Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vegetarian Meatballs

I am a fourth year medical student. It is still peculiar to say. It's odd to have a definitive answer when someone asks me what residency I am applying into, and to say that I have finished my Sub-I (sub-internship) rotation. There is so much I want to say about third year. It was wonderful and horrid at the same time. Dabbling a little in every field gave me a strong respect for the different aspects of medicine, from psychiatry to surgery. I hope that respect stays with me--too frequently do I hear specialists speak poorly of other fields. I don't want to do that. I am happy it's over though, it is tiring to switch tasks every 4, 6, or 8 weeks and begin learning about a whole new field.

I learned a lot about myself though: what I liked, what I didn't like, and that I can be cheerful at 4:30 in the morning during surgery rounds.

Now, Step 2 CK is over, I have CS coming up, and I am making my way through my anesthesia rotations, as a fourth year. Time is happening.
So much is happening in the world, and there is so much I want to say...but let's start with these vegetarian meatballs, because well...because.

We don't do pasta very much in the Shappenfeld household, but every once in a while I crave the basics, some spaghetti + tomato sauce. Simple, quick, comforting. I figured I'd try meatballs again, I've done a few variations in the past and not been satisfied, but these were different, and so, so good. The original recipe that I modified was vegan, so if you're interested in that, click on the credit link!

Vegetarian Tempeh Meatballs 
adapted from the Minimalist Baker

8 oz Tempeh
1 egg
0.5 cup parmesan cheese
0.33 cup bread crumbs
0.25 cup cilantro
2 Tbsp marinara sauce (we used Arriabata from Trader favorite!)
4 cloves garlic
1 red onion, medium size, coursely chopped
canola oil

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor, toss in tempeh, and pulse until it's small. Then add salt, pepper, garlic, onion and pulse together. Then add cilantro, marinara, egg, cheese, and bread crumbs, and pulse to mix well. Transfer mixture into a bowl. The mixture should be moist, and should easily form balls. Cover the bottom of a sautee pan with canola oil and put over medium high heat.

Form small balls out of the mixture and pan fry them in the sautee pan until brown on both/all sides (I made mine flatish, so I could just brown them on both sides). Then transfer to a pre-greased/parchment paper covered baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil, and put them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Serve over pasta, cover with marinara sauce, and enjoy!

Suggested appetizer -- roasted peppers and fresh mozarella, balsamic and olive oil

Friday, June 5, 2015

Rose and Raspberry Lemonade

It's time for pretty drinks over ice in mason jars, sunglasses and sunscreen, and sitting outside.
This is how excited we feel about summer.

This drink is summer in a glass. It's pretty. It's pink. It's delicious. It's easy to make. It's refreshing. If you don't have rose water, don't sweat it, just make the raspberry lemonade. Want to add something different? Add lemon zest. Or mint. Or basil. 

I made this with a mix of fresh lemons and Santa Cruz Organics Lemon Juice. I know, I know, making lemonade with concentrate just doesn't taste right. But when you ain't got enough time, this is the way to go, and it honestly doesn't taste like regular lemon concentrates do -- I can't taste the difference between regular lemons and the SC organics. 

Raspberry Rose Lemonade
5-7 lemons (alternatively, Santa Cruz Organic
 Lemon Juice about half a cup)
1 cup frozen raspberries
1-2 tbsp Rose Water
Blend the lemon juice and raspberries together, and then strain them to get out the seeds. Put the mixture into a large mason jar, or pitcher. Add water to taste, basically making it as sour as you want, and mix. Then add simple syrup and rose water to taste. Mix well, and store in the fridge for up to 1 week. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Frozen Banana Bites

So third year is over. That happened. I'm taking some time to process, but I'll probably write about it. Let's be real actually, I'm not taking time to process, I'm studying for the Step 2 Boards and shoving my eyeballs into Bob's Burgers. And looking at desserts. Buuut I don't have eggs.

Let's ignore that Whole Foods is a two minute walk away, and that Trader Joes is a 10 minute walk away. Let's ignore that and talk about Banana Bites instead. I bought these Gone Bananas bites from Trader Joes a while ago...and they are so delicious. I feel quite adorable eating them. I forgot to buy them on this latest run...sadly, but I had 3 bananas that were getting a little too mushy for me to want to eat. So I figured...why not make my own?

