Monday, April 28, 2008


Okay, I have a journal club presentation to put together tonight and so I'm not actually here posting except: I was (momentarily) procrastinating with the presentation thing and discovered that Kay Gardiner herself favorited my kitchen rug on Ravelry! (I'm not the only one who occasionally checks her projects to see if anyone likes her stuff, right? Right.) At any rate, I'm just sitting here bursting with knitterly pride.

....all right, back to work.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

when May is rushing over you

Eight pounds of strawberries? Is, for the record, an enormous quantity of strawberries. If you were wondering. (Seriously. If you ever find yourself standing in Costco, telling yourself that maybe you might need the second gigantic box of fruit, you don't. Trust me.)

But, now I have 16 half-pint jars of jam cooling on our dining room table. And two cookie trays full of quartered strawberries in the freezer. And, unrelatedly, I may be developing seasonal allergies. I think I'm going to be in bed inside the hour.

For those of you in Cleveland, let me know if you prefer strawberry preserves (whole fruits in jelly, basically) or strawberry-blueberry-raspberry jam. The jam fairy will be making deliveries this week.

title from "These Are the Days," 10000 Maniacs.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

step from the road to the sea to the sky

So the laptop is back home again, virus-free and with freshly-vacuumed hardware. I therefore have access to my food pictures, which may or may not be interesting to you, but... I have no real knitting news, so cooking will have to do.

Ben and I made fresh pasta last Sunday, inspired by Brandon's birthday party fun, and made possible by Lola's generous donation of her pasta machine. (Thank you!) We ate half of it on Sunday, and it was... just okay, which was disappointing. I didn't help matters with the sauce I had made, which was not my finest effort, and the texture of the pasta was sort of soft and rubbery and blah. Which was kind of a bummer after spending two hours preparing it. But! We made the rest of the batch on Thursday with an alfredo-type sauce, and it was fantastic - either the pasta seasoned itself in the fridge a little, or we kept a closer eye on the cooking of it or something, but it was very satisfying and something we will definitely do again. We also made garlic cheese bread, more or less on the fly, and that also turned out very well. So, for your culinary enjoyment, some recipes:

Almost Guilt-Free Cream Sauce (no, really):
1. Make a roux: melt 1-2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in 1-2 tbsp flour. Cook with more-or-less continuous stirring, until a paste forms, and keep cooking for at least 3-5 minutes, so the flour won't taste raw. (The paste may thin out some as it cooks, but that's fine.)
2. Season the roux: for a plain alfredo-type sauce, I like to use white pepper (just for the lack of black specks, but black pepper is fine), a dash of salt and about 1/8 tsp nutmeg.
3. Gradually stir in about 1.5 cups milk (I usually use 1%) and keep stirring until well-blended, making sure you stir/whisk out any lumps from the roux. Keep stirring over medium heat until almost ready to serve.
4. Just before serving, add 1/2 c grated parmesan cheese, and stir until well combined. Remove from heat and toss over cooked pasta.

This sauce actually takes almost no time to make (I usually put the pasta water on to boil and then start the sauce, and it's done well before the pasta is) and, given the small amount of butter and the lowfat milk, it's actually not that bad for you - certainly an improvement over the traditional "equal parts butter, heavy cream and parmesan cheese" alfredo sauce recipes. We've used it as is, and we've also added to it - cooked chopped spinach and diced dried tomatoes are a tasty addition. We've also made a southwest-inspired pasta dish using this as a base, and adding chili and chipotle powder to the sauce, and tossing the pasta with black beans and sauteed diced peppers and onions. Anyway, it's one of our staple, easy weeknight meals, and I thought I'd pass it along.

