Monday, October 12, 2009

Polycystic Kidney Disease

This deviates from the regular blog theme, but a friend of mine, staceyT, has something important to say about this disease, and I thought I would re-post some important facts here. There is not much awareness spread about this disease.

If you feel moved by what you read, please consider donating to StaceyT and the PKD Foundation here.

Polycystic Kidney Disease is one of the most common, life-threatening genetic diseases, affecting 600,000 Americans and 12.5 million people worldwide. PKD is more common than Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and sickle cell anemia - combined. Polycystic Kidney Disease causes fluid filled cysts to form on both kidneys. Over time, these cysts grow and multiply, sometimes dramatically in size. For most patients, their PKD ultimately causes the kidneys to shut down. Once that happens, dialysis and transplant are their only options to prolong life. Parents with the dominant form of PKD have a 50% chance of passing the disease on to each of their children. For the recessive form, ARPKD, parents have usually never heard of PKD until their newborn is diagnosed with it. For 30% of newborns, ARPKD is fatal.

Although there is no treatment or cure for Polycystic Kidney Disease, there is hope… Stacey's dad has had 2 kidney transplants in the last year (the 2nd kidney is doing very well and as of June 30th he's past the 3 month post transplant mark!). But even though he now has a functioning kidney, the battle is far from over. He has other PKD related health issues to deal with on a daily basis. Plus, both Stacey and her sister each have a 50% chance of getting PKD. Please consider joining our fight — by donating to the cause, registering for the walk (and raising funds) — or both! Every little bit helps!

In other news, Bleu Bella Paperie has graciously decided to donate all card sales from her store to the PKD Foundation. In addition, Belinda and I are committed to donating a $1 for every comment on Bleu Bella Paperie's post, to StaceyT's cause. So head on over and leave a comment. To sweeten the deal, there is also a blog giveaway.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Big Thank You

I just wanted to give a big thanks to those that supported my 5k race. I had a few goals for the day of the race:

1. support a good cause
2. have fun
3. finish the race
4. finish it under 45min
5. not be dead last

I managed to achieve all of the goals with your great help. Yeehaw!

And on top of that, thanks to my generous supporters I managed to raise more than my 100$ goal.

After 5K Race

So, to everyone that supported me in one way or another -- thanks for the words of encouragement, watching me race, and supporting my cause financially! You made this whole event worthwhile and fun for me.

Monday, October 5, 2009

[Project Lunch] Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Last week's "Project Lunch" kicked off and I am happy to report that I fed all three of us to contentment--and all under $10. Since I did not have much time to make something, I decided to pick up pancetta on the way home to make my favorite, quick dish: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Spaghetti alla Carbonara is like breakfast in disguise: eggs, "ham", cheese all served with a carb. Who would not want to eat this for lunch? The only thing I regret about this dish is the lack of "veggie of the day." However, the boys certainly didn't mind ;)

Spaghetti alla Carbonara
adapted from "Pasta: 40 Wonderful Classic Pasta Recipes"

* 1 lb spaghetti
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 8 oz pancetta, medium-thick slices
* 4 eggs
* 5 tbsp light cream
* 4 tbsp freshly, grated pecorino romano
* salt + pepper

01. Bring large, heavy-bottom pan of water to a boil.
02. Add pasta and return to a boil; cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.
03. Chop the pancetta into squares.
04. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottom skillet.
05. Add chopped pancetta; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently for about 8-10min. Do not let pancetta crisp.
06. Beat eggs with cream in a separate bowl.
07. Season egg mixture with s+p.
08. Drain the pasta; immediately return the pasta to the pan.
09. Tip the pancetta and oil from the skillet into the pan.
10. Add egg mixture to the pan, along with 2 tbsp of pecorino romano to the pan.
11. Mix well & serve immediately.
12. Finish off by sprinkling parmesan and pepper onto each serving.

