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Peanut Butter Energy Balls: A Tribute to Nurses Week

Thankfully, I am feeling much better at work lately. It is amazing what 2 months can do. It’s still isn’t perfect, but the fact that I am posting a recipe again means that I am cooking again, which must mean that things are at least a little bit better, and I am a little less stressed. Nurses Week just passed. I was hounded by a couple of the ANCCs to write a story for an “anthology” of stories that was going to be published for the event. Naturally I agreed to do it, but only so long as my story was anonymous, and was only published if plenty of other submissions were received as well. As my luck would have it, my story was the ONLY submission received, and it was published alone, on the back of the nursing newsletter, which was distributed at a very public ice cream social. I didn’t find out until after, and I can tell you, without exaggeration, that my cheeks were as bright as my pink scrubs. Oy! But since the whole world has read my story (it seems) I guess you can read it too. But before that, check out these balls.

I made this recipe because I have been SO hungry at work lately! My coworkers joke that I always seem to be eating something…but I just don’t understand how they aren’t eating something, too! I am training for a half marathon and it is inevitable that some of my runs occur before work, even though that means that they precede a 12-hour cardio endurance event in the ER, which makes me feel that I just created a new Olympic event: the Nursing Duathlon. These energy balls are perfect to pop in my mouth between patients…or on a hike in the Catskills, or a long travel day cross-country to Seattle, the possibilities are endless. And it doesn’t hurt that the “energy” balls kind of taste like cookie dough.

Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Adapted from: The Diva Dish

Ingredients:

1/2 C pecans

1/2 C almonds

1/2 C chopped, pitted dates (I bought pre-pitted)

1/4 C carob/chocolate chips

1/2 C unsweetened finely shredded coconut (plus more for rolling your balls)

1/2 C quick oats

1/4 C pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4-1/2 C Peanut/Almond Butter (depends on how extreme you want the PB/AB flavor to be)

First gather your ingredients. In a food processor, first pulse together the pecans and almonds until you see chunky crumbs. Then add the dates and chocolate/carob chips and process some more until your mixture looks pretty crumb-y again. Next, mix in the coconut and oats (one at a time) and pulse until they are integrated. Lastly add the wet ingredients: maple syrup, vanilla and peanut/almond butter and process until they are fully incorporated. Scoop the mixture into a bowl (so the blade isn’t in the way), remove your rings :) it is sticky! Start to roll balls. You can leave them “naked” (which I did for Matt, who has an unfathomable aversion to all things coconut) or roll them in a pretty dusting of coconut flakes (for me, who knows what is better) and then store them in the fridge/freezer as a snack for now/later!

Naked Balls

And now for a little post-cooking story time…

I eye the clock with apprehension. 6:52: my shift starts in less than 10 minutes. I pack my pockets with all manner of nursing paraphernalia; arming myself for the onslaught of patients during the 12 hours that lie ahead. A Carpuject, pulse oximeter, handy notebook of nursing diagnoses and interventions and plenty of saline flushes line my pockets, and my stethoscope is looped around my neck. With a deep breath, heart racing, I set off to receive report, wondering what sort of night lay ahead. It’s impossible not to wonder, but also impossible to control: this is life in the ER.

I thought I knew what to expect. I spent eleven eye-opening weeks as a student in the St Luke’s ER. But “Student Nurse” has a much different ring to it than “Staff Nurse.” As a student, I could apologetically shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know” to a patient, and come back with an answer later. As a registered nurse there is a much different expectation. Certainly, I can, and do, ask many questions. But I also feel the weight of responsibility in a different way.

Now, 8-months as a nurse, still green in many ways, I can at least look back on my first few months of being a nurse and see how far I have come. In the beginning, it didn’t take much to throw me off my A-game: a missing piece of equipment that I had to go hunting for or back-to-back “notifications” in the trauma room. Anything could do it, and often did, because the role of the ER nurse is to expect the unexpected and be comfortable feeling perennially behind. Every task is urgent…except for the ones that are emergent. My baseline emotion when chaos erupted was low-grade panic, punctuated by spikes sheer terror.

