Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cheesy Hornli

The past two weeks, while I was visiting Pittsburgh, I was inspired to cook together with my boyfriend after cooking everyday in Paris. The French are die-hards about home-cooked meals and it was no surprise, since contrary to what we think, French cooking is surprisingly easy! The main ingredients are usually meat, creme fraiche, lots of fresh in season vegetables, some spices, onions and garlic et Voila!

I really want to keep cooking during the Fall semester because I love the taste of fresh food (who doesn't), it makes it easier control what you are eating and eat healthier, and most importantly it is cheaper! A win-win-win right? But if you are a college students with exams every week, club activities, work and a social life, it also seems impossible.

Luckily, we found a couple of very delicious easy-to-make dishes and my favorite was the Cheesy Hornli, the european version of mac and cheese. Although some of us find the Kraft version much more appealing, if you are the type who can spare 10 minutes for preparation it is completely worth it. Also it is perfectly convenient to heat-up for late night snack attacks and for leftovers on-the-go.

Here is the recipe and enjoy!
1 box of Elbow Pasta 
1 cup of cream
200 g ham or bacon, chopped 
200—250 g shredded cheddar cheese
50 g freshly grated romano or parmesan cheese
Sea salt, black pepper

Cook the Elbow pasta for 6-8 min, make sure it is not fully cooked.

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Saute the bacon, until just lightly brown.
Whisk the cream, cheese, salt and pepper together in a jug or bowl. 
Drain the pasta and place in a large oven proof baking dish. 
Mix ham/bacon with the pasta and pour over the cream mixture. 
Mix well and sprinkle over with parmesan cheese.

Cook the hornli for 30 – 40 minutes ( or until the cheese is golden brown).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kalamandir's Prithibi

Two weeks ago, despite the scorching 100 degrees weather, I dressed up in my new Indian Salwar to go see my old dance group perform their first full length dance production at George St. Playhouse located in New Brunswick, NJ. It had been 2 years since I left dance for college, and it was incredible to see how far and fast Kalamandir Dance Company has progressed! 

Dancing Kathak was the highlight of every sunday throughout my years of high school. Although I joined very late and had very little experience, Malabika Aunty really encouraged and challenged me to catch up with the rest of the girls in my age group. For the first time I got an education in Kathak, which was a new experience for me since my past teachers had focused more on popular performances. I acquired a taste for fusing contemporary music with classical dancing and I remember one of my favorite performances was the summer after my high school graduation when we drove to Toronto for a performance. The road trip was beyond hilarious and the girls (Brinda, Shilpa, Neha and I) got really close, although we were uncertain when all of us would be together again.

Thus, college came and I went to Pittsburgh and I was caught up with my life and I put my ghungroos on hold. I told myself I had to "Prioritize" and that school came first. But I knew secretly I missed the presence of the stage, the long hours of classes, and sneaking breaks to eat Quiznos. I read every Kalamandir newsletter avidly and watched all the photos and videos Brinda would post on facebook and youtube. I knew I was making excuses and that i needed to visit my dance team. Thus when I got the invite to the show I knew if I kept on making excuses I would miss out on keeping that passion for dancing alive in me. 

As I sat in the audience, it was strange to watch Kalamandir perform "Prithibi" or Earth. I thought to myself "Have I become an outsider?". But before I could answer myself, my old friend Karishma entered the auditorium and sat down next to me. Right then I realized what set Kalamandir apart from the rest of the dance teams was its students' true love for dancing. Much like myself, Karishma had also been M.I.A. from dancing for a while. However, to see so many of her students returning and supporting her, I knew Malabika Aunty was a teacher who had touched all of our hearts and we could never forget that love we had for our group and for dance. 

