Madison: White Jasmine Cooking Class at Madison Public Library

This past spring, Madison Public Library hosted a series of cooking classes with White Jasmine. I was able to sign up for two of the classes and had a great time at both. The classes were aimed toward learning how to cook a variety of Pakistani food. I really enjoy all food, especially food with a lot of flavor and spice, so I was really excited to get an idea of how I could make some tasty food for myself.

During the second lesson that I attended (the final lesson in the series) the class focused on vegetarian cooking. I personally prefer to have a meat dish with every meal but it was fun to learn how to cook some alternative meals options such as chickpeas and zucchini. Though they were intended to be vegetarian main courses, both could be eaten as a side dish.

When we arrived at the library, we walked into a room set up to view a cooking demonstration. At the front of the room were several ingredients, spices, and cooking tools. Each seat had a copy of each recipe that was being prepared as well as a survey for everyone to complete toward the end of the program.

White Jasmine Cooking Class Madison Public Library

After everyone arrived, the organizer of the event said a few words. Huma Siddiqui then took over the show. She explained to us that she had moved to Wisconsin from London and was startled by the lack of flavor and spices used in American cooking. She started to share her recipes and cooking experience and began to teach cooking classes in the Madison area. The spices are for sale on their website and at Woodman’s grocery stores.

 

While she was sharing her background, she began to prepare the meal. First, she started to prepare the lentils, then the chickpeas, and finally the zucchini. She did a great job giving tips about each dish to us and answering questions while the food was cooking. For those of us who weren’t familiar with all of the spices that were being used, she passed around the jars (which are a product that she sells) which allowed us to see and smell each one. We also had the recipes in front of us so that we could take notes on how to properly prepare the food for ourselves at home.

After the food was ready, we got to do the fun part. We all lined up and were able to eat as much of the food as we wanted. Everything was incredibly delicious, and I was especially in love with the chickpeas. I went back for seconds.. and thirds! It was hard to eat the chickpeas because they were incredibly spicy due to the chili pepper, but that certainly didn’t stop me from eating as much of the delicious food as I could.

Madison Public Library will be hosting another set of these cooking classes this fall and registration is currently open. The classes are also periodically available throughout the community at a low cost and information about upcoming classes can be found on the White Jasmine website.

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I haven’t yet had the chance to make one of these recipes, but I am pretty sure the chickpeas would be a great fall meal. I also really enjoyed attending this class with my mom and one of my friends, it is a fun way to try out something new in our community.

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Review: Yardbird Las Vegas 2017

My family recently enjoyed a meal at Yardbird Las Vegas and it was absolutely incredible. The restaurant is known for its fried chicken, and it was some of the best fried chicken that I have ever had. Yardbird is located inside of the Venetian and it’s recommended to arrive with a reservation.

Chicken Wings and Okra at Yardbird Las Vegas

My brother ordered the chicken wings with okra. The chicken wings were good (I would have preferred the sauce on the side but he enjoyed his meal) and the okra was delicious. We ended up ordering an extra side order for the table.

Fried Chicken and Watermelon at Yardbird Las Vegas

I ordered the chicken plate (not chicken and waffles.) I really enjoyed the chicken – the breading was perfect – so delicious that I was eating it on its own. I saved the chicken for the dipping sauce, which was a mix of sweet and spicy. The biscuit was good but standard, and the spiced watermelon was really tasty. I ended up giving my watermelon away to my family as it’s not really my thing.

Cornbread at Yardbird Las Vegas

I also ordered a side of corn bread which I loved. The cornbread was nice and warm and the perfect compliment to the fried chicken. I definitely preferred it to the biscuit. I ate mine with honey butter that had come with the biscuits and it was a great combination.

Every single one of us loved Yardbird and highly recommend a visit. It was probably my favorite meal in Vegas and I will definitely be back next time I am in town.

