Saturday, August 13, 2011

A snapshot of my life

The scene: sitting in the car on the ferry listening to my Glee Pandora station.  Journey comes on.  Andrew and I both start singing quietly and start getting louder.

We suddenly look at each other and, making dramatic gestures, belt out at full voice: "I'M FOREVERRRRR YOUUUUURS.....FAITHFULLY!"

From the back seat, Luna sighs.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I have lost all credibility

So this past weekend was my first weekend free for a while.  I worked two Saturdays (aka two weekends because that also usually involves running in at other times to check on patients.  No biggy, but I can't really count that as "Free.") and then ran up to Kitsap for a wedding (not working, but still many hours in the car and travel stress etc.  Plus my really sexy shoes KILL my feet).  So this weekend Andrew and I declared it a true lazy weekend.  Set aside to doing nothing.  And by nothing I mean, "have a Firefly marathon and sit on the unfolded futon in our jammies and possibly wallow in our own filth."

To further that purpose, I declared that we needed caramel corn.  And gummy bears.  I bagged on the gummy bears, but I DEFINITELY ran out and got some caramel corn.

And that is what we had for dinner Sunday night.  Half a bag of caramel corn each.  My hands were so covered in caramel grease that a paper towel was insufficient and I needed to wash my hands with soap to cut the grease.

Andrew then told me that I would be responsible for purchasing him new pants for all the fat I was making him gain.

Then I tried to explain to him that I was the person who kept trying to add veggies into our diet...and midsentence I realized there was a small lump under my tank top.  Distracted, I lifted my shirt to find a small piece of caramel corn that had fallen down and stuck to me.

And THAT.  Right there.  Is where I lost all credibility.  And lost it in general actually.  Suddenly I was laughing so hysterically that I was practically in tears and trying to squeak out semi-human-sounding words involving vegetables while Andrew stood there and shook his head.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I am almost exactly like Robert Downey Jr.

Actual conversation that happened today:

Me: *instructing Andrew on proper crappy tomato soup preparation* you should know how to do this because someday...

Andrew: might be sick and want tomato soup?

Me: well...that too.  But no, someday our children who have more enlightened taste than you and will want some tomato soup.

Andrew: well, if they like tomatoes we may have to just off them for being defective.

Me: Well I think you need to be a little nicer!  And a little less of a jerk!

Andrew: *pointing a spatula at my face* well I think...

Me: Get that out of my face!

Andrew: It's not in your face, it's in my hand.

Me: Well get what's in your hand out of my face.

Both of us: *bust up laughing*

To be honest, I'm not sure which of us is Sherlock and which is Watson.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A change of scenery

Most people probably know that we have had a slight change in scenery recently.  I have graduated from vet school and have abandoned the land of lentils and cougars.  We said goodbye to Pullman in our rear view mirrors as we headed west.  Not as far west as we originally planned, but stopping just short of the Cascade mountains in Yakima.

Our new home!

I somehow managed to get a job at a clinic that I fell in love with on my interview.  When I got the call welcoming me to the clinic, it was all I could do to contain myself- fortunately you can't hear extremely undignified and un-doctorly dancing over the phone.  So in the coming week I will be starting at an excellent clinic with an excellent group of people, as a real live doctor!

Excuse me while I engage in a little more dancing.

In any case, moving was a drama show as per usual.  In spite of being very nearly fully packed prior to actually moving (a change from previous experiences), we ended up wanting to die by the end of it.  Especially thanks to the Uhaul not actually arriving until 5:30 only AFTER Andrew verbally abused the customer service people who told us that our truck wouldn't be ready until 7 pm.  Meanwhile we had packed our carport to the edges (unsuccessfully attempting to keep the random rain squalls from soaking our stuff) with boxes and were at a standstill.  It all came together in the end, though.

An additional level of excitement was brought by the fact that Jasper gets car sick.  WICKED car sick.  With yowling and drooling and copious vomiting.  So we drugged him.  He got Xanex starting the night before to (theoretically) ease his anxiety and sedate him, and then a shot of Cerenia (a powerful anti-emetic) the morning we left.  I think the results are best described by the post I left on the wall of the amazing doctor who helped me with the medications since I don't have my actual license yet:

"On the plus side, he did not throw up even once! On the down side, he was totally crazed on the meds. The first night (pre-move) was hysterically funny as he wobbled around and tried desperately to steal our food, the second night (post-move) was not so funny as he prowled around the house yowling in a my-world-is-ending-and-I-am-disastrously-high sort of way. I think it made him paranoid, caused hallucinations, and gave him a wicked case of the munchies. I imagine he was just reacting atypically though- why I expected him to act like a normal cat is beyond me!"

