Going Home and Blueberry Buckle

Sometimes, patients are really excited to go home.

You’d be surprised how many patients never want to leave the hospital. Some people actually like the food, others think that we’re more like a full-service hotel than a place for patient care, et cetera.

Other patients are more normal. And they want to leave.

We were rounding that morning on a patient that had been admitted the previous day. He was approximately in his forties, walking around the hospital room, while his wife sat on the couch.

Patient: So when can I go home?

Me: Well sir, it looks like we can send you home this morning. We just have to finish up the paperwork.

Patient: Well hurry up, since I want to get LAID!

* stunned looks on the faces of the medical team *

To her credit, his wife immediately whipped out her phone, called her sister, and informed her that they needed a ride ASAP.

They ran out the door five minutes later. And his discharge instructions did recommend exercise.

Afterglow Blueberry Buckle

blueberry bucklethe perfect after-bang breakfast

Ingredients (buckle)

  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c white flour
  • 1 c whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 c blueberries (if using frozen, don’t thaw first!)
  • White sugar for dusting
  • Cooking spray

Ingredients (sauce)

  • 2  1/2 c blueberries
  • 2/3 c sugar
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 c water, plus 1/2 c for later
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch

How-to

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray two loaf pans with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl, mix together flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Stir in blueberries so they are all covered with the mixture (this will help them not sink to the bottom of the cake). Set aside.
  4. In another bowl, mix together sugar and vegetable oil. Add in the egg and stir until the mixture just starts to lighten. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
  5. Fold in the dry ingredients with the blueberries in an attempt to keep most of the blueberries whole (some of them will get smushed in the mixing process, but that’s okay!).
  6. Divide mixture between the two loaf pans.
  7. Sprinkle the top of each loaf with cinnamon and white sugar.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (besides parts of blueberries, of course). Let cool for 10-20 minutes before slicing.
  9. While the buckle is baking (or while it is cooling, if you took a recreational break), dump the blueberries, water, lemon juice, and sugar into a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium high and cook for approximately 10 minutes (you want some of the blueberries to pop, but others to still be a bit whole. It will be boiling. And it might splatter, so wear an apron).
  10. Mix together the remaining 1/2 c cold water with the cornstarch. Stir this mixture into the saucepan. Cook for an additional minute or until desired thickness. (no pun intended)
  11. Let sauce cool for 3-5 minutes, then spoon it onto the buckle. Enjoy!
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Devils and Black Pepper Strawberry Jam

You really never do know what is about to come out of someone’s mouth.

I was on a consult month and had just gotten a new patient. Now, I will admit that the feisty patients are some of my favorites- they really break up the day and are by far the most memorable.

This lady was FEISTY. I walked in and was immediately informed that she was doing things her way (as she always had, thank you very much). She also had an opinion on pretty much everyone.

Including, when we came back to formally round, my medical student.

At this point in time, I had a medical student with a very full beard. Which he liked to stroke as a nervous habit when he wasn’t talking.

That was what my patient picked up on immediately.

Attending: So, my dear, we would recommend…

Patient (interrupting): Oh, you a kinky devil, aren’t you?

Attending (shocked): Excuse me???

Patient (pointing at my medical student): You there, with the beard. You a kinky devil. You like stroking that beard. Man, you KINKY. You are so KINKY. STROKE that beard.

Medical student (shocked, but still nervously stroking his beard): Uhm, I don’t quite know what to say…

Patient (knowingly): Oh, you don’t need to say anything, you kinky devil.

Needless to say, we didn’t make him see that patient on a daily basis.

Devilish Strawberry and Black Pepper Jam

Black Pepper Strawberry Jam

for the spicy side in you

Ingredients

  • 4 c strawberries, hulled and mashed (I used about 2 packages of fresh strawberries)
  • 7 c white sugar
  • 1 pouch liquid pectin
  • 2 tbsp black pepper, ground

How-to

  1. Prepare water bath canner with eight washed pint jars, rings, and lids.
  2. In your largest pot, mix together strawberries and sugar.
  3. Place strawberries and sugar over high heat and bring to a rolling boil (a boil you can’t stir down), stirring often (this easily can boil over the edge, so don’t walk away).
  4. Add liquid pectin all at once (it helps to cut the top off and have the container waiting upright in a drinking glass).
  5. Bring jam back to a rolling boil.
  6. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then turn off heat. Stir in black pepper. Add more to taste, if desired.
  7. Ladle jam into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch at the top. Wipe off rims then place on lids and rings.
  8. Place jars in water bath canner, bring water back to a boil, and process for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove jars and let cool for 12-24 hours. If jars not sealed within 24 hours, place in fridge and eat within a week.

