Friday, August 21, 2009

Loving Vegetables

...albeit somewhat reluctantly

Part of my internal goals for this garden were to help me love vegetables more. Homegrown, in season, fresh, heirloom veggies are to store bought, well traveled, out of season, grown-for-easy-shipping-rather-than-flavor veggies as looking at a Monet painting in person rather than seeing a fuzzy picture in a book without your reading glasses.

We successfully ate many spinach salads plucked fresh from the garden and they were great. Ditto for the Mesclun Mix of salad (also great on sandwiches). My Latah tomatoes are of a less flavorful variety than some of my later bearers but they are delicious in salads and on sandwiches and I am contemplating drying them for winter stews. Onions clearly belong in everything and potatoes are nature's most perfect food so neither of those have been a problem. My biggest hangups remain some of the green veggies: cooked spinach is still a crime in my mind (it's a texture thing, plain and simple); zucchini is only good in bread or (as I just learned) cookies; cooked broccoli is limp and slimy and I'd rather just eat it raw with ranch.

Today I am changing all of that. Well, except for the cooked spinach- I stand firm there. Apparently the keys to my loving zucchini and cooked broccoli are 1) barely cooking them; and 2) combining them with stove top stuffing. Last night I lightly sauteed some green onions, diced zucchini, and diced ham in a small saucepan, then cooked the stuffing according to the package directions after I had transfered the goodies to a bowl. I topped it with a chopped tomato that warmed in the stuffing and it was fabulous!! Today for lunch I have a slight variation: ham, zucchini, minced onion, and a small amount of the first (!) broccoli from our garden. Oh, and more tomatoes. The broccoli was barely in the pan for a minute when it turned the perfect shade of bright-go-light-green so I took it out while the onions, zucchini, and ham continued to soften and pop. The results: YUM!

Monday, August 3, 2009

What an excellent weekend!



Things started out slow on Saturday- we slept in a bit and lazed around. Watched part of Goblet of Fire and spent a little time wandering through TriState and being depressed because we're poor. But then that evening we went to Mark's house where he and Sara cooked up some wonderfully authentic pad thai (yummmmm) and introduced us to Killer Bunnies (which Sara won at, but I did fairly well, I think...for a beginner).

Sunday was even better! We went to Boyer Park with a whole bunch of friends. We actually went with Kim (my big sib) and several other 4th years, significant others, and some new first year roommates. Then my other big sib, Joe, and his girlfriend happened to come by the park as well! Also at the park where several of my classmates and friends, a few second years, and a bunch of vet students visiting from Nihon University in Japan. I think I can safely say we all had a lot of fun. We played in the water and got a bit sunburned. Luna learned to swim (it took her a while to master the use of her back legs to swim and not just her front legs. Also took a while for her to figure out how to not breathe with her mouth and choke on the water as she swam. But once she got it worked out she swam all over the place like a little otter). You could always hear her coming towards you in the water because she was "panting" through her nose- a great "Poof-Poof-Poof" as she swam.

Once we got back to Pullman (for those not in the know, Boyer Park is on the Snake River about 25 miles out of P-town) we had a small pot luck dinner of barbequed chicken (with homemade BBQ sauce!), corn bread (made by Whitney), corn on the cob (provided by Ashley), and cookies (also Ashley). We watched the first half of Fellowship of the Ring with cast commentary. Everyone made fun of Orlando Bloom and Sean Astin but I think (hope) everyone had fun. Who doesn't love listening to the comments made by Billy Boyd and Dominic Monahan? There definitely was some good laughter whenever they started talking! But in any case, dinner was FABULOUS.



It was a very good weekend indeed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The weather is defeating me

It is noon and the temperature outside is 93 degrees. It was 90 at 11:00am. Official high expected to be 99.

All this is conspiring against my domesticity. It is too hot to clean. It is too hot to cook. I wanted to bake some breads today- sourdough, zucchini, and an experimental apple bread. But I don't know if the dual air conditioners will hold up for it. I haven't made bagels since coming home- mostly because of the hot, but also because it IS a lot of work. Fun and delicious, but still hot work.

Maybe the weather will break and I can go back to my baking plans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Further adventures of the domestic goddess...

Update on the gnocchi: weird and sort of gross. I am not a huge fan. Making it was fun though! Now, most gnocchi is made using potatoes but I chose a ricotta gnocchi which is apparently a popular variation and I happen to love ricotta. So you make it using ricotta, eggs, and parmesean. This particular recipe was for a spinach infused variety and since I happen to have pureed spinach in my freezer I went for it. But just in case spinach-ricotta gnocchi was disgusting I divided the batch into three: the largest portion to be made with spinach puree, the middle portion plain, and the smallest portion to be made with beet puree (which is gross in pancakes but has a gorgeous color nonetheless). Then you add enough flour for the gooey crap to be workable as dough (but no more or the gnocchi will be dense and yucky) and shape the result into little football shapes that get boiled and sauced. Labor intensive but fun. And the result...well, Andrew liked the beet gnocchi best, surprisingly enough. And I am sort of on the fence. We both think they need some more textural interest. Like meat. Or SOMEthing. But I have a feeling the leftovers in our fridge will go bad before we can bring ourselves to pull them back out.

