Saturday, May 24, 2014

Update and Kale and Kielbasa Soup

I'm back!!!!

It has been an incredibly hard semester what with a falling out with a former roommate and best friend, the even more endless winter than usual, my anxiety disorder getting out of control, and dealing with some stuff from my past which I hope to feel strong enough to share with you at some point. That said I just got my grades back and I passed all my classes (yes I was actually worried about that, told you it was a hard semester), and better than that I got  a 3.78 (out of 4.0) GPA. Guess all that Xanax worked after all.

Now I'm home, and it is a well known (and often joked about) fact that I clean like I demon when I first get home. I'm not exactly sure why I do it, but my guess is it's due to post finals stress. My target this time was the kitchen. To my Mom's relief I don't have any before pictures, but here are the after ones for you.

What have I been doing with this beautifully clean kitchen? Cooking of course! I didn't have much time  or motivation to cook when I was at school, but I'm working on picking it back up now. One of the few things I cooked this past semester is Kale and Kielbasa soup. This is one of the recipes that I call a refrigerator recipe, which means it's purpose is to use up as many things sitting around in my refrigerator before they go bad. As such the recipe keeps changing and I never actually measure anything, but I'll give you my best guess. For instance this time I made it I didn't actually use Kielbasa, but rather Bratwurst since it was on sale at the grocery store. You can add or subtract anything from this recipe that you want to fit what you have lying around.

And of course this wouldn't be my blog without a picture of a dog so here's one of my ever present helper.

How much of me needs to be on the linoleum before I count as in the kitchen? 

Kale and Kielbasa Soup

about a Tbs of olive oil
A small yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, also minced
4-6 medium potatoes
Some carrots. Okay, okay, around 3 or 4 large carrots.
32 oz chicken (or other) stock plus as much water as needed for desired consistency. (Watering down stock is one of the greatest cooking tricks I know, make stock stretch farther but tastes pretty much the same.)
2 tsp basal
2 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
1 tsp parsley
1 bunch of Kale (roughly 6 or 7 lightly compacted cups. This is one of the few ways I get vegetables into my diet at school so I like to cram in as much as possible.)
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 link of Kielbasa (or 2 links of Bratwurst*, because hey it's not like Kielbasa in the title or anything)

Mince the garlic and onion then cook in the olive oil over medium until translucent (or you get bored). While onions are cooking dice potatoes and carrots, then add them to the onion and garlic. Add the stock at this time and bring to a simmer. Pull the Kale leaves off the stalks, then tear into bit size pieces before dropping them into the pot. Add the herbs now too. Either add the rice now if there is enough stock or you can cook it separately and add it at the end. Cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are soft. Slice Kielbasa and add to the pot. Serve when Kielbasa is throughly heated.

*if using uncooked sausage, put the whole sausage in the pot at the beginning with the onions and keep it there through the whole cooking process then slice at the end.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gowanus Adventures

Hi all, I know I've been MIA for a bit (school does that to you), but I just wrote a sample blog post for an application to be an official blogger for Cornell Abroad and I figured you might enjoy it too. The prompt was to write about a recent interesting experience.

Here you go:

I've just returned from a wonderfully refreshing trip which included sunny days and cooling breezes on the shores of a delightful waterway. Was it the Tuscan Riviera you ask, clapping your hands with glee. Well no, it was slightly closer to home. It was, in fact, the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, a EPA superfund site considered by many to be among the most polluted canals in the world. So, maybe I omitted the part about the cooling breezes carrying metal dust from the industrial recycling facility across the way and the delightful oder of raw sewage, and maybe the shores were more like concrete bulkheads crumbling into the canal, but the sunny part is true. And the canal does contain some fascinating wildlife including bacteria that's mutating too quickly for scientist to study since by the time they get the research funding to examine any particular type of bacterial it has already morphed into something else and, at least according to a poster I found, a lost squid that answers to the name Mr. Grabby, although I suspect that's a joke. Not certain though, weirder things have happened.

Why was I at this most desirable leisure spot do you ask? Data my friends. Data. More specifically collecting first hand data of what forest resources exist along the canal. My studio class project this semester is to create an urban forest along the Gowanus Canal and one of the best ways to go about it is to find out what is already there. 

I wasn't lying when I said the trip was refreshing. It was nice to get outside and work with my hands in the sunshine, between laying out grids and inventorying trees and soils I would glance into the canal and see the beautiful technicolor patterns of oil slicks waving as they undulated by. And… was that a tentacle?

