Tag Archives: CNA

Of Grief and Power Tools

Today marks a month since my husband’s been gone. So, I decided to engage in a little retail therapy to make myself feel better – one trip to Costco later, I have tamed an annoying cupboard with these sliding racks.

Aaaaaaaagh!  Run Away!
Aaaaaaaagh! Run Away!

To achieve this, I had to
1. Get over my fear of using a power drill.
2. Figure out whereinhell DH hid all the dang drill bits (finally found them after searching four toolboxes in, you guessed it, the fourth one) *and*
3. Actually install the things!

I’m pretty happy with the results and I think he would have been, too. So, Honey, here’s to the 25 great years we had, and thanks for leaving me all your gear. I finally understand the fascination with power tools!

Much better!
Much better!

 

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Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon

Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon

One of the things that sucks the most about being a new widow is the loss of my favorite dining companion.  My love was my best cheerleader/supporter regarding my efforts in the kitchen (well, except for that fruited pork spaetzle disaster about 24 years ago. . .) and I often was the happy recipient of a new cookbook with a sappily romantic message inscribed inside the cover.

To combat my grief and loneliness, I’ve been accepting a few invitations to dine with friends, and having a few people over here and there.  The food of grieving should be, in my opinion, extra special, because by dining together, we celebrate human connections, and a shared love of good, home-cooked food.

Last night I whipped up the following rich stew. . .I suppose one could make it in a slow cooker for convenience, but I just don’t think it would be the same.  I like to bake this one in my vintage Descoware enameled cast-iron dutch oven.  This savory dish serves 5 easily.  It can be plated over brown or white rice, or eaten alone in a bowl.  While I don’t recommend a sprightly discussion of septic shock while eating it, unless you already work in health care or are a nursing student, I think a good time was had by all, and having company for dinner eased my loneliness, at least temporarily.

So, without further ado – here is the recipe for JC’s Boeuf Bourguignon.  Yummy, yummy, yummy. . .thank you to food blogger Tara Noland for this savory treat!

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.

Enjoy!

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.

Look before you Brioche

This.  This is what happens when I get up, and try to create something in the kitchen prior to caffeine ingestion.  Yep.  Set out to make plain ol’ white bread from my Betty Crocker cookbook, and instead wound up with brioche dough.  (This is what happens when you set something on the book to keep it open while you add ingredients and somehow, after the yeast proofing step, you wind up making the brioche recipe on the right-hand page, not the basic bread recipe on the left-hand page.  Oops.) Perhaps the step calling for five eggs and one egg white should have been a warning.  Nevertheless, I now have a nice big batch of brioche dough, but no brioche pan.

Hence, a plead for help on the internets.  Never despair, I am usually not the only one experiencing any particular baking emergency, so help usually is readily forthcoming.  Along with a quick giggle result showing lovely brioche pans I could purchase from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon, is a helpful thread on finecooking.com that should save me: Brioche Pan Substitute Discussion

Now I need only decide whether to make loaves of bread using the “six balls technique,” or make tiny muffin-pan brioches.  Meh, I think I’ll go with the former.  I only have a half hour to decide, because I only have quick-rising yeast.  The suspense!  The drama!

All this because I was too lazy to drive to the store for bread.  That should teach me!

PS:  I neglected to add the butter specified by the recipe.  When you make mistakes, go big or go home!

Is it enough?

Ren & Stimpy get Superstitious

In studying my ACLS text for my upcoming class (dreading. . .dreading. . .anything remotely approaching a skills lab setting makes me shake with apprehension), I found myself thinking of how my perspective has changed since entering the health care field.

I used to just be-bop into the store with nary a thought of what I’d do if someone collapsed in front of me.  Sure, I’d taken the occasional first-aid course, but still, I hadn’t really internalized it.  Now, I walk into a large store or building, and find myself scanning the walls to locate the AED, avoiding anyone who looks like they might not feel well (I used to only avoid the actively sneezing and coughing, but now my immune system just shrugs and says “whatever” when confronted by someone else’s germies, for the most part), and just trying to get in and out with the least chance of a medical incident possible.

