Friday, November 23, 2012

Turduckenhen Day!

Hello everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day yesterday spent with your loved ones!
For the past 4 years, I have gone and spent Thanksgiving break with my friends' families,
but this year, a group of 'orphans' congregated at our apartment instead,
and we spent a wonderful afternoon together as a family of friends here at Rice!

Our Rice Family!!

In the planning stages of what turned out to be an epic food day, 
David had the idea of making a Turducken (a turkey, a duck, and a chicken),
which would have been pretty epic in itself,
but in the process of grocery shopping, the Turducken turned into a Turduckenhen
(a turkey, a duck, a chicken, and a hen!!!).
4 birds!
all in 1!

We spent a couple of minutes going back and forth in the frozen isle debating whether this additional bird was a good idea, and many skeptical faces were exchanged between David and I,
but somehow, we convinced ourselves that it was, in fact, a good idea...
how did that happen??!!
but anyway, somehow we came back with 4 birds.  
whopping 30+ pounds of meat total.

turkey, duck, chicken, and a hen.

I think we were (at least I was) quite intimidated by all of the meat,
and some of them needed to thaw anyway,
so we started on the 3 different kinds of stuffings the recipe called for.
(cornbread stuffing, spinach stuffing, and the Andouille sausage stuffing)

Cornbread stuffing!
Andouille sausage stuffing!
forgive me, but it seems that I forgot to take a picture of the spinach stuffing...  haha
but I have never experienced so many things going on in the kitchen at the same time!

Then began the deboning process of the birds.
David found this guy on TV (Youtube) who had a tutorial of how to properly debone a chicken,
and honestly, it didn't look that difficult when the guy did it on TV.
So we began with the smallest of the birds, the hen, thinking it would be a piece of cake.

boy, were we wrong.
so. difficult.
David was the champ and ended up doing all of the deboning process;
I wanted to help, but when I tried, I couldn't even find the joint I was supposed to locate,
 and even when I did find it, I couldn't seem to cut it...

Yay!  hen = deboned!  success!

Since I wasn't much of a help in the deboning process,
I made myself useful and recruited another helper in the form of my friend Alexios!
--not that he had much of a choice in the matter as he had just arrived at the Houston airport 
and I was the one picking him up   haha
He came to spend Thanksgiving with me in Houston, 
and I am so thankful and happy that I got to see him again  =)

When we got back, David had deboned all of the birds except for the turkey,
and soon all 4 of the birds were ready to be stuffed!  into each other...

First we stuffed the turkey with the cornbread, spinach, and sausage stuffings
oh, and we also added roasted red pepper to the turkey layer.

Then, we added the duck on top of all of the stuffings and repeated the stuffing process.

Then, we placed the chicken on top of the duck layer, and repeated the stuffing process again.

It should have ended there.
but because we also had the hen, we added the hen on top of all that, 
and repeated the stuffing process again...
quite literally, a mountain of food... 

After we finished, we couldn't help but just laugh at the ridiculous amount of food we had assembled.

Then came the most difficult part of creating the Turduckenhen.
making it look like a turkey...
(especially difficult because Alexios had difficulty with the gloves..  haha)

such a difficult process.
and we couldn't have done it if we had one less person there. 
Definitely a 3 person job, this thing...

But succeed we did, and the Turduckenhen went into the oven all wrapped up.
for 12 hours.

The next day, while we waited for the Turduckenhen to make its appearance,
we began on the cranberry sauce and the 'smashed' sweet potatoes.

so. easy compared to the Turduckenhen  haha

We also created leaves for our 'Thankful Tree' that we were going to put up  =)
Alexios was the best at it  haha

Finally, the 12 hour alarm went off, and we were allowed to uncover the Turduckenhen!

But we had to baste it and roast it for a couple more hours...

So while we waited for the Turduckenhen to roast a little more, 
we went for a walk in the Hermann Park in search of the branches that would make up our 'Thankful Tree'.
Such a gorgeous day!

