That’s the whole bag of Bananagrams tiles. Micah’s new record.
We really need winter to end…
So guess what I’m going to blog about.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Note: We actually found Key Limes at our produce market (score!) but regular limes are just fine.
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.
Betsy’s MASHED POTATOES:
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.
Micah’s MEAT AND VEGETABLES:
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.
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!
See I TOLD you I’d be posting more recipes soon!
Yesterday Micah found this recipe for “Russian Black Bread” on Allrecipes.com – 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.
You are all one step closer to tasting my mission! Isn’t it wonderful!?
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.
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.
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.