HEC 88

One of the great traditions of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration (story of how I got here soon to come) is our annual showcase weekend, Hotel Ezra Cornell. Undoubtedly one of the great things that sets us apart (and made us an official school), HEC allows us as students the opportunity to put everything that we’ve learned in application. This year, I worked back of house (BOH). In a nutshell: Crazy sleepless nights. Teamwork. CORNER!!! Achy feet. DRAAAAAAAAMA. Dirty dishees. Hypertension. Industry leaders. CORNER!!! Fun times. Dirty dishes. WHERE IS THE RASPBERRY POWDER. Hours of chopping chives. Head to tail pig tasting. Less sleep. Did you taste the…? Liquid nitrogen. CORNER!!! Dirty dishes. HOT HOT HOT COMING THROUGH. I need a tofu on the fly! black garlic mashed potatoes. Family meal. Foodie lovin. EGBOK. You just met who? Congratulations! Success? Success.


Appetizer plates! Poached gulf shrimp with halved caper berries, fresh ramps, chevre with a tarragon-beet reduction, beet leather with lemon zest, and a croissant curl with foie gras mousse, topped with truffle.


Poached lobster with curry and basil oil, (bisque served tableside)vegVeggie appetizer: watercress and beet puree, fire roasted corn, shaved candy stripe beets and micro greenssomtamGinger-caramel glazed short ribs with spicy papaya/mango/carrot salad and tomato caviar.


Back of the Back of House (counterclockwise from top right): SO MUCH LAUNDRY. too many dishes scrubbed.. MSLC is creepy after hours. medical infirmary Statler rollaway beds for tired me HEC volunteers.


As always, hotelies keep it classy with an after party spread of truffle infused greens, duck breast, smoked salmon, manchego, and raspberries.



The meaning of life.


I used to think the meaning of my life lay entirely in my accomplishments and achievements. What was the legacy I’d leave behind—what would people remember me for? What great things would I do for mankind? But I also believed that life was bigger than me, extending out farther and wider than the scope of the universe. Human existence, human touch, human relation, all colliding in different forces, impacting and shaping the lives of strangers and subsequently, the world around us.

But already in the brevity of my nineteen years, the innocent joy found in simplicity still escapes me. I don’t trust your smile as much as I don’t trust mine. Who’s right is it to be an optimist when your reality is mundane? Does altruism actually exist, or is the whole point of “doing unto others” so that you in return will receive?

Who can know what one’s purpose is? The Buddhists say that you can, when you reach Nirvana. The Nihilists say there is none. The Lutherans say to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But on a day-to-day basis, what can one even do to “discover your life purpose”? The simplest answer: Love. Love what you’re doing. Love where you’ve come from. Love the culture in which you were raised. Love the field that you’re working in. Love your work. Love your friends. Love your brother, your sister, your mother, your father. Love your God.

And yet, my questioning remains unceasing. The most cliché question for centuries, millennia, and for as long as human existence: What is love?

The greatest joy. The most impossible frustration. The unknowable force. The avoidance of bringing sorrow to another. The increase of self-sacrifice. The decrease of personal gain. The solace of a simple “Good morning.” The rest of a simple “Good night.” The ebb and flow of conversation. The stifled silence of conflict. The search for words of apology. The acceptance of forgiveness. The steady anchor at the end of an impossible day. Love is life.



It’s been a while…

…and to say that many things have changed wouldn’t even begin to cover it. In between my last post and now, I’ve crossed a couple things of the to do list:

#1: found myself a boy 😉 (you might recognize him from here)


#2: graduated from high school


#3: worked my first job ever (and subsequently discovered that aeronautical and aerospace engineering is not for me)

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#4: completed my first semester of college (and subsequently discovered that chemistry is not for me either)

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So here I am, a year and a half later. A year and a half more self-discovered. A year and a half in denial that growing up is a reality. A year and a half more nervous, anxious, and generally excited about the future. Documentation starts now.

In the meantime..