Yay!  we found the branches for our tree!!

Men in synchronization  haha
It was completely unplanned, btw.
I think I just said, 'hey guys!' or something and they did this  lol

And when we got back, this is what we found!

I don't think I've ever been so awed by the way food looked before.
but man, this Turduckenhen just looks so epic!

Around 3, our Rice Family began to arrive, and we had fun socializing and munching on snacks and appetizers until the carving of the Turduckenhen could begin 
(30+ pounds of meat takes awhile to cool)

The wait was quite torturous, I must say, as we were constantly hovering over this epic table of food..
Everyone brought different dishes, and they all looked SO good!

Then finally, the carving began!
Go David Go!  haha

Pretty soon after the above pics were taken, we began eating, and therefore, there are no more pictures of the meal process until this one...   haha

Total decimation of the Turduckenhen!
Good work team!

It was such a wonderful afternoon filled with great company and great food,
exactly the way I wanted to spend this holiday dedicated to being thankful for what we have.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving,
we asked everyone to write down what they were thankful for on the leaves we had prepared,
and adorn the branches we had picked up at Hermann Park.
Here is the finished product, our "Thankful Tree"!

 It sits on our dining room table, and it gives me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside whenever I look at it!
Such a wonderful reminder of the amazing afternoon spent as the Rice family,
and also of how much I have to be thankful for in my life. =)

Thanks everyone for coming and making this 'orphaned' Thanksgiving such a special one,
thanks to all who brought dishes to share,
thanks to Alexios for traveling so far, it was so great to see you again,
and thanks to David, my co-host, for making what seemed like a daunting process a very enjoyable one!

Thanks for reading!
Happy Thanksgiving (a day late) everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Moody Gardens :: dancing, lights, ice skates

Hello everyone!

Last Friday, half of the Rice Formation Ballroom Team took a road trip down to Galveston, TX to perform our routine at a square and round dancing festival!

I have to admit, I'm not sure what I was expecting to see at a square dancing festival,
(perhaps cowboy boots and cowboy hats?)
but it was definitely not what we saw when we arrived.

 look at these costumes!
I didn't know people wore costumes for square dancing!

People were so nice there, and it was really awesome to see and talk with couples who love the dance,
who have been dancing together for over 50 years,
and who plan on doing it for many more years to come  ;)
Oh, and by the way, square dancing is quite difficult!

Photocred: Angel Bush
Here's our team looking confident before we actually began dancing.
Let's just say that this confidence quickly dissipated and we had to be rescued by another 4 couples who actually knew what they were doing and decided to take each of us under their wings.
Even as 2 squares with 4 veterans and 4 of us in each, we were still incredibly lost most of the time...
so many weaving and twirling and changing partnas...
They told us that they usually take classes for a couple of months before they can actually begin to dance!
It was really fun to try nonetheless!

The caller (the person who call out the moves we are supposed to do)//
the quilt that they made together for the festival//

After our performance, the wonderful people at the festival provided us with the tickets to go see the light show, so the whole team took a stroll through the lighted wonderland.

I have to say, it feels a little early to have all the Christmas lights up already,
--what about Thanksgiving?!!--
but it was so much fun to walk around the park with the team and have random photo shoots  ;)

Partnas photo shoot

Team jumping sessions

jingle bells, jingle bells...

and somehow in the process of strolling,
the 4 of us fell behind...

perhaps because Angel and Andriy were doing things like this,
and David and I were too busy laughing and taking photos   haha

 so anyway, we had a mini photo shoot by ourselves by the gingerbread house  =)

the odd ones above and the cute ones below   haha

Oh, and they also had an ice rink!
We didn't know that!
so we had an impromptu ice skating adventure!

"no forming chains or trains"
so of course, we did just that!  haha

 Partna and I attempting ballroom dancing on ice,,  
rather difficult, I must say  lol

And the team found out that night that David had never had Dippin Dots ice cream before!
so that had to be changed.
I'm happy to report that we have successfully brought him over the dark side  =p

 It was such a fun night, and I'm so excited to take the trip down again with the whole team next year!

