Accidents and Turkey

My apologies for being a bit MIA lately.

You never know when a second can change your life entirely.

It was a few months ago, when I was helping out in clinic. A patient had to be emergently transferred to the intensive care unit, and I offered to help, as I knew the fastest way there.

We raced through the hospital, weaving around corners, up and down multiple elevators, across many halls, before we arrived and safely dropped the patient off and told the story to the physicians about to take over for the care.

And then, while heading back, it happened.

While loading the bed onto the elevator, my left hand got smashed between it and the elevator wall.

It was instantly gigantic and purple. The next day, I found my fifth digit was broken, and a week later (once a bit of the swelling had gone down), I found out the joint was broken too, in addition to the tendons being ripped off and the finger being numb from the nerve damage.

For the three weeks, my boyfriend commented that my hand resembled that of Aunt Marge from Harry Potter (once he accidentally blows her up). After that, it looked like Dumbledore’s after he touched a horcrux. Sweet of him, I know (but in return, I didn’t have to clean the house….but I couldn’t cook, either!!!).

Now, for those of you that don’t know, almost all of anesthesia involves the use of one’s left hand. Which is why I thought long and hard. I had to have a lot of conversations and figure out what was best for me.

As of now, I’m officially a resident in internal medicine, instead of anesthesia. I’m fairly happy with the choice- I really debated between the two specialties, and this gives my hand a better chance at healing. At the end of the day, we all go into medicine to help people, and I still get to do that.

And this whole experience has made me really thankful for fingers.

Accident-Free Maple Bacon Brined Turkey

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It’s okay to break these bones.

Ingredients for the Brine
– 1 gallon water
– 3 whole carrots, broken in pieces
– 2 onions, quartered, skins on
– 3 stalks celery, broken in pieces
– 1 head garlic, sliced in half
– 1 apple, quartered
– 1 pear, quartered
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 cinnamon stick
– 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
– 2 tsp whole allspice
– 1 tbsp parsley (I freeze mine in ice cubes at the end of the summer)
– 4 leaves whole sage
– 1 tbsp oregano
– 1 tbsp thyme
– 1 sprig rosemary
– 1/2 c brown sugar
– 3/4 c kosher salt

Ingredients for the Bird
– 1 turkey
– Softened butter
– 1 lb bacon
– Real maple syrup
– Salt
– Pepper
– Poultry seasoning
– favorite recipe stuffing of your choice

Ingredients for the Gravy
– Pan drippings
– 2-3 c chicken broth
– 1/4 c all- purpose flour
– 1/2 c white wine

How-to
1) For the brine, add all of the ingredients to a stock pot except the brown sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour, then add sugar and salt. Let cool.
2) Line a bucket with a garbage bag. Pour in stock pot mixture. Add in additional 1 gallon ice water and ice to bring mixture to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Add in turkey (weigh down with a pot lid so it doesn’t float, if necessary) and brine up to 18 hours.
3) The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
4) Remove bird from water and pat dry.
5) Make stuffing.
6) Rub bird with softened butter, then sprinkle liberally inside and out with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Apply stuffing. Place turkey in roasting pan.
7) Tent breast of bird with foil and let cook for 1 hour.
8) After 1 hour, begin basting with maple syrup every 30 minutes.
9) After 2 hours, weave bacon into lattice. Place on turkey breast. Return to oven and continue basting every 30 minutes with maple syrup.
10) Turkey is ready when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (don’t hit bone!) reads 170 degrees.
11) Remove turkey from pan and let rest for 20-30 minutes.
12) Place pan on stove burners on medium high heat (I normally spread mine over two). Sprinkle in flour and scrape up browned bits on pan. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, then begin whisking in white wine, then chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency.

Eat and enjoy!

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Lizards and Brussels Sprouts Slaw

I’m an animal lover. I really am. I just prefer them to stay in one piece.

Back in my senior year high school, my parents and brothers went on a weekend vacation, and I had stayed home for an extra day since I was planning on visiting some friends in college. As the responsible child, it was my job to feed the pets before I left.

Which included the anoles.

