Time for some SERIOUS updates.
I know, I’ve been flagging on the writing/commenting/replying end of things (which is a total shame, because that’s the part of blogging I love best). In between teaching, prepping for my Part II exam (more on that in a sec), and some really exciting new developments in the cooking/baking part of my life, I’ve been catching about 4 hours of shuteye a night…when I’m lucky and don’t get insomnia. So to perk things up around here, I thought I’d take a big break from everything else, share some of the BEST colorful cookies I know (seriously, I served these at my ice cream cookie sandwich party a few weeks ago and they were ALL GONE), and sit down for a little life chat with all of you.
Got your tea or coffee? Good.
1. First parcel of big news, which you might have read about on Sunday’s post, but anyway: guys, I’m competing in this year’s annual California Strawberry Festival Berry Blast-Off competition! After an hour of intensive cooking in a professional kitchen last week, the judges picked my original Steamed Strawberry Coconut Poke Cake as one of two entries for the final showdown. This will be my first time on a live stage (eep!) cooking (eep!) in front of hundreds of people (EEP!) with a microphone and cameras trained on me as I try to keep my hands steady enough to crack an egg like a normal person which I cannot for the life of me do (okay, where’s my fainting couch?). We’ll be traveling to Oxnard that morning so if you’re in the area, you might want to stop by the Strawberry Promenade at 1 PM! You can read more press releases about the competition here and here. Wish me luck!
2. Part II Exams are quickly descending on me as June 8th creeps steadily closer and breathes down my neck like the drunk vampire I imagine would lurk at a dingy sports bar on a Thursday night. Without going into all the boring details, I am currently writing my dissertation proposal, which is ~50 pages of research + literature review + analysis-pretending-to-know-what-it’s-talking-about. In the exam, I’ll get to sit down with my panel of four professors and basically not sound stupid about my chosen topic. I’m more than halfway along but am on a SERIOUS time crunch–hence, the late-night freak-out/no-sleep sessions. So in keeping with the trend: wish me luck!
3.Did I mention that #2 is giving me serious anxiety and stress issues?
How I wish I felt in life right now: “nailed it!”
How I feel right now about life: “D’oh. Missed.”
4. With the promise of constant sunshine, I’m swimming again on a near-daily basis. Apparently, all of my friends are aware of this fact regardless of whether I tell them so or not, because my raccoon-eyed goggle tan is officially back in full bloom.
5. OMG. So this past Sunday we helped save a KITTEN from a hot car engine. She was trapped inside for nearly 30 miles of freeway driving without the driver knowing she was there–and when the car owner finally parked outside my place, we all spent the next two hours trying to get the poor thing out. At about the 90-minute mark, she actually did jump out the way she had gotten in–through the bottom of the car–and ran right into my neighbor’s car engine instead. Well, we eventually got her out of there as well (it was easier since the engine wasn’t hot), and my neighbors and I all piled into my place to give her water, feed her, and clean her up. And of course we took obligatory Snaps/Grams/photos:
Isn’t she adorable? One of the girls who owns cats took her home, but I would have gladly kept her if I wasn’t, you know, crazy wheezing hacking allergic. <3
6. Two weeks ago, I was hit on the back of the head hard with a Frisbee at about a 7-foot range. I’m fine now–the ear-ringing stopped after a day and the headache went away over the weekend–but I’ve lost my appetite and have woken up dry heaving two or three times in the middle of the night. Also, a few of my right toes feel slightly numb, though there’s still feeling in them. I think it’s the stress (seriously), but it doesn’t help that I’m paranoid about dying of Frisbee attack-related injuries and my friends/family aren’t. Any thoughts from anyone who’s been clobbered on the noggin?
7. Last week I posted the following status.
Tonight at Trader Joe’s: I met a cashier who asked every person in front of me how they were doing, and everyone would mutter a reply without bothering to actually talk to him. Finally, when I got to the register, he asked me how I was doing. Even though it’s been a pretty crappy past week in terms of personal stuff, I smiled and told him it had been a really great day–which it had. When I followed up by asking him if he was in for a long night, he said that he actually was--not because of work, but because of rough stuff happening in his private life. Then suddenly his whole tired face lit up and he added: “But your smile made my night. Thank you so much for smiling and asking–it just made things seem a lot less tough tonight.” Always smile for others when you can–you never know for whom it will be the only ray of sunshine they see all day.
That night, my dad called and casually asked if the cashier must have been very happy? When I told him that I thought he had been, and that we all need a bit of sunshine in our life, my dad paused, then said very quietly: “I know. I know.”
I sat up thinking about life for the rest of the night.
8. The past two weeks have been an emotional roller coaster, and I was having a particularly crappy time of things during that first week of May. Thankfully, I also have one of the best support systems a girl could ask for, meaning that my lapses into disquietude and self-doubt have not gone unnoticed. This past week has been one of the best weeks I have had in a very long time, and I am so so so thankful for it. <3
But what about these Loaded Oatmeal Monster Cookies you promised?! you’re probably asking right about now as you reach the bottom of this relentless shpeil. Never fear! Grad student rant #done.
This cookie was one of the highlights of that ice cream cookie sandwich party I told you about, because a) the fact that everyone loved them made me feel like a supahstarrrr, b) they brought all my wonderful friends over to my place in an absurdly fun gathering, and c) they are damn good.
I took one of my favorite oatmeal cookie bases and loaded it with everything in my pantry: chocolate chips, shredded coconut, M&M’s, and pretzels (WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LEAVE OUT THE PRETZELS). Sweet and crunchy and soft and salty all at once: if my week hadn’t gotten better right when it had, you can be damn well sure I would’ve made these cookies again to perk things up a bit!
Go ahead–fill your life with color! What has been the highlight of your week so far?
- 1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups quick-cooking oats
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup M&Ms or other candy
- 3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 3/4 cup crushed mini pretzels
- In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
- Mix in egg, vanilla, and molasses until combined.
- Add flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon, and salt. Fold into wet ingredients until dry ingredients have been just incorporated.
- Fold in oats, then fold in remaining mix-ins (chocolate chips, M&Ms, coconut, and pretzels,or other mix-ins as desired). Chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (or in freezer for 30 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a cookie sheet.
- Using a small to medium cookie scoop (or a spoon), scoop out 1-inch balls of dough and place 2 inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10-13 minutes, until the edges have set but the centers still look slightly undone. Remove from oven and allow to continue "cooking" on the cookie sheet--the heat from the sheet will allow the cookies to "set" but remain soft!