Sunday, March 30, 2008

watch your back girl scouts!

If you don't know much about Orthodox fasting, click here, it is an article by Father Seraphim Rose that explains the fast.

That said, it's still Lent. This fact makes eating a small challenge. Saturday night we had dinner with our friends Chase and Gigi. I promised I would make a side item and dessert, and since it was Saturday we brought wine. I made roasted zucchini, onions, and asparagus with Italian parsley for my side dish. Gigi made a delicious vegan "alfreda sauce" (if you make this one, add some extra soy milk for creaminess) and tofu ricotta stuffed shells! It was an amazing meal! I also made the vegan cheesecake mentioned in the previous post. It was a pretty good recipe, it called for lactaid milk, and so I just substituted my friend Silk Vanilla Soy Milk, it turned out like a silky custard pie. Everyone else really liked it. I also made mint cookies (Recipe to follow.) We had such a great time... Thanks guys!

My mom is the queen of cake mix baking. Her most popular cookies are made combining one cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1 stick of butter (plus a small bit of water to make desired consistency.) Bake the cookies at 350 for 12-15 minutes.

I decided to make a substitute version of these decadent little cookies. I made a puree of tofu and vegetable oil and it proved to be a very nice egg substitute! I will definitely use it again. I took these to work on Saturday and got the Starbucks crew vote of approval, I guess they were pretty decent. I just need a name for these beauties! Please post your suggestions!

??? Cookies:
1 box devil's food cake mix
1/3 package of tofu, drained (this is approximately 1/2 Cup)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 stick of margarine (melted)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons Water
3 Teaspoons peppermint extract

Directions: Puree the tofu and oil. Combine cake mix, tofu mixture, water, mint extract and melted margarine. Then add chocolate chips. Form the cookies into small ball shapes. (This is a pretty sticky dough.) Place onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on wire rack.

You want to know the best part of vegan baking? Being able to lick the bowl without fear (not that it ever stopped me before.)
Happy Baking! Don't forget... I need a name for these things!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

caitlyn's very exciting friday

Well, since it's now officially Saturday, I thought I'd recap my amazing Friday. Come on, who doesn't love a tiny bit of narcissism?
  • 7:00am- Alarm clock rings... press snooze.
  • 7:10am- Shut up you stupid alarm... press snooze.
  • 7:20am- Seriously, I hate you! Please let me sleep!... press snooze.
  • 7:30am-I guess I should get up.
  • 7:45am- Drive to gym, fight traffic, hope I don't run out of gas, take 3 bites of my apple only to decide... it's a very yucky apple.
  • 8:30am-Arrive at gym to meet Gigi. Spend quality time with Gigi. Today's workout wasn't quite as awesome as the Tuesday workout... we were both exhausted.
  • 9:30am-Clean up and get ready for class... hurry, cause I didn't allow enough time, oops!
  • 10:20am-Physics 1020. Sadly this was the most relaxing aspect of my day.
  • 11:30am-Finally purchase the much needed gas, watch a man get arrested at the Exxon station. Scarf down my teeny tiny half sandwich, realize it's not going to be enough food.
  • 11:45am-Drive to Taco Bell. Enjoy a cheese-less bean burrito, now I'm full.
  • 12:00pm- Pick up paycheck, sigh because it's never enough money. Scoot on over to First Tennessee to deposit the check, wait in line for 10 minutes, almost steal the teller's pen, drive back to Starbucks.
  • 12:30pm- Don the Starbucks uniform. Grab a cup of coffee (I get free drinks during and within 30 minutes of a shift) and read The Last American Man, by Elizabeth Gilbert. (This was the guy's book club selection recently) I just started this, I needed to read something kind of light. It's about a man named Eustace Conway, he's pretty awesome, he lives in the wilderness. He makes me want to construct a tepee.
  • 1:00-6:00pm- Play coffee slave. Take a ten minute break, make some phone calls, send some text messages. Drink more coffee.
  • 6:00pm- Change into my pretty clothes again. Put on more make-up, generally freshen up.
  • 6:20pm- Hop in Brandon's car and ride to Taco Bell for some more burritos, we were in a hurry, and it actually sounded good twice in one day.
  • 7:00pm- Akathist to The Mother of God service at St. John. A very beautiful service. Honestly though, I was a bit too tired to appreciate it very much tonight.
  • 8:00pm- Drive back to Starbucks to get my car. Tell Brandon goodbye (he has to open in the morning.)
  • 8:45pm-Drive home, call Gigi (we're having a double date with Chase and Gigi tomorrow night) and plan our dinner.
  • 9:00pm- Get home (the first time in more than 12 hours) and google "Vegan Cheesecake".... realize "I need to go to Kroger."
  • 9:30pm- Take my little sister to Kroger to buy tofu, along with asparagus and zucchini for a roasted veggie side dish.
  • 10:00pm- Make the vegan cheesecake. Begin the internet browsing: Check e-mails, Facebook, my blog, friend's blogs... etc.
  • 10:30pm- Cheesecake's done! (Then refrigerate it.)
  • 12:00am-Realize I've been awake for a really long time, post on my blog....... maybe I should go to bed.

