Tuesday, June 22

Culinary Adventures




We've been cooking up a storm in our tiny kitchen lately!



Shawn's fourth time making chicken red curry and it was by far the best; I can only imagine how delicious it will be next time he makes it! It's amazing what a difference a little peanut and fish sauce make.




Smashed purple potatoes and homemade fried chicken... or Psychedelic Potatoes and Groovy Chicken, as Shawn has dubbed it. I recovered my candy/frying thermometer from my parents' house this weekend so we decided to try something new. This was our first time ever frying anything! And it was awesome! The panko coated the chicken perfectly and it was still so light, despite being fried. And the potatoes sprang to life (well, color) with the touch of a little lemon juice, which was really cool to see. A classier take on diner chicken strips and fries...




And of course, taco night. Seasoned beef tacos with pico de gallo and a little corn. It was such a colorful and filling meal!


On that note, at this rate we should have some recipes up soon! They just need a little touching up and then they'll be good enough to share. Hooray!

Thursday, June 17

Another Day on the Job

Town Hall Coffee Espresso Lab (Counter Culture)
...still perfecting my latte art.

On Growing Up

We have a pantry. A rather large one at that. (And as you can see, my baking materials have invaded a good portion of it.) As empty big and daunting as it first seemed when we moved in, I think we've done a decent job of filling it up with useful things; aside from baking ingredients, pastas, and snacks, it also contains cleaning supplies, spare plastic bags, a shelf for sunglasses/keys/extra change, and the vacuum.

....

A friend of mine recently wrote about growing up, and how it seems to happen without even trying. How over time you learn to clean up after yourself, how to take care of yourself, how to motivate yourself. Well, if that's what growing up is, I've never felt like more of an adult than I do now.

This isn't the first time I've moved out of my parents' house (nor is it Shawn's) but it is the first time I feel I've done it with so much planning and responsibility. Shawn and I put a lot of thought into the whole process and we didn't just jump in. Our mentality throughout was "we're not doing this like college students; we're adults now", and I like to think the outcome of everything shows that. We have a decent relatively new apartment (although the floors aren't entirely level, there are no holes or mold in the walls, it gets decent lighting, and it's not grimy like a frat house), decked out with brand new furniture (none of that used up, old energy feel that comes from used furniture), and decorated with a bit of kitsch and class (Asian art, lots of clocks, and knick knacks). We keep the place clean, and somewhat organized. And I try to remember not to stray too far from the kitchen when I'm munching on crumbly things.

Now I understand why the pantry is so big! You need space for all the food you finally start learning to cook for yourself at home (no empty pizza boxes in this kitchen, and no Lean Cuisines in our freezer!), and then supplies to clean up the mess you inevitably make while cooking up dinner, and of course, a vacuum for when I get overly excited and drop my freshly baked chocolate chip cookie right onto the living room carpet.

Ah, the adult life.


...PS... dinners you've missed!

Wednesday, June 9

Red Red Curry


I am proud to say we haven't eaten dinner out once since we've moved! Or lunch, for that matter. Now, I know we've only been here a week, but if you knew just how little home cooking we did before we moved, well, you'd be proud too.

Shawn made his second attempt at red curry last night - it turned out amazing! Definitely an improvement from his first attempt two weeks ago, but we forgot the peanuts yet again! You don't realize how much the peanuts really balance out the flavor of the coconut milk until they're missing. This time around we used red, green, and yellow peppers, carrots, string beans, and chicken; the carrots added a lovely crunch and all the different peppers add bursts of color throughout the dish. Just a few more tries until he makes it so well we'll think we teleported to Thailand or something!


There's a happy face :)

Thoughts on Moving - Part 2 - The Pieces Fit?!

Alright, picking up where I left off...

