Pasta Perfecto

Perrrrfect Pasta (not mine, but close in nature) - Photo by disneymike via Flickr

The easiest pasta (and some of the best tasting) revealed itself to me this evening.

Key components: Sauce, Cheese, Veggies, La Creuset Casserole Dish

Sauce: Ground beef, sauteed/carmelized onions, sauteed garlic, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, a slow cooker.  Let this simmer together for 7 hours. The lower the heat and the longer the time make all the difference.

Pasta: I used what was left in a box of rotini and a box of penne.  Mixing pasta makes the dish look pretty, BUT you need to make sure they cook in the same amount of time.  Bring water and salt to a boil.  Add pasta, cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.

Veggies: I like spinach, but you can use steamed zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard…whatever you will.  Add veggies into sauce in the casserole dish and apply low heat.  Toss together until veggies wilt.

Back to the pasta: Drain the pasta, add to the sauce/veggie mixture. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Use fresh ground pepper. It’s worth it.

Cheese: My favorite part. I use mini mozzarella balls that are stored in water (keeps them fresher for longer).  Dump the mini mozzarella into the heated pasta and sauce mixture.  Grate pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano into the casserole dish.  Mix in grated cheese and then top the mixture lightly with a final layer of either cheese.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Insert the covered casserole dish and let it bake for 15-18 minutes.  The cheese will be melty and glorious.

If you’re a loner like me, you can eat this for up to 3 days.  It makes the perfect easy (and healthy) lunch and dinner.

Eat up!

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Gay bars and Good Friends

"Do you think we'll dress like this when we get older?" Picture by Juhan Sonin via Flickr

You feel like you’ve made it (friend-wise) when you still keep in touch and regularly see your friends from nursery school.  I can proudly say that I’ve come to feel quite close to the several kids who were once screaming in diapers with me learning colors and shapes.

Now that we all have relocated out of Boston (mostly), we find it quite necessary to hang out whenever we get the chance.  Whether its on a break from med school, during Thanksgiving break, or an impromptu visit to a significant other, the timing always feels right and we’re guaranteed to have fun.

So, last night my good friend M decides we are going to meet up at what I think is the only gay sports bar in DC. We drank vodka tonics, margaritas, Guinness on tap…all the good stuff (but when mixed together makes for an ugly combination).  We watched the beautiful men walk into the bar dressed to the nines, greeting each other with the little European pecks.  We hit on our cute female waitress.  We drunkenly scarfed down french fries. We shivered in a little human ball as we rolled back to our car.

In so many ways I feel closer to these people than I ever have before.  Even though there is physical distance now and there was the elongated process of growing up in high school, we’ve come to recognize the common ground in each other.  The humor is similar. Our values nearly identical. How we have fun is mutually appreciated.  We’re all in it for the long haul, knowing that we’ll be hanging out in Florida sipping Mai Thais with each other someday as a geriatrics and remembering the days of Yom Kippur breakfasts and nursery school drama.  I can’t wait to see what happens in between.

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mobile phones and health care…who knew?

This is a BIG topic in maternal and global health generally.  The mHealth Alliance by the UN Foundation is holding a huge conference next week where Bill Gates is expected to speak.  Very exciting.

Here’s a blog post I’ve written for Women Deliver on mobile technology and how it can change health care systems for women.

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Girl Power

As partnership coordinator for Women Deliver and the sole staffer of the DC office, I attend a lot of partner meetings held by international NGOs, foundations, and government agencies.  This past Wednesday I attended a great event at the World Bank celebrating the success of the first two years of the Adolescent Girls Initiative.  Both Christy Turlington Burns (supermodel) and Anne Hathaway (actor) spoke, bringing a lot of style media buzz for the event.  I’ve written a blog post for Women Deliver that breaks down how economic empowerment for girls can reduce maternal mortality. Check it out!

Girl Effect sticker from the AGI event

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Dive In: The Best Maternal Health Sites on the Web

After working at a women’s health clinic in Calcutta, India during the summer of 2008, I became fiercely passionate about maternal health and sexual and reproductive rights.  It’s a crying shame to see so many mothers neglected and so many teens lose basic access to contraceptives and reproductive choice–something I’ve been lucky to have all of my adolescent years.

