Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gearing up for the week

I think I thrive with the right amount of chaos. It's in hairy situations when true personalities come out and you learn the most about yourself and others. If everything were organized, in their places and everything happened as expected; I would think life were so incredibly boring. I'd rather take things as they come and use the most of each situation. That is where life's little moments happen that keep you coming back for more.

This morning, I sat back with my breakfast and looked to the week ahead of me. Every single day of the coming week is absolutely crucial that it goes as planned (this is school I'm talking about) without a single patient cancellation, no-show, no-pay. I've been waiting for this week for weeks now. As I thought about it and proceeded to call every single one of my patients just to make sure they knew how important it was that they come this week, I could feel a ball of trepidation and anticipation rise in my throat. Knowing it will be busy and I would be spending hours in the lab, I decided to get ready for it. Laundry done, dishes cleaned, tidy hair-cut received; next came the most important question of every single week: Whatever shall I eat?

I have never before planned out menus for the week. I find it boring and unexciting knowing exactly what you are going to eat for every single meal ahead of time. At the most I might have one dish in mind when I head to the grocery store, but I prefer to see what I see and then let my creativity take a hold of the planning and meal put together once I'm back in the kitchen. Like I said, a bit of chaos is what I prefer.

Except this week.
I think if the week gets any more suspenseful I might have a heart attack. I decided to make a shopping list. Then I pulled out the cookbooks. Then I looked in the fridge. Oh, dear, Brigid just made a menu for the week.

The cookbooks are still strewn about the couch. The empty shopping bags still scattered on the kitchen floor. Fridge is packed and ready for the week. Three pots are a bubbling. New dirty dishes are piled waiting for their cleansing. Looks like this menu got me into a bit of chaos.

But really, I love it. Great radio station playing and I have no time limit for anything today. Plus, this menu idea might not be so horrible. I am so excited for the meals that are awaiting me that I almost want to cook them all right now.

Tonights dinner:
Remember that holiday wish list cookbook I wanted so dearly? My current review of the recipes is nothing but praise! Tonight I cooked from the Armenian section and made Skewered Pork with Pomegranates and stuffed apples.

From The Silk Road Gourmet by Laura Kelley:

Skewered Pork with Pomegranates:

1 lb boneless lean pork, cut into cubes
3 cups pomegranate juice
1 Tb olive oil
3 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 Tb plain yogurt
1 large onion, cut into chunks
12 cherry tomatoes
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
-In a small saucepan, heat pomegranate juice until it boils. Lower heat until the juice simmers. Cook uncovered for about 1 hours until it has reduced to about 3/4 cup. Stir occasionaly to make sure juice doesn't burn
-In a large bowl, combine half of each of the oregano, salt and black pepper with all of the yogurt and olive oil and 1/2 cup of pomegranate syrup. Add the pork, stir thoroughly, and pour into plastic bag or bowl. Marinate at room temp for 3-4 hrs, or overnight in refrigerator, turning pork in the marinade to keep it moistened.
-Remove pork from marinade and string the cubes on skewers. Season meat with remaining salt, pepper and oregano. String tomatoes and onions on separate skewers and season with garlic and onion powder. Broil 4-6 inches from heat source for 10-15 minutes, turning skewers frequently so that the pork browns well on all sides. The veggies may be done sooner and should be removed from oven when done.
-Briefly reheat leftover pomegranate syrup. Serve skewered meat and vegetables and spoon the extra syrup over meat

I added green bell peppers and instead of onion/garlic powder, marinaded the veggies in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.
I have to say, the pomegranate marinade is delicious once the meat is browned! Soo good. And Ti liked it too =)

Stuffed Apples:
3-4 large tart apples, cored
1 cup uncooked rice
2.5 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
-Add salt and rice to boiling water and cook covered until rice has absorbed most of water - about 20 minutes. Add raisins to the cooking rice, cover, and cook until rice is done. Remove from heat and set aside to cool
-Prepare apples so that tops are removed and they are hollowed out to leave about 3/4 of an inch of apple around empty core. Sprinkle 2-3 Tb of sugar inside the cored apples, then combine remaining sugar and melted butter with the cinnamon and nutmeg and pour all over the rice and raisins and mix well.
-Fill the apples with the mixture and add a pinch of cinnamon to the top of each. Replace the apple tops and arrange on a baking dish. Add a small amount of water around the apples and bake in a preheated 350` oven until the apples are done - about 30-40 minutes. Baste occasionally as the apples cook.

I used less sugar and MUCH MORE cinnamon!

And what else is on tap for the rest of the week you ask? I just might have to show you later if any pictures come out of it. But after Armenia, I will be visiting Mexico and Spain, if you must know.

Quails, Men and the Land of Oz

I can safely say that I had a very fun and relaxing weekend, though not the most eventful. Sleep is always welcome and I got plenty of it, awesome. I was a little beat down at school this past week with several patient cancellations and just overall bad luck with scheduling, etc. The Sunday Depression has definitely hit hard today. Perhaps being woken up by movers who sound like a herd of elephants stampeding through the apartment complex each time they bring up a new piece of furniture doesn't help the situation. Regardless, I'm hoping that a nice run, a lovely trip to Central Market (Central Market > Whole Foods...if you ask me) and some home cookin' will fix me right up. Here's a list of things I learned this weekend:
  • THE QUAIL AT LIBERTY BAR LOOKS LIKE A PERSON. Greg and I decided we needed to unwind with some good grub after clinic on Friday and Liberty Bar did not disappoint. The atmosphere was relaxing but not boring, the service was really friendly and the food fresh, unique and very satisfying. All that aside, you can not look at the photo below and tell me that those two "quails"...butterflied, seasoned and grilled to not look like two miniature humans. With giant tomato heads.
You just can't deny it.
  • COLIN FIRTH IS A GOD AMONGST MEN. Ok perhaps that is a bit of an exaggeration but seriously, I can't get enough of this man. He had previously stolen my heart in films such as the A&E Pride and Prejudice (Mr. Darcy makes me feverish), Love Actually and even Bridget Jones's Diary. Well, he's gone and done it again! Last night, Brigid and I caught the late showing of A Single Man, the producing and directing debut of Tom Ford. Yes, the same Tom Ford who re-invented the House of Gucci and now has an incredible line of sunglasses and other accessories. Without spoiling anything about the movie, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore deliver unforgettable performances and the cinematography, early 1960's style and soundtrack are just too good to pass up!
I really wish I had come up with that caption.

