Pin-tested: Apple Rings

First off, I’d like to apologize for the huge gap in posts! Between a trip to Canada with the Chamber Choir, SAT and AP prep, and a lot of very personal issues, blogging hasn’t exactly been on my mind. Don’t worry, I’m back now! Posts may be slightly sparser than usual, but I’ll try to be consistent. P1110249Today I experimented in making apple rings! I’d seen many pictures of such recipes on Pinterest without any actual links, so I did some poking around on the internet and found a recipe to modify! I found inspiration from this recipe on Cooking Stoned (not actually on drugs, though that would’ve been more amusing) and got to work.

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I used 1% milk and 1+3/4 tsp cream of tartar as a substitute, as suggested by Joy the Baker)
  • A splash of vanilla (if you want a slightly sweeter batter)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large Granny Smith apples
  • Canola oil for frying
  • Sea salt for finishing

1. Combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Don’t mix the two bowls yet! 2. Cut up the four apples into 1/4 slices. Using cookie cutters of various sizes, cut out your apple rings, discarding the core. I didn’t have that many sizes of circular cookie cutters, so I just approximated and cut out the center with a kitchen knife. (As you can tell, not the most prepared chef here. I’m impatient.) 3. Fill the bottom of a fry pan with canola oil and turn the heat on medium-high. It shouldn’t take too long to heat up! 4. While you’re waiting, stir together the wet and dry ingredients to form a batter. 5. Dip your apples in batter and place them carefully in the pan to fry. Gloves and tongs are a good idea. Flip them often to ensure even browning. 6. Once they’re golden, let drain on a metal drying rack with some paper towels underneath. Sprinkle with sea salt and enjoy.

I think the apple rings tasted best warm, but they were delicious and unusual either way. The tartness of the apple plays so well with the sea salt and plain batter! These are a great snack or dessert (especially if you add vanilla to the mix!) Perhaps I’ll try them with some vanilla ice cream tonight.

On blogging

I actually just realized that almost all of my post titles go something like “On _____,” and I feel like I should probably have made an effort to be more creative, but now we’ve past the point of no return. This post is about blogging from the heart, and that straightforward title recipe has become a staple of my style. Why change it now?

As you may or may not know, this is my third attempt at running a blog. It all started in eighth grade, when I discovered blogging for the first time. At that point I treated my blog like an online diary more than anything, talking about my friends and current events in the very exciting life of a shy eighth-grade Nadine. When I discovered what real blogging was, finally stumbling across food blogs and fashion blogs, I became horrified with my fallacy and deleted the whole thing. Enter sophomore year of high school, when I start seriously following fashion and lifestyle blogging and stumbled across A Beautiful Mess. Suddenly, I’m destined to own my own store of hand-made goods and be the next Elsie Larson! I posted recipes, outfits, sorry DIYs that fell apart the next day. My posts were sporadic and weak, because my heart was not really in them. I rarely had inspiration. When I realized what I was doing wrong, I deleted that one, and I eventually ended up here.

This blog is truly a reflection of my varied interests and opinions. Obviously I can’t completely represent myself on the internet, but I think I’ve done pretty well with the topics I’ve touched upon so far. I give my honest opinion, write in my own voice, and overall keep it real. (Okay, I’m sorry, I lied. I never, ever say things like “keep it real.” I’m much too awkward for that.) Although the only person who read my blog at first was the ever-wonderful Sam whom I’ve known since second grade (and has a great and inspiring blog of her own), I’m starting to develop a readership and reach a wider audience. I have no real plans for this blog, but I’ve found that I really enjoy running it.

As you may have noticed, I didn’t post for weeks, and suddenly I’ve started posting basically every day. This was completely unplanned, and I don’t know what’s changed, but every single day I’ve come home and had something of value I felt like sharing with the world. I even have posts scheduled in advance! I used to fret about posting regularly and posting good content, but this past week, good content has simply sprung into being every single day. I can’t promise it’ll stay this way forever, but I think I’m definitely on to something here. Blogging has become an activity that I truly enjoy spending my time on, despite the weird looks my parents give me when they walk into the room and find me meticulously arranging clothing on my bedroom floor or sticking my camera two inches from uncooked food. This blog has become something to be proud of, something to tell people about, and I’m so excited about that.

Reflections upon my return.

It’s been quite some time, everyone. I haven’t posted since the day before Halloween, and wow, how things have changed.

To be fair, my life is normal as ever, but it’s been such a mental transition that I find it hard to believe only a month and a half has passed. This past week alone shook me to the core and forced me to reevaluate the way I look at life and the choices I make every day.