My confidence was (and admittedly still is) easily shattered. I can start IVs, administer medications and blood products, insert catheters and assist with other invasive procedures. I can competently help stabilize a trauma patient or efficiently do a cardiac work-up. And while I may not yet have the grace of far more seasoned nurses, I can feel satisfaction knowing that as I run around looking harried and crazed, I will get the work done.

It is only recently that I feel a small but perceptible transformation. Gradually, I anticipate what the plan of care will be for my patients, and find that I am correct more often than not. I assist my fellow nurses, like they so often help me. I feel a growing sense of familiarity and comfort with the staff, and realize that in knowing each other well, we work together like cogs in a well-oiled machine. But most significantly, I have started truly hearing my patients for more than their medical histories, and remember the real reason behind why I became a nurse.

One night, as I was busily scurrying around the ER, I picked up patient who had tripped and hit his head. When I went to see the patient, I found a man in his mid-80s, quite confused to find himself in the ER in the middle of the night and with a bloody forehead, to boot. I helped get him settled and explained the purpose of doing a CT of his head. With trepidation, he agreed. He miraculously had nearly no past medical history, and was staggered by the tubes of blood I had to draw for labs and bothered by the incessant beeping that came from the monitor whenever he pulled off his leads. Then, we were called to the trauma room and for 30 minutes I didn’t think about anything else besides the new patient in front of us.

When I eventually made it back to my older gentleman patient, he was agitated and disoriented. While his words came out in a tumble, I gathered that he was afraid, tired, annoyed and that he had soiled the bed. He told me that he had called for someone to help him but wasn’t heard and eventually couldn’t wait any longer. He was embarrassed, and rightfully indignant. I felt terribly that I had been holed up in the trauma room for so long, and apologized profusely. I helped change the linens and his wet gown. Now calmer, clean and settled, we spoke the plan for him to be admitted to the hospital, and I also learned about his wife of 60 years at home with whom he was still head-over-heels in love. In the end, I realized that it wasn’t the subdural hematoma that made my patient feel so scared and upset, but the feeling of being neglected. Everyone deserves dignity in their care and I felt reassured that despite my rush, I am still able to find moments in the ER to provide reassurance, listen to touching anecdotes, and care for my patients during their most vulnerable times. In nursing school, you learn about the progression of competence that every nurse makes in their journey to becoming experienced. It is gratifying to move past a near-exclusive focus on the completion of discrete tasks to the ability to view and implement comprehensive patient care based on individual needs.


 

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Real ER Nurses Don’t Cry

I wrote this post in mid-March…one year from the date that I first started my stint in the ER as a nursing student. I never published it…I’m not sure why, but here it is now. I am feeling so much better and it is really nice to read this post, just two months later…

***

I am no longer a student nurse, no longer an orientee. It is unofficially my 1 year anniversary in this ultra-urban level 1 trauma center ER, yet it is actually only my 2nd month off orientation (which was a six-month endeavor), and now here I am, rolling along, sort of wobbly, like a kid on a bike without training wheels for the first time. It’s funny how impatient I am for confidence. I expected after 8 months of being a RN, I would feel better…not fearless per se, but better than this. I like the ER, but I don’t love it. I always take a very deep breath before going in and brace myself for the assault that I know (most nights) is inevitable. I know now that I wasn’t built for the ER long-term. I’m not a huge fan of blood and guts (though I’m pretty proud to say that I have nearly perfected my mask of nonchalance) and I consider it a great night in the ER if we don’t get any terrible traumas or cardiac arrests. Funny, because most ER nurses get their kicks from a “good” trauma. I just pretend to understand that.

I’ve noticed that my moods have been more mercurial these days. Part of this I attribute to the recent passing of my wonderful grandfather. But I also suspect that my newfound capriciousness and random bouts of teary-eyes may stem from sadness and intensities that I haven’t found time or energy to deal with from the ER. Again, why am I not blogging? That always helped me before! But then again, I am a morning person…living on the night shift. I’ve noticed that I have also been cooking less (I crave cereal ALL the time), knitting less, and even exercising less. I really need to fix this lifestyle…it’s gotta be possible to live a normal life on the Night Shift!