We somehow managed to leave only 2 hours later than planned in spite of all the sitting and waiting we endured the day before.

Stay tuned for further updates from our new home in Yakima and at my new job!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What moving means to me

Pulling a large box out of a larger box and finding....
It happened just like this.

Plan A: Beg manly friend Dave to come over and kill spider

Plan B: Whimper.  Gingerly pick up box by corner and transport downstairs, watching the spider for any signs of wanting to leap out onto my face, and fling the whole thing into the yard while making high-pitched noises of bravery.  Run back upstairs and watch developments from the window.  Hope spider doesn't eat Steve, the neighbor's cat.

Conclusion: Thank God Dave answered his text messages and is a tolerant human being.  I didn't have to attempt Plan B, which is good because I wanted to die just thinking about it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My cat is...special...

This is a little story about our youngest fur-kid: Jasper.  For those of you who haven't met him, he is a 3 year old black kitty who, although he is around 10 lbs, manages to look like a small kitten- especially next to Talen.  His alternate names are: "the Little Monkey,"  "Jazz-poo,"  and (sorry mom), "the Little Fucker."

ROR!  I have no dignity!

He is an incredibly sweet snuggle-bug and really loves to be under the covers.  In fact, this winter it was not uncommon for me to pick up one of our down throws from the couch and discover that he had curled up underneath it.  He also drools when he is reeeeally happy.  Often on my face in the middle of the night.  Charming.

My blankets.

Jasper, true to his monkey nick-name, is also a shoulder kitty.  He loves to drape himself across my shoulders.  Sometimes, he will unexpectedly leap from the ground up to my shoulders if I am not paying enough attention to him.  This is not an issue in the winter when I am bundled in a hoodie.  This IS an issue in the summer when I am in a tank top and sun burned.

Now we are getting to the "special" part...

We have to feed Jasper in a large, high sided, casserole dish.  Because unlike most cats, who are fairly dainty eaters, Jasper somehow manages to push all of his food out and onto the floor in the process of eating.  It is as if he can't quite figure out how to get the delicious crunchies from his bowl into his mouth and so he just pushes them around until he manages to get one in.

This is what happens if we give him a normal bowl

He also does not drink like a normal cat.  He is certainly capable of normal cat-like drinking, but quite often I will hear splashing from the water bowls and, sure enough, there is Jasper.  Digging in the water.  And then licking off his paws.  Splashing water everywhere.  Or if he is feeling more dignified he just delicately dips one of his paws in the water so he can lick it off.  And then he will jump on you with water dripping from his broken whiskers and one paw soaked up to the elbow.

Did I mention he has broken whiskers?  Don't ask me how, but all of his little whiskers are perpetually broken.

The dishwasher is actually a magical portal into the kitchen
Even as I type this, Jasper is making happy little "purting" noises and dashing from one end of the house to the other.  He just ran into the dining room pushing a reusable grocery bag ahead of him as a portable hiding place.  I have no explanation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Maudlin Meanderings

I have been in a very low mood of late.  Actually verging on tears for several days.

It was initially hard to see why...although apparently not so much for those who commented on my recent Facebook status: Vet school is about to end.

I have two weeks left until graduation.  Two weeks.

deep breath now...



I have invested so much into these past four years.  More money than I care to contemplate right now; vast quantities of time and sleepless nights; most of my energy; many emotions getting swept right along...tests both literal and figurative, blood sweat and tears (also both literal and figurative)...

And then of course we come to all my friends.  I can't quite describe the bond that something like vet school gives a group of people, except to say that they are family now.  Maybe it has to do with all that blood sweat and tears, maybe spending 5 days a week for 3 years in the same classroom, maybe it was the enforced bonding time we had in the woods of Idaho before vet school started.  Spending 60+ hours a week together in the teaching hospital and depending on each other for our sanity probably has something to do with it too.  Suffice it to say that I have become very close to some amazing people.  And among my group of friends, I now count several fabulous residents and interns as well.

My entire life has been leading towards the goal of "Veterinarian."  And it is about to happen.  And then suddenly my goal is achieved, I will need to work on new goals (jobjobjobjob), and these past four years will be gone and my friends will be scattering to all corners of the country.  How do you say good bye to all that?

I haven't figured it out yet.  If anyone else has, please let me know.

These are a few of my favorite things

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gonna wake up in a smoothie...

Breakfast this morning....

Unfortunately without glorious pictures.  I need to find my camera so I can take glorious pictures of our food.  My cell phone just doesn't cut it!

In any case: breakfast this morning.  Smoothies!

