Monday, January 30, 2012

I'm finally on Pinterest!

Come here often?
Then you know that despite my delightful charm and quirky personality, I’m often lacking in the up-to-speed-blogging world. So finally I am on Pinterest!

If you are like most of the non-blogging, tech-challenged people I know you are probably saying to yourself, what’s Pinterest?

Go to my page and check it out! It is a really fun way to centralize all of your interests in one place and get some ideas from other cool people out there. I know I am behind on this and when a friend invited me I was overwhelmed that in a matter of minutes I have 20 + people “following” me.  (You have to be invited by someone or if you “request” to be invited apparently it takes months. This thing is still new, but very popular) Check out the official Pinterest blog too where I got this awesome photo above!
I can’t wait to get started! Let's just see how long it will take for me to get a pinterest button on here now.
P.s. I just got back from Edinburgh this weekend and it was beyond amazing! I can’t wait to share a select sample of my 300+ photos with you…as soon as I find my missing camera card reader. I think I have house elves secretly “borrowing” my things and forgetting to return them.
The College Cuisiner

Friday, January 27, 2012

London: A Week in the Life of a Study Abroad Student

I thought I would share some of last weeks’ highlights with you. It is a pretty quick overview but I wanted to make sure you got to see it. This weekend, we are going to Edinburgh, Scotland. I promise to share photos asap! But for now, enjoy.
On Monday:
 At-Home Proper Afternoon tea with Mary Kate and Jake

Scones from Waitrose grocery store, 45pence each
Double cream and blackcurrant preserves
One Almond and Raspberry tart
My chicken salad and arugula Finger sandwiches

Leftover chocolates from my lovely Sunday Brunch with my Surrogate English family, Tony, Jill and Martin
Three cups of tea
On Tuesday:

My first fish and chips in England so far. (Not including past trips.) Mary Kate and I went to the pub nearest campus, The College Arms. Honestly, not the best I’ve ever had, but it’s worth the picture.

Visiting Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station in London. 

The funny part of this was there were several people here and they were all over twenty, and all embarrassed. 

St. Pancras Station


We went to the famous Portobello Road Outdoor Market in Notting Hill.

Yes, this is right down the road from us, you’re jealous. I understand.

The boys on the tube. Mary Kate and I have adopted these three.

P.S.  I’m loving English television. Call the Midwife, Bird Song, Sherlock, Downton Abbey. Of course, with 20+ people and one television, it is hard to get it in so most of the viewing is on my computer. Now, these have to be downloaded at school and watched on the free BBC I-Player at home because with only 2 MB of internet per week, there is little live streaming occurring.
See you soon!
The College Cuisiner

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIAW #10: Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice

I suppose I underestimated what it would mean to live, study, and eat in London. Yes, it ain’t cheap. But more than that, it’s an adjustment, meaning what type of food is readily available. I never realized how much pre-made meals would be in England. Everywhere you turn there are pre-made sandwiches, full gourmet meals for two, etc. Everything is nicely presented with ingredients overwhelmingly appearing such as salmon, lamb, roasted red peppers, carrots, and coriander. Lots of coriander. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flavors that are out there especially my favorite “non-American” flavor, Black-currant. But everything seems to be prepackaged such as sauces and gravies. There really seems no room for making one’s own sauce as there is every type you might need already on the self for a convenient £2-3, but usually not the ingredients to make those same sauces from scratch. There is also lots of food with Indian and like tastes, understandably due to the current ethnic makeup of the UK. So, it isn’t always the most convenient place for the creative cook. But, hey, I’m doing my best. This is where my chicken and broccoli fried rice comes in. mmm…

But first, I need to get to WIAW, of course.

P.s. as I write this I am watching a mental movie trailer in my mind featuring “In The End” by Snow Patrol. There is no specific movie I’m thinking about, just maybe some standard shots of actors and actresses turning their heads dramatically to the side of the screen, maybe some running and/or frolic scenes. I’m not sure, but I know this song is playing.
Okay, back to WIAW, I promise.

