Play Well With Others

Repost from my blog entry on http://www.thetorchtheatre.com/playing_well/

One of the core values of improv is trust. Trusting that your group will think your ideas are brilliant. Trusting that your group has brilliant ideas. And trusting that your ideas are brilliant. And, yes, I am a giant giraffe and you are my monkey sidekick, Bobby.

At The Torch, you are given more opportunities to play and develop that trust with your fellow performers. You are also given more time to understand that you are right in whatever you do. This is 180 degrees from what we are told as adults; that you are not always right and to stop making random farting sounds even if the scene calls for it.

In time, you start making friends at The Torch. You may even join a few groups (Hello, Adult Bakery) and become a part of the family. We do this in Phoenix mostly for the love of the craft, and for the chance to be a Russian monkey spy on stage.

Like any kid, you leave the nest for college, for backpacking across Europe, or for a sweet Taco Bell job. You realize you are no longer home and your mom is not cooking for you. Coming to Chicago is like that for me. While in Phoenix, I have to explain that longform improv is kind of like Whose Line, but not. In Chicago, more people know what I am talking about because you can throw a rock and hit an improv theatre. (Please don’t throw rocks.)

This means there are a lot more stages to perform on but with it A LOT more performers. The time I had to develop in Phoenix is not something I am rewarded here as I have less chances to perform but more chances to meet people who may share this love. As a result, I am given less time to build trust if I really want to take in the experience.

My third day here, I went to an improv jam at The Playground which is like the Bingo Jams we have at The Torch. I always get nervous before performing even at jams, but this was a “you are no longer in Kansas” moment. No tornado was going to take me away unless someone called for it. I am not going to lie; I did feel homesick in that moment. What if no one trusted me or I didn’t trust myself?

I got over it quickly the minute I got on stage and my improv instinct kicked in. Our adult instinct is that someone has to earn my trust before they can drive my car. Improv instinct has them drive our car, crash it, and then we steal their turtle…mom. I stole the turtle. It was hard and a bit nerve racking but anything that makes you feel alive like improv does, is worth it.

In my classes since, there is still a slight battle of trust and learning to play well with others. I sometimes want to fall back on old habits and doubt my ideas, but that would be the adult thing to do — boring. I will always feel nervous, but stepping out of our comfort zone is what we do as performers and we are allowed to.

Let’s go steal some turtles.

#plork

Week 11: From Broke College Student to Chef

Background

Red Comfort

It has been a few weeks since I last updated my blog. I know. But life sometimes get in the way, like oh I don’t know a thesis to graduate from grad school. Let me tell you, not the easiest thing to write. Not that I ever thought it was, but thinking about it, and then actually doing it are two very, very different things. So the next couple of blog posts maybe centered around sugar,comfort food, and basically whatever else I want.

This week I baked some red velvet cupcakes.The problem with cupcakes is you can’t have just one. They seem small and not so dangerous. Now, you know it is not at all healthy to make some cupcakes, and eat it yourself. It would be good, don’t get me wrong, however unless you want to gain 500 pounds and have a bad tummy ache, would not recommend it. Therefore, the best solution is to make red velvet cupcakes for someone’s birthday, perhaps a red head if you got one. One of my favorites is my good friend Ginger; ironic I know. I made about 2 dozen red velvet cupcakes for her birthday recently, and although I didn’t get her review on video, as quickly as those went, I am going to assume people may have liked them.

Outside view

Outside view

Inside view

Inside view

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 fluid ounce red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Cream Cheese Frosting…yummy
  • Sprinkles because you can

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy( I need to buy one of these. Although, a spoon does work my arms out). Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter and frost with desired frosting.( I find if you watch a bad reality television show, and then put the frosting on, works the same)

I think they turned out very well. I loved them, but probably should only bake them on special occasions. And you don’t always need a red head, but if you do it helps.

