Monthly Archives: October 2013

Coconut-Cilantro Tilapia & Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad

Tilapia & Rice 2

If you’re willing to do some chopping, these are both easy recipes that taste great.  In fact, they’re so damn delicious that you’ll forget that they’re healthy, too!  The spicy fish was a nice break from chicken and pork, and the rice salad is so fresh and cool – great for a hot afternoon.  It’s a perfect substitute for potato salad or macaroni salad if you’re trying to watch your weight.

Total Time: 45 mins to 1 hour (if do them both at the same time – if you’ve got help chopping, you can get it done quicker!)

Serves: 4

Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce:


  • Canola oil spray
  • Four 6-ounce pieces of tilapia fillet
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste.
  • 1/2 cup light, reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (a mixture of Indian spices that comes in a packet – see a description here)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (if you want some spice, leave the seeds in.  We used three whole cayenne peppers, fresh from Nanny’s garden, and that put a scrumptious bite to it!)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F).  Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with canola oil spray.  Sprinkle the fish with the salt & pepper and place it in the pan.
  2. Combine the coconut milk, cilantro, ginger, garam masala, garlic, and jalapeno in a blender and pulse until fairly smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture over the fish.
  4. Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with more cilantro and serve with the rice.

Tips: There’s really not anything you can do to mess up this dish, unless you accidentally make it too spicy.  If that’s the case (you can taste your sauce before you pour it on the fish), you can just add some more coconut milk to cool it down.  When we made it last night, we just added some more of the things we like (ginger, cayenne peppers, and a little more coconut milk).   I’m sure this sauce would taste great on chicken, too! 

Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad:


  • salt
  • 1 &1/2 cups of rice
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime (We didn’t have a lime, so we just used 2 tablespoons of bottled lime juice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped mango (I accidentally let our mango get too ripe, so it was a little mushy in the salad – make sure and pick one that’s still kind of firm)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (again, we used a whole cayenne pepper, and left the seeds in for some spice)
  • 2 scallions, thinkly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts


  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the rice and cook, stirring until tender, 25-35 minutes (depending on the rice).
  2. Meanwhile, bring a separate saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the quinoa and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.
  3. Drain the grains and rinse under warm water until cool; shake off the excess water (place in the fridge to cool it on down while you get the rest of the ingredients ready)
  4. Whisk the lime juice and zest, the peanut oil, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large Bowl.
  5. Add in the rice & quinoa, mango, cucumber, jalapeno, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and stir to combine.  Season with salt.

Tips: This really is an excellent dish – cool, with the perfect sweet/savory mixture.  It’s best when it’s cold, so let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes if you can (or, if you don’t want to wait, even throw it in the freezer for 5 minutes or so!)  But, unfortunately, it doesn’t really taste good the next day, so make sure and eat it up while it’s fresh! 

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Tangy Roast & Spicy Indian Potatoes


Crock pot recipe: total time: 7 to 8 hours 

If you’re tired of plain ol’ roast, try this recipe to change things up.  But, think of it more as a template that you can tweak and make your own.  It’s a good starting point, but throw in whatever you like!


  • a roast – pork or beef  (we used a 2.5 lb beef roast)
  • two bouillon cubes
  • 1 packet of powder ranch dressing powder
  • 1 jar of banana pepper rings (large or small bottle, depending on your taste) *
  • 1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter (I used a whole stick, but would use less next time)*
  • Onions, peppers, carrots – anything else that you’d like in your roast
  • Chicken broth(?) *see the Tips below


  1. Put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot
  2. dump in everything else (including the juice from the jar of banana peppers)
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or if you’re low on time, on high for 3-4 hours (but, low for longer is better!)
  4. Serve over/with rice, mashed potatoes, or any side.  We cooked up some spicy Indian potatoes (recipe below).


I loved the roast cooked just like it’s described above.  It was moist and tender.  The butter gave it a great  flavor, even if your health took a hit because of it.  And, I loved the sharp, tangy flavor of the banana peppers.  But, my fiance thought that it was too acidic, so here are things we might change next time:

  • Use a smaller jar of banana peppers, and only about 1/2 to 3/4 of the juice.  This would cut down on the vinegar/acidity.
  • To make up for the lack of juice (and butter – like I noted above, we’d cut down on butter), we’d use a cup or so of chicken broth.
  • Next time I’d throw in some spice, like a jalapeno, chili pepper, or just some crushed red chili flakes

I love recipes that you can throw together and then not think about for 7 hours!


