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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Glasses and Chicken Stock

To children, some decisions seem far more important than they really are.

I’m legendary in my house for how great my vision was as a small child. According to my mother, I used to be able to identify the different planes that flew over our house (we were lucky enough to be on the flight path for a major airport) by calling out the colors on the wings and tails. I could identify birds and squirrels in trees all the way across a gigantic field.

And then my father’s genes took over after my visual peak in kindergarten.

By third grade, I had become the child that had to sit in the very front of the room, or else I would have to walk up right next to the board to read the chalked instructions. My first vision test was right before my class was scheduled to take a standardized exam, and the start time for everyone was delayed for forty-five minutes while the school staff became aghast at how bad my vision was at the old age of 8.

You know the big letter “E” on the vision chart? The one that everyone assumes even a blind person can see? My eyes, it turns out, were worse than that (though it’s a good thing that, at my current age, my eyes don’t appear to be getting any worse).

I should probably take a moment to say that I was legendary in my family for another trait- it took me FOREVER to make a decision. It was though my entire life would be completely dependent on what I chose to bring for lunch that day or what I brought to show and tell.

Therefore, choosing my first pair of glasses was quite momentous. My mother had taken me out of school for the afternoon so I could have a proper eye appointment and then pick out a pair of glasses.

Eyeglass sales clerk: What kind of glasses would you like, my dear?

Young Megs: Should I get blue? Or green? Or pink? What should the sides look like? Do I need sunglasses too? What should I doooooooooooooooo?

I looked at my first pair of glasses at 3pm that day.

By 8:30pm, I had tried on every pair of glasses in the entire store. It had actually closed at 8pm, but the store employee took pity on me (or, perhaps, didn’t want me to return another day where she would then lose out on even more commissions). I tried on glasses right through dinner, and snacks, and practically through bedtime. My entire family wanted to rip their hair out. I practically cried when they told me I had to make a decision in the next five minutes. And I still managed to delay that decision until 9pm.

I finally picked a pair of glasses. Which, looking at the pictures from back then, where my blue and turquoise frames took up over a third of my face, were probably not the best decision.

And, if you must know, it still takes me at least an hour to pick out the perfect pair.

Take the Time Chicken Stock

chicken brothbecause good food is always worth waiting for

Ingredients

  • 1 carcass from a large roasted chicken (or from two roasted cornish hens)
  • 3 large carrots, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large purple onion, quartered
  • 12 oz bottle beer (I used an Oktoberfest, but an IPA works well, too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • Water

How-to

  1. In your largest stock pot available, place the chicken skin/bones, carrots, garlic, celery, and onion.
  2. Pour in the beer, then add in the bay leaf and peppercorns.
  3. Cover everything with water up to an inch below the top of your pot.
  4. Turn the burner onto high, and bring the water to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer and let the stock bubble for at least 3-4 hours, until the liquid has reduced by at least 2 inches and the color of the stock is a nice golden brown.
  6. Using a large colander, pour out the broth and throw away the large pieces of the stock ingredients.
  7. Using your finest mesh sieve, remove the rest of the impurities from your stock. Place into containers and either freeze (you can keep it for up to 6 months) or refrigerate (it can keep for up to a week).
  8. Once the stock is cold, skim off the layer of fat that has solidified at the top (this is really easy to wash off the frozen stock).

Hoarding and Potatoes

My kindergarten teacher set me up for a lifetime of hoarding.  Thankfully I got over it.

My teacher was a wonderful woman who imparted her green-living choices to a bunch of five year olds (though this was a long time before we even started talking about the “green revolution”).  She told us that we could always find a second use for something.

I took that a bit too far to heart by then never throwing anything away.  My closet was a sea of should-be-garbage (or at least recycling) where you actually couldn’t find anything.  And that slowly extended into my room.

Like many kids, my idea of cleaning as a child was to throw everything on my floor into my closet, which wasn’t going to help my problem.  I also didn’t have a huge closet, which means that we eventually reached the point where I couldn’t open it.

I was in 7th grade when my best friend Brittany made the mistake of opening my closet.  I thankfully was standing next to her, and thus we were able to save her from being crushed when everything wanted to tumble out out the closet (it took both of us combined to slam the door in time).  However, it took every pound  in our scrawny 13 year old bodies to get that door closed, and then a chair shoved under the handle to keep it that way.

Unfortunately, my mother heard the crash of trash against the door (it had even scared my deaf dog out of my room, after all), saw the chair wedged precariously under a doorknob, and then made me spend the rest of that remaining weekend cleaning my closet.

It took the entire weekend, from 9am Saturday morning until 9pm on Sunday night.  I threw away or recycled 10 garbage bags full of stuff that I had managed to cram into a very, very small closet.  I discovered clothing that hadn’t fit since I was 5, a homework assigned I lost and had to redo from 5th grade, and a library book that I had been continually renewing for a year because I told myself I would eventually find it.  There were shoes in shoeboxes I had only worn once and then forgotten about. It was like opening up one of those boxes that cities bury and dig up in 10 years, except all mine contained was a lot of junk (plus some nice things) that should have been thrown away years ago…oops.

I’ve at least now learned that recycling and Craigslist means that someone else can use something for a second time (and it’s used a lot faster than I would keeping it in my closet)…which is pretty helpful considering I have to move for the first time in 4 years in less than 6 months and I don’t need to drag everything across the country.

Reduce the Guilt Au Gratin Potatoes

Yes, these are those potatoes everyone brought to potlucks back when this story happened…and they’re still delicious (and I made them slightly healthier)

Ingredients

  • 2lb frozen diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 c fat-free sour cream
  • 8 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted (I tried eliminating this completely but it doesn’t taste the same)
  • 1 c fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth (you can also swap in vegetable broth or fat-free milk, but I think chicken broth has the best flavor)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How-to

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients and dump into a 9×13 in baking dish.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender and the top is golden brown.

As you know, this makes a LOT of servings (and pairs perfectly with ham or potlucks)!