Alter Boys and Roasted Garlic

For some boys, the attention span does not last long.

I was in 6th grade at the time. Now, the middle school years were pretty rough. I had glasses, braces, and acne. I have a wonderful picture of me in 4th grade, when is when the ugly process started, that people don’t think is me, if that tells you anything.

Anyway, I was at the awkward age of 12. I was at some family function (I think it possibly was an uncle getting remarried, but that’s my best guess) that involved us going to church.

Now, on top of that gorgeous picture I just painted of myself, to this event I was wearing an unfortunate outfit. My mother used to make me a dress every year for Easter and Christmas to wear. Now, my mother was quite a good seamstress, but she always insisted on making the dresses have puffy sleeves.

Back when I was in middle school, I HATED puffy sleeves. HATED THEM.

So here I was, in church with my family, decked out in a floral print dress with puffy sleeves, with braces and glasses that took up half my face (the acne wasn’t as bad as normal that day). We’re in the middle of mass, and we’re at the part where everyone shakes hands and says “peace be with you,” for those non-raised-Catholic folks.

In this particular church, the priest and alter boys would walk around and participate. One of the alter boys made a beeline towards us, shook my hand, and then said, “You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.”

I was flabbergasted and flattered, since obviously it wasn’t true. However, he then turned to my cousin who was standing next to me, and said, “You’re even more beautiful than your cousin.”

Obviously he hadn’t learned too much about manners as an alter boy.

Saintly Roasted Garlic

this garlic has more manners than some alter boys

Ingredients

  • Whole head roasted garlic (you can roast multiple at a time)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut off tops of whole bulbs of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven until soft for 35 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Use in sauces or just squeeze out a clove and spread onto a piece of good bread…my favorite!

Revenge, Glitter, and Asparagus with Eggs

Revenge doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to.

Back in high school, once of my longtime guy friends (we’re talking friends since kindergarten sort of thing) decided that we were meant to be together and asked me to be his girlfriend (yup, we jumped straight to that without even a first date).

I turned him down because I didn’t want to ruin the friendship (and I wasn’t interested in him in that way). Therefore, he decided to “get revenge” by asking one of my “friends” to an upcoming high school dance.

To start, I actually wasn’t friends with this girl. We hung out in the same group of friends, but personally I found her rather annoying. Victory #1 for me, with more to follow.

They both bragged the entire month about how they were going to the dance together. And then, the fateful day arrived.

The girl had chosen a glittery silver floor-length dress (which would have blended into her skin- she had one of those practically transparent complexions- in pictures if the glitter hadn’t caught the flash). Then they chose to grind it out (and sloppily make out- it was the first of such incidents for both of them) on the dance floor before getting their official dance pictures taken.

A week later, I walked up to this girl wailing over her dance pictures with her new boyfriend. Without a word, she passed the pictures to me.

It’s really recommended that, if do you choose to wear a dress with glitter, that you get your pictures first. Otherwise, you’ll end up with their situation. Remember how I said the glitter caught the camera flash?  Well, the guy had a large area of glitter on his suit. It was unfortunately all centered around his crotch, since they had made the unwise decision to dance before taking their pictures.

Yup, his revenge plan TOTALLY worked.

Stay Classy Asparagus and Eggs

the easiest, fanciest-looking dinner you’ll make

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb asparagus per person
  • 2-3 eggs per person
  • Olive oil spray (I use a spray bottle with olive oil in it)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Spray cookie sheet with olive oil.
  3. Break off woody ends of the asparagus and line up on the pan. Spray with some additional olive oil (you don’t need too much) and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Roast for 6-8 minutes until bright green (I use 6 minutes for thin spears and 8 minutes for thicker spears).
  5. Remove tray from oven. Crack one egg in a separate bowl and carefully pour onto a section of asparagus spears. Repeat with additional eggs. Sprinkle with some additional pepper and salt.
  6. Return to oven and roast for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the whites have set (the eggs will end up having the consistency of a poached egg).  If you like your egg yolks harder, cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  7. Use a spatula to remove from the pan. If desired, top with a drizzle of hollandaise sauce.

