This is a bell pepper
August 22: Thursday
In my little hotel, with just a mini-fridge, coffee maker, and microwave for company. I’ve never had to travel for work, but I imagine it must be really difficult for those who have to do it often. Being away from my husband and dogs is no fun. Maybe it’s easier if you travel to a big city and can go sightseeing, as opposed to traveling to a small town in the middle of the desert, in the middle of the summer.
August 23: Friday
Driving back to my hotel at 12:45 am and it is 89 F outside. I suppose that’s better than the daytime temp of 115 F but seriously, it’s way too hot here. Before driving here I loaded my car with a 3-gallon tank of water and some nonperishable food. I always make sure to have a supply of clean water whenever I travel, just in case my vehicle breaks down or some other catastrophe occurs. You never know.
As for my first shift, all of the nurses and attendings were welcoming and helped me navigate this new ED. The electronic medical record system is different than any other hospital I’ve used in the past, so that was the greatest difficulty. The shift was pretty chill overall; patients rolled in at a steady clip but nothing too crazy.
August 24: Saturday
I got back to the hotel last night around 1 am after my shift. After sleeping for a few hours, it’s now time to head home! Living on microwaveable food and fast food chains for the past 4 days is way different than my usual homegrown garden meals and generally healthy diet. I really enjoyed the hospital, the staff, and the patients, but it’s so far away!
Due to our proximity to Mexico, many of my patients speak Spanish. My comprehension is getting pretty decent from hearing Spanish being spoken all throughout residency, but I still have trouble speaking it. I studied French in school and my husband is Italian so if I ever try to communicate, my words come out in a garbled Fritalian, which is entirely not useful to anyone. Even though I had an interpreter assigned to me, and have worked with interpreters for years, I still worry that I’m unable to provide the same level of care for my patients that do not speak English. More than just addressing a patient’s chief complaint, I enjoy learning a bit about them and their family, providing support, and trying to put their minds at ease. Using an interpreter, I’m able to gather all of the pertinent medical information I need and provide the appropriate medical care, but I am less able to connect on a personal level.
August 25: Sunday
Ocean day today! We’re making a habit of exploring different beaches and seaside towns as we’ve only been living in San Diego for two months.
More progress is being made on the backyard bar as well. Alex and I are still fairly new to construction, so we’re kind of figuring it out as we go. The frame of the bar is built and stained a beautiful dark honey color. Next, we’re figuring out the bar top and drink ledge. Improving our woodworking skills has been a prepping goal for some time. In the past, we’ve built tables and other small items, but this is huge undertaking – the bar is 8 feet by 4 feet!
Carpentry is a specific skill, and one that can be developed over a lifetime. The same can be said about other prepper skills we have developed, such as gardening, fishing, and preserving food. Which brings me to the thought: prepping is not a specific task, or a one-time goal, or a thing to buy. Rather, prepping is a mindset. Prepping involves continually learning new tasks and honing skills, gathering supplies, being physically fit, and protecting your home. It includes preparing your family for a possible disaster and having a plan of action in case something actually takes place. Prepping even includes having your finances in order. Many think it’s strange. For me, being prepared helps keep me calm in the midst of chaos.
Here’s a small sampling ( tomatoes, potatoes, lavender, herbs, beets, peppers, corn) of things we’ve grown:
August 27: Tuesday
Once a month, all of the EMS fellows in California have a video conference call. We review textbook chapters and articles, and also discuss and debate issues relevant to EMS and disaster medicine. Being able to see my long-distance colleagues all over the state is pretty unique. I wonder what brought the other fellows to the world of EMS? Although emergency medicine is a popular specialty, EMS is relatively small subspecialty within medicine. Did they also go through a disaster? Did a family member get them into it? Are they also preppers? Fortunately, I’ll be able to meet them all in person next month at an upcoming state conference and learn more about them.
