Sunday, April 21, 2013

Las Vegas

Okay, in my defense, I've done a lot in the past few weeks. Some pretty momentous things have happened...

I started making these Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies with the intent to blog... but I, uh, forgot to take pictures after the third step. (Bad blogger, bad blogger!)

I did my first SoulCycle class to benefit Swim with Mike, which supports physically challenged athletes. While I take regular spin classes at school, SoulCycle kind of kicked my butt! It was an awesome workout, and I came out sweaty, sore, and exhausted. That's the sign of a good workout, folks!

A-Trak came to my school to perform in a concert festival. I let my hair down (literally) and swung my head so hard that it hurt to turn the next day. Worth it!

Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day was on April 9th. My roommate D and I got a ZipCar and trekked to Union Station just for our ice cream. D had Coconut Seven Layer Bar and I had Candy Bar Pie. Mine was rich and peanut buttery... yum!

And... I went to Vegas for a long weekend! I went to play in an ice hockey tournament with my team. We stayed in a dump (like, cockroaches bad) but luckily we didn't have any bedbugs and didn't spend much time there.

We consumed a huge amount of pizza one night after a game and then immediately went to get frozen yogurt. Hockey's a tiring sport, everyone!

We didn't have much free time around our game schedule, but I went to the Bellagio one night with friends and suddenly realized that I needed a macaroon. Like, urgently.

My friend A and I sprinted around the famous fountain to get to the Sugar Factory in Paris before they ran out. We pushed through the fountain-watching crowd and ran through intersections trying to get the cookies.

It was totally worth it. While macaroons are definitely better at Ladurée, these were passable. My friend and I both had two; we each had a buttercream and a chocolate. Pictured is the chocolate.

After we consumed our treats, we wandered around the Strip for a little while. Obviously, we had to stop in Caesar's, just to see what the hype was all about.

It was in Caesar's that I began to realize that I didn't exactly like Vegas. No offense if you happen to love it, but Vegas just isn't real life. There's so many statues and frescoes imitating this amazing art, and end up butchering the meaning and care behind them. Also, casinos smell vaguely like cigarettes and desperation, but that may just be me...

Does anyone feel the same way about this? Vegas is a city that pops out of nowhere, where the only activities are drinking, gambling, clubbing, and sitting by pools. Everything seems so fake and shallow to me. Give me somewhere with a mild dose of history any day, folks!

On Saturday, once we finished our game, a few of us went to Caesar's, round two, for a dose of Max Brenner.

Max Brenner is a small collection of restaurants in big cities. While they do serve proper meals, they are well and truly known for their chocolate. My group (about eight of us) all ordered various desserts to share (or hoard).

This was a little molten chocolate lava cake, served with vanilla ice cream, a chocolate shot (no alcohol, just chocolate and whipped cream), and chocolate sauce to pour over the cake. A few people ordered this, and I had a bite of someone's, and it was a little underwhelming. The cake itself was dry and needed the chocolate sauce for moisture.

Vanilla ice cream, served with chocolate sauce, hazelnut bits, and little chocolate balls. Simple and delicious. I split this with a friend, and we loved it. We also ordered...

This is fried bananas, served with toffee and melted chocolate. It was fondue-style, so we speared little bits of banana and dunked them into the toppings and then groaned in appreciation.

This is one of Max Brenner's famous chocolate syringes. It's pretty self-explanatory. It's a huge chocolate syringe filled with their liquid chocolate. To consume, all you do is put the tip in your mouth and "inject" yourself with chocolate.

I didn't order one (I was really full... and a little sugar comatose) but those who did sat there with expressions of amazement. Next time, I suppose!

Alright, so don't judge me, but we all ate a lot that weekend. Still on Saturday, after a little bit of retail therapy, our team went out to a big Thai dinner at a very interesting place... Around when we got our appetizers, a Thai man got onto the little stage and began to "sing" various songs.

I'm 90% sure he was lipsynching, but whatever. By the time we'd all about eaten our meals (which took forever to come out, my gosh), he put "Gangnam Style" on... either a calculated move or a large mistake.

We rose en masse and proceeded to dance in front of the whole restaurant. And then we moved onto karaoke.

Credits to MS
Crushed it during a particularly rousing rendition of "Dancing Queen". Yep, we went there.

We terrorized the restaurant for almost an hour with our various karaoke and dancing endeavors--by which point we all realized we were absolutely exhausted and went back to the hotel to sleep.

The next morning, we got up nice and early and hit the road back to LA. We hit some traffic on the way back, but the car I was driving was equipped with Planet Earth DVDs. I know lots about caves and seasonal forests now, everyone!

We stopped at Chipotle on the way back and then finished our drive in relative quiet, exhausted after lots of hockey games, eating, and sightseeing.

Keep an eye out for me on Instagram to keep abreast of what I'm up to in Los Angeles--I promise there's lots of food there! Find me @kat_herine_w

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sugar Cookies

I have a serious sweet tooth, guys. Especially around Easter... I swear, Cadbury Mini Eggs are going to be the death of me.

Yesterday, I was craving a sugar cookie, but I had no eggs, and only two tablespoons of butter. Therefore, I took to Pinterest for an eggless cookie recipe! My cookie was so delicious yesterday that I went grocery shopping this morning, invited my friend N over, and made a batch.

