Monday, May 12, 2008

Finals Are Finally Over!

Hooray! I finally completed and turned in all of my finals, my grades and my teaching portfolio. Yay, yay, yay! Monday I turned in grades, Tuesday was my Harlem Renaissance final and Wednesday I had to turn in both a poetry portfolio (showing how my work changed from draft to draft) and a chapbook (an introduction and a collection of poems arranged like a real book). The chapbook was challenging, because I'm not that well-read in poetry, and before joining this program, most of the poetry books I owned were anthologies. As such, I didn't really understand how one made poems fit together to create a whole.

I had planned to complete my teaching portfolio Thursday, but I was so exhausted that I spent that day in a coma. Seriously, I don't remember Thursday. Friday I finished the book. Then I went for groceries and attempted to make mini pudding pies with graham cracker crust. You see, I'm trying to eat all of my leftovers without opening anything new, and I had five graham cracker sheets. I tossed them in the cute little food processor Mom gave me. Then I added some sugar and melted butter...too much melted butter. I pressed the mixture into muffin papers in my muffin tin. After baking, I actually had to drain out the excess butter. It's kind of a bad sign when you have to drain your baked goods. I even blotted the graham cracker crusts a bit. Then I filled each one with vanilla pudding, topped with a fresh strawberry. They were messy (hard to pry out of the muffin papers), but the mini pies were scrumptious.

Saturday was spent making jewelry for various friends' birthdays (not to mention two necklaces I promised Riza and Carolina way back for Christmas 2006. Then I did some cooking. My newly-invented chicken dish was awesome. I had three huge Tyson boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the freezer. The package said I could bake them without thawing, which made life easier.

I preheated the oven to 350, rinsed the breasts and arranged them in a baking pan. Then I brushed them with olive oil. I realized I had several cloves of garlic, so I peeled them and minced them in the food processor, then sprinkled the garlic on the chicken. I was then inspired to use some white cooking wine that I had in the fridge, and poured a layer in the bottom of the pan. Then I thought I remembered Mr. B saying that garlic can burn easily, so I scraped all the garlic into the wine. I shook a little bit of mustard powder and fresh black pepper on the chicken and baked it for 40-50 minutes (try 35 to 45 minutes if you thaw the chicken first).

When I was done, I decided to make a sauce, like the dill sauce I made for my salmon in the winter. I took the chicken out of the pan and set it on the cutting board. I put 4 tbsp. of flour in a saucepan, then poured in the wine and garlic from the baking dish (leaving behind any fat globs). I stirred briskly to eliminate lumps. I cut into each chicken breast to make sure they were done; they all were, so I poured the juice that ran out of them from the (clean) cutting board into the sauce pan with more wine, a little salt, pepper, thyme and garlic powder and simmered until I got the right consistency. Next time I'd either include a little less flour or use some chicken broth in place of a little of the wine, because the wine flavor was a tad strong. That said, it was scrumptious, and more than I'd hoped for from finishing off my leftovers! I'm also proud of myself, because (besides my raspberry fudge) this is my first real invented recipe.

Sunday was spent on cleaning and other housework, not to mention calling my mommy to wish her a happy mother's day. I wish I could have been there with Mom for her special day. I miss her. Well, next Monday, I'll be safe at home with my family. Today I've been preparing for my trip, doing laundry and attempting to pack. I'm so tired!

Thursday I take the bus to New York. My friend Jenny has offered me a place to stay, thought we're still arranging the details. Two weeks ago, by back cramped up terribly, so I'm not looking forward to hauling a big suitcase all around the city and up and down MANY flights of stairs (into and out of the subway, up to and down from Jenny's fourth-floor apartment). I tried for a small suitcase and realized I have room for most of my clothes if I don't take any shoes or my shoes, pants and skirts if I don't pack shirts and toiletries. Either way, it would be a problem.

I'm trying to pack for NYC and Iowa, from cool May weather to hot August weather, and events from hanging out on the farm to my friend Emily's wedding. I don't know what summer job I'll get, either, so I may need business-like clothes. Sigh. I'm going to end up hauling a 50-lb bag all over the place. I'm temped to mail my clothes home...but I'd have to carry the box blocks and blocks to the post office, so it's kind of a wash. If only I could really afford taxis and hotels with bellman to carry my bags. Where is a sugar daddy when you need one?

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