Well if I was going to do that, I might as well put peanut butter on them. And oh wait, I had leftover homemade butterscotch why not put this on top?

And so this delicious monstrosity was created...two frozen bananas with peanut butter in the middle, topped with butterscotch sauce, covered in chocolate and frozen again. They. are. so. good.

They'd be amazing even without the butterscotch sauce, but it definitely adds to the flavor. Make these. They are amazing and don't take long.

Frozen Banana Bites

3-4 bananas, sliced a quarter inch thick (or really how thick or thin you want, I wouldn't go more than 1/2 an inch thick though)
Peanut Butter (I used Skippy)
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1 tsp canola oil or coconut oil
Optional: Butterscotch sauce (see above link for recipe from smitten kitchen!)

Slice up your bananas, put them on a baking sheet that's covered in parchment paper, and freeze them for about an hour. Then put down a layer of peanut butter, and put down another banana piece (so it's banana, peanut butter layer, banana...or you can keep it banana and peanut butter alone) and re-freeze for about an 1-1.5 hrs.  Then put a thin layer of butterscotch sauce on top (again, optional...but oh so delicious). Re-freeze for an hour. Right before you pull them out, melt the chocolate in a double boiler here's how. The short of it is that you put on a pot of water to boil, put a heatproof bowl over it, put the chocolate in, and stir around as the steam melts the chocolate. When the chocolate is full and melted, add the oil...why? It's a shorthand trick to 'temper' the chocolate, so that when you dip stuff in it, instead of being soft in texture and dull looking, it gets that chocolate 'crunch' and shine.

Pull out the banana bites, cover them in chocolate, re-freeze for about an hour, and enjoy! You can store them in a plastic back for up 2 weeks in the freezer. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

First fitness post + HIIT interval timer app

Let's be real, I'm sitting here drinking coffee and eating homemade butterscotch sauce off a spoon. I'm not the beacon of health and fitness that I (sometimes) envision myself to be. Although the butterscotch really is helping my mental health on this cloudy day, so there is that.

But I have been known to workout a time or two. Actually it's been one of my goals throughout medical school -- stay on point with the working out thing. It started first year when I saw my friend Lauri's dedication to making it to the gym no matter what. She was great about it and helped me realize that an extra hour - hour and a half of studying was not going to add much to my knowledge base, and would probably make me go crazy in the end. So I started going to our local gym.

At first, I hated it. I wasn't really good at it, I tended to get out of breath pretty quick, and the sweat...oh jeez. I inherited my dad's sweat glands, and I was like a faucet. No cute glistening sweat here, just rivers of smelly person-juice. I went ~3x per week, and by week 3 I started noticing a difference. I could run a little more without feeling like my insides were going to curdle, I could hold a plank for longer, and my arms weren't killing me every time I lifted up whatever weight I was going to use. I was becoming stronger. YAY!

But I also noticed I was happier. I had something that would break up my day of studying, time that was just me, my music, and whatever I was doing. I honestly feel like I started to remember more -- it was like I took time out of my day away from studying, but then actually felt like I could process more. Maybe it was a placebo effect, maybe I'm just making it up, who knows? But I felt good, and I liked it.

So 2.5 years later, I still workout consistently. I'm not a part of a gym anymore, because it was a (freezing) pain to walk to the gym 10 minutes there and back during the winter months, so I started investing in home workout stuff. By that time I knew I was dedicated enough to actually keep up with doing it at home, so I bought a mat, some weights, and started using high intensity interval training (HIIT) videos to work out. That was 1.5 years ago, and I've been doing them ever since...during second year while studying for my first Board certification exam and during my clerkship rotations third year. When I was on a clerkship that had me out the door at 4AM and back home at 7PM, I modified the workout to be 20 minutes of intense stuff, but I still did it. It's why I prefer working out at home, if I had had to go to a gym...well, it just wouldn't have happened. Working out doesn't have to be about losing weight, or fitting into socially constructed image of gendered bodies, it can just be about being fit and all the benefits associated with that. It can be about being able to lift some stuff up and not getting tired; being able to run and not feel like your lungs are going to explode; being able to be like heck yeah I'm strong. Do whatever fits with your schedule, you got 10 minutes? Make a plan, and do 50 seconds on and 10 second off for 10 minutes.

