Saturday, April 30, 2011

I have something crucial to tell you.

I'm so dysfunctional that, alone in my room not long ago, I removed a dirty article of clothing, pitched it across the really miniscule length of my quarters*, succeeded in getting it to land smack in the middle of my hamper, and promptly did a bilateral victory fist pump while pivoting on my toes in a happy circle. If you can respect me enough to continue reading my blog after that... well, I suppose I can muster enough respect for you to keep you as a reader**.

Thus, my current passionate argument in favor of legalizing gay marriage, and why said legalization should not even be an issue, is this: someone let me get married (in jeans and a T-shirt, no less). Read the above paragraph again and tell me you're not convinced. And stay tuned for future passionate arguments in favor of gay marriage, hopefully featuring the words "equality" and "human" and "rights" and so on.

Uh, yeah. So. I made gougères.

For those not in the know, biting into a gougère is like biting into cheese made from angel milk. That's not me trumpeting my culinary prowess. That's just what happens when choux pastry interacts with really, really delicious dairy products.

I served them with pan-roasted asparagus in a lemon and white wine browned butter sauce. Stops: pulled out. Dinner is early tonight because I'm going to attempt to get very, very last-minute tickets to a sold-out Steve Reich concert; I felt like a little extra elegance might have offset the plebeian hour at which I ate. At least, people keep telling me early dinners are plebeian.

*Seriously, if Shaq lay down on my floor, I cannot state with confidence that his feet would be totally in the room.
**Just kidding. I love you all. Deeply. Really. Please don't leave me. I get, like, 100 hits per day. I need you. Especially since I now have only eleven followers as opposed to my former astronomical number (twelve).

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taste the rainbow.

Two of my friends here at NYUSoM are co-presidents of our GLBTQ organization. At a meeting last week, they were talking about the club's event at our upcoming revisit day, for which they wanted to obtain a rainbow cake, and they were maligning both the uncertain preorder dates and the expense of said cakes. Of course, I piped up and offered my services. They said that they would happily have me do it, and that I could be furnished with ingredients. One of them made the mistake of mentioning boxes of cake mix; yeah, right, buster. Give me some butter and flour and sugar and let me go to town. And that is what they did.

Ladies, gentlemen, and other-gendered folk, I present to you the queerest cake a medical school ever did see: a six-layer rainbow extravaganza with Swiss meringue frosting.

I've got some pride about this one, pun intended. Sure, it was a little lopsided (I was so busy repeating the order of colors in the rainbow to make sure I didn't really screw things up that I neglected to pay adequate attention to placing the layers) and I ran out of frosting (is two recipes' worth really not sufficient??), and I ran out of skewers with which to write in chocolate so I had to use a chopstick and it got really messy, but come on. Rainbow cake! CERTAIN PEOPLE embarrassed me by announcing to the room that I'd made it. And everyone thought it was delicious, which made me happy.

Naturally, because the icing was Swiss meringue, I had some egg yolks to spare post-cake. And I hate throwing useful things away. I really hate it. The first egg yolk-only food I thought of was pudding. So I made salted caramel ginger pudding. Three recipes' worth of it. I had a lot of egg yolks left over, okay?

Progress shots (complete with snarky comments):
Egg yolk flower!

Note how much batter there was.

Red and orange, getting ready to be baked.

The first stage in the meringue process
Swiss meringue buttercream is notoriously finicky. You
have to beat it (beat it!), beat it (beat it!), and since you don't
want to be defeated, beat it some more until it stops looking like
liquidy yogurt and turns into buttercream. But sometimes it doesn't.
I was nervous that would happen, but first time's the charm, apparently.

In the process of stacking...

The decor. The words were messier than I'd intended (well,
really, I'd intended to pipe on icing, but as I said, I ran out).