Block Parties, Part 2, and Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

When one decides to make a scene, it’s best to do it in front of the neighbors.

It was another epic neighborhood block party (and this time, one without any performances on my part). This time, we had all brought out the roller blades (can’t you tell this happened in the 90s?) to play a game of roller hockey. For once, it was quite easy- the street had JUST been redone, so every kid on the block was out testing out the smooth pavement and relishing the lack of potholes or cracks.

Including the “big” kids.

My neighbor had played ice hockey back in the day, and wasn’t going to let being in his late 30s stop him from playing street hockey with people a third of his age. It also wasn’t going to stop him from showing off how many tricks he could do on wheels.

It was at that moment, watching him skate backwards, that I suddenly screamed, “MIKE! STOP!!! OR TURN AROUND!!!!!”

He didn’t listen. And went straight into my neighbor’s glass picnic table, which they had been ever-so-kind to bring out into the street for the purposes of eating and drinking.

My neighbor emerged, drenched in beverages, from the table which was now cracked and flipped entirely over, and enduring the steely grey eyes of the owner of the table which never quite sat evenly again.

Obviously, we never let him live that moment down. And, according to my parents, even though Mike has moved from the neighborhood, we still can’t play hockey during block parties.

No Tricks Required Cinnamon Tortilla Chips

Sweet Tortilla Chips

these chips are able to show off themselves, no talent required

Ingredients

  • 12 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Butter flavored cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut tortillas into eight triangles.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. Place tortillas onto a large cookie sheet, making sure not to overlap (you will need to do this in batches).
  5. Spray tortilla triangles with cooking spray, then sprinkle on sugar-spice mixture.
  6. Bake 7-9 minutes or until light brown.
  7. Eat on their own or serve with fruit salsa.

Block Parties, Part 1, and Fruit Salsa

As a kid, you always have dreams. It takes acknowledging those dreams in front of others to make you realize that they might not be the wisest idea.

 My elementary and middle school years were filled with boy bands and girl bands. From New Kids on the Block, to Spice Girls, to Backstreet Boys, I’m pretty sure that my best friend and I bought nearly every CD the day it was released and wore them out listening on repeat.

That also meant that we felt we could create our own girl band. (And yes, I realize that two people forms just a duo, but we weren’t quibbling with the details here, folks.) We spent hours writing our own songs, designing our album cover art, and recording our music using a pair of drumsticks we found to keep the beat.

Naturally, we needed a place to first showcase our talent. Which happened to be the neighborhood block party.

We announced that year that we’d be hosting a talent show. We might have been the only people to sign up for the talent show, but that’s a different story. Decisions were made to submit two pieces- we’d demonstrate our dancing skills to a choreographed rendition of Backstreet Boy’s “Everybody [Backstreet’s Back]” and show off our chops singing a song we wrote ourselves.

Then, on the day of the block party, my friend wisely made the decision to drop out of the singing portion. I chose to go it alone.

I should probably take this moment to say that I am not the strongest dancer (future stories to follow). Nor is my singing voice the best when I’ve been running around screaming at a block party the entire day. And then there was the rather unfortunate fact that our song didn’t make the any sense, and would not sound good even if Adele sang it, much less two pre-teen girls going through puberty.

We danced. I nearly fell. I sang. My voice kept giving out.

The polite clapping I heard after the performance let me know that I should probably come up with another career choice.

Anyone Can Do It Fruit Salsa

Fruit Salsa

you don’t even need talent to make this

Ingredients (feel free to use whatever fruit you have on hand- this is just what I like in mine!)

  • 1 c blackberries, halved
  • 1 c red grapes, halved
  • 1 pomegranate, seeded (if you do this inside a bowl of cold water, you won’t end up looking like a scene from a crime show- just break it apart and the seeds will sink to the bottom)
  • 1 c strawberries, quartered
  • 1 kiwi, cubed
  • 1 plum, cubed
  • 1 mango, pitted and cubed
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Cinnamon tortilla chips or pita chips

How-to

  1. Cut up the fruit so that everything is in similar sized. Divide into two bowls.
  2. Using a potato masher (or a fork), lightly squish half the fruit.
  3. Combine the fruit back together. Sprinkle on the lemon juice. Fold gently.
  4. Refrigerate at least 2 hours (though overnight is better).
  5. Serve with cinnamon tortilla chips, on top of pound cake, et cetera

Commitment and Cinnamon Bread

Sometimes commitment can come too quickly, especially if it’s unwanted.

