finding faith and baking bread

I am a believer in lists. They guide my life.

On my iPhone, I use a notes app to make lists that remind me to buy razor blades or a new backpack for my daughter or to write my little brother a letter. My desk at work is cluttered with file folders, medical journals, and three or four different notepads at any one time. Each notepad has a different To Do list for various projects I’m working on or projects I’m thinking about working on. On the corner of my desk at home, I keep a bulky spiral-bound notebook that contains lists from years past – what to pack for our beach vacations, menu ideas for Thanksgiving, grocery lists for dinner parties, potential baby names for our son (Oliver won out, in case you were wondering) – and plenty of blank pages for lists to come. The latest list in that book, the one I’ve been working on all week, is called “California Trip, 6/2012, Don’t Forget To Pack These!

In my mind, in that warm space nestled up against the Places I’d Love To Visit list, there resides a running list of foods I’d like to try to make one day. Over time, and with an equal mixture of courage and trepidation, I’ve managed to cross some items off.  Bake my first layer cake? Check. Master pie crust? Done. Make gnocchi? Did that one, too.

The past two weeks have been a blur, filled with hours and hours spent On Call. Fifteen days, 24 hours per day, which turns out to be 350 hours. Granted, my evenings – and three out of four weekend afternoons –  were spent at home, with Sam and the kids. Most nights I was not awakened by phone calls, only some nights.

I would love to say that being On Call doesn’t stress me out, but to say that would be telling a lie. While my work-life balance is always a struggle, during these stretches of On-Call time, the balance leans heavily in favor of work. It is my nature to take home my worries about patients, about giving bad news, about difficult work situations. I dream about my patients, my clinic (which gets neglected while I’m in the hospital)…or that I’m back in college and it’s exam day and, not only have I forgotten to attend class all semester, but I’m also not wearing pants or shoes.

watermelon and arugula salad with basil vinaigrette | the merry gourmet

lessons from abuela, and sausage and potato mini empanadas

When my children were transitioning to solid foods, moving beyond the rice cereal phase, I gave them simple things to try – simply prepared chicken, unseasoned peas, mushy carrots, and whatever the little jars of baby food held. I am sure that I read in a baby book or was advised by A Knowledgeable Person that bland is better, because this was my mantra when preparing the kids’ meals back then. That technique worked well for my daughter. She was a good eater, and she liked just about everything we put in front of her.

Oliver was another story. My son picked at his food, spit out what was in his mouth, or just played with the indistinguishable bits of mushy, overcooked vegetables. Food, or at least the meals that I prepared back then, never seemed to interest him.

For Oliver’s first birthday, we invited his nanny to the party. Meri, or Abuela as we fondly called her, had watched Madeline until my daughter was two, and she was doing the same with Oliver. The party food that day was simple – ham and turkey sandwiches, potato chips, and likely some other equally boring, unmemorable fare. Oliver nibbled on a sandwich roll, and in typical fashion, ignored the rest of the food.