Saturday, May 02, 2015

stuffed peppers

Good morning everyone!

I'm happy to tip my toes into the blogosphere again. Hospital is great but also so intense: at the end of the day my brain is so mushed that I can't fathom writing coherent words.

Cooking proper food has been a struggle throughout the winter term. I was very low and demotivated, which reflected on my (non) cooking. I ended up absolutely exhausted by the end of term and almost fainted after giving blood. And I don't do fainting (no offence to anyone who does).
It prompted some questioning: am I eating right? Am I getting enough protein? I realised that last year I was cooking a lot more, combining pulses and grains, not just throwing  chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce in with some tinned chickpeas. 
Right now I'm trying to cook more. And add some fish in the diet, because I can't sustain that level of sheer exhaustion just before exams.

I took the inspiration for this recipe from the stuffed peppers we used to make on the kibbutz.

-6 peppers
-1 tin of chickpeas, drained
-1 tin of butter beans, drained
-a handful of spinach 
-100g of bulgur wheat (or cous cous or quinoa) cooked and cooled.
- 2 onions, chopped
-2 courgettes, chopped
-2 tomatoes, chopped
-2 tablespoon olive oil

Put the butter beans, chickpeas, spinach, olive oil and lemon in a bowl and  whizz with a food processor until it forms a coarse paste. I left some beans in coarser pieces. Incorporate the chopped vegetables and the rest of the spices  in the paste. 
Cut the top off the peppers and scrap out the seeds. Spoon the mixture inside the peppers. If you have any leftover stuffing, you can shape them into little balls and roast them...they are yummy!
Roast in the oven at 180C for 1 hour, until the peppers are roasted on the outside and the top of the stuffing is golden and crisp.

Take them out, let them cool slightly and enjoy (maybe with some tahini on top)!

Friday, December 19, 2014

life of a placement student

good morning lovelies!
It's been an immensity of time since the last time I poured my thoughts on the internet and the culprit is...placement! Oh yes and my laziness but we will aquit it for once.

Placement..a whole year in hospital and general practice on different rotations.  Placement, that magical year in which we would finally be in hospitals, seeing "real" medicine..yet that seemed so far away when I first started medical school. Needless to say, it had crept on me faster than I expected. I woke up one morning in early September and it was time to head into this adventure.

first day outfit

I finished my first rotation on Friday (and I got emotional about it on instagram), 15 weeks split between teaching and time on the wards on our own.
It's been a heck of a rollecoaster, going from the mines of uttermost despair when I realised how little the past 2 years of medicine had prepared us for a clinical environment to feeling like a rockstar the day I finally managed to do a complete round of bloods by myself  (which may or may not have prompted a little victory dance in the staircase).
I have been overwhelmed by a whirlwind of personalities and people, patients and doctors, surgeons and nurses, different tales and attitutes which swept me off my feet and left me with a overflooded brain. On the train home I would try and tidy up all the impression of the day, only to find myself among a pile of scattered old knowledge, new clinical experiences, human histories and tips from other doctors.

library days|

this file: the bane of my life.
It's been a great, soul turning 15 weeks which made me grow more than I could even imagine from a university course. However, life got a bit frantic and some of my passions slipped quietly in the shadow of the back burner. Blogging was one. Running the other. It's hard and ugly to admit but I haven't trained properly since May. Surely, I ran while I was in Israel but that wasn't proper hard training. And once I got back, a knee injury, my laziness and a uninterrupted streak of chest infections and a flu stranded what was left of my running. It has been frustrating and complicated: at uni  a lot of people kept asking me of my running (I trained hard last year) and I had to admit that I wasn't running at all. And most of all I felt I had left a piece of myself behind.  But now I am back (well sort of) and ready for a cracking start of 2015! I can't wait to start my new rotations (they are more specialty orientated than the one I have just finished) and to go back to training with my lovely TBH crew (or by myself if the timing isn't good-the joys of a commuter).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday happiness

Hello everybody!! How are you? How was your weekend?

I have just got in from dance practice, Mr body is all sore, especially my abs! I'm enjoying this little dish of goodness right now:

As next week is going to be horribly busy, I cooked some food to freeze and keep me going!


