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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

Hey there, remember me?

I don’t blame ya.

Been pretty occupied with break, which sounds sort of paradoxical but I’ve been utilizing the past three weeks to go skiing in Utah, spend time with family & friends, take a quick trip to SLO, and …study for the LSAT.

Tough life, huh?

But seriously, the past month followed suit with how I was feeling before break. Despite how tough school can be and how tired I can feel, I know my life is full of opportunities and experiences that many don’t and won’t have. Having this realization, of course, made my break even more worthwhile. Even though I wasn’t at “home” in PV near my friends and all the familiar sights, I ended up enjoying the break I’m taking with good ol’ Rolling Hills Estates because it meant I could spend more time with my family. Of course, time spent with family can only mean one thing: eating. And lots of it. Dim sum, hot pot, Indonesian exploration, Din Tai Fung, soooo much good Asian food. Sorry norcal. You may have Berkeley Bowl, but you will never have as good of Asian food as socal.

And when my brother left and my dad went back to work, of course I spent more time with my friends doing, what else? Eating. It was super nice being in Beverlywood because it’s right around the corner from Culver City, which incidentally has amazing restaurants. I tried both Tender Greens and Native Foods (vegan cafe) to take a little break from all the heavier stuff I had been eating and I wasn’t disappointed. Both great restaurants, and their patios were much appreciated for the outdoor seating in LA’s freakishly warm 85-90 degree January weather. Being in PV separates you a lot from “the LA scene” (forgive how pretentious that sounds, please) so I, and probably everyone else on the hill, tend to frequent Gardena and Torrance more than West LA. Pretty much the only times I would go to LA in high school were for shows…which was actually pretty frequently, but I didn’t get a real feel for the city.

Flash forward to last week and I was attending a free yoga class in the park at Runyon Canyon, hiking in the Hollywood Hills with Andie, and eating vegan food for dinner. Can you get more LA?

Anywho, That last item on my “things I did” list…that’s the thing that’s been weighing down most heavily on me of course. The LSAT. Everything feels so real all of a sudden and I’m feeling way more jittery for this test than I ever did for the SAT. I’m hoping my standardized testing skills are still there because I could really use them right about now.

In order to get a few solid days of studying in (instead of the on-and-off stuff I was doing at home), I decided to come back to Berkeley a week early and stop in SLO on the way up. The day I left, I grabbed brunch on third street with Jill, Tanya, Megan, and Amy (a surprise guest) at The Little Next Door. I had the smoked salmon eggs benedict with an organic side salad aaaaaand I think that’s where I went wrong. The salad.

I got to SLO successfully and had a fun first night catching up with my friends, but at around 4 in the morning I woke up sick to my stomach. And so the food poisoning had begun. Again. For the second time this year. And once again, the day I was planning on driving to Berkeley. The last time it happened, I had to postpone my journey by 3 days and my mom ended up driving with me. WHAT THE HECK? I’d never so much as gotten a stomach ache from anything other than eating too much prior to this year, and now two bouts of food poisoning? Ugh.

Still, SLO was fun and I even managed to make it on a hike, though it was a bit of a struggle. I finally made it up to Berkeley yesterday bright and early. It was really nice watching the sunrise as I was driving up on the 101. Beautiful.

So what have I done since I’ve been back?

I’ve swum. I’ve gone to the grocery store. I’ve eaten soup. I’ve swum some more. I’ve studied for hours. I’ve deposited checks. I’ve gone to the DMV to renew my license. I’ve baked an apple pie. I’ve studied s’more. And I’ve slept in my new(ish) bed.

Jeesh. From the looks of it, by the time my 21st rolls around (in about three weeks can you believe it?) I’ll be ready walker equipped with four tennis ball floor protectors. And a hip replacement (seriously, I threw out my hip over the break).

But again, I can’t complain. The weather is beautiful here, as it was in SLO and LA. My studying is coming along alright. And I’m not sick anymore. All good things. One bad thing: after almost a month of not having access to a lap pool, I sorta suck at swimming. Well, not really. I just get tired real fast. Sorta depressing.

Tomorrow I wake bright and early to take my 4th full-length practice LSAT! hoorah. And then I will continue to do some more old person type things before I have to pack for New York, which will be my last hurrah before another crazy semester.

Oh, and you might be wondering about the pie for which this post was named. I made 3 apple pies over break for various parties, but my brother requested yet another, this time without the lattice crust on top. Since he helped me obtain my new(ish) mattress and boxspring, and drove me and my friends to a Shlohmo show in downtown LA, I obliged and came up with this beaute.

I kind of mashed up a few recipes. An all butter crust from smitten kitchen, a filling from all recipes, and a generic oatmeal streusel. The filling ended up being a little to sweet with this topping, so I’ll cut back next time, but otherwise everything came out just spiffy. The streusel’s a lot easier than a crust and I have to admit a bit tastier.

DUTCH APPLE PIE

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 large granny smith (or other cooking) apples
  • 1 pie crust (see the smitten kitchen link)
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 c. white sugar (I will probably reduce this by half next time)
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Peel, core and slice the apples and place them in  large bowl.
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and mix. Once combined, add the water, sugar, and cinnamon.  Let simmer for a minute or two once everything comes together.
  3. Pour 3/4 of the butter/sugar mixture over the apples and toss to coat.  Dump the apples into a prepared pie crust (which has been brushed with egg white to prevent it from getting soggy), then pour the rest of the butter mixture over the top.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees before adding the topping.

OATMEAL CRUNCH TOPPING

  • 3/4 c. oats
  • 3/4 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/2 c. butter, cold and diced
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped pecans or walnuts

DIRECTIONS

  1. Now, you could do this the old fashioned way and cut the butter into the other ingredients with a pastry blender, but I prefer to do it the way Ina does it: dump everything into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed for about 5 minutes until the butter is the size of peas. Works perfectly!
  2. Take the pie out of the oven and carefully spread the topping all over the pie, until you can’t really see anymore apples.  I had extra streusel left over.
  3. Put the pie back in the oven at 375 degrees for about 35-40 minutes, until apples are tender.
  4. Let cool before eating!
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