Monday, November 28, 2011

So Maybe It Was a Little Excessive

Sunday morning I went to the emergency room. It wasn’t anything life or death. I had sliced my finger the day before while making lunch. (My husband’s first question was, “Was it one of our new knives?” They aren’t really new; we had simply sent them back to the factory to be sharpened, but I was able to reassure him that yes, they are really, really sharp.) It took some time and many, many paper towels before I was able to get two bandaids on it. I decided if it was still bleeding in half an hour, I’d go to the urgent care clinic, but half an hour later the bandages were clean. I had an appointment for a checkup  on Monday (actually today), so I figured I’d be okay letting it wait. 

But as the day went on, any pressure on it made it bleed and hurt. Ochsner’s urgent care clinic hours were over by then. I finally found their website’s guide to when to seek emergency care, and realized I didn’t know when I’d last had a tetanus shot (one of the indicators to seek care under “Lacerations”) and hadn’t been able to bring myself to look at the cut so I had no idea how deep it was. That night I had a hard time sleeping with the pain and felt some nausea, not to mention throbbing, signs of possible infection. So at the crack of dawn, I told hubby I was going to the ER. He offered to drive me.

As it turned out, the cut wasn’t as bad as I feared. I had missed the six hour window for getting stitches, although Dr. B wasn’t sure I would have needed them anyway. There was no infection, but she prescribed an antibiotic just in case. They dabbed on some ointment and slapped on a regular bandaid, except it was 1” wide instead of 3/4”. They wrapped it looser than I had with my bandaids, eliminating most of the throbbing. I left with instructions for wound care, the rest of the ointment, and prescriptions for the antibiotics and some pain pills. I was only given those after I paid my $100 copay.

Note to self: next time you slice an appendage, do it on a weekday.

Since I was apparently not dying, I was able to go ahead with my plans for the day, making cornbread for the Chili Cook-Off. I made chili for the Chili Cook-Off one year, and won third place, with my version of Chili Blanco. I replaced the chicken with pork tenderloin, slathered with cumin and slow cooked the day before. The recipe requires a lot of slicing and dicing however, not to mention the one-day head start, and I am feeling a little off that sort of thing right now.

So instead I decided to tackle a nice, simple recipe: Yeast Raised Corn Bread. The only cutting it required was snipping the 2/3 cup of chives. Most of the kneading is done by a stand mixer with a dough hook (which I just happen to have.) We also had a box of vinyl gloves which my husband uses when he’s staining wood projects, so I could protect my hand while not risking the lives of people with latex allergies.

The recipe calls for fresh chives and fresh or frozen corn. I had actually picked the recipe out two days before, and since John was going to the store anyway, had him buy frozen corn and chives (otherwise I had planned to use canned corn and freeze dried chives, which we had on hand).

The first snag I ran into was with the chives. By the time they were all snipped, what looked like 2/3 cup turned into more like 1/3. Then there was the corn. The only frozen corn my husband could find was corn in butter sauce. I wasn’t sure how the butter sauce would affect the recipe, so I decided to use the canned corn after all. Once drained, the 14 ounce can was closer to 1.5 cups instead of two, but I decided that was close enough.

The recipe is really easy, although time consuming as yeast recipes are. Almost all the work is done by the mixer. I ran into yet a third snag, however. I added the flour/salt mixture until the dough left the sides, but not the bottom, of the bowl, just as the recipe said. Then I turned the speed up to medium, just as the recipe said. At that point, the dough, which had been behaving perfectly, began sticking to the sides of the bowl again. All I can think of is that the higher speed caused the canned corn to begin secreting liquid. I added a little more flour. When it was time to turn the mix out on a board and knead it a few times, I covered the board about 1/8” thick with more flour. By time I kneaded it a few times, it was perfect: easy to form into a ball and put aside to rise. I use a trick I learned from the Farm Journal Book of Breads: put the bowl with the dough into a cold oven and put a pan of hot water on the lower rack. Dough rises perfectly every time.

When it came time to shape the dough into balls and put them into muffin tins, I ran into my final snag. I have old muffin/cupcake tins, dating back to the 1960’s and 70’s. I don’t know if the recipe’s inventor uses larger muffin tins or if the extra moisture/flour caused a problem, but there was just too much dough for 18 muffin cups, something I did not realize until I had cut the dough into 18 pieces. So I grabbed two cookie sheets, rolled the pieces into balls and placed them on the cookie sheets to bake.

They wound up flattening out a little and looking like hamburger buns, but they tasted great. There were enough chives to give a nice sprinkling of green, but not enough to give a true chive flavor, so they really needed the 2/3 cup, but the amount of corn seemed sufficient.  Most of the rolls disappeared at the chili supper, but I managed to snag two of them to bring home and we used them tonight to make pulled pork sandwiches with leftover pulled pork I found in the freezer. Toasting brought out the corn flavor even more.

If I make them again (which I probably will because hubby loves them), I’ll either make 24 rolls in the muffin tins or make 15 hamburger buns-sized rolls on the cookie sheet. Then I can freeze them and pull out as needed for pulled pork, beef, or chicken sandwiches. 

So maybe my trip to the ER was a little excessive. Maybe making a yeast version of cornbread which takes four hours instead of the Jiffy Mix version was a little excessive. It’s a great recipe, though. My recommendations would be to use the full amount of chives and use either fresh or frozen corn, not canned. Also, don’t slice your hand while chopping celery the day before, but you probably figured that one out already.

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