Garlic Cheese Bread
1. Slice 1/2 baguette lengthwise, completely separating the halves. (We used the Stone Oven's Pugliese baguette, which is of course consistently delicious).
2. Mince 3 large cloves garlic and place in small microwavable bowl/ramekin with 1 1/2 tbsp butter, maybe 1 tsp Italian seasoning and black pepper to taste. (We also added a tsp or two of Trader Joe's crushed garlic, because we seriously love garlic in this household.)
3. Microwave on high for 10-15 seconds. Stir and microwave for another 10 sec or so, until the butter is all melted and the garlic a bit cooked, so it loses that acrid, raw-garlic taste.
4. Stir in about 1 tbsp olive oil to the mix, and spread on both cut sides of the bread. (I usually use a spoon to drop the butter-and-garlic mixture on, then spread it around with the back of the spoon - I've found this works better for me than a brush.)
5. Season further with Italian seasoning or pepper if it needs it. (I'm obsessive and fill in the spots with inadequate spice coverage.)
6. Top breads with maybe 4 oz total grated mozzarella cheese (NOT fresh unless you really squeeze the life out of it, as it will be too watery. TJ's "fresh" mozzarella is actually a good compromise)
7. Bake in preheated 375 deg F oven until cheese is melted and browned.

This one isn't maybe all that good for you, but it did turn out to be very, very tasty.

Culinary exploits planned for this weekend include learning how to brew beer from a friend who brews and making strawberry jam from the pounds of strawberries that tempted us in Costco. And maybe some strawberry-blueberry jam, as I still have some of last summer's blueberries frozen in the fridge. (I really need to start trusting that I've frozen enough fruit, and eat this stuff in December, too.)

We were going to make pesto, but the basil that Zagara's had on Thursday disappeared by the time I went back Friday afternoon, so that will have to wait a few weeks. (I think I scared the poor guy in Zagara's, asking him where their basil comes from and what the season is like, and when will I be able to buy 10 bunches, and if I call and ask, will someone know if it's in yet? Last summer's pesto ran out a month ago, and we're going through withdrawal.)

I thought I had pictures of the bread I baked a few weeks ago, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe I'll have to do some baking this weekend, too.

title from "Snow [Hey, Oh]", Red Hot Chili Peppers

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

we crossed the deepest ocean, cargo across the sea

A finished object! With pictures scavenged from my Flickr account, since my laptop is getting its annual tune-up down on campus. How much do I love our IT guys? (Having someone else to go virus hunting on my hard drive is a joy I will miss once I'm done with academia.)

Pattern: Tuscany shawl, from No Sheep for You.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Pure Silk, 4 skeins

Needles: Size 8 / 5.0 mm Knit Picks Options circulars

Modifications: the size 8 needles rather than 6's; only did 9 repeats instead of 11 as written.

(I would have cropped this if I had access to my photo editing software - pretend there's not so much towel and couch in this shot. Also, um, let's further pretend the towel I blocked it on actually covered the entire section of couch I draped wet shawl all over. Thanks.)

Even with the fewer repeats (I bought the yarn on sale and they only had 4 skeins left in this color), it blocked out to a substanstial 72" x 23", which is plenty large enough for me. I've already worn it out three times, as spring is slowly but surely making its way to Northeast Ohio. (It may actually already be the most-frequently-worn knitted object I own, aside from hats/mittens/scarves). I'll have to get someone to take a photo of it out in the wild.

As far as med school goes, well. I'm doing my Perioperative Care rotation and I'm not going to be an anesthesiologist, I can tell you that. Mind-numbingly boring, in terms of the OR stuff. And I've just deleted two-paragraph-long rant on the staff of the pain clinic which no one really needs to hear, but suffice it to say that I've been frustrated by the complete lack of concern re: pain that cannot be fixed with/has not responded to an injection or a spinal cord implant. If they can't treat it with a (very well-reimbursed) procedure, they do not want to deal with you. (Why do these patients keep showing up to the pain management clinic, wanting someone to treat their pain?! )

Okay, so I am going to rant a little: here's a sampling of real, live quotations from the residents and staff: "You have to be careful with these old ladies, because most of them don't really have any pain - they're just pressured by their families to get these drugs so they can sell them." "I try not to write scripts for opioids for people who aren't working - you know, if you're young and active and have a job, then fine. But if you're sitting at home all day anyway, there's no way you need that kind of pain medication." "I'm not going to give you any more Percocet to treat your [diagnosed on MRI, nonoperable, nonblockable, 8/10] pain. It won't fix the problem, it's just going to mask it."