P.S. I got a new job! (This is not a replacement for my Starbucks job, but rather a supplement.) I'm going to be babysitting for a very nice family with one of the cutest two year old little girls ever. I start week after next. I'm so excited!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

on coffee shops...

So, I'm back at Cafe' Eclectic. I just enjoyed a soy latte' and wrote two lovely public service announcements for my Public Relations Writing course. I'm so very in love with this place. They make great espresso drinks and delicious food!

On to the subject I alluded to in my next to last post: I work at Starbucks, I like Starbucks, but I love independent coffee shops. I think I'll approach this systematically, with a brief description of an aspect of a coffee shop and why I like and dislike each manifestation. These manifestations will be reffered to as The Man (AKA The chain) and Mom and Pop (AKA the indie shop.)

Disclaimer: This post is not a political statement. I'm not even going to touch the subject of Starbucks killing the small coffee shops so don't even go there!

Coffee: The sole purpose of a coffee shop.

The Man has nice coffee, nice selection, and good brewing standards. They also have nice espresso drinks along with specialty drinks. The luxury is that The Man has a pretty consistent product. When I go to New York, Nashville or anywhere else in the world I can expect the same tall latte'. This homogeneous experience is both the blessing and the curse of The Man.

Mom and Pop, usually have nice coffee. Some places are hit or miss. I've had some cruddy coffee at indie shops, I've also had incredible coffee. Usually the specialty espresso drinks are of much higher quality at these indie places. The lack of "wait time" obsession means they take time ensuring the drinks are well crafted and perfect. As a rule, an indie place that roasts their own coffee or purchases it from a pretty spectacular roaster takes more pride in their coffee.

Ambiance: This is what you pay the extra $2.00 for. Yes, you could make coffee at home, but you like the ambiance. Ere go, you come back every day for your "coffee fix" AKA your ambiance fix.

The man strives to keep a similar look in their stores. They do not all look identical, but sadly you can expect the same burgundy/brown motif from most of his stores. Some of The Man's minions do attempt to display local art on their walls. This is a nice attempt to connect The Man to his community. But sadly, his baristas have to wear the uniform. This is regretful, the sense of uniqueness is lost when every barista wears a collared shirt in white or black.

Mom and Pop are traditionally artsy people. No two Mom and Pop stores are the same. Many of Mom and Pop's stores have local art, barista art and crap! Many of the shops have a whole bunch of junk. One local Mom and Pop, who will remain nameless (located on Young Ave) has so much stuff! They have unreliable vintage chairs for your sitting pleasure, sit at your own risk! They also have so much stimulus that I feel dizzy by the time I leave. Too much of a good thing, including art, is a bad thing. One favorable aspect is the lack of dress code. This means the baristas can express their uniqueness and the flavor of the shop in their clothing (within health codes.)

The Man has the sheer size of his establishment on his side. He can offer benefits that Mom and Pop simply cannot afford, such as health insurance for part time employees and free pounds of coffee. Thus is the dichotomy between The Man and Mom and Pop. Doesn't it always revolve around the money?

All this rambling to say I love each for what they are. They are totally different entities. I love the man's standard and the fact that his stores are reliable and convenient. The coffee's good, maybe not spectacular but it isn't bad.

The beauty of Mom and Pop is their uniqueness. When I find an amazing Mom and Pop shop it's a beautiful thing. As a general rule I like the independent things of this world better than the bullying Man. This is one case where I lean toward the indie, yet still have a place in my heart for The Man. Sound contradictory?... Well, welcome to The Caitlyncosm!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I'm a poor college student... so I like free stuff.

