For those of you that missed it, this past Thursday was a very special day.
Why? Well, I did a lot of things on Thursday. I wrote a paper on the French Baroque while sitting in my car so that I wouldn’t get a ticket during alternate side parking hours. I took a yoga class in which I *almost* (almost) kinda attempted my first handstand. I drove to Philadelphia for a great first rehearsal with the orchestra I’m playing Vivaldi Winter with next month! AND I ate a chef salad with grilled chicken on it that tried to market itself as a caesar salad. Seriously, what?? A packet of caesar dressing on the side does not a caesar salad make. Also, YOU DO NOT PUT CHEDDAR ON A CAESAR SALAD!!! PARMESAN OR BUST!!!!!!!!!!
Ok so, except for that last thing, it was a very productive day. But I also did something else pretty new and exciting.
DRUM ROLL PLEASE…. (Side note: Have you ever wondered how drum rolls work? Can hands move that fast? How do I not know this as a second year master’s student at a music school?)
I’M ON YOUTUBE!! YAY!
My first video is all about being a healthier musician, and I discuss everything from healthy practicing to unfortunate encounters with gummy worms. It’s entertaining and educational at the same time, and hopefully you haven’t already learned these tips the hard way. I mean, I already did, so why should you have to? Always looking out for ma’ frandszz.
Be sure to subscribe to my channel! I’ll be posting a new video every month, but may or may not have a special surprise video coming out this week 😉 Keep an eye and an ear out!
If our high school experiences were at all similar, you were definitely THAT nerd. You know, the one whose favorite subject was orchestra, the one who was always in rehearsal, and the one who brought his/her instrument to school and practiced during lunch. As you sat one day alternating arpeggios with bites of your brown bag sandwich, I bet you dreamt of a place filled with nerds just like you, where not only would it be socially acceptable to practice during school hours, but expected of you. I bet that’s also when you considered becoming a music major.
And then, we have September, the official beginning of application (and premature pumpkin spice latte) season. I went through the audition process twice – once for college, and once for graduate school – and the processes were almost identical. At the end of each process, I ended up happy with my choice and studying with fantastic teachers. Some would say that’s lucky, but I don’t really agree. While your admission is not technically “up to you,” your success as an applicant is 100% yours to take. I hope these tips I learned along the way make the music school admission process seem not only manageable for you, but exciting! 🙂
For some light ambiance – click play. 🙂 ^^^^^^
I have to confess that there’s something I’ve been hiding from you all. Well, not exactly “hiding,” per se – my friends know about it. But people can be judgy, so I’m kiiiinda going out on a limb here by telling you this. And if you didn’t think I was a mega nerd already, this will probably seal the deal for you. OK, ready? Hold on. DEEP BREATHS EVERYONE.
In my first week as a graduate student, I realized that I haven’t really been properly warned about a lot of really RANDOM things. In no particular order:
1) Nobody warned me that on some days, my violin just won’t love me back.
2) Nobody warned me that ceramic knives are just as good at slicing fingers as they are onions.
3) Nobody warned me that someone would come to my door claiming to be MY electric company and SOMEHOW convince me to sign up for a DIFFERENT electric company. (Note to self: Don’t be so nice – you live in New York now. Your idea of “rude” is everyone else’s normal.)
4) Nobody warned me that I would see TIM GUNN in the book store while going to pick up How Sweet Eats’s new cookbook. I have also seen him in public once before, at a train station in Philly. Unfortunately, my outfit was not “making it work” either time, so I’ve never gone up to him. Potentially awesome selfies with Tim Gunn: 2. Awesome selfies with Tim Gunn? 0.
5) After a few weeks of not getting to yoga, nobody warned me that this evening’s yoga class would be changed from “Mixed Level” to “Vinyasa.” Woops. My legs are gummi worms.