I am putting together some recap posts for my entire summer, but I really don’t understand this thing called motivation. Haha. Oh well. Currently working on some light reading- you know: Plato, Aristotle, etc. etc. but I think it can wait for a little. After all, there are things to talk about like these little desserts I made for all of my teachers for a “Happy First Day of School!” gift (and perhaps a bit of pre-gratitude for all of the letters of rec I’ll be needing eheh). So here was my first day of school, one week(ish) ago:

It’s weird being a senior. Everyone before you tells you that the time is going to go fast and though you know it in your heart as a freshman, it doesn’t really hit you until you’re here- in the moment. Honestly, much of this year feels like an extension of last year- we’ve all (basically) settled into our friend groups. We all share some classes together. Lunchtime is spent with the same motley crew. It’s just that there isn’t anyone bigger and now the hallways seem to be swarming with beings that leave us wondering– “Was I ever that small?!”

So the Greek letters for our senior class are Δ X Σ- dedication, Christ, service. It’s really cool how this reflects our lives: Christ (X) is at the center of our lives and because of this, there is a difference (Δ). The sum (Σ) total of this difference is a life of service to those who are older, younger, and less fortunate. I know I’m probably butchering this somehow, but that’s the gist of it. And one more thought while I’m at it:  Δ is kind of where we’re at now as seniors. It’s where the river meets the ocean- for us, where dependence meets self-sufficiency. So anyways, for one final beginning-of-the-year thank you to my teachers, I present:

Chocolate Torte: chocolate cake filled with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting and topped with chocolate buttercream
Lemon-Lime Passionfruit Curd Tart (in a from-scratch graham cracker crust based on this recipe)
Caramel Blondie with Caramel Swirl/Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (recipe to come soon. probably. maybe.)

Oh and as for the giveaway…well. Check out these diagrams first. Then you’ll understand what I mean when I say this.

Expectation: get post submitted to foodgawker, thus bringing more readers (and more entries for giveaway?)
Reality: epic fail. haha. so according to my two person entry random pick, the winner is Lindsey! woop. Look for your package in the mail soon girlie! 🙂

Passionfruit Angel Food Cake (and first ever giveaway!)

So I still have a lot of catching up to do from all of my summer travels, but in the meantime, I figured I’d do a little post about cake because it’s pretty fantastic. But anyways, have you ever spent hours doing virtually nothing? I have! Whilst waiting in the mornings or afternoons or evenings at my grandparents’ home in Taiwan, my young(er) cousin passed time by playing fruit ninja on her super fancy iPad 2 (and no, sorry. that’s not the giveaway hahaha). Before I left, she asked me, “Do you think about fruit ninja randomly sometimes?” And I said that yes, I did occasionally. To which she responded, “Okay good. Because I do. I think about it a lot. Especially passionfruit. It’s so yummy!”

Now a few days earlier, I had gone with my grandpa to the street market and bought a bag of passionfruit. Upon bringing it home, we scooped out the flesh and my grandpa suggested that we eat it straight up. But what with my grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousin, and I all in the house, I knew that we’d want to stretch it as far as we could. So my cousin and I ran down to the FamilyMart (think 7/11) and bought a bottle of Taiwanese Sprite. We mixed it up with the passionfruit and everyone loved it.

I wish it was possible to bring back passionfruit, but alas, Customs and Border Security would throw it into their bin of “international waste” (sniffle, sniffle). But! I’ve got the next best thing:

passionfruit/apricot preserves and passionfruit extract (purchased in an international mart in Taiwan)

So. Secret’s out! If I’ve recently made you a passionfruit cake, I did not in fact pluck passionfruit off of my nonexistent lilikoi tree in the back yard. Disappointed? Don’t be! Just leave a comment, any comment below and you will be eligible to win a bottle of passionfruit extract(!), thereby enabling you to also flavor your cakes and cookies with the addicting flavor that is passionfruit.

The passionfruit extract is pretty iridescent as you can see:

…and it smells pretty amazing, if  I do say so myself.

Limit one entry per person and U.S. residents only. We’ll see how many nibbles there are, but for now, I’ma leave this giveaway open until 12:00 AM EST on Friday, August 26 2011.

Want another entry? Like us on Facebook and comment back here saying you did!