  • MY NAME IS YASI, AND I HAVE A TENNIS ADDICTION. Tell you something you don't already know, right? Last night at 2:30 am I curled up on the couch, Hugo by my side, with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and became completely entranced by the Australian Open men's singles final for approximately 3 hours. Who does that, you might ask? Addicts. I've decided to turn my tennis love/obsession into something productive and am planning to sign up for some lessons as soon as the weather warms up! Any one want to join? I will confess much as this tournament was incredible to watch, I'm ready to to get back to a normal sleep schedule (Australia is 17 hours ahead) and also a normal level of human interaction during my free time, Hugo unfortunately does not count.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How did you slip past me??

Just when I thought I knew everything I needed to know about San Antonio, my college friend Sierra took me to the delightful Soleil Bistro. I met Sierra when we were paired up in Chemistry lab and decided to let our third group member, Sivakiran, conduct the calorimetry experiments while we drew eyeballs on notebook paper to put inside our safety goggles and subsequently act out Britney's "Toxic" video. We later majored in Sociology together and have both ended up here in SA. Sierra has a great sense of fashion and life passion and I get to tag along when her job (sales bisnazz at San Antonio Magazine) lets her visit such events as SA Fashion week!

Soleil is a French eatery with a lounge-y atmosphere. There was a formal dining area, but we opted to sit in the bar part on plush couches. The owner seated us and let us know it was our "lucky week" because all the bottles of wine were half off. We chose a sweet Riesling to accompany our fried calamari with jalapeno cream sauce and soy glaze and our blackened seafood platter with Parmesan risotto. I am on a huge risotto kick these days, probably because it's such a fun word. I wasn't expecting much, but the food was really amazing in a good salty/spicy kind of way. I like to pretend I am a gulf coast snob and am really going out on a limb to order seafood this far inland, but Chef Nicolas Lebas really did a great job. I am anxious to try his new downtown establishment, Le Midi, and Olmos Park area Bistro Vatel. Because Soleil is in a shopping strip I was hesitant, but then I remembered every restaurant/bar/club in SA is in a shopping strip AND the food was actually so well prepared. The calamari was crispy and wet in a way that let's you know the fried-ness was very fresh and the risotto was so smooth and flavorful.

I realize that not all of our readers reside in San Antonio, so I'll just fill you in on a few other restaurants I've enjoyed across the country.

Austin-- Moonshine. To say that I only like one restaurant in Austin would be like saying I only watch one show on Bravo, but I'll save the rest for another time. One of the things I like most in a restaurant is getting bang for your buck. At Moonshine the platters are large and you get POPCORN instead of the usual Texas' chips and salsa in addition to jalapeno cornbread. I like getting the Jalapeno Hanger Steak or the Green Chili Mac 'n Cheese. Don't forget about the white chocolate bread pudding and a jug o' wine.

Boston-- Parish Cafe. I came this close to eating at the table next to John Mayer, but more importantly, the outdoor patio and sandwiches at this place are incredible. I had a tortilla de espanola inspired sandwich and B enjoyed a seared ahi tuna sandwich. Basically all the top chefs in Boston put their dishes into sandwich form and voila you have Parish cafe.

San Francisco-- Tartine Bakery & Cafe. Here I enjoyed the Pecorino & Almond pressed sandwich while my mom and dad sipped on chamomile tea. The atmosphere was kind of hectic, but the pastries were tasty and just walking to the cafe through the hood and past the park was quite a treat.

So I do, in fact, do other things with my hands besides eat. I am currently back into arts and crafts. I am working on a project, closet dividers, for B's future nephew that I copied from Ashley Ann's blog. Yay I get to be a---well whatever you call a girl whose boyfriend will soon be an uncle! In case this blog has made it to the Dallas suburbs, I'll hold off on pictures of this project until it is completed and shipped, but I will say I am enjoying using Mod Podge for the first time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Too hard to choose

Though a little disturbing sinces it's only January, recently the weather in San Antonio has taken a beautiful turn toward sunny skies and highs in the low 70's. Naturally I decide to spend my time outside on the balcony grilling some delicious food. A really good friend and fellow classmate came over tonight for some dinner and chit chat. I'm so glad she came over for several reasons, perhaps the biggest being that the Australian Open has kept me in my apartment/cave with minimal human interaction for well over a week now. Seriously, women and men, surely you can appreciate this! I think I'm blushing...

Anyway, one topic of conversation was which city we would like to move to when we graduate. The subject is both exciting and terrifying to me. So many places to choose from, so many new experiences and people to encounter. However, the new beginning also means no family near by, no friends to lean on (at least initially) and no die-hard running buddy to keep me motivated (the real tragedy!). In an attempt to let/force excitement prevail over fear, here's a brief list of candidate cities.