6) Finally, nobody warned me that organic whole chickens cost upwards of $27.00. Can’t a girl just get her roasted chicken on without having to file for bankruptcy? Damn. So, instead of doing the wise thing and buying the chicken and having meat for the week, yours truly bought a half pound of wild sockeye salmon for $9.00 and had enough fish for two meals… Practical. But what I did with that salmon. Ooooh, what I did with that salmon…. Crispy Honey Maple Dijon Salmon (serves 1-2) (GF):
- 1/2 lb. wild salmon, whole or cut into 2 filets
- 1/2 tbs. dijon mustard
- 1/4 tbs. pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. honey
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
If making two filets, cut salmon in half before preparing. With the skin side facing down, coat the flesh of the salmon with a sprinkling of olive oil, spreading to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Combine mustard, maple syrup, and honey. Drizzle on top of salmon. In a skillet over medium-low heat, place the filet(s) skin side up so that the flesh is being seared. Cook until the flesh becomes light orange all the way up to the skin, about 5-7 minutes. I covered the pan in the last minute or so to speed along the process. Remove the skin, and then remove the filets from the pan to serve. I served it with coconut cilantro jasmine rice and a kale-onion-garlic stir fry. One super tasty example of when frugality just isn’t necessary.
I do have plenty of good tidbits to report, however.
1) I was able to free up my afternoons and leave more time for building up a private teaching studio here in New York City. Anybody need some violin lessons? 🙂
2) I met up with an Instagram friend, Drew (@thatviolakid) and went busking in Washington Square park last week, which was a BLAST. Drew is an incredibly talented violist at Juilliard, and regularly offers useful, inspirational tips for his Instagram followers. How fortunate that I’ve only been in school for a week, and already I’m meeting wonderful musicians and having great playing opportunities! It was also fascinating to observe the culture on the streets of NYC while standing in one place. It all just plays out in front of you.
3) I won a string lottery at school orientation, and coincidentally won a pack of the gut strings I already use (which are super expensive but yet I still justify buying repeatedly, because they sound like butter and honey made a baby in audible form). For the freakin’ WIN.
5) I currently have breakfast plans tomorrow at a place called “Oatmeals.” Which is, as you may have guessed, an OATMEAL BAR. I heard about the place through a fellow blogger, and I literally could not imagine a more perfect food establishment.
6) It’s September, so it’s time for pumpkin to start reappearing. Which means summer is fading, which is FABULOUS, because I’m kinda done with summer. The season was pretty good to me in general, but I had to turn my life upside down in the middle of it. So to me, the return of pumpkin is vaguely symbolic of a return to normalcy. Therefore, I did two awesome things to honor pumpkin this week.
First there was this stack of super sexy whole wheat pumpkin pancakes. With a syrup pour that might be borderline NSFW.
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes (makes 8 mini pancakes):
- 1/2 cup whole wheat or oat flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract (may sub. vanilla)
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- ~1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp coconut oil, divided
Combine all ingredients (except almond milk/coconut oil) in a small mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add almond milk until the batter is a pourable consistency (~1/3 cup, probably more). Over medium heat, melt half of the coconut oil in a large skillet or griddle pan. Create four small pancakes using a 1/4 cup measure, and flip when the edges look dry (about 2-3 mins each side). Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with pure maple syrup.
Then, I made oil-free pumpkin bread. It turned out kind of dry, so I won’t give you a recipe. But it has been awwwwwesome re-toasted in the morning, and I’ve been putting alllll of the things on it. And by all of the things, I mean different flavors of peanut butter. Usually with blueberry jam. But sometimes with roasted bananas. I can be adventurous.
Speaking of roasted bananas, I also figured out that they are more than amazing when put on COLD cereal. If you were ever into banana-flavored milk as a kid (or even if you weren’t… this is better) you NEED to try this.
Roasted Bananas (Vegan/GF):
- 1 large ripe banana, sliced into coins
- 1 tsp. coconut oil
- cinnamon to taste
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
Warm the coconut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add bananas. once they start to sizzle, add cinnamon and vanilla. With a ripe banana, no need for any added sweetness!
Okay, so I’m ALMOST out of things to share with you, but if you’re still with me and haven’t already left the building, here’s one more recipe. The last thing I’ve noticed being a graduate student is that I’m no longer in such a hurry to be an adult. Yes, the drive to succeed and build a career for myself is all still there, but I miss the days when I was a happily oblivious six-year-old and didn’t know what bills were and how to pay them. And when I was six years old, I also loooooved chicken nuggets. Dinosaur-shaped nuggets, to be specific. But now that we know what actually goes into those chicken nuggets, I prefer to pass. See? Life was so simple when I didn’t know what pink slime was (side note: does anybody really know EXACTLY what it is? I think that’s why it’s so scary…). And last week, after a long day of really hard placement tests, all I wanted to do was go back to first grade. So I made tofu nuggets. AND baked curly fries using my veggie spiralizer. If I’d only had a coloring book to go along with this meal, I would have been set.
