Saturday, February 26, 2011


Don't groan. Just consider yourself lucky that I didn't make a hiatal hernia joke.

In any case, this week is fantastically chock-full of meetings and events, all of which take place between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. and all of which involve food. In fact, there are only two days that will not involve me being fed, gratis, by some organization. Why, I reason, should I go grocery shopping now for vegetables that will wilt while I sample the finest that NYU School of Medicine's catering service has to offer? Thus, unless you want to hear about my stellar technique for making Annie's brand macaroni and cheese (thanks, Mom, for sending me a few boxes!), I will not be blogging until Saturday unless something so interesting happens in my non-gastronomical life that I feel the need to comment on it.

That said, go eat at Chennai Garden. They've got wonderful and absolutely enormous dosa.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Citation needed

My food supply is running low, and when that happens, I usually turn to dal. For some reason, though, I just don't think I could look a teaspoon of turmeric in the face right now. And I want caramelized onions. Solution: mujaddara, which consists of lentils and rice cooked together and lightly spiced with caramelized onions spooned over them. Fun fact: I turned to Wikipedia for well-cited information as to the origins of mujaddara (answer: "Levantine"), only to find that there is a "mujaddara in literature" section of the page. Apparently, the dish is a big deal in what Wikipedia confidently asserts is "the first Arab-American novel." In any case, mujaddara is simple to make. Cook equal parts lentils and brown rice (I like brown because it cooks more on the lentils' timescale) in a pot; for each cup, add a pinch each of cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, salt, and pepper. Meanwhile, caramelize some onions in an indulgent amount of olive oil. Top the lentils and rice with the onions. I also had a salad with lemon juice and sesame oil.

I have some leftover "saffron broth" from the risotto, so I used just enough to hint at the spice's fragrance in the cooking liquid, and I mixed a few drops with the last few spoonfuls of sour cream to make a yogurt topping that did not work at all on the mujaddara. So I added a little honey and some cardamom and some almonds and called it dessert. Don't judge.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where soul meets body

After a busy past few days, all I wanted from tonight was to heave a great physical and mental sigh as I settled into my armchair-like object with a book and a big plate of classic healthy comfort food: slow-cooked kale and pinto bean casserole. It tastes like hugs feel. I didn't photograph it, largely because only the New York Times can make a dish like that look good*. There is something more picturesque on the menu, though:

These are lemon cookies adapted from a recipe at the eminently charming One Perfect Bite. I don't have lemon extract and wasn't going to fork over for it just to make these cookies, so I upped the lemon juice and added a little almond extract. These are big, chewy, simple-to-make Frisbees of baked good perfection.

And as to the book, I got to choose from among three I recently purchased at mark-down prices from my local bankrupt branch of Borders:

1. Coin Locker Babies, by Ryu Murakami: In the Miso Soup was gory almost to a fault, and this from a girl who loves her some zombie fiction, but I'm giving him another chance. Almost Transparent Blue is his most famous, I think, but if this one isn't good enough to overcome the gross, I'm not going to go for it. I'm encouraged, though, because the back cover is splashed with a quote from Banana Yoshimoto: "Its power grabbed me by the heart." How quaint.

2. True at First Light, by Ernest Hemingway: This unfinished work was heavily edited by one of Hemingway's children and released to controversial reception in 1999. I'm not educated enough to be a Hemingway purist, though, and since I llike his memoir-style work most of all--I believe I've written about my love of A Moveable Feast--this felt like a natural next step in my Hemingway consumption.

3. Year's Best SF 15, ed. David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer: Mock on, O ship of state, but hear me out before you do. I may have mentioned on this blog certain books that I read in childhood that in retrospect affected me more deeply than I had first considered. The most notable of these is Eleven Blue Men, which, when I read it at age ten or so, both sparked my love for infectious disease and implanted in my brain knowledge that has been getting me quizbowl points and med school points ever since. Amusingly enough, the Year's Best SF anthologies were similarly influential. Some of them mentioned Real Science that I then researched; some of them mentioned Real Literature or Real History that I then learned about. Some of them presented interesting ethical issues in their storylines; some of them just granted me indelible images of fantastic landscapes that still make me contentedly dreamy when I think about them. I said to myself, "Why should these childhood memories end with childhood's end** when for the low price of $4.99 I can read a new installment in the anthologies?" And I bought it.

