Wednesday, September 22, 2010

time after time

It seems appropriate to mention that this morning, I woke up an hour earlier than needed so that I could cut, peel, core, and slice up some grannysmith's. Oh yes, people, it is the end of the summer.

That seems to make some people sad and wistful. Not so for me, and I can honestly say it's been that way for some time, even before I lived in San Francisco, where the seasons are all mixed up anyhow. I just like time passing. For a long time now, I have enjoyed the dynamic nature of the world, the way nothing gold can stay. Perhaps it is because I grew up in the Northeast, where the end of the summer gives rise to glorious fireworks of colors bursting on trees. Or maybe it is because I am a malcontent, such that by the time the summer is coming to a close, I cannot wait for the heat to subside, and the oven to be used on a regular basis.

S and I had a silly talk the other day, in which I declared that we had to stop eating out so often, and in which, typical of our complete failure to communicate properly, he thought I meant that I disliked going out to eat. There seems to be no way to make people understand that sometimes I need to be in the kitchen. Do not mistake me- if it was my lot in life to be there every day, forced to make three squares for a family of five, I would probably lose all interest in it and advocate for eating out and frozen dinners. But I find eating in to be just as much of a luxury as eating out these days.

And also, food has become, for me, part of the marking of time passing. In the summer, it is too hot to bake regularly, so I search for other options. The strawberries are fresh, ripe and bursting at the farmer's market, so I learn to make sorbet. Friends' gardens grow tomatoes and I learn to make sauce. I throw brunch and I cook fresh blueberries with sugar until they make french toast taste better, and buy 5 pounds of oranges to get a pitcher of fresh-squeezed juice.

Then on Sunday, it was a little windier in the morning. It was in the air, the whispers of autumn. And at the market, there were apples. And the mushrooms were calling out. And when I sat in the kitchen this morning, slicing apples up, I grew intoxicated by thoughts of the months to come, the scents of cinnamon and ginger, the tastes of apples, pumpkins, potatoes. Mushroom sauce, and stews. I felt a little giddy.

Time moves too fast sometimes, and these days especially. So much is happening, and so many uncertainties present themselves. Once again, I am in this strange position of having no idea where I will be 1 year from now. And sometimes, as in the past, that feels unsettling, and I feel like the ground beneath me is crumbling. But other times, all it takes is a bowl full of cinnamon, sugar, and apples to calm me down. It's as easy as apple pie. Some things change, and yet enough always remains.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

you're so vain

I submit to you Exhibit A in the Reasons why Med Students are sometimes Insufferable series:

JDL: How was the visit back east?
me: Really great. I like hanging out with people outside of medical school; it can have a grounding effect.
JDL: What do you mean?
me: You know, it's nice to be around people who don't care if you're a butcher, baker or candlestick maker. They just want to know if you like this year's Sam Adams' Oktoberfest and if you are one of those creeps who roots for the Yankees.
JDL: (laughs) Yeah, it can be a nice break.
me: Well, I also think when we're isolated in our little medical school world, it's easy to indulge ourselves in thinking that we have it really tough. We cut ourselves a little too much slack, convinced we work so much harder than everyone and that we're so busy, such that everyone should have to make allowances for us. But then you hang out with other people and realize that everyone has their own lives and things that they are juggling. I like that I'm not just let off the hook, or given special dispensation.
JDL: Yeah, although sometimes I wish they would show a little deference.
JDL: I don't know, I'm just saying that if your average person rescued someone with CPR, they would remember those chest compressions their entire life. Meanwhile, I've done so many, I forget the faces of the patients.
me: Okay... well... if you built a house from scratch, that would probably make a big impression in your life, and I am certain that most construction workers lose count of how many homes they've been responsible for building.
JDL: (big deep sigh, acts like I am being ridiculous and argumentative) Yes, but I would argue that a bad day for a construction worker is not the same as a bad day for an ICU doctor.
me: (grinning incredulously) Oh I would absolutely agree with you, JDL! Because a bad day for a construction worker could end with he or she dead or paralyzed, losing their ability to earn their living.
JDL: (exasperated) I think you're missing my point.
me: Oh yeah, I'm the one missing the point.

In short, judging from this little pipsqueak, I do not believe that children are the future, folks.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

I've got nothing to do today but smile

In case the two people still reading this blog were worried, here's some assurance that I am just fine:

where I'm going

Or maybe that causes more concern? I suppose the correlate to the kitchen keeping me calm is that the activity ramps up there considerably when I am stressed.

But you guys, I was so happy tonight by the time I completed the above pictured. I've written before about my fixation on making pasta sauce properly from scratch. And while I often continue to miss San Francisco like a phantom limb, one wonderful thing about my current place of residence is the abundance of produce. Not only can I easily secure all manner of very reasonably priced and locally grown produce at the farmer's market, but also various friends of mine will occasionally surprise me with some crop from their garden.

Yesterday, KS reminded me that she has been trying to unload tomatoes on me for the past three days. People, I am supposed to be doing all sorts of other things right now. I could give you a nice list of at least 5 high-priority-super-important-your-future-depends-on-it tasks on which I should be focusing. And I don't even eat tomatoes. I know, I am a weirdo, but I have never been fond of the texture of raw tomatoes. As I have (slightly, somewhat, very barely) matured, I have been able to force myself to be civil and gulp down chopped tomatoes in a salad or sandwich if pressed. But I really do not care for it.

But you guys, when someone gives you free goods from their garden, you just don't refuse. So it was I came into the possession of a bag of tomatoes slightly past their prime. Only one thing to do really. By good fortune, one of my favorite go-to food bloggers just happened to have whipped up a batch of sauce recently, and I used her recipe for a good basic idea. I remain horrible at following recipes to the dot- some things will never change.

By the time I was finished making the sauce, it was way past dinner. But whatever, I have sauce, and it tastes good, the way fresh sauce should. Tomorrow I am making focaccia, and there is a fragrant little bowl of olive oil steeping rosemary and garlic to give it a little extra punch. And it occurs to me that I am back to what feels right to me again. I know there are other things I ought to be doing, but honestly, occasionally, I need a little break from the full-on medical immersion that choosing this path has entailed. Maybe I do not belong in the most high-powered residency programs in the country, and maybe that is just fine. I belong somewhere that does not try to quell or discourage my desire to occasionally spend an evening squeezing all the seeds out of tomatoes.