Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Food For Thought

I love to cook. As far back as I can remember, I loved being in the kitchen. Now that I cook 3 meals a day, seven days a week, food is almost always on my mind. As I've been checking out a few food blogs lately, I thought I'd post about food. Here's a mini history of my cooking background:

As a baby, I burned my hand on the oven door while my dad was making granola. I can only assume that I was interested in his granola making technique and wanted to check it out.

My favorite toy as a child was my kitchen set. My sister Alison and I got it for Christmas when I was 6 or 7, and each successive birthday or Christmas for the next few years I got a new addition to the set—a hand mixer, a toaster oven, a dish drainer, etc.

As a rather small child, my sister Alison and I would cook together. Some of our most memorable attempts:

-The double batch of no-bake cookies in which we substituted frosted flakes for the oats (NOT a successful substitution. No one in the family would eat them, and we ended up giving them to Alison’s friend Missy).

-The dip in which we substituted Miracle Whip for mayo (again, not recommended).

-The fire jolly rancher drink—we dissolved our fire jolly ranchers in water to “cool them down” because they were too hot for our little mouths (this wasn’t really an attempt at cooking, we just wanted to quench the fire jolly ranchers; a memorable experience nonetheless).

By third grade I was making cookies, cakes, and brownies entirely on my own. I loved to bake, and I still do. My love of baking has spilled over into other areas of food preparation and my adult taste buds are a lot more willing to try new things than my little child buds were, so I love to try all kinds of recipes with new ingredients.

A few of my new favorites:

-Pecans: I absolutely love nuts, and pecans are some of my favorites. I love to have them toasted in salads, baked into baked goods, or sprinkled into rice dishes.

-Cilantro: where have you been all of my life? I don’t think I had ever even heard of cilantro until I was in high school, but I don’t know how I could live without it now. I use it in salads, Mexican dishes, salsas, chicken, etc.

-Feta cheese: a recent obsession, although I don’t buy it much or use it as much as I would like. I like it best in spinach salad and in a Greek tomato chickpea salad I’ve discovered.

-Asparagus: my new favorite vegetable (almost, actually—carrots are still my #1). I love it grilled, broiled, or steamed; plain or seasoned. It is a wonder how much I love green vegetables considering as a child my idea of eating my veggies was having a few bites of corn.

-Grape tomatoes: the only way I’ll eat just plain raw tomatoes. I love the huge boxes they sell at Sam’s Club—they don’t last long! If you haven’t tried them, you should. While I do love them plain, they are also awesome in salads and Mexican dishes.

-My hand blender: okay, this isn’t a food, but I use it almost every day for various tasks such as making soups, whipping cream, making smoothies, chopping nuts, and blending salad dressings. How did I ever survive in the kitchen without it?

Kind of an out of the blue post, but lets you know a little more about me. I don’t consider myself a great cook by any means, but I’m learning more all of the time, having fun in the kitchen, and keeping my family eating health stuff (although I really do need a break from the kitchen every so often, so if you are a certain someone reading this—you know who you are—a break in the form of eating out or you making dinner once in a while would be greatly appreciated!).

For those who are visual, a picture of one of my creations--a strawberry rhubarb pie I made for my father-in-law's birthday a few years ago. It was my first lattice-top pie, and although it wasn't beautiful, it was delish!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Graduation Part II

More graduation pictures: A happy couple. I think Neal looks quite distinguished in his graduation regalia. Green is a good color for him.
Neal and Chris--our first and best friend in med school, right there with Neal to the very end. Chris, good luck in Boston, WE WILL MISS YOU!!!

In addition to the med school hooding ceremony, we went to the university wide graduation on Sunday. Here's Neal entering the stadium.

This could have been a much better picture had I not been wearing white and had Neal's head not been cut off.

It's hard to believe that med school is over. Neal has been a student our whole married life. Med school definitely has its ups and downs, but from my point of view it wasn't that bad. I'm actually much more nervous about residency than I was about med school. For my own sake, here's a quick review of the last four years:

Year 1: Neal studied A LOT and I was home alone at night (in our small apartment in a not-so-great part of town) very frequently. We had some fun times with med school friends and friends in our ward, but for the most part it was a VERY lonely time for me. There were weeks here and there that Neal didn't study too much and we spent more time together, but two weeks before a test block Neal would start studying hard and I wouldn't see much of him until the tests were over. The summer after year 1 was bad for me--Neal was gone for 6 weeks in Alabama for commisioned officers training for the Air Force, and then after a brief stop at home left for El Salvador for 10 days doing a research project that he got a grant for. I look back on those lonely days with a shudder. At least I was working the whole time so I wasn't alone all day and all night!

Year 2: About the same studying-wise for Neal, but we bought our house at the beginning of year 2 so I was in a better part of town where I felt safer and had more friends in a similar circumstance. Work was quite busy for me, which helped ease my loneliness, as well. By the end of year 2 we were very settled in our ward and new area and were enjoying it. Right after year 2 Neal started preparing for Step I, which meant more long hours of studying.