*Alterations to the recipe: I had no fresh herbs besides the parsley and no herbes de Provence blend, so I improvised and just mixed everything in, throwing the bay leaf on top. Additionally, I made a crust of panko blended with Parmesan and olive oil.
**Yeah, I did mentally giggle at this one. I crack me up.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A symphony of preservatives

Regular blog readers (or, you know, people I talk to in real life) know that I eat a lot of vegetables and little pre-prepared food*. But the first pulm exam and its accompanying epidemiology exam draw nigh. Behold the components of dinner.

It may give me diabetes and cancer, but it will keep me awake. See those vegetables in there? That means it's healthy.

Also, I need the blogosphere to resolve a minor domestic dispute. This is a half-pound of green grapes. Would you call this an inordinate amount of grapes to eat in a 12-hour period?

*Example: last night's pinto bean chili with bittersweet chocolate in it (sort of a poor man's mole) and roasted broccoli.

Monday, February 21, 2011

No snappy title; just read this, will you?

This is arborio rice.

When you toast arborio rice in a pan with some onion and then slowly add hot saffron broth and white wine to cook it until it's al dente, and then finish it with a little butter and sour cream, and then top it with roasted red pepper and a poached egg and smoked paprika and parsley and broiled kale, this is what you get:

Many thanks to the lovely downstairs neighbors who helped me cook and eat this. I actually wrote down the proportions, for once, so I'll be making this again for sure.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cooking is not music

First things first: Nixon in China was a wonderful experience. I'm partial to modern opera, and I flat-out love minimalism of all sorts, so this was right up my alley. The opera mixes sincere drama and farce, fitting for the occasion it depicts. In my exceedingly humble and uneducated opinion, there was one misstep: Farce overtook sincerity about halfway through the second act, when Pat Nixon can't tell the difference between play and reality during a performance of The Red Detachment of Women set against a tropical background, performers shoot each other (or maybe not), and an all-out brawl ensues as Chairman Mao's wife sings the amazing, amazing I am the wife of Mao Tse-tung (high Ds, anyone?). I read that the choreographer, Mark Morris, and the director, Peter Sellars, wished to blur the lines between performer and performance, both within the opera and between the opera and its audience. Perhaps I'm just not artistic enough to appreciate it fully, since the second act was too heavy-handed for me, despite the brilliant singing and music. For one thing, John Adams was conducting. I'm not sure how much of that act's absurdity was his writing and how much was the staging, but the orchestra was fantastic no matter what I thought about the action. The third act was much more my style. In her aria This is prophetic, Pat Nixon offers up an unusual sort of prayer. I found the line "Let routine dull the edge of mortality" particularly interesting, since I usually consider routine a harbinger of the dull creep toward death; Mrs. Nixon apparently appreciates the joys of stasis and the comforts of sameness.

I also have to admit that I got a little thrill when the Chinese rolled in a patient from the People's Clinic during Pat Nixon's tour of Peking. Mrs. Nixon pointed out that maybe bringing this patient in was a little invasive; in response, she was comforted with the knowledge that of course the patient would recover under the ministrations of the people's physicians. I had a brief reverie about patient confidentiality debates that often bring in the radically different Chinese perspective before the opera drew me back in. Stupid medical school, worming your way into my brain at every turn.

And today... Let's just say that I wish it were more socially acceptable to be totally agog. While Nixon in China is sparse on the percussion--I think there was only one percussionist in the ensemble--Inuksuit, the John Luther Adams piece I heard today at the Park Avenue Armory, was all percussion. Well, sort of. There were conch shells, and flutes at the very end, and rolled-up pieces of paper, and plastic tubes swung over the head. There were people milling around and people lying on the ground and people sitting down and holding hands. There was a huge room full of musicians, and single or double stands set up throughout the building. It was all the sort of avant-garde Kool-Aid to which we're supposed to be slightly cynically resistant, but this was amazing. Deeply, truly amazing, as represented by the fact that I can't even write about it coherently. It was the best and quickest 85 minutes I've spent in months. We'll see when the high wears off.