Ingredients (for 4 people):
-4 courgettes in big chunks
-250g green beans, trimmed
-1 leek, chopped
-a handful of spring greens, roughly chopped
-400 ml tin coconut milk
-a handful of coriander chopped
-a handful of cashew or almonds, chooped and toasted (optional)
-300g tomato passata
-salt and pepper
For the curry paste:
-1 red onion finely chopped
-1 garlic clove roughly chopped
-1 big chunk of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
-2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
-1 tsp ground cumin
-1tsp ground coriander
-1tsp ground turmeric

Combine all the curry paste ingredients in a bowl with a couple of tablespoon of water and whiz to a paste with a food processor or a blender. 
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large deep saucepan and fry the curry paste over medium heat for 3-4 minutes stirring constantly. Add the courgettes and stir for a couple of minutes until covered in the spices. Add the tomato passata, the coconut milk and the leeks. Simmer half covered for 10 minuts. Add the green beans and the spring greens and simmer for an extra 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and stir in the fresh coriander. Scatter the nuts over the curry and serve with brown rice.


Ingredients (makes 5 small patties)

-2 cups of red lentils
-1 cup of quinoa
-1tsp paprika
-1 tsp dried chili flakes
-1 tsp nutmeg
-salt and pepper
-2 tbsp oats
-3 tbsp strong brown flour

Soak the red lentils in warm water overnight. Cook the quinoa, leaving it a bit "behind". Briefly whiz together the lentils and the quinoa, obtaining a coarse mix. Stir in the oats, flour and spices. WIth your hands form patties and roll them in  a brown flour and oats mixture. Place on an oiled tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake at 200°C for 30 minutes or until browned and crunchy on the outside.

Serve on a wholewheat bun with some mango chutney and green tabasco, with a side salad of cucumber and tomatoes.

Outside the weather is glorious, a breathtakingly wonderful autumn day: I love these luminous, fragrant days. 

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

get on your dancing shoes!

Hello guys!! How are you? How was your weekend?

Mine was quite quiet and exciting, because I went to try something very different from what I'm used to....I went to a beginner dance class!!! 

It was a huge step out of my comfort zone because my coordination is virtually non-existent and I have the grace of an elephant in a glass shop. 
Regardless of all that, I decided to give it a go. I loved seeing the Dance Society showcase last year and always found dancing fascinating. Plus, I realised I have only 2 years left of university (final year is not a good time to experiment new activities) and there are still so many things I want to try out! 

So, this year Sunday long runs will be traded for dance moves and body on training...get on your dancing shoes ;)

Here's a clip of our class (I'm hidden in the corner).

Have you ever tried a new hobby/sport? What was your experience?

a reflection on body image

"Oh man, I look like a horse!"I thought looking in the mirror before my first sabbath dinner in the kibbutz. After a week of being almost constantly dehydrated my face had become quite thin and now it looked "long". My eye seemed unnaturally big. I wished I had a beautiful oval like Sophia with full cheeks and dimples when I smiled. Not a thin, cheekless face, all nose and cheekbones.

At the back of my mind, a fastidious voice popped up, a memory of a long time ago when my cheeks and my round face were the bane of all my pictures. When I thought that my face was too round and I longed for my cheekbones to stick out a bit more. And now that I have that, I'm not happy.

It struck me then how it's easy to be severe with ourselves and discontent with our image in the mirror. We become so accustomed to hunt down every small blemish of our body to proudly parade it in high school changing rooms before PE that every time we look in a mirror we immediately notice that small spot and not how nice our hair looks today. And even when we achieve what we longed for in terms of body image, we can still be dissatisfied. Am I the only one to think this is exhausting? That we should stop bringing ourselves down by being critical every time we brush our teeth and we look at ourselves in the mirror over the sink?

mirror, mirror on the wall...
Despite thinking long and hard about it, i haven't found a good-for-all solution: people are so different and different are the reasons why we may be dissatisfied with our image in the mirror. However, I can share with you the tricks which work for me.
1. I focus on a part of my body I really like and I try to emphasise it in my outfit;
2. I listen to feel-good music while I'm getting ready
3. I smile: one of my friends a long time ago told me that a smile is the best accessory a girl could wear. So far, it has never proved me wrong.
4. I try to put my physical appearance into the biggest context of my life. First of all, I look at the reasons why my body shape is like it is. In my case I put a lot of it down to my running, which gives me a fairly thin face but chunky legs and a bum. Do I care? Sometimes. But then I remember how much I love running and I stop caring. For me, this is the most effective one, because it shifts the focus from something I feel I'm lacking to the big positives in my life and the activities I enjoy doing. Oh, by the way, it often transfers to other dissatisfactions of life: a bad time in a race, a low score in a test/exam...always look at the big picture!

If there's something I don't really like, I try to change it. Without stressing about it. I take it as a challenge, as a way to always improve and push my boundaries. Which I find utterly exciting and horribly terrifying at the same time.

