Alex in Transit(ion)

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eggs and public administration.

Nah, I haven’t run out of material. There are enough ideas spinning around in this mind o’mine that if I could, I’d write for days upon days and month after month.

But last night, after watching a fabulous episode of Saturday Night Live (Christoph Waltz is the sexiest man alive), I was hungry and I had to figure out how I was going to raid the fridge. In my Intro to Public Administration class, we’re learning about decision making, One way to see if you’re making the best decision is to create a balance sheet, where you outline your desires and their respective pluses and deltas. Also, I needed to consider the opportunity cost, which is comparing the values of competing decisions. I thought these would be excellent ways to solve this 1:00 AM problem.

Situation: I am hungry. It is 1 AM.

Remedy: Eat something.

Situation: What should I eat?

Remedy 1: Eat some of your awesome apple and cheddar bread!

  • Plus: It is satisfying and yummy.
  • Delta: Dude. You ate cake today. And ate pasta for lunch. You worked out. How about we pack some more carbs and throw that hour in the gym away?

Remedy 2: Eat scrambled eggs with Frank’s Red Hot on top

  • Plus: It’s easy to make and Frank’s Red Hot pretty much makes everything better. An egg is full of protein and has very little fat so that hour in the gym won’t be wasted!
  • Delta: This requires using a pan and a mixing bowl. I’m going to need to wash those in the morning.

Eggs won out. When figuring out the opportunity cost, it was clear to me that even though my homemade bread is tasty and won’t require me to do dishes in the morning, I couldn’t shake the fact that I worked out today. Therefore, I should eat the food that won’t mess up my goal to attain a perfect summer body.

And that, my friends, shows you that I have already spent too much time in school.

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mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget

I know that other than  my weekly grocery lists, things have been kind of sparse here, content-wise, but alas- I’m finally in that part of the semester where I need to start preparing for project deadlines, look around for internships, and hopefully find a part time job that will allow me to start saving up for the summer and fall.

This feature is awesome though- I get into a lot of conversations based on what I make for the week and I always love hearing that my friends are making the dishes I post, especially those who are far away. We’re still sharing the same experiences but on opposite ends of I-95.

I love this week because last week provided me with quite a bounty of food! That chili I made last week is still going strong and I haven’t even made that spinach and chickpeas side dish or those enchiladas yet. I have city plans for this weekend so I get to use all of that money I’m saving  from not eating take out or going out to the bars during the week to have fun. Which is good.

Also, it’s crazy that I’ve been eating on my own since 2009 but I didn’t realize until now the merits of canned and frozen vegetables. Yeah, it’s better to go for the fresh, but when you’re in grad school or on a budget, frozen and canned vegetables are AWESOME! They cost less and if you happen to make chili that produces a ridiculous amount of servings, you are good to go my friends!

chili

I’m not complaining about having a ridiculous amount  of this to still go through.

I did learn the hard way about why you should always use the ingredients that are listed. In my house, we barely had white sandwich bread because my mother was a whole wheat fanatic, with good reason. So when I was in the baking aisle, although my recipes called for all purpose flour, I went for the whole wheat since it’s better for you.

It worked great in my Apple and Cheddar Breakfast Bread. As you can see, it was fabulous. I’m making it again for this week!

applecheddar

But with my chocolate cake…it was good, but you could tell there was whole wheat flour used because of the texture. Lesson learned: these food bloggers list ingredients for a reason.

This is going to be an exciting week though! Not because I have an article critique due on Tuesday, but I’m making my own vegetable broth! I’m so excited, I’ve literally been saving up vegetable scraps for weeks! My friends C and E have been making their own broth for months so I’m pretty pumped to join their club of breaking free from the can.

Alright, the moment y’all have been waiting for: this week’s menu…and yeah, after spending a year in Virginia and Florida, y’all is staying. I miss hearing people say it.

Breakfast: Apple Mixed Cheese Bread. Otherwise known as “Alex has cheese to use. Might as well go into bread.”

Side Dish: The Spinach and Chickpeas dish I never made.