Rachel’s Organic Raspberry yoghurt, my fancy muesul/granola stuff, honey
One piece of wholemeal toast with a little butter and cinnamon sugar (reminds me of elementary school)
One cup of black tea, little sugar and semi-skimmed milk
Politics Class Break
Another cup of black tea with a little sugar and milk

Five “teenage” carrots, not quite baby
1 mini-yellow bell pepper
½ piece of black pepper Naan bread
Lemon-and coriander hummus (told you about the coriander)
Leftover lemon and coriander couscous for “dipping” my hummus covered carrots.
Bottle of water

Big delicious helping of Chicken and Broccoli Fried rice
Glass of Ribena
Sleepy time Dessert
Cup of Horlick’s and milk (yeah, it’s British thing, but helps me sleep)

I am so into the hummus, carrots, and naan lunch combo right now. I love the chicken salad I have been making for lunches, but this is so good too and cheap. At £1 for a packet of carrots, 55pence for two giant pieces of Naan flatbread, and £1.50 for two containers of fresh hummus, I can get 3-4 days worth of lunches for £3.50 or about $5-6. So while everyone else in my house is paying £5 a day for their lunches, I’m paying the same for 4 lunches! So proud of me. Plus, this combo is so good and so filling. The best part of the “prepared” food culture here is that you can get so great organic, vegetarian and/or ethnic food for great prices and easily accessible. As long as it is Mediterranean, Indian, or Asian.
And now back to the fried rice…
Usually when you see fried rice it is done with peas not broccoli, but for me this is my new favorite. I found my inspirations from Peas and Crayon’s Quinoa fried rice but without quinoa I settled for the classic interpretation.
Settle is not even close to the right word for this though. I know this might be a little cocky especially since I never made fried rice before this, but wow, I’m good. This will be my new weekly staple.
I love the combination of the broccoli, carrots, and chicken. This was so good I made it again the next night adding red peppers; I recommend that if you have it, but if not it still tastes delicious. I know I will never buy take-out fried rice ever again. And to be honest, I really didn’t before hand, but this is much different than your standard take-out from China-One. I wanted to bath in this stuff, plus it will satisfy most picky eaters while throwing in lots of veggies. This a great budget friendly meal that makes fantastic leftovers and is easy to double without too much added cost. Plus, this can really be essentially a one-pan meal. You do need to prepare the rice separate, or this is a good recipe for left-over rice. (I know left-over rice is “bad” for you, eh.) You can sauté the vegetables, chicken, and egg all in one big pan and simply add the rice at the end. Minimal clean-up, minimal fuss. My kind of meal on either side of the Atlantic.
Chicken and Broccoli Fried Rice: 2-3 Servings

½ cup of rice
1 large chicken breast, cut into small chunks
1 small head of broccoli, finely chopped
2 large carrots, chopped into small chunks
½ white onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper
2 eggs
2 tbsp. water
1 clove garlic, minced
Vegetable oil
Garlic salt
1 tbsp. Soy Sauce (for gluten-free version, omit and add more appropriate substitute)
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
For Vegetarian version: omit chicken and egg; add tofu, egg substitute, or simply more veggies.

In a medium pot, boil water and salt. Cook rice according to instructions. Once rice is done, quickly put the pan in the freezer or refrigerator. Rice should be relatively cooled before adding into rest of the mixture.
Meanwhile, in a large pan or wok, heat up a tbsp. of vegetable oil and minced garlic over medium heat.
Begin to sauté onions, broccoli, red pepper, and carrots together, allowing them to soften and light brown. Sprinkle some garlic salt, and mix.
Once you vegetables begin to brown, push to one side of the pan, remaining on the heat.
With a little bit more oil, begin to brown chicken chunks adding some garlic salt.
Let the chicken light fry, getting completely cooked but not too brown.
Once the chicken is mostly cooked but not completely push to side of the pan and make room.
In a small bowl beat eggs and water together. With free space in the pan, pour in egg mixture.
Allow the egg mixture to cook lightly. Once dry and cooked, break up and scramble into small pieces with spatula. Mix egg, cooked vegetables, and cooked chicken together.
Add cold rice and mix well. Once completely mixed, gently stir in soy sauce, lemon juice, pepper, and a little bit more garlic salt to taste until completely mixed.
Serve hot.
Enjoy the deliciousness of homemade Chinese “take-out.”
Happy Wednesday!
The College Cuisiner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Travel: Saturday Trip to Horsham

