Tuesday, March 24, 2015

More Or Less Adventure?

I've been away, mentally, for the last couple of months. 
I've discovered the funny thing that no one tells you - that figuring out your first job after training will be acutely stressful and emotionally trying. Well not exactly - of course I knew it would be stressful, but the magnitude was unexpected. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. The lengthy on-ramp to a career in medicine allows you to have tunnel vision, to some extent. For the longest time, the next step ahead of you is rather obvious - med school, residency, fellowship. 

One day, somewhere in your last year of fellowship, you realize that you've just about arrived at a yawning chasm - there is no obvious next step, and you really have to decide what you're going to do with your life. Ok - perhaps a little bit dramatic, but needless to say, you can't have everything, and choosing your first job  calls into question what's important to you, and where you really want to be going (personally and professionally). You know, the Big Life Questions that you must answer for yourself, as honestly as possible.

Let's just say, you will miss the match. 

This decision making process, although difficult, is something I'm glad that we went through. It reaffirmed our priorities and refined our plans for the next several years. I also met some wonderful people. 

For a representation of the experience, I'll just share this photo of a hemlock maze from a sculpture garden in Windsor, VT, aptly named the Path of Life. The maze represents the beginning of childhood and exploration.



And a special thanks to Braeburn Siberians for allowing us to spend an afternoon with an incredible team of huskies!





I am deeply thankful for my friends, family, and mentors who have helped me so much in this process. Thanks for reading.


-R

Monday, January 19, 2015

Banana Bread Sandwiches



I love bananas. For that reason, the hardest part about making banana bread is simply having any leftover overripe bananas (breakfast is frequently a banana with a peanut butter schmear).  On the rare occasion that I do have overripe bananas sitting around, they go into banana bread. I'm not sure there's anything better than the smell of warm banana bread studded with walnuts - there's a reason why it's a classic, for sure. One of my favorite things is making banana bread when I'm visiting Mom over the holidays - she always has some old bananas lying around. I'm also a big proponent of not wasting food, and nothing is better than taking some ugly ol' bananas and transforming them into a delicious quick bread. Quick bread is the only way to go. Because I'm not sitting around waiting for dough to rise. Just...no. Not ever (sadly, this is the only thing standing between me and cinnamon buns).

 This banana bread is lightened up a little bit, with greek yogurt substituted in for half of the butter. I also used a half/half mixture of whole wheat and white flour. You can enjoy this banana bread however you want - plain, in sandwich form, with peanut butter, jam....maybe nutella.... It doesn't really matter; it's delicious no matter how you cut it. 

Banana Bread
Makes one 9x5 loaf

Ingredients

4 tbsp butter, melted

1/2 cup greek yogurt (2%)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

3 large overripe bananas, smashed (the browner the better)

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup white flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. 

2. Combine all ingredients except flour and walnuts. Stir until well-combined

3. Add flour to wet ingredients, gently stir in until just combined. Do not over-mix

4. Pour batter into an oiled 9x5 loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean

5. Cool for 20 minutes. Slice and enjoy


As always, thanks for reading.

-R



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Chunky Chicken Noodle & Dill Soup




HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 Since Christmas, the temperature has dropped back to seasonally appropriate face-numbing cold. We had a wonderful Christmas in New York, with lots and lots of delicious everything (thx K/JB!) I  stumbled across this chicken soup recipe when Zite offered me "The Most Important Recipes You Should Master Before You Turn 30". I'm not sure how you decide what recipes you need to have under your belt by age X, but nonetheless, I was intrigued. Perusing the list, some recipes were less exciting (Potatoes Dauphinoise?), some more (I'm looking at you, Beef Bourguignon).

I settled on  a tried and true standard; a chicken soup that just looked too good to pass up. I mean, chicken soup is not really exciting, but it's the food equivalent to your best pair of sweatpants. Plus my previous soup attempts have generally proved disappointing (mostly chili, mostly blah), so I thought it was time to attempt another hearty winter soup. I'm glad I tried again. I love this recipe because of its zest - the chicken is ever so slightly spicy, and the dill and lemon juice really brighten everything up. I modified the original recipe, cooking the chicken stovetop instead of roasting it, and cutting back the sodium. I also used dried dill. If you want to warm your belly and soul, don't miss this soup!


Chicken Noodle & Dill Soup


Ingredients

1 lb skinless boneless chicken breast tenders

4 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp black pepper

1 large onion, diced

3 large carrots, sliced

3 large stalks celery, chopped

5 tsp garlic, minced

Two 14-oz cans of chicken stock (1 sodium reduced, 1 regular)

4 cups water

2 cups pasta (I used fusilli)

Juice of 1 lemon

1/3 cup dried dill (or fresh dill to your taste)



Directions

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat (4). Prepare onion, carrot, and celery



2. Add onion, carrot, and celery to heated oil and cook for 8-9 minutes stirring occasionally

3. While vegetables cook, mix garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Gently coat chicken breast pieces with the spices

4. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a medium sized pan, over medium heat (4). Cook chicken breast for ~5-7 minutes, or until done, depending on the thickness. Allow chicken to brown slightly before flipping; this will develop the flavor more



4. Return to the vegetables. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock and water, then turn to high heat and let soup come to a boil.

5. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, and stir in pasta. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. While pasta cooks, shred the chicken.




6. Combine lemon juice, dill, and cooked chicken with the soup. Adjust seasonings to taste, and enjoy immediately



Thanks for reading. Wishing you the best in 2015!

-R


















Thursday, December 18, 2014

Cranberry Oat Bars







Hello December...except it's almost over. I'm finally sharing these cranberry oat bars, which I made several weeks ago. Buttery and with tart cranberries, they're pretty holiday-appropriate.  I returned from NYC mid-week battling a rather nasty cold, so this will be short.