Now, I had grown up with two dogs, two cats, two frogs, and two fish. I was no stranger to animals, nor taking care of them. But lizards were different, especially since I had to feed them live grasshoppers.

Here I was, about to be picked up by friends for the weekend, and it was doing what I had put off until last- the delicate balance of lifting the lid off the lizard tank, scooping up and dropping in the proper number of crickets, and then putting the lid back on fast enough so that nothing got out. As you can guess, I did not succeed.

The second upon lifting the lid and dropped in the bugs, it happened.

A lizard jumped out and jumped at me. Naturally, I yelled, which then scared the bugger off so it jumped for the wall. Realizing that the rest of my family would kill me if I gave the anole free reign of the house, I reached for it.

Funny thing about lizards. They realize that their tails are the most likely thing to be grabbed by predators, so they are equipped with a fail safe.

I yelled even louder when I realized that I was holding in my hand not an entire anole, but just its tail.

It took me the next hour (and help) to finally catch the tailless lizard. And I refused to feed the lizards again.

Don’t Lose a Limb Brussels Sprouts Slaw

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be careful with those fingers and a mandolin!

Ingredients
2 lb Brussels sprouts
3 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled and fat saved for dressing
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (trader joes makes a great white wine version)
Bacon fat from bacon (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 c apple cider vinegar (depending on how thick you like your dressing)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper

How-to
1. In a large pan, fry up bacon slices. Crumble into a large bowl and reserve fat.
2. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, slice up Brussels sprouts and place in the large bowl.
3. Add the cranberries, pine nuts, Parmesan, and toss to mix.
4. In a jelly jar, add mustard, bacon fat, olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. Shake jar well to combine. Add additional vinegar or olive oil as needed to adjust consistency to your liking. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Pour dressing over slaw and toss to combine. Serve immediately, or cover and chill for an hour if you don’t like your slaw as crunchy.

Keeps in the fridge for up to three days.

Flowers, Part 2, and Hasselback Potatoes

Over a decade later, I still have issues with flowers.

It all started a few weeks before Valentine’s Day, when my boyfriend and I had a chat over dinner about how neither one normally does much for Valentine’s Day. I thought I was in the clear- maybe we’d make a nice dinner, watch a movie at home, eat some homemade chocolates. And he’s always maintained that he doesn’t like flowers since they die.

Then the week of Valentine’s Day, where I got asked the following questions:

Boyfriend: What’s your address? I’m updating my address book.

That seemed silly, but I gave him my address.

Boyfriend: What’s your schedule like this week? Did you want to get dinner?

I said sure as long as it was low key since I was on nights.

Boyfriend: Hey, I know you’re on nights right now. Do you wake up if someone rings your doorbell? If you get a package, where do they put it?

I replied that the UPS guy leaves packages on my deck since I don’t wake up. To anything.

Boyfriend: Hey, do you wake up if someone call your phone?

I reiterated the point that I don’t wake up. To anything.

Of course, I was working every night up until Valentine’s Day, which made shopping or really anything else a bit difficult, as I was keeping the hours of a vampire (and working a lot of hours at that). But I really had the feeling that I was getting flowers.

On Valentine’s Day, I woke up after sleeping most of the day so I could shower before what I felt was a very early dinner, as it was happening before I was even eating “breakfast” that week. I did, however, check my phone to see if I had a missed call.

No missed call.

I then checked my deck. No flowers.

I checked the side door. No flowers.

I checked the mailbox. No slip from a florist informing me I had missed a delivery.

Now, by this point in time, I was a little bit disappointed. I normally pride myself on my powers of deduction (Sherlock Holmes is my favorite character), and to me there were too many coincidences in Valentine’s Day week. But I then was thinking that I had been wrong.

That is, until my boyfriend showed up, and insisted on walking in (and looking around) my house when he came to pick me up for dinner.

Boyfriend: Did you get a package today? Nope.

Boyfriend: Did you get a phone call? Did your doorbell ring? Nope and nope.

Boyfriend: Well, that’s annoying. I sent you flowers.

I secretly did a “yessssssssssssssss” for my powers of deduction. But then realized I still didn’t have flowers.