Since I’ve started working for a hard-core maternal health advocacy non-profit, I’ve liked exploring what else is out there–campaigns, blogs, websites, twitter feeds–to get a sense of the most effective maternal health advocacy strategies.  After 5 months on the job and several years perusing the field, here are the top 10:

  1. Every Mother Counts — a campaign founded by supermodel and advocate, Christy Turlington Burns.
  2. Blog 4 Global Health — policy blog run by the global health council
  3. The Girl Effect — program by the Nike Foundation to invest in adolescent girls; also watch the new video ( bring tissues)
  4. Maternal Mortality Daily — blog by Kate Mitchell, AIF Clinton Fellow and former communications associate for Maternal Health Task Force
  5. Make Women Matter — Campaign to end maternal death by Marie Stopes International
  6. Maternova — Maternal and newborn health technologies
  7. Women Deliver — international maternal health advocacy organization that raises political and financial will for MDG5 (I work here!)
  8. @Jo_Cox1 on twitter– Director of the Maternal Mortality Campaign
  9. Guttmacher Institute— publishing some of the most cutting-edge research on sexual and reproductive health
  10. @NickKristof on twitter– NY Times columnist who frequently writes about women and girls, human rights, and health. He also wrote Half the Sky with his wife Sheryl WuDunn

Check these out and also my recent blog post at Women Deliver on the Adolescent Girls Initiative.  Feel free to leave me any questions or suggestions for other global health websites.  I frequently post articles on maternal health, etc. on my twitter account:  @mtaskier. Happy surfing!

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And We Ate.

DISCLAIMER: Do not read this post if you are hungry and are not within reach of snack-able items or a good, solid meal.

The two defining components of this weekend were food and friends.  This is not to be confused with the fantastic non-profit Food & Friends which serves DC residents living with HIV/AIDS or other terminal illnesses.  But I digress…

I will split up these posts into two sections; first Friday and Saturday’s activities and then a later post on Sunday.

My dearest friend Charlotte picked me up at the airport on Friday afternoon and we soon caught up in her living room over two bottles of pumpkin ale by Smutty Nose Brewery.  After a quick catch-up and even quicker dinner at Addis Red Sea Ethiopian restaurant in Porter Square where we split a traditional Doro wot, I headed back to Tufts for the Homecoming Show.  Yes there was bad alcohol (Burnett’s Vodka, yuck) and lot’s of screaming for the Jills.  It was a fantastically fun evening.

Katherine soloingAmanda soloing, Jills rocking out with choreo

Saturday I woke up with Charlotte and made a quick run to Trader Joe’s for Jills alumni brunch fixings.  It was my responsibility to bring yogurt, milk, and cereal for the lovely ladies, though Liza’s food was far more of a hit.  Liza shows up at the house with four quiches, two large pans of hash browns with bell peppers and onions, fruit salad and cinnabuns.  Helen of course made vegan chocolate chip pancakes which were fluffy and delicious.  After sipping coffee and apple cider, all the Jills sang various songs and stuffed our hungover faces.

Midday, a group of us walked back to Tufts campus for the tailgate and Jo walked head-on into a parking sign–evidence of everyone’s state the night before.  Moments later, I found Charlotte again and wandered into the alumni tent to be greeted by many recent alumni.

What would a Tufts alumni event be without food?  Seasonal hot apple cider and apple cobbler/crumble with whipped cream kept me in the tent for a while as I caught up with various folks.  Then I wandered to a tailgate truck, grabbed a beer and watched the women’s rugby team chant and snack.  It was a bit surreal to be surrounded by alumni and current students, feeling somewhat caught in the middle.  I am still not really removed from Tufts, but I’m also glad that I’m no longer a student.  For several hours I made laps around the tailgate field chatting, drinking, and loving the amazing fall weather.

Charlotte and I met up with her friend Andrew who mentioned the Boston Food Festival in Seaport District.  It was too tempting to pass up… More updates on the festival and my culinary adventures later.

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Jumbo Time

So I’m heading up to Boston tomorrow for Tufts Homecoming.  I have no idea which sports we are playing, let alone which team in the NESCAC we are playing. Homecoming is not for sports (though some may disagree); it’s for revelry, reunions, and a cappella.

The first week of my freshmen year I got into the oldest all female a cappella group at Tufts, the Jackson Jills.  Little did I know that it would completely shape my college experience and my attachment to Tufts.  And little did I know that first week I got in how big of a deal the Friday night homecoming show is.

Every Friday homecoming after the pep-rally and before the games/tailgate, the Bubs, Mates, and Jills perform in Goddard Chapel in front of a packed crowd.  I love the crowd, but what I love more are all the alumni who come out totally inebriated to watch their groups perform.  Tomorrow night I am going to be one of them.

I anticipate that sitting on the floor of the chapel at the 9:30 show will be a bit surreal and maybe sad, but there will be pride swelling out of me for the younger Jills who work so hard to sound so good.  It shall be glorious.

Additionally I get to see one of my best friends who is finishing up her last semester at Tufts and a whole cohort of other alumns.  I’m also hoping to sneak a visit or two to my favorite sandwich place, Dave’s Fresh Pasta.

It’s going to be a great weekend.

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