In our freezer I have been saving chunks of banana (I don't like just eating banana so when I put some on toast I don't want to waste the rest) and I still had some cut up peaches and strawberries from last summer.  I also found some blueberries but I am going to use those for a different smoothie on a different day.  I dumped all these frozen fruits plus a container of non-fat vanilla greek yogurt (Lucerne- not nearly as good as my Greek Gods yogurts) and a sprinkling of flax seed meal.  I ended up having to add some milk to allow things to actually mix up in the blender- it was too thick!  If I had been thinking I would have dumped some rice or almond milk in there in order to minimize my milk intake but I was mostly just grabbing things from the fridge at that point.

End result: thick and creamy and filling and delicious.  We also each had a slice of toast (Milton's Whole Grain) topped with some margarine which Andrew claimed was the best toast in the world.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Search for the Perfect Tomato Soup pt 1

It should be no secret that I love tomato soup.


I ate the condensed Campbell's soup as a child (and in college...although I often added chili powder at that point).  I loved the Progresso Tomato Basil in high school.  Safeway has an amazing Creamy Tomato Bisque with just enough spice to make my nose run a little bit.  And most recently I have been grabbing these little Campbell's Tomato Parmesan Bisque drinkable soups- they are great for lunches at the hospital when I sometimes only have 10 minutes to eat.  Or on a day I needed to run an errand and ended up carrying my handy-dandy soup with me.

There are just two sticking points to this handy lunch plan:

  1. High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Now, as I have said in the past, I am not against this nutritionally...I am more against the pervasiveness and sneakiness with which this ends up in an appalling number of products.  
  2. Cost.  These handy meals (or parts of meals- this is not enough to call lunch alone) are around $2 each.  More than I prefer to spend on something I will eat every day.  That is $10 of our weekly budget for only a portion of my lunches.
So I am launching into a quest for perfect tomato soup.  Soup that tastes just as good as what I have found in a can/cuppy thing/plastic container from Safeway but that ends up being cheaper and better for me.

This is my first attempt:

It was from Mark Bittman's book: How to Cook Everything.  This was a recent purchase and I am very excited about many of the recipes therein.  Unfortunately....this soup didn't do it for me.  It was theoretically sound.  Saute some tomato paste, then saute some onions and carrots, add in canned tomatoes, then some chicken stock (homemade- hoorah!).  Then I added some Parmesan and some plain Greek yogurt for creaminess and blended that business up.  

It looked delightful.  And I thought it tasted pretty good when I dipped my finger in to test the amount of Parmesan and yogurt I was adding.  But it just didn't end up good.  Which is disappointing.  This recipe made 5 slightly-less-than-1-cup portions for lunches plus an additional 3.5 cups which I froze for later.  And I have to admit that these will probably all end up getting dumped down the sink.  Because, unfortunately, I just don't want to eat them.

Soon I will psych myself up enough to try another recipe.  Specifically, this one, from Eat Live Run.  She claims it will win over any Campbell's condensed hold outs.  I will be withholding judgement until after the first lunch attempt!

On the plus side:
Tomato paste in a tube!  THIS IS A REVELATION!  No more using 2 tbs from one of the tiny cans and then wasting the remainder!  I will never go back...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Five Books

There are a lot of blogs that I read.  On a recent sick day I was catching up on some of these and read a post on  eatliverun about the 5 books you can't live without.  And this got me to thinking.  What are my essential books that I go to over and over and over again?

