Sunday, June 12, 2011

Rhubarb!!! (part 2)

Here's the second part of my rhubarb adventure!
Rhubarb Upside Down Cakes

Starting with the same raw rhubarb stalks, I washed 'em, lopped off the ends, sliced them into thin pieces, covered them in sugar, and let them sit.

I probably used about 2 cups of sliced rhubarb (3 stalks) and 1 cup of sugar. They sat for abou 20 minutes while I was busy doing other things.
While the rhubarb was marinating in its sugar bath, I greased up a cupcake pan with some butter. Normally with this recipe, you'd use a cake pan and just make one big cake, but I'm single and don't want to have to run another marathon too soon, so I just made some little ones.

Either way, you're getting a delicious outcome, so please just do what feels right to you. :)
Then I mixed up the batter.
  • 1.5 sticks of butter at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cup suger
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • some salt
  • 2 eggs beaten (don't flog them, just mix up the yolk and white a little
  • 1 cup sour cream
*you can add in some orange/lemon zest if you are feeling sassy
Evenly layer your now juicy and well sugared rhubarb in the bottom of your pan
Scoop out the batter and evenly distribute it in the pan
Now for the topping:
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • salt
mix it all up till it's crumbly, and crumble it some more over your batter
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.
Mine took a little less because it came in smaller sizes (about 45 minutes)

When they're finished they'll look something like this!
(unless you do one big cake, then you should be worried if it looks like this....)
When you dish it out, remember to turn it upside down on the plate!
Nom, nom, nom.....
I told myself I didn't need to eat the whole thing. I actually stopped 1/2 way through.
But all I did 1/2 way through was snap this picture and then quickly gobble the rest up!
Seriously, I really tried to stop eating it.... It's just so good!!!

Anyhoo, that's the second part to my rhubarb adventure. I hope to have some more soonish. Because rhubarb is so awesome!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rhubarb!!! (part 1)

*this post will be a 2-part series primarily because it is so long and also because I'm having some picture difficulties...just working out the kinks :)

On my way home from work the other day, I stopped by the grocery store and what did I see?
Can you say yummy? Oh my heavens! Delightfulness will ensue!

One of my grandma's favorite stories to tell about my Aunt Janice is that she had never had rhubarb until she married into our family, but once she had it she was hooked and would call all the other members of the family on the first day rhubarb was available in stores because she
was that excited. Can you blame her?

Needless to say, I didn't call all my family members or friends, but I was pretty darn excited. Now that I have it, what do I do with it? I live alone and eating an entire Strawberry Rhubarb Pie by myself probably isn't so great for my girlish figure...

So I settled for some Upside-Down Rhubarb Cakes (recipe will be in Rhubarb #2) and Rhubarb Ginger Compote!

What you'll need:
Fresh clean Rhubarb! (you can use the frozen rhubarb chunks if you don't want to chop, you missed the rhubarb season, or you live somewhere that rhubarb doesn't grow/isn't sold)
Ginger root
clean jars with lids

1. Chop up your rhubarb, leaving off the green and rooted ends, and throw it in a large pot
2. Add about 1 cup of sugar for every 3 cups of chopped rhubarb
3. mix it, mix it good, mix it real good, and then let it sit in it's sugary goodness for a bit
*I let mine sit for about 15 minutes while I was busy doing other stuff. The sugar, by all sorts of chemical and physiologic processes, leech water into the sugar--this is what you're waiting for
4. While you wait, scrape all the skin off your ginger. Naked ginger!
*note: this is fresh ginger, not the pickled ginger served with sushi. do not eat this raw...
5. Grate up your ginger. doesn't that look delicious? still, not for eating just yet....
6. Squeeze all the juice out of your ginger. I used a coffee filter to accomplish this. it worked phenomenally well!
7. Turn on the burner under your pot of rhubarb to 4/10. More juice will leech out. Rhubarb will start to get soft and mush. Keep stirring.
8. When all the rhubarb is nice and soft, after about 10 minutes of heating, stir in the ginger juice. It might change the color, be forewarned. Mine took on a touch of pale purple.
9. Pour your compote into jars. If you're in a small family of 1 or 2 like I am, I recommend using smaller jars. You just won't get through the large ones quickly enough.
Normally, I have my own jars. Apparently, they're all being used currently.
Thus the use of the salsa jar....