Now my more recent cooking adventures have been better. Last night, in spite of the heat, I made chicken braised with onion, carrots from our garden, a turnip, and (best of all) potatoes from our garden. Now, the potato patch is not yet ready to be fully harvested, but I snuck in like a thief, slid my fingers under the dirt, and pulled out some awesome potatoes. And I felt a lot more down there (*Squeal*). It was soooo good! Tonight I made chicken marinated in lime juice and then cooked with that same lime juice, lime zest, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, and mango chunks. Not as good honestly. It burned a little bit, was extremely limey (after several hours soaking in the juice of two limes, who wouldn't be?), and the mango got all smooshy but fibrous at the same time. Not appealing. Andrew liked it but I couldn't eat it all.

Speaking of the garden, we had our first tomato! Tada! It was a big Latah tomato and quite tasty. I had it on a sandwich after eating the first ceremonial slice (with salt). And more are on the way! Hopefully I will be ROLLING in tomatoes soon.

In other domestic news about the house, we have embarked upon a monstrous cleaning adventure. Over the weekend we cleaned our room AND the closet. I can proudly report that we have unearthed a lot of clothing we had forgotten about entirely, and now have a useable closet. We also have three boxes of clothing and a box of books for a garage sale some friends are having in a few weeks. Go us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Domestic Goddess (?)

I am feeling all domestic right now. God knows why. The past three nights running I cooked dinner. Sunday night I made Northern-White Girl-Jambalaya for 7. Monday night I went adventurous and cooked Chicken Kiev - this was tricky. It involved creating an herb/lemon butter (using parsley and onions from our garden), then butterflying two breasts and pounding them flat, then putting a chunk of the herb butter on each breast and rolling them up like a burrito in the hopes that the melting butter wouldn't explode out of the chicken like a bursting dam once they got hot. Then they got dredged in flour, dipped in an egg/dijon mustard wash, and rolled in bread crumbs (during which I was praying that my pathetic chicken breast burrito-style lumps wouldn't fall apart and doom me to butterless chicken). Then they went into the oven (toaster oven since it was 400 degrees in our apartment). They definitely dripped butter for most of the time in the oven, but considering I was imagining a butter waterfall of epic proportions (you know that scene in The Shining where the elevator doors open and blood pours out? Like that.) dripping was ok. They turned out fabulous! Andrew contributed to the domesticity by making fried plantains sprinkled with lime juice and salt- which I declared he could make for me any time! Then last night I made red beans and rice with sauteed chicken breasts and corn muffins. Tonight I plan on making spinach and ricotta gnocchi with home-doctored tomato sauce.

Also, yesterday I cleaned the entire kitchen and did all the dishes.

What is with me?! I need an apron or something...

In other news, the garden was a mass of weeds when we came back from vacation and it is still in the process of being reclaimed. Our first tomato is probably 1-2 days from pickable perfection and I cannot wait! We have 6 viable tomato plants at the moment, and one replanted seedling that survived the weed onslaught. I have visions of tomatoes dancing all over my counters. Also the potato plants are falling down. Presumably this means they are now putting all the energy into making delicious starchy tubers just for me! Or they have the plague. Either way.

On the school front, I just emailed a clinic in Coos Bay Oregon about an externship there on one of my last remaining school breaks of EVER. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Culinary Exploration

We are back from Disney Land and Arizona (I guess I will do a separate post on that with pictures and stuff) and getting into the swing of Pullman summer.

Of course the garden is demanding attention. 12 days of being out of town allowed the plants and weeds alike to explode! The spinach is more than harvestable, we have already pulled up a number of radishes, the salad mix (which had been looking pretty sparse when we left) has formed a rainbow, the onions look a lot like our chives right now, the broccoli is looking a little worse for wear but is struggling on, and the carrots are coming along (although slowly). The real surprise is the potatoes (although they shouldn't be a surprise)- they weren't yet above ground when we left and now look like thick, leafy bushes. Again, considering the massive energy store that is a potato, this amount of growth shouldn't be that surprising, but it was still rather startling. I spent an hour or so weeding and hoeing the first Monday back, and have been out for a little while every day since to stay on top of the weeds. Yesterday I got our beans and corn in the ground, and discovered a teeming ant's nest where I planned on planting the squash. So I churned up the soil and turned the hose on them in hopes of convincing them to move elsewhere. Today I got the first wave of cucumbers in the the ground (next planting when the first ones germinate in hopes of having a longer harvest) as well as the melons and squash (the ant nest was still active but less so...I planted extra seeds just in case one or two got carried off) and I planted some new radishes where I pulled up some for tonight's salad.

