Summer vacation is in full swing!

I'm sorry that my updates seem sporadic lately, it's not intentional, I promise! There's no point in making excuses, because I am pretty much always "busy", but I have been good about taking all the necessary pictures. So without further ado, I present a collection of things I've eaten, seen, or done in the past month since graduation!

Lunch shared with my boyfriend during a lunch break at work. We both work in the same area, just down the street from one another, so when we have time we try to have lunch together. There is a food court nearby that has the popular Japanese chicken teriyaki lunchbox meal, so we occasionally share one. The chef that cooks the chicken is pretty funny, he has this thick accent and says enthusiastic things when he serves the food. He often says "chicken ready! yummy yummy!" and "yummy sauce! yummy sauce!" It's quite amusing hehe. I try not to eat out too much for lunch though, as it is a money sink.

I've been pretty excited about the delicious assortment of exotic fruit available now that it is summer. One of my favorites is mango, especially when it is fully ripe. I'm not very good at slicing one open and avoiding the large fuzzy pit in the center, but when I finally get around to eating the soft sweet flesh it is an amazing flavor. I also like gnawing on the flesh surrounding the pit at the end, but if I do that then I always have to floss because the fuzzy fibers always get stuck in my teeth. I wish I had a blender in my dorm, because I would definitely be making my own mango smoothies. The ones I've eaten are incredibly ripe and sweet, so I imagine the smoothie would be quite flavorful.

These little babies are what most of my breakfasts consist of this summer. I tend to always wake up too late to eat anything substantial before heading off to work, so these bars are perfect for my always on-the-go schedule. The one pictured above is trail mix flavored, and the others I've bought are honey almond flax, and peanut peanut butter, all of which are fantastic. These are so good for you, and they fill me up for most of the morning too, unlike other cereal bars (ahem, Special K).

Okay, this is one of my guilty pleasures in terms of takeout foods while at MIT. Ankara Cafe was first introduced to me because all the students know that it has amazing frozen yogurt with endless varieties because of their long list of blended mix-ins (see below). One of my favorite dinner items from Ankara happens to be the MIT triple decker, which is a 3-bread-slice sandwich with pastrami, roast beef, smoked turkey, swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian dressing. I know, it sounds terrible for you, and I assure you that I am well aware it is. But it tastes amazing, always hitting the right spot after a long day. I usually can only eat half of it at a time (or sometimes I will eat the whole thing and feel too stuffed afterwards), but I find that it will taste even better after I microwave the leftover half. Yum!

So this is the well-known Ankara frozen yogurt with mix-ins. They have a list of over 50 different mix-in options, and I've tried many of them in various combinations, still yet to decide on a favorite. This particular yogurt today happened to be vanilla, with white chocolate and brownie mix-ins. The white chocolate chunks are nice, but the brownie mix-in was not quite what I expected. I was imagining small chewy chunks of brownie, but instead it was more like brownie crumbs (see the general light brown color of the yogurt and the small brown specks? that's the brownie…). Still though, the flavor was quite good. A great dessert to follow any takeout items from Ankara :)

Another lunch option at work is the sushi bar in MIT's Stata center across the street. They make boxed sushi rolls that I can just pick up to go. I usually like to get their salmon avocado roll, which has raw salmon in it, but I also really like their grilled salmon roll, whose texture and flavor is completely different from that of raw salmon. They break up the grilled salmon into small bits so that it's easy to chew, which I appreciate.

I sometimes get a soup to go with my sushi, but the cream of spinach soup overpowered the sushi quite a bit. It was very salty and the spinach flavor was strong, probably because it was frozen spinach instead of fresh. I only had a third of this soup before I had had enough. Probably not a bad soup if you were to have it alone or with a roll for lunch.

Greg and I made Chinese style lettuce wraps one day, using iceberg lettuce as the wrapping and a stir-fried mix of pork, beef, and onions, along with fried rice with carrots as the filling. It doesn't take a lot of effort to prepare, as the meats need very little marinating and cooking time. To make a lettuce wrap, we smeared some hoisin sauce on the inside of a large leaf of lettuce, then topped it with a scoop of rice, followed by a few pieces of meat and onions, just enough to get meat into each bite and give extra flavor to the rice. The purpose of the meat in the lettuce wraps is to add variety and flavor, not to act as the base of the meal. That is the job of the rice! Overall the wraps were pretty tasty though, and I got a second meal out of it too. It was an easy first meal to make with Greg, as we both were a bit rusty on our cooking and kind of lazy too. We always take several meals to settle into the routine of making dinners over the summer, as it is rather inconvenient to cook in my dorm, having to bring everything down into the large single kitchen in the basement.

The Asian food truck that I adore, Goosebeary's, sells these vegetarian summer rolls for lunch. I like to get them occasionally when I want a small lunch in anticipation of a big dinner. The rolls cost $1.50 each, and are usually sold in triples, along with a small container of peanut dipping sauce that I like. The rolls themselves are similar to the ones I previously described from Pho Pasteur, except instead of shrimp and pork, these rolls have tofu, carrots, and shitake mushrooms. The rolls are a refreshing treat for lunch on a hot summer's day, and the peanut sauce enhances the flavors quite well, making this vegetarian roll much less boring than it might look or sound. On the particular day that I bought these rolls, it was towards closing time for the food truck, and I only intended to get two of them. But the lady who was serving me was really nice and charged me $3 total for 3 rolls. I guess they wanted to get rid of their rolls because it was going to go to waste anyway if they couldn't sell them all. Good deal!

I was walking home from work one day and noticed a lot of pretty flowers in full bloom in the garden in front of my dorm. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I had my camera with me, so I decided to take some pictures. I'm a hopeless romantic, something about beautiful flowers conjures up images of love and happiness that is just irresistible to me. Unfortunately I know none of the names of these flowers, but if anyone knows be sure to leave me a comment so I can change the mundane names of these photos :) You know, when I was taking the last picture of the purple flowers, I heard some rustling in the bushes on the ground nearby, and I ignored it, thinking it was just a squirrel. Next thing I know, I see this HUGE rope-like tail swinging around on the ground right in front of my face, and I nearly had a heart attack as I realized it was a giant RAT not 2 feet from me. Its ratty tail (excuse the pun) told me that it had lived a long life of experiences, and that it was probably not nearly as afraid of me as I was of it. Still, to see such a big rat in broad daylight was a surprise that I'd like to not relive heh.


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