Dinner: The enchiladas I never made

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock! (I’m going to base my concoction on these two

recipes from Emeril and Everybody Loves Sandwiches)

Coconut Quinoa and Kale with Tropical Pesto

Dessert: Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake (sounds weird, looks delicious)

The List: 

  • Olive Oil 
  • Vegetable Oil
  • All purpose flour
  • White sugar
  • 1 avocado
  • 8 or 9 tomatoes. I’ll see if canned or fresh are cheaper…
  • 3 red bell peppers. Same deal.
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 1 small red onion
  • garlic
  • quinoa
  • coconut milk
  • small bunch o’ kale
  • coconut flakes
  • cilantro
  • cashews
  • black pepper (believe it or not, I still haven’t bought some)
  • red pepper flakes (same deal)
  • Thyme. Fresh or dried. Whatever’s cheaper
  • Bay leaves
  • Dried chilis (eh, kinda optional. I’m sure the broth will be alright without them, but if they’re on sale, that’s cool)
  • Eggs
  • Cheesecloth
  • Orange Juice
  • Chobani (I miss New York. Big Chobani is always on sale, unlike New Jersey ShopRite where I pay 6 bucks for it. But it packs a ton of protein…)
  • Some awesome craft beer. I tried Wolhaver’s Alta Gracia Coffee Porter and it was fabulous.

WalMart

I know we all have our opinions about WalMart, But I don’t have a choice since I don’t have a car anymore. It’s all about where the Rutgers shuttle brings me.

  • 2 8 inch round pans
  • Rubber spatula
  • Mixing bowl (it’s become apparent I need one)

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet jury, I’m almost done stocking up my pantry. I’m *this close* to becoming a real grown up. Although real grown ups have jobs and don’t live off student loans, so I still have a ways to go.


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mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget

I don’t have a theme for this week. All I know is that this is a very exciting week because I’m making bread for the first time! I’ve been eating eggs, vegetables, and yogurt for these past weeks and I’m really craving something baked for breakfast but I don’t have the time to make pancakes everyday. Sad face. But this recipe for Apple and Cheddar Bread looks like it will hit the spot! If this goes well, I think I will make it a habit to bake breakfast breads every week! Ah man, breakfast bread, egg over easy, and a potato hash? A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do! I am also baking a cake this week too. I’ve been taking too much advantage of the vending machine and if I’m going to cave in…I might as well cave into something that is homemade. I was thinking about just buying chips to curb my craving but even though my mouth is watering for a big package of Salt and Vinegar chips, I guarantee you that bag will be gone within a day or two. With cake, I can have one slice and be absolutely satisfied.

Here are my recipes:

Breakfast: Apple and Cheddar Quick Bread 

Side Dish: Spicy Spinach and Chickpeas (sounds bland but looks amazing)

Entrees: Butternut Squash Chipotle Chili with Avocado

Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Linguine with Kale and Feta

Dessert: Simple Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Beat that, student dining hall. Also, I cannot wait until I am DONE with stocking up the pantry. Seeing all of these necessary oils, flour, and sugars makes my wallet hurt. I am envious of my mother’s pantry right now. However, once it’s stocked, I’m good to go until I run out of something.

The List:

  • 6 Red Peppers (all of my recipes call for roasted red peppers in a can. We Italians don’t play that way. We roast our own.)
  • 12 Sundried Tomatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Kale
  • Feta
  • Linguine
  • 2 bags of Spinach
  • Lemon Juice
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • 14 oz. diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup tomato sauce. I’ll figure out what to do when I get to the sauce aisle.
  • 2 onions
  • can of corn
  • 1 tortilla package
  • Cilantro
  • 2 Tomatillos
  • 1 Jalapeno
  • 4 Avocados
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Butternut Squash
  • 2 Cans of Black Beans
  • 1 Can of Broth
  • Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Lactaid
  • Canola Oil
  • Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Brown Sugar
  • 6 Apples
  • Cooking Spray
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Instant Coffee
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cream Cheese
  • Margarine
  • 16 oz. powdered sugar
  • Orange Juice


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A real Rutgers student

To all those who are considering going to grad school, heed my advice:

It costs money.

I know, I know, it may look like I’m stating the obvious, but let’s be real here- there’s a ton of us out there who have selected our graduate school based on its ranking and have hopes that its reputation will bring us where we want to be when we graduate. I was head over heels when I found out that my concentration (budgeting and financial management) was ranked number 10 in the country, right below Harvard. It’s crazy to know that I’m attending a school that’s in the same league as the most prestigious Ivy. This ranking is what sold me on Rutgers.

