Thursday, September 29, 2011


Over the years I’ve noticed something strange. Apparently, I am the type of person that looks like I know where I am going – even when I don’t. People have interrupted me as I was rocking out at a stop light, “Which way is the hospital?”

I’ve been asked to give directions in cities like New York and Paris – while this is ego-boosting, I don’t think I’ve ever been mistaken for a New Yorker or Parisienne; I think that this simply means that I seem like a better prepared tourist than others, and presumably more approachable than a native of these cities. (Although, I’ve found that the up-front-ness of New Yorkers leads to their stopping you when you look confused to tell you where you should be going – no need to ask!)

The other day a frazzled middle aged woman asked me in the grocery store where she might find salad. I directed her to the produce aisle, bless her heart. When she got there I hope she wasn’t overwhelmed by all the lettuce combo choices.

A few days ago, as I was taking a walk, a man pulled over to ask me where the men’s health clinic was. I yelled from far away (this sounds like the start of horror story, huh?) that I was sorry but have no idea. Do I really look like the kind of person who knows where the men’s health clinic is? I did notice when I got downtown the Dekalb Physician’s Center, the Emory Hope Clinic, and the county probation office … no men’s clinic.

Last week I was asked where the MARTA station is. Oh oh, I know this one now! I was headed there myself after leaving class. (This makes me happy.)

I’ve always assumed that I wear a sort of sour look on my face when I am by myself. I know that I have a tendency to talk to myself when I am alone. One would think that one would avoid a person displaying these behaviors, behaviors sometimes characteristic of a person with psychological disorders. But no, I am, apparently, quite approachable by those who are lost.

Now, who do I look to when I am completely and utterly lost? People should know that I have a terrible sense of direction.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adventures in cooking, cont.

Ok, I’m considering changing the title and theme of my blog to “Adventures in cooking whatever the hell you want for yourself in your apartment kitchen” – too long?

I feel like this is what I am compelled to write about these days – and I could probably post almost every day. And it might be more interesting to a wider range of people than my usual random musings about life as a 20-something searching for something of substance in her life. (Enter U2 lyrics here – “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for…”)

Yesterday I could have posted something about how I wasn’t very excited about cooking pasta with zucchini and tomato sauce until I walked away as the sauce simmered and realized that it had perfumed my entire apartment with basil and garlic. I also learned from this experiment that you should avoid cooking things that require long-simmering during midday in a small space. This leads to a sweaty mess. But alas, class is at night, so cooking comes in the day.

Today, for lunch: orange rosemary scone with cherry jam and habanero cheddar slices – yum! (This is the cook-whatever-you-want portion of the show – I know that some people would not appreciate this meal.)

These scones though, even if you don’t like scones, have the most heavenly, sweet, rosemary-y scent to them. They are fresh and comforting, biscuit-like, and don’t require cutting butter into flour. They did need a pinch more salt in the batter however, thus the cheese slices to accommodate for this misstep. I left out the pistachios the recipe called for since I didn’t have any, but I think dried cranberries might be nice come November.

So, the down side of this story: I now have enough pasta for at least a week’s worth of lunches and enough scones for breakfast for 2 weeks –eek, I’m running out of reasons to cook! Then what am I going to do with my spare time? I suppose I need to start learning to cook smaller portions of food. And I feel like the scones will freeze well.

If you feel like dropping by for dinner sometime soon, I feel like making risotto…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Get crunk

I can’t remember what exactly it was that upset me that day in Dar es Salaam, but when I was talking about it and the surrounding activities that evening with some of the others, apparently I was incensed. Unless you happen to be an immediate family member, you have probably rarely seen me truly angry. Or at least not expressively so.

I do tend to maintain pretty tight control over my emotions and try to be a pretty level-headed person. I like to think that I can “use my words” to calmly tell you what I think and how I feel – or, er, felt – I admittedly have a hard time acknowledging my feelings as they happen. I guess I am spending too much time trying to suppress the appearance of them. But I’ve made great strides in being able to identify them and express them after the fact – this is some sort of progress at least.

But that day in Dar, after almost 3 weeks of “togetherness,” something in me snapped. I mean, by snapped, I’m pretty sure that I only minimally raised my voice and may have used a few swear words in relation to the event that had irritated me. But even this surprised my travel-mates. When another person entered the room, someone told them, “You missed it. Amber just got crunk.” And then my face probably turned a few shades redder.

I don’t think I really “got crunk.” I’m 97% uncertain what getting crunk actually means, in this context. After reading the top 40 definitions for “crunk” on Urban Dictionary (some of which are pretty offensive to many a population), I am even more confused. But I think her point was that I had just let it out, like for real. I should probably do that more often, really. Sounds healthy, huh?

Urban Dictionary #12: “It just means to get all the way wild, shake your dreads: to be so unreasonably proud of where your from that you act like a maniac, you're just so excited and you don't know why. Like when you're in your car listening to Sammy Sam the hitman or Raheem the Dream. Or when you're at the club and you just go a lil loose and you're not even thanking about posturing for the opposite sex you just wanna unravel yourself and put the whole thang back together tomorrow.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? Let’s get crunk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I made the first thing that required more than boiling water in my itty-bitty kitchen on Monday. As butter melted on my two-eyed stove top, I realized I had forgotten the smell of electric coils on cast iron. Chocolate oatmeal cookies are the only real recipe I know by heart – the only one I know all the exact measurements to. I remember summers making them with Mom and my friends. (Mom is the kind of mom who has to have crafts or activities prepared for children who enter the house. I didn’t care so much for crafts as I grew older, so cooking was often our activity.)

Growing up, we cooked on our electric coils in our French country-meets-Southern cuisine/cookware kitchen. In high school when I took over chef duty out of boredom of “fettuccine alfredo casserole” and green beans from a can, I learned how to prepare slightly more adventurous meals. Since then, my parents’ kitchen and my cooking style have advanced – to gas utilities and improved techniques/ingredients, respectively.

But now that I’ve reverted to the electric stovetop and no oven, there is a sense of nostalgia as the coils heat up and I worry about uneven heat. Sure I’m making couscous from the Joy of Cooking and ravioli with a browned butter sauce a la Julia Child, but I feel like I’m getting back to some sort of roots. I’ve never thought of myself as a person who had roots. It’s kind of nice.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Garlic Bread

There’s not much in this world that is better than a piece of toasted, buttered crusty bread rubbed with garlic. There was a salad with dinner tonight, a pretty good salad - with various vegetables, cheese, pepitas and an onion-lemon vinaigrette - but the garlic bread outshined it. Garlic bread pretty much outshines most things I can think of right at this moment, with the taste of it still on my tongue.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere in particular. Appreciating the simple things? Sure, let’s go with that.

Today has been the first full day I’ve spent in my new apartment. My new apartment that has no oven, but is inside the Perimeter, which makes the fact of no oven a bearable one. (Appreciating the simple things #2.) I have a “counter top stove” (aka – toaster oven) which apparently can bake and roast and broil as well as a full-grown stove can, according to Eric Ripert and other online sources. Plus, I have access to a gas grill in the backyard.

I of course have plans to experiment with baking via these alternate methods, but not today. Today, after a day of unpacking and decorating with my mother (bless her heart, she gets frustrated with me and I with her), today was no day for experimenting. Classic green salad and toasted ciabatta with garlic. Yes, please. Simple. Perfect.

There’s not much in this world that is better than garlic bread . . . except maybe this great cheap red wine I am drinking with it. (Appreciating the simple things #3.)