Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Med School Was A Blast

Mike Twohy, The New Yorker
It really was...

White Coat Ceremony Class of 2006

End of year picnic, 2003.  Adi, Christi, Caroline, Jen, Parisa, Amy, Mike, Heather, Eric, Charles


Eric and Weiser


Alicia, Ben, Eric

PJ, Delee and Melissa


Rich and his silent auction prize

Rich, his tiny car, his rusty prize
Jenny and Amy

Mom and sisters at shower for Amalia

Rich, Ken, David

Friday, January 27, 2012


I can't braid my hair.  Or style it at all.  I liked it best as a chin-length bob, which corresponds to my blow-dry-and-quickly-flat-iron attention span.  Now that it's long, it's very convenient for work (bun at nape of neck) but the rest of the time it snakes limply, kelp-like, down my back.  Enter two hairstyles that I actually can execute:
Bun Mohawk:

         I do this with wet hair and three bobby pins and then I'm out the door.

Fun Bun:

This gives the allusion of a lot of hair. I had always wondered about this... mystery solved. 
                                           The ballerina bun is mine, all mine!

Photo via

Other little finds:

MAC tinted lipglass in Fresh Air: my mother hates a nude lip so when Robin and I heard her say 'That's a pretty nude lip' we first 1) made sure she had not slipped into a fugue state and 2) bought it.  It's pretty, readers.

Drugstore finds: Because I prowl the endcaps so you don't have to.  Olay Tone Rehab has a nice finish, pump dispenser (keeps rest of product germ-free) and is sunscreen-free (if you wear enough makeup to provide adequate SPF, you are wearing A LOT of makeup); Revlon 3D Volume mascara - forgive the redundancy (of course volume is 3-D), appreciate the nice lashes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Food Things I Have Learned Recently

How to deal with the turnips in my CSA share: BUTTER.

        Buttered turnip puree (Food Network)  I asked a vendor at the farmers' market what he does with turnips and he replied in a German accent (not important for the story, I'm just painting a picture) I treat them like a mashed potato.  One 'mashed turnip' Google later I had this recipe, which turns the turnips into a marvelous vehicle for milk and butter.  I sauteed little bitty Brussels sprouts (nickel and dimed sized, so cute!) and later folded them into the puree for leftovers.

Canola oil is not from a canola plant, but rather stands for Canadian oil, low acid

         Probably more marketable than its actual name, rapeseed. (John Besh's A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking)

Costco purchases more than half the world's supply of cashews.

        That's a lot of cashews. (Patricia Marx, A Bushel and a Peck, The New Yorker, Jan 16, 2012)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In Others' Words

The Master Speed

No speed of wind or water rushing by
But you have a speed far greater. You can climb
Back up a stream of radiance to the sky,
And back through history up the stream of time.
And you were given this swiftness, not for haste
Nor chiefly that you may go where you will.
But in the rush of everything to waste,
That you may have the power of standing still—
Off any still or moving thing you say.
Two such as you with a master speed
Cannot be parted nor be swept away
From one another once you are agreed
That life is only life forevermore
Together wing to wing and oar to oar.

Robert Frost

My grandparents Thomas and Mary Agnes Boyer have been married for 60 years.  Photo by my mother, July 2011

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Squash Prep

Bacon and butternut pasta.  Creamy, savory, sweet, oniony, rich, light (supposedly) and USES SWISS CHARD (made it twice this week for this reason).  Creme fraiche, Gruyere, what's not to like?  I think you will come to refer to it as your thank-you pasta, because every time you prepare it your loved ones will say, It's delicious! and you'll smile sweetly and say

                                            Oh why thank you.

Bacon and Butternut Pasta, Cooking Light, January 2012. 
Printable version here

5 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash*

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 12 ounces uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta), campanile, or other short pasta
  • 4 cups chopped kale (or other dark leafy green)
  • 2 bacon slices
  • 2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese

  • Preparation

    1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°.
    2. 2. Combine squash and oil in a large bowl; toss well. Arrange squash mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until squash is tender.
    3. 3. Cook pasta 7 minutes or until almost al dente, omitting salt and fat. Add kale to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain pasta mixture.
    4. 4. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
    5. 5. Bring 1 3/4 cups broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Combine remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to broth. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat; stir in crème fraîche.
    6. 6. Combine squash, pasta mixture, bacon, onion mixture, and sauce in a large bowl; toss gently. Place pasta mixture in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
    *Turns out b-squash is not the easiest butternut to crack.  CL tutorial here.

    p.s.  Another slow cooker revolution: caramelized onions.  I put some on a pizza with truffle oil, a lil cheese and some CSA spinach.  Winner winner vegetarian dinner.