Tips & Tricks:
* Salt the pasta water so that it "tastes like the sea." This is the only opportunity to flavor the pasta.
* Drop the pasta and the pancetta into their respective pan or skillet at the same time. Since they have the same cooking time, they will be done at the same time, allowing the pancetta to be mixed in while the pasta is still hot.
* Make sure that the heat is off when adding the egg mixture to the pasta. Otherwise, the eggs will start hardening together, resulting in some resemblance of soggy scramble eggs. The goal in Carbonara is a nice smooth & rich texture, but some coagulation in the eggs is acceptable (due to the heat from the spaghetti).
* When bringing this to work, only make the pasta and pancetta ahead of time and mix them well together. Incidentally, the pancetta and oil keeps the pasta from sticking, which works out well. Bring the egg mixture and the cheese in separate containers. Re-heat the pasta in the microwave by adding 1 tbsp water and keeping the bowl covered with plastic wrap, until steaming hot. Quickly, pour the egg mixture and stir well, until all of the pasta is coated. Serve immediately.

Price Check:
$ 1.00, Pasta (@ 1.00 for 1 lb)
$ 5.09, Pancetta (@ 9.99 for 1 lb)
$ 0.39, Light Cream (@ 2.50 for 16 oz)
$ 0.64, Eggs (@ 2.89 for 18 pcs)
$ 1.50, Pecorino Romano (@ 11.99 for 1 lb)

Total: $ 8.62

Verdict & Lesson's Learned:
:) Both boys said it was a keeper on the "Project Lunch" menu.

:| One boy mentioned that the portion size was ok; the other said he could eat an additional bowl. We each had 1.5 bowls or so, and I felt quite satiated after that. Since there are 2 votes for "just right" and one goal is to be conscientious about portion sizes, I'm sticking with 1 lb. of pasta.

:( Nutmeg came up as a missing spice in a dish. But as much as I value their feedback, I'm throwing this suggestion out. When I'm on a mission to make Carbonara, then the Carbonara-purist in me screams: "No nutmeg!" For me, Carbonara is synonymous to simplicity. The simplicity in making this marvelous rustic, yet decadent-tasting, filling meal with just five ingredients. I'm also very adamant about the pasta, since this is a spaghetti dish -- no other pasta will suffice for me, since the twirling and slurping of egg with cream is just a must! But really any pasta that picks up sauce well (e.g., penne, bucatini) will do. The one part that I would love to change is the pancetta. The original recipes call for guanciale. But where can I find this piece of delicious meat?! If you know, do tell! I promise to keep your secret...

On a disclaimer note, there are many tasty variations, and I am not against to tasting them. In fact, our local Italian place makes their Carbonara version with sauteed onions and bucatini, leaving the happy and delirious diner in a trance-like food coma. On another plus note, they have figured out how to sneak in "veggie of the day" (if you consider onion a veggie)...something for me to go ponder ;)

So, are you a Carbonara purist, too? Or do you have a delicious version that you stand by? I'd love to hear about it! In the meantime, I hope that you'll have fun trying this really quick recipe.

Friday, October 2, 2009

[Project Lunch] Are you up for the Challenge?

I have hinted in my previous post that I am starting a lunch project. That's not entirely true, since I should really be saying "we are starting a Project Lunch." Two of my friends from work and I were having lunch as usual when we had a few revelations:

[Revelation #1]: The financial crisis. Funny enough, all the lunch places near work that we generally frequent did not "drop" their prices or offer any "recession-proof" lunches like some other chains have (e.g., TGIF).

[Revelation #2]: We easily spent $7-13 per person. That's an average of $10/person, or $30 for three. One work week makes $150. One month? A whopping 600$ on just lunch during work weeks.

[Revelation #3]: It's always the same stuff, isn't it? We cycle between pizza, sushi, chinese, burgers, and italian. Sometimes we throw in sandwiches or an Indian buffet to "mix it up." But generally, we each order the "same thing" on the menu too. Boring!

[Revelation #4]: Unhealthy portion sizes! Since portion sizes in the US have grown into monstrous servings, we know that any reasonable person needs only half of what comes on that plate. And besides, when it comes to "food coma vs greedy foodie"? Food coma always wins out and really inhibits that productivity in the office!

[Revelation #5]: I can make that...for less! I was sitting in a restaurant, eating a very delicious smoked salmon wrap, but the components were easy enough to reproduce for much less, so why not make it?

So, here is the weekly "Project Lunch" challenge:
Cook 3x a week for three people.
Each meal should be under $10.

It boils down to making lunch once a week -- ain't so bad, right? Are you up for the challenge?
Related Posts with Thumbnails