One thing I like about nights, though, is that sometimes…sometimes, I get the kind of quality time with my patients that I got in the nursing home. It never felt like there was enough time on the Day shift to ever spend that kind of quality time with a single patient. But on some nights, the really good ones, there are nearly empty hours. I only have 3-4 patient that are “mine” and I really get to take my time.


On one such night, I was working a patient up for chest pain. He knew the drill, he had been to the ER plenty of times for much of the same. An older gentleman, he was a little gruff and curt with his words in the beginning. He was polite, sure, but not exactly a fount of engaging conversation. However, as the night wore on, and more patients were discharged, I had the opportunity to check on him various times. He was asymptomatic and in the wee hours of the morning, our banter developed. Shortly after his second set of labs came back, it was discovered that his potassium was quite elevated. This is the moment most nurses dread for their bed-bound patients. I include myself in “most nurses.” This is the moment of the Kayexalate. And to be quite honest, most patients aren’t exactly jumping up and down for it, either.

The elixir of Kayexalate is an ominous-looking thing, and its looks reflect its purpose. It comes in a small plastic bottle, and pours into one of our styrofoam cups like a long viscous concoction, slightly lighter brown than Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup, but of the same consistency. Most patients get two bottles for a dose, which comes out to be more than a 2-swallow shot. Nurses hate it because it makes their patient have MANY bowel movements, and patients hate it because it tastes bad (or so I’ve heard) and, well, the same other reason — MANY poops.

So, when I introduced the elixir to my new friend, I didn’t exactly expect a warm reception. But there he was, grinning, saying, “Ah yes, I was wondering when I would get this.” Surprised, I asked whether he had tasted it before. “Oh, yes,” he assured me, “My potassium is ALWAYS high. And I just love this cocktail,” he said, grinning some more. Surprised, I proffered the styrofoam cup, and he took it, immediately raising it to his lips for a sip. Yes, a sip! Not a chug and grimace, or the other many expected responses, but instead a small sip with a smile as if it were a fine scotch. “Ah, cinnamon,” he said. And then another sip, “And a touch of vanilla,” another sip, “and dare I say apple pie?” By this point I’m not just smiling back at him, I am actually laughing. Clearly, he is playing with me. But it is such a welcome change from the usual replies. This man reminds me of my residents at the Assisted Living Home. He is graceful in his aging, he is not remotely angry to be awake and drinking Kayexalate at 3am with a nurse in the ER. In fact, he is making it a fun experience for everyone. And this is what my patient taught me. As much as I can, I want to treat this experience in the ER as a chance to make the night better, lighter, less serious, or just more comfortable for my patients and myself.

 

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Craziness and Cookies for Peace

This story does not make me look like an angel. Yesterday, I was severely annoyed by a patient. This patient drove me so crazy that I wanted to pull out my hair, ignore her completely, or worse, make her disappear. It wasn’t that bad from the beginning. While I knew she had a psych history, and had been to multiple ERs with the same complaints, and had same tests done and had been medically cleared any number of times, it’s not in my nature to immediately distrust a patient that I have never met. But with a large load of patients already, and a busy day ahead, it soon became clear to me who was the truly ill and who fell to second (or fifth) priority. And with a steady stream of complaints and demands with seemingly no relief, I soon grew exasperated. Probably more so than I have felt ever before in this setting. It is not a good feeling, and it colored the quality of my care for this patient and tinged my mood for the entire day. I was not at my best. Less than super nurse, to say the least. She was with me all twelve hours, my lovely lesson of the day. She was constantly telling me how sick she was – as if I could forget. She told me again and again that the regular doses of pain and anti-nausea medication that I was giving her had done nothing at all and she would rate her pain as ten out of ten, and later twelve out of ten. When I paid attention to her it was almost worse than when I ignored her. I hate to say it, but I realized that I had to be firm and set limits with her so that I could safely care for my other patients as well. It was a hard lesson, but very necessary. And when she was finally medically cleared (with yet another CT scan, that she demanded) she still wasn’t ready to leave. Multiple physicians tried to use reason, and I did my best as well, but we could not get through to her.