After much arguing, I finally got my flowers four days later. And my dad didn’t have to come to the rescue this time (though he did offer to).

Always On Time Hasselback Potatoes*

roasted potatoesno need to have anything delivered

Ingredients

  • Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Pepper
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil in a spray bottle
  • Parsley
  • Truffle oil (to finish)

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash potatoes and remove any eyes that might have developed.
  3. In a glass baking dish, spray with olive oil spray (so the potatoes don’t stick and get nicely brown).
  4. One at a time, snuggle the potato close to an old wooden spoon. Using a knife, make thin slices in the potato, cutting until you just barely hit the spoon handle (if you go too hard, you’ll cut the spoon).
  5. Place potatoes into the baking dish. Spray with olive oil. Sprinkle on salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Bake 40-50 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced.
  7. Remove from the oven. Drizzle with a teeny bit of truffle oil (use olive oil if you don’t have truffle oil, though I find that a bit of truffle oil goes a long way, and it’s not that much of a fortune) and parsley. Serve.

*a.k.a. Accordion Potatoes

Names and Stuffing/Dressing

I realize that my last name is complicated. However, there are still unacceptable things to call me.

I was born with a Polish last name that isn’t quite pronounced the way it’s spelled. It actually used to be far more complicated, but my great grandfather had changed it, assuming that people would still know the basic pronunciation of the Polish language. That essentially means that I was always really good at identifying telemarketers as a kid, since they always said my last name with two syllables instead of three.

For most of my patients, I introduce myself as Dr. So and So, but then normally tell them that they can call me by my first name if a wave of confusion washes over their face. However, I always have to say the “doctor” part the first time I meet someone- in the hospital, everyone and their mother is walking around in a long white coat. There’s also the fact that every patient tends to assume that any female they meet in the hospital is a nurse, and then I get paged incessantly about how the “doctor hasn’t been in to see the patient yet” when I’ve spent 30 minutes already that morning explaining everything.

But, I digress. To the story at hand.

It was the same drill as always, “Hi Mr. Patient, I’m Doctor So and So.”

Each day, this gentleman got more and more casual. At first, I was still Dr. My Last Name. Which then became Dr. Megan. Which became Megan.

Which then transformed into something else entirely.

When I was in the process of discharging my patient, he thanked me for providing him with good medical care during his visit.

Except he said, “Thanks Doctor Babygirl, I had a great time.”

When asked, he couldn’t even understand why this wasn’t appropriate to say.

Multiple Names Stuffing/Dressing

Stuffing/Dressingin my family you don’t dare call this by the wrong name unless you want a lecture

Ingredients (makes 3 cups stuffing)

  • 5 slices wheat bread, toasted
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Saute onions and celery in the butter (just do all at once- no need to pre-melt the butter) in a medium saucepan.
  3. In a large bowl, rip up toasted bread into small pieces. Add in celery, onions, butter, and cranberries.
  4. Stir in poultry seasoning (sometimes I go up to 1 1/2 tsp).
  5. Add in wine (start with 1/4 cup and continuing adding as the bread soaks up the wine). If necessary, add more wine to soak wheat bread (you want this to be pretty moist so it doesn’t try out).
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Stuff into birds (this makes approximately 3 cups) for stuffing or bake in a casserole dish for 30 minutes, covered with aluminum foil, for dressing.
  8. Serve with gravy.

Old Men and Cornish Hens

Few people are as old-fashioned as old men.

I was flying across the country to give a talk. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really anywhere that I could fly direct to, and thus I was stuck with a connecting flight on the way there and on the way back (and I was flying in and out on the same day).

Now, I’m normally a person who loves flying. I can fall asleep sitting in the middle seat between two rather large people occupying my armrests. I joke that the engines can rock me to sleep. I can nap through turbulence, babies crying, and bratty children kicking my seat for hours.

That day was just not my day.

