Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cheese. Show all posts

Thursday, January 29, 2015

J@H 2015 - Cheese Whiz

It's Superbowl Time! (Do I have to put the "TM" after the word "Superbowl"? Will the NFL sue me if I don't? Anyways...) It's time for the big game and my Junk food at Home challenge was perfectly timed! You might think that I put this recipe in the challenge line-up on purpose. Nope, I had no idea when the "Big Game" was when I scheduled the challenges.

This challenge took a bit of tinkering before I came out with this final recipe. The first batch I made was a cheese sauce, simply milk and cheese. The sauce separated promptly upon being taken off the fire.

Batch two was slightly more successful. I used the same recipe that I have written below, but I allowed it to cool to room temperature before pouring into the whipper. The sauce solidified upon cooling to room temperature. There was no pouring happening with that batch. It's currently in my fridge, I think I'll try it out as a cheese spread...

The third and final batch is the one you see in this post! The cheese sauce is poured into the whipper immediately after the cheese is melted. The cheese is charged with N2O and is ready to go. I don't think that I have the industrial capacity to exactly replicate the density of Cheese Whiz. My cheese is more of a cheese foam. These first few images are of the still-warm cheese foam.

Once the whipping siphon is cool to the touch, it pipes out cheese foam like the stuff below.

The cooled cheese foam holds its shape a lot better than the warm stuff. I would recommend making this stuff just before your friends arrive. You can't put this in the fridge, as the cheese sauce would solidify in the fridge. Enjoy the entire thing of cheese in one sitting, but be sure to share with your friends. It wouldn't be very good for you to eat it all yourself!

One Year Ago: Loganberry Mallomars
Two Years Ago: Fudgy Waffles
Three Years Ago: Raw Salad & Wagamama Dressing
Four Years Ago: Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mousse Entremet

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Restaurant Wars 2013 - Panera

Restaurant Wars 2013 continues today with Panera!  The Boyfriend and I actually live within walking distance to the town Panera, which means we eat there at least once a week.  Usually in the winter, we eat there almost exclusively.  Mostly because it gets cold here in the winter and it's the closest restaurant to our apartment.  Seriously, it's better to walk there than it is to get in a cold car and drive anywhere else.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Stuffed Chicken & Quinoa Pilaf

I want to eat this meal for the next month.  Simple, flavorful and delicious.  Shallots are magic roots.

This dinner was super simple.  I prepared the stuffed chicken a day ahead of time, giving it some time to meld together and make it easier to cook.  When dinnertime rolled around, all I had to do was prepare the sauce and saute the chicken.  It was so simple and easy!  This shallot sauce would be amazing over pork, fish, it might even make tofu taste good.

The side dish was just as easy to put together.  Nothing is simpler than making quinoa.  Just boil up the grain with some chicken stock and water, saute some red peppers and pistachios.  Poof!  Side dish is ready to go.   Dinner in a snap.  And it will be so good.  Do it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Spinach & Gorgonzola Cavatappi

Anesthesia is crazy.

I'm happy to be talking to you from the other side of my wisdom tooth extraction.  Though I hardly remember much of the procedure, or the two hours after it.  I'm thankful to have had an excellent oral surgeon.  After the initial jab of the needle and the anesthesia washing over me, I have felt very little pain.  It's been a generally good experience!  I'm now down four useless teeth and happy that I won't have to do it again.

The only problem I had with the extraction is the timing, which is totally my fault.  The dentist told me no spicy foods until I'm all healed up.  This would normally be fine, but I planned the surgery just before a visit to my parents in Buffalo.  I couldn't have a single hot wing the entire time I was home!  I was so disappointed and now I'm back in New Jersey with a healed mouth and no chicken wings!  I'll have to make some wing sauce this week.

Before my extraction I made this amazing pasta dish.  I have an all new love affair with panko breadcrumbs.  And deep frying them.  Then devouring them.  This dish was super easy too and ready in less than 30 minutes.  It also uses my favorite pasta shape - cavatappi!  If you can't find the fun little corkscrews, feel free to use any pasta with ridges.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lightened Mac'n'Cheese

Tuesday I told you about my treadmill running.  Today, I'd like to discuss running outside!  Long runs are best done outside. The monotony of the treadmill would make any run longer than four or five miles a chore. Boyfriend prefers running outside.  Mostly because he falls off the treadmill.  His legs are too long.  He also likes running in the rain and cold.  Something about "earning it."