We didn’t want to cook any rice, so we made one of my absolute favorite dishes: potatoes pan roasted and spiced up, Indian style:


  • Potatoes (about one per person)
  • cooking oil (olive or vegetable)
  • mustard or cumin seeds (about 1 teaspoon)
  • salt (1/2 tsp or to taste)
  • turmeric (about 1/2 tsp)
  • red chili powder (about 1 tsp, or less depending on your spice tolerance)
  • cilantro


  1. Peel the potatoes.  Cut them in half, lengthwise, and then cut them into thin slices.
  2. Heat up the oil in a pan.  I’d say about 3-4 tablespoons of oil – enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Not too much, because you’re not deep frying the potatoes, but you want enough to be able to pan fry them.
  3. Once the oil is really hot (don’t let it start smoking, but it should be pretty hot!), dump your mustard or cumin seeds in.  They should splutter, or instantly start popping open.
  4. As the seeds are spluttering, dump in your potato slices, and then you may want to cover them for a few seconds until things calm down.
  5. Mix in your salt, turmeric, and chili powder.
  6. Cover and cook until your potatoes are the consistency that you want them.  This should take about 5 minutes.  The longer you cook them, the softer they’ll be.
  7. If you want your potatoes to have a little crunch to them, then turn up your heat to high for the last minute or so, and they should start frying some more along the edges.
  8. When they’re done, sprinkle some cilantro on top and enjoy!

Get your slices pretty thin – about 1/4″ thick so they’ll cook quickly

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Grammar Nazis, Attack!

The Ultimate Grammar Nazi: 

Grammar Nazi

Know Your Shit

Oxford Comma Strippers

To Funny

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Weimar Germany: Promise & Tragedy


Weitz, Eric D.  Weimar Germany: Promise & Tragedy.  Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007.

In this survey of the German Weimar era that is both open to a non-academic audience and helpful to scholars, Weitz offers a well-written and engaging look into a vibrant, bygone age.  The majority of the book is dedicated to studying Weimar’s vivacious, multi-faceted and lively culture.  That is not to say that Weitz ignores politics, but he does aim to show that the Weimar Republic was more than just unstable politics, more than just a prelude to the Third Reich (5).

A main theme of Weitz’s book is the Weimar Republic’s perceived relationship to modernity.  He convincingly shows that the idea of modernity was on Germans’ minds and at the heart of political debates, artistic movements, and even city planning.  In one chapter, Weitz leads readers on a leisurely stroll through Weimar Berlin, letting them experience the hustle and bustle of Berlin life “first hand.”  He refers specifically to the Romanische Café, what he calls the “perfect symbol of Weimar politics and society.”  It’s “lively, democratic, engaged, and divided and divisive, unable to speak beyond its own circle” (77-78).  People of different backgrounds and political loyalties met in the café, yet each gravitated to their own tables and corners; they were democratic and diverse, yet broke themselves into small cliques.  To Weitz, this was how the Weimar Republic itself worked.

During the Weimar period, artists and architects attempted to create Gesamtkunstwerke (synthetic works of complete artwork), like Bruno Taut and Martin Wagner’s “Hufeisen,” an apartment complex shaped like a horseshoe so that every occupant could see all other apartments, thus fostering a sense of community (181).  Other artists believed that architecture and paintings could fundamentally change society for the better.  Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus school, for example, felt filling society with modern architecture would take mankind into the modern world by transforming and harmonizing society (194).  Department stores helped usher in the New Woman by carving out a “safe” space for women in the public sphere (55).  New technology allowed for classic operas and symphonies to be presented to the new “masses,” while also creating new forms of artwork and consumption: films.  But not everyone was happy with this new culture, with its new gender norms, economic system, and modes of authority.  Conservatives of all colors protested on the streets and in the Reichstag.

This cultural vitality coexisted alongside (and also contributed to) political instability.  The republic was hit by a series of crises, and the Great Depression in particular became a crisis of the republic’s legitimacy (122).  The warding off of groups into smaller fractions was a symbol of the inefficiency, not vitality of democracy.  By 1928, there were forty-eight parties in the Reichstag, rendering it difficult to legislate.  A series of constitutional articles, (particularly Article 48) gave the Federal President (who otherwise had no direct power on the daily governmental business) unprecedented authority over the Chancellor and Parliament, setting up a “presidential dictatorship,” that for Weitz signaled a political overthrow of democracy in Germany five years before the Nazis took power (351).  The Nazis, Weitz argues, simply tapped into the new rhetoric of the radicalized Right, gaining success only by using mass mobilization and new inventions to spread their message of a return to stability and prosperity.  Ultimately, Weimar’s failure came from its instability, the fact that scores of factions were taking stabs at it from every angle.  The final blow came when a handful of conspirators (conservative government men and big, industrial businessmen) helped the Nazis to power (358).