Boston. My favorite American city for several years now. If not for the frigid temperatures eight months out of the year, the job hunt would have already begun.

San Francisco. I'm a sucker for coffee shops, good weather and unique boutiques. Very intriguing.

Portland. I'm not very familiar with the northwest and this city is no exception though I've heard it's very similar to Austin, only better. Bold claim definitely worth investigating.
Salt Lake City. What the?? Utah?! I thought the same thing, but I can't deny my love of the outdoors and apparently hiking, biking and other mountain adventures are endless here.

Ft. Collins. Tucked nicely at the base of the Rockies just outside Denver, this city is home to a university, plenty of quircky shops and restaurants and in the very near future my brother and sister-in-law.

Suggestions welcome. Unless your suggestion involves San Antonio in any way. That thought process is not welcome at PLSB.

Living up to my name


Yes, that was a name so lovingly given to me by a few dentites a couple of years ago. The fad of calling me by this nickname has slowly faded but I still smile when I hear it those few occasions I do.
The thing is, I never felt like I deserved the nickname. In my opinion, I never stood up to those that are true Granola's in my mind. No dreads here and I've never protested, my style definitely isn't funky enough and I, sigh, drive an SUV. (but my excuse is that its a) fully paid for, b) can fit three bikes with a canoe on top and c) my dog can go anywhere with me!)
I suppose it is because I grew up and went to high school in Austin. Or maybe the liberal arts college with more liberals than most cities in Texas. But probably mostly because we are in dental school with the good ole boy mentality and a bunch of military officers. Anyone who even thinks about recycling is enough to be granola here.

The other reason: I actually do LOVE granola.

photo by Karen Mordechai and Sunday Suppers.

Every brand and type I've tried I fall more in love. I eat it for breakfast, sometimes for dessert at 10pm, love it with yogurt, even eat it on salads sometimes. love it. I've always been intimidated by the beauty and perfection that is granola that I was always scared if I tried to make it myself, I would mess up terribly and ruin my love for this food forever. And thus, I've never tried to make my own.

Enter this morning and my usual blog-reading session. Sunday Suppers. If you aren't following this blog, you must add it. Immediately. Even if its just for the amazing photography. But, if you like food, or cooking, or all-natural things, or throwing get-togethers, or decorating, or just anything pretty; it's awesome to peruse every now and then.

Anyway, I noticed today they had a recipe for granola. And it looked way too easy to mess up. I mean, you mix some stuff up and bake it! Why have I been scared of this before?
So, my mission for the week: Make granola!

From Sunday-Suppers:
Homemade Granola
Serves 4-6

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup coarsely chopped almonds
3/4 cup honey
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Heat oven to 320 degrees.
Place the butter and honey in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter is melted. Place the oats and nuts in a large bowl, pour over 1/2 the butter mixture and toss well to combine. Spread evenly over the base of a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Stir, pour the remaining half of your butter mixture over the granola and bake for a further 5−10 minutes or until crisp and golden. Allow to cool and stir through additional items like raisins cranberries, pumpkin seeds or pistachios. Store in an airtight container.

I think I'll add some rye flakes and chopped dried fruit...Off to Sun Harvest Market I go!

Toothy Tuesdays: No fear!

Let me tell you, I am the biggest hypochondriac ever and counter-intuitively I avoid going to the doctor to get things checked out because I'm certain they have never seen something so awful before or they will tell me I am not going to make it. This is how a lot of people must feel about going to the dentist, so here on Toothy Tuesday we are here to tell you that it's really not that bad!

I have lots of patients that cover their mouth and want to rinse out before I'm allowed to get my paws and eyeballs into their kissers. Trust me, I have seen/smelled some serious funk and you probably don't have it. I've had friends tell me they are embarrassed to show me this HUGE problem they have, but it always turns out to be nothing and they are so reassured they schedule a dental visit right away. I guess it's the not-knowing the degree of the problem that makes people fearful to seek help, which ends up against you in the end.

As for the creepy noises and tastes, lots of dental offices these days are making definite advances in making the dental visit a more pleasing experience. As for the pain, in 2010, you should not feel any pain once the anesthesia has kicked in. If you do (really do) feel discomfort, don't hesitate to let the dentist know and he or she will probably be glad to give you a touch more anesthesia. The worst decision you can make is to avoid going to the dentist because you are afraid of what they might tell you.

Honestly, the longer you wait, the worse the problem may become. What may have started as a teeny/tiny cavity that could possibly be reversed might turn into a huge blowout costing you a tooth. Amazing advances in tooth-replacement therapies are being made (i.e. prostheses and dental implants), but nothing is as good as what is natural. Please, please don't let things get too far out of hand. Make sure you brush and get your wisdom teeth out if you have been advised to! This is another thing people like to put off. It's much easier to get this surgery taken care of at a younger age and in many places you can be totally knocked out for it. I got my wisdom teeth taken out the day before Thanksgiving when I was 18. I had a great time and ended up slurring, "no wonder why people take drugs. I feel sooooo good." At which point my mom quickly got me out of there, into the car and I was eating turkey the next day with the best of 'em.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Outdoor living

Lately, thoughts of colorful rooms and breezy patios have been occupying my brain. Blame it on the tiny apartment with no counter space, the hot water heater troubles and lack of water pressure, the plants that are beginning to wither after 2 years of living in pots, or the one and a half rooms available to me to express my style (which I still have no clue what it is!). Me and my student loan rent check can't wait for the day when I have a place of my own (or shared, but owned) that will be mine all mine to be my palate for testing color after color, dipping my toes into the world of developing my style.
Some treats to hold me over until that day:

Ahh!!! Succulents in vertical plantings creating artwork?!?!!?! Love it. From

confession: someday I want a bright and roomy Mexican Hacienda with a courtyard, no, a garden, smack dab in the middle of it.


