Cherry Blossom Pre-Bloom

While Sophie was hot-tubbing it up with her friends, Maddy, Ian and I got a sneak preview of the cherry blossoms.  Most trees were just shy of blooming, but it was worth a trip because we saw: a cat on a leash, a Japanese woman in traditional kimono, and a park ranger yelling, "GET OUT OF THE TREE NOW."

Banana, banana, banana.

Banana, banana, banana.

Post cherry blossom, we headed to two of our favorite Asian groceries to stock up Maddy's larder.  She got a copy of Pok Pok for Christmas and despite forgetting her green papaya will forge ahead with some Thai cookery.  For dinner, we went straight up spring.  Sophie hates mushrooms and I don't have an unlimited fungi budget so we omitted the morels from this gnocchi recipe.  This recipe made a ton of food.  We had grilled pork chops, but the remainder of the gnocchi fed me lunch for several days.  I haven't made potato gnocchi before, and I don't know if I ever will at this point.  The ricotta gnocchi seemed less tempermental without the potential for becoming leaden like potato gnocchi.  Maddy wished for a sturdier gnocchi so we could have gotten some color on it during the saute. 

For dessert we enjoyed Valerie Gordon's Durango cookies.  We substituted smoked almonds--not sure if they were appreciably more smoky.   They were accompanied by banana ice cream with Maddy's most excellent salted caramel.  I have a feeling these cookies will make many more appearances in the Lee house because they are easier than Momofuku's compost cookie and have that salty-sweet thing going on that hip people like us adopted ages ago.



It's been a long time since I've had unlimited bloody marys, or as Maddy calls them, alcoholic gazpacho.  Turns out the definition of "bottomless" is two drinks for me, 1.5 for Maddy and, shockingly, four for Ian.  After last weekend's weather woes and the epic cleanse of Sophie's room, we earned a Saturday out on the town. 

For $27 DGS Deli will give you aforementioned drink special, plus your choice of an entrée and appetizer or dessert.  Maddy and I got the shakshouka, Ian got the Benedictburg (poached eggs on latkes with smoked salmon and hollandaise) and Sophie got the challah French toast.  For dessert Ian and Maddy had the chocolate babka bread pudding served ala mode with salted caramel ice cream and I had the banana split with peanut butter ice cream/caramel/chocolate.

The latkes were unlike any I've had before--the potato must have been prepared with a turning slicer and the result was a patty that was uniformly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  They are now two for two in the traditionally Jewish foodstuff department for me--previously their Reuben was also the best I've ever eaten.

We split up after brunch, but not before stopping to buy a dozen doughnuts at GBD for Sophie to bring to her friend's "hot tub party."  She was such a good sport about the 3+ hours spring cleaning last weekend I didn't have the heart to drag her to the Cherry Blossom Festival.  You will be happy to know that the ajumma visor and the squid hat pictured below both made the "keep" pile.

Not bloody mary- induced.

Not bloody mary- induced.

The Best Medicine

The picture below is not a pile of mealworms and soil, it's Hippy Crispy Treats.  If you click on the link and see the picture on the Food52 website you will realize I didn't come close to the Platonic ideal of a "hippy crispy treat."  I used some organic puffed rice cereal that was perhaps too large and likely too stale.  I also substituted honey for the brown rice syrup.  They are still delicious, and I wonder if the "hippy" moniker refers to the ingredients or to the fact that you might want to eat a lot of these if you lived in Colorado or Washington.

The cookie, crumbling.

The cookie, crumbling.

Sophie's first outdoor track meet is Thursday (canceled Tuesday due to snow), and I am stuck at work all day.  I made her this Nutella cake to compensate.  I ate a small corner piece that had no Nutella marbelization; it was still delicious.   She continues to hoard the Cheezels that her grandparents sent her from their recent trip to Australia, but I expect that none of this cake will make it back from the meet.