 I'm looking forward to some down time over the next week. Hopefully, I can muster up the energy to make something new. Now it's off to bed before an early tumor board tomorrow...

Warm wishes, and I hope you are enjoying the holidays!


Cranberry Oat Bars
Recipe adapted from here

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup all purpose flour

4 tbsp salted butter, melted

1 cup quick cooking or old fashioned oats

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 tbsp orange juice (or apple cider)


Filling:

1 cup dried cranberries

3/4 cup greek yogurt

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbsp all purpose flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 large egg white, lightly beaten


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F

2. Combine crust ingredients and mix well; mixture will be crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup oat mixture in a small bowl

3. Lightly oil a 11x7 inch pan. Press oat mixture firmly into pan.

4. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly over crust

5. Top with reserved 1/2 cup of the oat mixture

6. Bake for 40 minutes until edges are golden

7. Cool, cut into squares, and enjoy



These will keep well in the fridge for a week or so. 

Stay warm, and wash your hands.

-R








Sunday, November 23, 2014

Zion National Park











"There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm" 

                                                                                -T. Roosevelt

We're enjoying a few days exploring Zion National Park in Southern Utah. There's something about the impartial, colossal red white and cream-swirled cliffs that allow you to just be, to stop worrying. Look at the weathered sandstone, and time stares back at you - millions of years all at once. It's hard to get caught up in the day to day when we're reminded of how small we are in this beautiful place.  It's as if somehow, your mind wanders, expands and fills up the vastness, freeing you from individuality. You cease to be you, you just are, and it's profoundly refreshing. 

Home is a quiet ranch with a resident herd of buffalo, adding to the sense of calm and serenity.  I just wanted to share a bit of the beauty and peace, in hopes that you enjoy it as much as we do.






Returning from the hike to Angel's Landing -  across the narrow cliff ledge in the middle









Our home for a few days:











Thanks for reading. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!

-R

Friday, November 14, 2014

Roasted Acorn Squash + Rosemary & Thyme Scented Beef








This recipe is inspired by all the little squirrels outside, with their frenzied collecting of acorns in preparation for winter.  Every time we're out for a walk, you can't miss them, jumping around like they're on some amphetamine-fueled scavenger hunt for nuts. I reluctantly admit that this time of year is ok, but come on, do we really need to get rid of Daylight Savings Time? Isn't this the time we need daylight most?!

In keeping with fall, I've been roasting a lot of apples, squash and pumpkin. There's something warming and satisfying about bringing the outdoors inside; the leaves are a hundred shades of candy-red, orange, and rich brown, mirroring bright red apples, orange squash, and let's not forget - the omnipresent pumpkin pie. Last week, I couldn't resist buying two beautiful dark green acorn squashes with their irreverent stripes of orange, and on a whim, decided to combine them with herb scented beef.  The herbs prompted singing of "parsley sage, rosemary and thyme" on repeat by my husband (Scarborough Fair, I later realized). Also, when presented with the above meal, he instantly homogenized it, smashing the beef into the squash, until it became a squash/beef mash.  It's one of his lovable quirks, the homogenizing. 

 This is a very easy recipe, and you can prepare the squash and beef separately, if you're short on time (I prepped them in two stages). This hearty squash supper is great for a cold fall evening. Hope you'll enjoy this! 


Roasted Acorn Squash + Rosemary & Thyme Scented Beef


Ingredients

2 acorn squashes, halved

olive oil 

brown sugar

cinnamon

nutmeg

1 lb lean ground beef 

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 tbsp minced garlic

Worcestershire sauce

Rosemary & Thyme 


Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F

2. Halve acorn squashes. Scoop out seeds and brush with olive oil. Dust lightly with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg

3. Bake for ~40 minutes or until squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and set aside

4. In a medium sized pan, heat a a few tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium heat, with garlic. Once garlic is fragrant, add onions, beef, herbs (liberally), and a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cook until beef is cooked through

5. Ladle beef into squash halves and serve immediately


What are your favorite fall foods?

Thanks for reading!

-R

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Slow Cooker Meatballs





The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting nippy, and there's just something about this time of year that makes me want to snuggle up at home - and eat hearty food. It's only a matter of time before the Christmas music plays 24/7, and I run out of Pandora hours (think that's impossible? so did I, until my H exhausted my account a few years ago!).
Budget carefully.

Maybe it's the impending cold of winter or the musing that comes with the end of a year, but recently, I've been reflecting on all the wonderful and horrible uncertainties in life that are stark reality when you work in medicine. I've come to wonder: are we all on some sort of weird vacation-of-uncertain-duration on this Earth? And if so, are you making the most of your vacation time, whether that means doing nothing, or doing everything?


Slow Cooker Meatballs


Ingredients

1 lb ground beef (85% lean)

1/4 cup plain bread crumbs

1 egg

1/2 large white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp garlic

3 tbsp oregano (divided - 1 tbsp for the meatballs, 2 tbsp for the sauce)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese + additional for stirring into sauce

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp  pepper

One 28 oz can of crushed or whole tomatoes *

*Use 1 1/2 large cans if you want extra saucy meatballs


Directions

1. Combine all but the tomatoes and reserved oregano in a large bowl and mix until combined

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Form meat into approximately 2 tbsp sized meatballs

3. Brown meatballs evenly in the saucepan

4. Add meatballs to slow cooker. Pour tomatoes + 2 tbsp oregano over the meatballs

5. Set slow cooker to low, cook for 8-10 hours

6. Stir in up to 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to taste; add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!



In other news,
New sisters

A visit to the winery 



Mystic Seaport

Thanks for reading!

-R