Rest in Peace, Jordan Weiss

On Friday night, Jordan Weiss–a loyal friend, a son, a big brother to two, an impeccable student, and an all-around amazing kid–passed away.

For all who knew him, this has been a weekend of tears; a weekend of remembrance; a weekend of shock and emotion. A tumultuous weekend where the flow of time has been distorted, where being awake and cognisant has felt like a nightmare. A weekend of most profound lost. Most of all, it has been a weekend of appreciation for the life Jordan led and for the life of every single person on this planet.

Personally, this has been a weekend of wandering. I’ve been to at least ten distinct places in the past two days, congregating with friends and people going through the same grief, mourning the loss and laughing and smiling about the good memories we all share of Jordan. I’ve walked out of my house after having the biggest and, really, the only fight I’ve ever had with my parents and somehow made my way to “the spot” where it all happened.

I have been searching. For what, I do not know yet. I may never find out.

Stop what you are doing right now. Drop everything you think may seem important. Tell your mom, your dad, your significant other, or whomever that you love them. Hug your sibling. Kiss your children. Make them know that they are loved and that they matter. If anything, that’s what I have learned from this ordeal.

It takes a second for it all to slip away. Cherish every moment you spend with someone you care about and treat every goodbye like it’s the last time you will see that person you love.

Jordan, this tragedy has made each and every one of the people who knew you a different person. We are forever changed not because of your death but because of you. We miss you more than anyone could fathom. You were taken too soon from this earth but will remain in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives–mark my words.

Rest in peace, my friend. I’m sure that you’re kickin’ it in heaven like you did down here; save some spots for us, we want to kick it alongside you when our time comes.

Fudge in the Restaurant Business (Orange Banana Bread)

After reading this blog, you probably understand that being a full-time student takes up a lot of my life—I typically spend, including rehearsal time and extracurricular activities, 45-55 hours a week at school. Even with all that, I manage to work on the weekends at the restaurant down the street from my school as a host and cashier.

Yeah, I know, it still doesn’t even make sense to me how that all goes down, but it does, so I just roll with it.

The walnuts are just spilled around for the photo–I’m not that messy when I bake, people.

I love working in the restaurant business as a teenager. I get to develop great people skills by meeting all kinds of customers, customers ranging from the super nice and absolutely polite to the quirky crack-ups to the…well, we’ve all seen those certain kinds of patrons at restaurants, so I’ll just leave up that up to your imagination.

All jokes aside, though, my restaurant is great. My waiter, cashier, and host co-workers and I are like a big family. We’ve got the motherly waiter who always bakes and takes care of the rest of the staff, the kooky uncle-cashier who you always want to hang out with, and the rest of the clan, all ending up with me: the little kid of the whole bunch :). I think that spirit that patrons see is what keeps them coming back for more. Well, other than the scrumptious food, that is.

One side zesty orange, the other sweet and wholesome banana.

One perk of working in a restaurant? The cooks sometimes give me the old bananas from the week to take home! They’re overwhelmingly brown and black on the outside and mushy on the inside, but I think they’re beautiful. Do you know why?

Well, I can make this out of them:

This bread has your name all over it, people.

Old bananas are the best bananas to use for baking bread, I’ve found. The peels are brown and unattractive, but the inside is mostly in tact, so by no means are the bananas inedible. Since the bananas have over-ripened, I can cut down on the sugar in the recipe I use them in while replacing the lost sugar with the natural sugars that are present in the ripe bananas, making what could have been packed with empty calories into a healthy snack or part of a healthy breakfast.

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Comfort (Roasted Tomato Soup & Panko-Crusted Grilled Cheese)

Those precious, rare, free moments. Those few golden hours with nothing errands to run, no homework to do, no tests to study for, no college apps need to complete anymore (I just finished all of them!!! :)). Those pure, unadulterated stretches of time to relax, rejuvenate, and recover.