Oh, and listen to the piece from which I drew this post's title: Music Is Not Music, by Alvin Curran.

As far as food, I made this chocolate banana bread that was absolutely fabulous. I've got a complicated relationship with bananas. When I was young, I couldn't stand them; even now, I will only eat underripe bananas (which fortuitously have significantly more resistant starch than ripe bananas), and fake banana flavor makes me relive every bad decision I've ever made. But banana in baked goods... now that I can get behind, especially when the baked goods are as moist as this.

Dinner was a smooth and creamy red lentil and coconut milk soup. Red lentils (well, properly speaking, petite crimsons; there is a slightly larger variety of red lentil that turns sort of yellowish-orange when cooked and is a little more sturdy) have a shorter cooking time than green lentils and don't hold their shape as well.

The vegetable is Chinese broccoli, or gai lan, a rare treat for me. It's good with oyster sauce or hoisin sauce, but here I just steamed it and then seared it briefly in sesame oil with salt and pepper; oyster sauce isn't vegetarian, and hoisin sauce clearly doesn't pair well with red lentil soup.

And now, back to studying, which I swear I've been doing in between all this fun. Our current unit continues to be lightweight, affording me the time to experience the various Adamses!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dunch? Linner?

What do you call it when, instead of eating one afternoon meal and one evening meal, you eat one meal halfway between the two? Only witty nomenclature need apply.

In any case, my one meal of the day today--aside from a tall glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice from the last of my second batch of grandmother-gifted oranges--was a bowl of Chinese steamed eggs with sesame oil drizzled on top, along with a few garlic rolls that a friend brought me and that I devoured way too quickly. I hadn't eaten all day, and plus, I was raised by wolves.

As I got down into the lower layers of egg, it got progressively more liquidy, which made no sense. Until I realized that there was a reason that when I have little cups of steamed egg at a dim sum restaurant, the vegetables are steamed and sprinkled on top. The broccoli in here had released all its water into the bottom of the bowl. Oops.

And now, part of the reason for my one meal (along with the fact that I was working all morning and then went to yoga): I'm off to the opera*! Nixon in China, to be precise. I'll let you know how it is. And if I feel like staying up even later when I get home, I'll perhaps have a delicious baked good to share for breakfast.

*I wish I could say that my eating at 4:30 p.m. was only a matter of timing, but I have to admit to some vanity in there. One cannot have a protruberant food-filled belly when one is nicely dressed for the opera, after all.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Do you want to fill your MD stomach?

I happily hand out recipes left and right, but I am thinking about giving one-on-one or one-on-two cooking lessons (on convenient post-exam or less-intense inter-exam weekends) for the low, low cost of ingredients. Bread-baking and dessert-making lessons are also options. I do know how to cook meat, so that can be arranged if you're a committed carnivore. Let me know if you are interested in doing this!

On to less hypothetical repasts:

Peppadews are South African peppers, only slightly spicy and usually served pickled. They're typically stuffed with cream cheese and served as appetizers. I chose to stuff them with a blend of feta, roasted garlic, parsley, and scallions and then roast them.


There's this Italian flatbread recipe I've been wanting to try, so I figured why not now. For one thing, the rising time fit conveniently into my workout schedule.

It's got a great texture; I just wish I'd spiced it a little more heavily. One can never overdo the marjoram, apparently.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tofast, tofurious

Soy proteins are not my preferred way of getting my daily non-animal flesh allotment of amino acidy goodness. But I had a lot of tofu left over from last week's thenthuk, and what better use for tofu than to try to imitate yet another meat dish that was dear to my non-vegetarian heart: bulgogi.

This was just so good. The caramelized, slightly charred outside, the marinated onions and scallions and peppers, the steamed bok choy and enoki, the rice that soaked up the thickened, syrupy marinade... There was one flaw, however, which was that like an idiot I thought adding more than the recommended amount of red pepper flakes would be a good idea. It wasn't too spicy for my tastes, but it was a little overwhelming to the more subtle aspects of the marinade (like grated pear and orange bits).

