Coconut Rum Bread

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Taking classes at night is a whole other animal compared to my glory days of undergrad. After a long day I have no patience for students who only like to hear the sound of their voice. Perhaps that makes me the worst kind of classmate, especially after muttering, “I kill you” when one of my peers asks his eighth non-question.

Nighttime lecture-hall manners are kind of an anomaly: like getting stared at while I licked the lid of my yogurt clean. It was as if my row-mates were accusing me of reenacting a very (very) awkward porno scene; although it was a lid to a 32 ounce container (about the size of my head).

The worst is when you’re seated next to an incessant desk tapper,

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a Red-Bull-drinking-open-mouth-breather

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or God forbid, the I’m-kicking-the-back-of-your-seat-because-I-want-to-see-you-turn-into-my-very-own-fun-sized-Hulk.

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But there’s hope.

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Sharing snacks in class is kind of an icebreaker.

And when you break bread with your classmates, they totally will join you, hating on that guy that won’t stop clicking his pen.

Just stop, guy. Seriously.

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Soft Crunch Banana Bread

“I may have referred to myself as an STD today,” I said, sitting down next to Roo on the couch; my purse and gym bag still slung over my shoulder.

Roo furrowed his brow. “You what?”

“You know how I haven’t been able to take my favorite spin class because of the Lexington job?”

“Yes.”

I sighed. “Well, I finally went. When I walked into the studio, my instructor exclaimed, ‘You’re back!’ and I replied -”

“Do I even want to know?”

I looked down at the floor and muttered, “I’m back. Like herpes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

Roo shook his head. “No. Just….no.”

“Then I said I made her a loaf of banana bread.”

“I’m guessing she wasn’t too excited to take it from you.”

“She looked at me as if I had put my hair in it.”

“Well-”

“I know!” I whined.

Roo patted me on the back and removed my purse and gym bag from my shoulder.

“Oh, thanks.”

“No problem,” he replied, as he opened my purse.

“What are you -”

Roo looked up. “I’m looking for the banana bread. So what if you put your hair in it.”

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Carrot, Raisin and Cranberry Quick Bread

I opened the door to our apartment. “You will not believe what happened at yoga,” I said, kicking off my sandals and walking into the living room.

“What, The Moaner make another appearance?” Roo asked.

“I wish.”

Roo took a bite of toast and set it down on the coffee table. “What happened?”

“Well, as you know, sometimes I come off as a creeper.”

“Go on.”

I folded my arms and threw myself onto the couch next to Roo. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Roo picked up his toast again and took another bite. A raisin fell onto his lap. “Ok.”

I eyed the raisin for a moment. “Well, you know how I love it when a yoga instructor takes a class I’m in?”

“Something about it being inspirational?”

I smiled. “You’re so good. Sometimes I really can’t believe you listen everything I say.”

Roo laughed. “So a yoga teacher took the same class as you -”

“Right. She set her mat down next to mine -” I paused.

“And?”

“And I may have been watching her through some of the poses.”

“And she caught you watching?”

“That’s not even the bad part.”

Roo waited.

“When the class was told to fold in straddle, facing the right side of the room, that was the side the instructor was on. And our mats were really close.”

“And?”

“And when I went to fold, I accidentally brushed the instructor’s butt with the bun on top of my head,” I said, pointing to my hair.

Roo burst out laughing.

“It’s not funny.”

“It’s a little funny.”

“It is not! I had to apologize profusely in a whisper, because it was during class. Do you know how creepy an apology sounds in a whisper?”

“Well I’ve never been assaulted by a bun in yoga class, so I wouldn’t know.”

“I don’t know if I can ever show my face there again.”

“Here,” Roo said, handing me his slice toast. “Have some of this. I’ll make you a cup of tea.”

I picked the raisin off his lap and placed it on the plate. “It’s not enough.”

“What’s not enough?”

“There’s like two bites left. And they’re the worst ones. No cranberries or raisins in either one.”

Roo smiled. “Alright, I’ll cut you another slice. Thankfully you made two loaves last night.”

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Lime Pound Cake

“Are you packing cake in your purse?”

I zipped my bag closed. “Yes.  I need it after the bars close.”