Soon the younger group entered the stage and I couldn't believe how beautiful and graceful they had all become! I almost laughed out loud as I remembered how small these girls used to be and now they were spinning and stepping in beat as if it was almost second nature! Then came the flagship group of Kalamandir with their first full production of Tagore's poem Prithibi translated by William Radice. The fusion dance incorporated classical moves, capoeira, ballet and much more! The dances interpreted the different stages of earth as well as a portrayal of human nature and emotions. I especially enjoyed the videos in the background which paralleled the poem and the performance. 

After the performance, I hurried backstage to congratulate Brinda and the others! Interestingly as I was gushing out compliments, I remembered how Malabika Aunty told me that the performance "will make me want to dance again" and oddly she is not far from truth. I do hope to make time and return to dance one day and I am sure Kalamandir will continue keep the passion for dance alive for a long time. 

*All pictures are credited to Kalamandirdanceco
For more amazing pictures check out

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Take the Leap!

Last Saturday I spent an afternoon at Sandcastle with my friends Khevna, Jenny and Sherry and their friends Biyan and Daiji. It was so much fun and I adore them! It had been a while since I went to a waterpark and I felt very daring as I slid down the twisting waterslides. I realized while I am in college I am usually so stressed about work that I forget that Pittsburgh is actually a very fun town with plenty of attractions. Sandcastle, located just behind the stores at the Waterfront, offers 14 slides, a lazy river (my favorite!) and a wave pool! This has inspired me to make more trips to discover other Pitt attractions. Do you guys have any suggestions?   

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Pittsburgh Eats... Oishii Bento

On Friday my good friend Blake and I decided to go to Oishii Bento to catch up over sushi. I have been meaning to try this restaurant which has won many rewards as Pittsburgh's favorite sushi corner in Oakland. 

The menu offers affordable BENTO, BOWLS, UDON, SUSHI and SIDES with many options for both meat lovers and vegetarians. My pick would be the bentos (espicially the Spicy Pork Bulgogi Bento $7.25) which come with gyoza, noodles, pickled vegetables and choice of kimchi or salad with asian ginger sauce. And for the sushi lover on a budget, I suggest the tempura roll ($6.25)served with a delicious spicy sauce. Although the place gets a little crowded around noon, the second floor is perfect for a late lunch date.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Blueberry Pancakes

I have only spent a week in New Jersey and it is already time for me to go to Pittsburgh! I am glad I took a week to unwind, catch up with my family and friends and not work for a while. Therefore I was inspired today to wake up and treat myself to Blueberry and Almond Pancakes. I am a lazy cook, but a picky eater; therefore, I am always looking for those yummy dishes that take minimum effort but pay huge dividends for my taste buds. 

Its simple
2 cups of Bisquick
1 cup of Milk
2 eggs
Blueberries (to your heart's content)
Sliced Almonds (to your heart's content) 

Mix the Bisquick, the milk and the eggs with a beater. 
Then scoop in handfuls of blueberries and almonds. 
Heat the griddle with a spoonful of butter and using a spoon scoop 1 to 1,5 spoonful of batter on the griddle. 

Wait 2 min on each side.
 And Voila! Delicious and easy pancakes! Add orange juice for a well balanced breakfast :) 

I am very excited about my trip to Pittsburgh because I can finally enjoy the city without worrying about classes or projects. However, it appears that I have a couple of projects for the future. I have an interview tomorrow for a job (I won't say for what because I am superstitious) But I have made plans to visit the Andy Warhol Museum, the South Park wavepool in Pittsburgh as well as Sand Castle! Does anyone have any suggestions on what I sound tryout in Pittsburgh?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Vintage Treasure Spots in Paris

So it has been almost a week since I have left Paris, but since I have finished unpacking,  I have been incorporating my vintage parisian pieces into my summer wardrobe and I love that it 1. gives any outfit I wear a certain novelty and 2. makes me feel as though a part of Paris is always with me.