Lately My sister and I have been going on adventures... here she is, the future pulitzer prize winner for photojournalism, at the Zoo.

Last Tuesday a group of us had a picnic, just before it rained, and then we went to free day at the Pink Palace. We took my sister Clare and my friend Meribeth's girls, my friend Hannah brought her baby Peter, and Shanna brought her toddler Edmond (Gigi joined us for a tiny bit.) I babysit my little sister on Tuesdays and Thursdays so lately I've been looking for activities we can do for free. I searched the internet for "free days" in the Memphis area. Many people know about the Memphis Zoo's free Tuesday but I didn't know about any other days...

I thought it would be a good idea to share this list, since I spent quite a while searching out these places! Let me know if you know of anything I didn't find.

  1. Memphis Zoo: FREE Tuesdays 2-5pm
  2. The Pink Palace Museum: FREE Tuesdays 1-4pm (Does not include planetarium and IMAX)
  3. Fire Museum: Buy one get one free Tuesdays
  4. Botanic Gardens: FREE Tuesdays 12-6pm (Perfect for picnicking!)
  5. The Brooks Museum of Art: Pay what you can Wednesdays
  6. The Dixon Museum of Art: FREE Saturdays 10am-12pm
  7. The Civil Rights Museum: FREE Mondays 3-5pm
  8. Litcherman Nature Center: FREE Tuesdays 1-4pm

I haven't been to all of these places on free day, so please don't hate me if I was misinformed! And like I said, please share your free (or cheap) places as well.

Blessed Feast!

Blessed Feast of the Annunciation! Today is the day we commemorate Gabriel's visit to the Theotokos (The Mother of God) to tell her she would give birth to the Messiah. Think of today's date.
Did you figure it out yet? ... What happens in 9 months? The Nativity of our Lord!...You'll hear me talk about feasts quite a bit. We feast quite a bit in the Orthodox Church, it's nice, considering how we fast quite a bit as well.

We had a beautiful Liturgy this morning. I was informed by Kh. Susan that people wear blue on this day, as with many of the Theotokos' feasts. Blue is the color of the mother of God. This summer at Vacation Church School, one of the sweet children said "Blue was her favorite color."
It was so nice to see our church decorated for the feast. We changed out the somber dark colored tapestries for beautiful blue ones, and our Priest wore blue vestments. As Lent progresses we change the tone of our hymnography (It becomes much more somber), the color of the vestments etc., and the general mood of our worship.

Fr. Alexander Schmemann said: "The Lenten worship is thus a school of repentance. It teaches us what is repentance and how to acquire the spirit of repentance." He's pretty eloquent, I couldn't say it that well.

It's a nice break in the fast to celebrate for a bit. Luckily there is also a break in the fast involving food, which is a welcomed break for all! Tonight the OCF (Orthodox Christian Fellowship) will be enjoying some amazing yumminess at Soul Fish, and I am SUPER excited.

Today has been fab. Following Liturgy my friend Gigi and I worked out together. It was amazing we "girl talked" for an hour and didn't even realize we had worked out for an hour. After I got cleaned up, I came to Cafe' Eclectic, which is where I'm posting from. It's a new coffee shop near our church in Midtown. I highly recommend their BLT&A... minus the bacon and with extra A (avocado) it's delicious! This place has a following.... 6 members of our church are here at the moment, it's great! I know what you're thinking: "Doesn't she work at Starbucks?" Yes: Which is exactly why I love a great indie coffee shop. (I'll post on this sometime. I love my job, I love their coffee, but I love love love indie coffee shops!)

Well, have a Blessed Feast!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

your caitlyncosm fix for the week...

I know, I really suck at the blogging, but I'm a student!

Lent began in the Orthodox church. I've been at church almost every night for the past two weeks. Great Lent is a time of preparation for Pascha in the Orthodox Church. In addition to other things we step up the church attendance by having many many more services than usual, I've been a very busy gal.

As many of you know, Orthodox Easter usually falls on a different date than Western Easter (i.e. Catholic/Protestant Easter.) As a result Pascha won't be happening for another month, today was just a regular Sunday for us (a regular Lenten Sunday that is.) I will be chrismated on Holy Saturday, I'll officially be Orthodox, so this time of preparation is especially significant. I really want to write more about Lent right now, but I have to go. I just wanted to let you know I'm still alive and the reason why I haven't written lately.

Happy Western Easter to all my Catholic and Protestant friends!