Then suddenly, while I was in the midst of drawing up medications for another patient, an old man appeared at my side. He said he was her father. He looked nearly as tired as me. But with a sweet smile, he asked me if she was medically cleared, and if so, could he take her home? Unanticipated, a huge sigh whooshed out of me. I told him that yes, she had been cleared. Another sad little smile and he said, “If she is clear, then I can take her off your hands.” This small stocky man with the unruly grey Einstein-esque hair and disheveled appearance–sweater pulled taut over a slight paunch–was my knight in shining armor. And after a full day of caring for this patient with no relief or remission of symptoms, arguing with her about her diagnosis (or lack thereof) and just generally sweating over her care, she meekly followed her father out the door. That easy? For me, it was. That was one day for me. One hard day and then I get to wash my hands of it. But guess who doesn’t get to do that? Her kind mother who called earlier in the day to inquire about her status and her sweet father who came to escort her home and ultimately ended the circular game of discharging someone against his/her will, sick or not. Mother and father will never wash their hands of their daughter’s illness and neither will this woman herself, who is clearly sick in a way that the medications in our Pyxis simply cannot treat. I left very sad, and frustrated. Our system isn’t very good at dealing with the mentally ill. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the system failed this patient, despite our well-intentioned efforts, and that makes it fundamentally flawed. Clearly, I don’t know the whole story. I only saw a small piece of the puzzle. But, I know something different should have occurred to stop the cycle of her using the ER like a revolving door. Should she have received a psych consult even though every complaint she had was physical in nature? The clues of prior visits point to yes, although clearly this is not a means to a permanent end since prior psych consults have not yielded answers or an end to the behavior. And should she have been assessed for an addiction? Perhaps. It is hard to say without knowing more of the story than her singular ER visit.

What I do know is that the very next day, while putting a chart away at the charge nurse’s desk, a little piece of me shriveled up inside when I heard her voice behind me saying, “Oh, Rachel…I’m back. This time I am really sick!” There she was, brought in by EMS…AGAIN…on a stretcher. She told me that she was still feeling terrible, and that “they” had called her back because they had seen something on her CT scan when re-reading it. I have to admit, I held my breath and crossed my fingers that our team wouldn’t be assigned to her care. And it wasn’t. But the Communications nurse later told me that the look on my face was priceless when the patient called out my name, she said she cracked up, and only for that reason was the patient not assigned to our team again Only in blog-land can I admit how grateful I was. After another 12 hours of her in the ER, with so many other patients, I may have quit my job on the spot. Obviously, I need to learn to better outlets to control my frustrations, because not every patient is pleasant or kind. I am working on learning not to let my crazy patients make me crazy as well because then i really can’t help them!

And now, a recipe for peace. Tea and these cookies, combined with a little yoga on the side help me stay externally peaceful in the ER.

simple lemony cookies

Ingredients (I doubled this recipe and kept one log in the freezer for later use at a future tea party date!) From: VodKitchen
  • 9 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 cup fine sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Barely less than 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 lemons for zest
Preparation
  1. Put your softened butter into a food processor with the rest of the ingredients (save the lemon zest) and process until smooth.
  2. Finely grate your lemon zest. Stir the zest into the cookie dough and mix together well. Spoon on to a piece of plastic wrap and roll into a sausage shape with a roughly 2 1/2-inch diameter. Chill the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. Get your chilled dough out and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place these on two cookie sheets, making sure you leave a good bit of space between the slices because they’ll spread while cooking. Place the cookie sheets in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown. Let them cool down slightly before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Also great made with orange zest instead of lemon, and served with tea, coffee, or hot cocoa!

 

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Comparing myself to overcooked pasta…

Every night leaving work, it’s like the energizer bunny coming to screeching halt after a nonstop day of go-go-go.. On autopilot, I resist collapsing like one big gelatinous noodle. In some recess of my brain I know that my bed is better than train tunnel for sleeping. Thus far, I have always won against my limbs, thank god. Not that I am actually complaining. This is exactly what I wished for: bedside nursing, interacting with people as much as possible, constant learning, and never sitting at a desk in a cubicle. I got all of those things. So far, no matter how tired, frustrated or emotionally drained I am at the end of a hard day in the ER, I am still excited to go back (after a solid night of rest). I can’t say how long this honeymoon phase of our relationship will last (me and the ER, that is) but I am really hoping it’s a not a fleeting feeling.

