cooking classes

I taught my housemate’s younger sister Alex how to make black bean burritos on Friday.  Her concept of burritos was very different from my own, but I educated her in the finer concepts of mexican cuisine, of course, the secret ingredient being CUMIN! (and love!)

black bean burritos

For the meal, I taught Alex how to make:

Salsa Fresca


Mexican Rice

Refried Beans

and Black bean filling!

I also made whole wheat tortillas the night before, though i don’t recommend it.  Just buy them for $3 and save yourself 2 hours of work.

The basic recipe for the black bean filling is as follows:

2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight & boiled for 1 hour in salted water.

Drain the beans, reserving 1 cup liquid.

Sautee 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 an onion in 2 tbs or so oil for 2 or 3 minutes.

Add the beans, plus the 1 cup liquid, plus 2 tbs of cumin powder, plus salt & pepper, and chili to your taste.  Let cook uncovered about 5 or 10 minutes, until liquid is mostly gone.  Season to taste with more cumin, salt, pepper, or chili.

Dead easy!

Last time I made these burritos, I also made a sweet-potato apple puree that was inspired by Burritoville.

To make that, I basically boiled up a sweet potato and an apple chopped up, drained it, then mashed them, with some cumin, salt, pepper, and a bit of cinnamon! YUM!

Me & my sous-chef

I like being a cooking instructor!

(That ugly red mark on my neck/chest are the remnants of the worst sunburn I have ever gotten my first Sunday in Wellington.)

My housemate & I have discussed starting a bit of a Holloway Road food blog – since we’re always eating the most delicious meals.  I live in a house of 4 awesome chefs!

update from wellington

I am almost officially enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington!

All that stands between me and getting started on the long road to “Dr. Nicole” is one final document.  Hopefully I will have it in my hands tomorrow.

In the meantime, since I’ve been in Wellington,  I’ve knit a tea cozy, read a few books, visited the public library, gone to the beach, seen a

Tui, and done a lot of walking.

I’ve also been doing a lot of cooking while I enjoy my abundant imposed free time.  I introduced my housemates to the glories of Apple Pie (sans slice of processed cheese!), oatmeal raisin cookies, and black-bean sweet potato burritos.  I have also been introduced to the feijoa fruit,

which makes an excellent ice cream, perfect for some Kiwi-American apple pie a la mode fusion cuisine!

newly zealanded

Well, I finally made it!

Me @ Oriental Bay


I went through the Victoria International PhD Orientation on Monday, and met with my supervisors today.  After some one enters something into a computer, send me back another form, I sign it, and then it gets sent back to them again, I will be OFFICIALLY ENROLLED in the PhD programme at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Ahhh, more paperwork.

However, things are moving along.  I’ve already got an office, and a key to that office!

I’ve only briefly met my office mate, so I’ll refrain from commenting for the time being.  There’s a meeting Friday for all of the 8 new PhD students in the School of Information Management to get to know each other, and today I met with Dr. Gary & Dr. Dan.  I’ve already got a lot of ideas buzzing around inside my head, though I don’t even have a university e-mail or library access yet!  Gary suggested about a billion books for me to read.

So far, I’m totally loving the PhD lifestyle.  My house, and housemates, are totally awesome!  Everyone I’ve met in the School seem friendly and genuinely excited to have me as part of the academic community, and Wellington is a totally beautiful city.  In addition – I already got offered a job as Dan’s research assistant, paying $22 an hour for 10 hours a week!  I’m gonna be totally rolling in dough!  I also get to set my own hours… which means I might be tempted to totally slack off.  However, I will have weekly meetings with my supervisors who will be expecting progress reports so that should be a good motivating factor if ever I feel tempted to watch a 12 part documentary on the mysteries of ancient Egypt…

Culturally speaking, and logistically, this is by far the easiest transition to living in a new country I have ever experienced.  Somebody from Vic picked me up at the airport, dropped me off at my new home, where my lovely housemate had already made my bed, and even put a sweet smelling vase of artichoke flowers on my desk (next to a cup already full of pens).  I spent the weekend walking around the city, discovering T Leaf Teas (dangerous to my pocketbook!), the vegetable market, and drinking some fine Kiwi beer. My house is a beautiful old Victorian cottage with the most amazing bathtub I have ever seen, and a 15 minute walk to the School.  Everyone speaks English, smiles allt he time, and says “Hello” on the street.  I love it here!

I feel like I should wait at least a week before passing judgment, but so far, my initial feelings are:

I’ll be posting pictures at:

Check regularly for updates!

Watching Oprah with my mom

Yes, that is what I do here in Chicago.  I’m also teaching her how to download podcasts, and use the DVD player on her computer.

I just saw this totally awesome video on Oprah, kids singing “Gotta Keep Reading” like the Black Eyed Peas :

Hooray for books!  Notice “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” ?

Getting things sorted for my departure Wednesday for New Zealand!!!  Excited, nervous, kind of sad.  Ok, really sad.  Missing my sweetie like you wouldn’t believe…

A picture of us on his roof:

Lost treasures re-found

A few months ago I went over to my old roommate Sonya’s place for dinner, and she said “Oh, I think I have something of yours.” that her ex had just dropped off.  I was hoping it would be a long lost tea cup or some other precious thing I had left behind in all the chaos surrounding my hasty departure from Montreal in 2008.  When she showed me what it was, at first I couldn’t even figure out why I had kept the item.  However, soon I realised that while the item wasn’t inherently valuable, or precious, it really was a treasure.