I was seeing a guy that seemed quite nice. However, if anything, he was a little bit too nice. Not that I have anything against nice guys- I certainly don’t like dating assholes. But on occasion, I do like to date someone who isn’t exactly like me, because I am a big fan of a good debate everyone once in a while.

So here I was, on the third date, seeing what I was quickly realizing was a too-nice-for-my-taste guy.

It would have really been in my favor to realize that on the second date.

At the end of the date, he leaned in to kiss me. And that is when I really realized that he was not the guy for me, since he even kissed too nice. But it was what happened afterwards that really sealed the deal.

Guy: We’re perfect for each other. I want us to be officially dating in a few weeks, engaged by Christmas, and then married by next summer.

Me: gulp (haven’t I mentioned before that I don’t jump into commitment? and I told this guy that! AND HE JUST GAVE ME A TIMELINE.)

Guy: We’ll be so in love! 

Me: gulp (haven’t I mentioned it before that this freaks me out when that is said too soon? and I told this guy that, too! AND I’VE REALIZED I’M NOT EVEN “IN LIKE”)

Guy: It’ll be a dream come true!

Too bad for me it seemed more like a nightmare.

It also made it very difficult to let this guy down easily, as he obviously hadn’t been listening to anything I had said so far (except for “I’m a doctor,” likely. Seems like he had things in common with some of my patients.)

Take Your Time Cinnamon Bread

cinnamon breadbecause who doesn’t need to slow down and breath every once in a while?

Ingredients (this makes two loaves)

  • 6 c unbleached flour (this is approximate- you might use anywhere from 1/4 c more or less, depending  on the day), plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tsp and 2 tbsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 package yeast
  • 1/4 c vegetable shortening
  • 2 and 1/4 c skim milk
  • 1/3 c + 1c sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten

How-to

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together 2 c flour, 1 tsp cinnamon, and yeast.
  2. Using a small saucepan over low heat, melt vegetable shortening. Turn off the heat and add the milk, 1/3 c sugar, and salt. Let cool until temperature is between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit (use a thermometer- you need the right temp for the yeast!).
  3. Turn the mixer on low using the paddle attachment. Slowly add the liquid ingredients. Turn speed up to medium for 30 seconds, scrape bowl, then turn mixer back onto high speed for 3 minutes.
  4. Switch the paddle attachment for the dough hook. Turn the mixer on low, then slowly add the rest of the flour (taking into account that you might not use all of the flour, or you might need to add a little bit more if the dough seems too wet).
  5. Crank that mixer up to high for 3 minutes to kneed the dough.
  6. Remove dough and place into a glass bowl coated with vegetable oil, flipping dough over once to make sure it’s coated in a thin layer all around.
  7. Place in a warm place covered with a towel for 45 minutes to one hour to allow dough time to double in size (I normally place the oven on 200 degrees when I first start making the bread, then turn off before placing my bowl in there).
  8. Remove dough from your warm place and punch down. Let rest 10 minutes, then divide in half.
  9. Spray two loaf pans with vegetable oil spray.
  10. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1 c sugar, remaining 2 tbsp cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  11. Sprinkle a clean countertop and your rolling pin with flour. Roll half the dough out into a large rectangle, slightly wider than your loaf pan (I normally aim for about 2 inches here) and 16-18 inches long.
  12. Rinse your hands with cold water, and massage the surface of the dough until slick (this will help create a gooey cinnamon layer). Sprinkle on half the spice mixture. Roll up the bread, fold over ends, and place into the loaf pan seam-side down.
  13. Repeat with the second half of the dough and spice mixture.
  14. Cover again with a towel and place in a warm place to double in size (30-45 minutes).
  15. Preheat oven to 375 degrees (be sure to make sure your oven is empty!!!).
  16. Beat egg with a little bit of cold water. Using a pastry brush, brush tops of bread.
  17. Bake for 40 minutes (bread will sound hollow when you knock on it).
  18. Remove from pans and let cool.

Slice and serve. Be sure to keep in an air-tight container so it doesn’t dry out! If it does, heat up a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds with a little butter, or use to make french toast.