Hope you had a wonderful weekend as well!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chamber Marathon!

Hello everyone,

Last Saturday, Shepherd School of Music hosted a chamber music marathon of whopping 6 concerts ranging from 10 am to basically 10 pm!
That has to be the most intense marathon of chamber music I have ever witnessed,
but it was so fun to be a part of it!

The theme of the marathon was 'music in the last 100 years'
to go along with the Rice Centennial celebration,
so we got to hear A LOT (12 hrs worth) of music written pretty recently,
a lot of them by composers still living and composing today!

I performed 2 pieces in 2 of the concerts,
first being the Khachaturian Clarinet, Violin, and Piano trio,
and the second, The Gran Turismo by Andrew Norman.

I had never heard of either of these pieces, and it was such a fun experience learning and getting to know these two pieces as well as the musicians in the groups throughout the semester!

I can't tell you just how different working on these two pieces were!
I mean, the pieces themselves are very different, but even the rehearsing and getting them ready for the performances was a completely different experience altogether.
With the Khachaturian, everything fell into place pretty quickly,
and most of the semester was spent polishing and bringing out the character of the piece
(because it's such a colorful piece!)
and learning to balance and play together.
For Gran Turismo, I felt pretty nervous about it almost throughout the whole preparation process partly because I had to step in for another player about half way through the semester,
and partly because Gran Turismo is based on the car race, and so there are many sections where we are used as sound effects rather than actual melodies or harmonies. 
I think it was a process for all of us to get used to this style of playing.
But once we did get used to it, the 8 of us had so much fun rocking out on stage with all the funky rhythms and sound effects  ;)

Khachaturian Trio!!

In front of our school!  Yay!

Gran Turismo!

We had to!  it's a racing piece!  haha

Next semester, the theme for the chamber marathon is 'music with the French accent'
and I'm so excited to work on Milhaud with the trio above!

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Italian Girl in Algiers!

Hello everyone,

Last night, a few of us visited the theater district to watch the opera, 
The Italian Girl in Algiers, as a part of Rice's Passport to Houston event!
(Karen is the co-chair for these series of events at Rice!  woot woot!)

I think we are developing our theater district tradition of enjoying an amazing dinner together at Lancaster before heading over to watch the show   =)
It was pretty funny going through the pictures from last night because they had so many similarities to the pictures taken from this night.
Oh deja vu moments,
like this one.

Last night                                                                                             Wicked Divas night
Karen and my Lancaster Hotel bathroom mirror pictures  lol

Enjoying wonderful dinner among amazing company  =)
David, Karen, Angel, Andriy, and me!

After the opera, which was pretty hilarious and quite audience friendly,
we attended the reception of potato-tinis.
I have never, ever, even heard of potato-tinis until last night  haha

so in case you have never heard of potato-tinis either,
it's mashed potatoes and assorted toppings that you can arrange in a martini glass!
I was a little skeptical about the concept at first because I was expecting it to be like a dessert,
(how do you make a dessert out of mashed potatoes..?)
but once I figured out it was geared more towards the savory side of the taste palette, 
I quite enjoyed them!   haha

Our photo shoot with the potato-tinis  =)
David, the not-so-secret admirer of the potato-tinis
and Karen, the wonderful hostess!

Enjoying the potato-tinis and the company

Classy peeps  =)

During the reception, we were introduced to two singers of the opera company who had attended Rice!!
They had major roles in the opera as well!
Yay for Shepherd School of Music!!

The whole crew!

hmm, a bit family photo-esq...  lol

On our way back to the car, we stumbled upon this statue!
it was a little creepy with the light shining in such a way, but it was pretty cool nonetheless.
It even had music playing-inside? behind? by?-the statue!

Thanks everyone for a great evening!
let's do it again soon  ;)