Until next time my friends!

Friday, January 3, 2014


Happy 2014 everyone! My goals for this year are the same as they were last year, and the year before, and the year before... keep finding out who I am, keep moving forward, be healthier than the year before, be happy, find better ways of managing anxiety, and of course pet all the puppies.

Finding more about who I am brings us to the topic of this post; duality because it sounds better than conflicted. I find more and more that my life is full of concepts, aspects, interests that would seem mutually exclusive and I have to find a way to make them work together. For instance, I'm very interested in the urban side of Landscape Architecture, the modern clean lines, bustling cities, and bright colors. However, I myself just want to go walk in the woods, make my own jam, watch the sun rise, escape all the hallmarks of civilization. How can these coexist? I don't know, but I have to make it happen because I'm off balance otherwise. Other dualities are, being an adult and acting like a 4-year-old when my roommate and I plan out making forts in our room, confidence and doubt that my confidence is actually founded on anything, living on the East coast and being rooted in the West coast, wanting to travel and stay cuddled up under a blanket at home, wanting to grow but not wanting to deal with change. The list is endless.

Career fears bubble up to the top most often now, am I any good at Landscape Architecture? Is this really what I want? Will I be a success? What does it mean to be successful? What will I do if I'm not? I don't have the answers or worse think that I do. It's no secret that uncertainty drives me crazy so the anxiety bubbles and roils like a pot of boiling water, but the lid is still on catching the steam so it can never run dry. So my two options are either take the lid off and let the steam leave or turn off the heat. Of the two I think turning off the heat would be better as I always feel drained and unsatisfied when the pot boils dry.  And I'll have to start practicing right away as I fly off tomorrow to an internship that came together at the last minute at a place I've never been, working with someone I've never met, and living with people I know next to nothing about. Now that's a perfect recipe of anxiety if ever I've seen one. But I try to either let go of the things I'm afraid of because being afraid won't change them or for every bad scenario I come up with I try to find a good one to counter act it. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pecan Pumpkin Loaf

Pecan Pumpkin Loaf (adapted from recipe on Pamela's Four Mix bag)


4 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1-1/2 cup flour mix
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp salt

3 tbsp vegetable shortening, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans

Makes one 8x4 inch loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Beat the shortening, sugar, eggs, and pumpkin together until well combined. Then mix in all the dry ingredients and again mix until well combined. Pour into a greased 8x4 loaf pan.
Mix all the ingredients of the nut topping together then pour over bread batter and pat in.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until toothpick comes out almost clean.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Hi I've just dropped back in to say hello and give you an update on my life. Like usual a lot of things have happened and I'll just put them down as they pop in my head.

First I am back at school and all moved in to my new house (which is actually called a co-op, but as it is actually a very old house I shall call it that). I absolutely adore it and all the wonderful people I live with. They are so awesome they deserve their own post...eventually.

Before classes started I traveled to NYC and Philadelphia, PA with four other students from my school and fifteen to twenty chinese exchange students. The trip was fantastic and the people incredible. Alas though that is again a subject to be expanded on another day.

Anjou showing off his sleepy ninja skills

I ended up getting a rat, who I named Anjou after the pear cultivar, about three weeks ago and while he isn't a dog he is still very entertaining. He like food, belly rubs, and sleeping in his litter box. He too deserves is own post...again eventually.

I've just started looking into doing a double major with urban planning, but as I haven't even talked to the school about how that works there's really not much more to say about it at the moment.

I was taking Arabic in the first half of the semester, but the instructors teaching style didn't match my learning style so I decided that it would be better to drop it and take it with a different instructor at another time so I can actually learn it as well as I want to. Doing that has freed up 50 minutes of my day, everyday, so I'm planning on using that to go to yoga with a couple friends instead. Now I'm down to only 12 credits (the minimum at which you can still count as a full time student) so I think I'll be using my spare time and energy to make a start on my thesis. I'll let you know when I actually figure out what my thesis is.

I visited the gorgeous city of Toronto, Canada last weekend. More on that later too.

My health continues to decline unfortunately. I'd been holding out on going to a chiropractor, or acupuncturist, or nutritionist for some foolish and unknown reason, but almost fainting at work today was the last straw. On Monday I'm contacting ALL of them. God save my bank account.

