Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ah, Chocolate...

These yummies from this month's "Everyday Food" magazine have been a big hit at my office (and with Sweetie). I halved the amount of chili powder, but will probably go to the full amount next time. Also, I used about half regular cocoa powder (to use up the open box) and the rest dark chocolate cocoa (which I had been dying to get into). I sooooo recommend dark chocolate cocoa!

Mexican Hot-Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (regular is fine, just use a smidge less)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs

Rolling Sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine.

3. With mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients and combine thoroughly.

4. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon, and chili powder (if using). Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

5. Place, about 3 inches apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes before handling.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Personal and Professional

Disposable masks, disposable gowns, and disposable gloves are mounted on the door. The five feet betweeen the hallway door and my friend are called the Isolation Area. It's where I cover my breath and hands so that my presence, intended to bring comfort (to me? to her?), is denuded of its power to harm.

I hope.

"He's vent-dependent", I say at work, reviewing the paperwork of someone I don't know and clinically assessing that individual's need for attendant care and other services.

"She's on a ventilator", I say, with some level of amazement that this really happens to people who were walking around and breathing just fine last week. The respiratory therapist says he needs to clean out the vent tubing and "you can stay if you wish, but, well, some people faint." I have nothing to prove and literally turn my back on my friend. I don't like the symbolism of it, but I don't have great choices. Picking the least-bad of all choices has been rather the hallmark of this entire journey.

We, as a profession, are all about promoting and supporting independence. Driving is more independent than being driven. Being driven somewhere is more independent than being home-bound. Cooking is more independent than being cooked for and eating by mouth is more independent than a feeding tube.

And on a ventilator - Jesus, you can't even decide when to switch from "inhale" to "exhale." Of course, being heavily sedated, that's not an issue for her right now.

"She has a lower-level spinal injury so she has good use of her arms" I say at work, thinking this is really pretty good news.

"They can't say how much use she'll have of that arm," I hear in the hospital. And I wonder how she'll cook and if she'll play tennis again.

In the State Capitol, as I often am for work, I hear that X% (I wrote it down somewhere) of nursing home residents have no one to speak for their wishes in an emergency.

Twice this week I've walked past the bed of a man who has had no visitors that I'm aware of.

Isolation Area.