Life is wackypants right now. I just applied to residency programs, I’m trying to scramble-write my research manuscript, my sub-internship (in which I wear a long white coat and try not to kill people) is about to start, and HOLY CRAP GUYS IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON.
Look at me. Look at this blog. This is a big deal.
I think it’s necessary to explain that I take pumpkin season very seriously. Like, try-to-transform-myself-into-a-winter-squash kind of serious. Last year, I cooked a brand-new pumpkin dish every single week for the entirety of pumpkin season, which, for all intents and purposes, extends from the beginning of September to the end of the year. This year, I’m continuing the tradition, with the added bonus of discovering a beer store down the road that has about 25 different (and changing) pumpkin beers in stock. I also recently figured out that home-roasted pumpkin is both cheaper and more delicious than canned pumpkin and having a couple of the little darlings around all the time doubles as home decor!
My point is this: posers spending $25 a week on Starbucks’ PSL ain’t got nothin’ on my pumpkin addiction. Which, at this moment, is manifesting itself in the form of PSL ice cream.
Leave me a comment with suggestions for future pumpkin adventures! Fuel my crazyfire.
Recipe: pumpkin spice latte ice cream
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup coffee, coarsely ground*
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ginger
- pinch of nutmeg and cloves
- 6 egg yolks*
- 1 cup roasted pumpkin puree*
- In a medium-sized pot, combine everything except egg yolks and pumpkin. Simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture is warm/hot (think nice relaxing bath temperature. if you were to bathe in spiced coffee cream. I won’t judge.).
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks together, then carefully whisk in about a cup of the hot cream. Do this in a slow, steady stream, whisking all the while, because no one likes scrambled eggs in their ice cream.
- Add the egg mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. The mixture should thicken to be able to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and let the custard steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve, then mix in the pumpkin. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Churn it in your ice cream maker! I kept mine going for about 30 minutes, but I think my KitchenAid attachment is defective so just follow the directions for yours. Transfer the ice cream to a container and store in the freezer for a couple hours before serving.
- Try to grind your coffee as coarsely as you can stand. I didn’t do a very good job of it and there were fine grounds in my ice cream. I didn’t care, but you might.
- My egg yolks were tiny, for whatever reason. If you’re using big eggs, maybe stick to 5.
- ROAST YOUR PUMPKIN. Oh man. It is so much better. Take a 2-3 lb sugar pumpkin, pop the stem off, slice it down the middle and scoop the guts out. Brush it down with some coconut oil and place cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast at 350°F for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced by a fork. Scoop the flesh out and puree in a blender/food processor. This makes about the equivalent of a 15 oz can. Put the extra in your morning coffee!!
If you told 2013-Laura that by the end of her third year of med school she’d be buying bunches of kale and beets and mint and jankily juicing that ish with a blender and fine mesh strainer… she’d have attitude-punched you in the face with a pretty serious eyebrow raise.
Well, here we are.
One of my residents turned me on to the idea, and after seeing how expensive store-bought juice cleanses are I was sure I could do it better and cheaper. I’m all about the liquid diet, usually in the form of smoothies and milkshakes and coffee, so I felt compelled to give it a shot. Futzing with the flavors and colors and stuffing actually healthy foods into semi-refreshing packages makes for some awesome summer kitchen playtime.
(also this is literally the first time in my life that my fridge’s vegetable drawer is full to the brim. hi mom.)
I haven’t had the guts (or low-stakes environment, or lack of hanger in the mornings) to do a real-boy juice cleanse yet, but I think I’ll get there soon. Mostly to see what kinds of pretty colors I can make my pee turn!
Recipe: green juice, red juice, cashew milk
- 3-5 kale leaves, stems removed (I use red kale)
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 green apple, cored
- 1 small or 1/2 large cucumber
- 2 sprigs mint, stems removed
- ~1 cup water or coconut water
- (optional) 1 Bartlett pear, cored, or a few small chunks of pineapple
If you’re like me and don’t have a juicer:
Put in a blender. Turn it on. Once it looks more or less uniform, dump into a large fine mesh strainer over an appropriately sized bowl. Whisk into the mesh until all that’s left is pulp. Pour juice and enjoy!