Love combining outside with living and eating. From

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekends make my life.

So since my last entry was a little hefty and because I love, love, love exploring and restauranting, here's a little recap. Friday was a very productive day at school--didn't get scolded by any professors (only got the stink eye once) and I actually felt like I was doing a great service to my patients! I was delighted to find out last week that I will be the Maid of Honor in a wedding in March (on a boat!!) and got to go try on my dress after school. Since I haven't been in any weddings since I was a flower girl for my mom's cousin and got such bad stage fright that I didn't throw a single petal--my one job--I am looking forward to making up for that come spring.

B and I had dinner at Paesano's out on 1604. I really love their decor and wish I had a better decor vocabulary so that I could explain what the place looks like. Lots of stucco, copper, polished nickel, and orchids set in the Hill Country. It was warm enough to sit outside next to the coy fish pond and pleasing-to-the-ears waterfall. I was having a hard time deciding what to order because all of the entrees sounded fantastic, but ended up copying B because one of our classmates, and subsequently the waiter talked up this dish so much--Jalapeno Pesto Fazzaletti with Peroni Post Roast, Cipollini and Goat Cheese. [pictured at top of post] Gah, it did not disappoint. Pair that was a bottle of Chianti and two decaf cappuccinos--we were in heaven.

Saturday was a beautiful day and we decided to try Liberty Bar for brunch. I have been meaning to try this place for like two years now and wish I'd gone sooner. The building itself is an architectural marvel and I am surprised the entire structure hasn't fallen over yet (think leaning tower of Pisa). The atmosphere is plain but soothing as you walk past a table with loaves upon loaves of fresh baked bread to seat yourself "anyplace you like." I started with a limeade and then devoured my french toast as it came merely TEN minutes after we ordered. That is my kind of service.

B ordered the Chilaquiles Nortenos, what I originally spotted on the menu, but decided it would be lame to order the same food as he did again. My french toast was enjoyable, but--I. kid. you. not.--that was the best plate of chilaquiles I have ever tasted. For those of you unfamiliar with tex-mex cuisine, chilaquiles and migas (as far as I am concerned they are the same thing) are a compilation of eggs, cheese (in this case creme fraiche and feta), tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc cooked in with corn tortillas paired with pico de gallo and beans. The tortillas really end up more like soft chips. The flavors and textures of this dish blew me away. It's very hard to achieve the right amount of crispy and soggy with the corn tortillas, so kudos to Liberty Bar!

After we ate, B told me he would give me $100 if I ate a stack of jalapenos he had put on his fork. Never one to be tempted into doing something stupid for a bet I immediately said no. Then he said, "oh come on, I've never seen you really step up to the plate and do something courageous." I don't know if it was his comment--insulting my ganas, or the fact that I recently became financially challenged, but I daringly ate the jalapenos. I immediately regretted this decision and remembered why I never play these childish games. Jalapenos are serious people! I didn't win a hundred bones, but B ate some too so we could be "blood brothers" and suffer together.

The time came for the bill and it never fails--I always get stuck with the extra penny! A little side note about B, he is the sorriest excuse for a conservative West Texas Cowboy you've ever seen. He thinks large trucks are "idiotic," he takes canvas sacks to the grocery, he thinks gays should marry and, AND, he gladly lets me pay for half of everything we eat or do. Word better not get out in his hometown that he supports stem-cell research, but anyhow, 9 times out of 10 we give the waiter two credit cards and if the bill is for an odd cent amount, I am always paying more. It's kind of become a joke and I really don't mind. I like that we are equals and I always end up ahead when it comes to birthday/channukah time--hello David Yurman.

I've received a complaint that our posts are too long, so to sum things up, amazing weather for the rest of the day saturday= Brackenridge Park, Sunken Gardens and Japanese Tea Gardens. We got yogurt at Prime Cultures which is a locally owned fro-yo shop run by a somewhat geeky, but friendly twenty something. We are usually the only patrons but enjoy the yogurt and the quirky style of the workers, who on Saturday delighted us with some acoustic guitar. B also completely, voluntarily rented SATC (seriously, you grew up in the Texas panhandle?) even though I was totally down with something called, We Own the Night. Saturday night party here and here for Megan's birthday and a relaxing Sunday. Waiting on Brigid and Yasi to return to SA so we can be fancy-indie-movie-watchers tonight.

I don't get it.

**Please don't get me wrong**, I am glad that so many people are coming together to raise money and send help to Haiti with this telethon, but I just don't understand what it is about America or about celebrities that makes us think that this one superstar-studded telecast will solve all the world's problems, and by participating we can somehow make up for all the other days out of the year when we only think about ourselves. Does it make us feel better to ignore problems at home and think we are the big bad studs coming to save poor Haiti? I can't decide if the trendiness or patronizing undertones are bugging me more as I watch. It reminds me of my university days when hipsters with very organized dreadlocks sat around talking about "Africa." Just "Africa," as if all those various cultures/humans/countries/souls were just one big entity that we had the right to discuss rather than driving 15 minutes to the ghettos of Houston to do any actual humanitarian work.

I'm not trying to take away from these efforts, but let's make sure we remember those struggling with poverty and lack of medical attention every day in our own cities. My fellow dental students and I can attest to the poor health we see every day in our patients. There are parts of San Antonio that might look similar to developing nations and those people aren't getting George Clooney to come by and drop off some cash.