But it costs money.

If you are still in undergrad or a recent college grad- you need to be smart about your finances, especially if graduate school is on the horizon. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t find out the true cost of Rutgers until October, when I received my financial aid award letter. I found out that graduate students are only able to receive $20k a year in federal student aid loans or $10k a semester, depending on your income. I wish I knew the real cost because I was being paid pretty well from my former job assignment and it wouldn’t have been any skin off of my back to put away $500 from every paycheck. Thankfully, I only have to pay $5k out of pocket for tuition and next January, I will receive in-state tuition which will make me eligible for a refund, yay!  Yet it makes me realize that if I wanted to attend a more prestigious private university like Harvard, I’d have to shell out $41k for tuition. We’re not including room and board with that figure. Unless the University was offering some stellar scholarships, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to attend. That tuition rate isn’t only exclusive for Harvard, it’s the going rate for most of the top ranked private universities.

If you’re considering which grad schools to attend, here’s the criteria I’d suggest for you to look at:

1. What is its ranking?

2. Is it a public or private university?

  • If it’s a public university, will you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

3. Check out your finances. Are you comfortable taking a private loan or can you afford to pay out of pocket?

4. It’s not only tuition you’re paying for. Take a good hard look at your living expenses- what do you expect them to be? You need to eat and as much as you may try to convince yourself otherwise, you’re going to grad school. You do need to have fun every once in a while, whether that’s drinking a beer or exploring the local restaurants.

In the end, although I am paying more for this year than I would if I had attended the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, which is a top ranked state school in Albany, NY, I am so happy that I chose Rutgers. My education here is fabulous and it means the world to me that New York City is only a half hour away. Within these past weeks, I got to see the New York Philharmonic, ate brunch at a fabulous restaurant, and of course, I got to check out the sights. After living in Albany for two years, as much as I miss my friends like crazy, I wanted to finally live that city lifestyle. I’m in Newark right now but I am catching the bug and I really hope to make something out of myself so that I’m able to call the city my home.

So, why do I feel like a real Rutgers student? After battling it out with financial aid, I was finally able to receive my very own Rutgers student ID when my award letter processed earlier this week. Now, after three weeks, I can do all of the things normal students do, like go to the gym, print documents without begging the lab techs to release my print jobs, attend sporting events without convincing the ticket ushers that I am a student, and no longer receive scary e-mails threatening to de-register me and kick me off of my residence hall if I don’t pay my bill right meow. Since that situation has been resolved I feel like saying,,,

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mangia: a grocery list for a grad school budget!

What a busy week it’s been! I had my first paper, my first presentation, and yesterday, I had another presentation that is worth 25% of my grade! Yikes! But it’s all good, one thing I always say to myself whenever I have to present anything is WWBMD?

billymaysWhat would Billy Mays do? The dude was a master showman. If you’re feeling shy, you could learn a lot from his presentation skills. When I was little, I was the shyest person you’d ever meet which is probably funny to hear because anyone who knows me now can say that I am the farthest thing from shy. But one morning, when I was in the 6th grade, I had to give a presentation and it was early enough that the informercials were still on and I saw Billy Mays pitch Oxi Clean for the first time. I know this is going to sound weird- but he inspired me. He knew how to get a crowd all riled up and interested in what he was talking about.

This week’s theme is mushrooms and I am sooooo excited to make my meals this week! Here are my recipes:

Entrees:

Crispy Mushroom, Spinach, and Avocado Quesadillas

Portobello Mushroom and Poblano Pepper Fajitas

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

Side:

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad

The List: 

  • 2 value packs of portobello mushrooms
  • eggs (with coupon!)
  • tortillas
  • big carton of Chobani
  • pepperjack
  • seasonal fruit
  • couscous
  • spinach
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  • Feta
  • 2 onions
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 red onion
  • fresh parsley
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 8 tomotillos
  • Chilis in Adobo
  • Coriander (still stocking up the kitchen)
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 4 poblanos
  • cilantro
  • 4 avocados
  • lime juice
  • orange juice

Seriously, the best part of making vegetarian recipes is the bill afterwards =D