One major bonus to an eggless recipe? Taking some, uh, quality control samples of the dough! For science's sake, of course.

They're buttery, delicious, and only use six ingredients! (Recipe adapted from Planet Weidknecht)

To make twelve large cookies, you'll need:
 -1/2 lb unsalted softened butter (two sticks)
 -1 cup granulated sugar
 -1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 -1/2 tsp. baking soda
 -1/2 tsp. salt
 -1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Forgot to get my salt out for a picture--oops!
Start by preheating your oven to 325˚F.

Get out a mixing bowl and pop your softened butter in, then pour your cup of sugar over it. Grab a fork and cream your butter and sugar together... or, if you have a hand mixer, cream it the easy way! Basically, you want to combine the butter and sugar until they make a light, fluffy mixture. There should be no pockets of sugar or butter.

Next, pour your vanilla into the creamed butter and mix it thoroughly, so it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

After that, pour your flour, baking soda, and salt on top of the creamed butter.

Here's the time-consuming part--using your fork, mix the dry ingredients with the butter. It will take a while. Your arm will probably hurt (well, maybe I'm just weak). You want the mixture to come together into a nice dough.

Pro tip: If it's a little too dry, add a tiny amount of water and thoroughly mix the dough. When dealing with dough, you want to add very small amounts at a time so you don't make it too wet.

Once your dough has reached the proper consistency where it sticks together uniformly, you can roll it into balls and then flatten them out. I like larger cookies, so I only put six on a sheet. Flattened out, the uncooked cookie should be about 2/3 of the size of your palm. Pop them on your cookie sheet, bung the sheet into the oven, and cook for 7-9 minutes.

The edges will look well-done and the middles will still look puffy and slightly undercooked. Leave them on the cookie sheet for about five minutes to let them firm up before transferring to a cooling rack (or a cutting board, in my case). The middles will fall and become much more solid.

These cookies firm up beautifully and have a slightly crunchy edge while the middle is chewy. They are crazy delicious.

N and I had a few each... but they're so good! Totally worth every sugary, delicious bite.

Once all the cookies were cooled, I packed all but one up and sent them off with N to give to our friends. Dangerous to keep around my apartment!

All in all, these cookies take about 45 minutes to make from beginning to end. If I had a mixer, they could be done in probably about 25. While the creaming and mixing take a while, these cookies are worth it!

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Friday, April 5, 2013

FIA Fashion Show

In February, a friend asked if I would go to an open call to model for a runway show at my school. I humored her. I went in after a Physics exam, got my measurements taken, and walked up and down for a bunch of girls.

I didn't get any email from them for weeks. I assumed that I had gotten cut and never got told...

I got an email a few hours after I resigned myself to the idea that modeling was not for me, saying that I was chosen to walk.

Knock me over with a feather. My sarcastic, cynical father told me that this could be my "big break!". I scoffed... but I was thrilled.

Last Friday night was the show.

I got out of my tennis class at one, and ran home to shower and get my stuff ready for a long afternoon. I scoffed down a bowl of cereal and scurried off to be backstage for a final fitting at three.

(Just for comparative purposes. Makeup is magic, everyone)

I was one of the first models to arrive, so I ran around taking pictures like a dweeb. Here's backstage... which was pretty much a hallway. Lots of clothes in a small space--it was hot back there!

The runway. The show was held in one of the ballrooms on campus. Once everything was finished, the lighting was awesome and the DJ was bumping. There were hundreds of people there!

This was the hair station. We all had loose waves/curls... I had about half a can of hairspray on my hair to keep it in place, but I loved it!

Makeup was done in a little tiny green room off of backstage. Since there were lots of designers, all of the models had pretty neutral smoky eyes and natural looking faces and lips.

Fast-forward a few hours, and I was dressed in my first outfit of the night. The designer is Eight Sixty. I really liked the dress! One of my friends in the crowd described it as "flirty" and I definitely agree.

Once I walked for Eight Sixty, I dashed around backstage to change for my next look, a top for Zoë Miyori Fujii. Folks, you literally have no time in between looks. You get backstage and change faster than you've ever changed in your life. There are assistants taking your clothes from you and handing you new ones, and as soon as you're all zipped, coiffed, and adjusted, it's time to go back on the runway.

My next look was for Aviator Nation. I don't have a good picture, but I was wearing cutoff corduroy shorts and a white sweatshirt. I didn't have to wear shoes down the runway! Definitely a weird feeling but I enjoyed it.

Side note, if you're looking for any cool and comfortable sweats, hit them up. I'm seriously considering ordering one of their sweatshirts after wearing it last Friday.

After Aviator Nation, we had a brief intermission. Once the show started up again, I had a few minutes to dork around and take some more pictures. Obviously, here's the inner workings of backstage--lots of girls in a small space!

This was my last look of the night, for Affera. The designer is an architecture student who dabbles in jewelry-making in her spare time. Her stuff is seriously cool. If she ever starts to sell her stuff, I will be first in line.

Once I was done with the show, I jumped out of my heels, grabbed a goodie bag (new nail polish and earrings!) and found my friends. Obviously, I was super hungry... so we made a beeline for frozen yogurt! I think I deserved it.

I got back to my apartment at eleven, washed my face, and fell into bed. I dreamt of beautiful clothes all night.

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