Roo looked at me, puzzled. “Why?”

“Whenever I go out with E, I end up drinking more than I should. And unfortunately, we have a history of making terrible decisions when that happens.”

“Like falling asleep, hugging a half-eaten bowl of Cheerios?” Roo joked.

“I can’t believe you remembered that.”

“Well the bowl was on my side of the bed.”

“I know.  And E hasn’t forgotten about finding me in her bed, drooling on a box of crackers.”

“You’re like the Goldilocks of after hours.”

“There were crumbs everywhere.” I sighed, bending over to fix the strap on my sandal.  I tucked it back into its clasp and stood back up. “This is why I need to bring a snack.  For all I know, E and I could relive our worst meal in college.”

“Dirty water hot dogs?”

I shook my head. “Pasta Roni with Cheese Dogs. I swear I had heartburn for days.”

Roo turned to the kitchen table and cut a slice of cake. “Here,” he said, wrapping it with aluminum foil and placing it in my hand. “Bring another slice.”

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Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Dark Chocolate Icing

There are a lot of things I’m terrible at.

I’m awkward when meeting someone for the first time; saying what immediately pops into my mind. “Oh, you’re from Arizona? Does that mean you grew up with crystals and learning about energy fields?”

Every other driver is ‘Dude’ when I’m behind the wheel (especially when the try to cut me off). “Dude…Dude…Dude! Were you even looking?!”

And general housekeeping is beyond me.  I rarely (if ever) vacuum, I hate doing the dishes, and I can’t fold a fitted sheet.  Seriously, those elasticated corners? Worse than figuring out a rubix cube.

Right now you’re thinking Roo is one lucky guy, right?

But I can make cake.

Really good chocolate cake.

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Yogurt Cake with Lemon and Blueberries

Every morning I walk into the kitchen, turn on NPR, sit at the table and open my laptop. I check my email, Facebook and Twitter.  I scroll through updates/tweets from hours prior, often wondering if other people go through the same ‘ritual’ everyday.

“When you check your Facebook, do you keep scrolling until you see something you remember from the day before?” I asked Roo, as he walked into the kitchen.

He stopped and scratched his chest, his eyes bleary from just waking up. “That’s exactly what I do.”

“I thought I was the only one.”

“It’s the most efficient way to do it.”

“And do you hate yourself for technically wasting all that time?”

Roo laughed, “No, it’s the most efficient way to catch up on the ‘News.'”

I got up from the kitchen table and walked over to the Keurig. “And is that typically it?” I asked, flipping the switch on.

“Well, I check Fantasy Baseball and my email too.”

“And wait for me to make the coffee,” I joked.

“If by ‘making the coffee’ you mean, pushing a button, then yes,” he replied, as he removed the saran wrap from the yogurt cake on the counter.

I pointed at the slice he was about to pop into his mouth. “And make you breakfast cake?” I said.

“I believe this appeared on the counter overnight. It could have been Monkey who made this.”

“Yes, our evil cat has developed a sudden penchant for lemon, blueberries and baking.”

“Correction, our evil genius of a cat.”

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Lemon (Almond) Cornmeal Cake

A Few Things I Loved About Traveling in Japan

1) The free “old man” pajamas provided by the hotels

The red kimono almost made it into my suitcase. Almost.

2) Springtime is like no other

The daffodils and crocuses popping up around Boston are cute, but they’re just not the same.

3) Excellent customer service

No matter if you pull into a gas station, buy an onigiri (rice ball) from a kiosk at the train station, or ask for directions for a hotel (at the competing brand’s concierge desk), the customer service is excellent. Sometimes I wish people would just say thank you in the States more often. It does make a difference.

4) Public transportation is on time.

Without fail, the trains pull up to the station a minute ahead of departure, allow people to hop into the cars, and leave, exactly on time.

5) There’s always time for tea. And with tea, there’s cake.

Like my jet lag, I have yet to shake the habit of daily tea and sweets.

Any downtime my mom and I had, we’d pop into a cafe – at the train station, in the hotel or down a random road from temple – and order a pot or two of green tea.  With tea came sweets (“Obviously,” my mom would say), and talk of what our plans would be for the remainder of the week.