I'm definitely making this again. It was more labor-intensive and, to my chagrin, more of a dirty dish generator than most of what I cook, but it was worth it. If you'd like to give this a shot, just pick any bulgogi marinade recipe off the Internet that looks good, press some tofu (or buy pressed tofu) and let it sit in the marinade all day, and pan-fry it in a hot, sesame oil-coated pan, with the marinade in there so that everything will caramelize together. You could obviously do the same with thinly sliced beef or chicken, but where's the fun in that? The advantage of bulgogi is that the sauce is the star; you might as well keep it vegetarian while you're at it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sundries of which Caucasians readily approve, redux

I continue to be really white in that I can't seem to lay off the ethnic food. Seriously. Spoiler alert: Filling an MD Stomach is about to experience a slew of posts about Middle Eastern and east Asian dishes. I feel like Edward Said would have something to say about this, you know, if he were alive and somehow disinterested in studying more important things than privileged white medical students who really love olive oil and cumin.

It's easy to just blame it all on current events, so I will. Hey, readers, how 'bout those political situations that put me in the mood for some heavy-hitting North African spices??

Small talk aside, look, salad!

I based this on a recipe for Moroccan marinated carrot sandwiches with goat cheese and green olive tapenade that I made for the Fourth of July this past summer. It's got carrots, goat cheese, kidney beans, parsley, olives, orange juice and zest, a slew of spices... all the things that make life worth living. As you can see from the photo, I ate it with ersatz Wheat Thins*. Well, Wheat Thins minus about a tablespoon of corn syrup and plus some sesame oil and rosemary (the recipe was, shockingly, based on Mark Bittman's cracker template). Since the salad had a tablespoon of brown sugar in it, I felt like slightly sweet crackers were probably not the way to go.

Oh, and read this fantastic article!

*Ongoing Blog List of Things Hannah Loves Too Much: Martha Nussbaum**, YouTube videos of kittens, and Wheat Thins. Oh, Wheat Thins!
**Except she's a person, not a thing. Well, maybe a sexy thing.***
***Yes, yes, I'm sorry for what I said in **, duzhmata, duzhukhta, duzhvarshta, let's move on.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Better dead than red.

Valentine's Day is stupid. If I may be slightly reductionist, it makes coupled people want to buy useless things for each other (slash expect to be bought useless things by their partners), and it makes non-coupled people feel weird about not being coupled. There will be no heart-shaped or red or pink or otherwise adorable food on this blog, thank you very much.

Instead, I bring you vegetarian French onion soup (that I ate alone because being alone is okay*)! It involves real Gruyère and croutons fashioned out of rejuvenated slices of yesterday's whole wheat bread.

French onion soup is usually made with veal stock or beef stock, which gives it that silky mouthfeel and impossibly rich flavor that makes food lovers weep happy tears and cows quake in their little cow boots. This recipe, however, reconciles the two, for it calls for my favorite culinary obsession in lieu of cow product: porcini stock. Along with a cup of red wine (which could be substituted for the more traditional sherry). And two pounds of onions. Be still my heart.

Speaking of hearts... We first-years have left cardiology for pulmonology (at long last!). Last week's cardiology test was the twisted bastard child of Beelzebub and Willem Einthoven; I'm letting this new material be a breath of fresh air blowing in off the waters of the Lethe as far as that joyous exam experience goes. And yes, pun intended.

*I know, I'm not single, but I'm not in close proximity to the person who makes me not single, so I'm flying solo for the 14th.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just stop, Alibris. We get it.

Alibris, which has brought me many a delightful and delightfully cheap book over the years, just won't stop sending me coupons. The trick is that to invoke my $10 coupon, I would have to spend $50, which is easy when you have books like this one, which I really want to read but which is un-checkoutable at Bobst and unavailable at the Strand, or this one, which I've got in PDF but which it might be good to have in hard copy because reading on the computer is basically inviting distractability, or even this one, which is just plain amusing. But spending that much money on books would be a bad idea, which is why Alibris needs to quit tempting me with the fact that there are many interesting tomes out there to be purchased via its enthusiastically worded coupon-containing e-mails.