My 8am, 6 mile run this Saturday took my from my apartment, down a wide street and through the park. It was exactly six miles, an out and back run with a loop through the park. On my outdoor runs, I keep track of my pace and mileage with MapMyRun+ on my iPhone. It tracks me with satellites and records my route down to the closest 1/100th of a mile.

The nice lady in the app tells me when I reach each mile and how fast I'm going. I know that if my pace drops below nine minutes per mile, that I need to pick up my feet for the next mile. The mile callouts are helpful when I'm doing an out and back run, rather than a loop.

When my workout is over, the app shows me my splits for every mile I ran, along with a terrain map. That way I can tell that lost a minute from my pace when I was heading uphill.

This weekend I'm heading to Buffalo to visit my parents and the Perry's ice cream factory. This means that I will be doing my long run in the Buffalo cold. I bought a hat and gloves just for the trip! I will even show my mom how to track me on her phone, just so she can make sure I didn't slack off and stop at my brothers house for a break!

Three and a half weeks until my half marathon and I'm looking forward to it! We'll see if BF joins me on my run, he's been too busy to train with me! Silly work is getting in the way. Now I just have to find the perfect running outfit and I'll be ready to hit the starting line.  I can tell you one thing, it will be neon and you'll see me coming!

Today I made you something ahead of time!  I've been spending a bit of time each Sunday, preparing a meal that BF can just put in the oven.  This way dinner can be on the table when I get home, with minimal work from either of us.  Starting in April this will be a biweekly post, so stay tuned for Make Ahead Mondays!  This week, I made you some lightened mac'n'cheese.  Yum.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Bother? 2012 - Spreadable Flavored Cheese

What a year it has been!  Okay, a year and a month really.  We've finally come to the last week of my year of homemade challenges.  Today I present to you, flavored spreadable cheeses!  This was a fun challenge, I wish I took more pictures during the process of the cheese making.

Boyfriend was perplexed when he opened the fridge and found this.
There were a few ways that I could have gone with the generic term "flavored spreadable cheeses."  Would I make a cracker cheese?  A bagel cheese?  A sandwich cheese?  There are so many soft cheese options!  After reading about cream cheese, queso fresco and other artisan cheeses, I decided to go with a Neufchatel cheese.  This was mostly due to the fact that I didn't need to order and special starters off the Internet.  All you need to prepare Neufchatel is milk, buttermilk and rennet!
I have really grown to love making cheese.  It's a science experiment in your kitchen!  Don't worry though, it isn't an experiment that requires a lot of science know-how.  You just have to heat, stir and wait!  Seriously, the rennet and buttermilk do all of the hard work.  You just have to be patient enough and wait for the cheese to be formed.  I checked on my milk three times before it was actually cheese, it took about 18 hours to reach the desired state.  Cheese making requires a lot of patience.

Science experiment aside, this challenge was seriously fun.  After the buttermilk and rennet formed cheese curds in my milk, I cut the solid slab of curd into 1/2-inch cubes.  Then I shook the pot that the cheese was in.  Rather than the fluid motion of the milk that was in there a day before, there was a geometric pulse of cubes of cheese.  I'm going to have to make more cheese so I can video this weird phenomenon.

After collecting and draining the cheese curds, I was left with a smooth, creamy, white cheese.  Giving it a little taste test, the cheese didn't really remind me of cream cheese.  I didn't go with a cream cheese recipe because it required a mesophilic starter (special bacteria culture), that gives cream cheese its distinctive flavor.  This neufchatel that I had made tasted more like a very strong yogurt.

I totally should have scheduled this challenge for right before or after my bagel challenge (which was just about a year ago now!).  Instead, boyfriend and I headed to our local bagel shop and picked up a half dozen.  We feasted on bagels and neufchatel Sunday morning and hid away from the cold cold temperatures here in New Jersey. 

We weren't just having plain farmers cheese (another name for neufchatel) with our bagels.  Oh no, I divided the cheese into two bowls and flavored them in opposite manners.  One bowl became a sweet treat, with cinnamon and honey.  The second bowl I made into a savory spread with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil.  I enjoyed the cinnamon and honey cheese on my whole wheat bagel.  The sun-dried tomato and basil is destined for my turkey sandwiches for lunch this week!