  1. The Belgariad and the Mallorian by David Eddings.  This is clearly cheating because, all told, this is approximately 11 books.  And I would count Polgara in here as well.  But the fact remains that I have read these books over and over again through the years.  Probably every few months I will suddenly feel the need to immerse myself in the amazing world that Eddings created and to reacquaint myself with my old friends: Garion, Ce'Nedra, Polgara, Belgarath, Silk, Barak, Hettar, Mandorallin....Dad read these books to me when I was a child and I truly cannot wait until I can read them to my own children.  I even got Andrew hooked on this series- he is rereading them right now for the umpteenth time.
  2. Sunshine by Robyn McKinley.  Now THIS is a vampire book.  There are no sparkles here.  Just a cinnamon roll queen getting thrown in the the darkest Others.  The heroine (Sunshine) is spunky and snarky (she calls herself a bitch) and discovers an unfortunate affinity for vampires after spending her entire life being blissfully normal.  The vampire has a certain level of sex appeal, but also is very clearly a predator who is just as uncomfortable with his association with Sunshine as she is.  I love everything about this book except that there is no sequel.  And probably will never be because Robyn McKinley writes with integrity and won't write a sequel unless it will be just as good as the original.  
  3. Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Yup- a nonfiction book.  And a book that has truly changed how I look at the world.  This book is the reason I started a garden and the reason I became interested in simple, local food.  Yes, I still eat McDonald's and yes our garden was woefully neglected this year, but I have grand plans for when my life is not being eaten by vet school.  Plans involving a garden and backyard chickens.  It is also a book that just makes me feel happy when I read it.
  4. Arrows of the Queen/Arrow's Flight/Arrow's Fall by Mercedes Lackey.  A pure sugar series that is the epitome of escape fiction.  I am not particularly proud of this choice, but my well-worn copy of the first book in this series will likely gather many more dog ears before I need to purchase a replacement.  Because I love it.
  5. Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King.  Truly, this entire series should be on my list, but the first book is my favorite.  This is the story of a young girl in the early 1900s who meets the retired Sherlock Holmes and ends up becoming his apprentice.  It sort of sounds a bit lame.  But it totally isn't.  This series is pure awesomeness wrapped in amazing.
And now it is time for some audience participation: what are your top 5 books?  Are you like me and trying to shove some extra books into your "end of the world necessities" kit?  (so help me, I WILL fight for the entire Belgariad and Mallorean).  Can you narrow it down to just 5 (ish)?  I feel some series lacking in my list even as I write this.  Specifically: The Pern Books by Anne McCaffery (especially Dragonsdawn), the Elenium and the Tamuli by David Eddings (not quite as awesome as the Belgariad and Mallorean, but running a close second), Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey (more escape fiction that plays into my own fantasy world rather nicely), Harry Potter (for obvious reasons), and probably many more.  I will stick by my top 5 though.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sick sick sick

The past three weeks I have been sneezing.  No biggie.  Actually somewhat unusual for me.  I have lived my life with sinus issues (thanks mom and dad!) and they generally manifest themselves somewhat further back in my head.  Recently everything has been up front in my nose- hence the trigger to sneeze.  But I felt fine.

Friday night that suddenly changed.  It was a gorgeous day (50 degrees = tropical madness) and I got out of the hospital before 6:00p (miracle of miracles!!) and celebrated by taking Luna up to the park.  I came back, sat on the couch, and suddenly realized that everything that had been happening in my nose was now settling into its proper home: my sinuses.  Not.  Good.

Enter Saturday.  Saturday I am definitely feeling more and more sinusy.  I sort of just want to lie down because clearly my sinuses have been draining all night and now my ears and throat hurt.  But we were too busy on St. Patrick's Day to actually celebrate (we ordered pizza) and Andrew really wanted to have people over and make some corned beef on his one day off.  So we cleaned the house (well, Andrew cleaned and I picked some things up and then had to sit down for a while).  And I begged Andrew to make the Irish Soda Bread for fear that my sinuses would be contagious and I would enviral the delicious buttery goodness of the bread.

Chris and Dave came over (and later, Chance and Chance's twin brother and Laura joined us) and we partook of fattening traditional foods.  And it was good.  And we watched Iron Chef America and then started a marathon of Ghost Adventures (when Andrew discovered what I had turned the channel to, he actually almost fell over because he was rolling his eyes so hard).  And although I was still not at my full game, I was ok.

And then I suddenly realized that I was feeling much much worse.  Much worse.  And every single joint ached.  Including my hips.  And since I had to get up and go to the bathroom anyway (in Soviet Russia, fluids force you!) I went ahead and took my temperature just for kicks.


Not an impressive temperature per say.  Except that I haven't actually had a fever since Jr. High.  Whenever I feel like I might be feverish, the thermometer usually tells me I am actually in the 97 range.  Very frustrating in High School by the way.  So this is an honest to God fever in my world.  And enough to make me feel like death warmed over and then smeared with poo.  And then punched in the face.

So today I am going to recoup and hopefully not have to take a sick day tomorrow.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Procrastination...makes it happen?

This is a post with a very specific purpose.  That purpose is to delay the "productive" part of my day.  I am avoiding this list:

  • Catch up on dishes
  • Do a load of laundry
  • Clean out on dishwasher-load worth of disgusting containers from the fridge
  • Take out the trash
  • Clean one out of three litter boxes (I don't want to push it)
  • Go grocery shopping
  • Make tomato soup
  • Clean out the drawers in the bathroom
  • Pack one bookshelf
  • Clean out the freezer
I think that was the entire list.  Yesterday I was able to cross off "start a good will box" and "activate debit card."  Although to be fair, I also did a dishwasher load of dishes yesterday.  But since I specifically wrote "catch up on dishes," I can't actually check anything off yet.

