Friday, June 13, 2014

Fun Facts

Since I started working at Princeton, I've been thinking about some of the coincidences and similarities to other aspects of my education and career. Here are a few little tidbits that I find interesting. It's a little history lesson for you, too!

1) Orange and Black
     Princeton's colors are orange and black. Weirdly, those were my high school colors. I couldn't find any history on why my high school chose orange and black, but I found Princeton's history. The color orange was one of the colors of the House of Nassau - the house of King William III, for whom the first campus building (Nassau Hall) was named. Students began wearing orange ribbons with "Princeton" written in black, and in 1896 those were adopted as the official colors. To go a step deeper with the weird coincidence, the colors of the House of Nassau were actually orange and blue... my college colors!

2) The Tiger
     My internship was done at Clemson University, whose mascot is the tiger. When I got to Princeton, I found out that my mascot would once again be the tiger!  The Princeton Tigers came about because of the school colors. The first football uniforms were orange and black stripes, so the association with the tiger was quickly observed, and it stuck. The Clemson Tigers came to be because the first football coach came from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), whose mascot was the tiger. He decided to keep the mascot since Clemson had yet to distinguish one. Auburn chose the tigers because of an Oliver Goldsmith poem with the line, "where crouching tigers await their hapless prey." Oh, and guess what Auburn's colors are... orange and blue! Clemson is orange and purple. Orange is a reoccurring theme in my life!

3)  Major Battles
     Gettysburg College, where I went to school, and Princeton University were both smack dab in the middle of major battles of major wars, both 31 years after they were established.
     Gettysburg College was established in 1832 as Pennsylvania College. In 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg occurred during the Civil War. The first campus building, and most recognizable was Pennsylvania Hall. It served as a field hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers during the battle. It recovered from significant damage, and is now a registered historic landmark.
     Princeton University was established in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. In 1777, the Battle of Princeton occurred during the Revolutionary War. Nassau Hall was the first campus building (and only building at the time of the battle). It was used as a barracks and hospital for both British and American troops during the battle. It recovered from extensive damage and is now a registered historic landmark.
     Apparently I like schools with a history of war.

Some fun facts about Princeton that I stumbled upon in my research:

- The first ever intercollegiate football game in America was played in 1869 between Princeton and Rutgers.

- The exterior of the Frist Campus Center on the Princeton Campus was filmed as the hospital on the tv show House.

- The art museum on campus has original Monet works.

- The University does not officially recognize Greek life on campus. There are no fraternity or sorority houses. Instead, the school has "eating clubs". There are 11 clubs total... 6 of them interview and hand-pick members; 4 have a lottery system to choose new members; and one has a point system, where prospective members participate in club activities to accumulate points toward membership. They are essentially dining halls in big, old mansions that also have a social/party aspect.

- Princeton accepts just 7% of undergraduate applicants.

- The tiger statues flanking the front stairs into Nassau Hall are named Woodrow and Wilson, after the U.S. president, and Princeton alum.

- The Tony-award winning play "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike" was commissioned by and debuted at the McCarter Theatre on the Princeton campus before moving to off-Broadway and eventually Broadway.

Ok, I think that's enough for now. I'll stop boring you!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

As we all know, I have the biggest kitchen crush on Joy Wilson, a.k.a. Joy the Baker. To my delight, she has teamed up with King Arthur Flour to host a "Baking Bootcamp". She is creating four different recipes using four different kinds of flour, and challenging her readers to make these recipes. Post pictures of your creations to instagram, with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp, and you're entered into a contest to win a year's supply of King Arthur Flour and a baking essentials package, put together by Joy herself. None of this is anything but awesome.

For her first recipe, using all-purpose flour, Joy has created a Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread. I'm not going to post the recipe, since I didn't make any changes. You can check it out on her site by clicking the link above. I will post some pictures I took of the process, and my finished product.

Yeast, milk, sugar, egg, melted butter = bubbly, yeasty soup.

After mixing and kneading, you end up with a neat little ball of dough to put in a bowl and let rise for an hour.

Cinnamon, butter, sugar. Perfect sweet, cinnamon-y filling you can make while the dough is rising. 

Spread the filling evenly on the rolled-out dough and place the rinsed and dried berries.


Roll up the dough, and cut in half, leaving about an inch connected at the end. 

"Braid" the dough and form a circle. Joy describes how to do this in depth. It's easier than I expected!

Quickly and carefully pick up the braided dough and place it in a cast iron skillet (or pan of some kind.) This was also easier than expected, but I can see the potential of it going badly. 

Brush the top with a beaten egg to get that perfectly browned top, and bake for 25 minutes, and you have a pan full of heaven. 

Let it cool and add a little powdered sugar, and it's perfect! It's so good! Like a big cinnamon bun, with a pop of fresh fruit.

Even if you aren't interested in the "Baking Bootcamp", you should treat yourself to this. I thought the recipe was a little intimidating, but it was a lot simpler than it seemed, and totally one of those recipes that makes you feel proud and accomplished.

Again, you can find the recipe here. Joy also has step-by-step instructions with pictures, which was really helpful!


Friday, May 23, 2014

Summer Fun

So I was on Pinterest today, and a summer to-do list popped up on my feed. With my new job, I get July and August off, so I thought it would be fun to make a list of things that I would like to do this summer.

Now, it's not one of those "I have to do EVERYTHING or summer is RUINED" kind of lists, just some stuff that I want to try to do, and things to make the summer fun! I ended up with 25 things... mostly because that's how many lines were on my tablet.
Summer Fun List

1) Go to the beach.
At least once... probably more.
2) Go camping.
A lot. So far I'm planning on PA, VA, and NC.
3) Make my own ice cream.
I remember doing this as a kid... I wonder if Mom still has the ice cream maker?!
4) Read 10 new books.
10 is a solid number. Maybe more? We'll see!
5) Lose weight.
50 pounds would be nice. I'm aiming for 10.
6) Can/freeze something.
I'm growing tomatoes... maybe spaghetti sauce??
7) Have a fondue night.
Love fondue, and no cooking!
8) Go to a theme park.
I'm already planning on Busch Gardens. And Knoebel's. Maybe even Hershey??
9) Catch up with friends.
I have lots of friends nearby now that I've fallen out of touch with.
10) Visit a city.
Almost definitely NYC. Maybe a day in Philly, too?
11) Have a picnic by the lake.
Burgers on the grill, anyone?
12) Donate blood.
I've been lax about this lately. And I want new tattoos soon so I won't be able to.
13) Try new recipes.
Lots of them!
14) Go to a carnival/fair.
Fried oreos! Gyros! Funnel cake! This one may be at odds with #5.
15) Have an all-day movie marathon of movies I haven't seen.
I don't mean just 3 or 4 movies. I mean, like, 8am to midnight.
16) Go hiking.
This could go hand-in-hand with the camping, but it doesn't have to!
17) See a new lighthouse.
Or several.
18) Find some new waterfalls.
A day at Rickett's Glen, maybe?
19) Make fresh-squeezed lemon/lime/orangeade.
I don't know if I've ever actually made a whole pitcher of lemonade from scratch....
20) Digitalize some photos.
I've done most photos from my dad's side. I want to sit down with my maternal grandmother, a scanner, and some photo albums.
 21) Send some gifts/treats/care packages to random people.
If I see something or bake something that I think someone would like, I want to send it to them!
22) Learn something new.
I've been meaning to learn at least the basics of a new language. Or maybe a new cooking technique? Cake decorating? Hmm....
23) Watch some fireworks.
Fourth of July? Busch Gardens? I want to see some somewhere!
24) Find a new winery.
I think there are at least a couple around here I could check out.
25) Spend time with family.
I'm close to home now, and have time off. I want to see the people that I love as much as possible!

This summer has the potential to be amazing! Let's see what happens!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Whole New World

A new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no, or where to go....

Oh, sorry. "A Whole New World" came to mind as a title for this post, and I got caught up in it. It's a whole new world becaaause I've started a whole new life since my last posting!

I've gotten a new job as the theater technician at Princeton University! While I learned a lot, and made some great friends during my time at the park, it was definitely time to move on. I've been with the University for about a month now, and so far it's fantastic! Salary, benefits, normal work hours, enjoyable work. I finally feel like I have a "grown-up" job, and that my life is starting.

I have an office, I get vacation/personal/sick days, summers off, and let's talk about the area. I'm pretty much right smack between New York City and Philadelphia; I'm about three hours from my hometown (instead of 7!), and I'm still only about 45 minutes from the beach. It's pretty much my perfect geographic location.

Along with the new job, I have a new apartment in Levittown, PA. I was looking to rent a house, but they were few and far between. I feel like this is the best bet while I get settled in the area and at Princeton, anyway. I don't have to worry about yardwork or upkeep. Plus, this complex is so much better than the one I was at in VA. I can't hear every little thing that my neighbors do and say... in fact, I haven't really heard them at all. I was leery of a first-floor apartment, but I can't hear the people moving upstairs at all... and it was SO MUCH easier to move into than a second-floor apartment!

It's a one-bedroom, but I have an extra little "den" space that I want to get a futon or pull-out sofa for, so I can use it as a guest room. The kitchen is a little small, but the bedroom and living room are huge! There are plenty of closets, and even an extra little storage space outside of the apartment assigned to me. I have a patio big enough for a little table and a couple of chairs, my own mailbox, enough yard for some potted plants and a decorative flag. It's great! And in a few years when I know the area, job demands, and my money situation better, I can look into buying a house. Until then, someone else can mow the grass!