Two lovely attendees.
Thanks to everyone who enjoyed the cake and helped make it happen! As a side note, because all afternoon long I was tasting icing and nibbling crumbs and so on, for dinner I had half a head of lettuce and a tomato dressed with balsamic. Uninteresting and superficially unappetizing, to be sure, but it was so damned refreshing not to be taking in pure sucrose.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wee twee treats

I'm going to be painfully forthright on this one: I actually spent more than 10 seconds trying to come up with the tongue-twistingest post title I could muster. The initial title was "Too twee to eat," at which point I thought, "Man, I should come up with a pun instead, because what I've got doesn't even roll off my mental tongue*," closely followed by "Hey, maybe if I make it more difficult to pronounce, they'll think I'm being difficult for the sake thereof." And several permutations later, I think I've hit the apex of unpronounceability.

Here's the actual object of the post title. Are these not the cutest things you ever did see?

They're vegetarian BLT cups! I made tiny whole wheat bread bowls using my muffin tin, chopped soy bacon (not an accidental purchase; it was on sale at Trader Joe's and I thought I'd give it a shot), tomatoes, and lettuce, tossed the BLT with a light, creamy vinaigrette, and put it in the bowls. Progress shots (and recipes) for you:

Step 1: ball o' dough

Step 2: stretch rolled-out dough over upturned muffin tin
Step 3: bread bowl!

If you don't roll the dough thinly enough, you get a bread Frisbee
But the underside is still brown and tasty!

Whole wheat bread bowls
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose or bread flour
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm water
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together and knead well for 5 minutes. Let rest for 30 to 45 minutes until very puffy, but not doubled. Punch down and divide into balls; the number depends on the size and thickness of the bread bowls you'd like to make. Let the balls of dough rest for 10 minutes, then roll them out until they're 1/4 inch thick for crispier bowls and 1/2 inch thick for fluffier bowls (and larger bowls, which might break if they're too thin). Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Lightly grease an upturned muffin tin, ramekins, or ovenproof, full-sized bowls and shape the rolled-out dough over them. If I'd used individual bowls rather than crowded-together tins, I'd have had a little fun and made dough handles or decorative flaps or something. Go to town. You could even brush them with oil and sprinkle them with sesame seeds or sea salt or herbs. In any case, bake at 400 degrees until browned. Let them cool before you put stuff in them.

Spicy BLT chopped salad
bacon of some sort: soy, turkey, or regular
milk/buttermilk/cream/half-and-half/sour cream/mayo
sesame seeds
lime juice
olive oil
rice vinegar

Cook the bacon (make sure it's well-drained!) and chop it. Chop the tomato and lettuce (make sure they're dry!). Mix them all together. Make the dressing by... er... crap, I didn't measure anything. I used a little of my leftover heavy cream, some lime juice, sesame seeds, olive oil, rice vinegar, Sriracha, salt, pepper, and sesame seeds. Whisking the lime juice slowly into the cream makes a sort of buttermilk; the sour cream or mayo would be a thicker, creamier element. Whatever dressing you make, don't overdress the BLT. The point is to taste the bacon and vegetables and bread with a hint of dressing, not to overwhelm them in a goopy sludge. Plus, if it's too moist, it will soak through the bread bowl really quickly, and that's nasty.

**Huh, that's actually kind of disgusting. Plus, while we haven't done much in the way of neuroanatomy yet***, I'm pretty sure it's not true.
***Oh god, with posts like this, I'm going to have to delete this blog fourth year if I ever want to get into a residency.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Frugality... with literary exceptions

Because of the expense of various food projects and an unfortunate purchasing accident*, I spent a lot more on groceries this past week-and-a-half or so than I meant to. After wincing repeatedly at the extent to which I went over my biweekly budget, I resolved, until such time as I run out of protein-containing foods, to purchase only from the green carts that stud the streets of New York. Since I've got a store of eggs and navy beans laid up, as well as an embarrassing variety of cheeses**, it should be a good long while before I see Trader Joe's again.

On that note, I shall be fed free dinner tonight at a meeting. And it begins.

Obviously, it would be stupid to make a whole post about purchasing policies. Is it still stupid if I write about how I countered my new low-budget food plan by buying this and this last night? My defense: they were both used (and thus cheap) books, and I've been looking for a cheap copy of the latter for some time now, and The Strand was out of copies of this, and so I had to console myself!

