Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkins and Homecoming

There are only a few things getting me through our neuro block with a dash of sanity. There are the usual substances: sugar, caffeine, study breaks. We learned about the Premack Principle in our Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Lecture (I'm just trying to sound smart) which is basically something everyone does. Using a desired behavior to reinforce a less desired one: i.e. "I can't take a coffee break until I finish this task". Somehow in medical school this gets warped into a scarier system. There is the more reward system, "I can't watch Grey's Anatomy until I finish this lecture", the normal "I can't make lunch until I finish this lecture", the strange "I can't pee until I finish this lecture", and the just plain scary "I can't clean my room until I finish this lecture". You know you hate studying when cleaning your apartment is more appealing than learning neuro. But there have been a few more rewarding things recently that have taken my mind off studying my brain.

1. Pinterest: If you aren't addicted yet, you might have a Y chromosome. I found this amazing baked potato soup recipe that warmed my soul. Recipe Here

And with Pinterest comes this fall's greateast obsession...

2. PUMPKIN: It's in everything. Seriously. People are carving them, eating them, painting them, roasting them, eating out of them, using them as vases.

Pumpkin Vase via my boyfriend
It's insane. If you haven't consumed pumpkin this fall you're either allergic, a recluse, or live outside the continental US. I recently made Pumpkin Stuff/Dump Cake/Goo.

This is truly fantastic and super easy. Just take 3 eggs, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, and 1 can Libby's pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Poor into large, greased, glass pan. Sprinkle Spice Cake mix on top (sounds weird, I know, just do it!). Pour 2 sticks melted butter over the whole thing. Sprinkle on chopped pecans. Cook for 1 hour at 350 degrees. It smells so delicious, my mom says it feels like 3 hours. Top the with ice cream and devour! It is really rich. I went into a food coma after having this and the potato soup.

3. Homecoming: I went to Villanova, I'm a huge fan, and I love going back to see my old friends. It was a rather tumultuous weekend for other reasons but I really enjoyed being there, even if it meant spending the football game studying at my favorite coffee shop. Psh, I enjoyed sitting in a place with some character (The Gryphon is hipster heaven on Philly's mainline) and consuming a beautiful latte, even if it meant listening to MD/PhD's drone on about neuro.

it's beauteous

And on top of that, Villanova is freaking gorgeous.

It seems I just used my procrastination time efficiently this evening. Time to pretend to be productive!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Hack

Exam tomorrow? Been sitting on my butt for two weeks.  I can't study and all I think about is sleep and caffeine. Result:

I <3 Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I am one of those people. And like many of my fellow fall lovers that look forward to a great pair of leather boots, a comfy sweater, colorful leaves, chilly air, and clutching a PSL, reality is a little more bitter. As much as I love me some coffee, I just cannot fully enjoy paying nearly $5 a cup. There is also no such thing as a Grande Skinny Pumpkin Spice Latter- psh don't kid yourself girl, skim milk and no whip doesn't make a glass full of sugar "skinny". The thrifty calorie conscious side of me likes to buy Starbucks sugar-free syrups and make myself lattes at home. But, alas, no such thing for the pumpkin sauce. Not available for purchase, no Splenda substitute.

Solution, make it myself, and make it better! Those of you who know how I cook realize that recipe is not exactly part of my vocabulary. So I looked at a few suggestions from fellow bloggers and threw a bunch of stuff in sauce pan. (Funny side note: I thought it was a complete failure at first and then realized that the milk I used was sour. Classssic Med Student.)

So here goes my best guess at what I created:

1.  1/2 Can Libby's Pumpkin Goop (you know, normal can size)
2. 1/2 Cup Sugar (low cal? Try Splenda!)
3. 1 Cup of Water
4. A large helping of cinnamon (idk like 2 tsp, 1 tbsp? I like cinnamon)
5. A medium amount of nutmeg (1 tsp?)
6. A sprinkling of ground cloves
7. Vanilla- either some extract (2 tsp or so), or some of the Vanilla Coffee Syrup (lots)

All of that was mixed over medium heat in a sauce man until it started bubbling and then I let it sit on lowish heat for 10 minutes, covered, but stirring pretty often. It'll probably turn into a brownish goo (depending on how much you love cinnamon).
It is hard to make something the texture of baby food look good.
Couple spoon fulls of that stuff into some milk (I like to use a little skim and a tbsp of sweetened condensed milk). Microwave until hot and pour in a shot of expresso (I use a single serve stove top Bialetti with El Pico coffee (because I love cafe cubano).

Measurements are imprecise because I don't measure and because this one is hard to screw up. It is a bunch of deliciousness mixed together. And go light on the sugar if you want, because you can always add it directly to your coffee to taste. Save your goo in the fridge and enjoy all fall and winter and smirk at those who spend $5 on a PSL that is an unnatural shade of orange. (Okay, so I still like to go get them). And O HEY, you can save the environment because you won't be using a paper cup (hola added bonus).