So instead of getting cracking on that mondo list of doom, I will now give you a brief update on my life.
  • I have had one job interview.  Conclusion: no.
  • I have two more interviews to set up.  One I may have come across as too desperately eager by trying to arrange for this weekend.  The other is a 24 hour clinic where the expected hours are midnight to noon.  
  • I have expanded my job search to include Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.  I am toying with expanding that list to "everywhere but the south."  And probably also excluding the midwest (sorry Grandma).
  • I am still considering specializing in oncology.  I am also including clin path on my list of potential specialties based on how excited I was to stay late at school on a Friday to look at some lymph node aspirates.
  • Andrew got a raise, a move to full time, and benefits at his job in Spokane (yay!!) and they are hoping that we will move to Spokane after graduation.  Unfortunately, I haven't found a vet clinic in Spokane which is hiring yet.
  • I am now obsessed with Greek Yogurt.  Specifically: this kind.  Because it is too yummy to be believed.  Unfortunately it is also expensive.  Stupid Greek Yogurt....
  • I am really really hankering to play D&D.  Unfortunately, I am about to start my Orthopedics rotation which is looking to be insanely busy and may eat my life.  Dang.

**UPDATE:  In spite of the impressive level of procrastination I have been engaging in, I have still managed to: 
  • Empty a load of clean dishes out of the dishwasher
  • Replace that emptiness with a disgusting load of dishes from fridge
  • Take out the garbage
  • Take out two more garbage bags filled with disgustingness from the fridge containers and disposable crap from the fridge
  • Empty out a garbage bag worth of odds and ends from the bathroom drawers
  • Do a load of laundry (currently drying)
  • Empty a litter box
  • Pack 3 boxes of books

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Kiwi Shaped Hole

The kitty I grew up with died of kidney failure when I was in 5th grade.  I thought my heart would break.  And then to fill the hole in our house, we adopted two kittens from the local humane society: Kiwi and Cricket.  We were able to take Cricket home first- Kiwi had to gain weight before she could get spayed and go to a family.  This was ironic, because once Kiwi started gaining weight, she never really stopped.  In her extremely fat prime, she had too many stomach rolls cascading down to even clean her own hiney.  

Kiwi was a cat who always smiled and never stopped purring.  She was a dedicated snuggler.  She probably wasn't very bright- we theorized that she was deprived of oxygen as a kitten since her litter was found nesting in plastic bags.  She was a great hunter although she was never quite sure what to do with the mice she caught.  She loved ice cream and would hound my brother all through the house trying to reach his bowl.  She always looked vaguely startled since her big blue eyes were crossed.

And I loved her very much.
Always smiling, our little Kiwi

Sitting like a drunk in an alley.  Graceful and dignified Kiwi!

Rolling in the sun on the porch.

Kiwi and Sputnik

Hug me?

Kiwi Bomgaars

Monday, January 17, 2011

One run does not a runner make

But it does sort of make you hurt.

Especially when the socks you had thought were adequate decide to fall down repeatedly during your run so your Achilles tendons end up being rubbed raw.  And your left knee hurts inexplicably as it hasn't hurt since high school- even though this is not your first run since high school, just the first in a while and hopefully the first to establish a pattern of healthy, regular running.

I almost weenied out- I really did.  I put on my sports bra and managed to find my running pants.  Zipped up my hoodie and took Luna out to play some chuck-it and hopefully make her poop prior to the run so I wouldn't have to run holding a baggie of poo.  In spite of the balmy temperatures, the wind was....staggering.  It made me go upstairs and get my WSU beanie and some fingerless gloves.  Luna still wouldn't poop in spite of much chuck-it-ing (normally a pretty good method of getting things moving) making me think she had probably gone before breakfast without me seeing it.  Then a huge blast of wind somehow managed to blow me out of the yard and all the way back up the stairs and into the house saying "What am I thinking?!  This wind is crazy!  Do I really want to start my scheme TODAY?"

Then I looked at Luna.  She was looking at me with the saddest puppy eyes in the world.  Eyes that said, "I have not yet been satisfactorily worn out by my chuck-iting!  I was promised a run!"

And so we went.  1 minute of running, 2 minutes of walking...repeated 10 times.  I discovered the trail is quite muddy right now.  I discovered that it is difficult to keep headphones in while wearing a beanie.  I discovered that the stop watch app I downloaded to keep track of minutes liked to turn off the screen only during the minute runs- never during the 2 minute walks.  But Luna enjoyed herself thoroughly.  And I survived it.

Endomondo Running Workout: "was out running 1.78 miles in 32m:18s using Endomondo."