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Nature is Awesome

Love Science

Sometimes I wish I had developed my interest in science and nature into a career path…But then I remember how horrible I am with math, memorization, patience, and other skills needed for science (I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I was on the first night of my astronomy class to find out how much math was involved…).  That doesn’t stop me from trying to keep up with what’s going on in the science, technology, and medical worlds, though (as long as there’s a dumbed-down explanation available).  I recently found the Facebook page I Fucking Love Science, and they post some crazy, awesome stuff on their site.  Here are a few gems:

Afraid of Spiders?

Arachnid in Pores

sharks = 420 myo, trees 370 myo

Sharks have existed for 420 million years, while trees are only 370 million years old.

Fugitive orangutan

GPS Orangutans

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Inverts & Experts

Gender-_A_Useful_Category_of_Historical_AnalysisRuehl, Sonja.  “Inverts and Experts: Radclyffe Hall and the Lesbian Identity” in Newton, Judith & Deborah Rosenfelt, eds.  Feminist Criticism & Social Change: Sex, Class, and Race in Literature.  New York: Methuen, 1985.  pp: 165-180

Subject:  An examination of the portrayal of lesbians in Radclyffe Hall’s novel The Well of Loneliness.

Main Points: According to Ruehl, the 1928 publishing of The Well of Loneliness and the resulting obscenity trial “put lesbianism on the map” in England (165).  Before that, lesbianism had only been discussed and understood in medical terms.  The main authority behind this medical discourse was sexologist Havelock Ellis.  His research helped transform understandings of lesbianism from being a moral, chosen sin into a biological state of being that couldn’t be helped by the lesbian.  Therefore, lesbianism became a social problem instead of a sin.  Because lesbians couldn’t do anything about their innate homosexuality, homosexuality should be tolerated (though Ruehl points out that Ellis himself never went as far as campaigning for tolerance).

Through this medical-psychological discourse, so-called deviant sexualities are organized into a scientific taxonomy or classification system (166).  Moreover, these new, permanent categories not only make up a person’s identity; they are what defines it.  Foucault points out that this new classification establishes new power structures and forms of power, which can often be used by the “normal” segments of society to suppress deviant identities.  However, this creation and definition of identities also allows for the creation of a “reverse discourse.”  In other words, once homosexuals are defined, individuals identifying as homosexuals can then form groups under the term as well as challenge, tweak, or completely redefine what the term means.  Ruehl sees Hall’s The Well of Loneliness as an example of a reverse discourse.  While Hall does not challenge Ellis’ discourse directly, she begins to open up space for other lesbians to speak for themselves by the very act of writing the novel about lesbian life and speaking as one herself (170).  This allows room for the development of a reverse discourse.

Ruehl believes that, for the most part, Hall’s novel follows Ellis’ portrayal of “true” lesbians as “congenital inverts.”  That is, they are masculine and desire feminine women.  Ellis seemed to have trouble defining feminine lesbians and wondered if they were “true” inverts or not, since they were not masculine.  He explained them away by claiming some people could be tempted by homosexuality.  Hall’s main character, Stephen, is a masculine lesbian who falls in love with several feminine women, but ultimately wishes to spend her life with Mary, a girl from a lower class.  In the end, Stephen “allows” Mary to wed a man so that she would not have to go through a harsh life.  Several other examples like this (like the point that true inverts are sterile) are meant to illicit pity for lesbians, thus making the book a political act.

Class also plays into the story because Stephen comes from the aristocratic class, and as such, their values are placed in the hero status.  Honor and “doing the right thing” (including letting Mary wed a man and live a normal life) are noted as praiseworthy.  But that also goes along with Ellis’ claim that homosexuals should become the highest or best part of society.  Since they are/should be sterile, lesbians should be able to cultivate a superior character and achieve moral excellence (173).

My Comments: This was a very interesting chapter and allowed me to finally know what The Well of Loneliness was all about.  I also thought Foucault’s/Ruehl’s idea of “reverse discourse” was pretty helpful in explaining how individuals were able to use medical discourse to come up with an identity that they saw as more fitting.

For more books on the history of sexuality, see my full list of book reviews, here. 

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Geek Out!

Just a few nerd-tastic memes from around the interwebs for my fellow nerds & geeks out there!


Bad Guys You Can't Hate

Hate Fictional Characters




Unicorns are Real

Colin Firth Quote

Nothing to Read



Reading Wont Solve Problems

Libraries are a temple

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Grad Life

If you’re a grad student and you haven’t checked out the folks over at Ph.D. Comics, you definitely should.  They have some great comics that pretty much capture the life of a grad student.

Here are some of my favorite ones that I’ve come across lately:

Work Output

Your Graduation

Ask a Question during a Seminar?And lastly, while Ph.D. supposedly stands for Doctor of Philosophy, here are some alternate meanings:

PhD ?

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