Is it worth it to make your own cheese at home?  Well, I enjoyed this so much for the process of making cheese.  The end product was delicious and it was great to be able to pick my own flavors.  The neufchatel that I made was done with whole milk, though you can definitely make this was a lower fat milk if you want to make a lighter cheese.  I liked the sweet cheese because I was able to control the amount of sweetener in the final product, most sweet cream cheese is full of grams of sugar.

Will making your own bagel topping save you money?  Not a whole lot.  An 8-ounce tub of flavored cream cheese is $2.29 at my local store (about 28 cents per ounce).  This cheese recipe was prepared with 1 gallon of milk ($3.99), 1/4 cup buttermilk (~ $0.25) and 1/4 tablet rennet (~$0.06).  The recipe made 30 ounces of cheese, making it about 14 cents per ounce.  It's about two flavors for the price of one!

I hope that you enjoyed this Why Bother 2012 challenge.  I really had fun making some unusual things in my own kitchen.  Some things I won't be making again (say yes to store bought coconut milk!).  Some recipes were eye-opening (you can make your own organic Greek yogurt!).  A few challenges I've even incorporated into my everyday routine (You know I'm having homemade walnut butter on my waffles every morning!).

Challenge yourself and make something crazy at home!  At some point, everything was homemade (well, except cheese puffs!), you can bring the factory into your kitchen and make everything in a more healthy and economic manner.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Marinated Tomato Pasta with Gorgonzola

I'm finally back from our weeklong hiatus in the great white north.  No, not Canada.  Alaska!

Boyfriend and I spent a week among the seals, bears and whales, sailing the chilly Pacific on the Celebrity Infinity.  What can I say about Alaska?  It's just plain majestic.  We cruised by, hiked through and flew over some of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever seen. 

Towering mountains with blue glaciers clinging to their sides.

Green hills, peeking through an early morning layer of clouds.

Huge boulders, floating on a river of flowing blue water and ice.

Our trip through Alaska was also one of the most active vacations we've taken.  Thankfully we had a day at sea to recover from all the activities.


Rock Climbing...

White Water Rafting...

I'm a little tired still.  That's why I went with a simple pasta dish from my new Alaskan cookbook, even though this dish seems like the least Alaskan dish I could find.  No salmon to be found!

But here's a bear...

And here's the pasta!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Mozzarella Cheese

After my success with ricotta cheese, I was very excited try my hand at a little more involved cheese - mozzarella.  However, there was one problem.  New Jersey was conspiring against me in this particular challenge. 

After much reading, leafing through multiple cookbooks and cruising the blogosphere, it was the general consensus that you should use raw milk to make your mozzarella cheese.  Unpasteurized, non-homogenized, raw milk.  There was just one problem to my obtaining said raw milk, it is illegal in New Jersey to commercially sell raw milk. 

I couldn't find it in my supermarket, at any of the small co-ops or sitting in a cooler at the farmers market.  Raw milk is a precious, and apparently illegal, commodity.  Over the past few years, groups have brought bills to the state senate to legalize the sale of raw milk.  As of right now there is a bill with the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee that would allow the sale of raw milk under certain conditions, whatever that means.

Due to the current laws of the Garden state, the only way for me to get raw milk would be to cross a border into either Upstate New York or Pennsylvania.  I know there are lots of dairy farms upstate, but I thought it would be a little excessive to drive over seventy miles just to buy milk.  That would be one expensive gallon of milk.  Instead, I went to Whole Foods and bought a gallon of organic, pasteurized milk.  If you can get your hands on raw milk, I'm a little jealous of you!  If you can't, just be sure to buy milk that isn't homogenized.  That won't work at all.

With the raw milk drama behind me, I was able to get down to cheese business.  Along with my organic milk, I got out a big (non-reactive) pot, my jar of citric acid (not from the lab!) and my rennet tablets.  Sounds a bit like a science experiment, right?  Here's a breakdown of what everything is doing.

You need a non-reactive pot, which is any pot made of clay, enamel or stainless steel.  Do not use your fancy copper or aluminum pans.  Copper and aluminum will react with the acid you will be adding to the milk and impart a metallic taste on your cheese.  I used a stainless steel Dutch oven.

Citric acid is one of the most common acids found in your house.  Those oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are sour because of their high concentration of citric acid.  You need to use it to sour the milk.  What you are actually doing is changing the pH of your milk.  As you lower the pH of the milk from nearly neutral (around 6.8) to slightly acidic (roughly 4.6), the proteins in the milk precipitate, separating from the liquid whey.  I got my citric acid from the King Arthur Flour online store.