P.S. Endomondo is really awesome.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I have never been a runner.  I mean, I ran track in Jr. High- sprinting because distance running was decidedly beyond my capabilities and the capabilities of my sport's bra.  But I have looked with envy at those who run and who derive a sense of fulfillment from running.  So even though I get shin splints and side aches and whenever I try to run my lungs feel like they may collapse, I still want to give it a fair chance.

But how to begin?  I realized this fall that I enjoy trail running much more than street running and even bought myself some trail running shoes to further that purpose.  Luna loves to go for a run and I know she would appreciate it if I ran regularly and took her with me.  However, it is the middle of winter in Pullman and although we are having some sort of tropical heat wave (50 degrees??  WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!) it is still crappy out.  Today, for example it is alternating pouring sheets of rain and huge blasts of wind that make all my windows rattle.  Luna ran outside to go potty this morning, started happily trotting to the yard and stopped short when she got a huge gust of wind in her face that made her ears stand up and her lips flop around.  She turned around and found a more sheltered place to piddle and was still quite damp from the driving rain when she came inside.

So running right now is decidedly unappealing.  But I need to start at some point.  I read numerous cooking blogs and many of these healthy home cooks also have healthy hobbies such as running and yoga.  I followed a link to Runners World and have since clicked my way around (steering away from half marathons when I started reading things like "start by running 6 miles at 60% of your normal pace.") and found the Beginners section.  There are a lot of great articles in there about shoes and nutrition and motivation as well as common pitfalls and inspirational stories.  This is the gem that I think I found though:

The Runner's World 8-Week Beginning Runner's Training Program.

I think it looks very doable.  I like the idea of having a manageable goal- in this case, work my way up to running for 2 miles at a slow pace (30 minutes of running).  Will I win a marathon at that pace?  No.  Do I need to?  No.  I just want to be more physically fit and maybe have a better chance of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.  Maybe once I get into the habit of running, I can work towards some bigger goals.  For instance, I would REALLY like to do a triathalon someday.  Maybe even a half marathon.  

For the moment, I will settle for feeling good about myself and making my dog very very happy.  

Also: outrunning zombies.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My house smells vaguely of curry

Last night for dinner I made Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup from the fabulous food blog: Eat Live Run.  It claimed to serve 4.  Instead it made 4 gallons.

Well, I may be exaggerating....but still.  It was quite a bit of soup and a good portion of it is now in our freezer awaiting further rainy days.  But it is so pretty and delicious that I will definitely make it again- just a quarter of it...

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 (3lb) butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbl minced ginger (I found a squeeze tube of this in the produce section and now I need to find many more uses for it- I had forgotten how amazing ginger smells!!)
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red lentils (fun fact: when you get them wet, say to rinse them, they turn into cement which is very difficult to dump from one container into the next)
  • 1 qt chicken or veggie broth
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
The best part?  You don't have to worry about how even and bite sized your cuts are.  You blend it all together at the end so prettiness in prep doesn't count- it ends up pretty in spite of your inability to cut things nicely!

And now for some pictures of the process:
Some of my ingredients- check out the tube o ginger!
First step: saute the onions in a bit of olive oil until nice and soft

Nice aromatics: ginger and garlic

Dump the garlic and ginger in and saute for a few more minutes- remember that garlic burns a lot faster than onions!

Add the butternut squash and mix it up, then add everything else in with wild abandon! Please note that the lentils are not falling happily into the pot.  No, we had to add some water to the bowl and work loose the now hard-as-rock lentils.  They came apart as they cooked thankfully!
Oooh yeah.  So full of goodness.  Bring this mixture to a boil.

Then reduce heat, cover, and let it simmer away for 20 minutes until the squash and lentils are nice and soft.  I was dubious that it would only take 20 minutes.  And I was pleasantly surprised when my spoon hit a squash chunk and it melted in half.  Perfect!

This is tricky.  Transfer the soup to a blender.  Now: blend it up.  The exciting part of blending hot soup is that if you fail to remove the middle part of the cap to let steam escape, the entire lid will try and explode off of the blender.  We kept the clear thing partially on and covered it with a dish towel.  The spatter is because it is too full- and this was only half of the soup!

All smooth and delicious now!

Second half of the soup ready to be blended.

Look at that technique!  Look at that concentration!

We transfered it all back to the Dutch oven because it is prettier there.

All gone!  The sandwich too!
We made some sandwiches (turkey and cheddar with homemade bread!) and they were very filling so we couldn't eat very much soup in the end- a real bummer considering how much is leftover AND how tasty this was.  I love the kick the cayenne gives this soup and I love the surprising complexity of flavors.  It starts out very squashy and then all the other elements start coming through.  Delicious!  I have trouble eating soup without chunks so bread or crunched up pita chips are a must for me.  This might be very very good with chunks of sausage and maybe some noodles or rice for something to chew on.  