Aside from the mom-fail (see missing first home track meet above), full-time work is going well.  There was enough left-over chicken soup for dinner Tuesday night, Monday night I made steak/potatoes/asparagus before I left for my overnighter, and tonight they can have leftover oven-baked chicken.  I used the same marinade/rub for the steak and chicken: douse meat with fish sauce, add powdered garlic/powdered onion/smoked paprika in equal amounts, marinate 4-8 hours.   I had a beautiful delivery in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, and today a local radio station will be interviewing us on L&D about our upcoming nitrous oxide program

The weekend is nearly here, but it's looking like precipitation both days--at least it's the non-frozen variety.  

The particular sadness of grapefruit cake.

The only sad thing about this cake is the fact that it is gone.  Sophie's friend Georgia said, "It's the best cake I've ever had."  I adapted from Valerie Gordon's recipe for tangerine cake and am ever thankful to Jennifer Reese for posting the link on her blog.  I added a smidge of Aperol to the second icing, mostly for color.  I think everybody in the family ate a big chunk of this daily-baked on Sunday, gone by Wednesday.  By the way, if your tube pan is oldish like mine, you may want to put a baking sheet on the rack below in case of any leakage.  Otherwise, the next time you use the oven the batter that dripped to the oven floor may or may not catch fire.

Ian and I went to see "The Lunchbox" Sunday afternoon.  What a charming film, very food-centric but not precious.  Afterwards we stopped off at a local wine bar/wine shop and took advantage of their "no corkage" Sunday special and watched the first snowflakes fall.

Monday morning we awoke to yet another 6-8" of snow, canceling school, Crossfit and work again.  After the shoveling and the running I made these lamb meatballs and combined them with a simple sauce from "My New PersianKitchen".  Sophie ate them up, perhaps not realizing they were lamb.  She may just have been exhausted from the two hours that she and her friends spent sledding.  

The weather has taken a turn for the worse today with a cold drizzle melting the snow and muddying up the backyard.  I ate leftover meatballs, papaya salad and grapefruit cake while binge-watching "Inside Amy Schumer" all afternoon.  Since we are going out to dinner tonight the only thing I thought about cooking today was the double-chocolate bundt cake from "Sunday Suppers at Lucques," but that would only complete the evil triumvirate with my weather-induced mild depression and the mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer.

Baby You Can Drive My Car

Friday was bittersweet.  We donated our 1998 Toyota Sienna to NPR, and I shed a few tears as they hitched her up and drove away.  This was the car we brought Sophie home from the hospital in, traveled across the country and to Korea and back, gone in an instant.  We had dinner with friends that night to celebrate her recent divorce, and even though nobody was sad to see her ex out of her life, it makes women of a certain age count their blessings.

I had promised Thai food and spent the morning getting together the ingredients for Vietnamese Chicken Wings and Khao Man Som Tam (pork/rice/green papaya "one-dish" meal). The Vietnamese/Thai grocery had bahn mi for sale, and when I asked the owner what was in them he said, "pork meat."  I just didn't look inside before I took my first bite--sometimes that stuff looks scary and I worry I am eating some sort of offal.  It was delicious, that "pork meat".


These wings are infinitely better than Buffalo wings in my humble opinion.  I didn't make the spicy version because I had enough spice going on in the green papaya salad.  I used the deep fryer for the initial cooking, then did the sauce in the wok.  You can find the recipe in the Pok Pok cookbook or here.  The sweet pork and coconut rice I will make again.  The pork is basically Asian carnitas, slow cooked for hours and then shredded.  The sugar content in the braising liquid caramelizes as you reduce it.  Seriously addictive, especially with the coconut rice.  I made a double batch which was more than enough for dinner for 6, lunch for 3 the next day, and likely dinner for 6 again after I thaw it out.   

My Lazy Persian Kitchen

I worked late last night at our midwifery service's "Meet & Greet," a monthly question and answer session for the public to help people learn whether midwifery care is right for them.  We try to dispel misconceptions about midwives (you can't have an epidural, it's not as safe as having a doctor) and talk about the huge advantages for all but the most high-risk pregnancies (low tech, high touch and a huge emphasis on patient education).  I'm hoping our young couple with the admittedly anxious husband will come see me next week.  While I was serving up the midwifery Kool-Aid, Ian and Sophie were getting dinner at Boloco.  In their defense, they did ask me what I wanted on my burrito.  Unfortunately, I gave no input.  My burrito had rice, beans, lettuce, some sort of meat, and what's that pink stuff in my burrito, cabbage? Beets (wtf?!). 

