Ocean Of Dreams

One of the reasons why I love to come back home is to relive some of my childhood memories. As I spend this week back home with my family, I have been reintroduced into the world of nature documentaries. I am reminded of the years when my dad and I would watch The Natural World every Sunday, with a cup of tea in our hands. Earlier today I was introduced by my dad into the new TV series- The Blue Planet II, narrated by the one and only David Attenborough. This programme blue my mind away.

This episode involved a team of scientists going deep into the Antarctic ocean, to find any forms of life. It was the first time anyone had made it to 1000 metres into the harshest ocean in the world, and I found it amazing to watch. All the footage they managed to capture was incredible…and some will stick with you forever. It brought back so many memories of what I used to think ‘discovering something’ would feel like. That thrill you get of finding something new, things which haven’t been unravelled yet.  A part of me will always want to be a scientist, that explorer. It saddens me that I haven’t dedicated enough time to this side of me. I need to try harder.

I had to remind myself of what Robert Greene mentioned before, always worth sharing again…

“First know what it is you really love doing, know what you are meant to do with your life.  As a child you would have been passionate about something, but because of the others around you, your parents etc. you found a career in something else.  You had passions at such a young age but you donโ€™t remember them, or donโ€™t think they are relevant. Figure out what you loved as a kid, and then decide how to incorporate this into your lifeโ€™s work”.

Imagine your greatest dream, but listen to this soundtrack as you do (as if I couldn’t pick up more magnificent things from this programme)…

Now you tell me you still don’t want to do it.

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The Apple Of My Eye

One of the skills I would like to accomplish is becoming a pastry chef. Maybe it was after watching the movie ‘Julie and Julia’ , that I was further inspired to take up this hobby. We even have Julia Child’s two volumes of ‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’, the classic literature considered a must read for the serious chefs. The art of the patisserie is certainly something different from the medical world and one I find incredibly interesting…and tasty! For all you pastry-chef wannabes out there, this might be of some interest to you.

After watching many a YouTube video for cooking ideas, we came across The French Cooking Academy channel and stumbled upon the chef’s take on Raymond Blanc’s Michelin-starred dish: baked apples with caramel sauce. We decided to make this.

These are the list of ingredients we used, which you’ll recognise from Raymond Blanc’s website. You’ll see here however that the amounts are doubled, as we assumed those on his website were for one person. It appeared to be enough!

For the apples
120g Unsalted butter, melted
120g Caster sugar
For the caramel sauce
2 tbsp Water
100g Caster sugar
160ml Apple juice
1tsp Arrowroot, mixed with a little cold water
2 tbsp Calvados or cider (we used cider)
For the garnish
30g Pistachio nuts
20g Almond flakes
30g Bread, diced
30g Icing sugar

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Ingredients at the ready in their individual plates (an attempt to be like the greats!), a glass of cider and we’re rearing to go!

We started off with the garnish

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Mix together the pistachios, almond flakes and cut up bread cubes in icing sugar. We did add a couple of teaspoons of water in the mixture for some texture, though this isn’t mentioned in Mr Blanc’s recipe. Then spread the mixture across a baking tray and toast these for 10 minutes in the oven at 170 degrees until lightly brown…and with a good crunch!

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Put aside to cool and that’s your garnish done!

Then comes the star of the dish…the apples

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Keeping the oven on, wash three ‘cox’s’ apples (did an extra apple just incase!), trim off the top of the apples and remove their cores. You do this by making a small incision through one side of each apple, just above and beyond the core. Then push the potato peeler (or an apple corer, we didn’t have this) through the top of the apple as far as the incision. Twist to remove the core!

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Brush the apples with melted butter

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Roll the apples in caster sugar and place in a casserole dish or equivalent, which is brushed with butter and sprinkled with caster sugar. For extra kicks we poured a small amount of melted butter onto each apple. Then bake these for 35โ€“40 minutes, but be quite tentative in the last few minutes…you want the apples to be soft but still hold their shape. It’s literally make or break for these fruities!

Now for the last phase of the dish, the caramel sauce.

IMG_20171108_171709Make this while your apples are baking. Put the water into a saucepan and spoon the sugar evenly over it until it absorbs the water, for no more than a couple of minutes. Bring this to the boil and cook it to a dark golden brown colour, by almost rotating the saucepan in a circular motion. Just make sure it doesn’t burn!

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Add the apple juice but expect this to be very noisy!! Then bring back to the boil and add in the arrowroot. No I didn’t have a clue what this was either, but I’ve been told it acts as a thickener. Finally add in the cider to the rest of the sauce.

You’re almost there! Now comes the best bit…the plating! Place the garnish in a circle around the edge of the plate and a baked apple in the centre. The plate should be warmed…we just ran it under hot water and dabbed down. Pour the caramel sauce on the apple and allow it surround the apple in all it’s beauty, and top it off with some vanilla ice cream.

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Et Voila! What do you think?

So there you have it. My first time cooking like a pastry chef and making a Michelin-starred dish. And an added bonus, you can make this at home! YAY!

Song Of The Month

After receiving “The Guardians Of The Galaxy”  soundtrack for one of my Birthday presents, I’ve decided to share with you my new favourite song from volume 2. These are CDs of course…that movie is all about nostalgia, so why would you have it any other way?! Driving with this song on and listening to the classic riff in the end is where, in my opinion, all-things- cars were born ๐Ÿ™‚ 

Welcome To The 30s

It was this weekend that I turned 30. For a good couple of weeks I was nervous that this day would come. But when it actually did, I wished that it lasted longer. I learnt that there is no difference in having a shower at 29 than having one at 30. The important thing is to carry on making the most of the life you have. What else can you do?