In the area of cooking, this has already been a fun week! We got a new cook book a while back at Costco- another America's Test Kitchen book. I love them! This one is "cooking for two" so we are trying out some recipes this week. Last night Andrew made chicken fajitas that were quick, easy, delicious, and almost the perfect amount for two people! Tonight we are having lasagna for two and a salad from our garden- spinach and radishes plus some feta and strawberries (not from the garden, sadly). And Monday night we made our first strawberry rhubarb pie (hence the strawberries for the salad) inspired by some rhubarb in the grocery store that was literally as thick as my wrist. I made a delicious, flaky crust using my mom's recipe and managed to pull it off without swearing, flinging pie crust at the wall, or getting drunk (clearly this is not my first pie crust and the first time was decidedly disastrous). Hooray!

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Finals Countdown

Finals week is here. It took forever! Especially considering during our "dead week" (you know, that week before finals where traditionally you should have no tests and some lucky schools actually have no classes) we had two lab finals. Awesome. Although, in truth, I have never had a real "dead week." That's what I get for being a bio major in undergrad and a vet student now. If I wanted easy, I would have done...I don't know. English or something. Or business. Business majors in undergrad seemed to do nothing.
So anyway, Finals. The fall out like so:
*Monday- Radiology at noon. I should finish in 15 minutes and Dr. Mattoon told us that no one would be able to fail the class, even if we just walked into the final and closed our eyes and clicked the screen at random.
*Tuesday- Surgery final at 1:00. This is a little concerning but not an active worry. It is a little irksome that Dr. M (not Mattoon) sent out an email to tell us that the lecture he missed on Friday (this would be his third scheduled lecture and the second he sent someone else to do for him- in this case with an entirely different lecture subject than had originally been planned) would be on the final. And then he went out of town and is unavailable by email. Helpful. I hope he only tests us on the information in the notes and doesn't expect us to read his mind for additional information. I wouldn't be surprised.
*Wednesday- Toxicology at 1:00. I figured out this morning that I need 102 points total to pass the class at this point- and since I don't know my grade from the 50 point plant test I took last Wed, I potentially need as little as 52 points on the final to pass. Clearly I will aim much higher than that but it is somewhat comforting.
*Thursday- Public Health at 8:00 and Epidemiology at 3:00. Epi is a total unknown although no one has ever failed the class. I have to read a packet of articles and relearn some stats for that one. Public Health is cumulative and also up in the air. His other test was fair although lengthy. I imagine it will have approximately a million points on rabies since we spent about 2 weeks learning that rabies is bad. (True or false: rabies is bad. True! Hooray!)
*Friday- Parasitology at noon. I need only 25 points on this test to pass the class. Again, I will certainly aim significantly higher than that, but it does ease my blood pressure a bit.

In about 10 minutes I will leave for Radiology. The plan is for Andrew to take me in and hang out for the 15 minutes it takes me to finish the test and then we can come home and I will study for Surgery! Hooray!

And in a mere 8 days and 6 finals I will be out of this God-forsaken town and in the wicked heat of Arizona. *pumps fist in the air*

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The word "diet" is just "Die" with a t

So Andrew and I have come to the conclusion that we are fatty fats. We didn't used to be but are trending that way. Diets suck and I haven't been to the gym in ages. But we are making some efforts. Andrew has cut sugary soda out almost entirely and relies on Coke Zero (he declares it is better the more you drink it) and sparkling flavored sugar free waters. I have been eating celery and carrots like they are going out of style (smeared gently with reduced fat peanut butter or cream cheese and studded with raisins). The odd effect of eating celery in class instead of baggies of cereal is that I am starving. By lunch time I am ravenous. I want to get dinner going as soon as I get home (even if that is 4:30). It is very weird. As for exercise, Andrew has been lifting weights with Chris and I....am hoping that the weather will freaking clear the heck up so that I can start doing manual labor in the garden and maybe take Luna for some long walks or sommat.

As for weather, Sat was gorgeous, and since then everything has been scitzophrenically going between appallingly hideous weather and clear, sunny skies. It was hailing in two different directions yesterday. Andrew actually took a break from work to come get me so I wouldn't have to walk home in it.

