BanApple Sur-pies: the Ultimate College Dessert

College is not generally a time of great culinary advancements, but today, history was made and what might just be the ultimate college dessert was born:

Part bananas foster.

Part apple pie.

Part bread pudding.

We call it… BanApple Sur-pies

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“Well…it looks good in person.” -Master Chef Josh

You too can recreate this marvelous delicacy if you have….

Ingredients:

  • 2 forgotten and almost brown bananas
  • 1 green apple you stole from the caf last week
  • 4 slices gluten free bread (or 2 slices of regular, not oddly-small bread)
  • enough cinnamon for two people to complete “ye olde cinnamon challenge of 2010”
  • enough honey to compensate for the lack of actual sugar
  • several tablespoons zero-calorie, low-fat (preferably diet) water
  • 2-3(ish) tablespoons of the coconut oil you also use as makeup remover

Materials:

  • A stove and sink (preferably in the dorm common area so you can make use of whatever utensils you find lying around)
  • A frying pan (preferably your own)
  • At least one fork (I had to eat with a knife…) and a knife (two if you do not have enough forks)
  • spatula

Bonus Resources:

  • The hunger of a student deep in the “sophomore slump.”
  • The blind determination to make something, anything edible by combining the remnants of groceries found in your dorm.
  • A partner who understands that “sprinkling” is different than indiscriminately “dumping” when it comes to spices.
  • Whipped cream…which by a terrible tragedy arrived too late to be included in this first attempt.
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“It’s starting to look like something!” – Sous Chef Me

Directions:

  1. Slice the bananas. Eat a few when your cooking partner isn’t looking.
  2. Spread coconut oil in the frying pan and allow to melt over medium heat.
  3. Place banana slices in pan evenly and allow to sizzle for 1-2 minutes. Turn your face in despair as the bananas become mush instead of beautiful golden crisps.
  4. As you do so, mix water, honey, and a little cinnamon together in a cup you found left behind (#finderskeepers).
  5. Flip the bananas over as best as you can and allow the other side to fizzle for another minute or so.
  6. Drizzle the water mixture over the former banana slices. Panic at your inability to drizzle. Give up and just dump it.
  7. Look at the weird banana soup you just made. Disgusting. Consider using the sponge you found in the sink to soak up the liquid. Decide that’s a bad idea. Use bread instead.
  8. Tear the bread into bite-size pieces. Really tear that bread. Take out your anger on the bread. That bread is your midterm and you are going to destroy it.
  9. Toss the bread remains into the frying pan with the weird banana soup. Poke it with the spatula to see if it moves. Now stir it all together.
  10. Rejoice with your (optional) cooking partner when the mixture starts to look more like bread pudding than throw-up.
  11. Accidentally dump more cinnamon onto the mixture. Have the cinnamon confiscated by your partner. Compensate by adding honey when he isn’t looking.
  12. Hmmmm….stare together at your shapeless creation. Turn down the heat. Both you and the food need to chill out.
  13. Think with regret that you could have made apple pie. Decide to add chopped apple to your banana no-longer-soup. Close enough.
  14. Before mixing in the chopped apple pieces, fry them in a tablespoon of coconut oil (enough to remove waterproof mascara) on the opposite side of the pan.
  15. Now mix them in with the banana stuff.
  16. Garnish the mixture with more cinnamon and honey until it looks and smells like it will taste good. Believe me, you’ll know.
  17. Scoop onto a plate and call your roommate. Beg her to bring whipped cream for you to put on top. Lament when she is off campus.
  18. Make puns to revive your spirits.
  19. Look with yearning and pride at your creation.
  20. With or without whipped cream, enjoy your finished “BanApple Sur-pies” with whatever utensils you have on hand. Or, if it comes down to it, your hand.
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We were a little afraid to try it…but it was sooooo worth it.

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It ended up being so good, we were in anguish when we dropped a single piece. (Also that girl with the meme-worthy face is 100% not me….)

Students Starve as College Cuts Pizza from Menu

Tens of students at a local college are suffering from varying degrees of starvation as the school dining service recently decided to cut pizza from its daily meal offerings. 

