Molded Marzipan Cookies

Today is father’s day, so I decided to make my dad some cookies.  His favorite dessert / candy has always been marzipan, and I’ve made him marzipan almost every year for Christmas.  Well this year for Father’s Day I decided to try making marzipan cookies instead of the usual chocolate covered marzipan I usually give him.  His take on the cookie I’ll have to find out tonight when I give them over, but so far I love him and decided I should share.

Molded Marzipan Cookies

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tbls all purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 8 ounces almond paste, broken into small pieces
  • 1 tsp water (or flavored water)
  • 1 egg white, gently beaten
  1. Combine flour and confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Add almond paste. Using your fingertips, work almond paste into flour and sugar until it resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle in water and egg white. Knead until it forms a firm, smooth dough, 2-4 minutes. Gather into a flattened round, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 10 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Generously dust a large, clean work space with confectioners’ sugar. Divide dough into two sections. Working on section at a time, roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness.
  3. Cut cookies into whatever shape you like (I used a shamrock cookie cutter because it’s the only one I have at the moment).  You can also use molds and create fun molded cookies.
  4. Place cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then set baking sheets aside, uncovered, and let cookies dry (or “cure”) at least 3 hours.
  5. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Place baking sheet in center rack of oven and bake until edges have begun to color slightly, 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool and firm up for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.  Once cookies have cooled the are ready.
  6. (optional) Because my father loves chocolate covered marzipan I coated the bottom of the cookies in chocolate as an extra step.  If you choose to cover your cookies in chocolate you will need to place them on wax paper and let the chocolate cool and harden before serving.

Happy Father’s Day daddy!

Another Round

Our Radiography class of 2013 has gotten past a second semester of hardships and challenges. We have been tested (so so much), and for the most part we have risen to the occasion, and passed with flying colors.

Here are some of the lessons I have learned so far…

  1. Try to keep moving forward regardless of the fear you might feel.
  2. Find creative ways to release your anger so it doesn’t project out in the wrong direction.
  3. Help others when they ask, because if your reasons for not helping are selfish, in the end, you are helping yourself as well.
  4. As difficult as it may be, study hard, but also give yourself time to relax and socialize with friends and family.
  5. Save up your personal leave hours, because you never know when you might actually need them, for larger reasons than wanting some extra study time.
  6. Don’t fret over your mistakes, just learn from them and move on.

Last semester we were told was the hardest semester in the program.  I’m not complaining, but I really hope that’s true.  Like many of my class members, I could use a bit of a mental drift semester.  So far this summer semester has been just that.  Just what we’ve been asking for.  I think we are supposed to use this extra time to study for a big test.  At the end of summer A we have to pass our year review test in order to continue on in the program.  Wish me luck!

 

Paperless

What do I do to recycle, reduce, and reuse?

  1. One of the easiest things I do is to simply recycle.  I put all my paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass into my recycle bins and put them out on the curb for pickup.  Why some people don’t make this smallest and simplest of gestures to help our planet, I will never know.
  2. Second, I have a compost.  This isn’t quite as simple as the first, and in fact it is quite stinky and troublesome, but it keeps all sort of vegetable product from filling up our landfills for no good reason.  Another great thing about a compost is that is makes vitamin rich soil that is fantastic for gardening.
  3. When I’m not putting my vegetable scraps into my compost, I’m putting them in my freezer.  Once I fill one of those gallon size zip-lock bags with all those tops of bottoms of vegetables that people just throw out, I make a veggie broth for soups.  Not only does this reduce landfill waste, but it’s a much cheaper option for soup broth, and it’s really quick simple and easy to keep up with.
  4. Another really simple way to reduce waste is to bring cloth bags with you to the store when you go grocery shopping.  Of course I have a bad habit of forgetting to bring my bags with me, but if that happens just hold onto the plastic bags they give you and bring them back to the store to recycle them in the specially marked bins at your local store.  Please don’t just toss your plastic bags, because this is what they turn into http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch (I giant island of trash in the ocean).
  5. Not that this is directly tied to recycle, reducing, or reusing, but I also like to go shopping at local markets.  Not only is the produce here fresh and local, but these locations are often much more conscientious of our environment.  Plus when you shop locally, your money goes right back into helping the local economy.
  6. I have also started some up-cycle art projects within the past year.  I’ve been making and selling gum wrapper bracelets and can tab bracelets.   I’m always excited to see the beautiful things people make out of other peoples trash.
     