Today's post, aside from being about my workout story (that sounds odd...), is about this new timer app that I've been using that I love. So the HIIT training, you do x number of seconds 'on' and then x number of seconds as a rest. For me it's usually 30,40,or 50 seconds on and a 10 second rest. There are special (expensive) timers that you can buy that are specific interval timers that you can use at home or at the gym...buuuut why when you can use an app on your phone? If you have an android (I think it also works with iPhones), download this now. You can put in how much prep time you want, how many second you want as your 'on' period where you workout, how many seconds of rest you want, and how many rounds. It works in the background of your phone while music is playing, doesn't drain your battery like a lot of other apps, and hasn't crashed in the middle of a workout. It's GREAT for jogging if you're not a huge fan of running (like me) and you prefer to run for 40 seconds with a 10 second rest for a specific amount of time. So far, I'm loving it, and I suggest y'all download it.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Mint and Pea Crostini with Pickled Radishes and Burrata

Spring has finally laid its gentle hand on the winter-weary backs of Bostonians. That's my fancy way of saying -- it's SPRING! I classify that temperatures above 32F. The icebergs have melted (mostly), the sun is out (sometimes), and I don't have to wear multiple layers to brave the wintry winds (usually).

Celebration wouldn't be celebration without spring-type foods. Food with the colors, and the pretty, and the pop of spring. With herbs, green, and tart, and SPRING.

Can you tell I'm happy about spring? Sunshine for all!

Anyways, make this one night. It's simple, beautiful, and delicious. It may seem tricky to pickle something, but honestly, it's really not. The most complicated part of the process is slicing the radishes -- which is super easy if you have a food processor. The pickling process takes 10 minutes, and you can store the radishes in your fridge for about 1-2 weeks.

Mint and Pea Crostini with Pickled Radishes and Burrata
Slightly modified from Salt and Wind

Thinly slice a baguette and toast it at 375 with a little olive oil drizzled on top.

Pickled Radishes
This I learned from Cookie and Kate

Thinly slice 1 bunch radishes
3/4 cup vinegar (white wine or apple cider)
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons salt
Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
Mustard Seeds (optional)
Fennel (optional)

Slice the radishes thinly using a knife, mandolin, or food processor. Stuff them into a jar (I used a mason jar). Top with red pepper flakes and mustard seeds, or whatever other accoutrements (garlic cloves, fennel, etc.) Bring the vinegar, water, maple syrup, and salt to a boil. Turn it off, let it cool for about 30 seconds and then gingerly pour it over the radishes, close the container loosely, and let it sit for 10 minutes, and it should be good to go! Keep it stored in the fridge, closed, for 1-2 weeks.

Smashed Mint Peas
2 cups frozen peas
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons mint
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Siracha to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to boil, and cook the peas until tender, which should take 3-4 minutes. Make sure not to overcook them. Drain the water out of the saucepan, and add to the still warm peas the butter, garlic, and lemon juice. Smash the peas together. When you're almost done smashing them, add in the mint, cilantro, siracha, salt, and pepper, and then finish smashing. Adjust seasoning to your preferences.


Burrata or Mozarella, sliced

Lay the slices of bread out on a tray. Top generously with the smashed pea mixture, then on one half side of the bread lay out some of the burrata, and on the other half side of the bread lay out the radishes. Drizzle with olive oil and pepper and serve.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Bing-Lex-Burg 2015!

We went on a road trip, and now we're back! It's spring break 2015. As an "adult," I found it a little troubling to use the term "spring break" but then I though -- why not? Even adults need something to break up the monotony that exists between winter holidays and inevitable summer vacations/staycations. It clears the mind, it resets, and it makes you pine for sunshine in your snow-covered state. 