- 1/2 red beet, peeled
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 1 green apple, cored
- 1 Bartlett pear, cored
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp chopped/grated ginger
- ~1 cup water
Same as above?
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Dash cinnamon
- ~1 tbsp honey, agave, whatever
Soak cashews in a bowl of tap water for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse them well, then add to blender with water. Use less water for a thicker milk. Blend on low for a couple minutes, until smooth. Add other stuff. Chill before drinking because blending it will make it kind of warm.
Each recipe makes roughly 20 oz of juice.
When life gives you a winter full of snow storms, the latest of which cancels your board exams after you’ve been studying non-stop for the previous six weeks, leading you to spend a cumulative 3 hours on the phone waiting for a human to take you off ‘hold’, which never ends up happening, so instead you go to the website and suck up the $110 fee to reschedule your test for the following week, and then snow barely even happens so that by the time you wake up it’s just sort of sleet-misting and you don’t even have the luxury of going outside and frolicking in piles of snow, and your boyfriend’s classes aren’t canceled so he can’t even stay in and read you stories to make it a proper snow day…
you make muffins.
and stay in bed.
and play Hungry Shark.
I should have named this blog “How to eat your feelings.”
Recipe: gluten-free, grain-free chocolate chip coconut almond muffins
Note: These taste like marzipan. I hope you like marzipan.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp almond extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups almond flour (I use Honeyville, available at Costco for cheaper I believe)
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper cups.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until super soft and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the eggs in individually, mixing after each to fully incorporate. Mix in the extracts.
- Mix together the baking soda, salt, and almond flour. Add the mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk (flour, milk, flour, milk, flour). Toss in the chips and coconut and mix those in as well.
- Fill each muffin cup with 1/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle tops with extra coconut, if you like.
- Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean.
Makes 12 muffins.
I don’t want to always sound like a grumpy fart on my shiny new blog, but it just so happens that I made this thing in the midst of a fairly grumpy, farty time in my life. C’est la vie.
I mentioned the januaries earlier, which constitute a phenomenon I fairly predictably experience every year, for one reason or another (or, perhaps more simply, for no reason at all). The sun shines a little less brightly (that’s science), my stresses accumulate and weigh on me daily (that’s partly mostly my fault), and I indulge in copious amounts of carb-binging and sleeping (that’s hibernation). Recognizing and confronting this sort of… dysthymia? has helped me better deal with it in recent years, and frequently exercising my “life effing rules!” muscle has allowed me to drift through the januaries with a more balanced (if slightly reclusive) calm, rather than wild emotional flailing.
I can sometimes defend my affect by citing awful things that tend to happen to me during the winter months. This season has, perhaps, reached an all-time low on the “jesus christ that sounds miserable” scale, but I’m okay. Life has given me enough awesome for me to know that I’ll get through this. When I start to forget that, I can just break out a pint of my favorite ice cream or whip up a batch of these cookies. Because seriously: if you’ve got ice cream on your chin, or a cookie in your mouth, life can’t be all that bad.
Here’s to enjoying yourself.
And to the magical combination that is butter, sugar, and chocolate.
And to eating your feelings.
C’est la vie.
Recipe: chocolate chip cookies
Note: I like my cookies chewy, with crispy edges. And loaded with chocolate. There is a time for flat, greasy, cracker-cookies; this is not that time.
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold-ish
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (I used dark)
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup flour (I used half whole wheat, half all-purpose)
- 1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat your oven to 325°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment. Pizza stone works well, too.
- In a medium bowl (or stand mixer), cream butter and sugars together until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
- Mix in egg and vanilla.
- Add baking soda, salt, and flour and mix on low until fully incorporated.
- Dump in the whole bag of chips because, you know, feelings. Fold them in.
- Chill the dough in the bowl for at least an hour. Spend this time on the couch, watching something cathartic, with an alcoholic beverage in hand.