So finally, I thought I would share all the pictures Mary Kate and I took in Horsham last Saturday, since I’ve been promising them for a while. Originally when we were going, we thought we were going to Surrey until we got there and realized in fact we were not in Surrey, but West Sussex. It didn’t really matter to us since this county capital town was cute enough for a proper day trip in the country. It is a hour and 20 minutes South of London on the way to Brighton or “London by the Sea.” But this Saturday we were going to Horsham, and we liked it.

When we first got off the train we weren’t exactly sure where to go but started to walk until we found the center of town. To our surprise we found lovely little streets full of cute little shops and lots of people. This was a hoping place. After some light window shopping and a charity shop find of a tan sweater dress, we spent twenty minutes trying to find the Horsham Museum.

No one seemed to direct us but finally we stumbled across this little gem of a county museum complete with Victorian taxidermy, dress exhibits, an art gallery, and all the makings of a proper tourist attraction.

I feel that I know more about Horsham than I ever would have before. And yes, that is a Pokemon reference.

The only reason we picked this place was because Mary Kate is from Horsham, Pennsylvania so we only thought it proper to visit its sister city abroad. I’m so glad we did.

Their county park on the estates of what I assume to be a proper mansion of a former Earl or Duke, was so lovely complete with gardens, outdoor bowling, soccer fields, and a little café made from the old conservatory. So Secret Garden. 

For some reason a Facebook friend thought this was the site of a Jack the Ripper killing? I hope not, it’s too pretty.

That's my head.

Growing up, we had a bunch of bamboo in our backyard. This reminded me of it and the forts my sister and I made.

Awwww...cute Mary Kate!

We said this would be a perfect spot for senior pictures or a wedding, guess we are coming back to Horsham! Is that okay Lisa? I think Aaron might prefer the PA Capital still, but I think you would like it here!

We had a light lunch at a small café in town that was fine. It was overall good but it took about 25 minutes for our sandwich and side salad to arrive. Followed by a later cup of tea from the conservatory, this was a productive touristy day.

I think this is more of a summer holiday spot but hey, we can in January. And with this lovely weather of 50-60+ why not? They keep telling me this is odd. Let’s keep it up England, I like it here! (Especially since it is snowing at home right now.)

This is all I can think to write about Horsham. They had some lovely buildings and churches, and it was simply a splendid town to visit if you ever have the chance. Just heads up…it’s not in Surrey.
P.S. look for my amazing chicken and broccoli fried rice coming up. Yum, if I do say myself.
The College Cuisiner

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

WIAW #9: Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin

I really don’t understand my computer’s alter ego. I know my Horsham pictures are on this thing but, I can’t find this folder anywhere! So unfortunately my recap of my Saturday day trip had been postponed but I can still bring you tourist photos and WIAW which I just know you are all dying for! Things for the most part are more expensive here, obviously. But, the one thing that seems to be much cheaper is fish, notably, salmon! And if you’ve been here before you know, I LOVE SALMON! Since I don’t eat Pork or red meat, a diet of poultry alone can get quite monotonous, but fish is sooooooo expensive for a college foodie like me. In Philadelphia it is $13-16 lb. for farm-raised salmon; don’t even think about wild—that’s for the rich kids.  But here I can’t two nicely sized filets for £4 ($6 or so.) That’s awesome! So of course, I get two meals out of it. Back home, Aaron and I get a tiny ½ lb. and split it. This will be a common meal for me now. Yay!
So I had salmon the first night with Sweet chili Thai Veggie Stir Fry and on night two I pulled the second filet out of the freezer where I meant to keep it for later and paired it with the Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin from Chez Us I’ve been dying to try. Mmmm…I’m spoiled I know.