1943 miles. That's a lot of McDonald's pee breaks, music playlists, random books on my phone, and miles on Savannah (the car). It was great though -- we got to see Kate, Liz, Sam, and visit the best Chinese bakery in NYC, the Golden Steamer to get $.85 pumpkin buns. Worth it. It was nice having the time in the car with just Tyler, music, random thoughts, and a book. It's sitting down and seeing each other, and being like "hi, no dogs, no TV, no nothing. Let's see if we can entertain each other still." And we can. 8 years later, and we can. 
8 years, eh?
Tower of Beer + UK basketball
I wish I could say that I had the foresight to write down and take pictures of all the awesome things we did in those places, but I didn't. And it wasn't about that -- it was about seeing some awesome women, how they've built their lives, and how we still fit into each others lives 5 years after we met. So much as changed, and we live in different parts of the country now, at different points in our lives, but it was so wonderful to see that when we are in bing-lex-burgh together, it's still hugs, kisses, beer (oh the kentucky beer),conversations, and easiness. That's it -- I love that it's still easy. 

Thank you Kate for a great time in your awesome apartment. I can't wait to visit in the summer and see Binghamton in it's full glory. Thanks for showing me that 2 years later, it still feels like we knew each other in college. And that I can love cats. 

Binghamton fog

Thank you Sam for a wonderful time in your beautiful home, and showing me that 5 years later and 2000 miles away, it's still as easy as the day I walked into your room in college and started eating your goldfish crackers.

Smiles and friends
Thank you Liz for a fun time and your adorable new dog! Thanks for showing me that 5 years later I can still chat with you about the weirdest things, and the most important things. It's definitely still as easy as the day we sat in the hallways looking at our belly button hair. 
Shartlesville, PA
Sweet, delicate goodness
And finally, thank you Golden Steamer's pumpkin bun. You have no idea how long I'd been waiting for your sweet, sweet pumpkin goodness. I walked into your store, and your people just stared at me while I trembled with anticipation and held on to you like Gollum. I laughed maniacally when they rang me up, and ran from the store, and I'm not ashamed to say that I consumed your warm goodness next to a vat of drying and pickled fish, and a puddle of what I can only assume to be dog urine. Thank you for showing me that for less than a dollar I can experience seeing the gates of heaven. I only hope your frozen brethren in my home will be just as good as you. Thank you, sweet, sweet friend. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Strange Fruit in the Friendly Toast

I finished my OB/GYN exam. Now it's 6 down, 2 to go and I have a weekend off. A weekend I have thus far spent going to my medical school formal, lying in bed reading this book all day, making butternut squash gnocci in a brown butter sage sauce adapted from this recipe with blistered shisito peppers and a butternut squash ginger bisque, talking to my mom, doing my nails in a lovely black color, and wrapping my mind around an event that happened at the Friendly Toast in Cambridge on Friday.

The Friendly Toast is a wonderful beacon of off-beat hipsterness in Kendall Square that serves delicious breakfast/brunch food with amazing waffles, interesting breakfast plates, and unconventional drinks. So unconventional that one of their drinks is called "Strange Fruit."

I don't remember exactly what went into the drink, because I couldn't entirely believe what I was seeing. Strange Fruit, a poem written by Abel Meerpol and immortalized into a song by Billie Holiday and later Nina Simone. Strange Fruit, a song of protest and grief so deep and palpable that I can't quite wrap my mind around it.

Southern Trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood on the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

A song that should never, ever, ever be the name of a fruity drink, especially in a restaurant that purports to be a liberal hipster beacon in the heart of one of the most academic cities in the country and near a city that has an enormously problematic racial history.

But I am aware that not everyone knows of the song, and after looking at the menu for a few moments and repeating, "wow, that's offensive. wow, that is offensive. wow, that is offensive" I decided to bring it to my waiter's attention. Perhaps they didn't know? Perhaps, in their self-righteous, racially-privileged positions they just didn't know what the song was about and didn't hear about the Strange Fruit PR firm debacle of 2014. Maybe. 

We ordered our food and I brought it up to our waiter saying, the drink name is offensive as the song is about black bodies swinging from trees (the strange fruit) and naming a drink after it is repackaging domestic terrorism into a pretty picture. The (white) man looked genuinely taken back, and for a moment there was a glimmer of hope. Maybe they didn't know. Maybe they thought, huh, fun name, we are strange, and we like fruit -- boom. Maybe...not. 