“I just don’t know what else to do,” sobbed one student, his stomach growling in agreement. “I mean, what am I supposed to do? I’ve been living off of French fries and this weird greenish stuff for the past week!”

Upon further investigation, it was found that the “weird greenish stuff” was kale from the cafeteria’s salad bar. 

“We are just trying to promote healthy eating,” explained the head chef. “We felt that contantly offering pizza was not encouraging a good -” 

At this point, the chef was abruptly cut off as a mob of hangry (a term meaning both hungry and angry) students tackled him, chanting “Pizza! Piece of pizza! Peace for pizza!”

Tackling the chef was not exactly “peace for pizza” but it was one example of the intense activism that is cropping up throughout the student body in light of what is being called “The Great Pizza Famine of 2017.”

“I don’t know, man,” said one student. “2016 was bad enough, so we had high hopes for this year…but this…this is too awful.”

Tweets by upset students such as “Make our cafeteria great again! Bring pizza back! 😖 #ThanksTrump” and “Give us this day our daily pizza!” are becoming a norm. 

Time will tell if the school dining coordinators will cave to the demands of their students. In the meantime, the number of students who have succumbed to starvation in the absence of their daily pizza is steadily rising. 

In the meantime, YOU can help! One concerned and wealthy community member has started a charity to ease the pain of the crisis! Simply text 555-555-PIZZA to donate 4.5 slices of pepperoni to hungry college students.

Family Mistakes SoCal University for Resort: Stays for a Week

Friday, February 24, 2017: A family of four awoke to the terrible realization that what they thought was a luxury resort was actually a university. 

Above: Kale McBirkenstock upon finding out she was at a school. “Take a pic of me looking studious so I can post it on Insta!”

“When we did not receive a wake up call for our yoga class, we knew something was wrong,” said Açai McBirkenstock, wife of Chase McBirkenstock and mother to daughters Kale (19) and Chia (21).

Upon further investigation, the family found that what they had taken for a concierge was- in fact- the resident advisor of the dormitory they had mistaken for an inn and suites. 

“How were we to know?” moaned young Chia. “After all, they had everything we wanted in a resort.” 

Miss McBirkenstock and her family perhaps had reason for their mistake. The school, in attempts to live up to their mission statement of “#AmenitiesNotAnxieties,” had all but done away with potential causes of discomfort and stress. 

“We wanted to create an atmosphere of ease,” said the school’s dean of admissions. “After all, that’s how it is in the real world and it is our duty as an educational institution to prepare our students for this world.” 

The school has taken active steps to promote their goal, as the McBirkenstocks discovered firsthand. 

“They had everything you could ever want in a resort,” sighed Açai. “Oil tastings, made-to-order food, hammock rentals, housekeeping…even our dog Princess was welcomed and treated like a queen!”

“Truly a wonderful place,” agreed Mr. McBirkenstock. “It’s really too bad it ended up being just another educational institution.” 

Although the McBirkenstocks had to cut their vacation short, students at the university are sure to continue to enjoying their stays and the administration promises to “never rest until their students can only rest.”

A Lesson from a Hat

I remember Meg Ryan’s character in one of my all time favorite movies, You’ve Got Mail, saying of a wayward butterfly, “I believe he was going to Bloomingdale’s to buy a hat, which will turn out to be a mistake, as nearly all hats are.”

giphy.gifI recently learned from a particularly unique hat that this is not necessarily true. On New Years Eve, as a joke, I dressed up as Janet Snakehole, a character within a character from Parks and Recreation. Described as a “wealthy widow with a nasty secret,” Janet wears a vintage black netted hat, which I was able to purchase for $5 on Amazon. I was dared to wear it all day, including to a pottery place, Starbucks, the Phoenix Symphony, and the grocery store.

“I am going to look ridiculous,” I said, grimacing into the mirror.

My mom, in response, simply said, “Own it.” (Imagine her snapping sassily if that helps the image.)

“Own it” turned out to be the lesson of the day and one of my resolutions for the new year.