I went to get my seat for my first flight, where I discovered that I was next to an older gentleman.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love little old men. They remind me of my grandfather and my great-uncle and I just can’t help but want to have them tell me stories and hope they’ll treat me like their granddaughter for the foreseeable future (I was a daddy’s and a grampa’s girl, after all). I can listen to old war stories for hours, cry with them as they remember meeting their wives, and rejoice in hearing of first becoming a grandparent.

Yes, I do realize that it’s like I’m an old person already. But that’s besides the point for this encounter.

Older Guy (noticing my work bag): So you’re in medicine?

Me: Yup, I’ll be a doctor next Spring. I’m in med school now.

Older Guy: You do realize that you won’t be a success in life until you have a ring on your finger.

I politely declined further conversation for the rest of my flight. And on to flight #2…with another older guy next to me.

Older Gentleman #2: You’re a doctor? And you’re not married? Is there something wrong with you or something?

Again, I made the wise decision to decline further conversation. Then I gave my talk, boarded ANOTHER plane, and again found myself sitting next to an older gent…

Old Guy #3: In my day, women didn’t work, they got married. You’re going to be a horrible mother if some guy ever wants to married you.

This really was old after the first flight. But the hits just kept coming with my fourth and final flight of the day.

And another, final, old man was awaiting me.

Old Gent #4: You do realize that no matter how successful you might be, you’re always going to be a failure until you’re married, right?

Obviously, I need to sit next to grandmothers on planes instead.

Put a Ring on It Stuffed Cornish Hens

Stuffed Cornish Henin case I need to offer more than the doctor card

Ingredients (per person)

  • 1 cornish game hen, thawed
  • 1 c of your favorite stuffing (my recipe to follow in the next post!)
  • Olive oil spray (mine is just in a spray bottle since it’s better for you than the store-bought version!)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika

Tools

  • Aluminum foil
  • Roasting rack (not totally necessary, but essential if you want to have crispy skin all the way around!)

How-to

  1. Make your stuffing (as I said, my recipe to follow in my next post)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Wash and dry cornish hens. If you don’t dry them (use a paper towel!!!), you won’t get the crispy skin (which we all know is the best part).
  4. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika onto skin of cornish hens.
  5. Stuff bird with the stuffing (if you don’t use it to stuff something, it’s called dressing…you didn’t dare call it otherwise in my house growing up).
  6. Place bird(s) on a roasting rack (also essential to having crispy skin all over the bird).  Be sure to tuck in the wings so they don’t stick out and burn. Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 40 minutes.
  7. Remove foil and spray bird(s) with olive oil.
  8. Return to oven (without foil) and roast for an additional 30-40 minutes, when juices should run clear when you poke the birds with a knife (use a meat thermometer to be sure as this is poultry! Remember, you will see at least 5-10 degrees of carryover cooking after you remove from the oven).
  9. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

“Breakups” and Wild Mushroom Lasagna

There is such a thing as a stupid request.

I was casually dating a guy. He was the sort of guy that was nice enough, but not really my type overall as I was quickly realizing. You know the guys that it would be better to have just been friends as opposed to date? He fell into that category…hence the “casually dating”. I was planning on ending it myself, but I knew he was really stressed with work (so I was barely seeing him anyway) so I figured I’d wait at least a little bit to not add to the stress.

One day, he came over to my house for dinner. I had just made an amazing lasagna with wild mushrooms from my local farmer’s market. I couldn’t wait to eat it.

I didn’t realize there was going to be a slight delay.

He walked in, sat down on my couch, and said “I think we need to take a break.”

Now, I’m not a believer in breaks, plus I really wasn’t sure what that meant when two people are casually dating.

“Well, I think we need to break up.”

Now, I was quite confused. How do you break up with someone who you weren’t even officially dating in the first place? I personally had planned on using the line of “I don’t think we should see each other any more,” but that’s just me.

And then, the piece de resistance…

“Is there any way I can take home a piece of lasagna?”

As you can probably guess, I ordered him to get out of my house. Without food.

P.S. My coworkers came over the next day for dinner, since, after all, I had a huge delicious lasagna to eat.