*I'm declining to elaborate for reasons of not wanting to reveal how deeply foolish I am. Suffice it to say that it involved extreme fatigue and putting things in my basket at Trader Joe's without realizing it. Literally.
**That ricotta I've been cooking with? Part of the accident.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bread is risen

Okay, so I'm not making hot cross buns until after our exam the day after Easter, but I'm going to preemptively post about them, because:

Komm, süßer Tod, Part IV: Jesus
(hot cross buns, which are spiced and raisin-laden buns with a cross of icing on top)

We all know about Jesus. Pretty nice guy, by all accounts, despite incidents like that one parable about the fig tree that continually weirds me out (poor fig tree!). Whether you think he's the son of God or just a nice Jewish boy who got all mixed up in some stuff or a truly crazy Jewish boy whose little cult got way out of control, it seems that around 33 CE, things went all pear-shaped for poor Jesus. Again, everyone knows the story, so I'll just point out that no matter what you think about Jesus, you have to agree that some great art came out of it, like this, and this, and even this.

And now for current content: While lounging on my bed studying* yesterday, I dropped my pen in the crevice between the bed and the wall. To retrieve it, I pulled my bed away from the wall for the first time in months and months and months... and squawked in horror. There were Monty Python-caliber dust bunnies back there. This led me on a frantic sweeping binge that didn't quite get all the dust out of my room, but certainly made great progress to be built on after the exam tomorrow.

As long as spring cleaning was going on, it was natural to eat a primaveran pasta dish: creamy orzo with dill, parsley, peas and shaved asparagus. I adapted it from here for those of us without unlimited fresh herb budgets, which just means that I used dried dill. Other than that, A+.

*I know, I know, you're not supposed to study in your bed. So sue me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I miss thinking.

I rarely cook with ricotta, and when I do, I always wonder why I rarely cook with ricotta.

This is a zucchini and ricotta pancake.

This is how I feel about said pancake*.

I used a combination of whole wheat flour and homemade chickpea flour, which I created by pulverizing chickpeas in my long-suffering mini food processor until those chickpeas could be pulverized no more. The pancakes were great, but needed a savory dip or a spread or something (I wouldn't have used lingonberry jam even if I had it). Sadly, I ate the last of the Greek yogurt cups acquired from a table of breakfast leftovers at the medical center, or I would have made some sort of sauce with that**. A dried tomato jam also would have been nice. Or marinara sauce. I'll stop now.

Man, I really want to write more about what we're doing in class (anatomy exam on Monday, god help us), but in all honesty, the perforated urethra thing from a few days ago was possibly the least gross aspect of it, so I'll spare you. If you don't want to be spared, click here.

There are also books I'd like to be reading, but that's not going to happen until after the exam. Incidentally, I overheard somebody talking to his friend about Habermas while I was headed to a cafe to study, and it really drove home how much I miss the humanities classes I took at Brandeis. Writing about, say, the development of the public sphere in eighteenth-century Britain was a welcome break from studying MAPK (which, don't get me wrong, is one of my favorite pathways). It required the kind of deep, meditative thought that has been replaced almost totally by the frenetic drinking from a fire hose that characterizes medical school. I love what I'm learning--seriously, that link above will direct you to something kind of gross but also kind of cool--but sometimes it feels like I never engage with that other part of myself, and I dread the inevitable atrophy of my (admittedly minimal) skills that led me to enjoy analyzing Wit or debating the finer points of H.F.'s relationship with God in Journal of the Plague Year. The headlong charge toward medical school led me to think of these things as nothing more than diversions, pit stops along the road to my medical degree, but now I realize how integral they were to my self-regard as an aspiring intellectual.

First-world problems, anyone? I think I'll solve them with Easter dessert: lemony cream biscuits. These took, like, 15 minutes to put together, and I didn't even have to break out the food processor. (They'd be perfect as shortbread biscuits, too, but it's disgusting out and I didn't want to leave the house again in order to get strawberries.) They taste like the spring that hasn't seemed to have made its way to New York yet.