 I made a celery root and pomegranate salad from The New Persian Kitchen.  Biking to Trader Joe's to pick up the pomegranate seeds I was passed by a highway department truck pulling a flatbed trailer of deer carcasses.  We're going vegetarian tonight.  The author describes several ways to remove seeds from a pomegranate.  I recommend the method that involves biking to TJ and buying the package of just pomegranate seeds.  At first taste, the salad seems lacking, but maybe it needs a little more acid.  I will pluck a lime off my tree and we'll see. 

We will have buttermilk panna cotta with apricot compote and candied fennel seeds for dessert.  I will be using pre-candied fennel seeds because I have them available.  I am jealously awaiting Maddy's report on her dinner at 610 Magnolia.  She's planning on the 4 course dinner, because, you know, beets.  I hope it's worth the 14 hour round trip drive, and I hope she gets a picture with Chef Edward Lee.


Vedge In the House

You are looking at Sophie's favorite dinner this week.  If you click on the caption below the picture it will link you to the recipe.  I couldn't find black lentils so I subbed French lentils and I didn't go through the trouble of making vegetable stock.  I cooked the lentils in some whey I had left over from yogurt making, adding a bit more salt and spice mixture to compensate.  That green harissa is pretty damn spicy.  I had quite a bit left-over, ditto for the lentils.  I wish I had made more carrots.  By the way, it took waaaay longer than 15-20 minutes to roast the carrots, more like 45 minutes.

I went to Penzey's to source the spices I needed to make the gingerbread from Roberta's.  It smells great, and I hope it was worth the effort.  I'm glad I didn't shower after Crossfit this morning because I got another workout grating all the fresh ginger.  I was able to do two ugly pull-ups at the gym today.  Just wanted to put that out there so when I look back in a year that will seem wimpy in comparison to the 10 I can do in 2015.

My Tuesday was fatter than yours.

I actually made these malasadas on Monday and passed them out to our neighbors as they shoveled the latest round of snow off their driveways.  The recipe is here, and is billed as the Leonard's Bakery recipe.  Malasada Day = Fat Tuesday in Hawaii.  


Doubling the recipe resulted in many more than 2 dozen malasadas, plus I couldn't fry them fast enough before they became over-risen.  We will see how the 10 I froze will reheat sometime in the future.  They are basically a brioche dough, and if you eat them at Leonard's you will have the option of sugared/cinnamon sugared/li-hing mui sugared or filled.  My favorite is the original, pictured below.



Maddy sent me this recipe for a savory breakfast bread pudding.  Since we bought all the ingredients at Costco I have 5 lb. of bacon in my freezer.  I would definitely use some of it to make this again.  As you can see, I baked it in the same pan that I used to cook the bacon and greens.  It served 4 adults and one teenager breakfast, and then provided lunch for and supplemented the dinner of the same teenager.  It would probably serve up to 8 normal people.


After breakfast, Spencer, Maddy and I surveyed the "free" and "gigs" sections of the Washington, DC craigslist.  I highly recommend this.  In addition to learning NEVER to open a post with a picture in the "gigs" section, we marveled at the many ways a "handsome caucasian male" could troll for "a special woman to take care of" and the stuff that people will put on the "free" section.  Like a 500 lb. barrel of winter wheat, and South Park underwear and peace sign earrings (must take together).  We also watched many episodes of "Sweet Genius."  It's another competition chef show.  The host delivers his verdict in haiku form, likely unintentionally, but to great comedic effect.  

Maddy designed an awesome sticker we will put on the 200 bags of granola I will be making for this years Birth & Babies Fair.  It sounds vastly less tedious than making mini cupcakes.  

You are a sticker genius.  Compensation: take care of you.

You are a sticker genius.  Compensation: take care of you.

The steak before the storm.

We used the bbq grill for the first time in 2014 this past Saturday.  The entire meal sourced at Costco.  I wish I had the outdoor equipment necessary to cook an entire lamb because you can buy them there too (~$120).

