My roommate and I are both too busy for our own good. There can be days that go by when we see nothing of each other but the hurried dishes left in the sink. For that reason, we instituted weekly roommate dinners so that we can be sure to make time to hang out and catch up with what is going on in each others lives, and so she can learn a few new recipes and cooking techniques! We have been able to keep this us at least two to three times a month, which is pretty good considering our schedules. We usually make something simpler, like a stir fry, and occasionally get fancy with some homemade pasta. Last night was one of our fancier nights – we tested out a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi to use up all of those sweet potatoes!
My roommate was suspicious – she had never heard of gnocchi, and it took her until the end of our cooking for her to handle the pronunciation. When I broke out the rosemary for a browned butter sauce, she lost all faith. “It looks like a dried Christmas tree!” I almost died laughing. I told her to trust me – I usually know what I am doing.
We kneaded the dough, we rolled out logs, we cut up the gnocchi and shaped them over a fork. We boiled them until they floated, and then we lightly covered them with browned butter and rosemary. It looked beautiful. I was so excited to dive in. We took our first bite – not everything tastes as good as it looks! Maybe the dough was over-kneaded? Maybe the sweet potatoes don’t give rise to the same delightful pillow texture of regular potato gnocchi? Maybe it was the whole wheat flour? The flavor was definitely there but the texture was surely off. My friend recommended putting the potatoes in a food processor next time since they tend to be more fibrous than regular potatoes. I will have to try again!
The side salad was much more successful! Baby spinach and arugula, goat cheese, dried cranberries and walnuts with some homemade balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below – approximate ratios written out, even though I usually just eyeball it!)… best salad combo ever, and all made with remnant ingredients in our fridge! Top that off with some great, deep conversation and 50% off Easter candy from Rite Aid and I think you have all of the ingredients for an excellent roommate dinner.
Question: How do you stay sane in your busy day-to-day life? A friend asked me this the other day, and I thought it was an excellent question. Med school can quickly become all-consuming and overwhelming, but I don’t want to become a stress-ball who can no longer talk to anyone about anything except for how hard school is. Roommate dinners and random meals or coffee breaks with non-classmate friends has been key for this. Some weeks are easier than others to fit this all in, but I wouldn’t trade those breaks for a few more points on an exam for anything. Also, having a morning routine of reading a chapter from the Bible or the devotional book I am reading for book club over a cup of coffee has also really been essential. This has helped me become more reflective and intuitive, which is important to learn how to deal with the emotional stress of medical school. Lastly, exercise has been another essential release. Even if it is a quick 2 mile run or a simple bike ride to school, having that time completely alone with my thoughts has been key. Plus, there is nothing like a good workout to help my focus when I get back to even the most boring of subjects! I would love to hear some of your ways to deal with stress!
Simple Balsamic vinaigrette
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cold water
Mix all ingredients in a shaker (I usually use an empty canning jar) until well combined. Pour over your salad, serve and enjoy!