Sunday, August 8, 2010

Remember Why We're Here

The stress level at work has been high recently.  And it has nothing to do with mothers and babies, or patients at all.  There is a certain amount of anxiety that goes along with delivering babies, which varies greatly depending on the person.  I feel like I tend to be on the lesser end of that spectrum, although I've had my moments with particularly hard situations.  This stress, is part of the job, and I can handle that.

What I have trouble putting up with is the business aspect of it all.  Working to up your "numbers", to bring in more revenue.  I shied away from economics in school because I'm not business oriented.  I'm a midwife and I like that.

Of course in recent months, especially with the continued economic downturn and the changes in healthcare reimbursement, decreasing expenses and increasing productivity is a constant topic of conversation.  I understand that this is necessary.  Right now the economy sucks and the hospital is trying to be proactive to make changes so that our small community hospital can remain that.

What I'm finding, is that contract renegotiation can bring out the worst in some.  I'm having trouble getting behind the attitude that we should "stick to our guns" and not give in to lose a perk to our contracts, when someone else may lose a job because of it.  The ironic part about it, is that the people that are so upset about losing this perk make more than double what I do.  And I have a comfortable salary.

There's infighting and the inevitable gossip.  Feelings of being "unappreciated" are boundless, however I have a hard time correlating money with appreciation.

Times like these make me want to run away to another country and work for free.  Maybe I will.  Right now though, I'm going to remember why I'm here, what brought me to midwifery.  I did not go into it for the money.  Or the hours.  I'm a midwife because I love the bond you form with a woman when you help her through some of the most important times in her life - the wonderful births, sharing good news, frightening test results, and the heartbreaking losses - and because I think I do it well.

And I'll bake, because that always helps.

Chaussons aux Abricots
I first tasted these in Avignon, France where I did a summer abroad in college.  Yum!

For the dough
Recipe for Pim's Perfect Pie dough
For the filling
*Adapted from NY Times Recipe for Health Apricot Puree
1 1/4  lbs fresh, ripe apricots
1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar
For the egg wash
1 egg
1 Tbsp of water

Makes 8-10 Chaussons

Prepare the dough according to Pim's instructions.  Should chill at least 1 hour total.  The folding process is vital to create a flaky layered dough.

Bring a medium to large pot of water to a boil.  While you are waiting for water to boil, cut a shallow X at the bottom of the apricots.  Also fill a large bowl with ice water.  Once the water is boiling, drop the apricots in and blanch for about 20 second.  You can either remove one by one with a slotted spoon to bowl of ice water, or drain apricots into a colander then place each in ice water.  Remove skins, which slip off pretty easily.  Cut apricots in half and remove pits.

Place apricot halves and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, then simmer for 10-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is a chunky puree.  It reminds me of cooking applesauce actually.  When it is to desired consistency, remove from heat and let cool completely.  This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a jar for up to 2 weeks.

To construct the pastries:  Once the dough has chilled for at least an hour total and the apricot puree is completely cooled, remove the dough from the fridge.  Place on floured pastry board or sheet and roll out to an thin rectangle.  If you make the full dough recipe, you'll have 2 rounds, therefore 2 thin rectangles.  Also be sure to preheat your oven to 375F.

To make your egg was, simply whisk 1 egg and 1 Tbsp of water together.

Have both your egg wash and puree handy.  You can create the pastries in whatever shape you'd like, I decided on a triangle, so cut a square piece of dough.  Place a tablespoon of puree in the center.  Brush the edges with egg wash.  Fold edges over and pinch together.  With a sharp knife cut a few slits in the center to vent.


Place pastries on parchment paper and bake in oven at 375F for 20-25 minutes total until pastries are beginning to brown.  Place on bottom shelf for 12-15 minutes then move to the top shelf in the oven for the remainder of the time.  Serve warm and forget your troubles!


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