Angel Food Cake

(very lightly adapted from here)

1 cup (3 oz) sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups + 2 Tbls egg whites (I used the whites from 12 large eggs)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp passionfruit extract

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter 16-cup capacity), preferably with removable bottom.  If the pan bottom is not removable, line it with parchment or wax paper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 3/4 cup sugar.  Place remaining 3/4 cup sugar in another small bowl next to the mixer.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat egg whites at low speed until just broken up and beginning to froth.  Add cream of tartar and salt and beat at medium speed until whites form very soft, billowy mounds.  With the mixer still at medium speed, beat in 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and whites are shiny and form soft peaks.  Add passionfruit extract and beat until just blended.
4. Place flour-sugar mixture in a sifter set over waxed paper.  Sift flour-sugar mixture over egg whites about 3 tablespoons at a time, and gently fold it in, using a large rubber spatula.
5. Sift any flour-sugar mixture that falls onto the paper back into the bowl with the whites.
6. Gently scrape batter into pan, smooth the top, and give pan a couple of raps on the counter to release any large air bubbles.
7. Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back with pressed firmly, about 1 hour.
8. If cake pan has prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert pan onto them.  If not, invert pan over the neck of a bottle or funnel so that air can circulate all around it.  Let the cake cool completely. To unmold, run a knife around edges, being careful not to separate the golden crust from the cake.  Slide cake out of pan and cut the same way around removable bottom to release, or peel off parchment or wax paper, if used.
9.Place the cake, bottom-side up, on a platter.  Cut slices by sawing gently with a serrated knife.

passionfruit angel food cake featured with raspberry whipped cream and passionfruit gelée.

I promise…

…I’m still alive! So basically, I was at Cornell for 3 weeks (for summer college) and it was simply fantastic. I have a million and one photos to blog here in a couple of weeks when I get time (you’ll see why below), but quick summary so you know what to look forward to- think gorges, farmer’s markets, antiquing, and amazing architecture. 

Now, I’m in Taiwan at a juvenile correction facility- if you can even call it that. It is absolutely breathtaking here in the mountains, and the children just melt my heart away. Quick summary so you know what to look forward to- think laughter, native Taiwanese handicrafts (which are surprisingly much like Native American work), sunshine, mountains, and unicycles. Yes. There is so much to say and not enough words with which I can describe how incredible everything about this summer has been so far. And it’s not even over yet! To tide you over, I leave you with this picture from sunset last night:

Until next time!

4th of Jell-O!

Happy Independence Day, America! How are you celebrating? Backyard grill-out? Picnic? Watching your town parade and fireworks? All of the above? Good. I kind of wish I could be home to attend all the local festivities, but I won’t really complain since I’ll be swimming at Buttermilk Falls, NY and enjoying a day off of classes. (But all of you back home had better attend those festivities for me!)

As if you didn’t have enough flag related desserts to choose from, here’s another one! Layered jell-o is always a hit with the kiddies (and adults too). This one’s kind of tricky, but you look smart. So let’s get to it.

First, you’ll want to pour your first layer of red jell-o, refrigerate for 30 minutes, follow with a white layer and repeat 2 more times. Then, you can wrap a few rulers in foil and build yourself a little construct like this:

Then, you’ll want to carefully make the rest of the red and white layers, as such:


Then, when you’re finished with the red and white layers, very carefully remove the rulers and pour in the blue jell-o.

Chill for at least 3-4 hours before slicing and serving.

Ta-da! So cute.

Flag Jell-O:
1 3 oz. boxes of blue jell-o
3 3 oz. boxes of red jell-o
6 packets of gelatin
1 16oz. can sweetened condensed milk

For red layers:
1. Boil 1 1/4 c water and add 1 packet of gelatin with a box of red jell-o. Stir and let it cool before using.

For blue layer:
2. Boil 1 1/4 c water and add 1 packet of gelatin with a box of blue jell-o. Stir and let it cool before using.

For white layers:
3. Let gelatin soften in 1/4 c of water.
4. Boil 1 c of water; add gelatin and sweetened condensed milk.
5. Separate equally into 6 bowls (1 for each white layer). You will need to microwave the bowl for about 13 seconds before using it.

If you have any questions, shoot me a question in the comments and I’ll answer it! The weekend is calling and I must answer.