Sunday, September 14, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Revised

I was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a few weeks ago. I didn’t dump ice on my head and I have no plans of doing so. I did take a dip in the utterly freezing Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Gloucester, which was quite a shock to this Florida girl who grew up near warmer water.

I’ve honestly had mixed feelings toward the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Initially it felt shallow and unhelpful, with too much body flaunting and not enough addressing the issue. I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate how much this viral phenomenon has contributed to ALS fundraising and increased awareness. 

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing those affected to slowly lose functionality. Voluntary muscle actions are affected first, and during later stages of the disease, many are unable to breath or eat without aid of expensive machinery. There is no cure.

I’ve been familiar with this disease since I met my best friend’s mom about 3 years after she was diagnosed with ALS. It was devastating to watch how quickly and completely Diane's functionality deteriorated until she passed away after a 5-year battle at the beginning of her daughter’s and my junior year of high school.

Diane rehearsing back when her only care was singing the right words. 
Over $109 million has been donated in the name of the challenge and more people than ever before are talking about ALS, a cause that is near and dear to my heart. I still don’t see the need to dump ice water on my head, but I’ve opted to do something that has a bit more meaning in addition to donating to the cause. You can easily make a donation at the ALS Association’s website.  

I decided to take a more personal route. Whenever we can both find the time, my friend Amanda is going to help me come up with a recipe that her mom would have loved. 

Amanda and me after her senior showcase — following mom's footsteps and then some!
Next time I make it to New York or Amanda comes to visit Boston, we’ll have a feast to honor and remember Diane, a wonderful woman, singer, and mom, who passed away from ALS nine years ago today.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Milk Chocolate Bunny Taste Test

Not all milk chocolate bunnies are created equal.

As Easter approaches, convenience stores are devoting entire aisles of merchandise to Easter-themed candy like marshmallows chicks and chocolate bunnies. Different brands attempt to lure buyers with decorative packaging and additives like caramel or crunchy rice cereal. Even the pure chocolate options vary in flavor because of the different formulas used for production.

I gathered 5 friends to do a blind tasting of 10 milk chocolate bunnies of varying shapes and density.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Busy Bee: A Whirlwind Wrap-up of the Past Month

It’s so unfortunate that whenever I get really stressed out by work or school, I can’t make the time for my favorite de-stressing activity. There is no time like the day before a deadline that I would rather be whipping up some sweet Honey Frosting or carefully watching over a pot while making Candied Citrus Peels.

Sadly, when I have a fast approaching deadline, all of my energy and attention is directed toward cranking out my paper or article and making it the best it can be.

More often than not, my “free” time in the past couple of months has been dedicated to reading and writing assignments, leading baking and innovating in the kitchen to take a back seat. When I finally walk through my front door at the end of a long day, I settle down with a bowl of cereal, having made it through the rest of the day subsiding on caffeine and determination. Ah, the life of a graduate student.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sweet Lessons Learned - Candied Citrus Peels

Enveloped by the smell of wafting citrus and sugar, I’m overcome with a vision of plump, bright yellow lemons hanging from a branches and threatening to plunge into the coast of the Mediterranean. Years ago, while studying in Florence, I spent weekends and holidays gallivanting across Italy, and vacationed on the Amalfi coast for a long weekend in the spring. Vast sparkling blue waters stretched beyond the rocky coasts and slender winding streets bustled with merchants and tourists. Sprinkled in between storefronts and around every corner nestled small lemon trees, their branches sagging under the weight of baseball-sized lemons. Each lemon’s rough, bumpy surface yielded easily to thick white pitch surrounding the sweet and tart fruit. The smell of fresh citrus always brings be back to this time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Year, New Beginnings

It’s taken me a bit longer to share a reflective post of the past year, but I’ve found that 2013 has been an incredibly transformative year. Rather than single large milestones, this has been a year of multiple new experiences, developments and advancements toward the life and career that I want for myself. 

Many, many pieces creating the whole. Like this garlic. Or maybe I just want to share this photo that I took six months ago, but haven't found a use for.