53040709This hat was a joke and I felt like a major dork (“Major dork!” *salute*). But I stood up straight, added a fancy black dress and fake pearls to the ensemble, and faced the world. I tried to pretend I did not notice heads turn and people point it out. I felt my cheeks burning, feeling as ridiculous as I had expected to. Until….

An elderly woman and her friend stopped me. “You sweet young thing, wherever did you get that hat? You look right out of the 40s! I wish more young people dressed so elegantly.”

“Oh,” my eyes widened, surprised. “Thank you!”

Not two minutes later, a young couple stopped me and asked where they could purchase such a hat.

Then more women stopped me to ask about it.

Best yet, as I walked through the grocery store, a butcher came running out from behind the counter to shout at me, “You look like you’re from Paris!”

Um. Um. Um. What?!img_6017

I wore this hat as an inside joke! And yet, somehow, it seemed to have started a small fashion riot.

I figured, in accordance with the You’ve Got Mail philosophy on hats that this little number would be a mistake, but I had not factored in feigned confidence. Act like it is intentional and people cannot help but believe you! Standing up straight makes any outfit work and owning it turns into true confidence.

This philosophy, realized through a ridiculous hat, extends to so many other areas of life. All of them, really. For instance…

In high school, my friends and I were music nerds and I remember being pressured by a couple “cool” friends to ditch them because the “popular” girls would think I was weird. But you know what? I’d rather spend my lunch hours playing improv games and singing along to musicals than gossiping. To all you teenage music nerds, OWN IT.

In elementary school, I hated sleepovers and always left them early. I know the other little girls thought it was strange, but guess what? I got more sleep! To you introverted little girls, OWN IT.

In junior high, I spent more time practicing piano than hanging out at the mall. And when I was at the mall, spent most of my time in the bookstore. To you bookworms of all ages, OWN IT.

All through my life, my mom has emphasized the “Own it” mentality, saying things like, “You’re taller than most people. Who cares? Own it. Stand up straight and be the tall girl.”

However, in college, I lost a bit of the “Own it” philosophy during my first year. Bless this bizarre hat for helping restore it.

I mean, I play the pipe organ. That might be the nerdiest thing ever.

SO OWN IT and play Phantom of the Opera at midnight!

Rather discuss books than go out?

OWN IT and work that copy of Plato like it’s a Kate Spade purse!

Don’t like contemporary music?

OWN IT and blast that KJazz!

Want to wear a modest dress to prom?

OWN IT and work that dance floor! (Or, in my case, ditch the dance floor and go play boardgames.)

Quirks?  OWN THEM.

Fandoms? OWN THEM.

DISCLAIMER:

DO NOT own hindrances:

Don’t own your mistakes; own up to them and move on.

Don’t own your anxieties; face them and own your victory over them.

Don’t own your temptations; own your strengths.

But overall, learn from the hat and own what makes you you! My favorite things about the people I love are the things that are most unique and “weird” about them and, once they themselves own these things with confidence, everyone else comes to admire them too!

A Bigfoot Story

I’m currently on vacation in Montana with my family, staying in a charming cabin near Glacier National Park. The cabin has a guestbook in which visitors are asked to record the highlights of their stay. In flipping through it I became bored immediately. Most people wrote things like this: 

“Ate pizza and went skiing. Fun times! Lovely cabin. Thanks!”

“Met some fellow Canadians while in the hot tub. The weather was excellent.”

“Went hiking with some goats. Ice cream shop in town was good.”

“Thought we saw a bear. False alarm. Lol.”

 
Dull, right?! Well, being a writer and, admittedly, a Bigfoot enthusiast, I had to do something to break up this pattern of lameness… It is with great pride and no small amount of humor that I present to you my vacation log. It is my hope that it will entertain and frighten guests long after I depart this place. 😈





Hopefully the owners don’t mind that I took up so many pages in their book… But if they are annoyed, they can email me at PrincessBigfoot42@gmail.com, which is indeed a real email. 😎

The Word Crimes Inferno

In reading Dante’s Inferno, I was struck by his ability to identify, categorize, and assign fitting punishments to various sins. This is not perhaps the most cheerful observation, but it was certainly intriguing and made me think (apologies for the morbidity): what crimes I would punish were I to write a modern Inferno and how would I punish them? Also, who would be guilty of these crimes? I realized after much thought that some of the most pressing “sins” of our times are (*thunder crash and lightning flash*) Word Crimes.