Anyway, tonight was veggie burger night, using a brand new recipe*. These were the best I've ever cooked. Here's the list of alterations I made to the recipe:

  1. I added a handful of chopped parsley right before giving the mix its final buzz in the food processor.
  2. I used panko instead of regular breadcrumbs.
  3. I processed the olives with the rest of the burger batter in order to disperse them better than I could by hand.
  4. Although I only halved the recipe, I decreased the amount of thyme by 2/3. Anything more would have been overwhelming.
  5. I put the lentils on earlier in the day and got distracted by something or other. By the time I remembered I had lentils on the stove, the bottom was scorched. I picked out the most charred ones and just threw in the remainder. Surprisingly enough, the small dose of "chipotle lentils" was a great substitute for liquid smoke; there weren't enough burnt ones to impart an acrid flavor, fortunately.

The coral-colored stuff is a Russian-esque dressing that I concocted using sour cream, sriracha, and pureed canned tomato with a bit of brown sugar (I don't have ketchup). I served the duly dressed burgers** on a pan-toasted slice of no-knead whole wheat bread with a lemon-and-olive oil-dressed green salad. These would be equally (or more) delicious on a traditional hamburger bun with a slice of tomato and some mayo, though. Now that I think of it, broiling cheddar on top during the last few minutes of cooking wouldn't go amiss either.

*Do I hate myself a little for using a recipe from a blog called Post Punk Kitchen? Yes. But this thing makes me feel better!
**This makes it sound like I'm actually presenting my food to people in the evenings, but do not be fooled. There's nothing more formal than "I suppose even though I'm eating alone in my room using a napkin and utensils would be a human thing to do" going on.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Compare and contrast

After an interesting* lunch today at Buddha Bodai in Chinatown, Andy and I stopped by a Chinese market to pick up a few things. This included enoki, baby bok choy, and firm tofu**, with which I made a highly untraditional thenthuk (including homemade hand-pulled noodles, of course).

I was forced to use canned tomatoes (horrors!) and did not find cilantro, a traditional ingredient for the soup. Why not go hog-wild and add some turmeric and sriracha, and bok choy instead of spinach?

And then, shifting to a completely different part of the world, I made sour cream orange coffee cake. I had quite a lot of sour cream left over, as I mentioned, from last night's snickerdoodle bars, and while I have plans to make a dip from some of it for quenelles later in the week, there was no way I was going to use the rest up. Ditto for the oranges. I adapted this recipe by simply adding the zest from one orange and a bit of its juice to the batter, and by switching out the cinnamon for cloves with a touch of nutmeg (clove and orange being a more classic flavor combination than cinnamon and orange).

 It was great, as evidenced by the fact that Andy had three sizeable slices, and I kept picking bits of crust off those slices. Just use your favorite coffee cake recipe and add the orange and use nutmeg and cloves instead of cinnamon. But here, I'll throw you a bone and give you:

Hannah's Highly Altered Thentuk, based on the only recipe for thenthuk that appears to exist on the Internet

1. Slice a few cloves of garlic and a two-inch knob of ginger. Fry it and about half an onion in sesame oil at the bottom of a pot. Add five cups of water or broth, about a third of a cup of soy sauce, and a squirt of sriracha. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for half an hour to forty-five minutes.

2. Strain the garlic and ginger out (and don't worry about it if some of the onion comes out with it), then add a chopped tomato (or, if you're me, two chopped canned tomatoes) and simmer for fifteen more minutes. This is the point at which I added some turmeric and un-Tibetified the dish.

3. While the broth is undergoing its second simmer, make the noodle dough. Use 1.5 cups of bread or all-purpose flour (I prefer bread), a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and about half a cup warm water. Knead the dough for about fifteen minutes or until smooth. It should be stretchy and pliable and slightly sticky; adjust your flour and water to make this happen. Coat the dough and oil and let it rest for fifteen to twenty minutes.