Ginger

Ginger

Week 10: From Broke College Student to Chef

Background

When You Can’t Find Lamb…

Lamb Curry was suppose to be this week’s recipe, however doing shopping at the last minute will not always work for you especially if you can’t find a little thing called Lamb. I am not sure why, but I can’t find lamb shanks in all the city of Mesa. Okay so I didn’t look in many places, but let’s just say it is not that easy. I am not sure why or perhaps I never noticed, but I never realized how hard it was, therefore lamb curry is going to have to wait. So when you can’t find lamb, what to do? Steak Fajitas. I mean really, how can you go wrong? (this is not one of those where something does go wrong, just a question) It’s not like how my mom and aunts make it, but we were in a pinch. Still good and juicy. Found at simplyrecipes.com

Steak Fajitas

Steak Fajitas

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb of flank steak, skirt steak or carne asada (carne asada was used manly because it was easier to find)
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced with the grain, not against the grain as one would normally slice an onion. Slice first in half, and then slice off sections a half inch wide at widest point.
  • 2-3 bell peppers of various colors, stemmed, seeded, de-ribbed, sliced lengthwise into strips
  • Salt

Marinade:

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 fresh Jalapeño pepper, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped (just use it all)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, including stems

METHOD

1 Mix all marinade ingredients. Coat the steak with the marinade and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or longer in the fridge. Before you cook the meat, wipe off most of the marinade and sprinkle the steak with salt.(Or pour the whole thing in the pan. Put some pepper in this as well.)

2 Set a large cast iron pan or griddle over high heat and let this heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the tablespoon of oil to the pan and let this heat up for 1 minute. Add the steak, frying on each side for 3 minutes, or to desired doneness. 3 minutes per side will yield approximately medium rare doneness for an average cut of flank steak. Carne asada and skirt steak will need less time. If the pan starts to smoke too much, reduce the heat to medium-high. You want the steak browned, not burned. Remove from pan and let sit, tented with foil, for 5 minutes.

3 Cook the vegetables while the meat is resting. Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, then add the onions and bell peppers. Let these sear for 1 minute before stirring, then stir every 90 seconds or so as the veggies sear. Cook for 5-6 minutes total.

4 Slice the meat against the grain into thin slices. If you slice the meat at an angle, you will be able to get your slices pretty thin. These cuts of steak are flavorful but can be a little tough, so thin slices will really help make it easier to eat.

5 Serve immediately with shredded cheese, salsa shredded iceberg lettuce, sour cream(gross), and warm flour tortillas.

Pretty simple if you ask me. Yea does it take time to marinate, but it is quick after that. Below is a review from Jin, Karli, and Mike. Until next week…


Week 9: From Broke College Student to Chef

Background

West Coast Girls Become a Little Southern

How I understand Fat Tuesday goes a little something like this: Day before Ash Wednesday, therefore you indulge is one of the seven deadly sins. Actually that is not the story, however it is a great set up for why we indulge in the sin of eating way too much and celebrating a Fat Tuesday with some of my girls

Now I know on the west coast we have our own dishes like Mexican Food. In fact I was prepared to cook some Mexican food this week because really where can you go wrong, when I saw a little story on the news about celebrating Fat Tuesday with some traditional New Orleans Cuisine. One of the dishes they were preparing was BBQ Shrimp(which is not actually made of BBQ thank you Man vs. Food). I decided that Mexican can be good anytime, and decided that some BBQ Shrimp, Cornbread, and Asparagus (you know to keep it healthier) screamed New Orleans at least to this west coast girl, no beads needed. All recipes can be found at allreciepes.com. And please beware of the butter content. We are not trying to be Ms. Childs here

 

BBQ Shrimp

BBQ Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds medium shrimp, with shells( If you are feeding four women, you only need a pound and a half of the extra large ones)
  • 2 pounds butter(maybe it is a Southern thing, but listen. We do not need anyone dying of a heart attack. A pound does the same work, and you will get less of a heart burn)
  • 1 medium sweet onion, minced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Arrange the shrimp in a single layer in as many baking dishes as you need. Set aside.
  2. Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, parsley, Creole seasoning and rosemary. Cook and stir for a few minutes, until onion is tender. Add the rest of the butter and cook until melted over low heat. Stir in the pepper, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Pour this mixture over the shrimp so that the shrimp are completely submerged.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until shrimp are pink, 15 to 20 minutes.(for me it took about 16 minutes, and then I put them in a crock pot for more flavor)
Although good, this dish is muy muy greasy, but that didn’t stop us from this:
And this was just Karli's Dish

And this was just Karli's Dish

And now to the sides:

Asparagus

Asparagus

Directions:

  1. Grill in a large pan with some butter. If you screw this up, give up on cooking
  2. No further instructions
Corn Bread

Corn Bread

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Combine the eggs and milk. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with egg mixture.
  2. Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees F for 22-27 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cut into squares; serve warm.

