Month: February 2012

Bake.

Donna Hay's Choc Peppermint Creams

Yes it was Valentines Day recently.  Yes I took the opportunity to stuff myself stupid, make something nice for my husband, and look at what I found in last years Donna Hay Christmas issue?  I should probably wax more lyrical about Donna Hay magazine.  I love it.  Say what you like about her, her magazine and cookbooks are simple and fantastic.  I don’t want to think about food.  I don’t want complicated.  I want to shove stuff in the oven or in a pot or on a pan and have it taste good.  Food snobs can go and live in another corner!  These turned out fantastic – although don’t bother using Lindt dark, they came out way too strong, and I’ll wager that it probably doesn’t even need dark chocolate in the cookie mix.  Don’t be lazy like me and chop the chocolate roughly, do it properly or melt it down.  Next time I’ll probably leave it out though, it overpowered the peppermint.  That didn’t stop me eating far too many and taking the rest to work to get the evil little bastards out of the house.  Here’s the recipe

Choc peppermint creams.

150g butter, softened
1/2 cup (90g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (175g) golden syrup
1 1/2 cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1/4 cup (25g) Dutch cocoa, sifted
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda, sifted
200g dark chocolate, chopped
peppermint cream
2 1/2 cups (400g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons milk

  1. Place the butter, sugar and golden syrup in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy.
  2. Add the flour, cocoa and bicarbonate of soda and beat until a smooth dough forms.
  3. Add chocolate pieces and mix until well combined. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  5. Roll 1 tablespoonful of the dough into balls at a time. Place on baking trays lined with non-stick baking paper and flatten slightly, leaving room to spread. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the tops are cracked. Allow to cool on wire racks.
  6. To make the peppermint cream, place the icing sugar, peppermint extract and milk in a bowl and beat with a hand-held electric mixer for 3-4 minutes or until smooth.
  7. Spread half of the biscuits with the peppermint cream and sandwich with remaining biscuits. Makes 18.

Donna Hay Magazine Issue 60

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Love.

Lately I’m on a work-clothes buying craze, which in some ways is pointless when you’re dealing with sick people because there’s always something that’s going to get spilt on you.  Like projectile vomit on my favourite pink cardigan.  Blood on my shoes.  Abdominal proteinaceous fluid on pants in spite of wearing a gown.  I could go on, but for your sake I wont.  In spite of this, I continue to buy myself nice stuff because a lot of the time, my job isn’t nice.  You’ve got to find ways to take the edge off.

So first I bought these:

Pour La Victoire Bre Flats

I’m having a huge thing for Pour La Victoire at the moment, the sizing is small but they’re so well made.  These look fabulous with everything.

I’m a huge menswear fan, with flashes of girliness from time to time but at work it’s all business.

Bop Basics Boyfriend Shirt

I admit, I bought it entirely for the sleeves.  I love them!  Anyone know where to find some ultra low-slung workpants I can tuck this into?

And I don’t mind a little bit of lace either – but just a little.

Club Monaco Clara Shirt

I think this one’s going to be a staple.  I have no idea who Club Monaco are but they make some nice stuff.  And I probably shouldn’t be buying silk in my job, but you only live once.

And what do you do when you think the Equipment Signature Blouse is just way too much money?  You buy a Madewell one instead.

Madewell Charlotte shirt

That should keep me out of trouble at work for a while!

Run.

Any good psychologist will tell you that in times of stress you should ask yourself what you need and how to give it to yourself.  Lately at work the answer to that question has been ‘sleep’ and ‘food’ and not much else, which in itself tells you that you’re just surviving and not really living.  Asking yourself that question though is a great way to block out all the noise coming in from your senses, all those worries about what other people might think of you, and causes you to refocus things.  You distract yourself from your distractions simply by asking yourself what you need from yourself!  The answer sure isn’t “I need to be worried about that look that person gave me”, the answer usually is “well I need to go to the bank at lunchtime, and god I’m so tired, I need to sleep earlier tonight ,and eat better and etc etc”.

Sunday rolled around today and I found myself wound up and annoyed at work.  On my day off.  Who wants to be at work in their head on their day off?  So I put on these new babies and went for a run.