Year 3: Rotations provided a nice change for Neal from lectures all of the time, but also added a new set of frustrations. Being on the bottom of the totem pole at a hospital was not always fun for Neal. He kicked off the year with his surgery rotation, which was a lot of work and had long hours. I remember Neal being somewhat bitter during year 3, but he got over it as time went on. The birth of Sally added variety to life and Neal liked coming home and spending time with her. I think it was a good stress reliever (not that he really gets stressed compared to most people).

Year 4: The easiest and most enjoyable for Neal, the second worst year for me. Neal was away from home for 4 different rotations (actually one of them was officially a 3rd year rotation), and was at home all the time for other months. This was hard because I'm a schedule oriented person, and this year totally threw off my groove. We did have a lot of fun during the times that Neal was free, though (like now). It will be hard to give up all of this togetherness once residency starts.

Currently Neal is working at KU as a step I prep course instructor. It's a good chance for him to brush up before residency, and he's getting paid decently for it. To my cousin Matt: I'm sure you'll rock step I! After step I the light at the end of the med school tunnel becomes perceptible. You'll make it. Hang in there!

Graduation Part I

Neal is officially a doctor now. The graduation festivities have all come and gone, and we had a great time celebrating this big accomplishment. Neal, I'm so proud of you! Here's a look at what we've been up to. Me and Neal before the Sr. banquet a few days before graduation. Thanks Rosemary for letting me wear your dress!
Me with the food for our graduation open house. It was supposed to be outside, but it poured all afternoon and evening. I was bummed, but it worked out okay inside--I think that the storm kept away some of our guests, so we were okay on space and we are still enjoying our leftovers... not that I need any more brownies OR cookies. I may have gotten somewhat carried away with my baking (the food pictured here is only what I laid out--there was more of everything).

Sally was SO excited when all of the graduates entered the auditorium for the hooding ceremony. She waved and waved while shouting "Daddy! Daddy!"

After the hooding ceremony. Sally is contemplating how she can snag another cookie from the big buffet tables.

My parents came into town for the occasion and we had a lot of fun. Thanks Mom and Dad! There were so many cameras we were all looking at different ones.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Match Day Results

Neal's graduation is in two days, and I can't believe that med school will be a thing of the past. If only I could say the same for residency...

Match day was two months ago, and I didn't do a great job of letting people know the results. Neal matched at KU for both his preliminary year in internal medicine and for his 3 anesthesiology years, which means we are staying put right here in Kansas City. We are mostly happy about this , but there are some downsides which I will not elaborate on because I don't want to be a whiner. Never mind that KU pays its residents less than almost any other residency program and that the Kansas legislature is trying to decrease their pay...we don't have to sell our house! Never mind that our house is kind of small...we love our ward and the area where we live.

Alright, I wasn't supposed to elaborate, but at least I'm trying to be positive (anyone wanting to hear more of my complaints will have to contact me personally). All-in-all we are really glad to stay here and we are very grateful that Neal matched in a competitive specialty.

Just a quick update on my own job situation: I accepted the job and will be an independent contractor for 1 year, and then will have the option of becoming an employee of the company. I'm starting June 22, and I'm excited.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day and, as I am a mother, I received some extra special treatment. Neal made me pancakes for breakfast, Sally was rather better behaved than usual during sacrament meeting, I got a vase of fresh cut flowers from my front yard, and Neal got me a cool kitchen scale (something I had requested) and made me a card. Not exactly a day where I got everything I wanted without having a lift a finger (as my bro. in-law expressed the day should be in his sacrament meeting talk that he proudly shared), but a nice day nonetheless.

I love being a mom and I am so grateful that I get to raise Sally (and hopefully other children in the future). Being a mom has enlarged my capacity to love and serve and is teaching me lots of valuable lessons (such as how to be patient when I feel my patience has already been tried to the max, how to laugh when I feel like crying, how to cook one handedly). My attempts to describe how much I love being a mom sound really cheesey, so I'll just say that I'm so glad that I get to spend each day with Sally and watch her learn and grow.

I wanted Sally and I to match today, and I think that we looked cute.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Posting anything takes me FOREVER! Every time I upload an image, all of the formatting that I have done in the post is screwed up, and the picture comes in at the very top of the post, not in the place where I specified (oh, and on top of that, it takes SO LONG to upload the images). I am not able to copy and paste text. Moving around text or images is almost impossible. Does anyone know how to get around these problems? Posting anything but plain text gives me a huge headache. I consider myself a very computer literate person, so I hardly think this is my fault. I have cable internet that is pretty darn fast, so I doubt that the internet speed is the problem. If anyone has any advice, please, please, please pass it on, or I will end my brief experiement with blogging in order to preserve my sanity!