As a new nurse, I am always running, my brain whirring, trying to anticipate the next step. In the beginning, I had plenty of time to learn my patients and know them fairly well (at least well for a brief ER interaction) but now as I grow more adept with my few patients, I have been taking on more patients, and more. It’s hard to know them as well now, often, just staying on top of their medical case is the best I can manage. Sometimes I yearn to spend more time with just a few patients…respond to all their “real” needs as well as the self-professed “real” needs, instead of triaging their professed needs myself. (For example, bleeding wound=real need. Fix it: clean, gauze, tape, presto-donezo. While, “I’m starving, I haven’t eaten in 18 hours, get me some food now,” is not a real need…I am sorry but it’s not, when the guy in the next bed is bleeding.) I want to respond to all needs equally, which is simply impossible in the ER. I have to make snap decisions, which clearly doesn’t please everyone. The flip side of wishing that I only had a few patients, is that obviously there are some patients that you would much prefer never even crossed the threshold… Luckily, there haven’t been many of those.

Sometimes it’s impossible to miss a special moment though. Yesterday, I had an elderly patient with a laundry list of geriatric problems — Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, new onset seizures, the works. Oh yeah, and probable pneumonia on admission. The wife (who looked much better, I might add, and at least 10 well-preserved years younger) claimed that her husband, on a better day (pre-pneumonia, I imagine) walked around the house a little bit, and even spoke occasionally. Pretty incredible to believe from what I saw lying on the stretcher. Nonverbal, limbs contracted inwards, shivering and weakened by illness, he was a full workup waiting to happen. He was in my care all day, while being screened into the ICU and then waiting for a bed to become available. While we drew labs, waited for results, started broad-spectrum antibiotics and gentle fluids, and periodically changed his sweat-soaked sheets, I watched the wife interact with her feeble and febrile husband. He never spoke, but she spoke to him and seemed very certain of what he needed at any given moment. She, dressed in a smart red suit with perfectly arranged hair, sat at his bedside for hours upon hours. And this is no private room either. The ER is full of incessant beeps, whistles and alarms, combined with a cacophony of human-emitted noise – complaints, moans, the works. It can’t be pleasant for a patient or a family member (not that I particularly care for it, either). Yet, she calmly and gracefully sat by his side and thanked us for all the care we provided, not once blaming us for the slow pace of diagnosis and admission to the ICU. At regular intervals when I checked on him, she would be stroking his forehead whispering gently to him, or rearranging his pillows and blankets, or spoon-feeding him miniature bites of applesauce. It nearly brought tears to my eyes, such tender and private interactions that I witnessed as my patient’s nurse. These are the moments that I live for and that I strive to reproduce as a nurse for my patients that have no one at bedside. If this patient had been all alone, I might not have known a single thing about him other than the details of his illness. But with his wife at bedside, I learned that he had someone who loved him dearly, and he probably loved just as tremendously in return. Learning these little tidbits reminds me that my patient is also a person, with a story all his own beyond the hospital stretcher. On a busy day, there isn’t often time to find out the stories of every individual, but it’s important to remember that they all have one.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2011 in Emergency Room, Healing Spoonful

 

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Holy Hamburger, a Hurricane?!

I got that awesome new catchphrase from a patient today. In short, I was pulled into the trauma room to watch a patient having cardioversion today, a rare occurrence in our hospital, since usually we are shocking dead patients in resuscitation rather than the living. The basis behind cardioversion is that the patient is in an aberrant rhythm and you shock them (in an organized fashion, marking the R waves of the EKG, which is what makes cardioversion different from defibrillation) in hopes that you will be able to startle the heart back into a normal sinus rhythm. They used conscious sedation, which is intended to calm the patient as well as act as a handy amnesic, and it worked well. The patient was calm and chatty leading up to the shock. I was probably more nervous that he was. Upon shocking, his body arched weirdly, like only a 100 joules of electricity can do, and he exclaimed, “HOLY HAMBURGER!” I admit, I laughed. Plus, he didn’t even remember that we had shocked him a few minutes later, and he converted to a normal rhythm, so it all ended happily. The ER can be a very happy place when everything works out as intended.

