Sunday, January 31, 2010

¿Qué acento tengo?

I like to think that I make an extraordinary effort to not be lazy and speak foreign languages with my so-called "Valley girl" accent (I've lived on the East coast all my life, by the way).

Please take a moment to listen to a clip of me reading an excerpt from elmundo.es by Fran Marti'nez. Do I just sound like an American speaking Spanish? Am I on my way to sounding more like a hispanohablante de verdad? Let me know in my Comments section or @gsossa.

Here is the link to the article's text.
Here is the link to my reading of the article. (Sorry, I didn't know how to upload audio to the internet before posting this!)

Check out how I try to slip in some German pronunciation in "Brandenburgo." Ha! I crack myself up.

Oh, and please notify me of any other mistakes or oddities you hear. Well, I am reading from a Spanish-language newspaper so I hope there aren't any grammatical errors or anything like that!

Well, I believe I have the guttural down in German, pronounce the "gl" digraph in Italian with some ease, and I try to always stress the first syllable with Finnish words. I still have trouble rolling my "r"s with ease in Spanish which is funny because that is the language I have been learning the longest.

Since about...1998.

I didn't have any particular desire to start learning Spanish other than probably just trying to take the same foreign language class that I thought most people in my high school freshman class were taking. It was a bumpy ride at first but I became shockingly adept at picking up the language once I started my second, consecutive year in high school.

I suppose that my accent influence first came from Eros Ramazzotti. My second-year Spanish teacher played "La cosa mas bella" from his "Donde hay mu'sica" album and I instantly fell in love with the song. I bought the album as soon as possible. Years later, I picked up the Italian version of the album, "Dove c'e' musica." And, so, I came to realize that ol' Eros was un italiano de verdad; I soon wondered how his new accent was affecting mine.

I lived in a dorm all through undergrad and for the most part I lived with a roommate from Ecuador who was always speaking Spanish (often enough, by her suggestion/my request!). At the same time, I lived with a constant flow of international students who spoke many languages, nonetheless many types of Spanish. Though accent and vocabulary differences seemed the most obvious between los hispanohablantes de Espania y los hispanohablantes de every other country, I still realized through all of the chit-chat that there was no such thing as one kind of Spanish.

My method of learning has been a mishmash of strategies and serendipity and one must at some point in the process be happy that so many Spanish-language learning materials--from a local Spanish-language newspaper to a grammar workbooks--are available. All politics aside, they're there, so take advantage if you can!

Thanks!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Though I love a good alphabet...

In case you ever follow me to the letter...via this blog or elsewhere...just know that if I ever make a spelling mistake and catch it later, I explode with shame. Yes, I depend on spellcheck programs when available (in fact, right now, I am being told by a low-key red underline that "spellcheck" is not one word...*sigh*). But, of course, spell-check-ers don't always catch what you mean to say. You meant "cup?" Well, you just typed "up" and that's a real word in my book! Doesn't make sense in your sentence? Too bad!

Many of us have already giggled in self-righteous/self-loathing judgment at The Oatmeal's Ten Words You Need to Stop Misspelling. Well, I honestly make some of those mistakes in typing but mostly because I decided to not take Keyboarding in middle school. Future of technology FAIL.

I have more personal writing/typing snafus that always irk me but, hey, they make me me, right? Perhaps. Or, they just make me a reckless writer.

Ok, and so here are my usual mistakes:
--When typing a word that ends with the letters "th," like "bath," I type an "e" at the end of the word because I think I am in the process of writing "the."
--When I write by hand (which is increasingly awkward and hasty because I do it less and less it seems), I usually cross the "l"s or "h"s instead if the "t"s in a word that contains those letters.
--I don't dot my "i"s or "j"s.
--Sometimes, I don't even attempt to cross my "t"s.
--I almost ALWAYS type the word "just" as "jsut". Christ almighty, that is a pet peeve I've inflicted on myself.
--When connected letters like "m"s, "n"s, and "u"s in handwriting...I usually just let them all run together and the word just ends up looking like the loopty-loop scribble I used to think cursive looked like when I was in first or second grade.

For shame.

Oh, and in case you haven't noticed, I totally overuse the ellipsis but that's a punctuation thing.

Speaking of me and punctuation...

I should really consult a physician first. #snomg!

Well, since it's snowing like a mother here in Greensboro, I'm cooped up in la casa, and January is winding down, I might as well try to rush some fake intent to jump on the bandwagon and set goals for the cosmopolitan New Year's resolution of losing weight.

Oops, I mean "getting healthy." Whatever.

