Well, here I am sitting in the Kaiser Hospital Emergency Room lobby on Christmas.
No, not nearly as bad as it sounds…
My Mother-in-Law (hereafter called “Granny” or “Grandma” as that’s how the kids refer to her) had an “episode”. Of what? Nobody knows… We’ve been through this before. About every 3 months? I’ve lost track. She empties her stomach and passes out, then wakes up about 20 minutes later. That’s it.
However… The medical “rules” mandate that she take an ambulance ride to the hospital where they do a load of tests and find “nothing new”… and nothing about “why” or “what” either… Your tax dollars at work. (She is on a government pension…) OK, at 87 you expect some things to not work right.
So, as you can see from this posting, I’m all ‘prepared’ for a pleasant afternoon “on the road”…
Many thanks to all the emergency workers who get to work this holiday. Police, firefighters, ambulance crews, doctors and nurses. Many thanks! You are appreciated.
I’ve got a “crash bag” that I grab. It has the Mac laptop and wireless connections, a good book, some notebooks for things I’m working on, a “small drug department” in one pouch with anything from aspirin to decongestants to razor and soap along with caffeine pills (in case of coffee outage ;-) and a jacket lives on top of the bag. I’ve got my Christmas present book with me “Edible Gardening for California” (more on that after I’ve read some of it) that was opened this morning, and the cell phone (with charger that lives in the bag).
Everything needed for living in the lobby, or the car, or “on the road” for a few days.
Granny has a ‘crash bag’ too, and that is in the room with her. (As are her daughters… so I’m in the lobby “on call”).
And no ‘condolences’ are needed. For me it’s more or less “business as usual”. I can trade (when during market hours), I can manage blogs, I can do research, I can read. (And the ‘kit’ includes earplugs so I can do it in modest peace..) The chairs are comfy and I’ve got a small “CD / AM-FM Radio” in the kit too. The only thing missing is a TV (but they have one in the corner if I really care…)
The outcome? Pretty much already known. In an hour or two we’ll be sent “home” with Granny discharged and “nothing found”. Then we’ll pick up where we left off at noon.
We were on our way as a family to Granny’s care home. She’s in a full time nursing staffed home. (And it IS a home. A private house converted to house a few folks with nursing staff). Each Christmas and Thanksgiving we deliver a home cooked meal (made by me). We arrived at 11:30 just in time to see the ambulance being loaded… so the ‘meal’ was delayed.
What was in it?
Centerpiece was a personal sized Roast Bird. Traditionally we’ve done a family sized turkey in a large metal / enamel roasting pan. I’ve got a dinky roasting pan that looks just like it, and put a Cornish Game Hen in it. The Cornish game hen is really just a very small breed of chicken that they have re-branded… but they do taste great.
Stuffing is a simple bread stuffing. Croutons, poultry seasoning, red onions, celery, carrots, stock, butter, and a bit of egg to bind it just a touch: 1 egg per 6 ounces weight of croutons. Mix and stuff. The red onions, green celery, and carrot (made in small slices with a vegetable peeler) make it a colorful stuffing 8-)
Dust with poultry seasoning and in the oven at 375 F for about an hour. Leave the lid off at the end to brown to your liking. About 10 minutes seems to do it.
The bird was placed on the table at the care facility for the other guests to enjoy (no need to waste it… it was ‘fresh from the oven’ and rested 15 minutes on the drive over, so just about perfect). I’ve now got the “backup bird” in the roasting pan in the fridge, so with about 1 hour plus drive time notice we can be ‘back on schedule’… (Yes, I’m THAT prepared… sad in a way, but “It’s what I do”. NOTHING stops Santa Smith ;-)
So ‘whenever’ we will have the “special meal” complete with the “presentation” of the roast bird. Everything looking exactly like it has on Christmases for decades past, just in miniature…
The side dishes are the simple classic mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, and a ‘jello mold’ in cranberry red / foamy green. Oh, and a family heirloom dish from my family… “Scalloped corn”
I’ve mentioned this dish before. I think it’s a “poverty food” variation on a prior recipe, but that’s just guessing. All I can say for certain is that we’ve had it in my family since before I was born and my Dad said they had eaten it ‘forever’ on the farm. Originated in Iowa or perhaps with the Ohio / Indiana Amish part of the family (if prior to Iowa).