Bah. They're not all bad, but it's just so frustrating to sit there and watch a resident or attending make a total mess of a patient interaction (Patient, very apprehensive on being told they can try a nerve block for her pain: "What's a block?" Attending: "A block? A block is a block! Like at the dentist. We'll do you next week.") and not be able to speak up. I've been trying to catch patients on the way out and explain things if it seems like they're confused, but it's still awful to watch.

Two weeks until my family medicine AI. I cannot wait.

(In other, happier news, I've just made my first international yarn purchase - a cone of gorgeous pewter laceweight cashmere/silk. I think I'm going to attempt Frost Flowers and Leaves with it, once I actually finish a laceweight project.)

title from "Hands on Me" by Vanessa Carlton. I really need to find another album to listen to at the gym, so I don't keep outing myself as a Vanessa Carlton fan like this.

Monday, April 7, 2008

none of us forget about who we are

But, um, sometimes we forget to blog about it. I do apologize for all the radio silence around here lately - my only real excuse is that I've gotten back into writing fiction lately, and I've been trying to do that when I sit down to write. Nothing really ready for public consumption yet, but I've got about eight thousand words on a story that might have a viable plot if I can bring the fortitude to actually write it. (I'm trying to ignore the fact that it's going to require that I invent a religion from the ground up. There's already poems and folk songs involved, and I think it's just going to get worse.)

If you've been Ravelry-stalking me, you may see that I've uploaded some pictures of finished objects over there. I'm going to wait to post about them, though, in order to do an update sort of entry. (And it'll also give me some ready-made content while I try and remember to post regularly.) But here are some teaser pictures, from the Tuscany shawl and from the kitchen rug:

I've got two laceweight shawls on the needles, one of sort-of my own design that I'm very pleased with and another that I may end up frogging. The pattern isn't really speaking to me, and it's becoming a chore to knit it, which is, you know, not the point. I also started Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts, which are fun but may also get frogged and re-knit (I've only done most of one so far, but I learned a few lessons about colorwork in the process, which was most of my motivation for knitting them). I think it's interesting that I've reached the point in my knitting career where I can quite comfortably contemplate just ripping something out and starting over if it's not working out well. Gone are the days where every stitch was precious to me, and I think that's a good thing.

Non-knitting life stuff has also been proceeding in my blogging absence. I really liked my family med clerkship (surprise fun procedure I enjoyed? Botox, of all things. And I&Ding abscesses, but I knew that already) and I held on to the family-med love during my med-peds elective, so I think the winner is going to be family med in the end. I've set up two away electives in NYC (Beth-Israel in June and Columbia in November) so I'll be checking out some programs relatively soon. And applying not long after that, which is something I'm trying not to dwell on. I still need to work out where I'm staying in June, but I imagine Craigslist will come through when it gets a little closer.

I'm currently doing perioperative medicine at the Clinic, which lives up to its reputation of legendary organization. I'm already thinking about doing another core or elective over there. So I'll be hanging out in the ORs on the other side of the drape for the next little while, trying not to freeze to death. I have never missed being wrapped in non-breathable plastic-coated paper so much as I have today.

title from "La Familia" by Mirah; link goes to a remix that differs subtly but unfortunately from the copy I have sitting on my hard drive.

Anybody wanna join Pownce (messaging/social media/file-sharing network, now out of beta so you don't need an invite) and I can post these there? I'm theraveledskein over there, too - friend me and I can cross-post a copy of the next title-song for your listening enjoyment.