Fish Tacos for Tuesday

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Tuesday is a tricky dinner day.  Since it falls in the awkward beginning-middle of the week, my criteria is usually 1) What is quick? 2) What is easy? 3) What did I buy over the weekend that needs to be used up asap? This week I had vegetables, fish and a spring in my step because the weather has been so deliciously warm.  I was inspired to make something summery and something that my husband would love. (I usually save the more interesting, flavorful exciting complicated dishes for weekends, and do old standbys during the week, but this Tuesday I was up for a new dish).  What do you make with pepper, mango, avocados and fish? Fish Tacos!

This is a great recipe for people who don’t like measuring. In fact, I won’t give you any measurements at all, just estimates, and trust me, it will still turn out great!

Take one Mango and one Avocado and chop into small pieces. Add juice of a Lime, a splash of Olive Oil, dash of Salt, dash of Black Pepper, sprinkle of Red Pepper Flakes.  Dice 1/2 a Red Onion and 1/2 a Red Bell Pepper. Salsa done!

Next take the Fish (mahi mahi, pollock, or tilapia all would work) and cut into 1 inch cubes. Roll in Corn Meal and pan fry in olive oil about 5-7 minutes, until flaky.  You can add some pepper or other spices to the fish for a bit of kick if you like.

Then just slap it all together in a taco shell, with maybe some lettuce for crunch and it will taste great. This will definitely go into my dinner repertoire as a crowd (crowd of two, at least) pleaser! Yay Tuesday!

A Quiet Day In – Spouses Living on Different Schedules

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This week, my husband worked the night shifts on his floor at the hospital.  This means that he is at home all day and I am home all night.  It makes for a strange altered reality where you live with someone and know they have been there, sleeping in the home you share all day long, but when evening falls they are nowhere to be found.  That is, until the weekend comes around and I’m home during the day too.  It is now Saturday afternoon (a rainy one, at that) and our curtains are drawn, lights off, and I’m sneaking around the apartment in sock-feet cursing the loudness of the refrigerator door.

Having a nocturnal spouse is certainly an aspect of being married to a resident I had not anticipated.  The late nights – check.  The long hours – check.  The missed social events, stress, and exhaustion – check, check, check!  However, when we both have a Saturday afternoon off it feels like a waste to spend it with him sleeping all day and me then sleeping all night.  The obvious answer is to go out and do something.*  The other day I met a physician, recently done with residency, who counseled me that ‘having my own life’ is key.  She told me that not waiting around for the spouse who is extra busy to be home is important for creating space for both people.  She is right.  The first few months of residency, which were also the first few months of marriage, I tried to spend every free moment that he was not at the hospital with him.  It was hard.

Coordinating schedules between two people is difficult anyway, even without the ever-changing shifts of a hospital.  And the issue of how much time you have together v. how much you spend alone or with your friends is certainly not unique to marriages with odd schedules.  You have to do activities that are you just for you, so that you do not feel like you are just waiting.  Waiting for them to come home, waiting to get his schedule to book a vacation, waiting to make dinner.  I understand that this situation is especially applicable during residency, however I think many people in relationships struggle to find common time.  This means using time apart to do things for you, and time together be a couple.

Before we got married, someone asked us if the time we spend together is valuable.  I had never thought about that before.   Do we just vegetate in front of the tv, or do we talk and be present for each other?  It’s sort of a quality time over quantity time idea.  Since the start of residency, my longer commute and all of the preoccupations that go with both of our jobs, I will admit that there have been more evenings of dinner with the tv on.  However, we still make an effort to go out, to talk and to connect, which has become even more important now that out schedule so rarely align.

*I did go to the gym the today! See Resolution #3

Tiny Screwdrivers are Stupid

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No new apartment is complete without at least one trip it Ikea.  I’m not the most handy girl, but I’ve watched more than my share of This Old House and the New Yankee Workshop (thanks Dad) so I figured that assemble at home furniture would be a snap.  Ikea has directions that come in tiny books with many little figures either smiling or frowning or with Xs through them as they march around the pages putting the small screw (No, not the large screw yet!) into the long board like a very pragmatic, wordless comic book.

The bed was starting to resemble a bed-like structure, with a headboard and a footboard and two side panels all securely in place, and I began gloating about my assembly skills.  That is when we reached for the midbeam and realized that an error had been made.  I say ‘an error had been made’ in the same way that politicians acknowledge that ‘mistakes were made’ or children admit that ‘someone spilled something’ on the white carpet … meaning, I did it.  In my excitement and haste to put together the many tiny boards that somehow constitute a sturdy headboard, I had put one piece (the most critical piece) in backwards.

As anyone knows putting together one of those assemble-at-home pieces of furniture is like the furnishings equivalent to that old children’s song … the headboard is connected to the support board, the support board is connected to the footboard… So when one piece is wrong, all the pieces are wrong.

My husband didn’t say a thing, just shook his head, and picked up the tiny bent metal that is supposed to function as a screwdriver and began un-fastening the top pieces.  He must really love me.

The Grocery Store is My Nemesis

I remember being in Trader Joes several months ago (back when I was first engaged and convinced that wedding planning would be a breeze, moving would be a double breeze and commuting through philly traffic would give me “time to reflect on my day”) when I overheard a young woman asking an employee how to cook the bag of brussel sprouts she was purchasing.  She explained to the employee that she was newly married and had never cooked a day in her life.  Smugly I thought, who can’t cook brussel sprouts?!  I would like to now apologize to that woman.

Brussel SproutsMy husband and I didn’t share an apartment before we tied the knot.  A series of awkward timing with school, jobs and various leases kept pushing back our decision to co-habitate.  So fresh back from our honeymoon and living together for the first time, my husband and I started finding chores that fell into his purview and mine.  He works longer hours than I do, so dinner seemed an obvious job for me, and with that, I decided I should do the grocery shopping for the initial week too.  So there I was early on a Sunday morning wandering up and down the supermarket aisles.  First, I was fairly confident that I could handle shopping for a week and would dispatch the chore quickly.  I marched in confidently, pushing my cart, armed with my shopping list and reusable cloth bags.  However, I’ve always been sort of a grazer when it comes to dinner – eating thrown together salads, hummus or toast and eggs as dinner during school.  Making five (or heaven forbid seven) meals over the next week that someone else would not only find edible but perhaps even appealing suddenly seemed very daunting.

As I wandered around aisle four wondering if you could use breading to pan fry chicken as well as sear fish, it occurred to me that this is why people buy magaines devoted to ‘summer recipes’.  This is why there are websites that offer a week of pre-planned meals, grocery lists, recipes and all.  What did women do back on the prairie prior to wifi and a local grocery store?  Luckily these days there are many books advertising healthy dinners, and easy meals, so hopefully I won’t get the chef’s version of writer’s block anytime soon.  But I certainly admire those who can just whip up a quick dinner with whatever is in the fridge!