And so, it is with my grammarly pleasure (Yes, “grammarly” is a word. Besides, I made this Inferno, so what are you going to do about it?) that I present to you: The Word Crimes Inferno.

 “Aboriginal AL hops your who entertain hear.”  

It appears that the inscription on the Gates of Hell suffered from faulty auto-correct…I believe they were once meant to read: “Abandon all hope you who enter here.” 


         

This good sir will be acting as your judge and guide.

       

Circle I- Limbo: Here we encounter not the “virtuous pagans” or the “unbaptized infants” who Dante met, but rather those who passed before they had the opportunity to learn the basic rules of language. Poor souls, they had no knowledge of proper syntax or good diction and must live in a world of blank, wide-ruled paper and stubby pencils forever with no hope of achieving the necessary writing skills to escape.

Circle II- The Carnal: In this ring we encounter several familiar faces, including the authors of mindless romances who shall not be named. These souls are those who used language not according to the inspiration of the Muses but rather the urging of their own dirty minds. As punishment, they are forced to listen to their own works being read aloud in a monotone so that they can no longer take any enjoyment from them and recognize them for them for what they are: lifeless and lacking in artistic merit.

Circle III- The Gluttons: Buried in heaping piles of adjectives and unnecessary commas and forced to shout run-on sentences without pausing for breath we find those writers who were never satisfied. These gluttonous lovers of word counts and lists were never satisfied with a single, solid adjective and let commas rain like glitter throughout their work. Shameful, disgusting, unnecessary, pointless, fluffy, over-the-top…that is what these were in life and continue to be even now.

Circle IV- The Avaricious: Here in eternal torment are the ambitious but impatient writers, those who so desperately desired to be famous that they refused to wait for originality. Without consideration for literary worth, these souls jumped on the paranormal romance bandwagon driven by none other than Stephanie Meyer. The most mild of the punishments in this circle consists of reading the fan fictions written by overly-emotional teenage girls while off-key recordings of the Twilight soundtrack blasts from every side.

Circle V- The Wrathful and Sullen: These souls cannot be considered true writers, but still must face judgement. In life, they never wrote anything but complaints and passive-aggressive blurbs, frequently on sites such as Twitter or- in the distant past- MySpace. In this circle, these sufferers continue as they did in life, posting depressing and rude things. However, to make them feel the shame of their crime, they never are able to use the emoji that they intend to use. For instance, a girl lamenting the woes of being single at age fifteen will be forced to accompany her complaint with a laughing emoji and, for good measure, “#blessed.”

Circle VI- The Heretics: The shades in this circle are guilty of boldly declaring skewed opinions and/or misinformations, especially when not wanted. They also tend to use big words that they do not understand and now are forced to research everything before speaking or writing, as well as take regular spelling tests. However, to make this punishment even more painful, they must do this research while broadcasts of political addresses are played on repeat and pamphlets for various organizations rain from above.

Circle VII- The Violent: These are my least favorite sinners: the abusers of the rules of grammar. This word here is the 666th word in this post, so I think the Muses agree that this sin is among the most despicable. I am deeply grieved to say that many people of my personal acquaintaince might be doomed to this circle, where their grammar mistakes become reality. For example, if one were to write “your pretty”, intending to write a compliment, he now will be forced to explain how the other person owns “pretty.” When he cannot, he will be jabbed with scalding red pens by the editing demons. They also must scroll through Facebook and correct every instance of incorrect grammar that they encounter, all the while weeping over their crimes. (Or, as they might say “they’re” crimes. Forgive me.)

Circle VIII- The Fraudulent: The criminals here are guilty of twisting their language to suit their purposes. In this ring, we find the forgers of “fluff”, the frivolous fillers that English teachers command their students not to include in essays. We also find those who used quotes out of context to support faulty claims. Now they are condemned to carve bare facts onto stones using rusty nails so that they can no longer pervert the writing. To make this even more difficult, they must do so while struggling to stay afloat in a pool of foam which parallels the fluff that could not support a sound argument.