Traumatic Births and Spring Risotto

With the coming of spring, we tend to think of babies and youth: little bunnies and ducklings, newborns dressed up in Anne Geddes outfits, the first flowers peeking out from the ground.

Unfortunately, all birth isn’t that pretty.

For those of you that prefer to live under a rock, there’s something you should know: childbirth is NOTHING like it is portrayed in movies and television shows. Instead of mommy lying there peacefully until a pristine and spotless infant is gently settled in her awaiting arms, well…the actual scene is quite a bit different.

Considering I only had 2-3 weeks on labor and delivery while in medical school, I ended up with quite a few stories.

This particular momma had been attempting to have as natural of a childbirth as possible, but after having been in labor for 18 hours, she gave in and said “Hallelujah” to the epidural. She was tired. She wanted a shower. Her soon-to-be-born son had finally descended far enough that she knew the end was near.

She also had a very eager husband wielding a video camera.

Now, before I get too far along in the story, there is a time and place for a video camera in the delivery room, for those who so choose. It tends to be immediately after the baby has been born, when mommy and daddy are holding him or her for the first time, or while cutting the cord.

It is not (and I highly agree with the mother in the story) when mom is swearing and the baby is crowning.

Hubby and soon-to-be-daddy had gotten himself a brand new, high definition video camera to witness his first miracle of life. He had already filmed the entrance to the hospital, the view from the delivery room, and the smiling faces of the delivery room.  May I mention that the entire video this far was complete with an excited, hyper running commentary?

However, when he attempted to leave his wife’s shoulders and  film the moment when his son’s head first popped into the world, mom snapped.

She immediately threw out her arm, which had previously been clenching the sheets as though her grip strength would translate into contraction strength, and flung it right in front of his stomach, blocking his way.

Husband: But honey, I want to film his head emerging and his first cry!

Wife (panting between contractions occurring every 15 seconds): If you see my vagina stretched over your son’s head, you are never going to want to fuck me again. And that is something I am NOT OKAY WITH.

It took her husband approximately two seconds to think of the full implications of his wife’s statement, turn around so that he was still by his wife’s shoulders but was now facing the wall, and begin calmly encouraging his wife that it would be over soon.

He then stayed in that position until after his son was born and mom said it was okay to turn around.

Spring Miracles Asparagus and Smoked Gouda Risotto

Make this and you won’t be tempted to hit anyone

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc in the $8 range)
  • 1 lb asparagus, diced into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 c smoked gouda cheese, shredded (do this yourself!!!) and lightly piled into a 1 cup container (it took me about 3-4 oz solid cheese originally)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1/2 c wine and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the wine and repeat.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the broth, one ladle at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently until absorbed. Add more broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added half the broth, stir in the asparagus pieces (this will help them stay green)
  7. When you’ve added about 3 c of the broth, taste the rice. You’re looking for a pasta-like al dente (just chewy) consistency. It might not be done yet. Continue adding broth until rice reaches this consistency and is creamy.
  8. Stir in smoked gouda and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a sprinkling of parsley on top.

Night Terrors and Sweet Potatoes (and where I matched!)

January 16th was exactly 2 months out from Match Day.

What is Match Day, you ask? It’s only one of the most stressful days of any medical student’s life.

On Match Day, you find out where in the country a computer algorithm has placed you for your residency (aka where you do your training once you decide what kind of doctor you want to be). You are given one option, and one option only, and if you choose not to go there, you’re banned from most residencies for the rest of your life. Ohhhhhh, and to top it off, there aren’t enough spots for everyone to Match, which means you just paid for 4-8 years of med school and can’t get an actual job.

What I’m trying to say is that it’s not a fun process.

Anyway, on the morning of January 16th, I was woken up at 6am by my friend as he got ready to go to work by the following:

“Honey, are you okay?”

Naturally, I was confused, and not only because I had just woken up and I personally got to go back to sleep for another 2 hours.