Sorrow-drowning lemon-cardamom biscuits
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (measure out 1 cup all-purpose, remove two tablespoons, and add two tablespoons of cornstarch, and you have cake flour)
3 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 to 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp cardamom

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Zest the lemon into a bowl and juice the lemon into a second bowl that will hold nothing but lemon juice all recipe, so it can be a tiny bowl. In the same bowl as the zest, mix the dry ingredients. In a third bowl, beat the heavy cream until it's sort of puffy; stop just short of when it would form soft peaks. Fold it as gently as possible into the dry ingredients; fold in the lemon juice. Gently pat the dough about 1 inch thick and cut into rounds or squares without twisting the cutter, as this will impede rising. If you like, sprinkle the tops with a zest/sugar/cardamom mixture; this is thoroughly optional. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until light golden brown. Eat them while they're hot.

*I probably shouldn't apply Neruda's love poetry so casually to some silly little pancakes. His poems are staggeringly pure and unabashed in their emotivity; such achievement deserves respect.
**There is nothing wrong with dipping cheese in yogurt, I tell you!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Liquor: not actually quicker

Remember the super-awesome projects I promised? Here's one that I discovered in the aforementioned Flavor Thesaurus:

The instructions were to take an orange, make 44 slits in it and insert a coffee bean into each slit, put the orange in a jar with 44 sugar cubes and a pint of vodka, rum, or brandy, wait 44 days, and enjoy. I don't drink, but this sounds amazing, and I can always cook with the stuff (or give it away). So I bought two cups of vodka and a jar from a friend and went to town.

See you in 44 days.

In the meantime, dinner was what I think I'll call a creamy Mexican corn salad. Here's the recipe:

1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 orange bell pepper
2 ears corn, or 1 can corn
2 large tomatoes
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno
fresh cilantro
garlic powder
queso fresco or ricotta salata

Dice the peppers and tomatoes, and strip the kernels off the ear of corn; mince the jalapeno. Toss all that with the dried spices to taste and either pan-roast, broil, or if you're like me and have no broiler, roast with the oven as hot as it will go, all until the peppers are blistered. While it's still hot, toss with chopped fresh cilantro (also to taste) and stir in just enough ricotta or queso fresco to make it creamy, like a potato salad. Serves two.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Harlequin Romance of the Three Kingdoms

I had a dream last night that I was writing a romance novel called Harlequin Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The three kingdoms were Animalia, Bacteria, and Fungi; the novel involved sentences like, "Her eyes were as blue as a crisp pair of scrubs and gleamed like a nerve freshly doused with wetting solution." I hate myself for coming up with that, even in a dream.

Let us turn to kingdom Plantae. I made a roasted Mediterranean vegetable salad with grapefruit gremolata, and garlic za'atar dough twists to go with it*. To make the twists, I simply took a recipe's worth of my favorite pizza dough, kneaded in some feta, and brushed the rolled-out dough with olive oil in which minced garlic, za'atar, and pepper had been warmed before cutting it into strips, twisting it, allowing it to rise, and baking it until browned.

These twists were really good; I just wanted more feta flavor! I think a better choice would be to finely crumble the feta in the oil in which the garlic and herbs had been warmed, then toss the dough strips in the mixture before twisting them. To be really decadent, you could give the twists a post-bake brush with more herbaceous olive oil. Or roll the dough more thinly, spread it with a feta and herb mixture, fold it over, and create stuffed twists that can then be brushed with olive oil post-baking. Funny, that globe looks suspiciously like an oyster.

Now, before I make a joke about prairie oysters, I'm going to go back to studying the contents of the superficial pouch.

*This followed the pre-dinner snacks I had at NYUSoM's Holi celebration, which included Indian food from the exemplary Curry in a Hurry followed by the traditional colored powder throwing free-for-all. When I blow my nose now, rainbows come out.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Putting one off one's feed

I've read a few articles, both biology- and philosophy-oriented, on the nature of disgust and revulsion, and all I can say is that I'm pretty sure medical students are broken. Consider that we all leave anatomy ravenous (and I've been doing a casual investigation into whether the chemicals used to preserve our cadavers* cause hunger, which has yielded little of substance) I'm pretty sure we're all abnormal. I shouldn't be able to cut a testicle in half** and then chow down on leftover beans and spinach 10 minutes later. And it's probably wrong that I find this schematic of what happens when the urethra is perforated all the way through the deep perineal fascia adorable in its relationship to Mohawk the gremlin, which our dean of curriculum/anatomy lecturer pointed out:

Oh, yeah, food. I'm planning to be Leftover Gal tonight thanks to the fact that the pelvis is a complicated thing, but I promise, there are some super-awesome projects coming up. Much more awesome than a scrotumful of blood and urine.

