Happy May Day! I hope most of you are luckier than me and actually have the day off. If not, I feel for you. But hey, what better way to celebrate International Workers’ Day than by working? Exactly. Great Monday motivation right there.
For those of you who do get to spend the day lounging in your pyjamas – how about being a tad productive and making a fresh loaf of bread for brunch/lunch? Homemade bread beats any store-bought equivalent and is so easy. So easy. You just have to make sure your yeast is fresh (do NOT use dry yeast) and not past it’s sell by date, then I guarantee nothing can go wrong. But be warned: once you have mastered the art of bread making it’s hard to stop due to deliciousness. One of my friends made 4 loaves in one week. No joke. Trust me, you’ll understand as soon as you succeed yourself. So get out of bed and get baking! Your guests will be oh so pleased.
Happy Saint Nicholas’ Day, a.k.a another one of my favorite days of the year. I hope your stockings were filled with exciting presents and delicious chocolates. Today is one of the few days where people actually queue for something in Switzerland. Queueing for restaurants, bakerys, theatres, etc. isn’t a thing here unlike in London, Manhattan, Sydney, you name it. My most recent queuing failure in London was an attempt to eat at the new Thai place in town – Som Saa. We arrived at 18:30, the wait would have been 2.5 hours… I then inquired at what time one would have to realistically come to grab a table for “normal dinner times”. The answer: 17:00. Seriously?? Who has time for that?!?
Anyways, one thing the Swiss have understood is the uselessness and inefficiency of queuing. Apart from today – my next queuing failure. On Saint Nicholas’ day, Swiss tradition is to eat a Grättimaa – sweet brioche-like bread heaven shaped like a man, the Grättimaa. If you don’t want to make them yourself, thego to bakery to buy these in town is Gilgen. Naively, I went by early afternoon thinking the rest of the world must be working – my was I taken by surprise – there were 2 queues going right out the door past the next shop! And what’s the magic of queues? They attract more and more people, because whatever is at the end must be good. The beauty of it all – some queuers didn’t even know what they were in line for! By the time I finally managed to order, I whipped out my debit card (having just returned from ‘merica where everything is paid for by card) only to hear the words: “Sorry, our card machine is broken today”. MAJOR FAIL. So I queued for nothing…. at least I know how to make them myself and I can decide on the appropriate sugar to bread ratio ;-).
T-2 days until I am officially unemployed for 2 months! Scary! Anyone have a guide to leading the life of a pensioner?
In my hospital, tradition calls for junior doctors to spoil their co-workers with a sweet breakfast sometime around their last day of work. Another compulsory “cake baking” moment in the life of a junior doctor, respectively surgeon in training, is after being allowed to operate something for the first time. There is an unwritten rule stating one has to bring a cake after each new surgical achievement. Sneaky, sneaky surgeons. Now, instead of always bringing cake, I figured I could be creative and bring rolls. Who doesn’t like rolls? My personal favorite – cinnamon rolls – would be a tad too intense for my Swiss colleagues to digest at 8 am. So I decided to stay on the safe side and made these hazelnut rolls – NOM. Secret ingredient: a hint of cinnamon, obvs.
I hope you all spent the past few days indulging in ridiculous amounts of chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and tasty roast lamb. If not, don’t worry, you still have one day left to catch up;-). And congratulations to everyone who successfully completed Lent yesterday – now go and do or eat whatever you have been painfully missing out on these past 46 days!
This year’s Easter has been, apart from spending some of the days surrounded by IV-drips, syringes and wounds, all dressed up in scrubs (yes – some people actually have to work on bank holidays), an unhealthy brunch crawl for me. Nothing wrong with brunching 4 days in a row is there?
For the final brunch of the lot I decided to bake something slightly different than your usual, with a Scandinavian touch – Cardamom Rolls. NOM! As I already mentioned in a previous post – Cardamom is the new Cinnamon. If I haven’t won you over yet, I’m sure baking these will. I’m also sure half of you have been invited to yet another an Easter brunch for today, said they would bring something and popped into M&S for some hot cross buns. If so – tut tut tut – freeze your bought buns and make these! Everyone will love them!!
Here is a post for all you nocturnal readers out there. Working hours in the surgical profession aren’t your standard 9 to 5 with a one hour lunch break. They are more like 7 to 7 with a 15 minute lunch break (if you’re lucky). Or the even better (not) shifts are the night shifts – 8pm to 8am with ha, wait for it, officially no calculated break – which normal functioning human being could survive that? This past week I had my first night shift after two night free years – dear god does your body protest. You’re tired all the time no matter how much sleep you get. You have the hugest eye bags all the time – make up resistant might I add. You’re hungry all the time – literally, I never thought waking up from hunger is a thing…. trust me… it is and it sucks! Additionally, ER’s attract strange people after dark…. who shows up at 2 am with a painful wrist 5 weeks post falling on it?? Seriously. Well, at least these people are kind enough to keep me busy 🙂
Anyways, to combat my constant hunger whilst on nights I decided to pre-make a batch of cinnamon rolls. In the past I have tried many recipes but none were satisfying enough. Until now. Just in time for my week of nocturnal binge eating I managed to create the perfect combination of doughy fluffyness with a heavenly cinnamony filling. Nom.