It has the Amish simplicity about it. We use Saltine Crackers but that may just be a simple substitution from a prior ‘cracker’ on the farm… (almost certainly, as nobody bought crackers back when my family first started eating this… and they grew all the other ingredients on the farm).
At any rate, the “modern citified way” of making it:
In a 9 inch casserole dish, dump in a can of whole kernel corn, drained ( 15 ounces). Take a “stack of saltines” and crush them. This is about 1/4 pound. “Saltine Crackers” are THE standard cracker all over the USA, but seems to need some explaining to folks in some other countries. They are just a simple wheat cracker of neutral flavor, about 2 inches on a side, with salt stuck to the top. Sold in a 1 pound box in 4 paper wrapped ‘stacks’. The ratio here is not real critical. You can vary all the ingredients a lot and it’s still about the same dish.
Crush them to random sizes between ‘dust’ (you can’t avoid some of it ;-) to about the size of a kernel of corn. No, don’t be ‘careful’ about it. I just grab them and squeeze / crush by hand until the bits fall out.
Take a second can of corn and dump it in, liquid and all.
Stir all that together.
Take 2 eggs and beat them (just enough to mix) and drizzle over the top. Mix.
Take 1/4 lb of butter (one “stick” here) and cut into bits that lay on top. I usually use about 8, but it’s just going to melt and mix in, so no worries. Some folks like a little pepper on top, so suit yourself on that.
Cover and bake, 350 F to 375 F about 40 minutes. Leave the cover off the last 5 or 10 if you like brown and crusty.
It smells just wonderful and taste is nice too. Makes great ‘leftovers’.
It’s just not the Holidays for me without the aroma of Scalloped Corn in the kitchen.
So all of that is waiting to be reheated when Granny gets “home” again. And with some notice, there will be a freshly baked bird too.
Oh, and pumpkin pie for desert… Can’t forget desert ;-)
FWIW, these folks have a different recipe:
http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/scalloped-corn/Detail.aspx that uses one regular corn and one creamed corn. They also use ‘corn muffin mix’ instead of the crackers and some sour cream. I suspect there is a whole family of variations and substitutions you can do. Just keep it “Corn, cracker/bread, dairy, egg”… I do vaguely remember using one can of creamed corn as a kid, so it may be that the ‘original’ did use creamed corn. (I also remember making it with real fresh corn scraped from the cob ‘cream style’ in summer ;-)
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Scalloped-Corn-2 uses some milk instead of the can water and no creamed corn, but looks like it would make a nicer ‘custard’ finish.
From the looks of the recipes, I think I’ll try making mine a more ‘creamy’ variation in the future.
So I’m going to be “on line in the lobby” for “a while”. And most likely the “Christmas Lunch” will just become “Christmas Dinner”. No big.
We’ve already had “our Christmas” this morning. It was quite nice ;-)
My son and daughter bought a new dishwasher for us. The old one had died a few months back and we’ve just been washing dishes by hand. It’s not that hard, but does tend to suck down some time.
So sometime in the next week will be “install it”. Probably about a 20 minute job as the old one is a simple ‘2 screws and roll out’ and all the fittings are in place.
I also got the book mentioned above, a Dexter book ( I’m hooked on Dexter…) and a Ceramic kitchen knife / peeler set. Looking forward to finding out what I think of Ceramic knives… as technology makes a giant leap back to stone tools and obsidian knives ;-) Oh, and a Maglight LED flashlight too… the better to “be prepared”. I figured out that with “D” cells in it, I need to replace the batteries once per Decade when they “age out” ;-)
All in all, a pleasant, if rainy, Christmas. I’m sure I’m getting the better end of things especially when compared with the folks stuck in Airports all over the East of the USA as they get a “White Christmas”.
So wishing all of you the best as you enjoy this Christmas / Hanukkah / Winter Solstice holiday!