*which are not formaldehyde or formalin, by the way.
**They look cool on the inside, and yes, it was totally empowering.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"Useless" knowledge is the best knowledge

First of all, happy Pesach to those of you who are celebrating it. I chose to ring in the holiday with matzo brei last night. Matzo brei is perfect. It deserves never to be gussied up*. Its nutritional value is also questionable, which is why I'm not going to be making it again this Passover.

I've been craving something spicy, so I made a Jamaican-inspired meal that hit the spot: red beans with coconut milk and habanero peppers, paprika sweet potato hash, and spinach with a hint of cumin and some sriracha. There's really not much else to say about that.

I was in Pittsburgh this weekend in order to, among other things, moderate a quizbowl tournament. In order to add content to this post, and to bloviate about nerdy stuff**, I shall include a list of thoroughly randoma nd thoroughly awesome things I learned about:

1. This opera (and its composer)
2. This mechanism, and the fact that it is important
3. This artist
4. This book
5. This play
6. This syndrome

This is why quizbowl is neat.

*Oh, and those of you who truck with sweetened matzo brei are wrong. Sorry. Matzo and maple syrup aren't meant to mix.
**One of my more unfortunate habits.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Unknown unknowns

I don't get it. Every time I bake these browned butter chocolate chip cookies that I like (and that tend to get rave reviews from all concerned), they turn out slightly differently. They're always delicious--the taste is pretty consistent--but sometimes they're flat, sometimes they're domed, sometimes they brown, sometimes they remain pale, sometimes they're chewy, sometimes they're cakey... and I don't understand why. The recipe is by weight, not volume; I have my baking racks in the same position, and I only have one cookie sheet, so it's not that. I always buy flour and butter at Trader Joe's, and I usually get my sugar there too. It's a mystery. Unless this recipe is hilariously sensitive to the precise degree of butter browning or some such, I declare this a case of idiopathic cookie variability.

I'm torn between my intense desire to figure out what's going on and my delight in an unsolved mystery that always yields tasty, tasty cookies.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The end is near.

If this module were a nephron, we'd be in the collecting duct right about now. Exam tomorrow, followed by a bus to Pittsburgh, will conclude renal pathophysiology at last. I'm torn between wanting an extra week to study and wanting it to be over immediately.

I decided to go for Chinese comfort food tonight: di san xian, which consists of potatoes and eggplant and green pepper and garlic wokked into a delightful soy sauce-sodden gallimaufry. However, while the eggplant and potato are supposed to be fried first, I elected to roast them in the oven. Easier cleanup, quicker process, more healthful results. And I added a healthy dose of dried red peppers, because while one of the downsides to doing yoga is having to put up with an occasional bull-hooey comment about rajasic foods, I choose to revel in the stimulating burn that is a mouthful of Sichuan chile-laden vegetables washed down with Diet Coke.

Later tonight, I'm going to be throwing together some cookies as well, browned butter chocolate chip, at Andy's request. Kidneys be damned (no, seriously, screw you, kidneys and all your pathologies).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Down under

I premade this lentil and barley salad with honey Dijon dressing so that I could go straight from my PLACE session* with it to a cafe in order to study for hours and hours**.

The Dijon mustard I used is delicious, but extraordinarily powerful. I bought it from Trader Joe's because it's from, you know, actual Dijon, and because it was on sale, and because there was no sticker on the jar that said, "WARNING: THIS MUSTARD HAS A KICK LIKE AN ANGRY MALE KANGAROO!" Which it does.

I think my favorite thing about this photo is the contrast between expressionless
kangaroo faces and violent kangaroo kick.

*This was, as usual, awesome. Pediatric endocrinology is beginning to sound like fun.
**This was aborted when I realized that the bathroom was out of order, which wasn't going to work for me.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Where's the beef?