“Well, you woke up around 2 am, threw yourself out of bed, screamed ‘Oh my god I’m not going to Match!!!!’ in this horrible voice, then jumped back into bed and pulled the covers up really tight. I tried waking you up to see if you were okay but I couldn’t.”

You thought only small children had night terrors? Oh no. We med students have them, too.

For those of you wondering, I did match. I’ll be doing my Anesthesiology residency in Chicago starting this July!

No More Nightmares Sweet Potatoes

I should have eaten these before I fell asleep

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 tbsp light butter
  • 1/8 c fat free greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Peel sweet potato and dice into chunks. Place into a medium saucepan, cover with water, and add some salt.
  2. Boil for approximately 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of your chunks) or until the sweet potato is easily pierced by a fork (and you want this to slide right in- otherwise it makes the next steps harder).
  3. Drain and add butter. Using a heavy duty whisk, mash the potatoes, being sure to whip some air into them as you do so (just stir them fast every so often with the whisk).
  4. Add in greek yogurt, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar. Salt and pepper to taste. And whip some more air in with that whisk.

Crying and Chicken and Dumplings

It can be hard to switch back to eating meat after being a vegetarian.

As I stated in an earlier post, I was a vegetarian for about six years. After I finally started eating meat again (the infamous ham incident in my family), I still couldn’t do anything to prepare it.

It was my freshman year of college and we had to go back a few days early. Now, the dining halls wouldn’t be open again until Monday morning, so we were on our own for food. My parents had gotten me a crock pot for Christmas, and before they left they thought they’d be nice and get me some groceries so I wouldn’t starve for two days. Those groceries included a whole chicken.

Back in my pre-vegetarian days, I had loved a crock-pot chicken roasted whole, so it made sense that my parents decided to buy this (also, chicken was on sale).

I set up my crock pot in the residence hall floor kitchen and then got out the chicken. Which is when I discovered the problem…

The chicken was too big for the crock pot.

Remember how I just said that I could again eat meat, but was unable to prepare it?

Yeah….so I had to cut up the whole chicken to fit it in the crock pot. Please understand that never before in my life had I cut up any sort of meat….which doesn’t totally explain what happened next, but I use it to justify it.

I started crying while cutting up the chicken. Let’s be honest- I was practically bawling. And I kept apologizing to the chicken in my upset state.

“Oh chicken, I’m so sorry. You’re so slimy and gross. And now I’m cutting off your wings. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”

You can imagine how shocked the guy I was dating at the time was when he walked into the room, expecting to see me competently making a roast chicken, and instead I was wailing and talking to a dead bird.

I really couldn’t blame the guy for bursting out laughing.

P.S. I can now butcher a chicken without crying, thank goodness.

Don’t Cry Over Me Chicken and Dumplings

does not induce tears to prepare

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c dry sherry
  • 5 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 small can reduced fat, low sodium cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 lbs chicken breasts or thighs, cooked and shredded or uncooked
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 c Bisquick
  • 2/3 c fat free milk
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1/2 c fat free milk (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large pot, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are just translucent.
  2. Add in sherry, chicken broth, and cream of mushroom soup.
  3. If using raw chicken, add and simmer for 25-30 minutes until cooked.
  4. Removed chicken and cool, then shred. Add back into pot. Mixture should still be simmering.
  5. Mix together water and cornstarch, then add to pot and stir.  Add in poultry seasoning.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix together Bisquick, milk, parsley, chives, and pepper. Spoon onto top of mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (the dumplings will break up a bit but that’s okay). Place lid on and simmer covered for an additional 10 minutes.  If mixture is becoming too thick before the dumplings are done, add up to 1/2 c milk (I normally have to do this).
  7. Salt and pepper to taste, then enjoy!

Again, this makes a lot of food, but it reheats quite well if you stir in 1-2 tbsp fat free milk halfway during the microwave process.

Screamers and Blueberry Muffin Bread

I feel like pregnancy and childbirth always lead to some of the best medical stories.

On my third year pediatrics rotation, we have to spend a day attending any birth where a pediatrician must be present. This can be for emergencies, poor prenatal care, weird contraction patterns, et cetera.