    To make:
    8 onions, halved and sliced
    3 T unsalted butter, melted
    salt n pepa
    3 T brown sugar

    1.  Microwave onion with 1 T butter and 2 teaspoons salt in bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 15 minutes.  Drain onions, discarding liquid, transfer to slow cooker.
    2.  Stir sugar, remaining butter and 1/2 teaspoon pepper into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until onions are deep golden brown, 8 to 10 hours on high.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Store in fridge for up to one week.

    ***BEWARE*** Step 2 creates delicious caramelized onions... Step 1 creates ONION TEAR GAS.  So bear this in mind during prep or if you ever need to whip up a riot control agent in your kitchen.

    Monday, January 16, 2012

    In Others' Words

    San Antonio

    Naomi Shihab Nye
    Tonight I lingered over your name,
    the delicate assembly of vowels
    a voice inside my head.
    You were sleeping when I arrived.
    I stood by your bed
    and watched the sheets rise gently.
    I knew what slant of light
    would make you turn over.
    It was then I felt 
    the highways slide out of my hands.
    I remembered the old men
    in the west side cafe,
    dealing dominoes like magical charms.
    It was then I knew,
    like a woman looking backward,
    I could not leave you,
    or find anyone I loved more.

    St Louis-born poet Naomi Shibab Nye lives and teaches in San Antonio.

    Marfa Marfa Marfa

    Thursday morning we drove from Marathon to Marfa, 50 miles to the west.  Driving to the main square (Marfa has a population of about 2000), we encountered this fantastic vehicle parked outside a store called Stuff.

    At Stuff, I purchased a set of Pyrex apple-shaped bowls (the apple is my power fruit) and we waited for Pizza Foundation to open, a lunch place recommended by the barista in Alpine. 

    Spinach, roasted garlic and jalapeno

    Thus fortified, we drove around Marfa to find... not much of anything.  I had signed us up for a tour of Donald Judd's home at 4:30 so with some hours to kill we drove to Fort Davis and the McDonald Observatory (one of the largest telescopes in the world, the Hobby-Eberly). Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas; Marfa is the second.  This will become important later.

    Inside the telescope.

    View from the observatory

    Dagger yucca

    Back in Marfa, we checked into our TEEPEE!

    During my research I found a campground called El Cosmico, equipped with yurts, teepees, refurbished trailers and tent camping and thought we have to stay there!!!  I made the reservation on October 26th in San Antonio (temperature that day in SA, 85 degrees).  When the nice folks at El Cosmico said to bring a space heater, I said ok.  We did bring a space heater.  But having experienced unremitting heat for months on end, I truly did not process that it might be chilly in Marfa.  Because it is a desert town at high altitude.  Did not take any of that seriously.

    El Cosmico:

    Our teepee!

    one double and two twin futons, cow hides and a sandy pit, formerly a fire pit

    Luke brings the luggage to the teepee:

    Now we are inside the teepee.  AND IT IS 3:30 IN THE AFTERNOON AND FREEZING.

    Ah, the space heater.

    Suddenly doubting my trip-planning and foresight skills, we left for our tour of Donald Judd's home and studio in town.  He is responsible for Marfa's entrance onto the art-map, was an important modern artist and his foundation continues to bring artists, collectors, historians, etc to Marfa (which is why, as Hope our tour guide explained to us, Marfa is more well known in New York, Los Angeles and Europe than it is in Texas).  [I didn't know any of this, or even his name, before reading about Marfa.  No photography was allowed on the tour, and I didn't take many photos of the town, but you can get an idea with this slideshow and video from Southern Living (neither of which I watched until now.)

    Taking Hope's advice, we dined that night at Miniature Rooster, after a drink at Hotel Paisano, where we met Robert, a retired state investigator for suspected homicide-by-neglect cases.  As if that career weren't interesting enough, Robert himself was enough of a character to warrant several extra cups of tea to hear his stories about that field and law enforcement.