I know some people are saying, well, poor people without jobs only have themselves to blame because of xyz, but the Haitians didn't cause this earthquake. (Tell that to Pat Robertson, another post in itself.) You know, I don't think anyone strives to live in poverty, but life happens. I personally live a great life and have virtually no financial responsibility as a student and a girl with very generous parents & grandparents, but I have recently had a taste of the tougher life. Since turning 25 and being kicked off my parents' insurance I've had to shell out some serious dough for various prescriptions and doctors visits. Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, are you hearing me?? It's no wonder so many people avoid taking preventative measures and put off getting regular checkups!

I can't tell you how stressful this new health insurance ordeal has been and I am angry with myself for previously being so naive. Now I really think twice before handing over a prescription for antibiotics (making sure to write the generic) to my patients and getting irritated when they are non-compliant in filling the prescription. All of us need to get involved in solving these societal problems because even though we are sitting pretty right now, you never know when a law firm might go under, when cancer might strike, or when some other earth-quaking, life shaking change could occur leaving even the most prepared, hard workers looking for help.

So in addition to updating your facebook status about how awesome you are for donating to the Haiti Relief Fund, keep being awesome after facebook forgets about Haiti. Donate some old clothes, volunteer to hang out with sick kids and get educated about health care legislation. I am very busy and somewhat lazy and if I can make time for these things, then so can you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just a clarification

I feel like I need to add a clarification on behalf of PLSB due to a few words from a comment Jamie made in her talking to strangers post. We're not bike haters over here at PLSB, quite the contrary actually. Before Jamie got to writing about OMS resident/bike rider/mean dude, I was actually already mentally trying to formulate a post about bike riding, because it has slowly over the past year become a welcome new hobby in my life.

First of all, totally with you Jamie! There was nothing to warrant bike dude to say f**k off at 7:45 in the morning. But, technically he was following the right rules of traffic. Bikers are supposed to follow all traffic laws and when in high traffic areas, they are supposed to be like a car and follow rules like a car and take the place of a car while waiting at the light. Living in the same neighborhood and knowing the 7:45 am traffic rush, "I just need to turn right!", "Damn! I got stuck behind the bus that won't turn right on red", he should have gotten in the left lane.
But, at the same time, I feel like there is a lot of pent up aggression drivers have against bike riders which I totally don't understand.

Aggression #1: "Get out of my way, you damned biker!"
Me, riding comfortably in the SHOULDER of a country road, no traffic or cars around, massive ranch truck comes barreling behind me (and yes, we can hear you come up on us and yes, we know you are there), HONKS repeatably as if I was in the middle of the lane or something and then speeds up to pass me swerving way too close to me and glares at me out the window. I'm sorry, am I offending you? Is gracing your rural country road with my 'I'm saving gas by riding this' urban symbol of a bike offensive in any way? (yes, I know all the good ole boys out there think it is offensive...we are in Texas after all. I just don't understand it)

Aggression #2: "Look at all that fancy shmancy gear they have to show off"
I'll be the first to admit - bikers come off as pretentious and elitist by their choice of clothing alone. Then even more so with their exclusion of all who do not partake in only the best sport out there. When I first got into biking in college, I was riding my parents 20 year old mountain bike and wearing cotton (volleyball-style) biking shorts with no padding. I thought "I'll show them, I can still bike and have fun without all that shiny gear and padding!" But then I collapsed under pressure. It's so much more fun and less work when you are riding a bike made for the road. And once you experience a padded butt, I promise - you won't dare go back. But, you don't have to break the bank to get there! I ride just about the cheapest, on-sale road bike know to exist, and I can now pretty much keep up with some $2,000 titanium frame beasts.

Just to get this in here again - my sister and I are riding the MS150 this year! Go check out her's and my site.

Still Recovering

Why is it that when you spend any period of time thoroughly enjoying yourself-a good weekend or perhaps a little vacay-you need a few days post-enjoyment to recover?! Or is that just me? Please tell me it's not just me. Regardless, I'm currently in recovery mode from this past weekend and the process is only being hindered by the start of the Australian Open (!!!) and school (blah).
I wish I had pictures and stories from all the incredible new places I visited around town like Jamie, but I don't. I spent my weekend mostly in one location-Tom's apartment. And I spent my time with Tom and two of his really good friends from back home. "ew, yuck, gross boys poor me I had to spend three days with dirty stinky boyyyyys". Not true. They weren't dirty or stinky. Not even close. The humor, conversation and all around good time had with a group of guys is just different than when a group of gals get together. Not necessarily any better or worst, just different. I can blame it on nothing other than the fact that I was my older brother's second shadow growing up. He took me everywhere with himself and introduced me to all his friends and all I know about sports, games, competition and the outdoors I learned from him. I think a lot of my sense of humor comes from him (and the rest probably comes from my dad). Identity crisis? No! Some of my best friends are girls (ahem, PLSB ladies, cough cough). It's just that all that time spent with my bro and all his buddies taught me how to interact with guys...I get their humor, I can take a joke and dish it out just as well. It just works.

We went to Austin for a day, there was a cool breeze and abundant sunshine, it was perfect. We spent some time at Mozart's and Spider House, enjoyed the stuffed avocado at Trudy's and even visited a tattoo parlor to watch a friend get some work, let's just say that put me a little out of my comfort zone. I don't like pain and the people getting work done were squirming around with agonizing expressions on their faces. Don't get me wrong, it looks cool and I was intrigued with the idea of some symbol with some special meaning to me being tattooed in some cool location on my body, but if you try to tell me that needle poking into your skin a million gazillion times doesn't hurt, you're a liar.