Life can become hectic, especially for my friends and I, along with any other teenager, in what is probably the most volatile time of his or her life. With all this seemingly unending chaos, some people seem to burn out. I may be a second semester senior, but I can’t burn out; my grades still matter, along with those upcoming college interviews (very important…I’ve actually got two tomorrow!) and my weekend job at the restaurant. When I can devote a few worry-free hours and a bit of love to cook some comfort food in the middle of all of this, though, I take that opportunity.

I’d hardly be sane otherwise.

It’s a Sandwich-Soup-Sandwich Sandwich! Get it? Since the sandwich slices are “sandwiching” the soup…oh, nevermind.

The ingredients and recipe are simple enough for these dishes. Go the extra mile for these, though. Take that extra few glances in the oven to check if your vegetables are at the peak of their caramelization; take the few moments to taste and spice the soup along the way. Take the time to spruce up your grilled cheese with some panko breading; take the few extra seconds needed to grate the cheese instead of slicing it.

I could definitely the care and love I put into this perfect comfort combo. After I finished, I sat back in my chair, dunked my grilled cheese, ate…and did absolutely nothing else.

Perfect.

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My Love-Hate Relationship with Costco (Strawberry Banana Muffins)

I love Costco. My family loves Costco. Everyone and their mother loves Costco. I’m pretty sure my dog knows full well what Costco is and loves it.

Loving Costco means two things, though. First, my family buys a lot of produce in bulk for hardly any money. Second, a lot of that produce sadly ends up going down the disposal when it gets old and moldy after we have only had a chance to use half of it. I can’t tell you how much I hate when uneaten food goes down the sink or in trash; I always think of wasted food as lost opportunities to make a dish.

The Aftermath

I’ve developed ways of combating this waste, usually by freezing the fruit we buy and steaming the heck out of a pound of baby spinach on a weekly basis (what family of three needs a pound of spinach per week, especially when I’m usually the only one that uses?). However, I think I may have found my new favorite method for my mounds of fruits: bake with them!

It is not an infrequent sight to see bananas of varying shades of yellow-brown sitting on the countertop in the kitchen, but making bread out of these bananas has never really crossed my mind (I know, how could it not have crossed my mind beforehand?). What with the newly purchased…pound (again, a pound for a family of three?)…of strawberries from Costco, I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to prevent those luscious berries and, well, those not-as-luscious-looking-but-still-delicious bananas from going down the black hole that is the kitchen sink.

Don’t judge a banana by its peel, people.

The Aftermath, Pt. 2

To all my high school readers: this takes almost no time to make! Sure, this will technically takes about an hour to make, but remember that most of that time is baking time. I whipped up the batter in about 5 or 10 minutes and stuck these puppies in the oven while I was studying for Chemistry (an apt combination, Chemistry and Cooking), took them out a little while later, and had tasty homemade muffins for the rest of the week! Cooking and baking aren’t daunting tasks, guys; great food is only a bit of time and effort away!

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Reflections (Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Pasta)

Now that it’s the new year, it’s almost inevitable that I would look back on everything that this year has brought me: A year filled with new friends, new music, and a new, well-supported singing voice; A final school year, a final day of application writing, and a final countdown to my life in college; My first job, my first love, and my first blog.

To think that this year of so many highs and lows is passing…well, it makes me a bit sentimental!  I need to sit back and let simplicity wash over me during these kinds of times. When I do, I usually stick with the three basic F’s: family, friends, and food.

Need a last-minute backdrop for your photo? Use a cloth!

Never underestimate the power of a simple, home-cooked dinner with your mom or your l friends. I have been living a very high-stress life the past few months, what with schooling, my job, my productions, what have you; but, boy, does slowing down to actually sit at the dinner table with your mom instead of rushing to your desk with your food make you appreciate who and what you have all around you–a great life, a loyal dog, amazing friends, and good health–and, in my case, what I have before I move to far-away Who-Knows-Where, USA next year for college.

Keep the meal simple: soup and salad, perhaps even just some chicken or stew. My take was pasta, broccoli, chicken, spices–nothing more. Nothing to fancy-shmancy; this dinner is about the simplicity of the food not getting in the way of who you share the meal with. It’s funny how the simplest things can make your life feel that much more substantial.

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