Monday, July 27, 2009

Dessert, Slurped Noisily from a Spoon

I expected to write more about the writing of my PhD thesis this month, but it seems that while I was busy writing (and shopping, and talking, and cooking, and eating), July slipped quietly into the past.  Today we have just five days left of the month, and I have sixteen days until my thesis is due to my committee.

I feel a little guilty admitting this, but the truth is that this month has been the easiest month of my entire graduate career.  I know this isn’t true for a lot of thesis-writers.  I remember watching my college roommates huff and puff their way through their senior undergraduate theses.  In addition to the hours and hours and HOURS they spent researching and writing, there were tears, anger, late-night baking sessions, and more than one aggressive spoonful of ice cream, scooped straight from carton to mouth, a defiant attempt to reclaim some sense of pleasure from an otherwise exhausting semester.  To their credit, my dear roommates both finished their theses and graduated with honors.  I was so proud of them.

The only thing my thesis-writing seems to have in common with that of my roommates is the baking and the ice cream.  I’ve already put in my hours (MANY hours) of research, and most of my work was already written up for publication, even if it has not yet been published.  I did have a brief spell of tears and anger at the beginning, when I had to start writing my toughest and most incomplete chapter, but that chapter has long since been passed along to my advisor for his reading pleasure.  But more comforting than the ease of writing this thesis is the sense of reassurance that I am going to graduate AND that I have a job waiting for me afterward.  I haven’t felt this relaxed about my future prospects in years!  All this relaxation rendered me mute about my thesis, at least on this site.  It also sent me into the kitchen for lots of cooking and baking, followed by lots of eating.  I’ve been celebrating!  I’m pretty sure I’m only going to earn one PhD in my lifetime, so I figure I deserve to savor this sweet time in my life.

For the first few weeks of this month, I wondered if I would be adding ten pounds to my hips along with a few letters to my name.  Since I was working at home, I had unlimited access to my kitchen and all the goodies within: gourmet chocolate bars, homemade honey semi-freddo, the most recent batch of cookies, frozen cake and almond blondies in the freezer.  Everything was made just the way I like it.  My sweet tooth was having a field day!  And to be honest, I just wasn’t in the mood to worry about my weight.  I didn’t want to worry about anything at all—I’d had enough of that over the past six years.  Maybe I would just take an extra walk around the block and call it a day.

But sanity prevailed as my sweet tooth began demanding fruit as often as any other treat.  And really, the fruit at this time of year is about as good as it gets, plump and sweet and juicy, practically falling off the trees and bushes into our laps.  In my case, I think my sweet tooth cares not about calories or fat grams; it just wants the good stuff, like  a pound or so of organic cherries for $2.99 at Whole Foods, perfect for snacking and spitting out the pits.  They are also perfect tossed into a blender and whirled with some milk, yogurt, sugar, and cocoa powder to make an after-dinner dessert soup, to be slurped noisily from a spoon.

Because cherries are a quintessentially seasonal food to me, I find it almost impossible not to buy them every time I go shopping.  I just love ‘em.  I also love how they taste so dark and fruity when eaten with chocolate.  A dessert soup seems like the perfect way to showcase that combination.  I like to top it with a few spoonfuls of granola, an idea I borrowed from Kath.  The granola adds a little toothsome crunch and makes it seem more soup-like to me; most importantly, it’s totally delicious.  My PhD thesis may never again see the light of day after I graduate, but I’m sure this soup will, at least in my kitchen.

Chocolate-Cherry Dessert Soup with Homemade Granola Topping

Serves 1

First things first: make a batch of granola.  I find it handy to keep a container of it hanging around my kitchen at all times.  A few suggestions are listed below.

Second: because this is a dessert, I make it a bit sweeter than I would a smoothie or yogurt snack.  But feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to your own taste.

Third: I love how this soup is like a cold, cherried version of hot chocolate.  I find that cocoa powder is very stubborn about dissolving in hot chocolate, perhaps because most recipes instruct you to use at least a tablespoon per serving.  In this recipe, it dissolves easily, perhaps because there isn’t a lot of it, perhaps because it is aided by the fat and protein in the yogurt.  (Any other guesses about what helps cocoa powder to dissolve?)  At any rate, it makes for smooth, chocolatey slurping here.

5 dark red cherries, halved and pitted

1/2 cup yogurt (lowfat is fine; full-fat is tastier)

1/2 cup milk (lowfat is fine)

1 tsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. granulated sugar, or to taste

2-3 tbsp. homemade granola, such as Addictive Peanut Butter Granola or French Chocolate Granola

1)  Place the cherry halves, yogurt, milk, cocoa powder, and sugar in a blender and blend until mostly smooth.  Taste and adjust the flavor with more cocoa or sugar if needed.

2)  Pour the cherry mixture into a bowl and top with granola.  Eat with a spoon, slurping noisily if you like.

PS This soup is yummy with breakfast too, alongside some toast and eggs.


Laurie said...

OK, this is just getting spooky. I made a smoothie with almost the same ingredients last week. I called it a chocolate-covered cherry smoothie. This isn't the first time we've unknowingly had similar things happening in our kitchens. Too funny.

Rosiecat said...

Laurie, you say it's spooky, I say it's genius! Cherries make such a delicious smoothie (or soup) that it's hard to resist dragging out the blender for them.

OK, so what are you cooking next week? Maybe we should coordinate! ;-)

ttfn300 said...

ooh, a cherry soup!! love cherries--i just got some sour ones i need to get to :)

good for your sweet tooth, my mind certianly gets to the best of me when i'm home too much :( glad the thesis writing hasn't been that bad--mine didn't seem that bad either!

Rosiecat said...

ttfn, I keep hearing about sour cherries! I want to taste one!

Oh, sweet tooth. Mine used to be so much worse, but it seems to have aged gracefully. Ironically, I think one of the things that helps my sweet cravings a lot is making most of my own desserts. You'd think that by having so much great food around I'd be gobbling down cookies by the dozen, but there's something about baking them myself that I find very satisfying--maybe it's the dough sampling? ;-)

Anonymous said...


You evoked some buried thesis-writing memories . . . I had forgotten about the carton-to-mouth ice cream (although I do remember bottle-to-spoon doses of chocolate syrup)!

My one regret regarding my thesis is that I had only one bound copy made. If I had two, I could take a copy to school. That thing would shut my students up when they complain about writing two-page essays. :)


Rosiecat said...

Ah, AMPD, I forgot about emergency doses of chocolate syrup! Too funny! I've got a neglected bottle of chocolate syrup in my fridge now. I'm going to make it earn its keep ASAP.

It is funny how daunting it can be to write a certain amount. I haven't thought about minimum limits in YEARS. Most of the time, I've written too much and must find ways of saying more with fewer words.

You should definitely find something to show your students that a two-page essay is just the tip of the iceberg...would you like to borrow my copy of Nicole's thesis? That might do the trick!