Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Two things have happened in the past few weeks that have made reflect on my extensive academic history here at Michigan… One was academic and the other more practical, but both prompted some revisiting of old notes, reading of material long since learned and mostly forgotten, and finally, a not-totally-unexpected-but-nonetheless-surprising vindication of prerequisites…

Read the rest of the post at!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cape Cod

This last weekend took Alicia and I to Falmouth, Massachusetts for the wedding of two wonderful MD/PhD candidate friends. It was an exciting excursion to Cape Cod (my first)! We flew into Providence, RI, rented a car, and headed to the Cape.

The weekend started with the delicious clam bake Matt and Heather had planned for their Welcome Dinner on Saturday night. There was so much food, and I disarticulated my first lobster. It was certainly tasty, but I think I prefer not to have to rip the legs off of my food in order to enjoy it. More lobster for everyone else!

Sunday morning and early afternoon Alicia and I drove out to Provincetown at the very end of the cape. It was a really pretty drive and we stopped and saw the Salt Pond Visitor Center for the Cape Cod National Seashore. There were people harvesting some kind of shellfish (maybe clams?), and the salt marshes were a completely different geography and ecosystem from any I’ve seen before.

When we got to P-Town, we headed straight to Gale Force Bikes, which according to my guidebook was the only place to rent a hybrid bike rather than a mountain bike. It turned out that these were not the sleek hybrids I was hoping for, but instead looked more like hybrid beach cruises. They were quite functional, if a little slow, however, and we made it across the cape (only a few miles) to Race Point Beach on the Atlantic side.

Biking quickly back into town, we had a delicious lunch, returned the bikes, and drove back to Falmouth for the wedding. It was a truly beautiful ceremony, perfectly suited to the bride and groom, and the reception was fun. I must say that my favorite part was the cake topper…

Congratulations Matt and Heather!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


As most of you know, this is not the only place to find me online. I've long been a blogger for the medical school admissions committee, and have recently started guest blogging for the American Medical Student Association. Starting this month, I'm departing from my previous practice of double posting everything and will likely just include periodic links here to my other posts (to preserve the integrity of the other spaces in which I am a guest).

You can find the beginning of my series of posts on returning to medical school here! The other posts at AMSA On Call are generally pretty good, though it is just getting started. Support us and leave a comment, send your friends, and come back often to check out new info.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Sadly this is not a typo… I did not see the new (and awesome-looking) Broadway musical produced by Jay-Z and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith (FELA! if you haven’t heard about it)… As much as I would like to a) be in NYC b) have tickets to FELA! or c) not be de-flea-ing my dog and my apartment, I did in fact find a flea on Walter on Sunday and have been reacting to that ever since. Perhaps needless to say, I freaked out about it, but have since calmed down because as far as I can tell there are actually only a very small number of fleas at this point. I have nonetheless taken the following actions:

  • purchased a flea comb and killed several fleas myself by submersing them in soapy water – apparently they can hop out of non-soapy water unscathed, which I believe proves that they are the devil incarnate
  • liberally sprinkled Borax all my living room, working it into the carpet with a scrub brush, and then vacuumed it up
  • similarly Boraxed my mattress (and yes, it is a verb now)
  • written out a plan to Borax the rest of the apartment
  • identified a flea shampoo and spray that does not contain pyrethrins (because they are crazy toxic to everything, not just fleas) but instead dissolves the exoskeletons of the fleas to kill them
  • bathed the dog in said shampoo (resulting washing 4-5 dead fleas down the drain – yay!)
  • laundered pretty much every piece of fabric that the dog has ever touched

Keep your fingers crossed that they are taken care of…

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Having successfully made this twice now, I thought I’d share one of my newest favorite recipes. I’ve heard that the dough freezes well, so I have every intention of getting on top of things this weekend and making some little frozen naan-balls for next week or beyond. Once the dough is made the cooking is incredibly fast (and the bread is so good hot), so it seems best to make the dough ahead, but cook the bread right before eating. Mmmmm….

Basic Oven-Grilled Leavened Breads (Tandoori Naan)
Adapted from 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (but you can get away with 1 tsp)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water (about 110F)
1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
all-purpose flour for coating and dusting

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water and set aside about 5 minutes. Mix in the yogurt and oil.

Place the flour and salt in a food processor and mix. With the motor running, pour the yeast mixture into the work bowl in a thin stream and process until the flour gathers into a ball. Be careful not to over-process the dough! Add a little more flour if you need, but it’s better to have a slightly sticky dough than a dry one, particularly as you’ll be dusting the little balls with flour before you roll them out. Collect the dough into a ball and put it in a covered bowl in a warm place for at least an hour. (Batra recommends longer rising times, but I can never plan ahead that far and an hour or hour and a half seems to be plenty.)