So finally here’s What I Ate Wednesday for your viewing pleasure:

Dorset Muesul (grain, sunflower seeds, coconut, hazelnuts, dried fruit, etc.) with Rachel’s Organic Vanilla Yoghurt, honey, with 20 fresh blueberries and 2 strawberries cut up. Yum.
Half cup of black tea with dash of semi-skimmed milk

Snack Break in Politics Class:
Small cup of coffee, a little milk (seen in the lunch photo)
One homemade Strawberry cookie

Homemade Chicken salad with red grapes on Wholegrain bread
Red Grapes (about 15 or so)

Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin with Rosemary and Gruyere
Salmon filet baked with chopped dried apricots, rosemary, and honey
Arugula salad mixed with homemade Dijon honey vinaigrette with apricots and blueberries
Glass of Ribena Black Currant Juice
More Water
I resisted out of pure laziness not to go down stairs.

This was a good food day and as now seems normal; I ate while my house mates watched me.
There are two ways you could make this dish, one with a creamy béchamel sauce, melting the cheese in it. The second, is to simply pour heavy cream over the potatoes and top with grated cheese. Obviously, the latter is easier, but the former is better. I will both but, if you have the time, make the sauce, if not pour the cream, it is still good.

 I’ve wanted to make this for the past week ever since I saw it on Chez Us. As you might know, I love Sweet Potatoes. It took me a few days to get the ingredients together since my grocery store is lowly stocked, but it was worth it. They aren’t hard ingredients, a sweet potato, a russet potato, rosemary, Swiss Cheese, cream, but it’s worth it. Chez Us used cheddar, but I used Gruyere. My grocery store didn’t have Swiss so I shelled out a little extra for the Gruyere. It was good. Mmmmm…
Making a version of Potatoes Au Gratin, I am often reminded of the boxed Au Gratin Potatoes my mom used to make growing up. The funny thing is we always had five boxes of the stuff in our pantry, and several of my sister’s friends loved this stuff even as far as to forfeit their own mothers’ homemade mashed potatoes for it. Mine is better, sorry Mom.
For only using two potatoes, I thought it was a good sized dish for multiple people, or leftovers for one. So whatever you decide, just try it, you won’t be sorry.

Sweet Potato and Potato Gratin: 4-5 servings
(Adapted from Chez Us)

1 medium potato (Russet works), peeled
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, crushed with fingers
½ cup grated Gruyere or Swiss
Garlic Salt
½ pint heavy cream (I used milk, use cream if you can)
Olive Oil
1 tbsp. butter, cut into small pieces
Béchamel Sauce used instead of Heavy Cream:
Make recipe and add ½ amount of cheese once done. (Instead of cream, Pour béchamel sauce on top of potatoes and top with remaining cheese.

Heat oven to 325 degrees (or 163 Celsius.)
Thinly slice potatoes with potato slicer or knife.
In a pie dish, coat in olive oil with finger. In dish, layer potatoes, alternating between sweet potato and potato to make pretty.
Half way through, sprinkle half of fresh rosemary on the potatoes, sprinkle with some garlic salt and pepper. Layer the rest of the potatoes in the same fashion and sprinkle with most of the remaining rosemary and a little more garlic salt and pepper.
Pour cream over the top of the potatoes, allowing it to fill in the cracks and top with cheese. (Or use Béchamel sauce method.) Sprinkle with a tiny bit more rosemary and places chopped butter evenly on top.
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.
Serve immediately and Enjoy!

Before I say goodbye here is my playlist for you and a few tourist photos from my time in London.
Cuisiner Playlist:
In The End- Snow Patrol (Favourite song right now!) Basically the whole Fallen Empires album. Love Snow Patrol!
Ride-Cary Brothers
It’s Been Awhile- Staind
And I love Her- The Beatles
Green Eyes- Cold Play



The College Cuisiner