How the Irish Saved Ethnic Bread of the Month

Centuries ago, in the green hills of Eire, the early Irish monks were watching as Western Civilization let its scholasticism get seriously lost, with art and literature being forgotten...

That is to say, Rachel and Eric, in their quest to make a new ethnic bread each month in 2008 were facing a serious challenge. After a less-than-full success in March with tortillas, they had gone for an intriguing recipe: Kosai, or Nigerian Black-eyed Pea Fritters. As exotic as this may sound, it seemed like a straight-forward recipe. We're not sure where it went wrong, but never have we had such an unsucessful cooking experiment. As we threw the dough balls into the oil to deep-fry them, they just dissolved. Even a bad cook makes some kind of food in the end, though it may be unsavory. We were left with nothing. Nothing. Our food just disappeared. That, my friends, is failure.

So the monks of Ireland took it upon themselves to preserve all the learning and ancient manuscripts of the West, and thus education and civilization were saved...

That is to say, after two non-successes, our quest stood on the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and we would fail. Then Eunice gave us a recipe for Irish Soda Bread, and on almost the last day of April, cream of tartar, carroway seeds, and a bunch of other magic, came together in a veritable salvific bread. We are back on track.


Launching a New Blogspot

As many of you know, our long-term plans involve moving to Africa to practice medicine, and this in the context of a community of 2 other medical families, the Cropsey and Faders. We've been working up a project of a blog for this community and there's a new link on the sidebar for it. It's meant to be a place for all things Faith, Medicine, and Africa.

Our hope is that this will allow the wonderful network of friends and families to keep up with us now as we plan just how to embark on something so remarkable, and also that this will be something we can continue to keep up even from abroad.

Blog Strangeness

Somehow, after each posting on our blog, these little star-rating things showed up. We don't like them, and we're trying to get rid of them, but blogger is being finicky. If you don't know what we're talking about, then maybe they're gone, so rejoice.

10,000 Daffodils

In what I consider to be an aesthetically controversially move, an art group decided a couple years back to plant 10,000 daffodils in a giant line criss-crossing through the Nichols Arboretum, one of Ann Arbor's finest parks.

The controversial part is that the line is sometimes unnaturally straight, and can be a bit jarring as you walk through an area otherwise full of natural curves. Nevertheless, watching all these yellow flowers every year is a great way to greet spring after a long Ann Arbor winter.

We made a point to take a walk through there yesterday. An older picture from past years can be seen at our snapshots on the sidebar.


Gettin' Blog Savvy - Part II

Now we're getting intense. I added a playlist of some of my tunes to the sidebar, beneath the links and the books and such. Hope you enjoy.


I Saw AC Slater!

If you have no idea who the above mentioned individual is, then this post will not excite you nearly as much as if you grew up in the '80s and '90s watching Saved by the Bell. I can honestly say that I don't remember watching much TV when I was growing up, but I sure do remember a lot of TV shows that I watched, so maybe I spent more time in front of the tube than I remembered. But truly, anyone in my generation should remember Zach and Kelly, Screech, Slater, Jesse, and Lisa. Slater was played by Mario Lopez and thought by many young teen girls of the day to be the "hunk" of the show. He dropped off the face of the earth for awhile and then resurfaced in such shows as "Dancing with the Stars," a show were many has-been actors try to revive their careers. I think in his case it seems to be working.

Last weekend I was in NYC for an OB-GYN resident leadership conference along with my 3 other fellow third year residents. We had Saturday night free and decided to go see a show, and ended up seeing "A Chorus Line," featuring none other than one Mario Lopez. The whole production was phenomenal, actually--a story about 16 dancers auditioning for a role in a Broadway performance. It was my first Broadway show and it was a wonderful experience.

Of note, Pope Benedict XVI was also in NYC this weekend. I saw many evidences of his visit but did not actually see the actual Holy Father. But for the record, if I had see him, he would have trumped AC in the title. :)


Blue Like Jazz

Some might say that all I talk about is books, and some might be able to make a decent case for that statement. Nonetheless, I haven't used this venue to broadcast too many book endorsements, but I'm making an exception here.

I had heard a few different people reference this book, and the title tells you next to nothing about its content. But after our pastor shared a story from it, where the author and his friends set up a confessional booth in the midst of a college rave in order to confess their own sins as Christians to their classmates, we both have decided to peruse the pages.

It's a smattering of very honest and personal stories and thoughts about Christianity. The honesty of it is terribly compelling, but his style is equally attractive to me. I laughed out loud at almost every chapter, and he has this syntax to his sentences that embody transparency and openness. It grabs me because it is exactly the way the best of conversations have sounded with my own friends. So, if you're reading this, you're probably our friends, and thus have a good chance to enjoy it in the same way. Thus I wanted to pass it on to you.

Apparently, Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson are making this into a movie, which should be very interesting.