Hi, I'm citric acid!
Rennet is a bunch of enzymes that we use to coagulate the milk and completely separate the curds from the whey.  Chemically, rennet is a protease.  This means that it breaks down the proteins, breaking bonds of the amino acids and making the proteins smaller.

All these sciency things come together to make delicious cheese.  And it was a very fun and non-sciency process.  I'd recommend making mozzarella cheese to everyone.  Does it taste much different from store bought fresh mozzarella?  There isn't a huge difference, especially if you get yours at a farmers market or Italian deli, but yours will definitely be fresher!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chicken Stuffed with Peppered Goat Cheese

Since I just celebrated my one year anniversary at work, I thought I would take a minute to reveal...

My top ten favorite things about working in industry!

(for those of you who haven't taken the long road through grad school to your job, working in industry means working in the public sector, rather than in academia or for the government!)

1. The first time I heard "Your time is too valuable to spend it doing X.". When I heard this I just about fell over. No longer would I have to do menial tasks to save a buck. No more cutting TLC plates, no more pulling spotters, no more making Dess-Martin! (all very time consuming things that are terribly boring)

2. Paid time off. And you're urged to take your time off so that you don't lose it at the end of the year! Three weeks where you don't want me to come in? Deal!

3. Bagel day. What? Your company doesn't have bagel day every Thursday? Mine does and it's awesome!

4. Dressing up. Gone are the days of wearing the standard t-shirt and jeans to the lab everyday. Now I get to wear button down shirts, pressed pants and nice shoes. Sure, I could wear jeans to work, but when I dress nicely people don't ask why I look so nice.

5. Work hours. What does your standard grad student work week look like? Usually between 60-80 hours a week, depending on your advisor. Never again.

6. Coworkers that care! In grad school you want to work hard and get out. There is competition, gossiping and sometimes back-stabbing. In industry, teams work toward a common goal, the whole "we all succeed together" motto goes here.

7. Free lunch. That's right grad students of the world, there are
Lots of free lunches in industry. Usually they are associated with lunchtime meetings, but not everything can be great!

8. Mr Softee Wednesdays. Yup, you read that right. The ice cream man comes to my office on Wednesday during the summer and gives us I've cream. For free.

9. Robots. Robots to do work for me, save me time and make my life better. I'm going to name them all this coming year. That way I can say "Hi Bert! Ready to run that purification for me today?"

10. All of the learning I still get to do on a daily basis. Pharma is an ever evolving industry and you've got to keep on your toes to stay in the game!

It seems that three of my favorite things involve food... Well, here's a recipe for the food you saw throughout the post, we'll keep up the theme!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Ricotta Cheese

I don't really know why ricotta cheese wound up on my Why bother challenge list. In all of my first twenty-one years of life, I never even ate ricotta cheese! Once I ventured out on my own, living in a one bedroom apartment as a newly minted graduate student, I occasionally came across a recipe requiring ricotta. Generally I passed it over for another recipe with "less exotic" sounding ingredients. Yes, ricotta was exotic at one point in time.

A few years later, the South Beach diet was the hot way to eat and I gave it a try, along with some friends. We mostly wanted to re-vamp our eating styles, rather than lose weight. If you know anything about the program, dessert during the first phase is always sweetened ricotta cheese. I ate it, it wasn't terrible.

As my culinary skills improved, I found myself trying out more and more items from the grocery store. Eventually things like curry paste, bakers yeast and fresh ginger made their way into the fridge, ricotta finally snuck into my grocery cart as well.

You still won't find me sitting down and eating ricotta cheese straight from the container, but I really enjoy adding it to pastas, making rich lasagnas and even lightening up a cheesecake. I don't use it that often and ricotta isn't really a staple in my fridge, which is why I was surprised to see it made it onto the list this year. Must have been someone out there that requested it!

If you came here this week for mozzarella, I'm sorry to disappoint. I neglected to look ahead on my list and failed to buy rennet in time. To keep up the cheese theme, I swapped the dates for mozzarella and ricotta!

Luckily, the ingredients to make ricotta cheese are incredibly simple. Get this - milk and lemons. That's it! How much time will you devote to making your ricotta? A little over an hour of your day. And that's time you can spend making cheese and doing other things, like laundry or making breakfast. It was so much simpler than I could have hoped and the results were amazing.