So, I am starting orientation. I still don’t know quite what to expect. I am stressed, excited and apprehensive. I have only been there a few weeks and haven’t been taking my own patients yet. But apparently, that may change tomorrow, since the hospital just activated its disaster protocol for Hurricane Irene. All nurses on deck, either for the acute phase (storm) or recovery (after the storm). That includes lil ol’ me. I am going in tomorrow afternoon, and depending on the storm’s course, they told me not to expect to leave until MONDAY! Talk about a dramatic entry to the world of nursing. Don’t tell my mother, but I am pretty darn excited. :)

Wish me, and all souls that find themselves in Irene’s wrathful path, good luck!

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2011 in Emergency Room, Healing Spoonful

 

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Ridiculously Remiss from Spoonful

I have been too long gone. I apologize. I deserted my blog; hook, line, sinker; without even a backward glance. Why? Not because I haven’t been cooking…I had so much to share, and so many cooking conquests and yet not a single one was translated into blog-ese. part of it was that my computer was so darn slow (before I replaced the hard drive which apparently is kind of like computer Botox, takes away many of the visible wrinkles without completely erasing the signs of aging) and I was too impatient to wait for my pictures to upload or for the actual words on the screen to catch up with the speed of my typing (which frankly, isn’t even all that fast). Partially, it was studying for the NCLEX and job-hunting (which I passed AND got a job, hooray!) and part of it was a total dearth of the stories because I was not longer in the ER 3 days a week (soon to be remedied…eek!) And also…it was enjoying the summer weather…soaking up every single drop of sun and basking in its amazing warmth (until the Big Apple became the Baked Apple and I actually COMPLAINED ABOUT THE HEAT…never before has that come from my mouth). At last, I return.  However, my blog has missed many memorable exploits. For example, with the first fruit of the season to arrive in our CSA, I was inspired to try this:

rubies of the early summer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And with my lovely sis’ we ventured on even more cook-a-thons (she, holding my hand all the way through, as I rolled my eyes at the outrageous pickiness of the classic macaron recipe, and simultaneously steeled my nerves for my fear of failing) BUT WE SUCCEEDED! Recipe to come shortly, but I simply cannot do it justice today. A sneak preview:

double trouble

And with the increasing CSA bounty, I have had my hands FULL. And therefore, if for no other reason, the blog must come back, because all the awesome green (and other color) creations that I am making need to be recorded so I don’t forget them for next summer! Easy suppers (ie: taco salads, black bean veggie burgers, vegetable & tofu stir fries), crunchy lunches (read: massive salads) and delicious and different breakfasts…like the one I made today!

midsummer CSA love

Huevos Rancheros

“East Coast Style” inspired by Deb at Smitten Kitchen (who is my kitchen guru despite all the other cooking blogs I have found and delighted in…her taste is superb and her writing style is still my fave.)

Combination: Salsa Fresca con Salsa Verde Crudo (tomatillo salsa)

Makes about 2 cups.

2 large fresh ripe tomatoes, finely chopped (set aside)

10 tomatillos, husked and well washed, quartered
1/2 large white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Fresh lime juice or 1 teaspoon red-wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, pinch of allspice

  1. Puree all ingredients together (reserve the ripe tomatoes) until smooth, then combine with the tomatoes that were set aside, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  2. Let the flavors marry for 15 minutes or so before serving, but serve within a couple of hours.
Los Huevos
Tortillas (I humbly recommend The Tortilla Factory, white corn, AMAZING if you don’t have a tortilla press)
Eggs
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, finely grated
GOYA black bean soup (this brand is awesome, this is the secret to the ease of this recipe)
Salsa Fresca
Salt/Pepper
Heat tortillas in a lightly greased pan/skillet. Flip over when browned slightly. Top with some of the cheddar cheese. Crack an egg directly on top of the tortilla. Don’t worry if it runs over the edges a bit. It’s about to get way messier; embrace it! Season to taste with salt and pepper. When the egg is about halfway set, slide your spatula under and gentle flip the whole thing over. The yolk may break or it may not, either way, it’s delicious. Sprinkle a bit more cheese on this side. Cook to your preferred level of done-ness. Flip onto a plate and decorate as you desire with the black bean soup concoction, fresh salsa, and grated cheese. YUM
(pics to come)
 