Circle IX- The Traitors: These wretched souls knowingly committed numerous word crimes and thus are considered total traitors to the English language. They are eternally sentenced (heeheehee) to be chewed headfirst between the covers of a hardcover Oxford Dictionary with teeth made of freshly-sharpened number two pencils. Let us not dwell any longer on the horror of this center circle.

So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed your journey through The Word Crimes Inferno.  Please note that I will not actually throw anyone into this wretched place…mostly because it does not exist…

A Europe State of Mind 

It has now been over a month since I returned from the trip of a lifetime: a two-and-a-half week journey through Europe with my family. When I call it the “trip of a lifetime”, I mean it! Sure, I had to punch my snoring relatives in the middle of the night once in a while, my suitcase was a pain to shut as my souvenirs accumulated, and I fear I spent my college fund on macarons and ice cream, but these are the little jests that life throws at adventurers and since every day I find myself thinking about our trip, I figured it was time for a post to summarize the top ten things I learned in Europe: 

    

1. Everything sounds better in an accent…unless it’s German. 

When I first stepped onto our British Airways flight and was called “dearie” and “love” by our oh-so-English flight attendants, I just about died. Seriously, they could have come on the intercom and said, “Sorry everyone, we forgot to fuel the plane and you are all doomed” and I still would have listened happily. Of course, I inevitably found myself slipping into the accents of every country we visited and, equally inevitably, probably offended numerous Europeans. I also discovered that the stereotypes are true: everything sounds proper with a British accent, French is beautiful even when it is spoken by a clearly disgruntled cab  driver, and Italian never falls to make me crave pasta and gelato. German met the stereotype as well… Don’t get me wrong, I love German art songs and find it a lovely language for singing. However, a German-speaker could have been telling me I was the sweetest girl in the world and I still would have been terrified. Sorry Germans. Maybe shorten some of your words. That would help you sound nicer and cut the costs of producing such ginormous road signs. 

 

Much British. Very accent.

       

2. Try not to act so…American. 

I had heard before that some Europeans are typically unkind to tourists, but found that this is completely not the case! Even in the sketchy areas of Prague and Paris, everyone was kind and helpful. Again, the only exception was when a German car rental employee told us after a mix-up, “America cannot help you; you are in Germany now.” (Still, I decided to take the high road and blame Obama.) However, I think this cranky German car guy might have had a point; everywhere we went, we attempted to learn the basics of the customs and languages because we recognized that we were guests. As visitors to another country, many people forget this and, as a result, locals might not treat them very kindly. What we found, though, is that if you make an effort to follow the ways of that country and treat the people as your hosts (whether the cab driver, the hotel bell boy, or the cider vendor) then you will receive equally gracious treatment. 

        

Is taking a selfie in the Louvre too American?

              

3. When in Paris, look up. 

Believe it or not, I nearly missed seeing the Eiffel Tower. I was so focused on the street art and the adorable cafes and the lock bridges (totally not the French boys…not at all…) that I did not notice this iconic structure until I was directly  beneath it. Don’t become so caught up in what is directly around you on the ground level; some of Europe’s most beautiful views are above, for instance, ornate windows, towering cathedrals, misty mountains, and the castles that are ridiculously commonplace. (Seriously, castles in Europe are like Starbucks in America; if you miss one, don’t worry since there is most likely to be another around the corner.)

 

“Beau soir indeed…oh hello, Eiffel Tower!”

 
             

4. The best art in Paris might just be sold in bakeries.

When I say “art”, I really mean macarons. Not those cheap little coconut mounds (“macaroons”), but authentic, adorable, delicious French macarons. I fear I might have spent my college funds on these cookies, but I regret nothing. In fact, I made plans to start a macaronery of my own back in the States and, upon ruining batch after batch, realized just how exact of a science it is. Well done, French pastry artists. Well done. (I should add that I did finally figure it out.)

 

The look on my face says it all.