4. Prepare your vegetables (spinach and cilantro and scallions are typical), and bring the broth to a boil. Elongate the dough into a slightly flattened cylinder. Working quickly, pull off flat, thumb-length bits of dough and throw them into the boiling water. They're done after about three minutes, or when they float to the top.

5. Toss in the vegetables and serve. If you want to use meat, very thinly slice beef or chicken and put it in with the vegetables; it should cook within 60 seconds. I used cubes of tofu, which basically just need to heat through.

*Usually when people use the word "interesting" in this sort of situation, it's because they can't actually think of something positive to say but don't want to say anything too negative, either. So don't get me wrong: Lunch was delicious, but above all, it was just plain interesting to eat vegetarian dim sum.
**The tofu cost me $1.25. Suck it, Whole Foods.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Purchasing power

No cooking today. I did, however, bake snickerdoodle cookie bars to bring to a friend's birthday party tonight. Andy and I sampled one warm from the oven. They are delicious, especially the cinnamon sugar crust on the bottom. But they're cakier than I expected them to be from the recipe's description and from the way the photo looked. I probably should have guessed based on the fact that the recipe called for three eggs. Anyway, since these were ostensibly "blondies" and thus should have had a chewier texture, I am not going to post the recipe until I can fiddle with it to my heart's content. I have a lot of sour cream left over, so there's room to experiment. I might make sour cream coffee cake instead. The world is my baking oyster.

Pathetically hipster in my skinny jeans, knock-off
Converse, and trendy apron. Sigh.

As to today's other activities... For a total of $14.02, we acquired at the Strand the following: The Three-cornered World (Soseki), Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Bach), La symphonie pastorale (Gide), a whimsical book on the history of pirates that I intend to give the pirate-loving birthday girl tonight, All the Pretty Horses (McCarthy), The Cunning Man (Davies), Nervous Conditions (Dangarembga), Gossip from the Forest (Keneally), The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (Holmes), The Colonel's Dream (Chesnutt), Kiss of the Spider Woman (Puig), The Principles of Electrochemistry (MacInnes), Bodily Harm (Atwood), The Cancer Ward (Solzhenitsyn), Spoon River Anthology (Masters), and The World According to Garp (Irving). There were also five or six copies of The Three-cornered Hat, on which de Falla's opera was based, but I had a sneaking suspicion that the opera was more fun than the story and so did not purchase one.

On a related note, I have been meaning to read The Recognitions for some time now. I even started it over the summer, but never finished. I've decided to attempt to read at least five pages of it per day until I have completed it. I have to finish The Zahir, which Andy gave me when I last visited him, but then I will start to chug my way through all 956 pages of Gaddis's tome. Of course, it would take me about 191 days to complete the book if I only read 5 pages per day, so let's see how this goes.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stuff white people like

There's no "ethnic food" entry on (believe me, I checked), but there should be. Looking over my posts and my menu plan for the next couple weeks, I'm almost ashamed at how white I'm being. There's a lot of food that white people like.

And so tonight I offer you an egg and cabbage korma that I did not photograph because, well, Andy's here, which means the food disappears about three times as quickly as when I'm alone. But here are some photos of the onion-and-garlic-and-ginger-and-hot pepper-and-tomato-and-almond paste that formed its base, as well as the spice blend (turmeric, fennel, coriander, cumin, cardamom, black pepper, methi, mustard) that I toasted in ghee (which I should either not use or just buy, because making it is sort of a greasy experience) to make it extra fragrant:

I'm white enough to love my food processor, but not so
white that I'll use a mortar and pestle because it's more "authentic."
Looks appetizing, right?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This post deserves a pun

I made this braised cabbage recipe from the New York Times. I'd love to make a pun on CABG/cabbage, but my brain is dead from studying.

Never too dead, though, to laugh at the fact that the methi leaves I used are apparently made using SCIENCE!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bread and circuses

Check this out.

Tonight's dish was, in fact, laganophake, a stew of lentils cooked in red wine that originated in ancient Rome. I didn't have any panem (or libum, sort of a holy sacrificial cheesy bread) with which to serve it. Rice worked just fine. I am also nearly out of green vegetable, so I used enough parsley--which contains all those nutritious goodies that other green foods contain--to nearly qualify this as a parsley tabbouleh.