So here's are my little tricks. They work for me, they may work for you. Or they may not. You may find them absolutely rubbish or very clever. You may take some inspiration to devise your own.  

Sharing time!! Do you ever find yourself dissatisfied with your looks? What are your tricks to make peace with your image in the mirror?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

israeli blues.

Morning everyone! How are you?
Has any of you been on a big great trip and suffered from horrendous melancholy for weeks and weeks?

I have. I am still experiencing terrible blues: I miss Israel so much! If you've been around me at all, this isn't much of a surprise. 
When people ask me how Israel was, I can feel my face light up as I answer "Awesome".( I'm not sure it does for real, maybe it doesn't but I feel it happening).

I do things which remind me of those two crazy amazing months: I chop my salad really small, I eat tahini, I (try, especially in the last week, to) get up every morning with a big smile, I keep a diary, I read, I keep up to date with the news, I listen to Israeli music, I take interest in the people around me.

However, there are so many things I stopped doing: I don't use Hebrew sentences any more, I don't fight with moovit to get a bus, I wear socks and actually match my outfits, I go to bed early, I crave cake, I don't scream "WHAT?!" when I'm surprised because it's considered a bit rude. I always carry an umbrella and not sunscreen in my bag.

All in all, I really really miss it: I miss the simplicity of life in the kibbutz and the hazed beauty of Israeli sunsets. I miss the directness of people and their utter crude sincerity, which was almost too direct at times. 

I miss them all!

It will get better as time goes by. Hospital placement really helps because I'm constantly busy doing something I love. Also, to treat the blues, I have decided to write some of my weekend adventures around Israel! 

Coming soon...the #summertravels series !

Sunday, September 21, 2014

where is home?

note: this post is a bit delayed and comes from a page of my diary written 3 weeks ago.

I'm in the kitchen making a cup of tea when my mobile starts ringing in my room. I rush over, hurdling a couple of open half-empty boxes (how I love unpacking) and I reach it just in time. 
It was my dad, calling from his car: "We have officially moved out. I gave back the keys today." The satisfaction in his voice is palpable and understandably so as in little more than a month he emptied our family home by himself while working.

Unfortunately, I was too busy taking in the shock: the place I used to call home for the past 6 years wasn't home any more. Even more, the city where I spent the last 13 years of life, wasn't home any longer. Even though I wasn't particularly happy there-I can honestly say that I hated it for the majority of the time- I suddenly felt homeless. Which I'm not: I have 2 houses to go to, more than what most people have. However, I don't know which place is "home" anymore. Despite it's provincial placidity which made me feel trapped within a day and a trip to the supermarket, Varese was home (or so I realised of late): I grew up there, I made some lifelong friends and somehow over the past 2 years, it had become my inner north when the going got tough. The sight of the Alps from the plane, those same mountains which I could see in the distance when coming back from school, always spoke of home. On getting off the plane I could smell the air, dense with the fog and the pollution of all the industries scattered in the plain, and I knew that, for bad or for good, I was home. Now that my parents have moved where my dad works, I find myself at loss of a place to call home. Their flat- where my dad has been living during the week for the past few years- doesn't feel like home. Every time I went there, I felt a bit like a guest: I was clueless as to where things were or even how the shower worked. And probably I was, because that was my dad's flat, not our house. 

views from home (Italy)

Having just moved into the new flat here in Newcastle, I don't dare call it home yet. At the moment it's an empty house with the belongings of 3 people stored in. It's very pretty and modern-nothing like the old huge house we lived in last year- but it's not home yet. And at the moment Newcastle doesn't feel much home yet either. The streets once familiar feel a bit estranged to me. The clear bright northern sky which used to lighten up my heart now seems just cold and distant. I feel lost because my heart-or at least a significant chunk of it- has stayed at the other side of the Mediterranean, under the radiant Israeli sunshine. Right now, when I think of home, the image of a tiny room, with half broken furniture and creaky tiny beds, will imperiously appear to the eyes of my imagination. A room where I laughed until my tummy hurt, cried all my tears, shouted of joy and shared the deepest hurts of my heart. A room where I was hardly ever alone. A place that is not home, since my plane took off 48 hours ago. 

And all contrast so much with my room now, my real actual house: big, spacious, with a huge double bed where I could lose myself. And yet I can't feel it as home, not yet. Maybe once Claudia and Aaron are back and we start our everyday life, back and through from the hospital, it will. 

But for now I am at loss of a place to call home.