August 28: Wednesday
Having recently self-published my book Love, Sanity, or Medical School, I’m frequently entering it into writing competitions. Happily, I just found out that it placed as a semi-finalist in the 2019 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition in the category of Narrative Non-fiction. Not bad for a first book. If you’d like to read it, it’s available here.
Call me basic but I’m starting to see Pumpkin flavored everything everywhere and it’s making me so happy!
Semi-finalist in the 2019 Faulkner Writing Competition!
From seed to storage to several of my favorite pepper recipes. Peppers come in all shapes and sizes and colors. Some are spicy, some are mild as can be.
Varieties: carnival bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, poblanos
Sun: full sun - peppers like it hot!
Season: Spring (consider starting indoors as the soil needs to be warm)
Planting: plant seeds ~1/4-1/2” deep, about 12”-18” apart
Most peppers start out green and then change color
Sweet peppers take ~60-90 days
Hot peppers can take 4-5 months!
Long term storage: peppers freeze well either whole or cut into slices
Slice and eat them fresh with dipping sauce (ie: salad dressing or hummus), or chopped them into salads. Or, check out the recipes below:
Recipe: Stuffed peppers
These stuffed peppers are great for using a variety of leftovers in the fridge. The ground meat can be beef, chicken or pork, or substituted entirely for beans and rice. Any variety of chopped veggies can be used, as can many types of cheese. Stuffed peppers are a warm, hearty meal with a fun presentation.
1 lb chopped meat
6 bell peppers
Oil oil, salt and pepper
1 1/2 C chopped or shredded cheese such as cheddar, pepper jack, or mozzarella
Veggies: chopped bell peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, etc
2 cloves of garlic
Fresh or dried herbs
Brown the ground meat on the stove over medium-high until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
Cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, peppers (and other veggies).
Stir in about half cheese into the mixture
Spoon the mixture into the peppers and top with the rest of the cheese
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 F
Banana pepper boats
These adorable snacks are tasty, easy treats!
Slice banana peppers down the middle (not through the ends!) and spread apart the halves
Place each pepper in cupcake liners, spread out on a baking sheet
Combine shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, onions, and cilantro in a bowl
Dole out the mixture into the peppers
Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes
Slice poblano or anaheim peppers in half and de-seed (or baby bells if you prefer sweet peppers)
Brush with olive oil
Place flesh side down on the grill for a couple of minutes
Flip over and then fill with blue cheese
Allow to continue grilling til the cheese is gooey and melty deliciousness
Hot pepper jelly
Sweet and spicy and oh so good! Try topped crackers with a hard cheese (like a white cheddar or gouda), or spread on toast, or with game meat like deer or elk. The possibilities are endless! My husband ate almost an entire jar in a single day once.
Recipe courtesy of The Backyard Homestead . We’ve tried a few hot pepper jelly recipes but this one is by far our favorite! It makes about six 8-ox jars.
1/2 C chopped and de-seeded jalapenos
3/4 C chopped bell peppers (we used green bells)
6 C sugar
2 3-oz packets of liquid pectin
2 1/2 C cider vinegar
Grind the peppers in a food processor and then put in a saucepan. Add the sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain, returning the liquid to the saucepan. Add about 1 tsp of the pepper mixture from the strainer. Return to a boil and then add the pectin.
Ladle into freshly sterilized jars*, leaving 1/4” of headroom and seal with 2-part canning lid
Process in a boilig-water bath for 10 minutes
*The easiest way for us to sterilize jars is to put them in the dishwater and run the cycle right before making the jam (or whatever else you’re planning to can). Keep the dishwater door closed at the end of the cycle. When you’re ready to use the jars, just (carefully!) take the newly sterilized and still hot jars right from the dishwasher.
**Canning is a whole other prepper skill. Make sure to carefully follow recipes and use a proper sterilization process to help avoid the likelihood of any food-borne illness (such as deadly botulism) from being able to grow in your canned goods. I’ll write more about the joy of canning in the future.
What are your favorite pepper-inspired recipes??