As for the circenses: PLACE (a.k.a. Pretending Longitudinal Access to Care Exists) today was totally rad, dude, to use another ancient expression. I'm with a pediatric endocrinologist who is conveniently located in Schwartz Health Care Center. Today, I saw such nifty things as a boy with Prader-Willi syndrome (giving me the opportunity to show off the fact that I actually knew what that was), a toddler with an unfused anterior fontanelle, and a little girl with precocious puberty.

Back to food. Here's the recipe, heavily adapted from the original at the blog Tasty Trix.


1 cup lentils
1 large onion, sliced thinly or chopped
2 cups water
3/4 cup red wine
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dill
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
pinch each of thyme and oregano (or chopped fresh thyme and oregano for garnish)
1 cup fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste

Saute the onions in some olive oil until soft, then add the spices (minus the fresh parsley and, if you're using them, fresh thyme and oregano) and fry for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the lentils, water, and wine. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes or until the lentils are soft and tender. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with the chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy with bread or rice. Be careful not to spill anything on your toga.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lies, damn lies, and statistics

So far this week:
1. 0.30 percent of my pageviews came from people in the Seychelles. Sure, that's only one hit from the Seychelles, but any nonzero number of hits from exotic archipelagos is a number of hits that I can be proud of. Power to you, tropical blog reader!
2. 6 pageviews came from users on what Blogger calls "Other Unix" operating systems, and 1 came from Linux. Huh.
3. While, predictably, most people got to this blog via Facebook, someone yesterday found it via a search for Aphra Behn on Google. I wonder how far down s/he had to go to find this hit.

I am having a rough week (yes, I know it's only Monday, so that should give you an idea), some of the reasons for which you know and some of the reasons for which I do not care to bother you with. After eating my weight in cookies at a long, long meeting tonight, along with a bit of salad, I needed something healthy and comforting, so I turned to my old "life sucks, but this will make it better" standby: mushroom, barley, and kale soup, using a porcini mushroom broth. One of these days, I'll actually use a Parmesan rind in a bouquet garni with fresh thyme and parsley as the recipe suggests instead of just sprinkling in some Parmesan and parsley at the end of the cooking. I also keep forgetting that I want to try brightening it up with a few drops of lemon juice--and did not have a lemon with which to effect this effort--but I'm sure it will be just as wonderful as it usually is. In fact, it is simmering on the stove as I type, smelling delicious and easing a few of the knots in my neck.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


First things first: If you've never read Martha Nussbaum's review of Harvey Mansfield's Manliness, do it now, and come back to finish reading this post when you're done. If you're reading this sentence and still haven't read the review, I'm on to you*.

Now, the real point of the title of this post: I found myself actually caring about the outcome of a football game today, specifically, the Super Bowl. Yes, a good portion of that caring was motivated by empathy for someone I love who really cares about the outcome of football games, but still, I got into it in the chest-pounding, crotch-adjusting way I have previously only associated with Miller Lite-swigging Midwesterners. And it was awesome.

Of course, out of fear that roaring in joy/rage at black-and-yellow- and green-and-gold-clad silverbacks** as they engage in rules-directed displays of virility and dominance would cause my uterus to exvolute***, I had to reclaim the traditional feminine role and bake something to munch on while I watched.

Who needs to braid pretzel after pretzel when you can just make conveniently bite-sized soft pretzel bites? With cheesy dipping sauce, no less.

I do not own what the recipe calls "kitchen sheers," but a very sharp knife worked just as well to cut the pretzel niblets.

There were also kale chips, and brownies left over from yesterday.

As to the outcome of the game... Let's just not talk about it.

*You don't have to know me too well to know that I think Martha Nussbaum is an incredibly exciting human being. I'd love to hear her speak one day.
***There was this idea, dating from early Western thought, that if women engaged in too much physical activity and overheated--heat was, of course, essential to and associated with masculinity--their uteruses would flop out and become male organs. There exist cautionary tales from the seventeenth century of women riding their horses and before you know it, they'd take a too-vigorous jump, and Aphra Behn's your uncle, phalluses all 'round.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Bicentennial woman

That's right, denizens of the Internet. This is my two hundredth post.