Let me end by saying this. If you are not use to greasy foods, have a sensitive tummy, or are not from the South, eat this meal with precaution. You may develop a slight stomach ache and/or a southern accent as demonstrated by Karli, Cristalle, and Aubrey below. Wear stretchy pants. Thanks for the recipes, and keep them coming!

Week 5: From Broke College Student to Chef

Background

Letting a Peacock Fly

Sounds strange that I have been doing this for over a month now. I don’t feel like an expert by any means, however I am having fun cooking. I never thought I would say that like ever. Ask anyone who knows/ dated me. I am not the cooking type, but more of the ordering kind or even observing one. But people can change; I guess I am changing *cue hallmark music* I like receiving recipes, mixing things, and how food brings everyone together. Plus being a picky eater like I am, I actually know what is going in my food. Crazy Thought huh? I would have never thought cooking would be fun.

Well onto this week’s recipe: Lentil Quiche. Another great recipe from my best friend. As I have mention before, Cristalle is a cook who kind of goes by her own rules. But as I go through these recipes and my cooking experiences is showing me that everyone in their own way is a bit like that. Some just show their peacock feathers better than others. And sometimes you got to let that peacock fly. So here is my peacock feathers showing and flying. PS-May not look like it, but mucho healthy for you.

Lentil Quiche

Lentil Quiche

Recipe can be found at allrecipes.com

Prep Time: 15 Min  Cook Time:1 Hr 15 Min Ready In: 1 Hr 30 Min

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried lentils(make sure you know what these look like, and that your local grocery store has them. May or may not have thought they were different beans. Just saying)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (call me crazy,but I have no idea what this is, and figured out too late that we didn’t have any. Just add extra cheese)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (My mom also said that if you put cheese on it, everyone will still eat it. Why do you think they make lactose pills? My point exactly. Note adding cheese may decrease health value)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F  Place the onion and olive oil into a 9 inch deep-dish pie plate. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until onion is tender.(A cake pan will work too)
  2. Place the lentils and water into a saucepan, and bring to a boil.(you are going to need more water than recommended) Cook for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain most of the water off, then place the broccoli florets on top of the lentils. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. This will dry the lentils, and cook the broccoli.
  3. Transfer the lentils, broccoli and tomatoes to the pie plate with the onions, and stir to evenly distribute each item. Stir in cheese at this time if using. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.(more milk is not good. Make sure to stick to amount given because it may make it watery) Pour over the ingredients in the pie plate.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is firm when the quiche is jiggled. Cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving

I have had lentil quiche before when Cristalle made it, and with different chefs come different results. I remember hers being less watery than mine, and maybe more lentil. Also I hate tomatoes so I don’t think she put them in. I personally think this wasn’t my best outing for cooking. Maybe because I remember I different tasting different. Or maybe used too much milk. Or not enough cheese. BTW I love cheese. I am Juila Child with Butter, but mine is cheese.

I am going to try to cook this again sometime soon to find out. Below is Kevin review on the dish, although it is more about how to shoot the video more than anything, but still funny. Thank you for all those sending recipes, and keep them coming!

Week 4: From Broke College Student to Chef

Background

Can’t Go Wrong

Going to the Arizona State University for the last six years, I have had my fair share of pizza. While most of it has been after a few dozen adult beverages, pizza, because of it cheapness and greasiness( who knows if that’s a word), just screams college. Don’t forget the part of 4 am delivery. So why not learn to make it well the more adult way. This week I turn to my Aunt Norma’s baked from fresh pizza with pepperoni and olives. For those who have not met my aunt is not only missing out, but have missed some of the best meals of their life. Throughout college, Norma has feed me and some of my friends with her amazing cooking on days we probably would have starve. So who better to not only learn how to cook from, but have her recipe feed my friends than my Aunt Norma.

Pepperoni and Olive Pizza

Pepperoni and Olive Pizza

Before you start this…it will take you awhile. My aunt’s recipe is more of a estimation from her. If you feel the need to add more of whatever you chose, do it.

