A bánh mì for verdi requiem

Picnic in Millennium Park for the last Friday performance of the Grant Park Music Festival: Closing Night – Verdi Requiem.  The menu? Bánh mì sandwiches!

I love picnics and sitting outside in the great summer weather to enjoy music and the company of great friends.  Chicago is a wonderful area for all these things, whether it be Ravinia or the free music in Millennium Park, there are so many great venues to take advantage of the trappings of summer.

Today, I decided to make Vietnamese sandwiches, bánh mì, to bring to the picnic.  I have never made these sandwiches before and didn’t bother even looking up any recipes because it was so last minute.  I felt that since I’ve eaten an army’s worth of these sandwiches at various sandwich shops popping up around the city that I could replicate my own version of this delicious sandwich.

I started with a few ingredients I picked up at the store:

  • fresh baked baguette
  • whole roasted chicken
  • cilantro
  • bean sprouts
  • cucumber (english style seedless)
  • romaine lettuce
  • carrots
  • jalapeno peppers
I also had a few ingredients in my fridge/cupboards at home:
  • fish sauce
  • vinegar
  • sugar
  • salt/pepper
  • soy sauce
  • sesame seed oil
  • cream cheese
I first chopped up thin slices of cucumber and carrots and fast “pickled” them in a mixture of vinegar, sugar and fish sauce.  I sliced up generous chunks of roasted chicken breast and drizzled them with some sesame seed oil, soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. As a quick trick, pop the baguette in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes to get it nice and crunchy before making the sandwich. Allow the bread to cool and spread with cream cheese and then layer the chicken, romaine lettuce, pickled cucumber/carrots, bean sprouts, slices of jalapeno and sprigs of cilantro.  Make sure you get rid of excess liquid from the chicken and cucumber (or else you’ll end up with soggy sandwiches!).  Luckily the cream cheese adds a nice layer between the filling and the bread to help it keep during your trek to the park.  Add cracked pepper to taste. Nom Nom!
My friend brought this refreshing riesling from Trader Joe’s.  The spicy and vinegary sandwiches washed down so well with the sweet riesling.  I think I added one too many jalapeno slices because the peppers, the alcohol and the warm weather were making me sweat!  There was also a sweet and crunchy corn/tomato/avocado salad which paired well with the sandwiches.  The pita chips and milano cookies didn’t hurt either!
The weather was so wonderful.  Please don’t leave me summer!
My friends and I are such dorks that we decided to make it Threadless / Woot shirt Friday at the lab/office.  Hooray for novelty tees!

Give me chocolate, peanut butter and oatmeal…

How to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares:

This yummy recipe was adapted from food.com.  I halved the recipe and added chocolate to the top!  I also used dark chocolate instead of all semi-sweet chocolate.


Wet ingredients:

  • ½ cup butter (softened)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup chunky peanut butter (has to be chunky!)

Dry ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate (use a bar of good dark chocolate and chop into chunks)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream together the wet ingredients until smooth.
  3. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to creamed butter/sugar mixture.
  5. Combine ½ cup of semisweet chocolate and ½ cup dark chocolate chips.
  6. Add batter to ungreased 9×9 baking dish. Spread batter evenly and press with spoon to make a nice even layer.
  7. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top of the batter.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-22 minutes. Do not overcook!
  9. Allow the dish to cool overnight at room temperature to set
  10. Cut into squares and eat!

Chinese Banquet: Nom Nom!

I went to a Chinese dinner banquet to celebrate Jenny’s PhD thesis in Chinatown with her family and friends.  There was so much food!  I regret not putting on some pants with elastic bands…

A “Well Read” wine.  I mixed this with some Coke. Calimocho, so refreshing!

Soups on.

You can’t go wrong with Lobster.

Double tiered food.

Chinatown Cake. Not too sweet. Fresh, soft, yummy.

Party favors!

Ginger Phoenix: sake, sparkling wine, muddled ginger. Spicy, sweet, smooth, refreshing.

Blue jello lemon wedge shots.

Ceiling lights. 90 degree turn.

Don’t judge a bookshelf by its books…

Okay, maybe you can judge a bookshelf by its books, but also judge a bookshelf by how pretty it is!

Anyways, this whole thing started because I’m in the process of moving in with my boyfriend and I need space to put all my books and random crap.  I hate moving.  The very idea of moving makes me want to vomit.  Nonetheless, things happen, life changes, people have to move and life must go on!  Since I was using a custom built bookshelf at my old apartment, I needed a replacement space to put all my stuff.  However, I’m a broke graduate student, and I needed something that didn’t hurt the tiny piggy  bank. Solution: Ikea “as is” furniture!

I found this gem in the “as is” section of Ikea – the graveyard of DIY idiots:EXPEDIT Bookcase, black-brown Width: 31 1/8 " Depth: 15 3/8 " Height: 58 5/8 " Max load/shelf: 29 lb  Width: 79 cm Depth: 39 cm Height: 149 cm Max load/shelf: 13 kg

This EXPEDIT bookshelf was only $42 marked down from $69.99. Yay!  It only had a tiny scratch on one of the shelves.  I could also have gone to craigslist, but didn’t want the bother of having to deal with another human being (I was having a bad week okay?).

My old roommate from Valencia, Spain got me this Spanish tile of a castillo.

My ex-boyfriend got me this from Thailand (don’t tell D*rek!).

Flowers in Millennium Park.

I love me some Tina Fey.

Bookshelf Bonsai!

Dala from Stockholm.

As an aside, I think eReaders and kindles and nooks, nookies, snookies and ipads are all amazing wonderful things! I just hope they don’t completely replace printed edition books.  Holding a book, bending its pages and placing it on a bookshelf to share with friends are all good things (I hope I’m not sounding like Martha Stewart…).  Read on friends!  Eat the burnt cheese!

Pub Trivia! Team “27 Club Sandwiches”…

27 Club Sandwiches.

Our team name, 27 Club Sandwiches, was kind of lame, but I had no choice in the matter.  I wanted our team name to be “Aragon” (in honor of Obama’s BDay bash at the Aragon Theatre).  Anyways, pub trivia was loads of fun and there was plenty of cheap Miller to go around!  Let the random trivia questions begin!

Strategy: Question, Answer, Beer. Repeat.

  1. Can you name 4 US Presidents who have died while in office since 1900?
  2. Can you name 3 countries to have hosted the Winter Olympics in the 1990s?

Movies. Entertainment.

3.  Name the movie which won the Oscar for Best Picture in the 1980s which had a PG rating.  It also won an Oscar for best lead actress…

4.  This person was born in 1975 and her real first name is Stacey.  She played the voice of Sally in the cartoon, Peanuts.  She was originally in a band and went solo and sold over 8 million albums worldwide and has her own fragrance.  Who is this famous person?

Science.  Geography. History.

5.  How many calories are in 1 pound of human body fat?

6.  Name 3 countries that border 3 of the 4 major oceans of the world.  The 4 major oceans are: Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic and Indian Oceans.

7.  What company listed on the NYSE with the symbol, “M”, was founded in 1858 and had annual sales in 2010 of over $25 billion?