In this case, we had a girl who presented to her clinic visit that day, only to discover that she was in labor and fully dilated. That baby was coming, and it was going to come fast.

Not if she had anything to do about it.

We could hear her screaming all the way down the hall as we walked into her room. For those of you that don’t know, you can only get an epidural up to a certain point in labor, and she was well past that by the time she even showed up to clinic. That resulted in this poor lady having a natural childbirth when she had previously stated she refused to give birth without an epidural.

Now, pain makes you do some crazy things. In this case, pain from childbirth was causing her to try to kick the delivery team away from her as she repeated threatened to “keep that damn baby in.”

This ordeal lasted for about 20 minutes until her mother finally showed up. Her mother was an extremely large woman, to put it nicely. And she was not happy at her daughter’s behavior.

She stomped into the room, pushed the delivery team out of the way, and got into her daughter’s face to scream over the wailing…

“Now you listen to me, you are gonna have that f***ing baby, and you are going to f***ing cooperate with these nice doctors, or I will f***ing rip that child outta your f***ing  va-jay-jay myself. DO YOU F***ING UNDERSTAND ME???”

The baby was born within the next 5 minutes.

The next morning, we visited her room to check on the new little munchkin. The new mom gushed to us that childbirth had been a “wonderful, peaceful, calming experience,” and it was “sent from God” and she would “always have a natural childbirth.”

In the background, her mother glared daggers at us, daring us to say anything different.

Needless to say, we kept our mouths shut. Tightly.

Worth Screaming for Blueberry Muffin Bread

then just pass me one of these and I’ll shut up quickly

Ingredients- Muffin Bread

  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice plus enough milk (I used 1/2%) to make 3/4 c
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • Cooking spray

Ingredients- Streusel Topping

  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray mini loaf pans (you can also use muffin pans for this or a large loaf pan/jumbo muffin tin- if using either of those, reduce oven temp to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for approximately 30-45 minutes).
  2. Mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add in blueberries.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine lemon juice and milk. Add vegetable oil and egg and stir well.
  4. Pour liquids into dry ingredients and stir until just combined (lumps are okay!).
  5. Divide batter equally among mini loaves, muffins, or just dump it all into one loaf pan.
  6. Mix together flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon for topping. Cut in butter until the mixture looks clumpy. Sprinkle onto batter.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes (or see note above if you’re using an alternate pan) or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool 5 minutes then enjoy!

Inappropriate Date Proposals, Part 2, and Red Wine Risotto

In addition to tattoo artists in the midst of etching permanent ink, there are other times when it might not be the best to ask out a girl.

I was on my family medicine rotation during my third year of medical school. Now, as a medical student, you’re normally sent in first to take a “history and physical”- which is a fancy way of saying you get the patient’s story and then performed a focused exam (you just look at what’s wrong, plus listen to the heart and lungs for good measure). Yes, it might take longer to see a med student first, but I’d highly recommend it because a) it’s probably the best medical history anyone will ever take of you and b) if you’re being seen at a teaching institution, you’ll get seen faster by both a medical professional period and then the physician.

Anyway, I was sent in to see a patient having “nose pain.” That translated into a 20-something year old male whose nose was swollen on one side.

His story was pretty limited (started a few days ago, never happened before, hurts to touch), so I then moved on to the exam. I was in the midst of looking inside his nose when the following conversation occurred.

Me: So it looks like you have an infected ingrown hair inside your nose.

Him: Cool. That’s why it hurts. Hey, you’re really hot. Want to go on a date?

Me: Sorry, that’s against hospital policy (quick thinker here!)

Him: You can totally break that rule. Besides, my mom works for Michigan. That makes it okay.

I then felt that was the best time to go grab the attending physician to present the patient (in order words, recapping my findings) so we could get him out of there as soon as possible.

He asked me upon leaving IN FRONT OF THE PHYSICIAN if I would reconsider.

I said no.

Say Yes Red Wine Risotto

can risotto get any better! it can- just add wine!

