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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Angry Patients and Arrabbiata Sauce

Sometimes, patients can express anger quite simply.

In medicine, you get quite used to dealing with angry patients. Sometimes patients are angry because they’re frustrated with care they received in the past. Other times, patients think that by yelling, they can bully the physician or nurse into doing what they’d prefer (whether or not it’s providing them with prescription drugs or lying to their insurance companies)…though you can probably imagine that as person like me yells back. ūüėČ

And then, you have the patients who are just plain sassy.

I was recently on a consult month, which means that we’re asked by primary medicine and surgery teams to see their patients as “experts” in a certain organ system. For this consult, we were asked to see a patient who was currently intubated.

Patients are at different levels of “awakeness” when they’re intubated. Some patients are completely sedated, others are able to follow simple commands, while still others are awake enough that they can write responses to your questions.

As part of our assessment of an intubated patient, we need to determine how “awake” they are. If we already know the patient isn’t at the writing stage, we’ll normally ask patients questions and see if they can respond appropriately.

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if you can hear me right now.

*patient squeezes hand*

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if you are in a hospital right now.

*patient squeezes hand*

Fellow: Sir, squeeze my hand if the sky is orange.

The patient did not squeeze his hand. Instead, he glared (or as well as you can glare with an endotracheal tube in your moth) and slowly raised his hand towards our fellow.

Only his middle finger was pointing towards the sky.

Simple Gestures Arrabbiata Sauce

because everyone knows how to show displeasure

Ingredients

  • 1 lb hot Italian sausage (removed from casing if that’s the only way you can find it)
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 really large onion or two medium onions, diced
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic (feel free to add more if you’d like)
  • 2 large cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c red wine
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes (again, feel fee to add more to kick up the spice)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

How-to

  1. In a large saute pan, brown sausage and turkey. Drain the fat and put into a really large crock pot (if it’s the largest size you can find, that’s the way to go. I know it might seem crazy to have a crock pot that big, but you can cook an ENTIRE CHICKEN, enough chili for a party, or enough of this sauce to last you for a few family dinners. Or, in my case, enough to have friends over for one meal.).
  2. In the same saucepan, add in the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onions until they start to sweat. Add in the garlic and saute until they become translucent. Add these to the crock pot.
  3. Pour in the 2 large cans of tomatoes. Add in the smaller can of whole tomatoes after breaking up by squeezing with your hands (get out that anger!).
  4. Stir in sugar, wine, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or until your entire house smells of delicious tomato sauce.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over a good large pasta with ridges (see the rigatoni, above!). Top with some freshly grated parmesan and my family’s favorite- cottage cheese (yes, I know it sounds weird, but that’s how we do it in my house. It’s the only way I’ll eat cottage cheese).

P.S. This sauce freezes beautifully!

Ham and Bacon…or Why I’m No Longer a Vegetarian

Starting in middle school, I became a vegetarian.  A lot of it was for health reason,s combined with an unfortunately assigned report on meat-packing plants (not the best choice for a city girl like myself who pretended that all meat originated at the grocery story).

I was a vegetarian for 6 years.  I still ate dairy and seafood, but I had no meat during that whole time. In general I thought it was pretty easy, even with living in the midwest and our lack of vegetables in the winter.

And then, one year in high school, my mother made a ham for Christmas dinner.¬† Now, back in my meat-eating days, I LOVED ham.¬† And bacon. And pork chops.¬† It was pretty much a guarantee that if it came from a pig, I’d probably have eaten it.

The memory is a bit hazy, but I remember walking into the kitchen, led by the smell of that brown-sugar glazed ham.¬† No one else was around but me. Without hesitating, I first ate one piece, and then another, and then another…until my mother eventually walked into the kitchen…

“Oh my god you just ate half the ham.¬† OH MY GOD MARC MEGAN IS EATING MEAT!!!!!¬† SINCE WHEN DO YOU EAT MEAT???¬† OH THANK GOD YOU CAN EAT LIKE THE REST OF US AGAIN!!”

Yes, most of that was said in a shriek. I had, after all, eaten nearly half a ham.¬† Quite surprisingly¬† I didn’t feel sick later at all (though attempting to eat poultry or steak again was a wholeeeeee different story).