The 13 hour flight home left me exhausted. But after I climbed the stairs up to the apartment, my stomach rumbled. And it wasn’t a meal I wanted.  It was tea and cake.

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Lovely Lemon Cake

“Remember when you called me after your job interview and you said you were ‘so going to work there’ because it was next door to a Whole Foods and across the street from a Starbucks?”

“It was probably the best day ever.”

Roo stops washing the dishes, “When was the last time you went to Starbucks?”  He looks over to see me hugging myself.  “You’re doing that thing again.”

“What thing?”

“That thing where you hug yourself like those sad monkeys we saw on PBS.  You’re obviously upset.”

“Well, that’s the last time you’re watching Frontline with me. I am not a sad monkey.”

I am so a sad monkey.

Back when I was delusional and living beyond my means living in Cambridge, my apartment was across the street from a Starbucks.  I would go there so often (ie twice a day, everyday), they started making “my drink” as soon as they saw me walk in.

“Grande, skinny, two pump vanilla latte for Lys.”

Sometimes it got awkward when I wanted a different drink.  And by awkward, I mean awesome as they would just give me both drinks for the price of one.

It pays to be nice to the baristas.

“Why are you shaking?”

“I’m not shaking.Youcrazy.Oh!Side note. Igottwolattesforthepriceofone!”

“It’s 2 p.m.  You are shaking and talking like a college kid on ritalin during finals week.”

“Wha?”

“You should lay off the ten shots of espresso in the morning.”

Besides the obvious self-induced caffeine overdose, my love for Starbucks was a $40/week habit.

They’d always find a way to draw me in.

“Buy one beverage in the morning and get any drink for only $2 after 2 p.m.!”

“Starbucks Happy Hour (ie half off frappuccinos between 3 – 5 p.m.)”

And lemon cake.

Yes, lemon cake.

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Dark Chocolate Stout Bundt Cake

Work has been strange.

Last month my boss announced that he was moving the lab to California.  What resulted can only be described as a workplace full of whispers.  Murmurs of who will be going, will there be raises, and the phrase, “did you hear…” repeated over and over again.

I’m kind of over it.

Not one that likes to bring home their workday, I often turn to the kitchen to let out any stress that may remain.

Did your colleague take the last of your solution and not replace it?  Knead some dough.  Picture it’s his face.  Much better.

Did a granny that smelled like moth balls hiss at you on the bus, because you were applying a “smelly lotion?” Don’t say you’d do the world a favor by calling her kids to tell them to pull the plug in a few months.  Instead, segment some citrus.

Did you lose one of your favorite technicians because they’re being transferred? Make them a cake.  Or two, because if it’s going to be a dark chocolate stout bundt, surely you’d want one for yourself.

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Double Coconut and Banana Loaf

This afternoon I was interrupted Facebook stalking doing my research for my next lab meeting by a phone call from Roo.  He occasionally calls when he’s stuck in traffic.

“Babe, sometimes I think I’m psychic.”

“Mmm hmm….Wait, what?”

“Are you doing something right now?”

I click my browser window closed, “Uh no, I was just petting Monkey.  What’s up?”

“As I was walking up the stairs at school today, I thought, you know what would be funny? If I missed a step.

“Uh huh, so you missed a step. Ok, well…”

“No, that’s not the whole story.”

“You missed a step and the children saw you?  Did you fall in front of a parent?  Oh no…did you take down a parent?”

“What? No. No, what happened was, I was carrying my cup of tea as I was walking up the stairs, and it spilled. Up into my face.”

“Are you serious?”

“And when I went back into the classroom, the kids were wrapped up in a conversation about what ‘their problem was.’  To which I said, ‘You know what my problem is?'”

“Oh no, please don’t tell me you did a two-face reveal of your horribly burned face,” I said, picturing him asking the class with his ‘good side.’

“Oh yes.  And when they asked, I replied, ‘I just boiledmyface.'”

“You did the dramatic point and reveal, didn’t you.”

“I boiled my face.  Of course it was dramatic.  But that’s not why I’m calling.”

“Are you ok?”

“It feels like burning.”

“Seriously, are you on your way to the hospital?  Do you need burn cream?”

“No, it’ll be fine.  But…do we have any of that cake left?”

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