Sunday was spent watching football early on then switching to some stand up on Comedy Central, browsing the shelves at a bookstore, cooking and chit-chatting at a local bar. I love cooking. I whipped up one of my favorite persian meals that I learned from my mom-a stew with red meat and okra with a rich tomato base served over white rice. I always get a little nervous cooking for people, sure things taste OK to my palate but I never know what it's going to taste like to other people. Overall I think everyone enjoyed dinner and I was quite pleased. Perhaps the undeniable chemistry between me and one of the fellows (he shall remain nameless) added to my anxiety but that is neither here nor there! The evening ended with a little "jam session" involving a piano, a guitar, a banjo and even a harmonica. Tom and co. are masters of music and it turns out I can still play a thing or two on the piano, yay! The lack of sleep has left me dragging a bit these past few days but it was totally worth it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go catch up on some tennis action before clinic this afternoon. Yes, I have a weird borderline obsessive love for tennis. Don't judge me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Talking to Strangers...

I have never been a fan of talking to strangers.

My parents claim there was a minor blip in the early '90s when they say I asked complete strangers at a theme park how the roller coaster was as they excited the ride. I vaguely remember this, but for the most part I get skeeved out when it comes to making small talk with people that I don't know. I have to think this comes from a Berenstain Bears lesson or the trauma I endured as an adolescent when my mom decided it would be a good idea to loudly inform the sales associate at Mervyn's that I would need help picking out my first bra. I have watched in awe as my friends and boyfriend chatter away with checkers in the grocery line and have picked up a few tips. It is okay to discuss universal things like the weather and asking other people about themselves seems to be encouraged.

Since I realized that the efficacy of my dental training depends on my ability to create a trusting relationship with virtual strangers, I have been "practicing" my communication skills over the past year or so. What an adventure! I have opened up to waiters, asking their opinions on what to order, and just yesterday had gobs to talk about with the new guy that cuts my hair. It is funny because in the instance of my hair guy he is probably trying just as hard to make conversation with me as I am with him, so it's slightly contrived, but still good for practice.

I'd like to think there have been a few positive outcomes in conversing with strangers. Over the weekend I taught a checker at Sun Harvest Market how to roast pumpkin seeds and once at the Nordstrom Bistro I was advised to order my sandwich warm, a suggestion that would have remained unknown had I been too timid to ask the waiter how he felt about their Roast beef sandwich. When I was studying/living/partying abroad in Barcelona during college I got some great help from strangers willing to take us out, give directions, etc, although more often than not I was being criticized by my peers for giving "friendly" strangers in bars the "cold shoulder." Um, hello? You have to be a little bit cautious.

There have, however, been a few social mishaps with this new found drive to interact. For example, what I didn't write about in a previous post about restauranting was the time I tried to make a joke to the girls swiftly taking over our table at a crowded cafe. "Get it while it's hot," apparently was not funny and to make matters worse, since I was so focused on what I was trying to say, I accidentally jabbed the pizza box I was holding directly into this girl's gut. Whoops.

And unfortunately at times, social mishaps turned into straight-up fights! I think there are some bullies among us. Last week at Body Pump (workout class with the other PLSB contributors) I accidentally bumped into this man whilst trying to reach some weight clamps for a friend. He gets into a huff and exclaims, "you don't need to push, there is enough for everyone." Not understanding why this man, who easily had 100 pounds and two feet on me, was in such a tizzy over my slight nudge, I retorted, "actually there is NOT enough for everyone. We run out of supplies every week!" I felt remorseful the entire remainder of the class and I bet he never thought about it again. Little did he know he just tarnished my new talking-to-strangers record.

Another fight erupted on the way to school one morning. I'm driving along and see a bike rider over to my right. I'm thinking, boy I don't want to get stuck behind this bike so I speed up and get ahead. He somehow ends up in front of me in line at the light that is the only exit out of our little neighborhood. Evvvverrrryone knows that at 7:45 am you do not, repeat do NOT get into the right lane and go straight. If you want to go straight, get in the left lane and kindly wait on the light, because everyone and their mom is headed right on Babcock and needs to be able to turn right on red. So this jerk bike rider, decked out in North Face and probably some fancy shmancy bike equipment that I don't understand gets in the MIDDLE of the right lane waiting to go straight holding up about eight cars who are trying to turn right on red. The blinkers are getting louder and louder. I try to remain calm, but I just wish the biker would scootch over to the side and let me go around him. I mean I understand we are supposed to treat him like a car, but he is on a BIKE and cannot go 45 miles per hour so he might as well be courteous to all these automobiles behind him. B wants to say something, but I keep the child lock on the windows so he can't get us into trouble. Five minutes later and Lance Armstrong still seems oblivious to all of us waiting so I relent. Window goes down and B kindly says, "um hey can you move over so we can all get around you?" (I could not hear his response at the time, but) biker says, "well you cut me off back there so you can F*** off." I can't believe he used the F word this early in the morning to a complete stranger! B and I were fuming and would have been ready to fight this chump had we not been in such a hurry to get to school. I vowed to really let this guy have it if I ever saw him around.

I just assumed this guy was a snotty med student, but funny thing is.....two weeks after the incident I walk into my first day of Oral Surgery. I head to the back of the clinic to put my bag down and who should I see??!?!? Angry bike rider! Luckily we never had to interact with the oral surgery residents, but wow I came close to burning a bridge there. Now that we've had the run-in, this "stranger" is becoming less and less strange. The other day I was walking behind him into the gym and then we actually saw him one rack over at Banana Republic!

The thing about strangers I guess is that you have to be careful because you might bump into them again. After all, wasn't every friend at one point a stranger?