Spicy Glazed Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 package thick-sliced bacon, rashers cut into thirds
  • 2 cans whole water chestnuts
  • 1/4 c barbecue sauce
  • 3 tbsp sriracha sauce (also known as rooster sauce- can add more to taste if you like them really spicy)
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut bacon slices (rashers are the technical term) into thirds.  Wrap each water chestnut in 1/3 piece bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place onto a shallow roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (makes for easier cleanup).
  3. Bake water chestnuts for approximately 40 minutes or until the bacon is a golden brown.
  4. While water chestnuts are in the oven, mix together the barbecue sauce, sriracha, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and pepper. Taste and adjust flavorings to taste (more salty- more Worcestershire, more spice- more sriracha, more sweet- more brown sugar, more tang- more soy sauce).
  5. When bacon is golden, remove from oven. Remove water chestnuts from pan and place onto paper towels to drain. Discard grease in roasting pan.
  6. Dip each water chestnut into the sauce mixture and place back on the roasting pan. Return to oven for approximately 15-20 minutes.  Serve with remaining dipping sauce.

If you’d like, you can skip steps 5 & 6 and use this method instead.¬† Remove water chestnuts from oven and place into a small crock-pot on high.¬† Pour sauce on top and gently toss to coat.¬† Heat in crock pot for 30 minutes, then turn heat to low for serving purposes right out of the crock pot!

Religion and Cranberries

It’s the holiday season, which means my apartment smells like peppermint bark and gingerbread.

However, holidays are also about more than food and friends…many of our “traditions” come down to religion and pagan practices.¬† Which reminds me of my nickname for my first six months of life…

Pagan Megan.

Yes, you have to say it so that “pagan” rhymes with “megan,” which means my first name sounds more like “may-gun” for nickname purposes. (I actually taught a kid at summer camp with that spelling, but that’s another story.)

And who gave me this nickname, you ask?

Oh yeah, the PRIEST at my church, good ol’ Monsignor M.

Like good Catholics, my parents decided to have me baptized.¬† However, between family schedules and whatnot, it wasn’t “convenient” for this to take place in the spring…or the summer…nope, the date of my baptism was two days shy of my six month birthday.¬† However, it was convenient to bring their darling screaming infant daughter (my case of colic was so legendary, my now 85-year-old pediatrician still calls me her “little colicky baby”- I was the worst case of colic she has seen to date) to church every week.¬† Therefore, one plus one does equal two, and as an encouragement for my parents to finally buckle down with the sacraments, Monsignor decided that a winning nickname would be the best way to take advantage of Catholic guilt.

In honor of my nickname, and not to mention the holidays, here is my recipe for cranberry sauce…perfect for serving with turkey, as a topping for steak and goat cheese, or as a sauce for ice cream.

Non-Denominational Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice from 1 orange
  • 2/3 c sugar (can add more to taste if cranberries are extra-tart)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 c water, plus 1/2 c for later
  • 4 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (secret ingredient!!)

How-to

  1. Rinse cranberries and dump into a nonreactive saucepan (I prefer a larger size, but have made this before with a 2 QT one)
  2. Add the zest and juice from the lemon and orange, sugar, vanilla, and water to the cranberries.
  3. Turn on your burner to medium-high heat and cook for approximately 10 minutes.¬† The mixture will start to boil and the cranberries will pop, so don’t wear your best light-colored shirt while making this unless you’re aiming for a red-spot look!
  4. When about half the cranberries have popped (this may take longer than 10 minutes, depending on the weather and your elevation), mix 1/2 c cold water with 4 tbsp cornstarch and add to the cranberry mixture.¬† Cook for an additional 3-5 minutes until the sauce has reached your desired thickness (remember it will thicken more as it cools, but you’re aiming for something that does have a consistency of runny gravy).
  5. Turn off the heat, and add 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or more to taste).¬† DO NOT make this sauce if you don’t have nutmeg, in my opinion…the nutmeg gives it a spiciness that sets it apart from other cranberry sauces!
  6. Let cool for approximately 5-10 minutes.¬† Serve warm or cold on nearly anything (turkey, chicken, steak, ice cream, crackers, cheese…the list goes on and on!).