Style: 2017 Backpack Picks

Apparently now that I’m going to graduate school I need to do things like study and carry around textbooks. I was very disappointed when I saw that my econ textbook is the standard gigantic and expensive disaster that you think of when you hear someone mention college textbooks. I still have my backpack from undergrad but I’m not all that interested in using it. It’s a trusty old North Face that I bought in 2009, and on day one I packed a yogurt which, of course, burst and flooded the front pocket with fruity goo.

Here are some of the backpacks that I’m interested in purchasing.

  • North Face Jester in Black: I like the idea of getting another North Face because I know that it will hold up. This one is small, but big enough for a laptop and textbooks, and the $65 price point is great.
  • Herschel Little America in Windsor Wine and Tan: I love Herschel backpacks. They started to become a thing when I was still in undergrad and I was really interested in getting one, but didn’t see the point since I was graduating. I think that this one is super pretty, but I am a little bit concerned about the lack of zippers.

  • Rebecca Minkoff Julian Velvet in Pink: I probably won’t buy this because it’s out of my budget, but the color is perfect and I’m amongst the many humans who are obsessed with velvet right now. A girl can dream!
  • Herschel Dawson in Black: Another neat option from Herschel. I love black fabric and leather together as well as the big pockets. Why are these bags so cute??

  • Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Backpack in Grey: Vera Bradley is one of my favorite brands but I haven’t been a fan of their patterns in recent years. I like this bag because Vera Bradley uses quality materials, and the neutral color scheme really stands out. This backpack is in my top three for 2017.
  • JanSport Cool Student in Black and Tan: As an older student, I have fond memories of JanSport bags. I remember suddenly noticing that everyone I knew had a JanSport bag and excitedly getting one the next year. Looking at them now I feel a little silly, especially since the price point is comparably low, but they bring back memories and they’ve been around for years, so they must be a trustworthy brand.

Do you think you’ll purchase one of these bags? Do you have a go-to brand at back to school time? I am so excited to make this decision!

Travel: Vegas Day 1

A few months ago my family decided to take a quick trip to Vegas for Labor Day weekend. We wanted to take a fun trip together before I start grad school and thought Vegas would be a nice place for a quick visit.

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We had a really easy time getting to Vegas. We used Frontier and our flights averaged to about $240 direct from Madison to Vegas. They would have been closed to $200 but we added on checked bags. Everyone was very happy when the realized we were flying direct rather than traveling to Milwaukee or Chicago.

Not only was our flight convenient, we had a great crew that kept the trip super exciting. They did a couple of different games like a raffle, an age guessing game, and a trivia and gave away assorted prizes. It helped make the last hour of our flight go by quick.

As soon as we got to our hotel (we are staying at The Venetian) we all realized that we were hungry and started looking up options for dinner. We decided to go to The Buffet at Wynn. I was excited because it was very colorful and seemed to have a lot of food options. My family was excited because they were hungry and it was nearby. We were a little disappointed when we arrived to find out that it was $45/person as the website we had used to find it had said $25-35, but we decided to try it out anyway.

I loved the food and was excited to try new things. I tried a couple of things that I didn’t like, but I found out that I love quail. I also really loved the pork belly buns, the duck and the potato latkes with cottage cheese. Who knew that was an amazing thing?

Dessert was on another level. The room was amazing. There were so many options and I ended up getting butterscotch bread pudding, creme brulee, and banana sticky toffee pudding. Twice. Literally my only criticism was that the sticky toffee pudding was banana, I would have preferred traditional.

I was also really impressed with the Wynn. I would definitely consider staying there in the future. The setting was so beautiful. And I won $100 in the casino.

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I’m pretty excited about my winnings. My daily gambling budget is $20, so no matter what I’ll break even at the end of the trip.

After dinner and a brief foray into gambling, we walked back to our hotel but stopped to watch the fountain at the Wynn. It’s very lovely for a few moments but the songs are limited and get repetitive fast.

We ended the night with some pool time at the Venetian and hang-out time in the hotel room.

Have you been to Vegas? What are your favorite things to do? Give me your recommendations!