As for me, I continue the fight against social awkwardness and would appreciate any tips on how to communicate more freely and effectively.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Re-discovering SA for Parents' Weekend

What a delight to have visitors for the weekend! My parents arrived late on Friday evening and had a home-cooked Shrimp Stirfry waiting for them. B got me (us) a wok for Channukah and we've been excited to use it these past two weeks. We have gotten more adventurous with our cooking and decided to go off-the-cuff instead of strictly following a recipe. The secret to our stir fry, we have decided, is using Sriracha hot sauce and Oyster sauce. It doesn't matter what else goes in the dish as long as you get those flavors going. We are grateful that Ed, the friendly HEB employee, introduced us to the Oyster sauce. I dislike talking to strangers (more on that later), but in this case it worked out.

So after dinner we headed over to a local coffee shop, Olmos Perk, where they now host live music on Fridays. We have logged many hours at Olmos Perk studying for pathology or reading magazines on Saturday morning, but this was my first visit during the night hours. What a different vibe! We sipped on lattes and listened to the musical stylings of "A Likely Few."

Saturday morning we went to the Pearl Brewery for brunch and farmer's market action. The Pearl Brewery is no longer brewing beer, but the site is host to new shops, restaurants, a culinary institute, and a Saturday morning Farmer's market. Before getting our shop on we ate at Texas Farm to Table, an "environmentally responsible" cafe. The food was very tasty, but the service left a little something to be desired. I had a bacon, egg and cheese panini with a side of fresh fruit while others in the group enjoyed breakfast tacos, turkey sandwiches and a tomato-basil omelet. This food was just the fuel we needed to carry us through the rest of the day's activities.

Farmer's Market
(we arrived late and most vendors were sold out of fresh produce)

I love lavender! I am hoping this makes my home smell fresh and delightful. Last fall, B and I visited wineries in the Texas Hill Country and I acquired some "Lavender Linen Water." I thought I was being all fancy and French and I would sleep so well, but actually the scent did not last long enough to drift me into a blissful, stress-free sleep, the spray just made my bed wet!

After eating and shopping we walked down to the newly developed SA riverwalk extension. This addition to the otherwise crowded and kitschy riverwalk is extremely refreshing. I actually saw San Antonians running, jogging and walking along the river with their dogs. The creators of this addition were sure to include art and detail into every sidewalk and underpass. My dad was tickled to imagine the dialogue that must have occurred between the construction workers and the artistic director who insisted that little artsy squiggles be placed in the concrete sidewalk. Below are a few pictures from our walk. This section of the river actually extends all the way to the downtown portion of the 'walk, but that is one long walk I do not need to make again.

Saturday night we decided to try a new restaurant, Nosh. Nosh is connected to the restaurant/bar/concert venue, Silo and was apparently created by the same guy who is behind another SA treat, Bin 555 (although I'm not 100% on that).

The restaurant space is small, but you can see the open kitchen and the ambiance is that kind of casual yet classy bit that I love.

Our spunky waitress encouraged us to try the sizzling mushroom bruschetta pictured below and the "Backporch Lemonade" cocktail pictured above. We enjoyed feasting on the "Nosh-oes," as well.

This hot and crispy chicken sandwich was incredible. I am not sure what was in the slaw sauce, but I couldn't get enough. The chicken had been prepared in sesame and cornflakes, I think, with a kick of spice.
B ordered this Ribeye cheese steak and my dad devoured his veggie tacos before I could get a photo.
In our family dessert is not optional. We ended up having two orders of these doughtnut holes with white and dark chocolate dipping sauces.

After dinner we met up at the local smoky, female friendly, bar with Yasi and Tom. All in all it was a great long weekend. After my parents left I did a lot of nothing, but did get to see Funny People. Kind of a sad story, but an enjoyable cast.

Sorry for the weird white stripes along the pictures...I was trying something new, but I guess that method for posting pictures is a no-go.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Happy belated Birthday to Jamie!
I had a few people over to my place last weekend to celebrate Jamie's birthday. Yasi and I started feeling pretty bad that the celebration was getting soooo belated, but it was still a good time had by all.
A few re-caps:

Um, maybe when you are planning a surprise party for a friend it would be a good idea on your part to get in touch with her boyfriend (I sent him an email!). But also maybe when you are in dental school and getting like 50 emails a day about very important things it would be a good idea on his part to check his email more often than every three/four days. Well when Jamie told her B that day she was going to come over to my place for a "bloggy dinner", at least she got a really candid response because he didn't know he should be hiding anything.
*I did end up talking to Jamie's B that day so he was able to join us in the festivities...thank goodness*
***See below for the confusion and explanation about all the "B's" in our life***

We feasted on some traditional Brazilian party food...Caipirihna's, Feijoado (a meat/bean stew), and Pao de Queijo...and a plain, non-Brazilian chocolate cake.
Why Brazilian? Well I was looking at Food and Wine and some cocktail spins they had and there was an interesting take on the Caipirihna (the drink that first started the relationship between me and my B, but that's for another day). And so, I tailored the menu around the drinks...always a good idea!

***The Secret Lives of B's***
If you don't know us and have been reading a few of our posts, you might be wondering: "Who are all these people called B?" or "Brigid talks about a B and Jamie has a B; so do they share a boyfriend?" or "Just use their names!!"
Well - Jamie's boyfriend (a fellow dental student) and my boyfriend (a non-dentite) are both B's. So if you read "my B" then you might want to check out which one of us is writing. My B isn't totally on board with this whole internet-life sharing thing and asked for some anonymity on the blog. I'm assuming Jamie's B feels the same way. They are kind of similar in that regard, seeing as how both refuse to have a facebook account (and we were in college when facebook started and was only for college students and was non-sketch!).
So, if you know any eligible Brad's or Bill's; I'm sure Yasi is looking for a B also!