Ingredients

  • 4 c low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1 c red wine (I used a pinot noir, but any red wine blend in the $8-10 range will do- just make sure you like the taste!)
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I normally buy a 4 oz portion and grate it myself)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. Bring chicken broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
  2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low to medium heat until onion is translucent (about 5 minutes)
  3. Add dry rice and saute for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add 1/2 c red wine and stir until absorbed. Add the rest of the wine and repeat.
  5. Once the rice has absorbed the wine, start adding the chicken broth, one ladle at a time. Your goal is to have this at a simmer. Stir frequently until absorbed. Add more chicken broth. This does take a while (you’re looking at about 30 minutes of active cooking from start to finish).
  6. When you’ve added about 3 c of the chicken broth, taste the rice. You’re looking for a pasta-like al dente (just chewy) consistency. It might not be done yet. Continue adding chicken broth until rice reaches this consistency and is creamy.
  7. Finish with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Inappropriate Date Proposals and Shrimp Pot Pie

There are times that you really don’t want to be asked out on a date.

I recently was getting my first tattoo. Now, I’m not normally the tattoo kind of girl, but it was in memory of my best friend (who you may recognize in stories here and here) who passed away 10 years ago, so it was one of those things that you just have to suck up and get.

I had literally been putting this off for ages, but happened to be sitting next to a tattoo artist when I recently dyed my hair red…which is how a week later I was lying on a bed in a tattoo parlor.

I had obviously seen the design beforehand, but I couldn’t see it when the guy was imprinting it onto my body with permanent ink.  I was lying there exhausted (I strategically planned this the day after I returned from a conference, since I knew I would be too tired to cancel). I had actually already fallen asleep in the middle of getting the tattoo, which caused quite a stir in the tattoo parlor since they thought I had passed out from pain (and then I had to reassure them over and over again that yes, I really was that tired, and yes, I have a high pain tolerance).

Like I said, I was tired and a bit cranky. And I had a chatty tattoo artist who apparently was unable to work without a constant stream of words coming from his mouth.  I was attempting to nod every once in a while to appear like I was paying attention.

That is, until I realized he must have asked me a question and was waiting for an answer.

Me: Excuse me, what did you say?

Tattoo guy: Oh, I just asked you if you wanted to go out for drinks sometime. You don’t have a boyfriend, do you? That would complicate things.

Now, please realize that at this point I have NO IDEA how much longer this is going to take. Besides, while I didn’t think he was the kind of guy who would mess up my tattoo if I said no, that wasn’t a chance I was willing to take (since tattoos are designed to be permanent and all…).

Me: No, I don’t have a boyfriend, and I’m out of town a lot, but maybe we can meet up.

Tattoo guy: Cool. I’m only a year younger than you, too.

At this point, I am praying for this to be done. Next, I’m not that old (I’m almost 26), so I don’t see why he had to point that out. I’m just feeling extremely awkward and praying it will be done soon.

And finally, it was done. He gave me his phone number and told me to call him sometime when I’m back in town.

I haven’t yet called him. And yes, the tattoo turned out fine. ;)

No Ink Required Shrimp Pot Pie

no need to tattoo the recipe to your body- just come back and find it here!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 1/2 c chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1/2 c sherry (optional)
  • 16 oz frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 16 oz frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 lb uncooked shrimp (51-60 count), peeled and deveined
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large soup pot, dump in asparagus, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and olive oil. Cook approximately 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  3. Add flour and stir for 1 minute to cook the flour-y taste out of the mixture.
  4. Add in vegetable stock, milk, and sherry. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 5 minutes while the mixture thickens.
  5. Add garlic powder and dried parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Mix in corn, peas, and shrimp. Remove from heat.
  7. Dump mixture into an 9x13in baking dish (I prefer glass).
  8. Roll out puff pastry sheet to fit baking dish, with an extra 1/2 – 1 inch on each side. Place on top of pot pie. Using egg wash (aka the beaten egg), brush insides of baking dish and stick puff pastry to that. Also brush with egg wash on top. Cut a few slits.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Let cool 5 minutes before diving in.

P.S. Want to see who I’m reading? Check out my awards for Versatile Blogger, parts one and two!