One of my closest friends attempted suicide this past weekend, and is in hospital care now. You would think, having been suicidal myself in the past and having many friends who are depressed, I would be more prepared for this sort of thing, more able to cope. But my heart near stopped when I heard the news. Even though my friend sounded normal on the phone when I called the hospital, I can feel the cold chill of death floating just around the corner. It was so close, and the thought of it is terrifying.

I know there is nothing I could’ve done to stop the attempt, but I feel I owe it to all my friends to be more present in their lives. To talk on the phone more, to emerge from my reading lair in bed to spend time with them, to make plans and keep them. I had recently spent a lot of time with my friend, doing photoshoots together, getting coffee, just sitting around and talking, and I realized how heartwarming it is to be close to someone like that. And to think that a few days after we had laughed so hard everyone in Starbucks stared, I almost lost that same person… well, it makes me cherish time spent with my loved ones even more.

Although I’ve always prided myself in “cherishing imperfections,” I don’t think I ever really understood that until this past week. My art began to reflect this before I really reflected upon it myself. In my watercolor paintings and my photography projects, I’ve made a point of messing up, and the result has been some of the best art I’ve ever created. The point of many art movements is pointing out that there is no concrete “truth,” at least not one humans will ever be able to capture. Everything changes with perspective and personal experiences. Even our vision and memories are not precisely truthful. Clearly I’ve had this realization on many an occasion before, but it has never hit me so hard as it has this week.

I don’t know what the point of this all is, but especially with the Sandy Hook tragedy (scarcely half an hour from home), my friend’s near suicide, and the impending “apocalypse,” life seems so invaluable and fragile. I guess what I’m saying is that you can’t take anything for granted, nor can you take anything at face value. We’re all just stumbling along through a life that can be extinguished at any moment. As much as that may depress some people, it just gives me another reason to smile. I’m young and foolish and overly optimistic, and I have no idea what’s coming next. But I can certainly appreciate being here.

The Happiness Project and staying true to me

The general population is of the opinion that the only people who read “self-help” books are pathetic, weak-minded individuals who are too lazy or helpless to figure their own lives out. I suppose I understand the mentality to a degree: why follow someone else’s advice on how to live your life? But to be honest, I couldn’t disagree more. I find self-help books, whether written by someone with a PhD in psychology or just by your average joe, are treasure-troves of insight, relatable anecdotes, and nuggets of advice to be the best you you can be. Maybe it’s just because I find psychology fascinating, or maybe it’s due to my ardent quest for happiness, but whenever I’m in a book store, I always linger a while in the self-help section to broaden my perspective on the art of living.

I’m currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, and even I am surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed it. Rubin could not be a more different person from myself–she’s largely analytical, meticulous and structured where I’m more free-spirited, artistic and adventurous–but her experiences and philosophies have pinpointed exactly what I’ve been searching for. I knew these things, but I couldn’t quite find the words for them or the way to put them in action: The Happiness Project has touched upon each of these values and presented methods for tackling mental and physical obstacles. Though I can scarcely relate to Rubin’s unique problems and experiences, the book is written in such a way that the overarching message reaches me all the same.

In the chapter I just finished, Rubin discusses her challenge to have fun, and to have the kind of fun that was specific to her interests. This theme tied in so nicely with my last blog post that I found myself pausing to mull over the topic in detail. I asked myself the question: why did I start blogging? It wasn’t an easy answer. I started blogging when I was in 8th grade by spewing my heart onto a blogger page that no one read. Then, I discovered the world of fashion blogging, craft blogging, food blogging, and alas, I was inspired. I was going to be the next Elsie Larson. But it became quickly apparent that I was not the DIY-project type, and I got lazy with my outfit posts, and my one great stroke of recipe inspiration involved adding a bit of Nutella to a chocolate pudding recipe. Which is how I got here, to this new blog, on a new host, with new intentions. But I still feel like this whole thing is a little contrived. So why am I still blogging?

I looked over all the posts on this blog, and I realized that the ones that I was most proud of, the ones that seemed most “me,” if you will, are those long text posts about my personal philosophies, or nutrition, or advice. So why am I blogging, really? I’m blogging because I want to reach out to people. I want to share my experiences, my acquired wisdom. I want to help people. I want to inspire people. I want to be a leader.  And maybe those posts are the ones people read the least, maybe if I kept blogging about fashion I’d have a lot more followers, but there is something so fulfilling about being true to yourself.

The person in me is a budding inspirational speaker, life-coach, motivational author. So I’m going to try to channel me, exactly as I am, onto this blog. Will it probably turn into a lot of personal anecdotes and long-winded speeches? Maybe. If you don’t like that sort of thing, you might want to leave now. Or maybe you should stick around and broaden your own horizons. There’s no better way to find happiness than to challenge everything you thought you knew.