  7. Another thing that’s happened to me in the last year that has helped me to reduce my gas use is a new car.  I was given the opportunity to trade cars, so now instead of my old Honda Civic (which was a very good and fuel efficient car to begin with), I now have a Toyota Prius.  Now my car has a smaller gas tank and I find myself having to stop at the gas station much less often to fill up my tank.
  8. When I’m in class I use much less paper than I used to.  Instead of taking notes with paper and pen, I take notes on my laptop.  No longer do I print out power point presentations to study them, I just sit at my computer to study.  I used to think that I needed to take notes by hand and highlight the power point lines as I read, but I’ve found that my grades are still just as good without having to waste all that paper.  Yes, that paper could be recycled at the end of the class when I no longer needed it.  However, isn’t it better not to use all that paper in the first place?  Lets not forget the while recycling is a good thing, it takes power and energy too.
  9. When I needed shelving for all my school books, instead of running out to the store and buying bookshelves I tried to think of a way I could make them.  I found some left over wood flooring and used this to create the shelves I needed.  Not only is this a great way of reusing this old wood flooring that was just getting tossed on the side of the road, but it saved me a ton of money.
  10. Another fantastic way for college students to save money is to check the apartment dumpsters at the end of the semester.  I know this may not sound appealing.  But I have seen new looking leather sofa sets just sitting in the parking lot waiting to be picked up by a truck and taken to the dump.  I will often pickup all this tossed furniture and take it to a donation spot, so at least someone can put these things to good use.  It seems so incredibly wasteful to me when I see all the things we students just throw away when we move from apartment to apartment.  Just take that extra hour to drop everything off at goodwill, habitat for humanity, or the local humane society.  These locations are always grateful to have your left overs.

What do you do to help our planet?

Ginger Chai Cupcakes

Well I had another girls “soup” night this week.  I was in charge of dessert, and once again I tried a recipe from Vegetarian Times.  If you are a vegetarian, vegan, or just feel like eating a bit healthier, I highly recommend this website and/or magazine.  I’ve only create 2 dishes from their magazine so far, but both of them have been fantastic.  http://www.vegetariantimes.com/

If you like chai tea you will love these cupcakes.  I myself love chai tea and I happen to love pretty much any type of ginger candy, so the ginger kick in this cake was heavenly.  Everyone who tried this batch of cupcakes loved them and I’ve gotten several recipe requests.  For those of you who asked, I hope you try it with success.

Cupcakes

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 vegan margarine
  • 1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer, such as Ener-G
  • 1/2 cup packed minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbs. ginger juice  (I used chai tea here instead)
  • 3/4 cup plain soymilk (I used vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Chai Frosting

  • 1 cup nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup vegan margarine
  • 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cooled unsweetened chai tea
  • 6 Tbs. diced candied ginger for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line muffin pans with 18 paper liners.
  2. To make cupcakes: Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into bowl. Cream sugar and margarine with electric mixer 5 minutes, or until fluffy.
  3. Stir egg replacer into 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. water in bowl. Beat into sugar mixture until combined. Beat in ginger and ginger juice. Combine soymilk and vanilla in bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low, and alternate adding flour mixture and soymilk mixture. Fill cupcake liners three-quarters full, and bake 16 to 19 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool cupcakes.
  4. To make Frosting: Beat together shortening and margarine with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in confectioners’ sugar, cardamom, and cinnamon. Add chai, then beat 2 minutes, or until fluffy. Frost each cupcake, and top with 1 tsp. candied ginger, if using.

Bodies

Phil and I had a fun weekend in Atlanta, GA.  We decided last minute to drive there Friday night so we could see the Bodies Exhibition on Saturday.  It’s a five to six hour drive from Gainesville and I don’t think we left home until about 6:30.  Regardless we started off Friday night and decided to just see how far we could get before pulling off the interstate and finding a hotel for the night.  We also stopped right away in High Springs to try a BBQ place that we had a Groupon for.  The Restaurant was called Gator BBQ and they had over 10 different home made sauces, though the 3 we tried were all a little disappointing.

After eating we started the long drive to Atlanta, listening to our audio book (one in the Wheel of Time series) the entire way.  Around 11pm we pulled off and got the last room in a Super 8 motel.  Apparently we stopped at just the right time… not an hour after getting settled a really bed storm came through.  The storm lasted all night long and had already killed 36 people.  Though by the time it hit GA it was much weaker and only killed one lady that decided to hide in a storm drain.  Just as the rain stopped, at about 8am, we checked out of the hotel, ate at Waffle House, and drove the last hour and a half to Atlanta.

