Monday, March 28, 2011

Beat THIS!

That’s the whole bag of Bananagrams tiles. Micah’s new record.

We really need winter to end…

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hot Dougs.

So guess what I’m going to blog about.


Yes, food.

I’ve heard no complaints about my recipes so far. Furthermore blogging about food is relatively therapeutic, when I am in need of that kind of thing (this is one of those times). Also, there is a person inside of me.

So I like hot dogs.  There’s a little nugget of knowledge about me that I am sure you were dying to hear. Today I really wanted to eat one. So we went to Hot Dougs, here in Chicago.

This is a pretty happenin’ joint. We had to wait in a line that went all the way outside. It was worth the wait though. They have the CRAZIEST things here. I’m talking Elk dogs, duck fat fries (only on the weekends though) and other fantastical encased meats. I got the regular Chicago dog (not so adventurous but these things are far from “regular”. They have tomatoes and onions and a whole slice of pickle! These things are loaded!). Micah got a GOAT meat dog. GOAT. MEAT. I tried a bite. Tasted like… goat. It wasn’t bad.

There’s nothing like a hot dog in the hand and cheese fries on the side.

Oh MAN that’s a lot of cheese. (Insert Homer Simpson gurgle noises…or click here and apply it to cheese fries)

Do I recommend this place? Absolutely.  Tell them I sent you. You’ll get no special treatment. Just a good hot dog.

Monday, March 21, 2011


So, as some of you know, last week was a very eventful week in the life of a medical student: Match Day!

Some time during the third year most medical students decide on what specialty they want to apply to. In my case, I decided that psychiatry was my thing. Then, all through November, December and January, 4th year medical students fly all around the country interviewing at residency programs. Then at the end of February you make your rank list, which is just a list of the residency programs you interviewed at in order of preference. At the same time, residency programs rank all of their applicants. Just as applicants use a wide range of criteria to rank programs, the programs rank the applicants according to who knows what! A lot of it comes down to fit and gut feeling.

Throughout the whole process, essentially from the beginning, there were two programs that really caught our eye, the University of Washington and UCLA. Both were large, well respected, and would provide all the opportunities you could ask for. And both were on the west coast and near family. They both had so much to love! So when it came to the rank list, it was a VERY difficult decision--one thing we were sure of was that UCLA and UW would be number 1 and number 2. Then we just hoped and prayed that we would get our number 1 or number 2 choice (which really is asking for a lot!).

But really in the end, what was most important was just to match! The match has lately become more competitive in ALL specialties. Over the last few years medical schools all across the country have increased enrollment to meet future demands. However, residency program sizes have stayed the same. This means that there are now more and more students trying to get the same number of spots. Oy!

So last Monday, we were very relieved to get an email informing us that we did match! yay!

But then we had to wait for Thursday, the official match day, to find out where we would be going. And so at 10 am we found ourselves in the University of Chicago Hospital auditorium anxiously waiting to find out where we would be spending the next 4 years. at about 10:45 they hand out the envelopes that tell you where you are going, then you wait to all open them at 11 am.


This is us ANXIOUSLY waiting for the envelope. The tension was immense!


I had just got the envelope! Only a few more minutes!


YES!!!! University of Washington!

We were ecstatic! I was so impressed with the program and felt so blessed to be going to such a great place. It really just seemed like the perfect fit! I do have to say that I will miss the California sun, however! Maybe someday in the future we will end up there!

Now, though, comes the next three months which will involve: Finding someplace to live, graduating from medical school, moving across the country, Betsy having a baby, and starting a very stressful, time-consuming new job! Heaven help us!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Catch me lucky charms!

Today we went to see the Chicago river painted green (yes I know they don’t “paint” it but I just think I’m funny). The weather was amazing. I am happy that we finally got to see the river like you might remember on The Fugitive (with Harrison Ford) when Marshal Biggs says: “If they can dye the river green today, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?”






TOMORROW is MATCH DAY! Wish us some good ole Irish luck! We will post everything about it, don’t worry!!! HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY to you all as well. Corned beef and cabbage for dinner, yum.