For you see, my friends, at work I am becoming what is gently known as a “magnet.”  If a patient will try to become unstable, have a cardiac event, de-sat into the 80’s, whatever, it will probably occur on my watch.  Doesn’t really matter that I’m new. . .it has only taken three weeks on my own for the patients to get the memo that they can feel free to have some sort of incident while I’m caring for them.  Already, I’m greeted on my floats with “hey, good to see you, I’m sure you won’t have a Rapid Response this time!”  I have tried everything to get off this streak, including a float to Psych (where I was nowhere near anyone even remotely medically unstable). Nothing has worked. It’s only a matter of time before this tendency follows me into my off-hours.

I’m hoping that by outing this possibility on my blog, I can somehow prevent it from occurring.  This is somewhat akin to the superstition that causes nurses to pull the code cart outside the room of a patient whose condition makes them nervous.  We’ll see!

Almond Biscotti – Slob Gourmet!

Are you uncoordinated in the kitchen?  Just as likely to wind up with the rolling pin up your nose as on the floured surface?  Don’t like structure?  This is the cookie for you , my friend!  These biscotti are crispy, sturdy and ideal for dunking in coffee.  There’s no need to worry about over-indulging in these cookies, because their sturdy nature makes that about as likely as a zwieback-speed-eating-contest (as in, not likely).

So, here you go:

Ingredients: 2 cups AP flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 large eggs, 2 T rum (I prefer the 7-year-old dusty bottle of Captain Morgan’s hidden away for just this occasion), 1 tsp almond extract, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup chopped, toasted almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (275 if convection oven).  Line a baking sheet (or two, if you want smaller cookies) with parchment paper.  Combine dry ingredients (except almonds) and set aside.  Whisk eggs and liquid ingredients in mixer or food processor until well blended, then add dry ingredients (except almonds) and mix until combined.  Blend in almonds.  The dough will be quite sticky at this point – no worries as that’s what you want.  Really.

Scrape the dough out into parchment-paper-lined sheet pan.  Flour your hands (and the floor, and the dog, and your shirt, if you’re like me) and shape the dough into a long, flat loaf about 5″ x 10″ – no extra points will be awarded for neatness, so don’t bother.

Unbaked Biscotti DoughBake in preheated oven approximately 50 minutes, until dry and firm.  Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Your “loaf” will still look messy.  No worries.

Using a long, serrated knife (a bread knife is best.  Ignore suggestions from your spouse to go get the reciprocating saw from the garage.  Ha ha.), slice the loaf into 1/2″ wide diagonal slices.  Lay the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet, bake for 20 minutes, then turn (the cookies, just in case this is unclear) and bake again for 20 minutes, or until the cookies are a golden light brown.  Cool completely before storing.

Finished Biscotti

Bust out the coffee and these biscotti with the good Denby ware and a yummy textbook for a deliciously dreary afternoon of studying.  Will I ever, ever be finished with studying?  Probably not. . .

Staying Organized During Football Season and Your Average Hospital Shift

Staying Organized During Football Season and Your Average Hospital Shift

Really, there aren’t two topics of more importance, so why not lump them together. Since I’m sort of between teams right now (oh, the heck with it, Go Raiders!!!) it will be fun to work through this flowchart, since I hate thinking for myself!

On another note, I’m attaching the shift routine worksheet I’ve made to keep on track at work, and prevent charting deficiencies. It really helps me remember to order labs when I’ve got patients on protocols (e.g.; K+ replacement, etc.), to identify Core Measures (thanks, Jay-Co and CMS!) and mind my p’s and q’s. I’m attaching it should it be useful to others on the internets.  Here you go:  Shift Routine for Med-Surg

 

Steel Cut Oats – Much Easier than You’d Think!

Different Oatmeal VarietiesSteel Cut Oats – Much Easier than You’d Think!

I’m on a mission to drop my LDL numbers, since the new ACA has me running scared about paying a surcharge on employer-provided health insurance in the future.  Just takes one float to Neuro for me to be convinced that now is the time to do some arterial maintenance.

This easy recipe by Marin Mama Cooks is, well…easy!  For my weaponized fiber, I choose Bob’s Red Mill SCO’s (local NW product). I like to add a little skim milk, some brown sugar, and a whole, sliced banana.  Great before work breakfast (dinner?  lunch? . . .whatever, we night shift folk are all mixed up anyway!).  Enjoy!