Monthly Archives: January 2014

Full Code

So, my heart, my love, my life-long mate, my best beloved in the wide, wide world (he so loved Kipling) died today.  Right in the living room.  No rescue breaths or compressions were going to bring him back.  He lived long enough to smile brightly at son-of-disorderlyCNA, who had come home to visit from college for the weekend, to flick him some crap like usual, and then he had the big one. The widow-maker.

This was not unexpected.  He’d bravely fought cancer for over seven years. . .was the king of the infusion floor, the oncologist’s most interesting patient, the guy who’d outlived every one of his diagnostic cohort.  But he’d been short of breath this week.  After chemo on Thursday, he had a chest x-ray. . .an ugly, ugly thing.  I’ve seen some nasty images of lungs, peeking over the shoulders of the intensivists and nurses during my CNA days in the ICU.  But this one took the cake.  Imagine the thick, evil webs of funnel spiders, and that’s what my husband’s lungs looked like, all the way up to the middles.  The oncologist returned my call the next day, in response to my question whether it was partly pneumonia?  Nope, he said, it’s the cancer.  And I felt all the fight drain out of me, right then.  I didn’t say anything to my husband.  I think he knew, anyway.

I almost lost, him, I thought, last night.  He was sitting in his recliner, and the way his mouth hung open, his pallor, and the protruding tongue didn’t look right.  He was unresponsive to a sternal rub, to peripheral pain, to me shouting and shaking him by the shoulders.  And then, he came back. . .like he still had something to accomplish.  Looked at me like I was a total jackass and said “why are you shouting at me?  Are you PMS-ing?”  Coolest, toughest sonuvabitch I’ve ever met.  Should we take you to the hospital, I asked.  No, he said, I’m fine.  Please get me some ice cream.  So I did. . .he really, really loved ice cream.

So today, he had cream of wheat and raspberry preserves.  Watched TV.  Had coffee.  Laughed at the antics of our cat and dog chasing each other up and down the hall.  It was really sunny outside. . .a beautiful day.  At 1430, I told him our son was about 20 minutes away.  He flipped channels on the TV.  I was bathing our ridiculous little dog in the sink when the boy came in with a breezy “hello!” He and Papa began to talk.  Life was good.  I was out of the room when the boy shouted, “Mom, there’s something wrong with Dad!”  1525.

I would say a full-on grand mal siezure and hypoxia certainly qualified as bad.  The boy dialed 9-1-1.  I felt for a carotid pulse. . .there it was, I thought.  I gave two rescue breaths – they bubbled back out at me.  The boy said “we need to do compressions now.”  I started them, yelled for the boy to bring the breadboard from the kitchen.  We lifted the man, slid the board under, and I continued compressions.  I went five rounds of 30:2 and the medics arrived.  1533.

They took over compressions, and I told them – he wants everything, full code. The shirt was cut, the pads placed, the IO started in the right tibia, the epi pushed.  Backboard placed and strapped, lifted, gurney scissored up, out the door.  1538.  Ambulance leaves our house.  I look numbly at my son.  Who’s driving, I ask?  He says he will.  We leave, go to the hospital.  Walk through that front door for the zillionth time.  I go like a robot to the security window, tell them I’ve parked in the ER lot because my husband is in the ER, so please don’t email my manager that I’m in violation.  We go to the triage window.  We are ushered back to one of the trauma bays.  We go in.  Full code in progress. . .a compression line of 3 ED techs.  I know them all.  The nurses, the doc, the house super, the charge nurse.  All of us, faces stony.  Pulse check. . .asystole.  The doc talks to me, says that nothing’s coming back.  I know, I say.  He wanted everything done, has everything been done, I ask.  Yes.  All right, I say, that’s it, then.  Time of death 1611. He is gone.

I think, looking back, that he might have insisted on being a full code because he knew where it would lead – either to the ICU or the ED, and either way, there would be people there to take care of us, to hug us and help us through that first awful hour of shock, to ease us into the unending hours of grief to come.  And they did.  And I am grateful.


The Undeading

Simply the best CPR public service announcement ever. Here’s a link to the behind the scenes goodness. Sorry, Ken Jeong, but this one is my favorite (after the British version with Vinnie Jones ).

Learn CPR today, and maybe you can save a life and/or someone’s brain so you can eat it later.

Cinnamon Rolls Out of Control

Cinnamon Rolls
Cinnamon Rolls

This butterless brioche dough concept is getting out of hand.  However, I believe it has made the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever tasted, and being something of a cinnamon roll fiend, I really think I speak from authority on this topic.

The rolls pictured above were made using the butterless brioche dough I stumbled onto accidentally.  Follow the steps listed, but instead of creating a braided loaf with half the dough, make the cinnamon rolls instead as follows:

1. Preheat oven to 375 (350
if convection). Spray a cake layer pan (9″ diameter) with cooking spray. On a floured surface, roll out 1/2 of a batch of Butterless Brioche Dough into a rectangle roughly the size of a cookie sheet, and approximately 1/2″ thick. (I like to do this on a silicone cookie sheet liner to make my life a little easier – helps with the rolling step.)