I got a recipe on a flyer at Whole Foods for greens and beans and figured why the heck not.

I used dried beans instead of fresh and deglazed the pan with a blend of water, white wine, and lemon juice. This tasted good, but it didn't feel at all like a complete meal. The recipe dubs it a side dish, which should have tipped me off, but as my mother enjoys pointing out, sometimes I'm too stubborn to bother following advice (especially from the Internet). You know it's a bad sign when you crave a steak after your dinner. So, a word to the wise: this would be perfect with grilled chicken, if you swing that way. Mixing it with some fusilli would have helped, too.

On a more exciting note, I went to the InterCity rounds held at the VA today. It was so. Cool. I really, really, really want to be an infectious disease specialist, because you find out about things like Shewanella algae (it reduces metals and creates HS gas!) and Lemierre's syndrome and a nine-year-old with SCID and myesthenia gravis following an episode of mycobacterial pneumonia and... you get the drift. I love this problem-solving aspect of ID: the thought required to come up with an exhaustive differential, the research that must be done when the cultures and so forth match nothing on the list of possible organisms.

A side note: while the majority of physician attendees trying to guess what the offending organism was were old white men--and one particularly vocal old Indian man--all but one of the presenting fellows was a young woman. Nifty.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My dinner looks like a tree.

Before we begin, I would like to introduce you to this. As my best friend from childhood* said, it's like nobody involved in it had the moxie to speak up and say, "You know, we probably shouldn't perpetrate this on the world." Or, and this is my theory, a dark, malevolent cloud settled over everyone's aesthetic preferences during the nineties, occluding all judgment as to what is beautiful and/or good.

That being said, I've been singing this song in my head all weekend, interspersed with snatches from "Blessed Raspberry Songs."

And now, this is why dinner looks like a tree. It is green on top...

Steamed greens with fried garlic

...and brown on the bottom.

roasted mushroom soup

I found myself using a tiny, sharp knife to shave off thin slices of garlic, which I then fried until golden brown in olive oil and tossed with the lightly steamed mixed greens. It was like this scene from Goodfellas, except not as convivial. And with less lobster.

We were good fellas, you know, wise guys.

*I avoid using names other than Andy's, for a variety of reasons. This lovely lady will from now on be referred to as BFfroC ("BEE-frok").

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Luck of the (blood) draw

I wasn't going to post last night, but a few things happened to change my mind:

1. I had another session in the ER, where I (drumroll, please) drew blood from my first real patient. As I'm prepping all the stuff under the watchful eye of the resident who was making sure I didn't accidentally amputate anything, the patient said, "Oh, use that vein on the outside of my left arm. It's really good." I said something to the effect of, "Oh?" And she said, "Yes, I used it a lot while I was training. I'm a phlebotamist." That's right. The first time I take a real person's blood, and just my luck: she's a phlebotamist. Luckily, it went off without a hitch.

2. I had the luck of being chosen to represent NYU as a student who does an unusual thing: food blogging. This struck me as an odd choice, because the other students on the list are things like "parents" and "Iron Man athletes." And I blog. About food. But I'm never one to say no to a way to augment my hits, and so I made a loaf of challah and a raw asparagus and apple salad with balsamic vinaigrette.

The salad was a little underdressed, but other than that, raw asparagus is my new favorite thing. Credit for the awesome photos of Risa and myself to to Samar.

3. Other interesting patients: a woman with a massive aortic dissection that was discovered incidentally while she was in the ER for something else. A case of domestic abuse in a same-sex relationship, which I just heard someone speak about and which, predictably, got a few comments from the doctors. A couple bona fide French-speaking patients (both African). Ah, Wednesdays.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Minimal change

Disease of the kidneys, generic kidney bean and navy bean soup, you know, same old, same old.

Actually, a few things of note:

1. A New York Times recipe that I'm not going to link you to because they've got article limits these days (heavens!) directs the intrepid chickpea stew-making cook to stick a clove in a whole onion and boil it with the chickpeas for an hour. I didn't have a whole clove, but I did sprinkle some ground clove in my broth, and I loved the results.