Some amazing places to go treasure hunting:

Le Marais
Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie
From antique hats, to discount designer threads to thrift stores, this street is affordable and makes hunting for vintage pieces super fun!  My favorite store was Freepstar- a thrift shop that carries vintage LV and Chanel. Tons of Fur vests and coats for 30 euros, Burberry Trenches for 50 euros and an amazing collection of belts, jean shirts and vests, floral dresses and vintage boots. Aside from the affordable price-tag, it also has a lot of options for all seasons. Just be sure to go early in the day since it gets really cramped during the afternoon. I am really in love with the vintage LV i scored for 20 euros (the zipper was broken on one side and the lining was old- nothing a leather store can't fix :))

Le Marche aux Puces- Porte de Clignancourt
I really love the Marche Dauphine- a two story vintage market that has consingment stores, poster stores, jewelry and furniture shops. My favorite finds were two vintage belts I got for 10 euros and a vintage necklace and glass earrings I bought as presents for my friends.  Make sure to wear comfortable and light clothes because most of the stores do not have changing rooms so you will have to try on that Celine dress in the middle of the store. Also many of the stores are really poorly organized, therefore you have to really have a good idea to find that perfect accessory. However, it is also a very good opportunity to get a good bargain and add history to you outfit!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Packing Tips!

This post is dedicated to those who love to arrive at one place with one bag but leave with three. I'm sure many of you can identify with the Packing Crisis. Because.. even though you try to pack your best outfits for the chicest city in the world... some how you manage to forget those platform heels..and of course you have to have a pair of those tennis shoes (whaddya call em? Chipie?) that all the cool parisian girls wear.. and thus you find yourself with 11 pairs of shoes when you know you only bought 3 pairs. (where did the extra 7 come from??) 

Therefore some travel tips I have picked up on this summer for those who like to shop a bit when there abroad

#1 The essentials- Two large 22kg (50 pound) Bags, One carry on and a chic tote. 

Put the smaller carry-on bag in a large bag and pack till its about 3/5th full. 
This has three advantages:
      - it keeps one from over-packing 
      - it eliminates the hassle of a carry on. Because you have your chic Travel tote hand-bag (Great thing about Airports.. they don't differentiate a backpack from a handbag) you can junk as many magazines as your heart desires. 
      - If the authorities say "Mademoiselle, your luggage is 3 kg over the limit you can show what a savvy traveller you are and pull out your carry-on and transfer some clothes (i suggest sweater because they keep their shape easily and if the airplane is cold you can stay warm or use one as a pillow). 

Try the Samsonite Hommage II (I really love the tan stripe, which I think should be the official color for travellers. Comes in blue or sage green and in a variety of sizes)

Don't bother with shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, mosturizer, hairspray etc because they have all those things (even the same friends) wherever you go and you can easily buy them near the same price. Plus it's an opportunity to try those interesting european brands you have always wanted. 

#3 No you do not need your hair-curler. 
Ladies... I know we are romantics and think that our vacation will be as picturesque as a magazine cover, but if you are on vacation...why do you want to bother with a hair-curler or a straightner? Instead let this be a vacation for you hair as well! But if you must..check out these TRAVEL sized hairtools from Missiko and make sure to always use a spray before!

Chi Mini Flat Iron
Hot Tools Helix Cordless
(My Favorite) T3 Tourmaline Pro Mini

#4 Outfit on the plane- Leggings,Chipies, T-shirt, Cardigan, Blazer, Scarf
 American Apparel is always a comfy and chic option

#5 Jewelry
Pearls. Diamond earrings. That necklace that goes with everything. Statement earrings. State necklace. Your beautiful Timepiece

#6 Electronics- Camera. 
This would be ideal.. and I am a hypocrite for suggesting it because.. I cannot live without my laptop, or my Itouch or my phone... but truthfully speaking its a vacation... getaway from the crazed technology world and your work for a bit. I guarantee you will feel refreshed! 

I know packing is one of those unpleasant things about travelling but if you prepare and use some trips, it makes it so much easier and hassle free!