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Grandsons and Pumpkin Bread

Sometimes, patients have ulterior motives.

I was trying very hard to discharge my patient, an up-to-this-point very pleasant, easygoing Thai woman.

It just wasn’t working.

We told her at 6am (I was, after all on a surgery month, where rounds start far earlier and thankfully are far shorter) that we’d be sending her home later that day once her paperwork was done.

I was done with her paperwork by 9am, with her discharge order in shortly afterward.

And here was where the trouble began. Now, most people don’t like being in the hospital. Yes, you do have a few people who attempt to work the system, but in general, being in the hospital is NOT like being in a hotel (more stories on that to come in future posts).

First, she wanted refills of every medication she ever took, along with having them hand delivered to her room. Accomplished.

Next, she wanted to stay through lunch, as her family wouldn’t be able to pick her up until the afternoon. Request granted.

Then she wanted both the flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine. Ask and you shall receive.

I kept getting paged over and over again to go into her room and answer questions. (Can I shower when I get home? Well, we let you shower here, so…Can I eat my normal foods? Well, we had you on a general diet here, soo…)

And then the real truth came out.

Patient: So, you no married, no? My grandson, he real hottie for young doctor. He be here soon! Make grandma proud! Nice doctor to marry!

I then had to politely decline her offers to grant me a husband.

Potential In Law Approved Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin breadin case I ever truly find myself in that situation

Ingredients (makes 2 large loaves of bread)

  • 1 overly ripe banana
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 15 oz can pumpkin
  • 1 c whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/3 c white flour
  • 1 c dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 c water
  • 4 tbsp roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • Cooking spray

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Liberally spray two loaf pans with cooking spray (otherwise these puppies won’t come out, and you certainly don’t want that!).
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (though feel free to make this by hand if you so choose), beat together banana, oil, and sugar. Add in eggs, one at a time, then pumpkin.
  4. In another bowl, mix together flours, dried cranberries, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  5. With the stand mixer running on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and water (I do flour/water/flour/water/flour).
  6. Equally divide batter between the loaf pans.
  7. Sprinkle each loaf with 2 tbsp pepitas and 1 tbsp sugar.
  8. Bake for 55-65 minutes, rotating one halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out cleanly.
  9. Cool bread for 10-15 minutes in the pans, then carefully remove from pans (remember, I said they stick!). Let bread cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap covered by aluminum foil and wait to eat until the next day (or immediately if you cannot wait). Slice thinly (or thickly if you must) and enjoy!

Mishearings, Part 2, and Chocolate Cutouts

While as a doctor I don’t find hearing loss funny, it can lead to some hilarious stories.

My mother is deaf in one ear from having her eardrum blown out when I was a kid (she’ll tell you that it’s quite painful). Because of this, we’ve always had to make sure to speak up and talk on her “good side.”

We also need to make sure that we speak clearly.

We were driving to a church ice cream social when we were younger, and we were all listing off what kind of ice cream we wanted to have.

Me: I want Mackinac Island Fudge.

Dad (while pulling into the church parking lot): I just want ice cream!

Brother #1: I want cookies and cream!

Mom (whipping her head around and yelling in a stern voice): How DARE you say that??? We’re at church!!!

The rest of my family exchanged confused looks.

Dad: Honey, why is it bad that he wants cookies and cream ice cream?

My mother then burst out laughing and it was a few minutes later before she caught her breath enough to tell us…(while we all still looked on confused)…

“Oh goodness, I thought he said herpes and cream! You can’t talk about herpes at church!”

To this day, cookies and cream has never been known by its actual name…nor has anyone in my family eaten it since.

No Mistakes Chocolate Cutouts

Chocolate Cutouts

perfect if you decide to combine with cream…for ice cream sandwiches 😉

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c cocoa powder
  • 3 c flour, plus additional for rolling
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

How-to

  1. Cream together butter and sugars in a stand mixture. Add in vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until combined after each one.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder. With mixer on, slowly add in dry ingredients until well combined.
  3. Refridgerate dough at least 1 hour (overnight is best).
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Flour surface and rolling pin. Using a ruler (this helps, I promise!), roll out dough until 1/4 in thick and use a cookie cutter to cut into shapes.
  6. Place cookies into greased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-9 minutes (it’s really easy to overcook these, so it’s best to undershoot and then try them after they cool for about 5 minutes to see if they’re at your desired softness…personally I don’t like my cutout cookies too hard!).