Thursday, January 27, 2011

Go feel some inspiration

Today was a fairly enlightening day.
It all started at 7:00 am when I realized that yes, 1 hr is plenty of time to get ready for an 8:00 am class and I feel much more prepped for the day when I sleep in til then than at 6:30. But I still like getting up earlier for some reason...

Then at 9, my Population geography class topped it all. First of all let me explain my teacher. He is hilarious. Not that he actually tries to be funny. But he is extremely dry and occasionally gives asides about his political viewpoints or strong opinions. Once he said, "You all are too obsessed with your grades. It's stupid." If students say something wrong, or dumb, instead of humoring them and kindly shrugging off their answer like some other teachers I've had, he just says, "No." I love it. There's no beating around the bush with this guy; he just gives it straight up.

Today he gave us his opinion about traffic cameras. First off all, that statistically they don't work. Second of all, he thinks that traffic lights in general should just be done away with. His opinion is that they cause more accidents than they prevent since people don't pay attention to each other, just to the light. His argument is that in small towns, or at intersections where there are no lights, people usually slow down and look before they go through. Obviously there are some major concerns/problems with this idea, but I think it would be an interesting experiment to try here in Provo. Since pretty much all Utah drivers suck.

The class got better. Dr. S was explaining our large group project for the semester. We have to analyze the U.S. at the county level (population data) and explain, determine the effects or causes of the 2nd demographic transition in the country. If it is apparent. We must analyze patterns and use conceptualizations to research whatever aspect of the 2DT that we want to. Not a lot of guidelines in other words. One girl was stumped. (For some reason since going to Cambridge, these kinds of assignments excite me, and those who look confused or ask, "what do you want us to do? How long do you want it? How are we being graded?" etc annoy the crap out of me. Just freaknig do the project until its done and you are satisfied with it. You're supposed to be learning something, not getting a grade! Idiot.) So, thus puzzled, she raised her hand...

the lower portion is the "explanation" of our project Dr. S then covered with more arrows.

My notebook today. Most of it is stuff he said. The scribbles at the top--imitation of his sketching...
Well his diagram was a bit confusing. He wrote a few things on the board, then kept drawing all over, connecting words and ideas in a mayhem of arrows. And this is why I love this man: When this girl asked him to explain he looked at the board, drew more arrows all over the whole thing and said, "What, don't you get it? Arrows make it more comprehensible." Chuckles all around.

Then came my favorite part of today. He said, "Are you confused?" Nods of affirmation. "Good. You should be. Out of confusion, out of chaos, comes innovation. What do you learn from a rubric, from a descriptio: how to follow directions? No, I want you to think for yourself. Do the project and you will get a good grade. Okay, do the project well..." LIGHTBULB....I swear he's a genius. 

The rest of school was the same. But Africa got me thinking. And since I'm trying to study and take my test for it tomorrow (hence the reason I am blogging). I was further inspired this evening to actually spend time making dinner. 

Thanks be to my mother. Who taught me to like healthy food. Who earlier taught at Cornell. Who taught a woman named Ellie Krieger. Who wrote a cookbook. Which my mother gave to me. Which I make things out of. Like dinner tonight. Ellie Krieger's The Food you Crave

I have made several delectable dishes from this book. And if it weren't for the sometimes difficult/unobtainable ingredient/time on a college students budget, I would make a new recipe each day. Tonight's choice: Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup. Sounds gross/weird I know. But the inredients are a great blend of African flavors. Trust me, this little puppy will warm your soul. It's the ultimate comfort food. Carrots, sweet potato, tomatoes, peanut butter: all in a delicious soup. Check it:

Sweet and Spicy Peanut Soup
serves 6

1 Tb canola oil
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
1 med red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper **I used 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes**
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger  **I used 1 tsp ground ginger**
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups)
6 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
one 14.5 can no-salt added diced tomatoes with their juices
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter **I used Skippy Natural (my fav pb ever--no chemicals!)**
2 tsp honey
1/2 cup chopped scallion greens (about 3 scallions) ** I didnt have these so I left them out

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over med-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, carrots and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften, about 5 min. Add the cayenne, black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook about a minute more. Stir in broth, sweet potato, and tomatoes and bring to a boil Reduce the heat to med-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 min.
Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in two batches and return to the pot. Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts. Serve warm garnished with the scallions.

**I added a little bit of plain yogurt to cool it off a bit, and for garnish.**

Again, I cannot emphasize enough how good this was. My roommate was home, and I told her to eat with me. Her comments were on how amazing it smelled until she heard the name of the soup. Then she said to cover her shock: "I like interesting foods." Although she hesitated she most definitely loved it. I went back for seconds...Yum.
Don't be fooled by the fork marks. These are sugar cookies.

Also, last weekend I made three batches of cookies. 1) Oatmeal Chocolate Chip with Butterscotch chips, 2) sugar cookies 3) peanut butter cookies. Oh and lemon squares on Tuesday. Tomorrow Jared and I have a group dinner date. We are making snickerdoodles.

Yes. I love Baking!


  1. I really loved your thoughts and ideas here. And kudos for me. Thanks. Happy Ccoking still.

  2. Al,
    Seriously, I miss your cooking SOOOO much. For some reason when I eat treats with you I manage to stay in shape... Now I just eat treats that are mediocre in comparison and the same goes for food in general. I miss you. That teacher sounds way tight:)