2. Spread rectangle with 2 T melted butter, then sprinkle with (already blended) 1/4 cup sugar+2 tsp cinnamon.

3. Starting at the narrow end of your rectangle, roll dough tightly, pinching to seal.

4. Cut dough roll crosswise into 8 equal pieces. Place pieces, cut side up, in the cake layer pan, one in the center, and the remaining 7 along the periphery.  If you would like your end pieces to look the same as your center pieces, place them cut side up in the pan.

5. Allow to rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place, for about 30-40 minutes.

6. Bake on parchment-paper lined pan on low rack of oven for 15 minutes, until golden-brown.  Tent rolls with foil, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, invert onto heatproof plate.  Allow to rest for a minute, then remove pan.  Place another plate on top of rolls, invert, and remove original plate.  Your rolls will be right-side up and ready for frosting, if desired. You can stop here, and have these slightly sweet, cinnamon-infused rolls:

Cinnamon Rolls - Prior to Frosting
Cinnamon Rolls – Prior to Frosting

7. If you desire frosting, blend 1 cup powdered (confectioners’) sugar with 1 T milk and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, until smooth (add more milk if the consistency is too thick – think somewhere between stiff frosting and a thick glaze).  Spread glaze atop rolls – no need to be too precise – but do keep it toward the center of the rolls or you will find quite a bit of it on the plate, and not on the rolls.


Butterless Brioche Braid (OK, whatever, perhaps it’s a Challah!)

Butterless brioche braid
Butterless brioche braid

Hello again, it’s your adventuring baking buddy, with the conclusion to the “Look Before You Brioche” story.

It turned out wonderfully!  I decided to make braided loaves as suggested on the King Arthur Flour blog, where I also picked up some more amazing brioche dough ideas, such as using it to make cinnamon rolls!  (I am actually prohibited from saying amazeballs because I am over 40.)

Here is the recipe (with all apologies to Betty Crocker):

Butterless Brioche Bread (OK, Maybe it’s a Challah, whatever!)

1 package quick-acting dry yeast (no patience for regular), 1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees Farenheit), 2 T sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, 5 eggs, 1 egg white (save the yolk for later!), 3.5 cups AP flour, 1 egg yolk (see, I told you so!), 1 T water

Dissolve yeast in warm water in working bowl of food processor, or mixer bowl.  Add sugar, salt, 5 whole eggs, 1 egg white and 2 cups of the flour.  Beat on low speed, scraping bowl constantly if using a conventional mixer, for 30 seconds, then on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally, for 10 minutes.  Add remaining flour and blend on low until dough is smooth.

Scrape dough from side of bowl.  If using a food processor, place dough into oiled (can spray with cooking spray) bowl.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, set in warm place and let rise until double (about an hour).

Stir down dough by beating about 25 strokes (by hand). Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2-8 hours (8 hours was recommended, but I didn’t wait that long).  Remove middle shelf of oven, leaving only the top and very bottom shelf. Preheat oven to 375 (350 if convection).

Spray two bread loaf pans with cooking spray. Divide dough in half.  With lightly floured hands, on floured surface (I like to use a silicone cookie sheet liner as a backup), divide one half of the dough into three equal pieces.  Roll each of the three into a rope about 10″ long.  Pinch the ends of the three ropes together, braid, then pinch together the ends of the rope at the terminal end of the braid.  Place braid in one of the loaf pans, tucking under pinched ends.  Repeat the braiding step with the other half of the dough, place into remaining loaf pan. Again, cover with plastic wrap, set in warm place, and allow to rise for about 2-3 hours until puffy.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolk and water with a fork.  Using a pastry brush, gently apply this mixture to the top of each braided loaf. Go lightly, as you want to avoid having the egg mixture run down the loaf and accumulate at the edge of the pan. Then, if desired, sprinkle the top of the loaf with plain sugar.  I used some Demerara sugar I “found” in a cupboard. I suppose a festive holiday effect could also be achieved by using colored sugar.  Step back, and sigh with anticipation as you see this sight:

Brioche braids - before baking
Brioche braids – before baking

I followed the advice of the KAF blogger and placed the pans on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the loaf pans (on parchment-paper lined cookie sheet) on the bottom shelf of preheated oven.  Use another cookie sheet (unlined) on the top shelf as a “sunshade” for your loaves as they bake.

Bake for 15 minutes until loaf tops are golden-brown, then “tent” the loaves with pieces of foil (see the pictures on the KAF blog), and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the center of the loaf reads at 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (I actually pulled mine out at 200, and they read at the recommended temperature after exiting the oven for a few minutes). Immediately remove loaves from pans, cool on wire rack (I would put your lined cookie pan under the rack if you used sugar on the loaf tops, to avoid having a mess.)

Enjoy the fully cooled bread plain, with butter, as French Toast, or what-have-you.

Husband and son demolished one loaf while I was at work; took the other loaf to work and it was devoured.

PS:  I made the traditional white bread I originally set out to make, and it was amazeballs.