Sunday, February 19, 2012

Playing vegan with miso glazed acorn squash and soba noodles

In December after a week of steak eating, cookie baking and face stuffing, unfortunately much prior to Christmas, I decided to become a vegan.  Now I only could do it for a week, as my love for dairy, eggs and meat should be obvious.  But, I can assuredly say that I felt much better.  I had a lot more energy and was less hungry.

This blog is definitely in need of more vegetables.  I love eating vegetarian fare, but somehow steamed broccoli with lemon juice just never seems sexy enough.  Of course my husband never even touched this dish, but that’s ok because sometimes I need things for myself.

White miso paste has a very rich, salty and sweet taste to it. I cut the squash in half and then cut very thin slices with a sharp knife.  Then I painted the glaze of miso, maple, soy and sesame on and roasted the squash in a hot oven until it was bubbling. 

To make this a complete meal, I made a miso sauce to toss buckwheat soba noodles.  This is delicious hot or cold.   Now I know the pictures aren't pretty, but this is good. Playing vegan is fun sometimes!

Maple miso roasted acorn squash with soba noodles

For the squash

½ acorn squash
2 tbsp white miso paste
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
drizzle sesame oil

For the noodles

2 tbsp miso paste
¼ cup hot water
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 garlic clove, grated
2 scallions finely chopped
drizzle sesame oil
1 package soba noodles

Preheat the oven to 400.  Cut the squash in half, then cut thin strips of squash, cutting those in half as well.  Mix the glaze and paint on with a pastry brush.  Bake the squash until it is golden brown and bubbling about 20 minutes. 

For the noodles.  Make the noodles according to the directions.  Combine the rest of the ingredients and toss with the hot noodles and squash.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

What The Hell Am I Doing?

As my husband and I try and make a long term financial plan for paying off my almost $200,000 in loans from medical school, I sit here wondering, why did I pay 200 grand so that I can get peed on, pooped on, bled on, screamed at and sworn at? I’ve delivered a baby without gloves on (it was an emergency).  I’ve been kicked so hard I almost fell off the bed.  In one hour this fall, two patients in our women’s emergency room looked me in the eye and screamed “F*&^ you!”  That occurred at 2 AM, probably on a Friday, after I spent all night running a busy emergency room rife with women with ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages, wound infections, pelvic inflammatory disease, cancer and all other varieties of disaster.  And I’m sure I often deserve a giant cursing out, you see I’m not always the most lovely human on the planet, but I can assure you that I did nothing but ask both those women simple questions that set them off. 

Why did I sacrifice my twenties, my weekends, holidays, and sleeping at night to take care of screaming, crying women? I didn’t have a bridal shower because I only had one weekend off in the six months before my wedding. My husband got off work early for Valentine’s Day and surprised me at home, so we could actually share the dinner that I was going to leave in the fridge for him before I had to run to the hospital.  I’m working at a job that pays less than medical school costs and without my husband couldn’t pay it back.  The interest rate alone is 6.8%, accruing thousands of dollars a month.  

The funny thing about all of the drawbacks to being a doctor is that I’ve never been happier.  Really.  Obviously I’m a little sick, but that’s ok.  I can’t remember a time that I’ve felt to be so proud of who I am and what I do, and I enjoy going to work almost everyday.  Even on the most horrible, body fluid filled, back straining day, I go home with a sense of satisfaction.   I’ve never been so determined to learn so that I can take good care of people. 

I don’t have to sit at a desk or sit in long meetings.  My office is the hospital floor, labor and delivery, clinic and the emergency room.  I’m on my feet.  I get to learn how to operate and perform all kinds of procedures.  I get to meet amazing people every day, and I get to work with all sorts from medical assistants, nurses, OR techs, medical students, other residents, fellows, attendings, patients and families.  I get to teach and learn at the same time.   I have an amazing group of peers going through the same thing that can find humor in just about anything. 

Taking care of patients, becoming an intimate part of their lives and their bodies, is a great honor.  And I exaggerate saying they all scream and cry.  Most, even though they have little and are often sick, are some of the most amazing women I have ever met, stoic and strong.  When a patient looks at me and says “thank you doctor”, at least for that moment I think I might be part of something good.

I recently got into a heated discussion with the anesthesia resident during a long surgery.  He told me that his dad, also an anesthesiologist, always wished he hadn’t gone into medicine.  This resident said that he wished he had gone into investment banking because one of his best friends already has six houses at age 32.  I told him that I loved being a resident and enjoyed taking care of patients, and that even though I have debt and might not be rich I live a very comfortable life.  He told me I would change my mind, especially once I have kids. 

I can understand why any parent who has gone through the gruel of medical training wouldn’t want their kid to endure that amount of stress.   But I can tell you for sure that I didn’t make a mistake getting peed on, pooped on, bled on, screamed at and sworn at.  There’s no better job for a science nerd and adrenaline junky.  Becoming a doctor isn’t the easiest way to get rich quick, but if my kid wants to go through all of the same pain I have, I’ll tell them to go ahead.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Cake From My Heart to Yours

Baking a cake can cure almost any funk besides poorly controlled diabetes or gastroenteritis.  Batter is medicine for this doctor.  The oven in my house must cook out bad humors, leaving happy, sugary ones.  Licking the spoon has no age limit; in fact if I ever have kids, they’ll have to share with me. 

This is an easy Valentine’s Day cake.  Just like my mom used to make them.  Take a square pan and a round one, bake the cakes and cut the circle in half.  Attach each semicircle to the top like a diamond and frost the whole thing.  

This cake is made of champagne, Andre in fact.  Andre, which is really more like bottom of the barrel sparkling wine as many college girls could tell you, makes a very moist cake with a subtle boozy flavor. The cake and frosting are spiked with raspberry liquor.

So cuddle up with your cat, your down comforter, your iPad or whatever you love (I guess you could share with your boyfriend) and enjoy a piece of heart shaped cake.  Your mouth will thank you, although your thighs might disagree.

Champagne Raspberry Heart Cake with Cream Cheese Brown Sugar Frosting

1 8 inch square pan, greased and floured
1 8 inch round cake pan, greased and floured

For the cake
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
½ cup buttermilk
3 eggs
¾ cup champagne
2 tbsp raspberry liquor
1 tsp vanilla

For the frosting
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
½ cup sour cream
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp raspberry liquor
2 drops red food coloring
3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the sugar and oil until well blended.  Whisk in the buttermilk, then add the eggs one at a time.  Whisk in the champagne, liquor and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the dry ingredients, do not overwhisk, lumps are ok.  Divide batter so both cakes are at the same level and bake until golden brown or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, sour cream and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add vanilla and liquor.  Slowly add confectioner’s sugar until well combined, then add the food coloring and beat on high speed for another minute for a very light frosting.

To assemble the cake, using either a piece of cardboard covered with foil or a very large baking pan, release both cakes from the pan.  Cut the circle in half, placing one half on consecutive sides of the square.  Use a small amount of frosting to make a crumb layer, then generously frost the entire cake.  Allow to chill and serve.

Cake loosely adopted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan.