Monday, January 30, 2012

Shepherd's Meatloaf with Hominy, Ground Lamb and Mashed Potatoes

This is a rustic meatloaf, for what could be more country than hominy. And if lamb makes you nervous, if you think it too gamy, you could substitute ground beef, and I believe it would be just as good. What makes this meatloaf different is the pureed white hominy and buttered mashed potatoes added to the meat to keep it moist. No soaked crackers or bread crumbs here. Half the mashed potatoes go into the loaf, half are a savory frosting, if you will, on top of the meatloaf.

I used ground lamb because I now live in the Country of Economy, and was able to pick up 3 one pound packages of ground lamb for $3.50 apiece, sold as Kroger's Manager's Specials. On my way home from night shifts worked at the clinic I stop at both Krogers I pass ,looking for bargains.
And I usually find them.

Here is my recipe:

1 lb ground lamb or ground beef

1 medium yellow onion, diced and sauteed till golden and flavored with salt, a little pepper, and a few shakes of cumin.

3 cloves of garlic, diced or pressed

2 eggs

2 cups of buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. 1 cup for the loaf, 1 cup to spread on top.

1 1/2 cups hominy, white or yellow, pureed in the food processor.

Salt to sweat the onions, and to taste.

A little pepper

Combine the onions, the garlic, the mashed potatoes, and the hominy. Taste and adjust seasoning. Then add the ground meat and the eggs and mix well. Put the mixture in a bread loaf pan. Then spread the 1 cup of mashed potatoes over the top, as pictured. Cover the pan with foil, and bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes, until it bubbles. You may want to place the loaf pan on a cookie sheet in case a little bubbles out. No need to dirty up the oven.

This is my own original recipe.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

"The Best Vegetable that Never Gets Eaten."

That is what Mark Bittman says about the parsnip in his "How to Cook Everything". I have not eaten parsnips since I left New England, and that was thirty years ago. I believe they were roasted, but who fed them to me or under what circumstances will remain one of memory's mysteries.

I bought three of them yesterday, thinking they might be useful in the Experimental Kitchen. Parsnip Pie? Parsnip Soup? What did all my cookbooks recommend? What did Elizabeth David say?

Very little, other than that they were useful in small amounts in a pot au feu. Some cookbooks were oblivious, as though parsnips were invisible or non-existent. Some remarked that parsnips were popular during the Renaissance, but had been superseded in modern times by the mighty potato. Mark Bittman said that any recipe with carrots could substitute parsnips.

And so I added parsnips to my favorite carrot recipe, and cooked them right in the same pan with the carrots. I peeled them and cut them up( See the photo), and put them in a large saute pan. I added 15 ounces of chicken broth, 3/4 stick of butter, some Herbs de Provence, some salt and pepper. I turned up the heat, let the broth boil for a minute or two, the turned it to medium low. I put a lid on the pan. But slightly askew, for the plan was to steam the liquid out and reduce it as the vegetables softened and sweetened. An hour sufficed for that, and what was left was a noble side dish not seen on just anyone's table. An accompaniment to the Shepherd's meatloaf I cooked yesterday-

Hominy Cakes

After making a Shepherd's meatloaf yesterday- a meatloaf of ground lamb, hominy, and mashed potatoes- I had enough pureed white hominy left to make hominy cakes, which as you can see in the photo, resemble latkes. They are tasty, and good dressed with maple syrup or with simple catsup.
One need only mix 1 1/2 cups of pureed white hominy with one diced and sauteed white onion, 1 1/2 cups of Panko crumbs, one egg, and some sea and celery salt and garlic powder or diced garlic to taste . Then fry it in oil in a non-stick pan, browning it on both sides as one would a latke.

I pureed the hominy in my food processor. You can find white hominy in most grocery stores, but only in 15 oz cans. For bigger cans, and for economy ,I buy the La Preferida brand from K&S World Market over on Charlotte Pike. It is in the Hispanic foods section, for our Latin neighbors- now one out of ten Nashvillians- love hominy as much as Southerners do.

The recipe for the wonderful Shepherd's Meatloaf- a twist on Shepherd's Pie, will go up on this site in the next day or two. It is my recipe.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Horse Country

The dogs and I walked around the Steeplechase course at Percy Warner Park today. It is always a fine thing to do on a sunny winter Saturday, for one sees other dog walkers, horses and their riders heading out onto the bridle trails, young people with camcorders making home movies, rabbits, deer herds, flocks of bluebirds, Red-Tailed Hawks, and the General Public just happy to be wandering about in blissful aimlessness. And one can always count on someone playing around and ringing the racing bell, seen in one of my photos.

A few years back some of the Entitled tried to ban the public from the course. They did not succeed, for whether one lives in a 3 million dollar mansion on Jackson Boulevard or a tiny hovel off Charlotte surrounded by chain link confining two pit bulls in the backyard, property taxes are property taxes, and they pay for the park.

Today, as I usually do when I visit the course, I found evidence of one of those small but necessary murders that keep living things alive. Tufts of hair, probably rabbit hair, scattered on the ground near the stone bleachers. I do not doubt a red-tailed hawk did it. Another time, at the Sports Plex across Old Hickory Boulevard, I saw blood and feathers on the top metal bar of a soccer goal net. A kestrel was there. He hunts both sides of the road leaving bluebird and killdeer feathers to blow away on the wind.

There were brooks running through the field edges today. Water in winter, but never in summer, for then only the rivers run in Middle Tennessee.

And lastly, a sign honoring the founder of the Pony Club,hand crafted by someone who could not spell.

Whoops-Correcting an Error

The pork loin recipe I posted yesterday called for a 1 pound pork loin. This was in error. I used a 2.77 lb loin and I have corrected it in the post.

Friday, January 27, 2012

"The best pork loin I have ever eaten".

So said one of the women I worked with when I brought this to my very last potluck.I had brought my best shrimp dishes as well as a one pound pork tenderloin flavored with citrus, mustard, and pineapple bourbon glaze. I cooked it again yesterday with a pork loin from Kroger- a "Manager's Special" marked down to seven dollars.

The Pineapple Bourbon Glaze came out of a bottle. It was one of a line of sauces and glazes from a Texas company called Fischer and Wieser. I buy their sauces at Publix. I do not know how widely they distribute in stores, but if a UPS truck can find your driveway, you can order them on-line at I cannot cook without these sauces. Their Sweet and Savory Onion Glaze does wonderful things to sauteed shrimp, and all their sauces have an affinity for pork. They are not dirt cheap. A bottle costs around $8.00. But some tastes are priceless.

Having said this I will add that I do not think a clever or enterprising cook, or any one with a lick of sense, would have any trouble making their own pineapple bourbon glaze. Simply combine some crushed pineapple, some brown sugar, a little bourbon, and some lime juice in a blender. I trust you are smart enough to come up with a substitute. Make about half a cup- a quarter cup to mix with the marinade, the other quarter to baste with.

You need a 2-3 pound pork loin, cut in quarters.

1 cup of Bitter orange marinade. Iberia makes a good one, for sale in the Hispanic food aisle.

2 tablespoons of Creole or Dijon Mustard

Sea salt

1/2 to 3/4 cup Pineapple Bourbon Glaze

Put the loin quarters in a large zip lock bag. Mix the Orange marinade, half the pineapple glaze, and the mustard. Blend well, the add to the zip lock bag. Shake well and coat the meat, the put in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the pork loin from the marinade,then place the quarters in a roasting pan. Salt them, then baste with the pineapple glaze ,into which you will have stirred another heaping tablespoon of mustard. Reserve some glaze for two more bastings.

Cover the meat with foil and roast for 45 minutes. Then uncover and baste with glaze. Bake another 15 minutes, then remove the foil. Let roast another 20 minutes after basting again with the rest of the glaze. Keep a close eye on the roast to make sure you do not overcook and let it dry out. Cooking times may vary, and you must be a vigilant cook who knows how to pay attention. Good food does not cook itself.

This will be tender and succulent. I made this to accompany it-

Sliced potatoes coated with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and baked in a dish with pieces of pancetta, some crumbled rosemary and half a dozen diced up garlic cloves.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Whimsical Retro and a Maple Creme

Open any of the old timey Southern Junior League cookbooks to the salad section, and you will get a primer on molded salads composed in a dozen permutations and all from a plain gelatin packet. I experimented a few posts back with a pomegranate juice mold, and to my delight it was a success. So I decided to try again, this time with cream and maple syrup. Another success, with the sweet taste of maple and the texture of a creamy tapioca. This will be on the menu for lunch at Miss Betsy's Imaginary Tearoom. I would serve it in on a bed of orange rounds garnished with mint leaves, and I would pour a dollop more of maple syrup on top.

I would have thought that nostalgia and tradition would have made these retro salads sacrosanct, but I was disabused of this idea when I discussed my experiments with gelatin with a friend who was raised in Milledgeville, in the heart of Georgia.

"Yuck" she said. Her mother made a pistachio mold for the Sunday after meeting lunch, and my friend, thinking of it, recalled adolescent days, tedious church services, and who knows what other deep and private associations that can ruin the appetite. I understand this. I cannot eat oatmeal . I smell it, and I see it burnt on the bottom of a large pot sitting in the sink of a drafty New Hampshire kitchen heated by a wood stove. Oatmeal every day. Served by my mother, with the pot cleaned by 12 year old me. Nor can I eat a combination of ground beef, tomato sauce, and green beans cooked in a crock pot, for it was another daily meal from two years of my youth when my family was temporarily poor and my only two dresses were handmade. Not every food memory is pleasant or benign-

If you want to make a maple creme use the standard Knox gelatin proportions:

4 envelopes of unflavored gelatin

1 cup cold half and half held in a separate bowl.

3 cups half and half, heated to boiling

1/2 cup maple syrup, more or less, depending on how sweet you want your creme to be. Taste and decide.

Heat the 3 cups of half and half to just boiling, then sprinkle gelatin over the cold 1/2 maple syrup mixture and let stand 1 minute. Then add hot half and half and stir until gelatin dissolves (5 minutes). Pour into one big mold or several small ones and chill in the refrigerator for several hours until set. Un- mold cremes by running a little hot water over the bottom of the mold.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sopa de Fideo- Noodle Soup with Corn, Garlic, Mild Green Chiles, and Cream

This is my version of a Mexican noodle soup, and it is a most versatile dish that simply through the addition or reduction of broth can be a soup, a stew, or a creamy pasta dish. There is no right or wrong way to make it, and its ingredients can be in whatever proportion you like. If you wish to add more chiles, feel free. Add table cream or substitute sour cream. Eat it for breakfast scrambled with eggs. Wrap it in a taco for lunch. Add broth at supper and pour it over home fried flour tortilla wedges lining the bottom of your soup bowl. I have made three batches this week and have subsisted on it. If you have children I assure you there will be none left over.

By substituting vegetable broth one can call it vegetarian as well. And it is inexpensive. Its ingredients can be found at any market. A large pot takes under an hour to make. Should you wake up at midnight, there it will be, if your family has not finished it off.

32 oz chicken or vegetable broth plus one cup of water

1 medium yellow onion, diced and sauteed in corn oil till soft and golden. Be sure to sweat the onion with a little salt.

3-4 cloves of garlic- diced or crushed in a press

1-2 4oz cans diced mild green chiles

15 oz can cream style corn

15 oz can golden corn kernels

A few splashes of hot sauce(Optional)

2 cups of fideo noodles or of vermicelli snapped into small pieces

Corn oil to saute onions and to brown noodles

1 packet of Iberia "Sazon" Coriander/Annatto seasoning if you can find it at the Latin Market. It is optional and you can always add a little tomato paste to get that warm orange-yellow color instead.

Saute the onion till golden, then add the garlic and lightly saute it as well in the corn or vegetable oil.

Put the broth,all the corn, and the chiles in a large sauce pan. When the onion and garlic are soft add them to the broth. Add the Iberia seasoning or the tomato paste. Now add more corn oil to the saute pan, add half the noodles and lightly brown them. You may also brown the second cup of noodles, but I only do half and add the second cup plain. Cover and cook over medium low heat until the noodles are soft. Taste for seasoning. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a bit, and stir in 1/2 cup of cream or sour cream or 1/4 cup of both. If you feel the soup is too thick, add a little water or more broth. Because the noodles will continue to absorb the broth, you may need to thin the soup with a little more water the next day. If there are leftovers!

I think fried tortilla strips on top of a bowl of this would be excellent as well.

Sunrise Today and a Still Life of Beagle with Biscuits

Today is cold, and rain is on the way this afternoon. Yet yesterday was sunny and warm, and when the dogs and I went to the park we found Spring Beauties blooming in the grass along a meadow stream. Today's Tennessean reports that the mumes are blooming at Cheekwood, and that the tulips are coming up. I have seen 80 degree days in February here, and I have seen winters so warm that bedded out wax begonias came back from the roots. We are having Spring in Winter, our fifth season, and a dangerous one. Peach trees may break dormancy ,gambling on 70 degrees. I have a hydrangea on my porch that is waking up. It will be sorry, as will we when the peach crop fails.

As for the beagle and the biscuits, all I can say is that beagles think they can help cook (or at the very least pre-wash dishes). And Shih Tzus think they can help make a bed. I am lucky they both don't haunt the kitchen, or I would never be able to move.

Later today I plan to post a recipe for one of my new favorite recipes- Sopa De Fideo. Mexican Noodle Soup. Here is a preview -

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hidden Lake and the Persistence of Daffodils

This is Hidden Lake. Not really a lake,but an old limestone quarry lined with concrete and once advertised as "The World's Most Beautiful Swimming Pool". Above it on the limestone cliffs among the cedars, was a resort with stone steps, then wooden stairs leading to the pool. The resort was on the Nashville-Memphis Highway, now known only as Route 70, and it took in guests in the late twenties and early thirties. It had a pit barbecue and a round stone dance floor. "Dance Under the Stars" reads an old flyer now preserved under glass at the kiosk at the entrance to the park. There were rumors of moonshiners and stills hidden in the woods back then, for Nashville was a long way off-

The lodge burned in the thirties, and yesterday a friend and I walked the rim of limestone cliffs above the lake to see if we could find anything remaining. We took a trail to the left of the lake and scrambled up a mere goat path of sharp rocks and narrow ledges , and we were both comforted to know the rattlesnakes were winter sleeping for if ever there was a homeplace for timber rattlers, this was it. Down, down, down on one side was the Harpeth River, and across it the Veteran's Cemetery. The pool was on our other side. At the top, among the second growth we found an open space where the lodge must have been, but no foundation, no charred wood. Only a park bench and no explanation.

We did find stones that looked like steps here where my friend is standing, but the wooden stairs shown in the antique photo in the kiosk were long gone to the rain and the termites.

I grew up in New England, and in the woods of New Hampshire one sometimes found old settlements where only the orchards and the stone walls remain. It is not long before the woods and the vines and water and time bury everything, and there is no more dancing under the stars. And yet some hardy remnants do persist. Someone planted these daffodils, and they have multiplied as they do in old pastures and wood edges and places where no one could imagine there once was a home.

Water will eat its way through limestone. The dance floor at Hidden Lake will crack and crumble. But the daffodils, thrifty and humble, will go on and on.

*If you go to Hidden Lake keep yourself and children on the trails. Near the quarry there are almost hidden spikes of rebar and sharp rocks in the woods. Use caution.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Signs of Spring- Sunday, January 22 Nashville, Tennessee

The Lenten Roses and Winter Jasmine were blooming today in the garden of Mrs George Rosenthal of Nashville, Tennessee. The daffodils, budded but not blooming, were found in the woods near the old resort Of Hidden Lake in the Harpeth River State Park. The beagle is Dippity Dog, and he was just there for the rabbits.

Once More to the Lake- Hidden Lake

Morning here in the Tee-Tiny Kitchen writing room. On Sundays it is best to rise early to hear WGBH live stream the bird songs they have been playing at six am for decades. A tradition started by the late Robert J. Lurtsema, a most civilized man.

One minor political note this morning. Oh those South Carolinians. They are such comedians! First they fire on Fort Sumter. Now they shoot Newt Gingrich out of a cannon, aimed at the heart of the country-

Today's agenda is a return to Hidden Lake. I, and my fellow elderly explorer Mrs George Rosenthal, will be returning to Hidden Lake State Park on the Harpeth River this morning to see if we can find the remnants of the old lodge there. A previous post revealed how we stumbled on the old dance floor on top of the quarry where the resort was in the 30's- a nest of moonshiners and fun-lovers. This resort was on the old Nashville-Memphis Highway 15 miles from downtown Nashville. If we are lucky we will find not only the site of the lodge, but perhaps some early violets or spring beauties blooming as this has been a warm winter. A full report to follow-

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Chunky Soup Nation

These photos are of that rara avis, the home cooked meal. It is a frittata , an egg dish baked in the oven. An oven omelette, if you will. I stuffed it with plum tomatoes, olives, yellow onions and garlic that had been sauteed in olive oil and flavored with sea salt and Italian seasoning. In her "The Classic Italian Cookbook" Marcella Hazan says the frittata is an Italian staple for a light supper replacing meat or chicken.

We Americans have our replacement for meat and chicken as well. It is the new civilian equivalent of the military's Meals Ready to Eat, the can of Chunky Soup dumped on mashed potatoes or rice- any kind of starch it can ride around the table on.I assume the potatoes and rice are instant as well. People too busy to do more than open a can are not going to hesitate at opening a pouch .

I expect the next Chunky Soup recipes we see will be featured on Super Bowl Sunday commercials, and they will involve pasta. Yet yesterday, on a display table at Publix, I saw cans of Chunky surrounded with something new. Small round loaves of bread that can be hollowed out like a pumpkin and filled with steaming Chunky. For the family hunkered down in the evening in their trench, watching whatever it is that cannot be missed, especially by wasting time in the kitchen.

Perhaps, since I will never win a Pulitzer for my fiction or a MacArthur genius grant for my poetry, I should seek fortune by writing a Chunky cookbook. Tuna A la Chunky-A tuna fish sandwich poached in undiluted Chunky. Rotisserie chicken stewed in a crock pot with Chunky, and served over hamburger rolls-

Alas, I am certain Campbell's has already published the cookbook,(so I still won't be making any money).

Here is the frittata recipe for someone who has an hour to spare in the evening. This makes enough for two.

Saute one diced yellow onion in olive oil until it is soft and golden. Season with salt and Italian seasoning then add 3 chopped fresh plum tomatoes, 3 diced cloves of garlic and a couple teaspoons of chopped green olives. Be sure you are using a saute pan with a metal handle that can go into the oven. Adjust seasoning and saute everything until the tomatoes are soft.

Now beat three eggs well and pour over the saute. Let everything cook a minute on the stove top, then put the pan in a 350 oven for ten minutes or so, until the eggs are set.

Then I suppose, you could dump a can of Chunky over it.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nashville in the Evening Rush

I spent yesterday afternoon downtown visiting a lawyer. This was arduous, since one spends most of the time in a legal office abandoned in a conference room, eyeing the diet coke the lawyer never offered me, but since he did me good service I will not complain.

I do not enjoy driving downtown. Pedestrians there do not believe in the existence of cars, which puts an unfair onus on the driver- Nor do I like parking downtown, since it costs more than a bag of good frozen shrimp. Yesterday I parked in a garage designed along the lines of a really long drill bit. Ascending was like driving the Autobahn up the Matterhorn. Round and round I went at a creep . Descending was like coming down the luge. Try that in a Toyota Tundra.

I survived only to be dumped onto Charlotte Avenue into a long line of cars and drivers blinded by the sun as she declined to set behind the horizon. Everyone dealt with this by driving faster. This was unfortunate ,for TSU's Avon Williams Campus had just spit out a hundred thousand students. Dear God I prayed do not let me hit any of them and provoke a racial incident and the lead story on Channel Five. "Old white woman mows down a dozen of the black communities' most promising students".

By now my hands were one with the steering wheel and I did not know if they were coming off. Ever. Where was I now I wondered hoping it was not in the lane onto the entrance ramp of the Interstate. Then there she was- on my left- grimy dear old Baptist Hospital, shining like Our Lady of Fatima. At least I knew where I was. Going west . The sun still refused to set and my little orange low gas light came on.

On we sped. Past the Goodwill Store. Past McKay's. Past Nashville West. The sun was giving up. Help was on the way. Gas came next. I was going to live. Then I took the wrong lane and was marooned in the Walmart parking lot.

I saw a Subway. I went in. I had planned to cook, but now the dogs and I were having meatball subs.

Home at last. But no little dogs in the window. Only silence. Which meant I would find the trash strewn all over the floor and dog crap everywhere.

I was right. I told the beagle that I wished I had a gun, but he did not care. He was on his hind legs,looking for the sub.

Three hour later, late, I sped at thirty miles an hour over to The Big House, where I was working overnight in the clinic. I parked, ran in through Checkpoint, not noticing my Tundra's rear was three feet into the driving lane.

In the morning I found a warning on the Tundra's windshield.

"You are in a restricted space". Beneath it, handwritten these words:

"For God's sake, learn how to park".

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Annals of Nursing- Part the Last. Senior Year

This is the last part of the Annals,a history of an education in one of the old three year nursing diploma schools. I graduated from one in May of 1972, and shortly after took and passed my state boards.

It might be natural to think that senior year would be the most grueling. But if you think this you would be wrong.The year was one of the best in my life, full of leisure and happy hours. Foreign film festivals at the Hopkins Center. "The Earrings of Madame D' and the surrealistic original "Beauty and the Beast". Max Orphuls, Truffaut and the other great directors.

And why did we have all this free time?

A half year of a class called "Senior Team Leading". We worked a week, then were off a week. I do not remember my instructors well. I remember no supervision other than the head nurse. We were free help, and the hospital staffed the wards with us on the cheap.There were no CT scans back then. The pulmonary artery catheter was still a gleam in Dr. Swan's eye.There were no beeping IV pumps that I remember. We gave medicines from little white cups lined up on a cart.Primitive indeed by today's standards, but quieter, more hushed. Now nurses look harassed. But 40 years ago they walked slowly down the halls in neat whites.

In our free time we would drive to the Dairy Queen In Lebanon. One of my crowd had a car, but not for long. She went to Afghanistan with the Peace Corp where her most enduring memory was eating vegetables boiled in iodine.

We would go downtown and eat at The Green Lantern, known to all as the "Green Latrine". They doused every thing with MSG. Or if we felt uptown we might go to The Hanover Inn for prime rib and listen to a harpist. I do not ever remember going to Lou's, which I remember as the province of the Dartmouthers and not a place for the town babysitters.

It was a new day in Hanover that year. Women were now admitted to the college. Sleek young black women in long skirts with boots, afros and gold earrings. They made us look dowdy. I remember one admitted to the Infirmary one night with severe asthma. They sent her from there to the ICU over at the main hospital terrified she would die.

Interesting speakers came to town. Shulasmith Firestone. She was a radical feminist who believed babies should grow in tubes and vats and not inside women.She was heavily booed by the gentlemen of Dartmouth.

That winter I took up with a young man from New York. He worked in the People's Lumber Yard, a hippie commune across the river in Vermont.One day he took me to meet a friend and his wife. They lived on a farm and she spent our visit barefoot and drying marijuana on a big cookie sheet in her oven. My boyfriend was a Jew. I had never met one before, nor had I met cannabis. One night we drove to a Canadian nightclub just across the border and I tried it. I didn't like it because I thought everyone had started staring at me.

I was assigned that semester to the Neuro Floor. I would work there after graduation. But behind it on one side was the ICU, and it fascinated me. All those tubes and monitors. I worked there one night as a nurses' aide, and one of the last year's graduates let me do lots of things. This was exciting because I went to irrigate an old man's gastric tube, and bright red blood gushed out. This was better than little white cups. I was hooked. But new graduates were not allowed there. One had to have a year's experience.

After Christmas as the year hurried toward May we left our leisure and did our ICU rotation.I taught myself heart rhythms. I picked the brains of the staff. One of them told my instructor that I was going to be worth my weight in gold. Instead I turned out to be worth 40 years.

Sandra McKay was also teaching an Independent study class. She let us leave and do self study ,
and everyone ran to the roof with towels and suntan lotion.

And the there was Carolyn Sherman's class.She was a dietitian, but she was teaching poetry, to which she said, she wanted us exposed. She was a large woman of outstanding ugliness.She stood there in one of her fleet of purple dresses waving a cigarette and reading Dylan Thomas and Hopkins and Yeats to mostly uninterested girls. I was not one of them. She was the best and most memorable teacher I ever had. She made us buy "The Wasteland", and my world expanded. Now I wanted to be a poet and a writer as well as a nurse.

In May we graduated at a ceremony at Hopkins Center. I remember little of it except the remark of the speaker, a Dartmouth professor, that we were "terminal adolescents". I resented this. Our adolescence was over. Terminated, one might say, by blood and smells and death. He should have saved that line for the Dartmouth boys.

Thus ends the Annals. I am considering writing more memoirs of the next few years ,for I have seen and done much. More than most people could believe.

The Old Doctor- by E Sprague

In the morning when he comes

Through the back doors of the second floor

The clerks and nurses know it's five.

He has been on time for fifty years

With the same gravitas, the nods.

The courtly acknowledgments of the faces he knows.

His patients are along these halls.

Old ladies who put on their lipstick when he comes

Then ask their nurses "" How old do you think he is?'

Older than he was. Much older.

For with every step he shakes.

Hesitates in places where his feet

Should have memories of the mornings he has walked.

He drops his head to hear-

Can't remember what he has said.

Orders things that we cannot

In good faith subject his patients to.

We wait instead the extra hour.

Until his younger partners come behind.

Scan his orders and rescind

The antique drugs and surveys he has planned.

"He's got to be eighty, if he's a day",

Our nursing supervisor says.

And youth is all around him as he walks-

Young nurses with their diamonds.

Interns who don't know his name or care.

He greets them anyway, as if they ought to know

From the lecture halls and buildings named for him.

"He should take the hint and go ", I've heard whispered.

"That's what they mean when they give the bricks your name".

"He'll die if he retires",

Our nursing supervisor says.

And when I see him now I wonder

If he would be grateful to die at his desk.

Or never to awaken

On that morning when it comes

To the whispers of his colleagues.

To the ominous phones.

Our nursing supervisor says

What is a Horned Pout?

Out on the Prairie has asked me what a horned pout is. It is a delicious little catfish that lives in the rivers of New Hampshire and Vermont. It has very sweet pink flesh. In the spring people line up along the rivers at night to catch them. Or at least they did 30 years ago.I remember dozens of people sitting on the river banks with pails and lanterns in the cool evenings.And oh how good they tasted though it was hard to skin them.They had wicked face spines too, and could give quite a sting. And yes I am returning to New Hampshire for good.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's in Nashville

These are scenes of sunset, New Year's Day 2012. I had the day off, if one can call a day off a day spent working from midnight to 7 am. And that is how a day off is defined in Hospital Land.

I, along with fifty percent of the bedside nurses in this country, worked New Year's Eve. The other fifty percent worked New Year's Day. And at midnight December 31st, I looked out a fifth floor window and saw the fireworks display from downtown. This was a truncated, blink or you'll miss it affair that did not last more than 10 seconds. Perhaps the city came up short after paying for the fleet of shuttles and buses that ferried the drunks home safely after the music note dropped from the stage top at midnight ,and after Lynard Skynard stopped singing "Sweet Home Alabama" to a crowd on Lower Broad.

After that it was all epilogue as taxis by the dozen went up and downtown. The "Jack in the Box" on Broadway- Nashville's equivalent to Delmonico's or Maxim's- opened at midnight for cabs, and people fleeing on foot, and stretch limousines. The line at the takeout window went all the way back out to the road. All this I could see from the window of the break room where one of the respiratory therapists was live streaming her pastor's sermon from Old Hickory over her Smart phone. The pastor, and his gospel choir and the thousand in attendance, had more stamina than the fireworks display did. The minister preached from seven till midnight about Destiny in 2012. The therapist told me her pastor wanted to offer people something other than" going out to the clubs". "He doesn't even care if you're white", she said, "He wants everyone to come to his church".

And the night became an ordinary night. And the morning an ordinary Sunday with more street people than cars. An elderly woman with a walker, an old man with a cane. What they owned- carried in plastic bags as they crossed the street near the Holiday Inn Vanderbilt. The runners were out. They always are. Wearing shorts and joyless expressions. They did not look as though they expected 2012 to be any be any better than 2011.

Professional Finesse in Cooking is a trove for people who want to see experts cook. One can find episodes from Jose Andres's "Made In Spain" and "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home". No gleaming teeth, no cleavage- just masterful technique.Watch Jacques Pepin do the simplest thing. Watch him cut open an avocado and cut it up for a tomato and red onion salad. He does not butcher the avocado, digging out the pit and the pulp with a spoon as I do. He pulls the pit out by impaling it on a small cleaver, then he cuts the pulp back to front, side to side into rectangles.

I watched Julia and Jacques last night. Jacques was cooking a pot roast braised in wine and beef stock. I had a chuck roast bought as a Kroger Manager's Special for $6.00. I followed Pepin's instructions, and here is my New Year's Day dinner.

The carrots were cooked in the wine braise in the last 40 minutes of the roast. Then I took them out of the wine with a spider, put them in a bowl and buttered them. The potato souffle was also a Pepin production. Two eggs beaten into three cups of mashed potatoes, then spooned into a buttered souffle dish and sprinkled with a little cheese (I used Pecorino). I baked it at 400 degrees for thirty minutes.

I sifted a few teaspoons of flour into the left-over braise to thicken it into a gravy. And when I sat down to dine, I could not have eaten better at a restaurant.

Jacques Pepin showed me how to brown the roast, how to season it, how to present it. And he did it for free, unless you count a few 15 second car commercials.

The Internet can be a wonderful thing.