2. Early this morning (my body has decided that 5 a.m. is a good wakeup time), I finished a Milan Kundera book called Farewell Waltz. It's got his unique blend of poignancy and wry humor, to be sure, with an amusing backdrop of institutionalized misogyny thrown in. I highly, highly recommend it.

3. I accidentally used the word "rigorousness" (believe me, I'm as ashamed of me as you are) in front of two doctors today. In eerily perfect unison, they interrupted my sentence and simply said, "Rigor." I wasn't offended. It was pretty fantastic, actually.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Lentil ragout tonight, over pasta with crispy kale strips. True to form, I didn't consider how much 250 g of lentils actually was before I chopped an amount of vegetables proportionate to that, but oh well. I see nothing wrong with some extra mushrooms and mirepoix, though, and plus, I got extra practice on my brunoise.

And then I made green tea swirl bread. It had a good richness to it thanks to a little butter worked in brioche-style. My only criticism is that the loaf was quite small (the opposite of my usual problem with recipes). It didn't fill my loaf pan even after a good long second rise, which is fine because I can only give away so much bread, but not so fine in terms of aesthetics. Okay, not the only criticism: there wasn't enough salt. I thought twice when I saw that it only called for a quarter teaspoon, but even given the small size of the loaf, a third to a half a teaspoon would have been more apt.

A lovely friend* gave me and Andy a wedding present that is right up my alley: The Geometry of Pasta and The Flavor Thesaurus. The thesaurus is a fantastic compendium of flavor combinations.  There were some that I had never thought of but that sound delicious (goat cheese, caper, and beet salad; blueberries and blue cheese; chocolate and thyme; I'll stop now). There are some I had thought of and now feel way too self-satisfied about (watermelon and cilantro, the entry for which is rather amusing). And then there are the combinations that the author warns against, either because they're trite or because they're unpleasant, or both ("Chocolate & strawberry: Not all it's cracked up to be. [...] Doesn't a strawberry dipped in chocolate just look like a fruit wearing big underpants? And aren't they the sort of thing corporate raiders feed to call girls in cream-colored hotel rooms?"). Basically, this is a book that is going to occupy way too much of my attention. I can't wait to throw a dinner party once the glory that is summer produce really kicks in.

Plus, it has a ribbon bookmark. I've always had an enormous pro-ribbon bookmark bias, which is part of the reason why, as a seven-year-old, I continued to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie despite the fact that it terrified me.

*She's lovely even when she's not giving me presents, don't you worry. I'd actually spent the evening pouring wine with her at a fundraiser for an upcoming production of Henry Purcell's The Fairie Queene. It's in June, and I have a sneaking suspicion it's going to be fantastic; don't miss it!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Candy is dandy

I saw a guy selling peanut brittle on the street, and I thought I'd give candy-making another shot. But peanut brittle is boring, so I bring you spicy curry chickpea brittle.

The cayenne is... assertive. Instead of stirring it into the caramel mix, next time I'll toss the chickpeas with curry and cayenne before I roast them (rather than just the curry).

So, the head of our nephrology unit likes to open his lectures with ten-minute, rather rabbinical discourses on whatever topic he cares to speak on; examples include the Yankees, logistics, and the superiority of the nephrologist to the cardiologist. Yesterday morning, when a student introduced herself to him by her first name only, he was off, this time on the topic of medical students' habit of infantilizing themselves. I couldn't agree more with this. I think I've complained on this blog before, or maybe only to my long-suffering friends, how it feels as though there's this horrible positive feedback loop between the medical school infantilizing us and us infantilizing ourselves and them infantilizing us in response. End result: whiny teenagers less than four years from having those two tantalizing letters after their names. Eek. In any case, NYUSoM's favorite nephrologist lectured us briefly on how we need to treat ourselves as adults by introducing ourselves with both names, thus setting our mental stage for the day when we will need to confront a medical crisis, whether it be one we are assigned during clerkships or one that drops to the gritty floor of Penn Station with an acute MI while we just happen to be nearby. He went on to say that our abilities as medical students are potent, and that we undersell ourselves because we don't yet have the expertise to coordinate a patient's care. It was a heady little talk.