And per usual I'm avoiding doing homework :)

Monday, June 17, 2013

GI: acceptance

At school I'd been having problems with pain in the upper right side of my chest, at points it was so bad I couldn't walk and I had to kiss running goodbye for three frustrating months. Due to the placement of the pain my GI doctor suggested it was most likely a Gallbladder problem, even though an ultrasound I'd had back in October showed it was normal, so she scheduled a HIDA scan for the day after my return and the results led us to schedule a meeting with a surgeon which happened this past Friday. The surgeon and I talked a bit and her verdict was that while my Gallbladder was functioning at half the normal level all the other symptoms I'd mentioned were inconsistent with typical Gallbladder trouble so she could take it out, but that would be more of a diagnostic test than a solution. I said that since we weren't sure it was actually going to do any good I'd rather hang on to my organs.

Now I'm wondering yet again what could have caused all this, and yet again I come back to "what if I damaged/tweaked/pinched my vagus nerve?" I keep remembering that fateful day in theater class where I was moving in twisty feel-the-space-around-you ways, like you do in theater class, and I suddenly got a searing pain in the middle of my chest that left my eyes welling and me gasping. It was gone in probably less than a minute (of course to me it felt much longer) and I didn't think any more about it, but within a week I started to have reflux problems. That coupled with the test results, or lack of results, I've been getting makes it make more sense every time. Reflux, then poor esophageal motility, then a half functioning Gallbladder- all of those things as far as I can tell are controlled by the vagus nerve and the fact that all of them aren't functioning well, but also don't have anything specific wrong with them seems like strong evidence to me. But at least so far there isn't a conclusive test for vagus nerve functioning and no way to reverse it even if it was conclusively proven to be the cause of my discomfort. But the why really doesn't matter. I have had a perspective change.

This poor body of mine is like a tatty old footstool with the stuffing leaking out, patches that clash, and springs sticking out the top. In other words it needs some serious TLC, and that's exactly what it's going to get. Before I would sew on patches willy nilly, poke the stuffing back in the holes, put duct tape over the springs, and pretend that it was all fine while looking at other footstools online and dreaming that I had them instead. But this is the footstool that was issued to me and I can't trade it in and maybe in time I won't want to. It's got a good frame, and some of the patches don't look so bad, and there's no rule that says I can replace the springs and reupholster the rest. It's time I stop kicking this hated thing that I've shoved in the corner, ashamed that people might see what a mess I've made of it. It's time to pull it out and start working, in the garage at first keeping my treasure safe from the judging eyes of those that don't see it's potential, then gradually sharing it until it sits in the pride of place and it's elegance commented on by all who visit.

Thank for bearing with my rambling and extended furniture metaphor. I know I will look back on this post and think it was so cheesy, but it needed saying (I'll think that line is cheesy too). But maybe future Caroline will have learned the self love by the time she rereads this to give it an accepting smile that present Caroline has not yet learned how to do in her 20 years on this planet.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cooking: Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins with glaze

The past week has been bitter sweet; I spent most of my time at my old "school", Village Home (I put it in quotations because it is so much better than and different from a traditional school). It was fabulous to see some of my old friends and join them for classes that I either used to be in or wished they had when I was there. The people at Village never fail to amaze, impress, and make me envious. Some of my friends that haven't already gone to college are going next year at the traditional freshman age, but they'll be transferring as juniors. Others are getting jobs and setting out on their own to follow their desires, and still others that will still be at Village are excelling on every competitive team they have (Which includes Model UN, Mock Trial, Lego Robotics, Destination Imagination and more) and being awesome at their other extra curricular activities. Now you can see why I'm envious, compared to them I'm positively a slacker but that's homeschoolers for you. They have the freedom and time to grow into motivated, passionate people. Then they have to spend the rest of their lives fighting to maintain that (that would be where I am right now).

But on to the recipe! I made this right after I got home, but I got too distracted with all the other great stuff I want to make.

 Yay, muffins!
 These guys are scrumptious (although a little dry because I didn't put a full cup of yogurt in).

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Adapted from this recipe

2 cups gluten free flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup lemon soy yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp lemon extract
1/3 cup lemon juice

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a medium bowl mix egg, yogurt, oil, lemon extract, and lemon juice. Then mix in the dry ingredients until nicely combined.
  • Spoon into lined or greased 12-cup muffin pan.
  • Bake for 18 minutes

When completely cooled spoon glaze over the muffins. This will be messy- I put the muffins on a cutting board, but any easy to clean place works.

From Martha Stewart

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsps lemon juice

  • Put both ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. If it's too think to pour easily add a smidge more lemon juices.