Toothy Tuesdays: Bleaching

Lots of people want to show off a full mouth of pearly whites when they smile and bleaching can often help achieve that look, but there a few things to consider before you take the whitening plunge...

External sources such as coffee, tea, wine, cigarettes and soda have an effect on the shade of your teeth. But the general anatomy of your tooth is also a deciding factor. Under the enamel lies a layer of dentin--this layer naturally displays a yellow tint and affects the shade of your teeth depending on the thickness of the overlying enamel. This means that for some, no amount of bleaching will achieve a perfectly white smile.

Now, the topic of various bleaching products can certainly be exhausting. Whitening strips that are sold over the counter are great. A lot of our patients and friends, myself included, have had success with whitening strips. If you're afraid of that post-treatment sensitivity-the use of desensitizing agents (such as Sensodyne toothpaste) before initial treatment can greatly reduce tooth sensitivity caused by bleaching. Perhaps you're looking for something a little faster or stronger?? Your dentist can create custom bleach trays and provide you with the gel, instructions and application times to achieve that result. Just keep in mind that the chemicals in these gels are almost the same as those in the whitening strips and so they will likely achieve very similar results. For those considering visiting your dentist's office for some zap, zoom, zing bleaching using the UV light, you might want to reconsider. Peroxide, the chemical used in most bleaching products, is not enhanced by exposure to UV light. In fact, studies have shown no difference between teeth bleached with or without UV light and in some cases the teeth bleached with UV light reverted back to their initial color sooner.

Getting Your Grub On: Houston

My favorite thing to do when I go back to Houston is EAT! I only had four days at home over the holidays this year, but I definitely maxed out my restaurant time. Here, I'll introduce you to a few places I visited.

First off is Tiny Boxwoods. I made my parents take me to lunch at this cafe which sits on the property of an architecture/landscaping firm. The time and day that we went was so crowded that we had to sit at a long table with strangers, so I wasn't able to whip out my camera. These photos are borrowed from the web, but as you can see, the restaurant is beautiful with great garden scenery. The food is a success as well. I ordered the three cheese & pesto grilled cheese with tomato soup pictured above while my dad (he's a veg) got the "Beet It" burger, made of beets and black beans. My mom had the Turkey Club sandwich with a side of fruit. Because of the small size of the dining room and the drizzly weather that day we had to wait a while before being seated so we had a white chocolate raspberry muffin as an appetizer. This muffin was so delectable we got a second (plus a chocolate chip cookie) for dessert to accompany our soup-bowl sized lattes and hot teas.

View from the Garden at Tiny Boxwoods

Driving to Tiny's you might just miss the building if you aren't paying attention. Look for Saint Street and rest assured--there is an additional parking area on the lot behind the cafe.

Dining Room at Tiny Boxwoods

I had lunch with my old college roommate at Ruggles Green. I ordered the Organic Vegetable Pizza. If you haven't noticed yet, I am a pizza fanatic. This pizza is topped with charred vegetables, pesto, several cheeses and arugula tossed in olive oil. The tastes and textures are incredible.

My friend got the Natural Meatball Panini on Sourdough. Like Tiny Boxwoods, Ruggles Green is a hot spot for lunch and we were forced to act like vultures pouncing on the next available table. Coincidentally, I saw a friend I hadn't seen since high school in line ahead of us! I am familiar with Houston because I went to college there, but I actually grew up in a small town near Houston, so its always a pleasant surprise to see my long lost home town friends in the big city.

Ruggles has an array of beverages and interesting desserts, plus a special of the day.

Small dining room with local art. Ruggles Green is Houston's first certified "Green Restaurant." In addition to using all natural foods, the to-go boxes, straws, napkins, etc are all made of sustainable materials.

There are a million other restaurants and cute coffee shops in Houston, but I only got to photograph one more: Empire Cafe, in Houston's Montrose area. The story goes that this coffee shop was an old laundromat that was converted when a Hollywood producer complained of the lack of places to get good coffee in Houston. Empire is a great place to meet up with friends, have all kinds of different coffee drinks, enjoy breakfast on Sundays, or grab some dinner/dessert.
View of the ordering counter.

I had a hazelnut latte and the most gigantic fruit platter with fresh yogurt and warm candied nuts. I ended up having to take most of the fruit home with me. My friend, Jeremy had a glass of white wine and a Margherita Pizza. Empire has a very spacious outdoor patio, but it was just too cold for us that day.

Agora is also a great coffee shop option down the street from Empire. There aren't as many food options, but the quaint old house turned coffee shop is a great place to meet friends, have drinks and enjoy belly dancers or board games.

Two other restaurants I didn't have time to visit, but you need to try:
La Griglia--great for special occasions and usually my family birthday dinner spot, except this year Grandpa (the ultimate restaurant explorer) wanted to try something new.

Istanbul Grill
--my favorite Houston restaurant. Delicious Turkish food, good price, good atmosphere, complementary warm bread. I get hummus and the Eggs Pide.

And since I spent an uncharacteristic stint in Dallas, here's a bonus. This was the second time I've been to Cuba Libre. A couple of summers ago my bf and I ate here with a friend of his for brunch. I can't remember what I ordered being amazing, but these Beef Tenderloin Quesadillas blew me away.

We had a minor altercation with the valet guys (although you have to feel bad for them due to the kind of uppity customers they are usually dealing with) but overall the night, and the pitcher of Mojitos, was great. Below are a few other dishes at my table.