Stegaliuniverse


New Job! by stegaliu
January 30, 2009, 6:20 pm
Filed under: work

So I was waiting until I got an official start day and since that day is Monday I am happy to announce that I will be working at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania!  A good family friend heard my pleas for a meeting with any office managers in medical offices (I wanted to see what they were looking for in an office assistant and also network for open positions) and she went above and beyond, not only getting me a position in her office, the ENT department of HUP, but a clinical one at that!  I will no longer we relegated to the filing cabinets and answering phones!  I’ll be trained by 2 doctors there to be their medical assistant and to be able to fill in for other assistants if the need arises.  I may also be trained in the pain management department, aka anesthesiology, and possibly help out with research on some ongoing projects.  All in all this is a great opportunity for me to gain a lot of experience before even heading to nursing school and I’m happy to again be gainfully employed!  Wish me luck!

Now, what color scrubs would I look good in?

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Probably Not Sarcoidosis Either by stegall
January 21, 2009, 11:38 am
Filed under: Misc

Many thanks to Amy for this….

unknownDr. Gregory House from http://obamiconme.pastemagazine.com



PATRICK AND KIR MAKE A [PASTA] PORNO by stegall
January 20, 2009, 3:48 pm
Filed under: Cooking

DISCLAIMER:  I’ve been asked to clarify the title of this post.  It’s a rip on the title of Kevin Smith’s latest film Zack and Miri Make a Porno.  No actual porn is being made here.  Perhaps you’ve heard of the buzz phrase “food porn”?  That’s the joke.  Funny, right?  We’re all adults here.

I’ve gone a made life a lot more difficult for myself. Here’s how: I make my own pasta. Here’s why: It used to be that when Kir and I came home tired and hungry after a taxing day, we’d shelf whatever difficult dinner we’d had planned in favor of dried pasta, a simple sauce, and a three or four reruns of House. Not anymore.

The first time I skimmed a strand of my own fettucine from the starchy cloud of boiling water on our stovetop and tasted it, pasta-in-a-box was forever ruined for me. Gone were the days of “boil some water, throw it in, wait 10 minutes, drain, and eat.” What follows is the complex, and ultimately rewarding, ritual that now greets me whenever I have a craving for a good carbonara or bolognese.

Now I’m assuming that you have either a stand mixer with roller attachments or some other mechanized means of rolling your dough out, otherwise you’ve got quite a workout a head of you. I know the process is somewhat complicated, time consuming, and messy, but it’s worth it. Totally worth it.

You know how when you eat out a great restaurant and you think, “I really shouldn’t just get a pasta at such a nice restaurant,” but you do and then you think, “Damn that’s good! I’m glad I just paid $16 for that. I wonder what the secret is?” Here’s the secret: they make it themselves. Here’s another secret: you’ve been ripped off. I estimate that making a pound of pasta at home costs about 30 cents, maybe a dollar if you use grass fed eggs and organic flour (and you should). Here’s what you need:

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Six eggs, 4 cups of flower (by volume—I know, I know), two teaspoons of kosher salt, and a bit of olive oil. That’s it. That’s all it takes to make the dough in terms of your pantry. Those proportions will serve eight as an entrée or sixteen as a side. I don’t need that much, so I’m halving the recipe. The easiest way to bring it all together is to pile the floug, eggs, and salt into your food processor and pulse it like you’re running the lights at a rave (wumph, wumph, wumph, wumph).

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If you feel compelled to mimic Fabio on Top Chef and make a little flour bowl on your counter, put the eggs inside of it, stir them into a yolky yellow pool, and then chop chop chop it all into a dough, go right ahead. It works just as well and is likely to impress any dinner guests who might be looking over your shoulder. It all tastes the same so I prefer to let the machine do the work.

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Uh oh. When I measured my ingredients out I did the flour by weight (the breadmaker in me just won’t let that go) and this dough is far too wet. If I’d tried to roll this dough out in it’s current form (which I did), it might (will) look like this.

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This is all fixable because pasta dough, unlike bread, doesn’t mind being overworked too much, so you’re free to tinker until it’s just right. To solve this just add more flour in quarter-cup doses and pulse until the result looks more like a dusty pile of rice than a typical dough. Pour that clumpy mess out onto your workstation and gather it up, compacting and rolling it into a golden ball.