Sophie was an usher/ticket taker at her high school's production of "Lord of the Flies," so she missed out on dinner.  Not surprisingly she headed straight for dessert when she got home.  "There's only a little bit of ice cream left, should I just eat it all?"  She ran a 3:00 for the 800 meter time trial earlier in the day at outdoor track time trials. Next year she will skip indoor track in favor of working as a tech for the winter play.  The time trials are cancelled today along with school and work due to ANOTHER snow storm.

Anchovy, soy and tomato paste.

Anchovy, soy and tomato paste.


But back to this weekend's dinner....Steak, smashed fingerlings, romaine salad with candied walnuts, Caprese salad with (horrors!) store-bought pesto and homemade mint chocolate chip ice-cream for dessert. The fingerlings were a recipe from the Vedge cookbook-roast, smash gently and then douse with a mustard/mayo/worcestershire sauce reminiscent of the house dressing I used to make in 4 gallon batches at The Cheese Shop.  Maddy thought Roberta's recipe no match for my Caesar dressing, but, damn, those candied walnuts are addictive!  I think Roberta's has made the short list for my next cookbook acquisition as well as our trip to NYC.

Caprese salad and plate. Nice.

Caprese salad and plate. Nice.

Is it Fryday yet?

The chickpea fries were a total fail, disintegrating as they hit the hot oil.  Ian said, "What else can we fry?"  We settled on some frozen vegetable dumplings--not a bad pairing with the Momofuku broccoli.  It's snowing again as I type this, big lazy flakes; it's beautiful and hard to begrudge our slide back into winter.  I had a bowl of this for breakfast, except I used raisins and pecans instead of cranberries and hazelnuts.  I made it this past weekend--Sophie was indifferent, and Ian thought "it could be sweeter."  I find it hard to take constructive criticism from a man who was loading leftover birthday cake crunch onto his oatmeal last week .  I subbed maple syrup for the honey, feel free to add more if you find it lacking.

After clinic yesterday, busier than it should have been due to a combination of administrative errors and a patient that was a "poor historian" (this is medical record speak for "liar"), my midwife partners and I stopped at a divey bar to vent.  Happy hour drafts, french fries, eggplant fries (I'm making those next time!) and a soul-feeding conversation about our respective paths to midwifery.  We decided I should make cinnamon rolls for the staff meeting on Thursday.

After a tense couple of weeks, it seems as if Crossfit will continue at NIH, albeit under new management.  The friendships made since joining have become one of the reasons I look forward to getting on a bike in sub-freezing temperatures to make the trip to the gym.  I answered an ad on Sophie's high school list serve for a running partner, and I am hopeful and anxious about forging another friendship over shared mileage.  

Sprinkles optional.

Sprinkles optional.

I am the eggman.

There's nothing like a 60 degree day in the middle of February to make me more susceptible to pictures like this one.  Maddy said she will help me build it.  I don't need the bench seat or the pergola.  After last year's gardening fail I probably should save that money to just spend at the local farmer's market.

Things I made this week:

Dashi-used in a noodle soup.  Notes from the kitchen: 4 week old baby bok choi revives nicely in homemade broth.  Cats go CRAZY for katsuobushi.

Roast pork and colcannon, penne alfredo with pancetta and broccoli, birthday cake from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, and goat cheese ice cream with orange (to go with birthday cake).

Things I wanted to make this week but didn't: these chickpea fries and Momofuku's roast cauliflower. 

We went out to dinner Thursday night at Haven. I think we may have finally found our neighborhood restaurant.  Friendly staff (comped Ian a beer because our pizza took awhile), good beer and wine list, excellent pizza and homemade gelato, free parking and a 10 minute drive.  The only downside were the tomatoes on my salad--don't bother to put tomatoes in a salad if they are the sad, anemic winter variety.

This conversation happened there: music playing in the background is "More Than a Feeling."

Ian: "This is from one of the first albums I ever bought.  I played it non-stop in high school."

Sophie: "Who is it?"

Me: "Aggggh, I know who this is...."

Ian: (giving me a hint) "City in Massachusetts..."

Me: "That's not a real band, City in Massachusetts."

Ian: (barely able to speak because of laughter) "It's Boston."

My walrus moment.