I cannot believe 2 years have passed since my time in Cape Town. Crazy. Such great memories, lots of wine tasting, not so much hospital-work, lots of eating, beaching, exploring and more wine tasting. Best. Elective. Ever. My liver must not have been happy. To reminisce, a friend and I got together one evening this past week. We drank wine from the Peter Falke vineyard (in Stellenbosch), which she still had in her cellar from our trip, and made Koeksisters (finally, this had been our plan for the past two years but somehow…..2 years later there we were). Koeksisters are the unhealthiest but most rewarding small spiced balls of fried dough. The first time we ever tasted them was in the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood of Cape Town, from a small corner shop that sells fresh ones only once or twice a week, usually on a Sunday. They were delish.
A house in Bo Kaap
But just to clarify – there are two types of Koeksisters, the most common ones are shiny braided looking things drenched in syrup or honey, the ones we had in Bo-Kaap which are harder to find, (and tastier in my opinion) are of malay origin. An essential ingredient is ground cardamom, which I knew would be a challenge to find in Switzerland, so a while ago, with this plan on the back of my mind, I seized the opportunity at a local indian shop in Shepherd’s Bush :-). No excuses now – Koeksisters had to be made!! The recipe we used is from a b&b owner we met along the way, so no guarantee for its accuracy – I feel it is more a cross between the shiny braided version and the malay version. In any case, whatever it is we ended up with was tasty 🙂
Who would have thought a significant link between food and doctors has existed for decades? Granted, food is an essential part of life, is partially responsible for shaping our day and is of course also clearly correlated with health. As food and it’s appearance seem to be something everyone knows about and can relate to, instead of challenging the brain with confusing latin names, the medical world has been kind enough to supply laypersons (and medics) with less technical, descriptive food related, terms. It is great for describing findings! If I told you a manifestation of Kawasaki’s disease and Scarlet Fever is an erythematous tongue with hyperplastic fungiform papillae your brain would probably process this: ?!*?!*?!*?!*?!*. If I told you that basically means the tongue looks like a strawberry, your brain could cope. In 1979 the British Medical Journal published a Review titled: Gastrology: the use of culinary terms in medicine(woopwoop research skills put to excellent use). I even found a blog solely dedicated to this! Anyways, here is a list of a few day brightening medical food terms:
Cherry Red Epiglottis – occurs in epiglottitis, an infection of the small flap stopping your food from going down the wrong tube.
Pancake Brain – radiologic description of alobar holoprosencephaly, where your forebrain does not separate into two halves at all during in-utero development.
Salt and Pepper Retinopathy – when affected by the rubella virus, the back of your eye (retina) can show lots of small dark and light spots (like salt and pepper).
Corkscrew Oesophagus – radiologists description of DES (diffuse oesophageal spasm), where the contractions of your oesophagus are uncoordinated and result in a pretty xray
Apple-Peel Intestines – malformation of the intestine with either absence or narrowing of a segment, looks like apple peels
Strawberry Tongue – Scarlet Fever or Kawasaki Syndrom
Cherry Red Spot – seen on the Retina/back of the eye after occlusion of the supplying artery
Peau D’orange – Manifestation of inflammatory breast cancer
Coffee Bean Sign – a radiologists description of a twisted sigmoid (segment of the large intestine)
Cottage Cheese Discharge – Thrush….nasty
Apple core sign – when your colon’s lumen is compressed by a large colorectal carcinoma
Omental Cake – Not from Hummingbirds sadly: Invasion of the omentum majus (fatty tissue within your abdomen) by a tumor, usually related to ovarian cancer
Butter Stool – can happen when fat absorption/digestion becomes impaired through liver/pancreatic/gall diseases….your stool becomes greasy and fatty.
I’m sure you could all picture something under these terms. Today’s recipe is semi-related to the number 26: Butterzopf. It is a Swiss Sunday breakfast classic, made with lots and lots of butter. Lucky for you it doesn’t cause butter stools in the average healthy individual. Definitely a must try for your next Sunday family breakfast!
Today’s post is a tad more medical; I could not let this recent news simply slip away without informing you. Rumour has it that polio (poliomyelitis – a highly contagious potentially permanently paralysing virus transmitted through contaminated food/water) is making a comeback after having been almost eradicated for the past 25 years (with a 99% decrease in case numbers since 1988). Prevention through surveillance and multiple vaccinations (live oral polio vaccine or inactivated poliovirus vaccine) are the only way to fight this virus, as no cure is available, and has proven to be successful in eradicating the disease until recently. With newly reported infections in 10 countries (previously only Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan were classified as endemic), the WHO declared it a public health emergency earlier this week. So, I urge you to check your vaccinations and those of your children (or children in your surroundings)!!!, especially if you are travelling to a known polio-infected country – inform yourself and update your vaccinations as soon as possible, not only for your own protection but also in aid of the global eradication efforts!
Anyways… moving from the serious medical world to the world of baking: I present you with yet another cake baked for the March birthday celebrations. This is also an old family recipe created by none other than Martha, my previously mentioned grandmothers former housekeeper. It is a traditional yeast Gugelhupf with raisins. As a child I used to always pick the raisins out before indulging in this cake…. I could hit myself for that, a Gugelhupf without raisins is only half as good. So if you don’t like raisins in cake, don’t even try baking this one. And the rumour of these yeast cakes being dry is a lie, if you have only had dry Gugelhupf so far, your choice of bakery must be revised ;-).