Levittown is a pretty great area in itself. It's closer to Philly than NYC, but I wanted to live in PA. Mostly because taxes, car insurance, etc. are cheaper. Partly because I've been trying to move back to PA for years, and I finally could! Every store or restaurant you can think of is close by. There are tons of independently-owned businesses, as well as chains, so anything you could possibly need is right here.

Across the street from my apartment complex is a community park with jogging/walking/biking paths, picnic pavilions with charcoal grills, a lake that you can fish and boat on, playgrounds, a dog park, a beach volleyball court, a skate park, soccer fields.... I've pretty much fallen in love with it. This summer, I want to have a picnic in one of the pavilions so I can barbecue!

I've started jogging again, around the lake. It's easier to workout when you have a beautiful area that you want to go to, instead of staring at the wall of the gym. When it's rainy or too hot/cold, my complex has a fitness center that I can use. I haven't been there yet, but at least I have the option. I've been trying to get back into yoga, too. I will lead a healthy lifestyle if it kills me, dammit!

So, sorry this whole post was just me bragging about my life. I had to share all the awesomeness. I'm finally proud of where I am, and happier than I've been in a long time. Hopefully, I'll start this blogging thing more regularly again, but no promises! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sensational Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Have you ever had IHOP's Cinn-a-Stack pancakes? If you have, you know that they're just about the best thing in the world. I only get them once in awhile, because I seem to only make it to IHOP when I have house guests. The nearest one is about 5 minutes up the road, so there's no reason I couldn't go more often, I just usually prefer somewhere with a drive-thru when I'm eating alone.

To satisfy my cravings, I decided to come up with my own version of a cinnamon bun pancake. They turned out wonderfully, and pretty close to the real deal. I had to share this with the world, so everyone can have Cinn-a-Stack without even leaving the house. Heck, you don't even have to leave your pajamas!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
- About 2oz. cream cheese - softened
- 1/4 C. milk
- 8 Tbsp. powdered sugar

-  1/2 C. packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

- 1 1/2 C. flour
- 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 heaping Tbsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 C. milk
- 1 large egg
- 3 Tbsp. butter - melted

- To make the icing, simply whisk together the soft cream cheese, milk, and powdered sugar. Start with about 5-6 Tbsp. of the sugar, and add the rest until you get the desired consistency. 

- For the filling, place the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a small saucepan. Heat and stir over low heat until the butter has melted and the mixture is liquid. Keep over the lowest heat until ready to use. After awhile, the mixture will be come less liquid, and more grainy.

- For the pancakes, place the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk together to eliminate any clumps. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the milk, egg, and melted butter. Stir together until well combined. Let the mixture sit for 2-5 minutes. The longer it sits before cooking, the fluffier the pancakes will be!

- Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, pour in the batter about a half a cup at a time, and brown on both sides. Stack the pancakes as they come out of the pan, spreading a few tablespoons of the filling on top of each as they hit the plate.

- When all of the batter is used, pour the icing over the stack, close your eyes, and pretend that you're at IHOP!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Welcome Back Breakfast

Well, hello there, Blogosphere! How have you been? Long time, no see!

I spent the last few weeks at home in PA, and I decided that when I got back to my VA life, I would start blogging again. As you can see, my page has a new look, and I'm going for a fresh start. I have some adventures that I want to go on, and a list of new recipes that I want to try. My contract at the park has ended, and I'm unemployed for the time being, so blogging/cooking/photography will be a good way to stay busy!

To kick things off, I tried a new recipe for breakfast this morning.

They're "Breakfast Cups". Toast, bacon, and eggs all married together. They're simple and delicious, and it's all stuff that I had on hand. I used whole wheat bread and turkey bacon, so they're even fairly healthy!

Breakfast Cups

2 slices whole wheat bread
2 slices bacon
2 large eggs
salt and pepper

- Spray 2 custard cups (or 2 cups of a large muffin tin) with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

- Fry bacon in a skillet for about a minute on each side, to remove some grease and start the crisping.

- Trim crusts off of the bread and discard. Flatten the bread with a rolling pin. Press the flattened bread into the greased custard cups, making sure there are no holes. Cut the strips of bacon in half, and lay on top of the bread.

- Crack an egg into each cup, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

- Place custard cups on a small baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven. Bake at 375 degrees F for 16-18 minutes, until the egg whites are solid but the yolks are still slightly runny.

- Run a knife around the edge to make sure the bread is loose, and remove to a plate. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or a glass of o.j. and enjoy!

Filling, nutritious, and kind of fun!