Ingredients

3 Cups of Flour
2 Packages of Yeast
1 tbsp of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
2 tsp of olive oil
Bottle of Rago (Classic)
1 lb Mozzarella
A lot of pepperoni
Canish of Olives

How to make the Dough:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Take the two packages of yeast and put them in a luke warm cup of water for 10 minutes until it appears milky.
  • You then take all the ingredients except  your toppings and mix it into a large bowl.
  • When the mixture is mixed into a smooth  dough you will then knead the dough. If the dough is sticky, pat more flour onto it and mix it up. Your dough should not look like this:

    How your dough shouldn't look

    How your dough shouldn't look

it should look more like this:

how dough should look

how dough should look

  • As you knead the dough, start spreading it out into the shape of pizza you would like. A rolling pin will do wonders for you. Do not be discourage if/when the dough doesn’t stick in the position. Rome was not built in a day, your dough will not take a minute. Be patient.
  • After you get the dough in the shape you want, cake it with sauce cheese, pepperoni, and olives. Make sure to spread evenly.
  • Put in oven for about 35 minutes. Look back every 5 minutes because sometimes it takes shorter longer and what have you.

And there you have it. Somewhat grown up pizza. Serve with salad and fruit, and it may keep you away from the doctor

Pizza, fruit, and salad

Pizza, fruit, and salad

Watch Jessi’s review of the meal below, and for the record I was not sucking up to her lol. Thank you for all those sending in recipes, and keep them coming

Week 2: From Broke College Student To Chef

Background

Make Sure You Come Prepare

I am not sure what is more shocking: That I am actually following through with this whole cooking , or my kitchen has not burned down. For those who know me know this not out of them realm of possibility.

This week I had my roomie, bfffla, and partner in crime Cristalle help me cook, provide today’s recipes, and be the tester. For those who don’t know, Cristalle loves cooking, especially baking (I blame her for the extra poundage…okay not really, but she is a hell of a baker). She also has a style of her own when it comes to well everything which includes cooking. One time she made strawberry flavor shrimp for dinner, and let’s just say she never made it again, but at least she brought her own flavor.

This time is no different when it comes to this week’s dish of Butternut Squash Enchiladas and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese. Before starting this, make sure you read ALL of the recipe to make sure you have all the ingredients in your cabinets. Don’t assume because it makes an ass out of you and me or something of that sort. You will see why in a second.

 

Butternut Squash Enchiladas and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

Butternut Squash Enchiladas and Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

For obvious reasons,but needs to be said, cook separately and mix at the end.

Butternut Squash Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 8 (5 inch) corn tortillas (Did not read that it was corn instead of flour until oh when we started cooking. If you are serving more than two people, use corn, but big flour tortillas is alright as well. Use 4)
  • 1/2 unpeeled butternut squash, seeded
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped fresh spinach
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (We did not use tomatoes for two main reasons. One, we did not have any. Two, I hate them. However, it might have added to the flavor)
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce (While cooking with Cristalle, we don’t really measure all the time. Therefore if you just so happen to use the whole can, which is like 2 cups, what the hell?)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese(Safeway does not carry this, or at least the one I went to. However Queso Fesco works just the same, and is hell of addicting. We may or may not have used it as our other side dish)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream, for topping (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Lay the tortillas flat onto a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Meanwhile, place the butternut squash half into a microwave-safe dish cut-side-down, and pour in the water. Cook in the microwave until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and dice; place into a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and sun-dried tomatoes. Continue cooking until the spinach wilts. Gently fold the spinach mixture into the diced butternut squash.
  4. Arrange four crispy tortillas on the baking sheet. Divide the squash mixture among the tortillas. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of goat cheese over each tortilla, then top with the remaining tortillas. Pour the enchilada sauce over top, and sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of cotija cheese.(we did two large flour tortillas)
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until hot, about 10 minutes. Garnish each enchilada with chopped cilantro leaves and a dollop of sour cream to serve.( not a fan of the sour cream, but hey go with it)

Sauteed Swiss Chard with Parmesan Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced (we used white because we did not have red, but still good)
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs cut out and chopped together, leaves coarsely chopped separately
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (red works pretty good especially if you drink it while you cook)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste (could have added flavor, however not a huge deal if you forget to buy it)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt butter and olive oil together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and onion, and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the chard stems and the white wine. Simmer until the stems begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chard leaves, and cook until wilted. Finally, stir in lemon juice and Parmesan cheese; season to taste with salt if needed.

Even though it was just the two of us, we thought it turned out well especially if you add a glass (bottle) of red wine mixed with some Queso Fesco and Greys Anatomy. Cristalle did not want to appear on video to give her review, and because she helped me cook and my bfffla, we can give her this pass this one time. No one else. She did offer this review, which has been translated in some way or another:Meal was good. 8 out of ten.

I guess very simple. Keep sending recipes.  Until next week.