    Miniature Rooster

    Spice-rubbed chicken and waffles: before
    And then it was time to return to the teepee...

    And go to bed with all of our clothes and parkas on.  Luke donned my angora beret.

    The space heater and piles of blankets made for toasty (read: hot and sweaty) sleeping.  We awoke in the morning and immediately decamped for the opulence of a Hampton Inn in Alpine, where we arrived, bedraggled, at 10 am.  The morning was quite beautiful, though:

    But oh I forgot these pics of El Cosmico:

    The shower is a spigot in the middle of the campground:

    I don't mind being immodest but immodest when it's 38 degrees is another matter.

    The restroom facilities cease having running water at 10 pm, because that's when the pipes freeze:

    After enduring crushing hipster hardship, we luxuriated at the Hampton, drove around Alpine, had lunch, went to the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross University and met a museum volunteer from St Louis who grew up on the same street and graduated from the same high school as my mom.


    Mastiff looking bored on flatbed truck pulling a horse trailer

    Lunch spot

    Jalapeno mac and cheese

    Chili relleno.  This concludes our Tour de Fried of West Texas.

    After a nap in the climate-controlled cocoon of our room in a permanent dwelling, we drove back to Marfa for dinner and a concert Hope told us about.

    Sunset from the car between Alpine and Marfa.

    Outside the Lost Horse Saloon, Marfa

    Customer's dog at the Lost Horse

    Back in Marfa we had dinner at Maiya's - delicious- and were amazed by the number of people there as the town seems fairly vacant to drive around.  Before dinner we played pool at the Lost Horse Saloon and chatted with the owner, a man named Ty.  Ty on owning the bar:
    'I kept driving by and knew some sonofabitch was gonna open that bastard, and it may as well be me.' 
    'We're the only place that allows teenagers in here, otherwise they don't have anywhere to go.  These ranchhands come in here with their girlfriends and they buy 'em a sodey pop for $1.50 and play pool for three hours and that's fine by me, they're not out there sellin' dope or vandalizin' or gettin' into trouble.'

    'I was in the service and fought in Beirut and Libya and I don't care if you come in this place with a turban on your head.  As long as you behave yourself anybody can come in here and feel welcome.'
    He works a ranch so remote and rocky it is accessible only on horseback.  He took off his hat to shake my hand hello and goodbye.  He rolled a cigarette while talking to us.  Real live cowboy!  Luke asked him questions about running a small business, and he talked about working with the local Marfa bank, who treats him like an individual and a valuable part of the community (advancing him money for beer for New Year's) instead of an anonymous account.  He also looks the part: tall and incredibly thin, with a craggy weathered face and enormous mustache.  I wanted to take his photo so badly but thought the better of it, and we wished him goodbye and went to dinner, and then to the concert.  And here's the weird thing about Marfa: the town is junky and poor and run-down, and yet the Maiya's was full of affluent, polished people; the concert at Padre's was full of 18-25 year old cool kids straight out of Austin or Chicago.

    But I do have a picture of Ty!

    Upon returning to Alpine to wait for the train back to San Antonio, I popped into the coffee shop where the same barista was working and told her all of her recommendations were completely accurate and that we met the coolest cowboy at the Lost Horse.  She said, oh, Ty?  He is great.  He is like that to everyone, no matter who you are.  You know, he was in that movie, that remake, with Jeff Bridges...

    TRUE GRIT?!  I squealed.

    Yes, she said.  He is the guy at the river when when the girl goes across.  He has a few lines.


    And, indeed, after returning to San Antonio we immediately streamed True Grit on Netflix, and there he is: Ty Mitchell, the ferryman who Mattie escapes to ford the river.  (If you haven't seen the movie, you really should- it's terrific).

    We spent a few more hours in Alpine waiting for the train, having lunch at Cow Dog (mine had smoked gouda and chutney), walking around a bit.  The train ride back was long but enjoyable: Luke read Christopher Hitchens' Arguably and I started Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities.  And, as an added bonus, it's MLK weekend, so our relaxing trip ended with two more days off for me.

    Carpe dog-em.

    The print on this tablecloth is so great.

    A spectacular trip full of fascinating people and gorgeous scenery!