Winter's Tale

Sophie spent much of this past weekend  at Katsucon-an anime convention at National Harbor, but she got home early enough on Saturday to eat dinner with us at our friend's house.

We brought our fondue pot, a cocktail and mocktails to share.

DSC_5978 sm.jpg

Our friends supplied the food and a fireplace.  We teamed up in the kitchen, slicing fruit and bread.  Ian used his low-light lens, to great advantage.


I coveted their copper fondue pot, a garage sale find!


It reminded me of an old fondue restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland whose name I have forgotten.  It had wooden booths, dim lighting, and you felt like you were in a 1970's ski lodge.  

The snow is melting now, aided by a driving rain.  This was accompanied by thunder and lightning on my bike ride home from Crossfit earlier this morning.  I'm making Momofuku Milk Bar's "birthday cake" for a friends party this weekend, dashi for dinner tonight and contemplating seeing "12 Years a Slave."  I finished a pair of socks for Sophie last week, and the first sock of another pair along with a cute hat.  I am debating a trip to Rhinebeck NY Sheep and Wool Festival in October (fall color!), but right now the only kind of weather I want is the sunny kind.



The sadness of no maple syrup in the house with a fresh blanket of snow outside....Sophie was unable to make the maple syrup candy from "Little House on the Prairie," and we had to have blueberry compote on our pancakes.

I am not regretting my decision to purchase "Whole Grain Mornings."  I've made the millet breakfast cookies, granola, whole grain pancake mix and zucchini farro cakes thus far.  None have disappointed, and the zucchini cakes are worth the price of the book.  I have a giant bag of kamut on my counter, and there isn't even a recipe for kamut in the book.  I fear I have a bulk food grain problem.  No worries, there is a whole section on kamut in "Good to the Grain."  I hope "wheat belly" isn't the end of me.  Luckily I just did my fasting labs this past week, and I am happy to report that my HDL (the good cholesterol) level is off the charts, and my fasting blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C are also normal.  Suck it, Paleo cult members.

I spent the last hour shoveling snow, and I am still going to the Crossfit Valentine's Day partner WOD...I found a partner who won't make me feel bad about my inability to do a pull-up.  Sophie's  arm got tired after <1 min of shaking the mocktail shaker last night, and Ian sprained his ankle earlier this week so they are off the hook. 


It's got to be the morning after.....

0800: postpartum rounds, send two of my three patients home

0900: eat the first of 5 Godiva chocolates from a box sitting in a call room

11-1300: attempt to renew ACNM membership, worse than the Obamacare website, ultimately succeed

1300-1500: administrative stuff-look for CME, update dues list, chat with other midwife, try to avoid eating more chocolate

1500-1700 booorrrreeeeed

1700-1800 look forward to pizza we will be having at chapter meeting

1800-2100 chapter meeting, answering service (which hasn't called me all day) calls 4 times during the meeting.  One patient sounds pretty sick and arrives just as I am leaving meeting.

2100-2315 stabilize sick patient, thankful I got the flu vaccine

Midnight: arrive home, have glass of wine, chart telephone calls

0030: fall into bed

0130: dog has squeaky toy; take squeaky toy from dog, hide under my pillow

0200: Sophie enters room, "I threw up and some of it missed the toilet."

0230: Hear Sophie get up to barf again, comfort Sophie, plunge toilet because "I think I clogged it with paper towels"

0330: cat meowing

0545: Ian's alarm rings, decide to go to afternoon Crossfit

0630: Ian's second alarm rings, give up, get out of bed, check on Sophie, drink coffee

0700: check on patient who is stable in ICU

0730 make granola

0830 write blog post


Spicy, sour, only a little sweet.

Soph requested pad Thai for dinner.  She spent the previous evening at the local cooking school's "teen night out" whipping up Greek delicacies like moussaka and baklava. She said she wanted some spicy food to cut through her nasal congestion.

I also made Pok Pok's tamarind whiskey sour, to cut through my general sense of ennui and anger that I cannot stream the Olympics from 

The crappiest picture in the post..

The crappiest picture in the post..