We got out of the car not realizing it was going to be so cold.  Being silly Floridians we were dressed for summer and the storm that came through had left it at around 60 degrees outside with a nice cold wind.  Our first order of business, suck up our pride and buy some jackets.  Phil found a nice soft brown hoodie at Old Navy, and I was able to get over 50% off a coat at the Gap.  While standing in line to buy our Bodies Exhibit tickets we were very thankful we bought the jackets.  The line was only about a 20 or 30 minute wait, but when it’s cold, overcast, and windy, that would have been miserable in just t-shirt and shorts.

The exhibit was amazing.  My favorite displays were seeing all the vessels in the lungs and the cross sections of the entire human body.  Phil also really loved the nervous system display.  It’s really amazing how all these bodies were preserved.  I really think that anyone going into a medical field should goto a Bodies Exhibit.  Not only is it educational, but it really gives you an appreciation for how awesome and complex our bodies really are.

Creamy Tomato Basil Agave Soup

I’d like to start out by saying that until recently I haven’t really been much of a soup person.  My version of soup was something out of a can, or simply chicken noodle soup, which in my case was a bit more like a stew anyway.  Most of all, I have never liked tomato soup.  It’s one of those foods I try every couple of years just so see if I’ve changed my mind, and somehow I never like it.

Well… apparently that is no longer the case.  Every other week or so some of my girl friends and I get together for soup and cheese sandwiches.  This week it was my turn to cook the soup, and I decided to try and make a tomato soup recipe that looked like it might be good.  Not only did I like this tomato soup, I loved it!  I liked this soup so much that I figured I should share.  It’s also a great recipe if you are really busy.  I’ve been so busy with school, clinic, and fund raisers that it was 5pm before I started cooking, and I was done by 5:30pm.  I don’t think I’ve ever cooked a soup this fast before that wasn’t canned.

Creamy Tomato Basil Agave Soup

  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup button, cubed and divided
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14 oz) can vegetable broth  (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 (8 oz) package low fat cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp Light Agave Nectar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In food processor, add celery, onion and garlic, pulse on high 10-15 seconds until pureed. Pour puree into large saucepan. Do not rinse food processor. Add half the button to vegetables. Saute over medium heat, about 10 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes, broth and half the chopped basil, bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover pot; reduce heat to medium/low; allow to simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cut cream cheese into 1/2″ cubes and place in food processor along with 1 cup of the hot soup. Process on high until cream cheese is dissolved, about 1 minute.  Add cream cheese mixture, Agave Nectar and remaining basil and button to the hot soup; stir until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.  Makes 8 cups.

Mom comes home!

My mother in-law was released today after month of physical therapy rehabilitation for a broken hip.  She was sad to leave behind her new friends at the rehabilitation center, but thrilled to finally be home with her three little dogs.  Luckily her insurance rented wheelchair was able to fit down her hallway and back into her bedroom.

We did have one problem however, her bedroom TV decided to up and break during her extended stay away from home.  None of us really having any money to spend on a new TV we went to Hospice Attic to see what they might have, and we came home with a brand new looking flat screen TV for just $30.  It was missing a remote, but we had already purchased a universal remote for her to replace the remote we new was broken.  Go go Hospice Attic!  I think I’ll be shopping there from now on if I need something.  Why bother spending hundreds of dollars on something brand new when I can get a perfectly good version of it for a fraction of the cost somewhere else.  Oh the things I learn each day…  We also found a raised toilet seat, which is amazingly useful for people who don’t have much movement in their hips.

So yeah, if you ever need cheap medical equipment or anything else really…  http://www.havenhospice.org/

I also really like visiting and donating to the Alachua Humane Society thrift store here in Gainesville FL.  http://alachuahumane.org/

Lead X-ray Markers

I’ve been playing around with making custom lead x-ray markers lately.  One of the guys in my class just decided to try making them and did a great job.  The class was so excited about his markers that we thought it would be a great fund raising opportunity to sell them.  Though he got a little overwhelmed once everyone started asking him to make them a pair of markers, so I offered to take over making them.

I’ve got the basic concept down, but I just keep messing up the mixture.  It seems like every other time the epoxy mix just doesn’t set right even though I’m pretty sure I measured it correctly…  If anyone has suggestions for an easier clear epoxy let me know.  All these screw ups on my part have meant that so far we have no broken a profit to give to the class.  It’s a bit frustrating, but hopefully I’ll get the process to a science soon.