Monday, March 14, 2011

PI Day!!!

Yes!  The holiday for nerds like us has finally come. What was on the menu you ask? Well, PI(e)! I didn’t have a Pi day party this year, but I did make a pie. Key Lime pie to be exact. I found a recipe that looked incredibly easy and delicious, it ended up tasting AMAZING.



  • 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust (Or make your own! Finely crush a whole rectangle of 9 graham crackers, mix with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter and mold into pie pan. Then bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees F until golden and set.)
  • 2 14 oz. cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup key lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest

Note: We actually found Key Limes at our produce market (score!) but regular limes are just fine.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, sour cream, lime juice, and lime rind. Mix well and pour into graham cracker crust.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 6 to 10 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of pie. DO NOT BROWN! Chill pie thoroughly before serving. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream if desired. (Note: the tiny bubbles are hard to notice, but look closely and they will appear. I was really worried this pie would not set because there are no eggs or other binding agents, but it turned out just fine cooking it for 10 minutes.)



Ok so Pie for dessert is obvious, but what about pie for DINNER? What about SHEPHARD’S PIE for dinner?!



HORRIBLE pictures. Sorry. They do NOT do this dish justice at all. It was the best dang shephard’s pie I’ve ever tasted! The trick was making a sort of gravy with the residual fat in the browned meat, an idea inspired by a recipe we found online, and improvised by Micah. He is the meat master!!  Mind you, this is what you might call “super comfort food,” meaning, is you’re on a diet, don’t come to my house.

Let’s start with the mashed potatoes portion of the pie.



  • 5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 6-8 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream (I give you so many naughty options, don’t I?)
  • 1 tablespoon chives
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste


Boil potatoes in salted water until they are very tender. Drain and put in a bowl with cubed up butter. Mash (but don’t over-mash! It will get gluey.) until smooth, fold in sour cream, milk, chives, lemon pepper, and salt and pepper. Remember to be gentle as you add other ingredients.



  • 1/4 of an onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worstcheshire sauce
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (Or 1/2 pound of beef and 1/2 lb. ground pork)
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning
  • Frozen green beans (or any other vegetable you like – carrots, peas, etc.)


Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and cook until clear. Add ground beef and Worscheshire sauce and cook until well browned. Pour off excess fat, then stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add ketchup and beef broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add steak seasoning and frozen vegetables until all is cooked through.

To assemble this pie, you can put the meat on the bottom and mashed potatoes on top, or use my method and put the meat in between two layers of mashed potato. In the end, mashed potatoes should be on top so you can sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes.


A good day for food over at our house.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fun with the SSA


So today we finally decided to have Betsy’s name changed on her social security card (I know, it’s about time!) Betsy has had the form filled out for about a year, but we just never made it out to the Social Security Administration office (it just sounds like pain). Well today we had some free time in the morning, so we decided to go finally change her name.

Once we got to the SSA office, I thought everything looked great—there was a short line, 5 staffed windows—I thought we would be in and out in like 10 minutes.

So our number is called and we get up to the window. Betsy hands the form to the clerk.

“Ummm… let me check on something.”

So we wait for a minute while she goes in the back room.

“Ok, yeah, we can’t change your middle name.”

“What,” I said.

“You can’t make a last name your middle name. You just can’t do that. You can hyphenate your last name or combine them if you would like though”

“Uh, but, as it says on the marriage certificate, her new legal middle name is Huntington.”

The clerk looked a little puzzled, but continued the line that they couldn’t change her middle name.

So we asked to speak to the supervisor, who also vehemently claimed that they just can’t change the middle name.

Betsy then asked, “So haven’t you had people ask this before.”

They looked at us like we were crazy. “No, you can’t change your middle name, unless you have a court document.”

Here I chime in, “Well, this marriage certificate is a court document. See her name was legally changed to Elizabeth Huntington Croft.”