Ok, and no goal-setting here. I have tweaked my lifestyle-eating this month but I think it had less to do with planning and more to do with "just doing it." Ew, I just gerund-ed a Nike ad.

So far, I have rediscovered Clif Bars and discovered those Full Bars. They are great meal replacements for me and my day-to-day life though I know you can't live on those. Those I'm pretty sure you can.

I also rediscovered celery. I didn't realize how much I liked it. I always describe it as "salty" but it's probably more like "earthy." In any case, it's cheap, crunchy, and potentially versatile though I've pretty much stuck with the celery sticks for dipping thang. But, I make it fancy: I slice them up thin and serve my buttermilk ranch dip in a shot glass for portion control (vegan fail, but since that bottle or ranch ran out, I've stuck with peanut butter).

Well, yesterday night I was about to break up with celery sticks when I thought, Hey, what else can I do with you? How can I change you. This relationship is all about me.

I Googled "celery soup." (Side note: Writing that sentence just made me equate "Google" with "buscar" to mean "to search for." Qué fuerte.) I hoped, hoped, hoped that the search results wouldn't ooze diet/fast/hunger plans (which I've done since Googled) and to my sweet surprise, I found a wealth of hot and hearty sounding celery recipes. Damn, I didn't know there was such a thing as celery soup.

Anywho (not a typo), this was at around way-too-late-o'clock at night so I wasn't going to make a batch anyhow, but I starting getting frustrated/sad because most recipes simple and complex all called for chopped onion. I ain't got no onion in this house! And, guess what? Jack Frost just crashed the party so I'm not driving anywhere soon (though we've got that tease of a new Food Lion in the neighborhood).

Well, I've come up with a solution and I hope procrastination doesn't get the best of me today so I actually carry out this solution of mine. I mean, I'm snowed in, right? What else am I gonna do? Not eat and instead read my spankin' new copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma? That's like when I wouldn't eat for hours as I drooled over Food Network shows. Back when I had cable. I'm that post-college poor now.

Anyways, back to my solution. I have this lifesaver, as I call it. It's a bag of frozen mixed veggies and such with pearl onions (yay! onions!), chopped celery, sliced carrots, and diced potatoes. Can we say hearty?! I had been using these bags before (less than $3 at Wal-Mart, Pictsweet brand, unabashedly capitalistic) to have me some roasted vegetables. Yuuuuum. I am more comfortable now with tweaking recipes or letting my imagination figure out substitutions. I am no chef and I feel like I don't have that skill to create recipes on purpose, so I stick with by-the-book for the most part. Laaaame. So, with the inspiration from the many recipes I found that weren't diet/fast/hunger recipes of celery and water, I figured that I could cook the veggies one way or another, blend them 'til smooth, then cook again? Whatever. I guess I'm into the whole experimenting with food although it (1) makes me feel like I'm wasting food and ignoring world hunger issues and (2)produces dirty dishes galore--sadface.

This reminds me of back in the day when my family first moved to NC. We were caught up in a hurricane-ish type thing (yay for my bachelor's in Geography!) that insisted that you don't leave your house. Power went in and out but I that didn't matter because I was too caught up in the genius creation I made for everyone to eat from whatever we had left in the house. It was some kind of English muffin/hardboiled egg/relish/something-else sandwich. I individually wrapped them in foil and created a mountain of them in the fridge for everyone's ease. I was way too impressed with myself with all that.

My New Year's resolutions, if we are to call them that, are a mish mash of things that are just really connected. I wanted to spend less money on eating out for lunch everyday (which usually just consisted of me picking something up at the Friendly HT, or as some call, the Taj MaTeeter or Gucci Teeter for all you non-locals). I wanted to use up everything in my pantry and fridge, donate some, or throw some out if necessary. I sort of got in the habit of buying cans and cans of stuff when they were on sale for 3/$5 or whatever and so now I must use my imagination to utilize many cans on peaches in their own juice (though my attempts at a vegan peach pie with these peaches didn't come out right) and one can of organic jellied cranberry sauce. Random.

Well, I've got my bag o' Pictsweet veggies, some plain soymilk, oil and that should be the base of some awesome soup. I hope it's surprisingly awesome. I'll make it aaaaall the time then!

I heart celery.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What does "gsossa" mean, anyways?

It’s pretty simple really.

“gsossa” is my shortened version of a term I’ve been using for some years now: “Greensborossa.”

Ok, so what does “Greensborossa” mean? Again, simply—and randomly—“Greensborossa” means “in Greensboro” in Finnish.

Why, yes! That is random!

