Thoughts of a College-Grad-To-Be (Plus: What I Ate This Week)
When I left for college in August of 2010, my parents held a little send-off for me, wherein my older friends and relatives offered me a variety of college “survival” tips. Among them were the standard, “bring flip-flops for showering,” “always eat a good meal before a ‘night out,'” and “leave your door open while you’re home to meet new people.” I must say, though, that the best advice I received that evening was, “enjoy your college years, because they’ll be over before you know it.” I couldn’t imagine at first that this could possibly be true. My college degree was (hopefully) going to take four years, as did high school, and high school seemed to take FOREVER. Then when I got to college, I knew.
The days sped on and before I knew it, I was picking up my cap and gown. How? When I was a wee underclassman, I would always think of my college graduation, my senior recital, my last assignment, my last class, my last violin lesson with my teacher, my last night out with friends, and my last day as a Philadelphian as distant thoughts, but now they’re all here. At the same time. No matter how I’ve tried to savor my college years, they just ran away from me. How is it that I have played dozens of concerts, learned so much about music and about life, and met so many incredible people in what seemed to be an awfully short amount of time? (Also… How is it that it will be The Hungry Musician’s THIRD birthday in September?*) I keep asking myself these questions, and I don’t think I’ll ever know the answers. I may not be able to stay in Philly forever, but as I move on to my graduate studies (at the school of my dreams… I still kind of can’t get over that) I’ll feel a deep satisfaction knowing that I’ve squeezed all the juice that I could out of my college experience.
I also went through another big transformation in college, both physically and mentally. During my freshman year, I gained a lot of weight, and didn’t even know the extent of it until I finally stepped on a scale after Spring semester and saw the damage in a number. I lost 50 pounds after that, and in the process have become more conscious of pursuing a permanently healthy, balanced lifestyle. I learned that you have to love and treat yourself in a way that makes you feel YOUR best, which for everyone is different. I’m still figuring out the best way to do that, and will probably always be working on it, but I know the overall plan does not include daily blueberry muffins (we had a messy breakup in 2011 – the relationship was getting to be too one-sided).
So now, enough of the nostalgia and onto some noms. Because clearly, the only thing to do during the week before graduation besides stare at your ceiling contemplatively and practice is to cook. And/or eat. The first magical discovery of my week was this sweet and salty caramelized coconut chips recipe. I bought a bag of Dang coconut chips a few weeks back at some hipster health-food store and they definitely were not gone within four days…OK they were gone within four days. I had some coconut flakes lying around my kitchen begging to be used, so I figured why not try to recreate some Dang-goodness? Follow the link above to my Instagram post for the recipe!
Another thing I’m loving is this vegan Moroccan Lentil Soup from Wegmans. I had been buying it premade from the store, but the recipe on their site (see link) makes 13 cups, (plus there aren’t any Wegmans where I’ll be next year) so I don’t see how you could possibly go wrong with making it yourself. It makes a huge amount, which is perfect for large gatherings, or for freezing and eating for one over the course of two weeks. Not to mention, you don’t really need to substitute any ingredients, as they’re all real-food-approved! I do use olive oil instead of what they call for, but you can use whatever cooking oil you prefer. I also love to garnish it with a little diced avocado and tons of cilantro. Mmmmm, soap.
I also bought my first watermelon of the season this week. So… I ate a lot of watermelon.
Also, for those of you who were unfamiliar with my
affinity for obsession with Brahms, it was his 181st birthday on May 7th, and I totally didn’t bake him a healthy, dairy free cake.
…OK, I baked him a healthy, dairy free cake.
For the grand finale, I went to Little Nonna’s Italian restaurant on Locust St. in Center City Philly for a wonderful dinner with my cousin. I’m not kidding when I tell you this is the best “treat” meal I’ve had in a while. The food was incredible (SO worth the calories) plus the service was great and the outdoor seating was freakin’ adorable – I definitely recommend the place! We shared the following menu items:
1) Straciatella (buffalo mozzarella with grilled bread and olives)
2) Wild Mushroom Arancini (fried balls of mushroom risotto stuffed with mozz… Uhhhhhhhhhhh.)
3) “Sunday Gravy” (A giant cheese-stuffed meatball + sausage + shortrib + broccoli rabe in 4-hour tomato sauce with rigatoni on the side)
4) Pan Seared Gnocchi (With mushrooms, leeks, tarragon, peas, and baby tomatoes)
Moral of this post: Enjoy your college years, be good to yourself, and go to Little Nonna’s.