Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I love Thanksgiving. Cooking, eating, friends and family. What could be better? I couldn't make it home (if I did, I would have been having dinner with 60 people instead of 6), but I did get to spend the evening with this wonderful band of people.

The food was delicious and the company was even better. I am so grateful to have this amazing group of friends when I can't be with my family. (Even better, all my friends are great cooks!)

This week was my last pick up of the CSA. Since we won’t be here come next August, we haven’t signed up for next year. So no more fresh, local, organic veggies for us for a while. I’m sure none of you need to be lectured on the ecological benefits of not using pesticides or eating food transported thousands of miles, but the thing I really got from the CSA was veggies younger and more tender than could ever be kept fresh long enough to make it to the store. My favorite part was the sense of place that I got from it. Plants tend to die when left in my care (anything capable of crying does fine), so I don’t really know what grows when or where. So when I finally sign up for a new one once we move, I’ll get to learn about what can be grown there!

Anyway, the contents of my bags this week clearly show that winter is near:
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme (seriously)
Butternut squash

From these I want to make:
Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce with Cumin Spiced Carrots, and Chipotle Mashed Potatoes and Parsnips
Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Devilish Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks (this is sooooo good, you have to make it)

Since I have left you all without much in the way of menu reports recently, I thought I would mention a couple of my favorite things I made recently with CSA goodies:
Acorn Squash Quesadillas
Barley Risotto with Roasted Squash and Mascarpone Cheese
Pasta with Broccoli and Carrots in Feta Sauce
Potatoes, Escarole, and Leek Soup
Tony Luke Inspired Pork Cheesesteak with Broccoli Raab
Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash with Homemade Tortillas

p.s. Much to Hank’s pleasure, I did not bring home from the farm the adorable orphaned kitten that they were trying to find a home for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ellen is Blazy

Ak! I knew it had been a long time since I last posted but a month?!? My deepest apologies. I really didn't mean to be away from you for so long but you see, I've been feeling really blazy lately. Blazy, is a word that popped into my head the other day when I was trying to get out of a (relatively unimportant) obligation the other day and had to choose between explaining that I was too busy (true) or admitting that I was also feeling far to lazy to to leave my house (also true). Thus, blazy.

So why have I been so blazy of late? Let me break it down for you. The business comes in large part from the pressure I put on myself when I made a time line for graduating next August. It's good to have deadlines, and I'm not behind yet, but I could be. The timeline looks something like this:
November - Finish preliminary analyses to identify candidate genes. Begin genotyping.

December - Complete genotyping (may include going to New Mexico)
January - Analysis of association with skin pigmentation
February - STR genotyping
March - Analysis of age of mutations
April - Final Analyses
Mary - Dissertation writing
June - Defense!
July - Corrections
August - Graduation

On the advice of everyone who knows me, I have added in some flex time because I always think I can get more done in a set period of time than I actually can. Reassuringly, my really amazing department chair recently told me that she has the same problem and that someone once did a study (she new who and when, I promptly forgot) indicating that people on average think it will take then a little less than half the time it actually will to complete a task. So on her advice, I took how long I thought I needed and multiplied it by a factor of 2.2.

The lazy part came from the end of daylight savings time (well, that is what I'm choosing to blame it on). Once upon a time, before I lived in central PA, I loved this whole "fall back" thing. An extra hour of sleep? I'm there. But now, the end of daylight savings time means that the sun sets before 5pm. That's right. Today, the sun set at 4:49pm and since we live in a valley it ceased to be visible around 4:30. I realize that the sun is setting earlier all across the country, but since the winter cloud cover has also rolled in it means that, on top of 9 hours of daylight each day, we won't see the sun unobstructed again until sometime in March. And, as it turns out, I'm solar powered.

So all of this is a long way of saying I have lots of excuses, but no good reason for being gone so long. I'll try to better, I promise.
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