. Don't go to St. Louis, kids.
2. Highlighters. I have tons of highlighters, and sometimes I play a game with them called Pretend You Have to Find the Important Ideas in This Stupid Article. If nothing else, highlighting makes my professors think I've read whatever it is. Plus, pretty.
3. Wine. Believe me, De Sassure goes down a lot easier when he's greased by a glass of riesling. You know, it's writers who have the reputation for being alcoholics, but I suspect critics are not far behind on that front. Note to my parents: I am in no danger of becoming an alcoholic. I hear that doesn't happen until at least comps.
4. Cats. Whenever one or both cats park themselves on top of me, I feel all loved, and then I think I'd better treasure their attention because it doesn't happen often, and then I can't move for an hour until they're done napping. Might as well get some reading done, provided it's not being laid on by some feline.

Things I did this weekend besides read
Attended picnic (x2)
Took classmate to emergency room
Kicked cat in head (x2—she was trying to escape)
Made chicken salad (see recipe feature above)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Making of Dr. N.N. Mind

I’m back, whee!

I actually only have a few minutes before I have to catch the bus for my next class (Introduction to Literary Theory), but I thought I would get everybody as up-to-date as I can.

I settled in, by and large, although there’s one box in the kitchen that I just haven’t been able to bring myself to unpack, so it’s still sitting in the middle of the floor. Lyra hides under the flaps and swats at my ankles when I walk by, like a painful little reminder that my housekeeping is terrible. Thanks, baby girl. Speaking of Lyra, she’s in love with the hallway and wants to spend as much time in it as she can. If she could marry the hallway…well, she wouldn’t, because then she would be cheating on the bookshelf next to the window in the office (a.k.a. the cats’ bedroom). Anyway, needless to say, the cats have adjusted well and are back to being their normal pesky selves, including leaving some extemely foul poos in the litter box, probably as revenge. Bleh.

School’s going well so far, now that we’re past the orientation/anticipation stage. Let me tell you, if there’s anything more useless than general orientation, I can’t think of what it might be. Here is what I learned: There’s a website. This website apparently holds the key to all knowledge, making the people who actually work in various university offices useful for only one thing: telling you the address of the website. Departmental orientation was somewhat more interesting, as I got to meet my classmates. Most of them seem very nice, although they are typical English graduate students—a little overenthusiastic and socially awkward. I’ll fit in well.

Classes started yesterday. I’ve been to three of my five classes already, and it pretty much looks like I’m going to spend the whole semester reading. Reading, reading, reading, a little writing, then more reading. Seriously, I’ve already spent over $80 on copies (one course pack and one set that should have been), on top of $200 for books. Poor! Do they not remember this?

Iowa City itself is charming and quirky, but not quirky in that pretentious/self-conscious way that Austin is. (Sorry, Austinites. But if you have to try to be weird, then you’re just like my freshman who used to have mock sword fights with himself in the quad. Weird, yes, but also annoying and scary.) They have right-turn arrows and warnings for any curve that’s greater than 120 degrees: WARNING CURVE TIGHTENS 25 MPH. I can’t decide if those are for the old snail-like Midwestern drivers, or for the crazy college kids.

Moving to Iowa has reminded me of a lot of things, like that Midwestern guys seem to be above-average attractive and that people besides me actually do use their turn signals. Going to the grocery store is, as always, an exercise in hilarity. I bought fish sauce last night at Hy-Vee, and I had to explain to the clerk that it didn't taste like fish and was actually sort of tangy. Not hilarious because I explained, but because she looked like she absolutely did not believe me. I mean, I do sometimes tell wild lies, but not usually to unsuspecting store clerks. Oh well, the look on her face was probably somewhat like the look on mine when I discovered Beefomato in the juice aisle. It's apparently the Midwestern equivalent of Clamato. They're equally disgusting, in any case.

All right, I'd better run or I'm going to miss the bus, and then I'll be late for class and it will be a whole drama. I'll have further updates on class and classmates, but probably not today as I'll be working on my 2-page response paper for Chaucer that's due tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

We were ON a BREAK!

If you hadn't noticed, Dr. N.N. Mind is taking a short haitus from posting. I'm in the process of finishing up my life in Houston so I can move on to graduate school. I hope to be back sometime in the third week of August, perhaps with an entirely new and exciting design. See you then.