Well, some years ago, I delved into Finnish, a language I’d often refer to as sounding like some alien-talk. I loved hearing my Finnish friends in college talk and I even duped myself into thinking that the little Suomi I learned was enough for me to jump into Estonian, too! Well, after I learned that “Helsinki” would turn into “Helsingissä,” I thought I was on a roll. Wow, I am writing this from memory so I hope I am not screwing up any of the spelling!

Oh, those were the days.

Well, I am trying to keep up with my Spanish, get back into to German and re-establish flirting with Italian and Russian in my downtime (because I have so much downtime).

Within the next week, I’ll start my Mandarin Chinese and Arabic classes. Am I crazy?! Ah, it’s ok. It’s excercising the mind.

Maybe I should figure out a way to exercise the body, too, so I won’t feel so bad noshing as I’m flipping through my “E Nagu Eesti”…

These maakera ads used to crack me up.

"Greensborossa" as a search terms always seemed to link to golf news...but, wow, now it's a lot of my stuff! Ooooh, and even a Wikipedia page! Fancy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet Dreams

I miss Chris.

:(

Well, at least this post is keeping my blog somewhat consistent.

Anyhow, today I gave my mother a tour of Greensboro which mostly consisted of me taking my eyes off the road, pointing, and yelling, "Look, see right there?!"

I'm glad she likes the city.

I got my first "order" this week for some bake-a-licious treats. For a wedding party! Man, that was a fragment. Anywho, they aren't for a wedding wedding, just a party celebrating a wedding some of my friends and I couldn't attend in December so...looking forward to it! I mean, I'm not getting paid, it's for my friends, but it's a grand excuse for me to break out the KitchenAid this week. Woohoo!

Goooooooood night! Dreaming of frosting...

(Triple sad-face for missing Chris.)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

PB & Hey!

Really, really late last night/really, really early this morning, I couldn't sleep so...I made cupcakes.

Of course.

I spent the earlier part of the night finishing up "Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media" which, by the way, has an intermission.

After falling asleep at random times during the movie with one thought flying through my head ("Gosh, I can't help thinking that ol' Noam here resembles George Bush 1 and 2."), I finally jumped up and found that I was pretty awake.

(Naps are refreshing. I wouldn't mind big government mandating siestas, would you?)

I almost had to force myself to make golden/yellow/plain old cupcakes. The other times that I tried the supposedly tried-and-true recipe, it came out tasting odd to me. Like, in the way that a cynic would go...ew, these taste vegan. That's why I usually make the chocolate cupcakes from the book, which are A-W-E-some, but after this week's hit--the maple cupcakes--I thought I'd give the golden another chance.

Well, I still didn't like them but I figured that a dollop or fifty of some good old frosting would save the day. I decided to wait until the next morning to whip something up. The next morning, meaning, after noon, but that's neither here nor there.

I wanted to try out a strawberry-type frosting, but even after making a strawberry puree, it was a little much for me after just waking up. I figured that a chocolate frosting would work but that would have been such a cop out. So, I ended up trying something that I thought would be only so-so...but it was only so-so AMAZING!

My golden cupcakes with light, fluffy, delicious-ness-ness peanut butter frosting:




I used the fresh ground peanut butter that I buy from Earth Fare for my choco-peanut-butter-smoothies, but I haven't made those for a while now so I figured that this would be a good way to out the PB to work. I was a bit afraid that the texture of the peanut butter would be too grainy or thick or whatever but it worked out woooonderfully!

I tried out a new frosting method to get the sides relatively smooth for buttercream...something like this which gives the frosting some height. Look at that cupcake truck! Here's an inside look on the frosting:



Cupcakes for breakfast are OK. Don't let anyone tell you different.

The frosting was so fluffy that the amount wasn't overwhelming or too sugary/grainy.

Speaking of frosting...what a trip. When I was younger making cupcakes, I did the normal knife-to-tub and spread from there. When I recently starting using pastry bags and piped the stuff I was soooo proud of myself and excited. BUT, at this point I feel like the it's a cop-out and one that is labor-intensive at that! I may just need to explore different tips (and one that doesn't make chocolate frosting look like poop, please). I started using ganache and I love it for it's shininess and the hard candy coating that I get. Love it! The hard candy coating with the fluffy cupcake is just fun and still unexpected. I've never done it, and I don't plan on doing it, but I don't like the whole tiny-dollop-in-the-center-of-the-cupcake thing, like this. Yes, it is a very beautiful cupcake, but that frosting is so pretty, give me more! Well, the frosting shouldn't overwhelm the thing, but in my case today...thank goodness for peanut butter.

Later!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Smoke is smoke wherever you go.

