It’s a Funny Story…

I mentioned in last week’s post that I just started one of the most intense classes of my first year of medical school. I wasn’t exaggerating. This past week has been crazy. I’ve been getting to the library early, going to class, taking a quick afternoon break, eating dinner, and heading back up to school in the evening to study. I wish I had been this dedicated first semester. As busy as the week was, I’m actually really enjoying it. I’ve stayed pretty caught up and it’s nice to actually know what they professors are talking about during their lecture and when you ask a question. One of my professors reminds me of my favorite college professor, which kind of makes things fun also. Anyway, even though I was busy, I planned my dinners out ahead of time so that I could take some study breaks and make something yummy. I think all the studying has put me in a daze though, wait until you hear what I did one night.

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
I won’t be able to give you a fully accurate review of this recipe because I changed several things and totally messed up one thing. Since I was only making this for myself, I decided not to get the pancetta. I couldn’t find it in the store and I think I would have ended up wasting what was left in the package after using what was needed for this recipe. I’m have no doubt that it would make this dish even more delicious though. Even thought the recipe calls for pine nuts, it suggested that walnuts also worked great; I already had walnuts so I decided to use them. I think I kept everything else the same, except of course I cut the recipe to less than half since I was only cooking for myself. Now, here’s my funny story. I came home ready to make dinner, eat, and head back to school to study. I read through the recipe once before starting, and then began. I started my pot of water for the pasta and then put the walnuts in the oven to roast for a few minutes. I then went about my business cutting up the asparagus and tomato (which I don’t think was included in the recipe). My roommate, Laura, came home when I was about mid-way through this adventure. She asked what I was making and I simply replied, “just some pasta.” I then tossed everything together and enjoyed my dinner. It wasn’t until after Laura had left to work out, and just before I was getting ready to head back up to school, that I realized something had been missing from my dinner. I left the walnuts in the oven……..the whole time. I knew something smelled a little funny, but I just assumed something was stuck under the burner of the stove. I’m pretty sure Laura smelled it right off the bat when she walked in the door and that’s why she asked what I was making. Anyway, thankfully I realized what I had done just before leaving the house. I quickly opened the oven to reveal a sad collection of very black and very burned walnuts. I took them outside and dumped them in the yard so they wouldn’t smell up the house any more than they already had. I think this is a good lesson to be learned for two reasons. First, remember what you are cooking, and don’t leave things in the oven, especially if you will be leaving your home soon after. Second, mistakes happen, don’t get discouraged about making something or trying new things. If you make a mistake, clean it up, laugh about it, and move on. All in all, what ended up in my bowl was great though. Click here for the recipe, and let me know how it really is.

Pan Seared Cod with Basil Sauce
If you don’t like cod, and you’ve been reading my blog, I guess you’re kind of out of luck. I really like how it tastes and it’s super easy for me to keep in the freezer and cook whenever I need it. I normally bake it in the oven with some lemon pepper and garlic herb seasoning, but I found this recipe and thought I’d try it. I cooked the cod in a saute pan, and it turned out better than I thought. Cod is a pretty delicate flaky fish, so you have to be careful when handling it in the pan. Mine stayed together pretty nicely though. As for the basil sauce, I read a few of the reviews of the recipe that said they thought it was too watery. I was cutting the recipe down to a single serving size, so I pretty much just eyeballed it. I used about a tablespoon each of the chicken broth and olive oil, I think. Estimating amounts is something I’ve gotten used to, and it’s not too difficult once you’ve been cooking for a while and know what you like and don’t like. Give it a try sometime, but not with baking. Moving on, my sauce turned out pretty nicely, I would have liked to have added more basil to get a stronger flavor, but I ran out. That being said, I think that’s all I would have changed. I donated blood the day I gave this so I wanted to eat a big dinner. I paired the cod with a small salad, asparagus, and some plain quinoa. You’ve heard me talk about quinoa before, but this is the first time I’ve had it plain. It was kind of like having rice, and was really good as  side. Click here for this recipe.

Herb Garden
I also mentioned last week that I was really interested in growing some herbs this spring and summer. I love adding fresh herbs to my foods, especially, basil, dill, and cilantro. I couldn’t resist the temptation of running a quick errand this weekend to get this started. At the grocery store on Friday I happened to see some dill and rosemary, so I went ahead and picked those up. Saturday, I needed to make my collection complete so I dropped by Home Depot to get some basil and cilantro. Fresh herbs like this are really cheap, and so are the pots to put them in. I got my cilantro and basil along with two pots at Home Depot and it was only six dollars! If you’re not sure what to grow or how to grow something properly, most of the information you need comes with the plant, but you can always ask someone at the store and they will probably be able to help you. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep them growing and use them for making my meals all the more delicious. 


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