All in all, a great weeknight dinner.  Especially a weeknight that is cold and rainy and crappy.  This is an excellent comfort food!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Utter waste of life? Or productive human being?

This is a question that has plagued me on this, my last vacation of vet school.  I knew immediately that the way the schedule shook out in the end would mean that I will be climbing walls by the time I graduate, but now I am in the last few days of the last three weeks of vacation before I become a doctor...and it is even more scary.

Especially since I have been hard pressed to do anything worthwhile with this free time.

What have I done?  Well, I visited family in my first last week of vacation.  That was pretty good.  On the second last week of vacation I made some awesome bread and did a whole bunch of dishes (although, I am pretty sure that they are breeding, because I am not sure it is humanly possible to have done as much dishes as I have in the past two weeks and still not be able to enter my kitchen for fear of being crushed under a pile of dirty dishes).  And THIS week, the LAST week of my last vacation, I have finally sent out my resume to my Preceptorship (only 1.5 weeks later than I should have...and I just found out today that I may have needed an extra stamp on there.  Potentially embarrassing).  And TODAY...after much agonizing, after sending approximately 324973205 emails to Dr. Bryan, after reworking my resume and cover letter and business card again and again...I have sent out my first official plea for employment.  At a clinic in Silverdale that sounds, frankly, awesome.

I am trying not to get my hopes up too much, because I know the job market is crap and I know there are many other fish in the veterinary sea, but I can't help it.  I want a job and I think that this one would be really amazing.  So my hopes are high even with a healthy dollop of pessimism and an even healthier dollop of realism.  Regardless, please please please keep your fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for me.  And if I don't get this particular job, I will grind my teeth and determine that it was not meant to be.

Dinner tonight: Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup.  Updates later.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Dinner tonight

This blog entry is brought to you at the request of my husband, who wanted to make sure I recorded the recipes I used so he could eat it again in the future.  Isn't that sweet?

So the menu was:
*Oven-fried chicken
*Quinoa with apples and cranberries
*Leftover french bread (home made!)

Unfortunately this was all eaten before I thought to take pictures, so you will just have to imagine the delicious images in your mind.

The Quinoa is what knocked Andrew's socks off, so I will start with that.

  • 1/2 c Quinoa (rinsed)
  • 1 c chicken stock (home made in our case.  That makes me sound so much more gourmet than I probably really am!)
  • 1/2 of a granny smith apple chopped into reasonable sized chunks
  • A good handful of dried cranberries
  • A shake of cinnamon (1 tsp if I had to guess)
  • A dash of cayenne pepper
  • A squirt of honey
All of this is brought to a boil and then allowed to simmer until the liquid is all absorbed and the grains are translucent and the outer shells have separated.

If I had to do it again, I may have given an extra dash of the cayenne and added some salt- it was just a bit too sweet I think.  But Andrew made numerous happy noises while eating it and insisted repeatedly that I write down how I did it.  Maybe I shouldn't show him this entry...I wouldn't want to become redundant!

Now for the chicken, which was MY favorite part of the meal.
  • Two chicken breasts, pounded flat and cut in half to make 4 manageable chunks
  • Salt
  • Chile Cocoa (this was in Andrew's stocking and I was excited to try it out)
  • Flour (I used whole wheat flour and threw in some flax seed meal)
  • Bread crumbs (I made this with the heel of my first- very dense- loaf of wheat bread.  I filled it out a bit with commercial bread crumbs and also threw in some flax seed meal because we need more omega 3s in our life)
  • Oil
  • 1 egg, beaten with a small amount of water
The base of this recipe is from Cooking Light- it gives me my most consistently cooked chicken and is delicious.  I use it all the time- adding various flavorings to the flour and bread crumbs (I often put garam masala in the flour, or I put mustard in the egg wash and dried onion in the bread crumbs.  The possibilities are endless!  This is the first time I have pre-flavored the chicken with anything besides salt). Making sure the chicken is nice and thin means that it cooks quickly and evenly so you end up with perfectly done chicken that doesn't get all dried out in the process.

You pat the flattened chicken dry (actually, I patted it dry before taking the mallet to it since the bag I was defrosting it in had a leak and it was wetter than most chicken) and salt it a bit.  Then sprinkle the cocoa mix over the first side pretty thickly.  Dredge the cocoa'd side in the flour and cocoa the exposed side since it is staring up at you anyway.  Then finish coating the entire thing in the flour.  Shake off the excess flour and dip it in the egg wash.  Then dredge the chicken boobie in the bread crumbs.  Repeat for all of the chicken chunks.

