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.

Mishearings, Part 1, and Carrot Cake Jam

Sometimes my patients don’t exactly hear what I’m trying to tell them.

I had a patient that the previous night had been having a difficult time breathing, and thus I was in his room discussing his care with his nurse. He was lying there calmly sleeping (or so we thought) while we were talking to his wife.

Me: So we’ll keep him on this form of oxygen now and then switch him later?

Nurse: Yeah, I’ll switch him when my shift is done to rest him.

All of a sudden our we-thought-he-was-sleeping patient shot straight out of bed.

Patient (yelling): RECTUM? YOU AREN’T GETTING ANYWHERE NEAR MY RECTUM! NO MA’AM! NOT TODAY, NOT TOMORROW!!

(confused looks shared by everyone in the room)

Me: But sir, we said absolutely nothing about your rectum.

Patient: Yes you did! I heard you! You can’t trick me!

Me: Sir, we were talking about resting you by putting you back on some better oxygen. She said “rest him,” not “rectum.”

Patient: Oh. That makes more sense. But you still aren’t going anywhere near my rectum!!! I won’t allow it!

As promised, we went nowhere near his rectum during the rest of his hospital stay.

You Heard Me Correctly Carrot Cake Jam

Carrot Cake Jam

no misunderstandings with this one

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, peeled
  • 2 pears, peeled and sliced
  • 1 inch thick round fresh pineapple, rind and core removed and cut into large cubes
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 c water
  • 1 package powdered pectin
  • 6 1/2 c sugar

How-to

  1. Dice carrots in food processor until just barely larger than your desired consistency. Add pears and pineapple and pulse until those are in small chunks.
  2. In a large pot, dump in carrot, pear, and pineapple mixture. Add in lemon juice, spices, and water.
  3. Prepare water bath canner with six pint jars, rings, and lids.
  4. Bring jam mixture to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fruits and carrots soften and start to release their juices.
  5. Turn off heat and stir in powdered pectin. Turn heat back on and bring to full boil.
  6. Add sugar and bring back again to full boil. Cook for 1 minute, then turn off heat.
  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.

P.S. This makes excellent holiday gifts!

P.P.S. If desired, you can stir 1/4 c nuts and 1/4 raisins into the jam mixture at the beginning of cooking.

Phobias, Part 2, and Goat Cheese Frosting

I’m not just afraid of rabbits.

I’m also afraid of lighthouse steps.

This is quite problematic when you a) grow up near large bodies of water and b) have a mother who loves lighthouses.

I didn’t used to be afraid of lighthouse steps. As a small child, I was the first kid to bound up the steps and race my brothers all the way to the top, and then all the way back down.

Then I don’t know what happened.

We were with my mom’s family on the Jersey Shore and my mother (as I said, the lighthouse lover) wanted to go to a lighthouse. For some reason, on the climb to the top, I started to get very nervous about being able to see through the steps to the very bottom. I literally had to watch each foot on each step and walk pressed all the way up against the wall.

After I made it to the top, I realized I had to walk down.

I should probably take this time to say that I often fall, especially down steps. I don’t know what it is, but I might be one of the world’s biggest klutzes out there. I’ve had stitches enough on my head and bruises everywhere to prove it.

Therefore, I walked down the only way I knew: sat down on a step, moved my legs to the step below that, and then moved my bottom to the step below. And repeat. For 100 steps.

It might have taken me nearly an hour to make it down to the bottom. With my younger brothers, parents, and numerous other tourists laughing at me all the way down.

And yes, I was in middle school at the time. I thankfully no longer practice this “butt method” of taking steps, but that’s also probably because I have avoided climbing lighthouses like the plague since that incident.

Which is made even more hilarious by the fact that my entire apartment is decorated in a beach house theme, complete with pictures of lighthouses.

Ocean Swells Goat Cheese Frosting

like a whitecap…but more delicious

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

How-to

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer, beat cream cheese, goat cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice on low until the sugar is incorporated.
  2. Switch stand or hand mixer to high and whip frosting for 2 minutes until light and fluffy
  3. Apply to cupcakes.

This makes enough frosting to frost at least 2 dozen cupcakes (sometimes more, depending on how much or how little frosting you like) and keeps well in the fridge  for up to 3 days- just bring back to room temperature before using.

Phobias, Part 1, and Carrot Cupcakes

As a doctor, I understand your phobias. I even have some of my own.

I have a fear of rabbits.

Now, it didn’t help that my childhood friend’s family (yup, the same ones from the graveyard story) had an evil possessed rabbit. And yes, many of you might say that rabbits can’t be evil and possessed. I guarantee this one was. He tried hopping after and sinking his long rabbit teeth into anyone that got near him. On one particular occasion, he even chomped down on her brother’s cheek, wouldn’t let go while the kid went running around the house screaming (can you IMAGINE being a small child running with a rabbit hanging off your head) and literally had to be knocked out so they could detach him.

So, needless to say, I already had a baseline fear of rabbits.

When I was in second grade, my parents took my family to the petting zoo. We normally went to the regular zoo (we never went to the Detroit Zoo, but always went to the Toledo Zoo instead, especially at Christmas!). However, this was my first time at a petting zoo, and I was determined to try to conquer my fear of rabbits.

It was not meant to be.

I was calmly petting the rabbit, attempting to overcome my fears, when all of a sudden he whipped his little head around.

The rabbit bit through my middle finger. As in, you could look at my finger from the side, and see straight THROUGH my finger to the other side. It was like those pinhole cameras you made as kids, except this was my FINGER we were talking about.

Surprisingly, I walked calmly over to my parents, showed them the damage the rabbit had done, and then promptly burst into tears (it HURTS when a bunny bites through your finger!!!).

To this day, I still give rabbits a wide berth whenever I spot one, just in case they become tempted to hop up and bite me.

Rabbit Proof Gluten Free Carrot Cupcakes

the only thing I have in common with those wrascally wrabbits…a love of carrots

Ingredients

  • 1 lb carrots, shredded (use that food processor!)
  • 1 overly ripe banana
  • 1/8 c vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 heaping cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 c rice flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • 1/4 c pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Shred carrots. I normally toss them into a food processor and just pulse.
  3. In a mixing bowl or a stand mixer, beat together the banana, oil, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add carrots.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, and cinnamon into the ingredients are evenly distributed. Stir in the cranberries, raisins, and pepitas into the flour mixture (this will prevent them from sinking in the cupcakes).
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until incorporated.
  6. Evenly distribute mixture into 12 muffin lined muffin cups (those are pretty moist as the final product, so you’re going to need those liners!).
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve alone or with my goat cheese frosting (recipe to follow!).

P.S. These are quite healthy and great for breakfast, too!