Well, the semester ended, I passed all my classes, and ran home for a week. After that I crashed in Ann Arbor for a couple days, during which I spent fun times with several of my close friends from undergraduate times, and wowed them with my cooking and baking skills. It helped that I made Truffle Brownies (47), which are now my favorite kind of brownies ever. Yes, these even top Grandma Carol's buttermilk brownies (although I may have to make those sometime again just to check).

These brownies have a lot involved: the base starts with sugar and eggs whipped together for several minutes, with melted unsweetened chocolate and butter added in, followed by the usual blend of flour, baking powder, and salt. Whipping stuff at the beginning makes the brownies pretty light, and the chocolate is nice and dark, which is how it ought to be. After the brownie part is baked and cooled, it is topped with a ganache made from heavy whipping cream and semisweet chocolate. All in all, the experience is one of chocolate decadence, which means tasty tasty bliss. And how is it that I can talk about something I made 3 recipes ago with such detail? It might have something to do with me making it again more recently for a friend's party.

Soon after that baking endeavor, I returned to my own home and started work in the new lab (well, it's new for me). That week basically consisted of me working on a simple optics problem, which actually meant learning how to use Matlab... until I realized that I needed to be using Mathematica. Basically, these are both computational programs, but the first is for numerical stuff (i.e. processing data) and the second is for symbolic stuff (that is, solving equations with variables). I'm actually still not done with that I need to do, but it's a lot of work to learn how to make Mathematica do what I want it to do. I'll get it eventually, though, and then I'm sure I'll be glad to have worked on it.

After concluding a week spent almost exclusively working on the computer, I decided it was time to make cookies that were a little more involved than usual. And so I made what my cookbook calls Alfajores de Dulce de Leche (48). Essentially, these are shortbread cookies (well, less sugar and more flour) sandwiching a layer of dulce de leche. If I had really wanted to work hard, I would have made my own dulce de leche by boiling sweetened condensed milk forever (that is, like 5 hours), but it's summer and I don't like to add more heat to my apartment than is necessary. These were tasty cookies, although a bit rich, and the center layer had to be put on just before eating them, so I kind of didn't like that I couldn't present them already prepared.

Another week passed, with more work (finally some lab work too, hooray) and an audition snuck in on Friday night. As if I don't have enough to do what with preparing for the Qual, learning what I need to do in the lab, and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, I am now singing in the ensemble for CUTC's Annie Get Your Gun. If you're not familiar with the show, here's my synopsis: this is a musical about a woman who's a champion sharpshooter, and she's in love with a guy who can't handle the idea of a woman being better than him. Throw in some other standard Musical Theater types - a young couple's forbidden love and a bunch of chorus numbers - and you've got this show. Although I'm sure I make it sound bad, I actually think it's pretty cute and I'm really excited to be involved ^.^

That weekend I got some of my favorite ingredients (toffee and butterscotch, mostly) to make butterscotch cashew blondies (49), which turned out to be exceptional. I ended up bringing these to a potluck lunch party for a friend, and everyone enjoyed them. Since these are blondies, they're pretty dense, and the three flavors mentioned above blend fantastically.

Okay, I'm off to lunch with friends, I didn't skip last Saturday's cookies, I just don't have them ready to post yet. Expect another rambling entry soon.

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