I didn’t run because I want to lose weight.  I didn’t run because I want to get fit or because some magazine told me I should for my ‘health’.  I ran because I wanted to feel better, I wanted to feel powerful, and I wanted to feel in control.  And I did.  And as I ran I saw people on my path, and anyone whose not that confident with exercise will understand how sometimes the people on your path can make you feel wounded in some way – but as I passed them and that automatic process of what they must think of me started, I just asked myself what I needed.  And the answer was “I need to run the f*** forwards”.  And I did.  And I forgot about the people on my path.

It’s been over a month since I did any exercise.  There was a bad chest infection in there and long hours at work.  In the past I’ve let that hold me right back and not re-start for fear of starting at the beginning again.  But this time that didn’t even matter, I needed to do this for myself, I needed to do it to feel better about things and it worked.  Maybe it’s because the act of running forces oxygenated blood to your brain and floods it with the nutrients it needs to think better, maybe it’s because you’re making a conscious choice to do something hard because it makes you feel better as well as being hard, I don’t know.  Afterwards I did a Nike Training Club 15 minute workout (longest fifteen minutes of my LIFE) which I’d been putting off for ages because it was too hard.  And it was really really hard.  I had to stop a few times.  I used to beat myself up for that.  But today I stopped because I needed to and continued because I needed to.  For me.

Then I came home and made this,

It’s salami, buffalo mozarella, watercress and heritage tomatoes on Afghan bread by the way.

So here is my challenge to you.  Today when you start to worry, when you start to wonder what someone thinks of you, when you feel unhappy – ask yourself what you need.  And remember that needs and wants are different things.  I frequently want a giant chocolate donut, but what I need is some downtime to relax and maybe some sleep to make the sugar cravings go away.

What do you need?  I’d love to hear your answers.

Nod and shrug.

It always starts with a seemingly benign phone call.
“Doctor?  Could you come and review this patient? They’re a bit breathless.”
It’s been an easy day so far, I’m in a good mood, and not doing much so I wander down to the ward to find the nurse who called me wheeling an obs machine into the patient.
“He just doesn’t look right”  she says as I pull back the curtain to find a scared young girl and an old man in bed.  And she’s right.  He’s very very still, and breathing very very quickly.  I ask him what’s happened, notice the single word answers, and suddenly my easy day goes away and suddenly there’s just that tiny cubicle with the scared girl and the breathless old man.  I take a quick history with one eye on the obs machine which isn’t showing good numbers, and simultaneously nodding my head calmly like everything is going to be just fine.  I examine him, I listen to his chest, and don’t hear a whole lot which chills me.  The nurse is giving me one of those looks and I try to keep looking at him because I know the scared girl will notice our exchange of looks and I don’t want to freak her out further.  I switch him to some nebulisers and a better oxygen mask where I can better control what he’s getting, ring for a mobile chest xray, get a blood gas, all the while keeping my calm face on.  I check his fluid chart, notice 6 litres has gone in and only 3 has come out.  I give him the right drugs, wait 20 minutes.  More nebulisers, more of the right drugs.  More calm face.  His oxygen level only improves minimally, and all the while I tell him it’s going to be alright, that I think he’s fluid overloaded and an asthmatic and we’ll get him better.  After a while I start to wonder if I should be moving him to high dependency, I’m struggling so much with his oxygen needs, the girl still looks scared, and my calm face is hurting.

It happens.  Excruciatingly slowly it happens.  He gets better.  He breathes deeper.  He starts speaking in sentences.  The scared girl looks relieved.  Two and a half hours later he says he’s feeling 70 percent better.  He relaxes back into his bed a little bit.  I notice the scared girls pretty sari and the cubicle melts away.

10 minutes later my reg and the boss arrive, they’d been in a meeting.  I tell them the story and they nod and shrug.
“So did you save his life?” the boss asks with a half-smile.
I suddenly want to laugh.  What this guy had is one of the easiest, acute problems to treat but the treatment is life saving and when you’re not used to doing it, it doesn’t feel like a nod and shrug.  And it doesn’t always end that well.

I nod and shrug. She tells me to get another blood gas later on in the afternoon and we move on to our other patients.

I thought doctors were heartless once.  They’re not.  They’re just holding it together, for you, and for themselves.