Cheese Fail

This is not cheese:

From the Kraft Velveeta Facebook page

From the Kraft Velveeta Facebook page

And neither is this:

Read on to see how these came about as rather relevant during the past semester.

Ah, student nurse clinical – where all the fun begins. I finished my Psych clinical with relative ease; not too heavy on the paperwork, observations completed. I was heavily appreciative of my instructor giving us a broad spectrum of the mental health system. We saw a few competency hearings in court; we traveled to a women’s prison (inmates have a higher percentage of mental illness than the population at large). I got to see the psychiatric equivalent of an ER/triage center and when I was on the floors, I would participate with group therapy as I was available.

And with a few comments and signature on a final evaluation, I was done. The next week, I donned my scrubs and showed up for Med-Surg clinical orientation for a cardiac floor. While cardiology would be emphasized more in the next semester, it was still a good experience in seeing the co-morbidities of diabetes and hypertension.

Co-morbidities: the domino effect, one thing goes wrong which causes another thing to go wrong, multiple problems occurring at once.

So, part of my learning experience is constructing and giving patient education. A lot of patients end up in the hospital not knowing why high blood pressure or diabetes is that bad of a problem. Um, yes they are.

I prepared some literature for a patient who needed encouragement to stop smoking (he had expressed an interest) and information on a low-sodium diet. I went in and asked him if he was interested in learning about some of his new medications and the new diet he would be asked to be on outside the hospital. A positive response. “Awesome! A receptive audience!”

I told him about some medications that he was on for high-blood pressure that helped with nicotine cravings, then moved into diet education.

“So, tell me what you eat at home.” The patient reported he cooks “normal” food of meat, potatoes, and vegetables while staying away from pre-packaged TV dinners and meals. “Good!” I gave him some general tips on cooking without salt. How stopping smoking would help food taste better.  I then directed his attention to the materials that I brought.

“Let’s focus on this column: the foods you can have.” I pointed out that fresh fruit is good, be careful which sort of vegetables you get, they can sneak sodium into them. “Now, cheeses. You can have a lot of variety of cheeses.” And serendipitously added, “You’ll want to stay away from Velveeta and Kraft American singles.”

His next question just about floored me. “What other kinds of cheese are there?”

“Was he serious? Is he asking that because he actually does not know of real cheese or just needs to expand his knowledge of varieties?I stammer in the next few sentences. “Well, you can have these cheeses listed here: cream cheese, cheddar…”

I have never been so thankful for my limited stage training. It was enough to help me keep a straight face.

We talk a little more about the lifestyle changes he’ll need to make. I try to encourage him to think small for the day: focus on the list of foods he can have and think what meals can be made with those.

“Oh, this lists ‘ground pork’! That means I can still have ham.”

FACEPALM! Me: “Nope! Ham is salt-cured. You’ll need to get plain ground pork from the store or a butcher’s shop.” I was rather thankful my back was turned towards the in-room computer at that moment.

Ever wonder why nurses look tired at the end of a day – we are the first line of defense in cases of common sense not being so common after all.


Fortune Cookie Predicts Lent

Today, I attended a Health Literacy in-service. While there are plenty of things I could blog about from my 6.25 contact education hours, I would like to focus on my fortune from lunch.


I didn’t think that Chinese restaurants and fortune cookie companies knew about Lent. I have been wishing intently for cheese and meat and bacon and… …

6-ish weeks of Lent. Yep, I’d say that’s a long delay.

Catching up…

Yep, it’s been hectic around here again, folks. So, here’s another oldie while I continue studying. At least my mid-terms turned out well. I got A’s on both my Statistics and Physiology tests – much needed points for the rest of the semester. So, I’m off to my cloistered dining room with some tea where I will attempt to ignore the pile of dishes in my sink. Until a new update:


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Blah. It gets exhausting not only making the tasty cake, but then to design it, take pictures, and write about my foibles for you all takes an act of sheer energy resilience. That and the overwhelming nature of life at this point have prevented me from showing my delicious experiments.
Continue Reading

Domesticity Fail

I should be spending this time doing other things besides blogging – i.e. unloading the dishwasher, reloading the dishwasher, getting this morning’s wash load into the dryer, sleeping

Anyway, I’m not. Right now, I’m deciding what to do with a batch of cheese that isn’t ruined, but I should have been watching it more. I goofed because I set the gallon of milk on to heat while looking up the exact proportions of citric acid and rennet to add so I can make my own mozzarella. (Might I add – YUM!) I got sidetracked with a nursing school application, and the next thing I knew, I was looking at milk that was scalded rather than gently heated to 90-degrees Fahrenheit. Whoops.

I hadn’t added a thing yet, so I added the citric acid. Wow, I went from hot milk to this in 5 seconds:

That would be lumps of curd in a cloudy-yellow whey. I’m sure it will be fine. I just won’t start with one solid lump that I have to cut then heat some more. And it’s definitely resisting melting into a lovely stringy mozzarella. Hmmm… I decided to drain the curds as best as I could and pack them into a small container so they could hopefully mold together into a solid mass. I’ll let you know how my ricotta turns out.

For your own cheese making adventures, I highly recommend The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Their website is full of information, encouragement, and step by step pictorial recipes for beginners and enthusiasts.

For me, well, I hope I didn’t just waste an entire gallon of raw milk and that curds are a forgiving sort.


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