They just couldn’t quite understand that point. Apparently it is ok to change her name to Huntington-Croft, which is NOT her legal name, but to actually change it to her legal name—well that is just silly to even ask!

So I spent about 15 minutes going through the phone tree of the SSA 800 number, who then read off the website that said that in fact you really CAN change the Social Security name to her Legal name, as long as you have the marriage certificate showing her legal name (which we did!). But other than reviewing this policy, they were completely powerless (“I am sorry, if the office won’t do it, there is nothing I can do!”). And of course the nice ladies at the SSA office here in Chicago could care less what the 800 number SSA guy told me.

After about an hour of trying to explain to them their own policies and procedures (as read to me from the 800 number), I asked to see the documents they kept quoting to say that they couldn’t change the name. Of course they said nothing of the sort. What they did say though was that:

“We do not consider the middle name or suffix part of the legal name. Whether the middle name or suffix is included, omitted or incorrectly shown on evidentiary documents submitted with an SS-5 (Application for a Social Security number Card) does not matter.”

So pretty much they could have made her middle name “blaberlysquart” and it really wouldn’t have mattered!

Further searching among the policies of the SSA turn out that a California marriage certificate really is evidence for changing the middle and last name. Phew. Anyways, after we learned that her middle name isn’t really part of her legal name, we were totally ok with having her card read, “Elizabeth Croft.”

I guess seeing that we had agreed with them on something the clerk than offered to put her last name as “Huntington Croft,” with no hyphen, which would mean that her card would read, “Elizabeth Huntington Croft,” which would be good for getting a driver license and the like. So we did that.

Now though, I am wondering if there are going to be any problems in the future, say for instance if she files her taxes under Elizabeth Croft.

I guess we will see. And if it is ever a problem, I certainly hope we are in a place where the people at the SSA actually know what they are doing!

I swear, sometimes I just really wonder how, in a supervisory position, you wouldn’t know your own agencies policies—or at least the basics like changing your middle name!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Darnitsky Bread!

See I TOLD you I’d be posting more recipes soon!

Yesterday Micah found this recipe for “Russian Black Bread” on – Let me tell you, it is the closest thing to the real stuff I had in Ukraine that I have tasted while being home. This bread was the reason I came home and refused to eat any American bread because it wasn’t substantial enough.

I altered the recipe a bit because the original recipe calls for caraway and fennel seeds – which I omitted because a.) They don’t put fennel seeds in Ukrainian bread and b.) I HATE fennel seeds. The recipe also called for coffee granules (???) so we omitted them too. It’s the perfect bread to go with Borsch, on a sandwich, or just with some butter. (I used to have a slice for breakfast on my mission and it would fill me up all morning!) It is such wonderfully tasty bread.


  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup rye flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  1. Place ingredients into the bread machine in order suggested by the manufacturer.
  2. Use the whole wheat, regular crust setting.
  3. After the baking cycle ends, remove bread from pan, place on a cake rack, and allow to cool for 1 hour before slicing.
  4. (We actually just took the dough out of the machine and cooked it on our pizza stone for a rustic bread shape. You can do whatever you want.)

You are all one step closer to tasting my mission! Isn’t it wonderful!?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Christmas Kutya.


Hey there! Found me on Pinterest? I would really love it if you left a quick comment if you made this recipe! I'm not really looking for traffic on my site, just want to know if this recipe worked, what changes you might add, and any other ideas. You can imagine how hard it is to find Ukrainian food enthusiasts, so any input from you is welcome! Especially if you are Ukrainian! Дякую!