10. Utilize your compote/spread for good, not evil.
You could use it to top off pork chops, or on a chicken breast, or ice cream, or straight off the spoon!
I put mine on toast, nom nom nom.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What would you do?

Dr. Jacob Kevorkian died this week. In case you don't know who he is (where have you been living??? under a rock???) Wikipedia does a decent job of summarizing his life and his work here. Or you could read this book:
He actually died in a hospital not far from where I live. I had no idea he was from Michigan. He was born in Pontiac, Michigan, about an hour north of me. He practiced medicine here (as a pathologist, not a general practitioner), did his research in transplants and transfusions here, and advocated much of his end of life beliefs in Michigan.

Whether or not you agree with his politics and convictions, you have to admit the guy had moxy and brought serious attention to a very valid issue in medicine today.

Now, be forewarned, this is not a commentary on my opinions about physician-assisted suicide. So please don't try to glean my thoughts on the matter from what I write here. If you want to know, please ask me directly, don't assume.

This is, however, a thought process on end of life issues that I am currently going through.

I am going to be a doctor one day, it is coming faster than even I realize, and the final days of a patient's life is something I need to know how to handle.

I admit, I have not been in the room during a "final code" on a patient, I haven't had to tell a patient's family that the patient died, nor have I had to look a patient and their family in the eye and tell them this is the end. I dread those moments with all my heart. I have no desire to be the one who has to drop that bomb and explain why what we did/are doing is not enough. It breaks my heart to even think about it. However, it is part of what I am choosing to do with my life and I pray for all the grace and peace in the world when those moments come.

But what breaks my heart even more, is seeing patients in the hospital connected to every machine possible to keep each organ functioning as close to normal as they can. I have seen this all too often.... How can that be considered good quality of life? Yes, it is life, but how would you feel being strapped to a bed surrounded by beeping, clanging, whooshing, clanking machines 24 hours a day, unable to move, not able to relieve yourself, at least not of your own will?

In the hospital, we have meetings for the students, residents, and physicians that are to specifically address Morbidity and Mortality. Notice they are not solely for "mortality", they consider "morbidity" too--that is the state or quality of life. Unfortunately, it is often we find that mortality is the common outcome of a hospital stay. But I wonder, of those patients that we keep alive with their colostomy bags, g-tubes, ventilators, and IV medications, fluids, food, how many are truly happy to be living that way? Yes, life is what we all want, but do we always inform our patients of what "choosing life" will actually mean for them in the long run? And what of their families? Are we even considering what we put their families through, especially now with insurance companies breathing down everyone's neck?

How many physicians take the time to sit down with each and every patient who is broaching a morbidity and mortality issue to discuss the possible outcomes and what they choose for their long term care? Sadly, I think it is very few. I have yet to see any physician do this.

Keith Olbermann has been very vocal about his thoughts on these issues. There was a great interview with him today on NPR regarding his outspokenness on this issue, specifically regarding the death of his father last year. I was really impacted by this today. He and his father had an extended period of time to discuss their choices for the end of his life. They were very fortunate in this, though they had recently dealt with the hospitalization and death of his mother so they were somewhat prepared for what might incur.

As I don't have any patients yet, I haven't spoken with any regarding this yet. I was afforded the chance to talk with my own family about it, very recently. In September, my dad was hospitalized for a number of days and my mom and I had some good discussions regarding his care and what she thought he would want. We were very fortunate that he came out alright with only a few life-long complications resulting. And then, a couple months later, my aunt was hospitalized and my dad, being the eldest and closest to her, had to make some tough decisions. He and I were able to have some very serious and poignant discussions about what was the right thing to do in these circumstances and what he thought would be best for his own long-term care.

For all those health professionals out there reading this, please consider having these discussions with your patients. Even if they're 85 and in great health, they are more likely than a 16 year old boy to get into a serious car accident, and then what do you do?

And for everyone else, I encourage you to bring up these conversations with your loved ones. It is unfortunate when we have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep trying to save someone who wouldn't have wanted the care anyway, but no one was there to tell us that.

Again, this is not meant to be a diatribe about end of life issues, but rather a discussion. I hope it brings thoughts and discussions to all who read it.
*Note: I am writing this and listening to Rosie Thomas. Her music inspires deep thoughts in me and I would recommend her for any thought provoking situation or rainy day or long walk.