And speaking of the garden, that last gorgeous Saturday of spring break found us out in the dirt, pulling clumps of sod, renting a tiller, tilling, and raking. It was awesome. We put down an entire bale of peat moss and 20 scoops of organic fertilizer. Hopefully once the weather starts acting normal we can start the planting process. Just a few more steps of the planning phase are left, namely finalizing the layout, making a plan for planting dates, and working out a watering schedule for each plant. Yay!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring has pulled its covers over its head and said "I don' wanna"

So the day after I though that spring had sprung, it started snowing. Last night we had a record low. I hate this. It is March now. Almost mid-March. Grr.

Can't even use a roto-tiller in this weather. Didn't even have a chance to get the sod up.

In further news I have only one more test to go before spring break. After three weeks and 8 tests I am almost done. I still sort of want to die, but the light at the end of the tunnel is getting bigger. And even though these weeks have been hell on earth, I have been doing well on the ones I got back so far. 86% is the lowest score (although some have not yet been returned.)

What sort of angers me is the fact that for three partial-semester classes so far we have only had one test to determine our entire grade in them. No room for error and they have all been online tests so I don't have old tests to look at. Which means I have no chance to figure out how a particular professor tests. And that sounds like a lazy cop-out until you remember that in the past 14 school days we have had 8 tests so my mental energy is at a premium and I need to be efficient in how I study. If I just have half a semester worth of notes and power points to work with I could study for years and not have managed to focus my mind in the right way on the right material that the teacher thinks is important for us to know.

I need the snow to be gone and I need it to be spring break now.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring is springing?

In the midst of a brutal three weeks of tests, I have a little spot of happiness: all of my seeds have arrived!
I have two varieties of carrots, a radish, a melon, two cucumbers, corn to make Andrew happy, three tomatoes (including a cherry type), three types of beans for winter soups, a lettuce/greens mix, spinach, butternut squash, a small onion, and a whole slew of herbs.
The only thing I am missing from my order is 5 lbs of potatoes (one pound of each variety) so hopefully I will be rolling in potatoes soon.
Andrew finished cutting the sod (although it still needs to be pulled up). Next steps: layout the garden plan now that I have specific instructions for my seeds, pull up the cut sod, purchase bale of peat moss, rent tiller and till the soil + peat moss, build the fence, plant plant plant! And there are a number of seeds that need to be started indoors so I will probably get those going today on a study break.

Yay!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

TA DAAA!

Sorry to all of my loyal readers (hi mom!) for the long dry spell.
Last semester was pretty hellish. A lot of dark days in Andrea's psyche. A lot more random breakdowns, crying fits, and panic attacks (yes mom and dad, they are back. It's ok, I know what they are and how to handle them now). I made it through with pretty high test scores all around which is nice. It is good to see studying pay off. Sometimes during Anatomy last year I felt like I could study all damn day and not raise my average test grade a bit. That's a little discouraging. But last semester had a lot of really interesting classes and no formaldehyde exposure. Yay!

This semester is a bit easier so far. I have had one take home test, am working on another, have a test tomorrow and another on Thursday. So we'll see how it all goes.

As for life outside of school, the cats are doing just fine. Jasper is growing and is still a little monkey. Talen has had some ugly bouts of acne but is clear right now. Luna has stopped growing and we have purchased a backpack for her to start training her to be a trail puppy. She is a lot of fun in our house, such a sweet girl! Although a bit destructive. There are some holes worn in our linoleum(before we got there) and Luna found one and expanded it. Possibly we will be redoing the floors at some point...Andrew is looking forward to a man-trip soon with several vet school husbands (another reason that we got Luna's backpack now) and we are spending a lot of time with another couple- Chris and Ashley. They are a lot of fun! Good game nights and good food...excellent. Plus man time for Andrew :)

We spent the first part of today outside in the sunshine. What were we doing? Well, I for one was procrastinating the studying for tomorrow's test. But also, we were starting our garden! We cut the boundaries and started pulling up the sod. Tough work, but I resisted the temptation to rent a sod cutter. The shovels and hoe are doing fine. Plus there is something extremely satisfying about pulling up huge chunks of grass with the claw. I did give in and we took a quick trip to get a wheel barrow. I was hoping to get by without it, but it was soooo much easier hauling the little chunks of sod to the compost pile all in a wheel barrow than two handfuls at a time. We got a good start! But are done for the moment so I can work on Parasitology (right after I finish my blog :P) We have big plans for the garden. My big sib, Kim, said they had a 5x5 garden plot that kept them and several friends rolling in veggies...and our garden is considerably larger than that. I need to order my seeds soon so I can get them started indoors and get them outside just as soon as the freezing is over! I am so excited to be able to go outside and cut myself a salad for dinner!

Although we will need to build a fence covering the entire thing because there is a pretty significant deer population here. Three of them ran past our yard while we were out there, and I saw a herd of about 7-8 once when I was up very early. Stay back from my lettuce!