Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Pie

I'm trying to get over my last week of my first year of nursing school. It was not the happiest week. My horrible group paper got one of the lowest grades in the class which is leaving me hovering at 0.8 points below an A, so while all of my nursing school friends are basking in the summer sun and singing out joyfully about making it through their first year and "oh, what a relief" I'm just feeling grumpy, bitter and completely burned out. My house still looks like finals week (and it's been over for a week) with dishes stacked everywhere and books fanned out on random horizontal surfaces with notes sticking out here and there. I have three months to get over it and then I'm back.

So what are we going to do here for three months? Bake? OK. Let's do it. Take this pie and skip the bananas. Make the crust using chocolate graham crackers, if you'd like. Add 3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut and an extra 1/4 cup of sugar when you add the butter to the pastry cream/ pudding after you've removed it from the heat. Toast another handful of coconut in a 325 degree oven for less than ten minutes until golden and sprinkle that on the whipped cream topping at then end. This was the husband's Father's Day pie. Hey, it might have been tasty to leave the bananas in and have a banana-coconut cream pie. Hm. Next time...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hand Pies 'Til The End

Today was my last clinical until the end of September. Whoo Hoo! I can tuck my uniform into the bottom drawer of my dresser and stop waking up before 6 AM until then.

You can tell the quarter's end is on hand because the oven here in the Student Nurse household has had very little rest. Why, just in the last 24 hours I've baked two separate batches of chocolate chip cookies and two pans of biscuits. There's plans to make homemade graham crackers and I'll be exploring the Wonderful World of Hand Pies (more on that later) for Pie Month (I'm sure there's an official Pie Month, but June is Fathers Day and my husband's birthday and he is all about pie, so, well, that's what it is, ok?). Finals week = lots of baking.

So, nursing school year in review:

We started off with 64 students and are down to 60 (though, really, five people left, another one joined us mid-year after almost failing out the previous year). Only two people were actually thrown out of the program for failing to make the cut.

I can now: take vital signs, make a bed -occupied and not-, give injections (I got to do a stint at The Injection Clinic - I'm not kidding - I did a tuberculin PPD, a handful of Sub-Q shots and a ton of intramuscular (IM) shots. Our clinical group was the envy of the class until we heard about the student in another clinical group who witnessed a hip replacement surgery: "The noise when they displaced the hip..."). I can clean wounds, insert and remove a foley catheter, feed and give meds via nasogastric tube, give a bed bath (people say I can give a good bed shampoo- you've gotta love the rinse free cleanser!). I can do Therapeutic Communication. I can chart, um, sort of. I can do a head-to-toe assessment. Dang. I should be able to do more than this! I'm sure I'm missing something.

I've made a ton of friends and maybe an enemy or two (hey, it happens when you're outspoken and fatigued at the same time). I've written two group papers and have probably answered 1000 questions via scantron. I've only missed about 5 classes (though I've not missed an entire day of classes; I always went to at least one class) and only one of those was due to illness.

I've written my fair share of care plans and I have a list of medications that my patients have taken. It's nine pages long, 10 point font.

I've only stayed up past 2 AM to study twice this year. And both times it was to write papers that I kept putting off.

I have maintained straight A's, but I'm only saying that now. This quarter might be different - you know, The Group Paper From Hades and the fatigue and all.

But you want to hear about the hand pies. My husband loved those Hostess hand pies and a cheaper ("Hey, they're only a quarter each!"), creepier version called Home Run Pies. It's pie you can throw in a lunch sack and eat with one hand. So, here, make this crust:

2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 stick o' cold and unsalted butter: cut into pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

combine dry stuff in food processor and pulse 'til combined (maybe 6 one-second pulses). Add butter bits and pulse 10 times for one second per or until the flour looks coarse. Add the ice water slowly while the machine is running (um, take the ice out of it or add it through a sieve) until the dough holds together (my machine starts sounding a little different when this happens, maybe yours does, too). Don't do this for more than 30 seconds. Divide dough into 2 pieces and wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour before using.

OK, that recipe was paraphrased from Martha Stewart.

The pictured hand pies have strawberries in 'em. I cooked up a good two cups of 'berries with a half cup or so of sugar and a bit of cornstarch, flour and lemon juice for about 5 minutes. I chilled it after having cooked it. I rolled out the dough on a floured surface and cut it with the largest circular biscuit cutter I have and filled each circle with a small scoop of the 'berry goop. I folded the circles (darnit! I always overfill the things and sticky goo is oozing everywhere) and pressed the edge with a fork. I did the filling and pressing on a cookie sheet covered with parchment. I brushed the handpies with egg wash (one egg mixed up with a splash of milk) and sprinkled them with sugar and baked on 350 until the looked golden (sorry, lost track of time. It might have been 20 minutes. It might have been 45 minutes: bad scientist! Oh, god, the imprecision of it all). Yum! If I want to be "authentic" I'd probably make a powdered sugar glaze and paint the things with it when they cooled after baking. I'll try blueberries next: just uncooked blueberries mixed with a little sugar and cornstarch. I'll let you know how it goes.