A few months into the city search we set our sights on Philadelphia. I know, I know, I shot the idea down at first but somehow Shawn eventually convinced me to at least consider it. And with a reluctant sigh, I did. Now, you're probably wondering why I was so against the idea of moving to Philadelphia at first. You are, aren't you? Well, I used to be of the belief that Philly is dirty and dangerous and too long of a drive to get to because of traffic. Why? I don't know, I guess other people's opinions of the city led me to believe as such. Well, I must say I've been proven wrong.

My only real complaint about Philly and its surrounding areas is that driving anywhere sucks! The highways are always backed up and getting in and out of the city is nearly impossible at most hours of the day. But it gets a little better once you get closer to the suburbs, where we are.

But I'm getting side tracked here - lets get back to the point, about how it all came together. We visited Philly a few times and I started looking for jobs on craigslist… and that's how I met Tim Noble, of Town Hall Coffee in Merion Station. The place was still being put together at the time, but he liked me enough to guarantee me a job whenever Shawn and I could find a place to live. And so the apartment hunt began.

We initially looked at some places in center city but then decided it'd be best to find a place closer to my job. It only took three tries before we found it, and when we saw the place we immediately knew that was it, it just felt right. So after an agonizing two weeks of feeling like we were in limbo (between finding out the place was ours, to the day we picked up the keys), and then an even more agonizing unexpected three days wait that forced us to move in over 2 days instead of 4… and after several trips to Ikea and Target and local grocery stores, we finally, finally, feel completely moved in. I'd say I feel at home too, but I honestly feel like I'm on vacation in someone else's home with all my belongings in it… it's slowly dawning on me that we live here and all this is ours, and it's just us, and it's fantastic!

And the job? It's awesome! The guys I work with are great and I love being able to interact with customers again. It's great to be a part of something so new! And I get to bake scones too! It's all very exciting.

And so, finally, after months of searching, much frustration, an overabundance of stress, and a lot of patience, the pieces fit.

:)


Italian hoagies for lunch on the makeshift table; Day Two

Thursday, June 3

Thoughts on Moving - Part 1 - How it All Started

Alright, it's finally time for a Marine post :)



Shawn and I have been ready to move for weeks now - boxes have been gradually getting packed since we were approved for our apartment, but we've been mentally prepared to move since the first few setbacks we encountered. Now, if you've never moved from one city to another, you might not know what I mean by 'setbacks'… let me tell you a story and then give you some examples.


A few months ago Shawn and I looked at each other and decided it was time we start looking for a place to live together; we've both been living at our parents' houses for a few years now and it's just time to get out and start creating our own life. Of course the first question on our minds was - Where do we even start looking? You might not believe it, but we kinda love New Jersey, and it's really hard to leave! In the same token, the cost of living in NJ is completely ridiculous and way out of our means, so we knew we had to look elsewhere. Shawn's first suggestion was Philadelphia, and I shot that down pretty quickly (come on, we're from Jersey! We hate PA!) Other cities were then considered: Providence, Washington DC, Boston, etc… one thing was clear, we wanted to stay on the east coast.


Moving on to the second question on our minds - What about jobs? It's one thing to throw some money down and move somewhere, but don't you want to make sure you're moving somewhere with the ability to support yourself after the move? Here began the endless craigslist searches for not just apartments but also job opportunities - with no specific location in mind yet. At one point, with the help of a little social networking, I was able to line up a job interview near DC, but that plan flew out the window with the uncanny timing of the east coast's first big snowstorm - both canceling my interview and my desire to work there, and also succeeding in convincing us we really didn't want to move down there anyway.


The rest of the job search consisted of countless email responses to craigslist ads, with an unfortunate amount of "It's a pity you don't know when you'll be moving/can't start immediately" responses. It was a little heartbreaking at first, but we trudged through. At some point, we finally set our sights on Philadelphia, and that's when the fun really began and it all started to really come together…


But I'll cut this short (ha!) and continue in another post.


Stay tuned for: Thoughts on Moving - Part 2 - The Pieces Fit?!


:)

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