Divide the dough into 10-12 balls. (At this point, depending on how long your broiler takes to heat up, you probably want to turn it on to get it warmed up.) Coat each dough ball in turn in flour and roll it out so that it is slightly thinner than your desired bread thickness. Place the naan on a baking sheet and brush them with olive oil (or water) to keep them from drying in the oven. Place the baking sheet under the broiler until small brown spots appear on the top surface. This will happen quickly – after only a minute or so! With a spatula, turn each naan over and put them back under the broiler until the other side is golden. (Or turn one naan over with your hand, run your fingers under cold water, and then get the spatula to turn the rest…)

You can baste them lightly with butter, but they are pretty good plain as well. Batra also presents some variations that I’d like to try, with extras that can either be added to the dough or made into a paste to baste the bread with after cooking: 3 large cloves of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon tumeric; 1 small onion, 1-2 fresh chile peppers, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds or kalonji; 1 teaspoon each fenugreek, mint, and curry leaves, 1/4 teaspoon ajwain seeds (ground), 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Back to maize and blue…

Much of Ann Arbor was celebrating the start of the football season this weekend. There was much to celebrate: it’s not a million degrees outside anymore, the football team won a game, and fall is an exciting time generally. I chose to sing the praises of my alma mater by painting my living room blue, and my bedroom “egg custard” – which is a fancy shade of maize. I didn’t realize how little paint it really takes to cover just a single wall, and how big of an impact it would have on the overall moods of the rooms. Here they are before most of the pictures and other decorative things made their way up…

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Sewing success…

When I was visiting Ash in Vermont we went to a fancy little yarn and fabric store called Nido in Burlington. They had some beautiful (relatively) local yarn from Maine, a nice selection of high end and organic yarns, and really amazing fabrics, as well as some inspiring books. I haven’t sewn much in recent years, except for a few odds and ends, but was drawn to an Amy Butler pattern for a really beautiful bag. It was so pretty, and looked so functional. Before I completely took leave of my senses, I started to notice the details on the bag that would be new techniques for me: things that are not straight lines, piping, making something nice enough that I want to carry it around as a fashion item rather than having it sit around the house (mine or someone else’s). It occurred to me that there were many more things that I did not know how to do than things I did, and that perhaps this was not the pattern to start with. We left the store, but I kept thinking about the pattern and wondering whether I could do it.

Thankfully I didn’t buy the pattern, as I would have mangled some poor piece of fabric until I was so frustrated I stashed it in a bin in my closet for years to come, unable to finish it but unable to throw it out/donate it/repurpose it. I was, however, motivated to do a little sewing to assess my skill level. When I got home I promptly made a cover for my sewing machine, and then earlier today I crafted a cover for a pillow that has plagued me for years. It is really squishy and wonderful, but was a shade of electric blue that didn’t really fit with my design sensibility. I had attempted to knit it a cover at some point, but it was so ugly that the pillow sat in a bin in my closet for several years waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. (Yes, that was experience talking…) I’m quite happy with the result now, though I think I still have a lot to learn about sewing things in tubes…

I’m definitely not ready to make that amazing bag, but maybe over the next few years I’ll be able to sew a few more things and finally work up to it. I don't know that I really need any more long term goals, but I do know that I like being able to start and finish something in an afternoon or a few days!

As an aside, posting these pictures made me realize that I could probably also stand to learn a little bit about ironing, but who has time to iron when you're crafting???

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Curry + Eggs = Delicious

Alicia has been my primary supply of Indian cookbooks, both at the holidays and through the joy that is the free book room at her office. I have a couple of “easy” Indian cookbooks that she has picked up over the past few years, but one in particular I hadn’t used because it required weights rather than my usual measuring cups for the recipes. Enter the kitchen scale. Although it was initially intended only for weighing yarn (to determine more exactly how much I was using for my various projects), it has come in quite handy in the kitchen. My most recent use of the scale was to weigh ingredients for a really delicious chickpea and spinach curry. The most exciting part of the dish, however, was poaching eggs in the finished curry. It had never occurred to me to poach eggs in anything other than water, but this recipe looked so delicious I had to try it. I made a few changes (to accommodate the volume of chickpeas I had, the kind of tomatoes, and the greens available at the farmers market), and it was quite delicious. The timing was also perfect for a celebration of local food: my eggs were from a local farm and were really unlikely to have salmonella, unlike many in stores across the country this past week. I felt pretty confident eating them with delicious runny yolks, and would encourage you to find delicious local eggs and celebrate with me that they were not recalled!
Chickpea and Spinach Curry with Soft Eggs

Adapted from Easy Indian in Minutes

1 – 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas or 1-2 cans of chickpeas
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 large cloves garlic
14 oz canned tomatoes
2 rounded teaspoons tamarind paste
2/3 cup hot water
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 tablespoons butter or substitute
1 teaspoon ground tumeric
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2-3 bunches fresh spinach or other dark leafy green (I used tatsoi, an Asian spinach one of my favorite farmer's market stands recommended)
1 egg per serving
fresh cilantro for garnish

Cook the chickpeas until they are soft, or open the can, and then drain them. Grind the cumin and coriander as finely as you like (or use ground spices, though you may want to increase the amounts slightly). Peel the garlic and chop. Combine the tamarind paste and hot water and stir to mix. Put the oil and butter in a large skillet or pot over moderate heat. Stir in the tumeric, cumin, and coriander until fragrant. Add the garlic and tomatoes (don’t drain them), the tamarind water, mustard seeds, cayenne pepper and a little salt. Add the cooked chickpeas, cover the dish and cook about 15 minutes, stirring periodically.

Meanwhile, wash the spinach and then add the whole leaves to the pot. Cover again and continue cooking until the leaves are wilted (1-2 minutes). Remove the lid and if the mixture is slightly liquid, let it bubble for a few minutes until it is fairly thick.

Lower the heat and make a depression in the curry for each of the eggs. Break the eggs carefully into the depressions. Cover again and cook for 2-6 minutes, until the eggs are just set. They should still be runny in the center (unless they are contaminated with salmonella, in which case you should cook them through, or skip them altogether as the curry is still delicious). Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.