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.

Beer and Wine Jelly

Sometimes, patient’s don’t understand what isn’t allowed in the hospital.

Back in med school, I was on the medicine inpatient wards. In medicine, you always have some patients who have been in the hospital for a while. And those patients sometimes are allowed to have a bit more freedoms just because they’re essentially living in the hospital.

My particular patient had been in the hospital for quite a few weeks. He was an overall fairly healthy guy, except for what was keeping him in the hospital. He also loved his sports. And something else with those sports.

I was on call one day, and had to walk into his room later on to see how he was doing now that we had changed around some of his medications.

And there, neatly lined up in the window, was a row of 4 bottles. With beer labels.

Me: Excuse me, sir, but are those yours?

Patient: Yup, the wife took pity on me and brought us something to drink during the baseball game.

Me: Sir, you realize you can’t drink in the hospital, right?

Patient: Good thing I had the wife hide the other two!

And no, alcohol is not one of the freedoms he was allowed.

Hospital Appropriate Spiced Wine Jelly

wine jelly

since alcohol is allowed in hospitals in jelly form

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 1/4 c whit e sugar
  • 1 packet liquid pectin
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice

How-to

  1. Bring a water bath canner with lids and jars (this makes about 3.5 C jelly, so plan accordingly) to a boil.
  2. In a small saucepan, measure out 1 1/4 c wine and pour in. Add cinnamon stick, cloves, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 15-25 minutes, or until reduced to 1/3 c liquid. Remove from heat.
  3. In a separate, larger pot, pour in the rest of the wine and add in the sugar. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often.
  4. When larger pot has come to a boil, add pectin and lemon juice. Bring back to a hard boil (once you cannot stir down) and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Strain in reduced wine in order to remove the spices.
  6. Ladle jelly into jars leaving 1/4 in at the top for room. Wipe rims clean, then place on lids with rings. Process for 5 minutes (adjust for altitude- please comment for times).
  7. Remove jars from water bath and let set (don’t touch them!) for 12-24 hours. Store for up to one year (one month in the fridge).

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.

Holiday Music and Mojito Jelly

I don’t care if you think someone is old- you never say it to their face.

It was last year and I was doing some holiday shopping in my favorite shoe department. Now, I’m a big fan of holiday music. And the holidays in genera. I do at least wait to start playing holiday music until after Thanksgiving, but my tree might go up beforehand (but my excuse is that I work too much and sometimes that’s the only time I have to set everything up).

So here I was, waiting in line, when one of my favorite Christmas songs came on- “This Christmas” by 98 degrees.

In front of me in line were a preteen girl and her mother.

Preteen: Who is this?

Me (attempting to be helpful): It’s 98 Degrees. I remember buying this album when it came out.

Preteen(in a shocked voice): God, you must be OLD.

I stood there looking dumbfounded. I should probably also tell you that I’m 26 now and definitely not old, not even to a preteen. At least, I didn’t think I was.

Preteen’s Mother (appalled): Honey, you NEVER tell anyone that they’re old! Especially a woman! She’s younger than me!! Never! Apologise now!

Preteen (in a blase voice): Sorry, I guess.

Let me tell you, that was an awkward wait in line until we finally all checked out.

P.S. My grandfather has a rule that you can never call someone old unless they are at least 5 years older than his current age, and since he’s currently in his mid 80s, that means you’re not old until you’re in your 90s. Otherwise, you’re just “older.”

Respect Your Elders Mojito Jelly

Mojito Jelly

I may not be old, but I’m old enough to drink legally

Ingredients

  • 2 c mint
  • 7 c water
  • 1 c light rum
  • 1 box powdered pectin
  • 4 c white sugar
  • 1 c lime juice
  • Green food coloring

How-to

  1. Prep water bath canner and 8 pint jars with lids and rings (you might not need this many, but it’s always best to be prepared!).
  2. Crush mint leaves to release juices (bring out your mixed drink supplies or just use the end of a wooden spoon).
  3. Add mint leaves, water, and light rum to large pot. Bring to a boil and let cook until liquid has reduced to four cups (so half).
  4. Turn off heat. Using a skimmer, remove the mint leaves from the liquid. Add 2-3 drops green food coloring if desired.
  5. Add pectin and stir until dissolved.
  6. Add sugar and lime juice. Bring back to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Ladle jelly into hot jars. Wipe off tops and place on lids. Place into water bath canner and place in jars. Bring water back to a boil (make sure the bubbles are coming from the bottom of the pot and not from the jars themself releasing air). Process for 5 minutes.
  8. Let stand for 12-24 hours or until jelly sets.

This makes an excellent Christmas gift!

Holiday Dinners and Hot Pepper Jam

Things that your family find normal may be weird to others.

My mom’s cousin has schizophrenia.  For those of you that don’t know, people with schizophrenia can have visual, auditory, and paranoid hallucinations.

In his case, he regularly had intellectual conversations with the devil.

Since he always had these chats, this wasn’t something that ever bothered us. (It’s not like the devil was ever telling him to do anything bad- they apparently just discussed politics and philosophy. And he never turned his head in normal conversation to ask the devil’s opinion.  I guess these were one-on-one chats.)

However, it’s a bit different for people who aren’t used to this.

My family had a bunch of our elderly neighbors over that year for some holiday dinner. Before we knew it, my very conservative neighbor from down the street had sat down next to my mother’s cousin in preparation for the meal.

He looked over at my normally very talkative neighbor and said, as he went to take his first bite of the meal,

“So I was talking to the devil about politics the other day. What did you talk about with the devil the last time you talked to him?”

I’m actually surprised my neighbor didn’t head home right then and there after he finished choking. He was, however, absolutely silent for the rest of the meal and dragged his wife home the second the pie was served.

Devilish Hot Pepper Jam

feel free to discuss with Satan

Ingredients

  • 12 oz jalapenos, halved and seeded
  • 12 oz red and jelly peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 c cider vinegar
  • 6 c granulated sugar
  • 2 pouches liquid pectin

How-to

  1. Prep water bath, cans, and lids. (Place clean, empty jars into the largest pot you have. Add enough water so that the water comes over the top of the empty jars at least 1 inch. Bring water to a boil using a lid.)
  2. In a food processor, chop peppers finely with 1 c cider vinegar. (Don’t process all the way until smooth- small pieces look better!)
  3. In a large pot, add peppers slurry with the rest of the vinegar and the sugar. Bring to a boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add liquid pectin quickly.
  5. Bring back to a boil and cook for 1 additional minute.
  6. Remove from heat and skim foam.
  7. Ladle jam into hot jars (this makes about 5-6 half-pint jars, but always prep an extra in case you need it!) leaving 1/4 in headspace.
  8. Wipe rims, place on lids, and secure with bands.
  9. Place jars in the canner. Bring water back to a boil and process (boil) for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars.
  10. Let jam jars cool 1 hour, test to make sure seal has happened (it might take longer than 1 hour!), and don’t move until the next day so it sets properly.

This is delicious on crackers or bagels with cream cheese or in brie en croute.

If you want this spicier, use only jalapenos and none of the regular peppers. You can also make this clear and strain out the peppers.