 
               

5. Biking is always the best mode of transportation. 

Traffic is INSANE in most cities. Like, take Los Angeles traffic and multiply it by twenty and then add narrow streets and the chaos of the Battle of Five Armies from The Hobbit and then you might have a vague picture of just how crazy the traffic is  in Europe. It doesn’t help that in the U.K., they drive on the left. (I know now where America gets her rebelliousness.) The better option is to walk, but after averaging ten miles a day, that is rough. The best option is biking. We took five bike tours (Paris, Munich, Salzburg, and two in Prague) and enjoyed them immensely. Not only did we see everything we would have seen on bus tours, we got to see these things closer and have a more individualized experience. Plus, how cute is it to bicycle around Paris on a rainy night? 

         

Paris+Bicycles=Perfection (and also a bit dangerous)

6. It looks like only a quarter, but it is not. 

Euros are so fun to use. Handing over a little coin makes you feel like you’re only spending a nickle and paying a single Euro for an ice cream cone seems like a bargain. Well, plot twist: it isn’t. Euros are definitely worth more than a nickle or even a quarter and if you are not wary, you might find yourself wondering where all of your vacation  money went. After all, you only spent fifty coins and it couldn’t amount to that much, could it? Yes, actually. Yes it could. 

 

Even a commercialized Mozart candy seems like a bargain for only one Euro…

 
                

7. The best gelato is not necessarily in Italy. 

We made it a goal (mostly so we would not feel bad about ourselves) to try ice cream in every country that we visited and, to our surprise, our favorite was in Germany. (I swear that the German word for ice cream, “eis”, is the only short word I heard there. They certainly have their priorities straight.) Rothenburg, the cutest little fairy-tale town in the world, had the most creamy and delectable ice cream cones I have ever tasted. Bolzano, Italy, however, was rather disappointing in the ice cream area. Sorry, Italy! If it makes you feel any better, the worst ice cream I had was in Prague, where apparently mint ice cream literally is ice cream with chunks of mint. Ew. 

 

Do I need to explain this? It is a beautiful picutre.

 
              

8. Everything tastes better in a foreign country. 

This sounds like an overstatement, but it is not. German bread somehow is heartier and tastier than American bread. Black coffee is more flavorful and thick in Austria and Italy. The produce is fresher and I ate fruits I’ve never even seen before in Innsbruck. And, oddest of all, I ate the best hot dog I have ever eaten in Paris: a sausage on a warm baguette covered in cheese. Oh yeah, that is another lesson I learned: EVERYTHING is better covered in cheese. 

 

I ate an American hot dog last week and wanted to cry as I remembered this one…

 
                

9. My family is made up of weirdos. 

You get to know each other really well (my dad might argue too well) when you’re stuck in cars and hotels together for extended periods of time. Sure, we got annoyed with one another, but we also had a ton of fun! For instance, we spent the drive to Italy brainstorming our dream macaron business and laughing at our puns. (“Our macarons will be so good, people might think they are crack-arons.” “We can sell small ones and call them snack-arons.” “If you make another pun, you will be smack-aroned.”)

 

My mom and I unashamedly reinacted “The Sound of Music” in Salzburg. Weirdos.

 
          

10. Inspiration is out there.

From standing in the Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey to seeing the Mona Lisa in the Louvre to hearing the tale of the eccentric King Ludwig of Bavaria, I met inspiration everwhere I turned! I saw glorious archetecture, played lovely instruments, was swept away by beautiful music, and experienced amazing adventures. I came home – jetlag aside- refreshed and ready to plunge into writing and practicing in the hopes of channeling this inspiration and, one day, returning to Europe. 

 

What could be more inspirational than riding a unicorn in the city of music?

 
         

Sigh…now I am homesick for London. Of course, I am not actually British, but I felt so at home there! Here in Phoenix, I get turned around easily, but I was never lost in London despite its wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey streets. (I could not resist that reference…) Add to that all of the lessons I listed above and I am now thouroughly determined to return. In the meantime, I will do my best to incorporate what I took away from Europe into my daily life, so if you need me, I will be reading French poetry in my best British accent while riding my bike to the store to purchase gelato as I wait for my macarons to finish baking. 😉