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Put a pea-sized dollop of olive oil in your hands and roll a sheen onto the dough before smashing it into a disc, wrapping it in plastic, and dropping it in the fridge for at least half an hour. Seriously! If you decide that this is all too much and no longer want to make pasta today, you can freeze the disc of dough for up to three months.

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Before we jump right into kneading/rolling the dough, let’s take a look at our hardware.

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This, the roller, is the heart of the operation. There are numerous shape cutters and ravioli stuffers out there, but the roller is the one thing you need regardless of what you want the end product to be.

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On the side is a dial with a series of settings (1 thru 8 in my case) which determine the thickness that the dough will be rolled to. Setting 1 is a great deal wider than the rest and is used for the initial kneading of the dough. Settings 2 thru 8 step down in increasingly smaller increments. How thick or thin the pasta should wind up totally depends on what cut you’re making.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to rescue the dough from the fridge. It will have darkened and dried out some while it was curing, this a normal and necessary part of the process. Just don’t ask me to explain it.

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Cut the disc into quarters and dust each side with a little more flower. Then press them flat between your palms and feed through your roller on setting 1 (note: always use the slowest speed possible when using delicate attachments on a stand mixer). After the first pass, fold the dough into thirds and run it through again. Send it through another two times. You should always flip the dough after rolling it (i.e. the tail of the first pass will be the head of the next one).

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The dough should be nice and smooth by now, so you can begin rolling it out to the appropriate thickness. I’m making a basic spaghetti here, so I’m going down to setting 6. To get there the dough gets rolled twice on settings 2, 3, and 4 and once on settings 5 and 6. As you finish rolling each strip, lay it out on a floured work surface.

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Keep in mind that each one of those strips represents one quarter of our original disc of dough, or 1-2 servings. When everything is rolled out, put your spaghetti (or any other) cutter on the stand mixer. Cut the long strips in half and send them through the cutter. This is the easiest and most rewarding part.

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Catch the spaghetti as if comes out of the cutter and lay it out on a well-floured surface. Don’t mind all that raw flour on the pasta, it keeps everything from sticking and washes right off in the boil.

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At this point you should be boiling water and making sauce (I’ll leave that up to you), because this stuff cooks incredibly quickly, 1-2 minutes tops. Just do me a favor and stop for a moment to appreciate what you’ve created. If you’re like me, you’ll leave the cleaning to your significant other and grab the camera so you can capture a few pasta-graphic images for the web.

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There you go. You’ve created an incredibly light, flavorful pasta that soaks up whatever sauce you serve it with. And you’ll need to find another last-minute meal you can throw together before House, because you won’t ever be able to lift a heavy fork of Barilla without thinking, “If only I’d made this…”

Forthcoming: A post on spinach pasta including recipes for Real Deal Roman Fettucine Alfredo and Red/Green Holiday Lasagna

Here’s a teaser…

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Kate, James and Cadence by stegaliu
January 15, 2009, 8:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Just a quick link to one the the most fun and sweetest description of a growing girl.  Cadence is the daughter of our friends (and former housemates) Kate and James.  Since the day she was born I knew she was going to be an especially sweet child and Kate’s stories of her exploits the past month only prove me right.  We miss you baby girl!  Tell Mama and Baba to come visit Philly on the way to NYC sometime!

TigerBug



Tumblr! by stegall
January 15, 2009, 7:15 pm
Filed under: Site News

I spend more than a little time mindlessly surfing the internet, looking for morsels of interest and then emailing them to other people who may or may not care. Part of my New Year’s resolutions were to blog more often and spend less time mindlessly surfing the internet. Well now I’ve found a way to have my cake and eat it too.

My good friend Travis Luther Lowe has been on my case about not using Google Reader to aggregate all the blogs I read and he showed me a way to have Google Reader dump posts I like onto a tumblr page. Mine can be found here:

Sluicing The Interweb

I’m sure at some point I’ll figure out how to embed these into this blog, but for now you’ll just have to go over and read the old-fashioned way. And yeah, if you do RSS your can follow my tumblr feed too.



Ringing in the New Year with ChamPong by stegaliu
January 6, 2009, 10:59 am
Filed under: Friends, Holidays, Jersey, Madeline Pawlbright

This time we greeted the New Year from the shores of ol’ New Jerz!

Ahh, how the desolate beach reminds you of all the good times…oh, wait.

