Middle Children and Collard Greens

There’s telling stories about your family, and then there’s just excessive complaining to a complete stranger.

I was on yet another date from online dating. To start, I should have know that this date would be awkward, purely based on text messages. Most normal people don’t start complaining to a complete stranger, especially by text. However, the rest of them had seemed funny, so I wrote it off as maybe him just having a bad day.

I really should have listened to my gut.

I arrived at the date location a few minutes early (I can’t help myself- my dad is ALWAYS late, so I always arrive early. Always.). My date of course was a few minutes late (but not as late as a previous encounter).

And that is when the complaining started.

Over the next hour and a half (I literally darted out of there as soon as humanly possible), he complained about

  • that it was raining which of course made him late because someone MUST have stolen his umbrella and then put it back in the closet where he wouldn’t be able to find it
  • that he was sore because he ran earlier to train for a marathon, and he HAD to run a marathon since his little brother did, and of course he had to run faster than him to prove that he was the better brother (phrase actually used)
  • that the weather in Chicago was colder than the south
  • that he was the middle child and therefore his family would never love him as much as his older or younger brother (another phrase actually used)
  • that he liked the restaurant and came there often, but really he only liked one thing on the menu, and only if a particular cook had made it

He complained about more things, but to be totally honest I gave up really listening after the first 15 minutes and watched the baseball game above the bar instead, with occasionally throwing in comments I remember from my psych rotation (you know, when I wasn’t dealing with awkward psychiatrists one and two).

Date: Complain, complain, complain, complain.

Me: Sounds like that must be difficult for you.

Date: Yeah it definitely is because of complain complain complain…

Me: Have you tried talking to anyone about this?

Date: Well I saw a psychiatrist plenty of times but they just didn’t understand me because complain complain complain…

I’m almost convinced that someone else had written the amusing text messages or emails he had sent.

Low Maintenance Collard Greens

Crock Pot Collards

nothing to complain about here

Ingredients

  • 1 ham bone (perfect use of the leftovers from your holiday ham)
  • 2 bunches collard greens (I had approximately 2-3 lbs)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 1/2 c apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Pepper jelly (optional)

How-to

  1. In a large crock pot, mix together chicken bouillon, chicken broth, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add in ham bone.
  2. Wash collard greens very well in cold water. Remove tough stems. Cut into small pieces (or tear by hand, which I did).
  3. Place greens into broth in crock pot.
  4. Cook on low for 8-9 hours, stirring occasionally, until at desired doneness.
  5. Top with pepper jelly or pepper sauce, if desired.
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Romance and Chili

And now, for a slight departure from my usual blog posts…the most romantic story I ever saw in medical school.

I was on a consult month at the time, and every day we would round on a particularly sick patient in the ICU (intensive care unit). He was a relatively healthy middle-aged man until a few months before, and then all of a sudden he got more and more sick until he was eventually having muscle spasms so bad that he actually fractured some of his vertebrae into his spinal cord (you need to have REALLY strong spasms in order for this to occur). To protect his body (and skeleton) from any further damage and possibly permanent paralysis, the man was intubated, sedated, and medically paralyzed.

By the time I finally met this patient, he had already been sedated and paralyzed for a few weeks. They had tried lifting the paralytic drugs once, only to have him quickly begin spasming again with concerns for additional fractures.

Through it all, his wife was by his side. She was a shorter woman, hair pulled back in a ponytail, who sat in his ICU room in a chair wearing his big hunting t-shirts and the exhausted look of a family member with a sick loved one. To be honest, she was the sort of woman who blended into the surroundings, the woman you’d sit next to on the bus or plane and not remember any real features.

Towards the end of the month, we again decided to lift the man’s medication to see if he could wake up and not spasm. The process starts the night before, with the hopes of enough of the drugs to be out of someone’s system by the next morning to see if they’re okay, and if not the medication can quickly be restarted (which had already happened before).

That morning, I was getting a cup of coffee before rounds when I had a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and a beautiful woman was standing there. I had no idea who it was until she began speaking.

It was our patient’s wife. “I just wanted to thank you for all of your help. I hope he’s able to wake up today. Just in case, I wanted to look pretty just for him. Even if he only sees me for just a second, I hope he’ll have something to see in his dreams.”

Our patient woke up that day. While he couldn’t move much since some of the paralytics were still preventing that, he was able to do one thing.

Right after he opened his eyes, he saw his wife and kissed her.

There was not a dry eye in his ICU room, especially not mine.

Worth Waiting For Turkey Chili

true love…in food form

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground turkey (I’ve also done this with chorizo with excellent results)
  • 1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (14 oz) diced tomatoes with jalapenos
  • 1 can hot chili beans
  • 1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 medium green peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper (feel free to use less if you don’t want yours as spicy)
  • Low-fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • Fat free sour cream

How-to

  1. In a large saute pan, brown the ground turkey and drain the fat.
  2. Get out a large crock pot while the turkey is browning. Add the tomatoes, hot chili beans (use all of the sauce!), red beans, onion, green pepper, garlic, and cayenne.
  3. Add in the ground turkey after draining.
  4. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally. The chili is done with the onions and green peppers are tender and the tomatoes have mostly broken down.
  5. Top with cheddar cheese and sour cream, or whatever other chili toppings you prefer.

This recipe easily doubles if you’re feeding a crowd with a gigantic crock pot- normally then I’ll use 1 lb lean ground turkey and 1 lb chorizo. It also freezes great in individual portions!