Tuesday, February 22, 2011

cooking and memories

No, this isn't a food blog.  People who know me will tell you I only cook when I have to.  Like today.  We are having lunch at work (we do a covered dish lunch once a month so people can get together and have some good food).  I usually miss most of these lunches because I either: a) forget the date, or b) I'm on the road checking on the people I supervise (work stuff).

So I am trying to think of something red, pink or white to fix today (every month has a theme and because this was Valentine's Day month, they thought up this theme).  I am brain dead for ideas because if I cook it has to be: a) a one dish recipe, or b) a recipe that means something to me on an emotional level.

Emotional cooking?  No.  Emotional attachment to the person who gave me the recipe.  The recipe I chose to cook today is from one of my nursing supervisors.  Gail was actually the first nursing supervisor I had when I graduated from nursing school and started working.  We worked night shift and in the middle of the night when we had a lull (most nights we did, but many nights it was 12 hours of nonstop running), we would swap recipes and talk.  That was how I got to know Gail.  She was one of the best nurses I had the privilege to work with.  Old school, because she had been a nurse for many years by the time I started my career.  And was a fount of knowledge.  When anything came up, I knew Gail would be able to give us some advice on how to handle it, and she would step in shoulder to shoulder with us to help us.  The kind of supervisor you want to back you up. 

She was the supervisor whose arms I crumpled into on the night I had my first two code blues back to back.  I'll never forget after the second code, when we were standing there knee deep in the detritus from the code cart that had been thrown everywhere during the code, and I was trying to figure out how I was going to face the patient's son as he dealt with the death of his mother.  I was in shock.  Gail looked at me and said "are you all right?"  I thought I was until she said that, but that unleashed the tears.  She gave me a big hug and some reassuring words, and I felt like I could go on then, and finish what had to be done.  Gail was like that.  She always knew.  What to say, what to do.   

One night she gave me a recipe for meatballs that she said was the easiest recipe she had ever made.  And it was.  My family loves it and everyone I have given the recipe to loves it.  It goes like this:

1 pot boiling water (3quart pot about half full)
lean ground beef- shape into meatballs and drop in the water (I use about one pound of meat)
1 bottle Chili Sauce (I use Heinz- all chili sauce is NOT created equal)
crushed gingersnaps (I add about 8) into the pot when it is boiling
small amount salt

To crush the gingersnaps I put them in a freezer bag and use my rolling pin (an old Grapico bottle) to smack them until they are doodle dust.  The gingersnaps thicken the meatballs.  You serve them over wide egg noodles that have been cooked.  And that's it.  A recipe even a noncook like me can live with.

And every time I make this recipe I think of Gail.  Like I did this morning at 7 AM.  And I relive some old memories while I cook.


  1. How nice to have the memories of people like that. I had two awesome people, not really supereisors, looking out for me and helping out in my first year of teaching. NEver got any recipes from them but they certainly helped ease the stress levels.

  2. I had several wonderful supervisors...Gail was the first that I worked with and I still appreciate things she taught me (like a sure fire way for finding arterial blood gases). The nursing supervisors could also get an IV when no one else could. I ended up being a relief supervisor for them when they wanted time off. It was a wonderful experience.
    Thanks for the comments Helen. xoxo