Shortly after beginning to heat the milk and lemon juice, the ricotta started to come out of the milk. Little curds were floating on the surface within ten minutes of heating! Once I strained and collected my curds, I was so happy with the fluffy, white outcome.

I decided not to add any salt to the ricotta, since I had planned to make pasta and cheesecake with it, and stored it away in the fridge. Today I'll share with you the simple method for making ricotta cheese and the deliciously simple pasta I made with it later in the week. Next week you'll be treated to the cheesecake recipe!

Was making ricotta at home worth it? I enjoyed making the cheese because it was like a fun science experiment. If you want to get kids involved in cooking, this would be a great recipe to have them help you with. Would I make ricotta all the time? Probably not. You won't save any money making your own ricotta, you'll just have a lot of fun and be able to tell your friends "Yeah, I make my own cheese."

One year ago: Coconut Joys

Ricotta cheese
Adapted from Homemade Pantry

Simple, straightforward and so easy to make.  This is the gateway into making more complicated cheeses.  Starting with whole milk, the lemon juice helps to separate the curds from the whey.  Don't throw out the whey once you're done making the cheese.  Save it and put it in smoothies, use it in place of milk in bread recipes or just drink it (I wasn't so brave!).

1 gallon whole milk (don't use Ultra-pasteurized)
2/3 cup lemon juice (from about 3-4 lemons)
Salt to taste (optional)

Line a colander/strainer with a double-layer of cheesecloth.  Place over a large bowl to collect any whey that will drain through.

In a large pot, combine milk and lemon juice.  Stir for 5 seconds, but don't touch the bottom of the pot (stir the milk like this any time you stir the pot). 

Clip on thermometer and heat over low heat to 170 F, stirring occasionally.  This should take a while, between 40-55 minutes.  Once you hit 170 F, raise the heat to medium-high and don't stir anymore.  Once you hit 205 F, maintain this temperature for 3-5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. 

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out curds and transfer to the cheesecloth-lined colander.  Let the cheese drain for 10 minutes.  You've got ricotta!
Herbed-ricotta pasta
Adapted from Everyday Food

With your homemade ricotta, this meal comes together in just 15 minutes!  Chop your zucchini while the pasta is boiling and you've got a great weeknight meal.

1/2 lb short pasta, spirals or shells
2 cups frozen corn
1 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus additional to sprinkle on top
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons
1 tbsp dill, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions, add corn in the last minute of boiling.

Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta.

In a large bowl, combine 1/2 cup pasta water, ricotta, zucchini, basil and dill.  Add pasta and corn and stir to coat.  Taste and flavor with salt and pepper.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Poffertjes: Cheese Pancakes

Here we are at last, we've finally made it to Amsterdam.  It's been a long journey through the continent (and you even got to sit out our time in Austria and the long drive across Germany!) and The Netherlands is our country of exit.  After our time in Venice, boyfriend and I headed through Innsbruck and on to Munich.  The Munich airport had a plethora of automatic transmission cars and we were on our way, on the autobahn!

Through Germany we travelled, stopping at castles and small towns, and into Holland, with its speed limit, boo.  We drove our tiny little rental car into the heart of Amsterdam and checked into our super cool hotel.  The front desk held a dish of stroopwafels, delicious little caramel-filled wafers, which we stole many of during our short stay there.

Boyfriend and I weren't really sure what to expect in Amsterdam, but we were both pleasantly surprised.  It's a beautiful city, cross-hatched by canals and green with parks.  We passed by more museums than we could possibly visit with a whole week in town.  We enjoyed a fragrant walk through the flower market and bought my mom some "blue" tulips (they turned out to be pink when they came up in the spring).  We finished up our evening with a table full of Indian food and a late-night stroll through the red-light district.  The very next morning we headed off to Schipol airport and back to the United States, with my new cookbooks in tow.

Mmmm, so gouda...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sausage and Gorgonzola Mac 'n' Cheese

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I was so happy to learn that people around the world are starting to celebrate Thanksgiving. While Thanksgiving is technically a "new world" holiday, celebrating the feast between some of the first settlers of the Americas and the native American indians, the idea behind the holiday is something that everyone can get behind.