I wish I had more to offer than a lame reference to the worst of the worst of Robin Williams movies. As you know, however, whenever exams are impending--i.e. every two to three weeks--my diet is reduced to foods like pasta with lemon juice, kale, (canned) kidney beans, and goat cheese, stuffed into a Tupperware and brought to the medical center to be eaten lukewarm. To paraphrase a line from Twelfth Night, some of us have mediocrity thrust upon us. Stupid exam.

Oh, wait... Hello, brownies! Happy two hundredth? Thanks!

Oh, wait... Goodbye, study time.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Much maligned

What do people have against cabbage, beans, and beets?

They tasted great in the above borscht! The white stuff is Greek yogurt (which had acquired a not-unpleasant goaty odor from its proximity to my remaining nub of goat cheese in the fridge), sprinkled with dill.

I only used one beet to make a harrowing amount of soup.

As you can see, it weighed precisely 1 pound, 12 ounces. That is some serious root vegetable action right there.

And now, an anecdote: one of our professors, the amusingly named and invariably entertaining Dr. Zagzag, told us how he diagnosed his mother's deep vein thrombosis following her hip surgery. What's remarkable is that he did this from the United States while she was convalescing in her hospital bed in France and then bludgeoned the nurses into giving her heparin, after which he talked to the doctors, who confirmed that yes, she had had a dangerous clot. My real question, though, is this: what would have happened if she hadn't had a DVT and they'd anticoagulated her for no reason? She's presumably an elderly lady, meaning she's at elevated risk for stroke, so I'm sure the medical staff would not have been particularly pleased.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cup cup cup cup of of of of

Now that I'm totally recovered in body, although still drastically unlearned in the ways of cardiology in mind, it's time for the Culinary Weekend Report: Andy is a good fiancé who knows what I like. He gifted me upon my arrival with a few ounces of dried porcini mushrooms, obtained from the bulk bin at that hallowed River Street Whole Foods in Cambridge. We also had dinner at Pulse Cafe, which is not quite as good as Blossom but has ridiculously good vegan "loaded fries"* that we devoured at record speed (Boston-area friends, take note), and which I chose in part because hey, still studying cardiology! And then the next day, we walked to Harvest Coop, where I raided the bulk spice bins and stocked up on fennel seed, bay leaves, cumin, and cardamom for less than two dollars. Someone show me a place that beats that in the Five Boroughs**.

I remembered I had a couple dried figs left over from last week's fig, goat cheese, and escarole pizza, and with all this fennel seed kicking around my cupboard and half a cup of heavy cream languishing in the fridge it was clear what I had to do: make fig and fennel scones, based on Mark Bittman's "classic scones" recipe. The plan was to wake up, work out, and make these, enabling me to hand them out at a preliminary meeting of NYU's me-and-other-people-founded Infectious Disease Interest Group (iDIG, not to be confused with iDEATH). But that didn't happen. So I made them at night, and drank them with "Scottish Breakfast" tea. It turns out all parts of the British Isles have their own tea these days.

The Boston mug is apropos, no?

And finally, dinner, which was simple and rather late. Andy's mom suggested giving a Trader Joe's marinated bean salad a try.

I drained off the liquid, which she, appropriately, had described to me as "goopy," and mixed the beans with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, red wine vinegar, red onion, and some of that delightfully stinky Bulgarian feta, then ate it with toast points from yesterday's bread. It was pretty good, although really, I'll just marinate my own kidney beans next time. The mix, even drained of goop, was sort of oddly sweet.

*A note on veganism: I am not vegan, nor was meant to be. But show me a good tempeh bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with vegan chipotle aioli, and I'll be yours forever.
**No, really, please show me. If Andy ends up in New York next year (which I dearly hope, for obvious reasons), then my Boston visit frequency will drastically decline, and I'll need a new cheap bulk spice supply.