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Posted by on July 23, 2011 in Breakfast, Snacks

 

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Spring has finally Sprung…today in my kitchen



Can I complain for one hot second? I’ll take a rain check on a verbal/written reply and take the silence as a ‘yes.’ I am fed up with winter. It rained for my sister’s entire outdoor graduation. Sideways rain, and I don’t think you can get more insulting than that. It rained for my graduation too, but I was happy as a clam to be inside a Track & Field stadium (addendum: I would not have found myself quite so content had it been a sunny-side-up day). I am angry at the weather. Angry to be on the East Coast, although, given the recent (and not-so-recent) rash of natural disasters and other not-so-natural disastrous events, I suppose I should feel at least a modicum of gratitude to be right where I am.  But I am not grateful for my location so much as the produce that it produces. Today, it a little market near my train stop I found all three of the above-pictured vegetables. I hadn’t a clue what to do with them, but daydreamed all the way home on the train, and by the time I arrived, I had the scaffolding of a couple of ideas in my head. I rushed home. I dirtied a lot of a pots and pans. I sweated in my kitchen for the first time in many moons. I requested fancy cocktails from my fiance for our guests. He provided them. (they were delicious) I had a mini-meltdown over 2 poorly poached eggs. Then I got the hang of it.

I took one singular picture…it doesn’t do the final dish justice…but if you want to try any/all of the mishmash medley of vegetarian sensations that I created, the lackadaisical recipes are as follows:

Creamy Polenta

6 cups of water with a dash of salt to speed the boiling process

2 cups dry polenta

½ cup cream

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup grated romano/pecorino/other fancy cheese

Salt & Pepper to taste

Bring the water to a rollicking boil before mixing in the 2 dry cupfuls of polenta. Lower heat and let bubble and brew at a simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir in cream and butter, stir well and bring to a simmer again. Lastly, mix in cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving. Best served hot. Makes 6 servings or more…

Mizuna Greens

A Japanese green, these tender young’uns have been descried as “piquant, mild peppery flavor…slightly spicy, but less so than arugula.” I tossed them lightly with sesame vinaigrette, toasted sesame seeds and finely grated pecorino.

Caramelized Rutabega

1 large rutabaga (cut into ½-inch cubes)
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Freshly ground pepper

Cut the ‘bega into small cubes. Boil in salted water until tender-crisp (about 10 minutes). Drain well. Melt butter in pot, add the rutabega, sprinkle brown sugar and mix gently until caramel appears, just a few short minutes. Add pumpkin pie spice and pepper.

Crispy Pan-friend Spring Onions

4-6 young spring onions

3 tbsp butter

salt, pepper, lemon

With a mandolin, slice the onions into rounds. Melt butter in a skillet and turn up the heat. Add onions and flash-fry for 1 minute on each side. Season the onions with salt, pepper and lemon. Drain any excess butter (can be used with the polenta for an additional seasoning flavor).

Poached Eggs

Tips:

  1. Do NOT boil the water. Do not let it simmer. Get the water “excited” with bubbles just barely appearing at the bottom. It is poachable now.
  2. Pour in a splash of vinegar
  3. Prep your eggs in ramekins, do not crack directly into the whirlpool you create.
  4. Make a whirlpool in the water with a spatula in your dominant hand, hold the ramekin containing the egg in the other hand, and gently dump it in the center of the whirlpool at the same moment that you remove the spatula
  5. Do not touch your egg as it swirls and gels. Close your eyes if you have to! Do not touch the egg. Trust it.
  6. Let it cook for at least 90 seconds before nudging it gently with the spatula to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan. If it is ready, gently scoop it out with a slotted spoon and put in a warm bath of water to await serving time.

I discussed egg poaching in a previous entry and recommended Smitten Kitchen for an excellent tutorial. I still  stand by this method, despite my initial failed attempts. Check it out for detailed instructions and pictures.

Happy happy spring!

 

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