Meanwhile, of course you've been heating some oil on the stove in an oven-safe pan and it is all hot and ready for your breaded chicken boobs.  You have also very cleverly pre-heated the oven to 425- good for you!  Fry the breasts until one side is brown and tasty- it doesn't take very long at all.  Then flip the chicken over (I sometimes have to add a bit more oil at this point because I never put in very much to begin with and it disappears fast) and pop the whole kit and kaboodle in the oven for 10 minutes.  Voila!

Andrew thought the chicken was just a bit dry (a result of the breading- the chicken itself was quite juicy and perfectly cooked.  Thank you Cooking Light!) so we had a spoonful of apple butter on the side to dip it in.  But I really enjoyed it just alone- you could really taste the cocoa and the subtle bite of the chile side of the mix.  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A good meal with friends- that was practically free!

Last night I made a free dinner!  Scrumptious split pea soup (it said scrumptious on the soup mix!) with a loaf of Parmesan peppercorn bread.  You may be wondering to yourself, "How was this delightful sounding meal free?"  Well I'll tell you.  The soup mix had been kicking around in our cupboard for, well, forever.  The ham we added to the soup was leftover from Thanksgiving- we had frozen it almost immediately (and, coincidentally, was free to begin with because it was from Andrew's work).  The bread was made with ingredients we either had on hand or (like the bread flour and yeast) were going to buy anyway to fuel my bread maker habit.

We invited the Ramseys and the Siders over to share in the feast since a) we like them all a lot and b) this was clearly going to be far too much food for two people to eat.

Let's start with the amazing bread.  And yes, it WAS amazing.

All the ingredients in the order I have to put them in the machine (water first, yeast last)

Here they all are!  You can't see half of them because they are layered carefully under the flour.

Here she is!  The machine herself!  ...the cats don't trust it...
Now let's look at how pretty the soup looks! actually doesn't look that pretty.  Look beyond the fact that it is a hunk of meat sticking out of some murky looking water, and realize that it is a huge ham oozing non-stop flavor into the already flavorful broth of a split pea soup mix and understand that our house smelled amazing.
Not pretty to look at, but VERY pretty to eat.  In fact, there were no leftovers.
 Let's go back to the best part now: the bread.  Because I made it.  And that is pretty awesome.

Getting all puffy and sprinkled lovingly with asiago (which ended up smelling very odd as it cooked)

Even more puffy!

All golden-brown and delicious!  
Kinda sunk down in the middle...ah well

I won't lie, it was pretty popular.  Those last pieces were gone mere seconds after I took this picture.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Obligatory New Year's Post

New years.  That magical time of year where millions of people around the world vow to lose weight, work out more, work less, and make tons of money.

Last year, my goals were as follows:

I can safely say that I accomplished two of those goals.  Over the course of the past year I managed to lose almost 20 lbs (of course, thanks to the holidays and the orgy of over-eating I just engaged in, I am back to the "need to lose 5 lbs" point).  I also most certainly did NOT go crazy and run people over.  I have had some fairly spectacular breakdowns over the past year, but those happen.  Especially in the final year of vet school. Was I a better wife though?  I sort of think it is unlikely.  Sorry Andrew.  :(

Onto slightly less moody subjects, how about I think about some goals for THIS year?  This new year of 2011.  My year.  Here it goes...

Shiny new goals:
  • Become a doctor (ZING!)
  • Find a job in Kitsap County and have an income such that I can pay off my gargantuan student loans AND buy groceries with enough money left over to occasionally buy books without going into guilt seizures.
  • Re-lose 5 lbs
  • Never buy bread again.
Wiki-WHAT?  Never buy bread again???  That's right people.  I got a bread maker for Christmas.  Christmas afternoon while Andrew was cleaning the entire kitchen and house and talking loudly about how we needed to clean things, I nodded gravely and then proceeded to make a huge mess carefully measuring ingredients out for my first loaf of bread.  (Did I mention that I should try to be a better wife?)

I wish I could say that my first loaf was the pinnacle of human achievement in bready goodness, but it was actually pretty dumpy looking and quite dense.  I suspect that this was due to the fact that my yeast has been kicking around in the freezer for a year and may have finally given up the ghost (although up till this point it was doing fine in pizza and bao dough).  It may also be that I didn't use bread flour- just all purpose since that is what I had on hand.  

The bread tasted okay though.  I have had it as a grilled cheese sandwich as well as a pbj sandwich and they were both fine.  My next loaves will be better though.  Provided I remember to get some fresh yeast and bread flour!

**Edit: additional goal is to be more proactively involved with the household budget.  Also to agree with Andrew's goal: To not suck.