In essence, Thanksgiving is about taking a moment to think about all the great things in your life. In the United States, we take the fourth Thursday of the month of November to give thanks for all of the positives. We give thanks for family and health, new successes and old friends, sunny weather and juicy turkey. Well, those last few things might just be what I like to throw in there at the end, I really like sunny weather!

Whether you are here in the United States with me, or celebrating somewhere else around the world, Happy Thanksgiving to you. I hope that you have lots to celebrate this year, I know that I do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Potato Pie

Would it surprise you all if I tell you that I'm not cooking this Thanksgiving?  The Wilde kitchen will not only be quiet, it will be completely empty.  There will be no turkey in the oven, no potatoes on the stove and no tubes of cranberry sliced on my cutting board.  The lack of thanksgiving cooking does not mean that I'm just heading to someone elses home for the traditional feast.  Thanksgiving dinner will probably consist of pizza, or sandwiches, and I'm very excited about it.

Don't get me wrong, I love all holidays that revolve around food.  It's the main reason I like celebrating memorial day, picnics!  Thanksgiving is a long standing tradition in my family back home in Buffalo.  Every Thanksgiving of my childhood was spent preparing a dish and heading out to my Aunts house for a great big Thanksgiving dinner.  The dish that we would prepare?  Our classic Jell-O dish!

I have many memories of bundling up and hopping in the car, driving all the way to Grand Island.  The drive always felt like it took forever, although these days I know it only takes about twenty minutes to get there.  We would arrive in the house and shed our layers, slowly coming into a warm house that smelled of turkey.  That smell always brings you into the holiday spirit, if I make a turkey in the summer I still think of Thanksgiving.

We would inevitably wind up eating dinner at four o'clock.  The kids would be first in line to eat and my Uncle would always cut in front of one of us, telling us he was taller.  The adults would retreat to the dining room and the cousins would sit around the kitchen table.  At one point in the years we had dinner there, the kids were relocated to the living room, next to the dining room.  I think it was to let us feel like grown ups.  I spilled red Jell-O on the white carpet that year, the next year we were back in the kitchen.

This year is the first Thanksgiving that boyfriend and I will spend together, living in the same place.  What have we decided to do this year?  Go to New York City and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!  Since we won't be at home to prepare a giant feast this year, I prepared a little Thanksgiving dinner yesterday.  It's delicious, it combines everything you want and it doesn't take five hours to prepare. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken and Herb White Pizza

First, I want to thank everyone for their birthday wishes!  Well, my blog would like to thank you for your birthday wishes.  And really, writing without having all of you out there to read and chat with would just be no fun at all!  I can't believe it's been a whole year since I started Wilde in the Kitchen. 

I remember the first time that I got a comment from someone that I didn't know and how excited I was.  I thought "I've made it!"  Then there was the first time I broke ten pageviews, fifty, one hundred, one thousand!  I look back at some of the crazy recipes that I've posted, the oddball stories that I've told and the unusual pictures that I've taken.  Everyday is exciting when writing a blog and I've got to thank you all for following!  You've made it all totally worth it.

On other news, I'm going on vacation!  It's my first, official as a member of the workforce, vacation, taken with earned time off!  As of October 4th I had been at my job for a full 90 days and gained access to the use of my days off.  Sure, I took vacations when I was a graduate student and as a Postdoc, but this is different.

As a member of the academic working class, taking vacations is nerve-wracking.  You realize that the longer you stay away from the lab, the longer you'll be there.  For every week you take off, you add a week to your tenure as a student.  So, you try to minimize vacations (especially if you have a crazy boss) (which I didn't!  Hi former bosses!) and feel bad when you are away.  Toward the end of your vacation you are edgy and want to get back into the lab.  Gotta run that reaction!  Let me at my chemicals!

Now that I've made it into the real world, I've worked hard and earned my vacation days and I'm really going to enjoy them!  This Thursday morning at 1:00 am, boyfriend and I are boarding a plane and flying halfway around the world.  We're heading to Thailand!  We'll be spending half of our time in Bangkok, then heading south to Phuket for some fun in the sun.  Well, hopefully sun, it's the tail end of the rainy season and it's been raining and flooding in Thailand.

Worry not, I've got you all set up for some delicious meals while I'm gone.  I'll try to pop in and update you on our trip through Thailand, although I'm not promising anything...  I tend to fall asleep early when I go on vacation...  All that sun!  Here's hoping for lots of sun, not only for boyfriend and I, but also for the people of Thailand, stuggling to clean up the flood waters.
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