- Scoop tablespoon-sized (or larger) balls of dough onto baking surface, leaving at least 2 inches between each one.
- Bake for roughly 18-20 minutes, until cookies are golden. Let cool on a wire rack before stuffing your face.
Makes ~25 cookies.
You know that weird, repetitive situation when you tell people you like to cook? It’s borne out of a discussion of what you do for a living (“I’m a medical student”), where you’re going with it (“I’d like to practice OB/Gyn”), and what that involves (“long hours, lots of bodily fluids, and my handy-dandy speculum”), and then you’re desperate to change the subject so you can actually start to make friends. Conversation turns (or, more accurately, catapults) to your hobbies.
“I like to cook,” you say. “Oh! How relateable and interesting!” says your new friend. “What’s your signature dish?”
I hate this question.
I’ve been cooking somewhat seriously for several years, and baking for even longer. I cook for myself, for my roommates, for my family, for random birthdays, for anonymous potlucks, for romantic picnics, and sometimes for no good reason whatsoever. I have spices falling onto my head whenever I open my cabinets, more pyrex than I know what to do with, and roughly 12 different flours living in my freezer. I get updates from 50 food blogs on my RSS feed and always have a dinner plan. Truth is, there is so much food out there that I want to make that I’m not sure I’ll get to most of it before I hit menopause. And now I’m supposed to come up with one dish that, among the whacked out culinary creativity I’ve discovered through Google Reader (RIP), I can label as “my signature”? Dude, I’m 25. I am NOT there yet.
In an effort to humor the question, though, I’ll usually respond with something I’ve made many times, or something I’ll make for tons of different occasions. This butternut squash lasagna is one of those. It’s made appearances at all the above scenarios, and does a good job of deluding people into thinking you know what you’re doing.
Recipe: butternut squash lasagna
For the filling:
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/3 cup vegetable broth (or water, if you fail at grocery shopping like I do)
- 3 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
For the béchamel:
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the rest:
- 1 ball fresh salted mozzarella, grated
- 10 oz log goat cheese, crumbled
- 3 oz (1 cup) fontina, grated
- 12 lasagna sheets, whatever kind you like, uncooked
- Pre-heat oven to 425°F and grab a 9×13″ baking dish. Toss cheeses together in a bowl and try not to eat all the mozzarella.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Add squash, zucchini, salt, pepper, and liquid, and cook (stirring occasionally) until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in chopped sage, and set aside.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, melt the butter and cook the garlic over low-medium heat for 1 minute. Add flour and whisk continuously for 2 minutes, then slowly add milk and don’t. stop. whisking. Once milk is all in and there are no chunks of cooked flour, add bay leaf, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil, whisking all the while. Reduce heat and let simmer, whisking occasionally, until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and remove from heat.
- Ladle the béchamel into the baking dish so it coats the bottom in a thin layer. Lay down three lasagna sheets with spaces left in between (like the letter E), then ladle another 2/3 cup of béchamel on top. Spread on a third of the squash filling, and then scatter with 2/3 cup of cheese.
- Continue: pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese. Pasta sheets, béchamel, squash, cheese.
- Lay the final 3 pasta sheets on top, then spread the rest of the sauce and the rest of the cheese on top.
- Butter one side of a sheet of aluminum foil and tightly cover the baking dish with it (butter side down, dummy). Bake the lasagna in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden and wonderful. Remove from oven and let stand 20 minutes before serving.
I mean, if we aren’t counting my 8th grade fling with xanga. Which we really shouldn’t. We were all there.
So, hello (again) internet! My name is Laura. I’m a medicine-studying, food-obsessing twenty-something living in New York. In an effort to channel my inner snowflake and to resist medical school’s attempts to beat the personality out of me, I am here to share my thoughts, my triumphs (and failures), and my food.
What I will NOT share:
- specific information about patients. (hop off my back, HIPAA.).
- photos of my dinner in dimly lit restaurants.
- discussion of bodily functions. (NOT. sorry not sorry for the inevitable poop talk.)
I suppose that’s a pretty comprehensive introduction. More later.