Witness now the difference a good low light lens with associated good photographer makes...Pok Pok's pad Thai recipe was worth the effort as well.  It called for two ingredients I have never put in pad Thai: salted radish and garlic chives.  These necessitated a trip to the Thai grocery where Ian also bought blueberry yogurt wafer cookies, a chocolate-filled cookie, some weird yogurt thing, satay sauce and black sticky rice with coconut and taro.

  I also realized that I had been making pad Thai all wrong!  I had been attempting to stir fry all the noodles at the same time-the sauce to noodle ratio was off, and the noodles never had the right texture.  As long as you have everything ready to go, it really doesn't take much longer to fry up the individual portions.  This is the first time Sophie's bean sprouts didn't wind up in a little pile on her plate.


Maddy and I want to have an Asian-themed dinner party this spring.  "Outside with a lot of tea lights."  Maybe we will have a pad Thai station.  We had coconut sticky rice with mango for dessert.  That will definitely be featured at our dinner party.  Right now Maddy is too busy with school and dreaming of building her own cabin.  The weather also seems to be permanently set on Polar Vortex and not conducive to a candlelit backyard soiree.  At least we have the release of season two of "House of Cards" to look forward to.



We tried a Superbowl cocktail recipe from Bon Appetit yesterday.  It's called the "Nacho Vidal," and it's bold and delicious and powerful.  Especially if you were literally up all the night prior.  I delivered a 9 lb. 10 oz. baby boy--ginger-haired and perfect in the wee hours, and spent the rest of the night trying to stay out of the OR. 

I will not be bringing it to our friend's party because nobody should drive after drinking one of these.  If you are not a fan of Campari's bitter bite, maybe you could try it with Aperol instead.  The shrub makes a perfect nonalcoholic drink when mixed with a little seltzer.

After my morning run I made these but altered to become sesame meringue cookies (sub tahini for peanut butter, omit peanuts and chocolate, add tsp. rose water to egg whites) and Spam musubi to bring to party.  I made the No No Nanaimo bars from the same cookbook and brought them into L&D for our Friday night snack.  They are gone. Sophie wants to know when I am making them again.  I didn't realize that true Nanaimo bars are not baked and do not have a cheesecake layer.  You shouldn't let that stop you from making this version.

In all honesty, I am looking forward to the start of the Piglet tournament of cookbooks almost as much as the Olympics and definitely more than the football game.  On my list of personal accomplishments this week was completion of the Dr. Who scarf I was knitting for Sophie.  If the groundhog was right she'll have an additional 6 weeks to wear it.


Pour Some Sugar On Me

I made the Pumpkin Bread Pudding from Smitten Kitchen the other day.  I had a bunch of leftover Panera French bread and the desire to sabotage all the good of my Crossfit workouts.  I neglected to add the sugar!  Rescued with a healthy dollop of sweetened condensed milk.  Ian's suggestion!

If you are feeling flush, please consider donating to Kevin Ogar's recovery here:

A young man with a devastating injury, no health insurance and a long road to recovery.


Sunday Breakfast, post call edition.

The girls made me chocolate waffles when I got home from the hospital.  A tough twenty four hours with two obstetrical emergencies (cord prolapse and shoulder dystocia) that you hope never to see, let alone see on the same day.  Mothers and babies all well, providers all exhausted and wrung out.  Makes me proud of our team.  My sense of elation and entitlement led to the poor decision to double the waffle recipe.

Leftover waffle tower.

Leftover waffle tower.

The leftovers reheat beautifully in a toaster.  I froze some so we can have them with ice cream for dessert in the future.

Double batch, not our best idea.

Double batch, not our best idea.

After we ate breakfast I helped Maddy sew a pencil case and started Sophie knitting a Harry Potter-themed scarf.  I was feeling super-motivated to make posole for dinner, but when I realized it was 3:30 getting lost on the way to H-mart, that didn't happen.  We had a great time at H-mart, dancing in the aisles to their shockingly good soundtrack, buying all manner of ethnic foodstuffs and sampling banana flavored cheese puffs.  I guess they technically were banana puffs; Sophie remembers them from Korea.  Dinner was chips and hummus/guacamole/salsa.  We had these for dessert.  They are a puffy, light, not too sweet Korean cookie--we call them ghost poop in our house.

Please don't scratch my eyes out.....

Please don't scratch my eyes out.....