The Myriad of Ann Arbor Culture

Eric has now lived in Ann Arbor almost 6 six years, and Rachel almost 3 years. Yet we are still amazed at the new experiences we encounter and wonder how we've not taken advantage of them all this time.

Last Wednesday, we bussed up to our friend Eunice's house, then walked up to Hill Auditorium, a beautiful historic U of M structure (where Eric graduated) to take in a free concert by the Campus orchestra. We picked it out, because "Claire de Lune" was on the website, and even though it mysteriously disappeared from the program, there were some wonderfully classic pieces enjoyed by all. Plus, there was this awesome conductor named Yaniv, who had a great accent and this very cool casual way of going about a rather formal event, i.e. an orchestra concert. Plus, since Eric gets free bus access and Rachel had a coupon, the whole evening, transport included, was completely free! Why have we not been doing this regularly (we have done it occassionally) up till now.

Eunice let us know about some shows coming up in the next few weeks, with some of the more premiere symphonies and orchestras from campus, so we'll try to dip in again. Ann Arborites: here's the weblink with the calendar. Do yourself a favor and check it out. Seriously, there are multiple events every night.


2000th visitor

V2K is upon us. If you're our 2000th visitor, per the counter at the bottom of the sidebar, leave us a message, just to appease our curiosity. =) Most likely, it will be one of the two of us, checking our own blog.


Shock of Spring

After a long Ann Arbor winter (and this year, with the highest snowfall in recorded history), that spring would come at all comes as a shock. We all knew with our minds that spring would come, but our surprise at its advent just shows that our hearts doubted nonetheless. Amazing phenomenon. Here's the very first flower to bloom in our yard. Don't worry, when I picked it, there were others blooming, so I didn't return the yard to a completely denuded state.


Nashville Receives a Gift

For those who read this from Nashville, you need to be informed (if you don't already know) that Trader Joe's is coming to your town. Apparently, they are setting up shop up on Hillsboro Pike in Green Hills, where the Wild Oats use to be. This is no ordinary gourmet grocery. This place is cheap.
We would like to both go on record by saying that you are getting a gift. The gift of leaving a grocery shopping experience very happy.

Horses Win $300,000

We had a great opportunity last weekend to visit with Eric's sister Mariah and brother-in-law Jonathan, by splitting the distance and hanging out in Lexington for a couple days. There's a distinct advantage for those in biggish families to get to break out on their own and enjoy some quiet company with just a couple members of that family. We met in Cincinnati last year, and had a great time, so we headed just a bit further south this year for a repeat.

We visited the Keeneland horse race tracks, where races don't start till this coming weekend, but we watched some practicing, and then got to feed bananas to a couple horses in the stable, where we learned that one of them had already won more than $300,000 in winnings. Whoa.

We also visited a Kentucky Bourbon distillery (Wild Turkey) and a mediocre winery that was nonetheless set in a pretty country and was very accomodating. We finished up at the Shaker village (seen below), which is apparently the largest restored Shaker community. Seeing as the were a celibate community, they have all but died out. Maybe even more amazing is that there is still a Shaker community active. There are a grand total of 3 Shakers in this world, at a community in Maine. Would it be fun to meet them! The last Shakers...

Good times had by all, and maybe most significantly, relaxing times had by all. The closer we get to the big move abroad, the more each of these family visits takes on extra significance. Wonderful to see you two.


Gettin' Blog Savvy

I think I've figured out how to post music files on the blog, for your listening... pleasure? If all is as I think it should be, you can click here to listen to the song I posted the lyrics of a while back. Rough little home recording, but rather interesting to see how far you can stretch a $20 BestBuy mic and the programs listed under the Accessories tab in Windows.


Driving Home the Point

A link to an acquaintance who is mostly a good friend of a good friend, but who has excellent things to say, in this case on "Law and Gospel in the Church Parking Lot". As he says, I also wanted to laugh and throw up.

New Beer Night IV

We have had two good original ideas in our life together. Both of them were over several years ago, so we're waiting patiently for the next one to come along.

The first of these was New Beer Night. Microbrew products are packaged in such an intriguing way that we were terribly curious, but unwilling to shell out $4 for each single bottle. So we devised a plan. We would invite friends over, and each person had to bring a single bottle of a beer that they have never tried before. Each beer is divided into small samplings, served with yummy snacks (including the obligatory artichoke crab dip), and votes counted for Best Beer, Worst Beer, and Best Presented Beer.

Last week: New Beer Night IV. You know that uber-embarrasing feeling you get when you and someone else show up wearing the same pair of shoes? Well, I don't, but I do know how it feels to show up with Monty Python's Holy Ale, and realize that someone else brought the same: Shame.

We would like to congratulate the following winners from among Eric's residency class who were in attendance. Worst Beer went to Jen Clem for "Hop Devil". Best Presentation went to Tonna Lee for a very cute Japanese "Hitachi Commemoration Ale". Best Beer was claimed by Rachel in an act of sheer nepotism for her Scottish "Fraoch Heather Ale". Congrats to all.