No Doggie Bags Wild Mushroom Lasagna

if he was smart, he would have waited until after dinner

Ingredients

  • 2 lb wild mushrooms (if you can’t find wild mushrooms, use cremini or portobello)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp worchestershire sauce
  • 8 oz fat-free cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 4 c skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 + 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 1 lb whole-wheat lasagna noodles
  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Remove stems from mushrooms and slice thinly. Add to olive oil, along with worchestershire sauce. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until mushrooms become soft and start to release liquid. Put mushrooms in a bowl to let cool.
  2. When mushrooms are cool, add fat-free cottage cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Add egg and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a large pot, melt butter over low heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
  4. Switch to a whisk. Whisk in milk slowly so it is incorporated. Add garlic. Increase heat to medium-low and cook for 5-10 minutes (the whisk is best at first and then you can switch back to a spoon) until the mixture becomes thick and coats the back of the spoon (you know the trick where you run your finger down the middle of the spoon and the sauce stays on either side? that’s what you’re looking for).
  5. To sauce, add nutmeg and 1/2 c parmesan cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. In another large pot, bring a large quantity of heavily salted (I’m talking a near handful here!) water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles to 1 minute less than package directions (you want it just shy of al dente). Drain and add a little bit of olive oil so they don’t stick.
  7. Finally, lasagna prep time! Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Coat a lasagna pan (or 9×13 in baking dish) with cooking spray. Add a small amount of the cream sauce and spread a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of lasagna noodles. Add in 1/2 of the mushroom mixture, then 1/3 of the cream sauce.
  9. Repeat with another layer of the lasagna noodles, the rest of the mushroom mixture, and another 1/3 of the sauce.
  10. Top with a final layer of lasagna noodles and the rest of the cream sauce. Sprinkle on 1/4 c parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

I know the recipe looks rather complicated, but it comes together fairly quickly! Saute the mushrooms first, then make the sauce and boil the noodles at the same time. My coworker, good friend, and fellow blogger Colleen can promise it’s delicious!

9FMKHTNGUPW2

Psycho and Pumpkin Pasta

Little brothers can get the best of you.

Growing up, my dad and I would have our Sunday night tradition- watching Alfred Hitchcock movies on the classic movie channel on Sunday nights. There was nothing like a big bowl of popcorn, ginger ale, and a good thriller (especially knowing that Dad was there to protect me in case I got too scared!).

I should probably take a quick moment to state that I get *way* to into movies/books/tv shows…to the point where I will cry during sad or emotional scenes (let’s not talk about that google chrome commercial from a few years back), yell out encouragement to movie characters (yes, in the theater), or practically look like I’m having a seizure from wringing my hands during stressful moments. And yes, this is quite enjoyable for other people to witness.

On this particular Sunday night, my dad and I had watched Psycho. As always, I had gotten a bit scared, but with Dad there I was able to tough it out. Afterwards, I hopped into the shower to start getting ready for school on Monday.

Now, for those of you that haven’t seen the movie, there is a memorable scene where a woman is stabbed through a shower curtain.

You can probably already see where this story is going.

My mother, bless her heart, told my middle brother of a wonderful trick he could do…all he had to do was grab his huge plastic pirate sword.

So, here I was, showering, thinking about going back to school the next day, still a bit on edge from the movie, when the next thing you know I felt myself being jabbed through the shower curtain with a knife-like object.

Let’s just say that my vocal cords gave a performance worthy of Psycho itself. It’s a wonder my brother still has his hearing.

P.S. Years later in medical school, the cat I had hit me with her paw through the shower curtain when I wasn’t suspecting it while getting ready in the morning. It’s amazing the cat isn’t deaf, either.

Scarily Easy Pumpkin Pasta

maybe the carbs will help lull me to sleep

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dried pasta (I prefer cavatappi)
  • 1 c fat free half and half
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, finely minced
  • 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large pot, bring to a boil water. Salt generously.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, reserving some of the pasta water if needed to thin out sauce.
  3. Return pasta to hot pot. Stir in parmesan cheese, then half and half, then canned pumpkin. Add in sage. If needed, thin out sauce with additional pasta water (this sauce will really thicken up as it cools).
  4. Salt and pepper to taste and serve!