(Pictures taken by me. There aren’t any good pictures on the internet.)
Ok so I might get in a lot of trouble for posting this since it’s not Christmas and Ukrainians are pretty strict about keeping holiday foods within the season they are meant for. (Pasca is one of them, which we make for Easter). But I was really wanting to try making Kutya because it is so delicious and I have been missing Ukrianian cuisine lately. For Valentine’s Day we went out for Polish food, which was delicious, but I miss having cherry varenyky and Darnitsky bread available at every turn. So what is Kutya (or Kutia), you ask? Basically it’s a traditional pudding with wheat berries, nuts, poppy seeds, and sweetened with honey or sugar and sometimes raisins or other dried fruit are added (See this Wikipedia article for a more comprehensive explanation). I think I only had this once or twice on my mission, because, like I said, they ONLY serve it at Christmas. It was unlike anything I have ever had. The closest thing I can compare it to (texture-wise) is tapioca pudding, but it’s not super sugary, and it has nuts and fruit, making it much more substantial and healthy. I wonder how some form of kutya has not been endorsed by health nuts. Most Ukrainian food is surprisingly good for you (despite the large amount of sour cream used to garnish everything). They use very inexpensive ingredients that have lots of nutritional value, plus it’s TASTY. But it’s lack of popularity is what keeps it in obscurity, for some very strange reason. What a pity.
Another thing that is different about Kutya is that it uses wheat berries. I have never cooked with these before myself, but they are widely used in Ukraine, along with a myriad of other wheat products.
I highly recommend you try making this. If you are tired of oatmeal this could be a great breakfast alternative for you. Or if you are looking for a wholesome dessert that won’t weigh you down too much (unless you add lots of cream to it :-), this stuff is really yummy. Our recipe is kind of a conglomeration of different recipes we found on the internet, and you are welcome to add more or less ingredients as you wish. But ours turned out really well, which is why I am sharing it with you. I also put these recipes up for my own reference, so don’t be surprised if I add other Ukrainian recipes here soon.
Ohh. Look at that.
2 cups Wheatberries
1/2 cup poppy seeds
1 cup raisins (or other dried fruit as you prefer)
1/2 cup – 1 cup roasted almonds, chopped (or other nuts as you prefer)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup milk
3 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Soak the wheatberries overnight in water. The next day, put wheatberries in a pot and bring to a boil. Then let simmer for about 4-5 hours (ok, that’s a long time! But they need to get really soft and creamy. Add more water as needed so that they don’t burn.) Once they are soft, make another mixture of sugar, honey, and water and cook until sugar is dissolved. (TIP: if you added lots of water to the wheatberries to cook, you can drain some to make the pudding less soupy.) Add this to the wheatberries, along with the chopped almonds, poppy seeds, raisins, milk, cream, and vanilla extract. This can be eaten warm right away (probably just to taste it), but traditionally it is served cold, after the flavors have had time to combine.
Honestly it was hard to come up with these measurements because I measured by handfuls for stuff like the nuts and the raisins. So you can take the matter into your own hands (or handfuls) and add more of what you like or less of what you don’t like. We got some of the ingredients at Whole Foods, since things like poppy seeds are hard to find in bulk.
Let me know if you have any problems making this. It makes a lot so if you live close enough to me you can try it out for yourself! We had fun doing it and will enjoy it tonight with our Borsch dinner! Слава Українi!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gold Humanism Honor Society

Sorry for all the pomp and circumstance of late – but here’s just a little more proof of Micah’s great potential as a doctor, for our moms to see. The Gold Humanism Honor Society is a peer nominated award based on values like compassion, altruism, and service, as opposed to pure academia and clinical expertise. The ceremony was a lot more interesting for me, since the keynote speaker was a really funny Pediatrician who didn’t take himself so seriously. I also like the values that this society upholds. It honors students and doctors who are good people to be around, and who care about their colleagues and patients. These are the kind of doctors we all want to have. Micah thought it was an award for the “popular kids” but I’m pretty sure he really is liked by everybody, and it’s hard to deny how good he is with patients. IMG_4048


Each student nominated got a pin and a certificate. The funny thing was that they all had to pin each other in succession. Here is Micah getting his pin:



And of course, the student Micah had to pin was wearing a dress…and he dropped it. Oops. A weird part of the ceremony, but I’m sure it symbolizes something nice.



Isn’t he charming. IMG_4061

The GHHS students.


After the ceremony was a fancy reception. Micah and I enjoyed the shrimp tempura.



I will stop gloating now, don’t want to embarrass Micah too much. Just a little.