I’m not narcissistic, these were just the photos we ended up taking! It’s just something I can always look back on ๐Ÿ™‚ 

I’ll Be There For You

As part of our training, we are taught that patients often have an agenda when they come to see their doctor. What that basically means is that the reason they say they have attended, isn’t the real reason why they’re there. They’ve come to talk about something else.

In addition to managing the patient’s symptoms and diagnosis, we learn to pick up cues in a patient’s dialogue and offer the listening ear. I learnt this week that you can sometimes pick up an agenda without any cues.

This was a week where I found myself being a part of some eye-opening relationships-both with patients and colleagues alike. In one morning session, I saw two patients in consecutive order, who were both having relationship problems. This included one lady in her 20s who was going through a divorce. Apart from treating her ailment, I didn’t feel like I did anything else. Interestingly however, she ended our consultation by saying:

‘I’m sorry I had to offload on you like that’.

Later on this week, a gentleman came to see me because his wife was worried that he was getting tired more easily. It’s an interesting pattern I’ve seen a few times, when patients will only attend the surgery if a loved one asks them to. He thought he was tired because of his medications, though he had been on these for quite some time.ย  On delving deeper, he eventually admitted that he was stressed with things at home. He was a full time carer for his mother and this would cause anybody stress and fatigue. It was only when he admitted this that he became teary, and I couldn’t help but feel sad.

The last patient who I want to shed a little light on today (there’s obviously more!) is an elderly lady I’ve been following up on for her diabetes. After discussing future treatment, she went on to tell me about her faith in God, how we are all connected, and how she always does her part to keep healthy. This last little bit is something called ‘shared management’. Doctors love this, becaue it encourages patients to take responsibility for their own health.

This lady then shared a story with me (which out of respect I won’t share here, as beautiful to me as it is). Maybe it was the way she told it to me, but it really got to me. It got to me so much that I tried to hold back my emotions. Usually I can do this. However this was the occasion I would do something I’ve never done before-cry in front of the patient. I tried to hastily wipe away my tears through my cardigan sleeve, but it was too late. I thought to myself…great. She has a cry baby for a doctor.

The patient had seen me weep and her smile turned to laughter. My tears later turned into laughter too, but an ugly site I’m sure! I didn’t know what to think of my reaction, so I confided in my mentor about it. We had a lovely heart to heart, which made me feel tonnes better about things.

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s the importance of being kind to people. Its a key skill Dale Carnagie talks about in ‘How to win friends and influence people’ and I try to always keep it with me. But I think this comes at a level. Particurlarly when seeing patients, I’ve read how doctors fall into the trap of getting ‘too involved’ in their patient care, to the point that it starts to affect them, and how they are around others. I don’t think that’s very healthy either, and I think it’s all about balance. One day I’ll learn how to do it.

In times like these I learn to find pleasures in simple things. I start to get more appreciative of the times around me. On the Friday evening after work this week, I popped into the supermarket and purchased a range of goodies for Halloween. This was my first time going trick-or-treating shopping ๐Ÿ™‚ We never have sweets when children knock on the door so we thought we’d actually try this year!

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I was drawn by the ‘2 for the price of 1’ offer and didn’t really think about how I was going to give the clusters and brownies…wrap in cling film maybe? I decided that whatever I have left over I’ll leave it in the staffroom at work ๐Ÿ™‚

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Growing Up Stage

I feel like a lot of things have happened these past few weeks. But at the same time not that much, isn’t it a little weird?

Work is getting busy. I’m now seeing more patients a day (about 20, which is a lot for me!) and I really felt the pressure this week when my time per patient was cut down. Because of the increasing number of people I’m seeing, I’m definitely learning more things. I just hope that I’ll get used to the time management side of things.

Sometimes I get little highs of actually seeing a difference in people I’ve been following up, such as a woman who is on the way to losing weight (using a technique I learnt called ‘motivational interviewing’), or someone who is recovering from post natal depression. I now find myself seeing individual members of families for different ailments, like a family doctor. I try to maintain that ‘holistic approach’ we get taught about in our training by building real relationships with patients over time. It’s nice to know that they like to see me, or at least that’s how I’m looking at it!

However because of the higher numbers I am seeing at work, it also means that I get my fair share of patients who aren’t quite as appreciative of our services, simply because they don’t know how overstretched we are as a country. Traditionally general practice was provided by small practices, run by just one or maybe two doctors looking after their local community. This model of care survived over 100 years, but is now being radically changed. Primary care has existed in the UK since 1911, and is right now going through a massive transition due to funding cuts by the government, the increased work load being transferred from secondary care to primary care, and the pressures of having to deal with (some unrealistic) patients’ expectations. All in all this is making me feel very exhausted, and I feel this most towards the end of the day.

Though nothing is set in stone, I can’t help but wonder if I should move abroad. I know some others who have done the same and they are much happier now. They get treated with a form of respect from authorities and patients alike, which we don’t always get here. For all the years we spend studying medicine, (6 years at university and 5 years training in total to become a general practitioner), is it all worth it if we’re not content? The other option is to go FastLane. I just wonder.

On another note I turn 30 in November and though I am reminded that I still have at least a couple of weeks in my 20s, I couldn’t help but feel strange about it all. On looking back on the decades maybe things are slowly getting better, but at the same time there’s a lot more I still want to do and I fear I’m not reaching the milestones I want to achieve. Don’t worry I won’t be listing them all here, that’s for another time. In the meantime I will be tucking into a chocolate cookie dough dessert, that’s what grown ups do.