The short of the story -- after bringing it up and asking him to take it to his manager or whomever the drink menu maker is, he repeatedly returned to our table to "discuss" the issue. It started out as him saying he had never heard the song and what a horrible tragedy it is that people continue to face racism, and then eventually morphed into telling me, 'you know, we just have have to see the positive light of things, the drink was supposed pay respect to a great singer, and well, there's a positive light. Try looking at it from a positive' Oh yes, I should just see things in a positive light. How could I forget? 

Some highlights, 'we can't take down everything that offends anyone in the restaurant. What about that picture [a picture of a man holding two animals on a leash], is it animal cruelty? Should we take it down if someone is offended by it?' Yep, hanging black bodies and animal cruelty are quite similar in that black people were treated as sub-human. And some extra verses of 'I'm sorry you're offended, I'm sorry you're offended, look, I'm sorry it offends you,' telling us it was inappropriate to bring it up with a waiter and we should e-mail our "concerns," and then ignoring us when we said we didn't want to have this conversation anymore. Multiple times. 

The bar manager came over, apologized for the waiter, and reiterated that the drink was meant to be
an homage to Billie Holiday and not meant to be offensive. 

Then why not name the drink, "Summertime" or "Fine and Mellow" or "Crazy He Calls Me" or any number of other songs she sang. Why that song in particular? Why select a song that was sung with anger, sorrow, and fearful fearlessness the depth of which many of us cannot possibly understand today? Because you're trying to be edgy? Controversial? Because it's a cute name and who would notice a 1939 song on a drink menu given that the majority of your clientele is well-to-do white folk? 

I truly don't believe that anyone at The Friendly Toast made a conscious decision to name a beverage after lynching. I think they just didn't think about it, and that's the problem. They didn't think about what it would be like for a black person to read that on the drink menu, the bile-rising horror of reading and re-reading the name that evokes hanging black bodies and radically appropriating it into a blend of liquor. They didn't think about it because they didn't have to. A few generations back, most of their ancestors were not owned, sold, and brutalized. They may look at Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and get upset, support the protests, and say 'man that's horrible, when is it going to end?' but stop before they try to truly empathize enough to understand what it could feel like for someone who is black to hear, "I'll have a strange fruit" or "the strange fruit is a great." 

I am tired of people telling me to see the "positive light" in microaggressions (unintended discrimination) as though somehow the lack of malicious intent makes it all better. I get it, no one likes being told something they did is offensive, but demanding that people of color stop being offended and just "try to see the positive" is dismissive, demeaning, and halts progress. It infantilizes and diminishes the value of how a group of people feel, which is racist. Always remember that racism can exist without racial animosity. 

It is critical that people open themselves up to the uncomfortable sensations of discussing race and microaggressions, particularly in "liberal beacons" like Cambridge where most people (who are not people of color) don't expect racism and don't see microaggressions. So please, if you are white and a person of color tells you something is offensive -- fight down the urge to defend because you didn't mean it and just listen and digest. Ruminate on it and grow yourself because "standing your ground" isn't going to get us very far. 

I will not be going back to The Friendly Toast as long as that drink is on the menu, and I ask that if you live in Cambridge or Portsmouth, please consider finding somewhere else to enjoy a delicious breakfast. Though the owners may feel that "inclusive" is the word that best describes their restaurant, their drink menu and staff say otherwise. 

UPDATE 2/10/2015: According to Friendly Toast's facebook page, they will be removing the drink from their menu. I'm not sure when, but thank you to everyone who tweeted and retweeted and shared this blogpost, and who joined in on the desire for change -- we may have made a small but real difference! Thank you Friendly Toast -- issuing a formal recognition and apology would be better, as in a separate post on your facebook page rather than a response to a comment but I'll take changing the name. I'll update again if they actually do remove the drink!

UPDATE PART 2, 2/10/2015: A post from Cambridge Day about removing the drink name.

UPDATE PART 3, 2/10/2015: Friendly Toast issued an apology and is removing the drink name from the menu. I appreciate that they listened to the multitude of voices calling for action and I look forward to eating their in the future. Thank you again.