One afternoon I tried to melt down one of my gooey marker sets to get the lead letters back out so I could remake the set.  The experiment was quite a fantastic failure!  However during this failed, chemical fire, experiment in the back yard, I discovered that lead has a rather low melting point.  This of course gave me another great idea.  HA!  So a few days later I tried this next great idea to melt down some of the letters I didn’t need and recreate some of the letters I did need.  Well I was able to melt down letters pretty easy by just holding aluminum foil with the lead over a candle.  The lead melted down really quick actually.  When I tried to poor this nice little pool of melted lead into the molds I have made for my set of letters it didn’t work out so well.  It was such a small pool of lead that it cooled down almost instantly.  So now I’m down another set of letters and still no marker set.  Needless to say I gave up and ordered some more unmounted lead letters and paid way too much shipping for what was ordered (at least in my opinion).  So yeah, if you have any suggestions about where I can buy lead letters for low cost let me know.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in buying a set of markers our class is selling them for just $8 for the set, in any color glitter your heart desires.  We can make your markers in circle or normal rectangle.  I can also make skull shaped markers but those will cost you a little extra because they use more epoxy material.  They have been tested in clinic and work great once I get the mixture right.  Here is a picture of the set I made for myself.

Christmas 2011

Phil and I agreed this year that we would get each other gifts with a price limit of $10.  I found him a Star Trek ‘red shirt’ on sale for $9.99 and was quite proud of myself.  Not only does he like Star Trek, but I figured he could use a super easy Halloween outfit for next year as well.

Phil’s gift to me was a complete shock.  He told me I had to open it at the dinner table while we were all eating for Christmas together.  This kept me guessing as to what on earth this gift could possibly be.  Well… here it is!

After the initial shock and laugh at my gift, I read the description out loud for everyone.  “Giant Toasted Ants are one of the largest species of ant to be found in the world. They are harvested in Colombia by the Guane Indians, during the short rainy season between March and June. They are then toasted in a mud pot over an open fire. The Guane Indians believe that these ants have youth giving and aphrodisiac properties. Giant Toasted Ants taste similar to crispy bacon with an added earthy spicy kick. The perfect party snack!” Then after passing around the tin of ants and giving everyone a quick look, I pulled on of the ants out, worked up my nerve, then popped it into my mouth.  Besides the sick feeling of knowing exactly what I was consuming, the flavor really wasn’t that bad.  Though I have to say I would not compare these toasted ants to bacon like, the packaging does.

I know I will remember this Christmas for a very long time to come.  Thanks husband!

First Semester In Radiography

I have been really busy lately with school so I haven’t checked on my website in quite some time.  The good news is that I really love it so far.  With constant studying I managed to get all A’s for this first semester, and I have to say I really enjoy clinic rotations.  My first rotation was at the Gainesville, FL VA hospital.  All of the patients their are very respectful and nice.  Ok… maybe not all, but most of them for sure.  I also find it very amusing that the old male patients tent to hit on anything and everything female within the hospital.  I’ve been told our older female patients are just as bad about flirting with male doctors.  It always makes my day more interesting to say the least, and I think if you’ve made it to 70 years or older you have a right to speak your mind, even if the mind you are speaking may be a bit out of line.  Life just wouldn’t be as much fun if everyone did things the way they are expected to do them.

Since August I have taken, or have helped with, more general radiographs than I can count (even though I really have been keeping count of each and every one of them…), I’ve accidently taken an x-ray of a doctors hand during surgery, I’ve been stuck with techs I don’t like and techs I think are fantastic, I’ve prep’d patients for barium studies and invasive procedures, and most exciting to me for some strange reason, I’ve been allowed to setup sterile fields.  Everything so far has been new and exciting.  Hopefully if I keep an open mind I can continue to approach every day with exciting for whatever might be coming next.  Also as a tip for anyone that may be going through a medical program like mine, don’t say bad things about your teachers or director while on rotation at a hospital, because it WILL get back to them.  The last thing you want to do it get on your directors bad side.  Think about these kind of programs as an extended job interview.  Those bad things you say may not have an immediate impact on your education, but it will have an impact when you graduate from the program and are trying to get a job.  I myself having been gossiping about our student faculty, but I’ve seen others doing it and I’m wondering if I should pull them aside and tell them to try not to say such things.

Oh another note, lots of people ask me what the most memorable hospital experiences have been so far.  Of course I can’t say anything specific because that would be breaking HIPAA regulation, but I can tell you that broken limbs are stomach churning.  It’s difficult to keep your composure when someone’s foot is facing the wrong way or a bone is sticking out, and I haven’t even been on a trauma rotation yet.  I’ll have to remember to eat breakfast once I do start trauma or surgery so I don’t faint.  Though I have already invested in good shoes and better insoles so I can stand for long hours every day without too much strain on my back.

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