Tofu Nuggets (Vegan/GF):
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained of liquid
- 1/3 cup oats
- 1/3 cup organic yellow cornmeal
- Extra virgin olive oil (~2 to 3 tbs. total)
- Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and pepper to taste
Cube the drained tofu into thick chunks, about 1 inch long x 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. In a food processor, combine cornmeal and oats. Pulse until oats are crumbly. Add smoke seasoning, cayenne (sparingly!), sea salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the tofu cubes in about 1-2 tbs. of the oil, then transfer cubes to a bowl with the oat mixture, and toss gently to combine, being careful not to break up the tofu. Prepare a large pan with a very slight coating of olive oil. With the heat on medium, place the nuggets into the pan, rotating them occasionally until all sides are golden brown and crispy. Served here with some Annie’s organic ketchup, the baked “curly fries,” and garlicky kale.
…OK, I lied, there’s one more thing.
Make a mixing bowl salad. Put roasted chickpeas on it. (1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained + olive oil + salt + pepper + smoke seasoning in a 425˚F oven until creeeespy. Toss frequently and monitor to prevent burning.) Oh so fresh, oh so healthy, oh so satisfying.
And now, off to go find that coloring book.
“Ew, Sarah, why would you EVER put sea salt and bananas together?” – You
What can I say, I’m good at reading minds. But you know what I was slightly less good at until recently? Baking banana bread. It has literally (and I mean literally, not figuratively…there is, in fact a difference) taken me YEARS to come up with the perfect banana bread recipe. I posted one back in my Tumblr-blogging days that I’m pretty sure consisted mostly of chia seeds. Not to hate on chia seeds (they have their time and place), but this recipe is tastier for sure, and just as healthy. Now, to address your sea salt inquiry, it’s pretty much universal knowledge these days that sea salt and dark chocolate are the new power couple. Caramel tries to make it a love triangle, but I am definitely on Team Chocolate. And lately, I have been putting dark chocolate in and on everything I can get my hands on.
Well, I’m celebrating, because (Spoiler: if you follow me on Instagram, then neither of the following things are going to be “big news” to you) after a whirlwind year of suddenly changing plans and deciding NOT to take a year off, I took graduate auditions and was accepted to everywhere I applied! I’m going to be pursuing my Master’s degree next year at the conservatory of my dreams in New York City, and I couldn’t be more excited. I also gave my senior recital a few weeks ago to a lot of positive feedback, which means I officially CAN graduate and go to New York City. Also, I thought the performance went well had a lot of fun giving it, which for self-doubting and perpetually unsatisfied me was kind of big.
So, yeah… I’m declaring that I now deserve to put chocolate in everything. You can judge me or whatever, but you’re going to be thanking my little chocolate binge when you taste this banana bread. Notice I said when, not if, because that’s how sure I am that you need to make it immediately.
Just in case you’re not convinced yet and need a REALLY compelling reason to make it (other than that it’s chocolate banana bread and because I said so), it will use up your ugly, mushy, seemingly inedible bananas. I bet you’ve thrown out some spotty/browning bananas in your time, thinking they were unusable. Think again, my friend – your banana-wasting days have passed, because for this recipe and banana bread in general, the spottier the better! (Unless they’re actually rotten and wrinkled… Then you probably shouldn’t cook with them. :P)
Also, this bread came out super moist, and has just the right texture! You could also omit the chocolate chips or walnuts (or both) and the base recipe would come out fine. I will definitely be keeping this as my go-to banana bread recipe!
- 3-4 overripe medium bananas
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 1 egg + 1 egg white
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour + 1/2 cup oat flour (may do 1 and 1/2 cups oat flour for gluten free alternative)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 cup 60% dark chocolate chips, plus 1 tbs. for melting
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- Sea Salt
- Preheat oven to 350˚F.
- In a mixing bowl, mash peeled bananas thoroughly until mostly smooth. Some small lumps of fruit will remain, that's ok!
- Mix in melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla, and then add the egg/egg white (adding the egg and coconut oil too closely together may cause the egg to cook in the hot oil).
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients (except for the 1 tbs. of chocolate chips for melting), and then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet.
- Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.*
- Melt the remaining chocolate chips, pour onto the batter, and swirl with a fork. Sprinkle the top lightly with sea salt, and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- *I recommend using coconut oil spray, which I swear by for baking, roasting, and sauteeing! So flavorful, and so much better for you than most non-stick sprays.