Amy and Kevin kindly opened their shore house to us, their respective spouses and all 3 of our dogs:

Chica

Mr. P

And Ms. Madeline Pawlbright.

Maddie looks so sad in the pic because she’s on the way home after not accomplishing her goal of making Mr. P love her.  In reality, Mr. P wants to kill her.  He wants to take his tiny little toy Yorkie teeth and rip her jugular out.  Am I being clear enough about how Mr. P would have rather bathed with snakes than ring in the new year with Maddie?  It would make you a sad puppy too.  Thankfully Chica kept her spirits up while Mr. P sat high up on the back of the couch, not joining in the fun.

The rest of us had a great time.  There was more than a few rounds of ChamPong, not to be confused with the well thought out BeerPong of your college years.  This was more lazy and thus more appropriate for this gathering.  Playing meant sitting around the kitchen table with a tiny glass of champange in the middle trying to bounce the cork into the glass.  Come to think of it, it was more like Quarters than BeerPong but there is no way to make a fun name out of Quarters.  Here’s Amy going in for the win:

And here’s her celebratory dancing in a chair:

All in all it was an excellent New Year.  Food was made:

Patrick introduced Amy to the wonders of pastamaking (expect an entry about that very soon).  I’m not sure if Amy is horrified by the pasta or really excited here.

Naps were taken:

And family and friends were avoided:

I mean enjoyed:

So Happy New Year from the Stegaliu’s!  May you have fond memories of 2008 and good things to come in 2009!



A Letter Home by stegall
January 2, 2009, 7:06 pm
Filed under: AR, Elizabeth, Family

Kir and I were cleaning out the basement this weekend, going through a bunch of stuff Mom and Dad brought up from Arkansas back in November.  While sifting through it all I learned that my Mother was an incredibly fastidious file clerk to my childhood.  I found the following:

1.  Every single report card from every single quarter of my elementary, middle, and high school career.

2. Every plaque and certificate of achievement I was ever handed.

3. Letters, notes, and doodles of varying significance from friends, youth ministers, classmates, and old girlfriends.

4. Birthday and high school graduation cards.

5. Toys from my infancy up to late childhood.

6. Baseball cards, collectible Willow figurings (Mad Mardigan on Horseback!), and comic books…

You get the idea.  Among the rubble was a folder that was probably supposed to go to Elizabeth, a relic from our time at Camp Ozark–a Christian-themed “sleepaway” camp that was actually in the Ouachita Mountains many hours from the Ozarks.  In that folder was a most desperate and demanding missive from Elizabeth to Mom and Dad:

[If you can’t make out her handwriting, I’ve transcribed it below with my comments added.]

eliozark1eliozark2

Mom and Dad,

SEND FOOD! I’m serious. Ilene [her counselor] said to please send food and you can send it to Ilene Rees and they won’t check it [apparently the staff searched boxes sent to campers for contraband, but not those sent to counselors] and I will share it with my cabin.  Cookies and chips are good.  Thanx [sic] 4 the magnet I (heart) the dogs!  Patrick has told you about the kittens [this was her plan, I would bring them up in my letter and then she would come in for the hard sell] but he hasn’t told you that if no one takes them after this session they will be put in a bag and drowned [!!!!!] Can we save at least one life please [!!!!!!! – the church camp guilt is clearly taking hold]  It would be a good lesson in responsibility! [By that she must mean that we would learn a lot about responsibility by watching Mom care for and feed the new cat] Mom, how was the cabin?  Dad, how was work? [gimme gimme gimme, oh and by the way how are you?]

(Heart) ya,

Elizabeth

P.S. If Patrick forgot- he is going on living land tonight. [See she’s looking out for little bro–responsible]

P.P.S. BOTH SUBJECTS IN THIS LETTER AR [sic] SERIOUS [all caps and underlined serious]

I want food and a kitty! [just in case you forgot what those two subjects were]

It just so happens that we did get our kitty after all, and we ended up naming him Ozark.  In fact, if I remember correctly, all of the kitties that were born in the Camp Ozark barn found new homes.  Funny how letting campers play with kittens and then telling them they will be drowned works so well to solve your too many kittens problem.  Ozark was a good enough cat, but he meowed, mewed, and cried constantly. Constantly!  Mom did all the work, Elizabeth and I learned nothing about responsibility, and we pawned Ozark off on the Holt family five months later.  Responsibility!  Let this be a lesson to all of you.