Recently, I've come across something quite entertaining:

the newspaper.

Well, the newspaper online. I felt guilty for only making an effort to buy the Sunday paper, and not even a Sunday paper subscription, at that. I'm not sure how, but I started reading the News & Record online. And, I'm not sure when, but I started reading the comments on there, too.

Enter-freaking-taining.

Well, at this point, I've noticed that the same and relatively small group of people are forever commenting on the articles, letters to the editor, etc. Hm, I wonder if the people commenting are also often the same people who send in the letters to the editor that are published. Anyhow, now onto some thread of thought I've noticed in the recent squawk over the smoking ban.

Some people opposing the smoking ban are opposed to the suppression of their rights to smoke and/or the rights of private establishments deciding whether or not they will be smoke-free establishments. Along that line of thought, some people have recommended that if someone who is offended by cigarette smoke, he/she has the right to not visit establishments that allow smoking.

Ok. Now let's wait a minute. I'm not really even going to get into the whole--Oh, you have a right to smoke wherever you want? Well, what about my right to breathe cleaner air?!--thing. It's a public health issue, people. Your smoke is just straight-up nasty. Yay for being nasty.

Anyways, back to the--Well, you aren't being forced to go into establishments that allow smokers.--argument. Ok, that is very true, but if that is the sentiment, then how sad and limited are the lives of people if that were their reality. If 95% of restaurants (I am totally making up numbers here) allow smoking in one way or another and I was steadfast in not wanting to inhale second-hand cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke, then what a lame life I would have as a foodie. Ok, I'm a fake foodie, but that's just not fair. Come one, you can smoke any where you want in...um, I guess I'll say "private". Maybe your smoking is social (even if you are smoking alone...at the bar...with a beer you could have bought for half-price at Wal-Mart). Maybe you only smoke when you drink (awesome!). Wherever you do it, when you do it shouldn't matter. (Oh, wait, it can be an addiction, sorry.)

THE POINT (which I haven't made yet) is that, every restaurant isn't the same. Your smoke will always be the same. Maybe I am missing some important nuances about smoking cigarettes in public, but when your smoking "right" in a restaurant, let's say, trumps my goal of experiencing the food and atmosphere of that restaurant, it's really sad. If I have to limit myself to all of the restaurants that are smoke-free, yes I might appreciate that they are smoke-free, but...the food might suck.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

We are on this Earth...together.

I know that in the current situation involving Haiti, action is more important than words.

Still, this situation just made me think of a thought that I've often had twirling in my head ever since, I suppose, I started my geography degree back in the day...

But, before I get to that, I'd just like to point out that I am not one to make sweeping hypotheticals concerning human nature e.g., "Can't we all just get along?" and "If women ran the world, there'd be no war."

In any case, I often think, Why do we humans waste so much time trying to fight each other when we have bigger and less discriminating things to worry about, like natural disasters?

Ok, now I'm done ignoring sociology or history or whatever it takes to describe the convolution of civilization.

I feel really, really bad about the earthquake in Haiti. That is a disaster. This event should have no lack of sympathy worldwide. I am watching the rescues unfold and am interested in what recovery will look like.

And, just to be pop-topical, there is nothing worth saying about Pat Robertson.

Good night.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

These cupcakes remind me of breakfast.

Instead of making Power Balls tonight, I decided to stop procrastinating and finally try out the (vegan) maple cupcake recipe I have. I lacked maple essence or flavor or whatever it's called, but the 1/2 cup of maple syrup was enough to make me think of waffles. :)

I didn't know if I would frost them or not and was on my way to making a quick ganache with some Ginger Green & Black's. Green & Black's was on sale, 2/$5, last month all over town. That was weird, but it worked because I've got a stack of the bars in my kitchen waiting to be devoured.

I finally ended up making my trusty ol' (vegan) cream cheese frosting and slyly dumped an extra ingredient--more maple syrup--into the mix. Having this KitchenAid mixer makes this a million and a half times easier than using a hand mixer. I burned out the motor in my one hand mixer but fortunately, I have a back up still tucked in it's original box...wait, what the heck...fortunately, I got a freakin' KitchenAid mixer!

Yay, domestication! Woohoo! Ok, back to reading Jezebel...haha

Ok, I digressed. Let's take a look at these babies:


The regular. Boooring, I know.



Ended up shaving some of the ginger chocolate on there.



This was done for kicks...and to calm my shame of discarding too much frosting.


Enough of this...time to eat! My New Year's resolution is to bake more cupcakes, so there!

Or something to that effect. I also bought some celery yesterday to offset the cake, so...

Good night!