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Are You Surviving the First Blizzard of 2016? A Balance of Shoveling and Making Soup

written by Thu Tran, MD,FACOG
on Saturday, 23rd January ,2016

I am fortunately in the comfort of my breakfast room looking out to the beautiful heavy snow. As you all know by now, wherever you might be, we are in the middle of a major blizzard in the mid-Atlantic part of the country.

Did you forget your triple A batteries? Loaves of bread? More wine? IT'S TOO LATE TO REGRET NOW, DOOM DAYS ARE HERE! THE HUMAN RACE MIGHT VANISH BY MONDAY MORNING IN THE MID-ATLANTIC and NORTHEAST AREAS...implied by the weather reporters on EVERY channel in the Washington area since the beginning of the week. 

I was really impressed by the weather team of one of our local channels. They were so dedicated to their job, they even had a group photo on Wednesday morning showing us how many of them will be dedicating their lives to all of us while reporting about this dangerous blizzard... Fortunately none of them looked 3 ft, small so we don't have to worry about them being buried alive in this horrendous snow storm! No 3 foot avalanche in the Washington area.

I was curious...what will happen to this huge team of weather reporters once spring comes? Waiting tables in Bethesda? Moving boxes at Trader Joe's? Cleaning floors at Home Depot after the massive footprints from people like ME marching into their stores at the last minute yesterday to look for...SHOVELS!

I was rushing through the office yesterday, making sure my staff could get out by 1pm to fight for the last loaf of bread at Safeway across the street from our office area.  Thank God none of our patients yesterday was difficult, with one who even walked out before I could see her, maybe because they all made sure they got to Safeway before my staff for that last loaf of bread or last jar of peanut butter...in case the power goes out and they can't cook.  Everybody in Potomac might be on the same diet for the next two days, peanut butter sandwiches, except for those with generators. My husband was so wise last year he had a generator installed so that Sandy doesn't make me march over to our next door neighbor, in 3 feet of snow, to ask for hot water for his instant Korean Spicy ramen!  The Derecho showed us we have to be prepared, very well prepared, because global warming doesn't work sometime!

Anyhow, I was finishing up with my office about 1pm when I got a text from David, who was heading home to giving a healthcare Webinar to 1000 people signed in from across the globe, while Sandy was playing outside with the neighbors’ boys.  I ran into a physician friend at Safeway, who just had her nails done, and was shopping for her husband at home. Sheri had a long list of items her husband requested, including some kind of motor oil. I, like her, didn't know if Safeway has motor oil, beside cooking oil?  Sheri showed me her husband's very long list on her iPhone, before I showed her my text exchange with David which made her laugh.

 

David: If you find anywhere with shovels, but two. All out in the Village and I had to go back to prepare for my noon conference. Buy two, not but two!

Loaf of bread so I can make grilled cheese sandwiches for the prince and us.

Me: I can't do both! You were next to Safeway you should have bought bread! Probably NO shovels now.

David: Well, good luck!  I found one shovel with no handle (usually $35.99) they sold it to me for $10! Didn't think of bread til I was home. We still have about 10 slices of old loaf...

Me:  And you know we knew about the storm since beginning of the week and shovels should have been bought since ONE of us passed by the village EVERY day

David: Okay, Okay, Okay...we both were busy this week sweetie! I've parked next to the gate and you can park behind me. That way, all we have to shovel, is from the gate to the street-not much at all!! The temperatures are going to be above freezing after the storm so will eventually melt everything else! 

Seriously, I think there was a good reason why a shovel WITHOUT handle should be $10 and NOT $35.99! THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH, as the famous economist Milton Friedman would have said to David! 

SO...as a photo attached to this blog shows you, my backseat was full of "stuff," two shovels and two 40 LB bags of salt, and all the bread and milk the “Prince" can eat and drink for three days... The shovels, among the last ones at Home Depot, are for gardening, but two construction workers told me that, with care, we can use them for snow removal, and they are great for ice breaking and won’t damage our driveway.

Sheri and I agreed women should run the world! That song "The Cowboy's Work is Never Done," should have had the new title "The Woman's Work is Never Done!"

To be fair, while I am writing this blog, David has been in and out several times shoveling the "designated" part of our circular driveway, enough for two cars to get out, one behind the other! No kneeling on his knees yet.

This morning, we woke up early and divided and conquered the task of shoveling snow.  David will clean the area in front of his car, all the way to our, so far, unplowed street with about two feet of snow, while I clean the area behind my car all the way to our door so we can both navigate the way to our cars.  Sandy was assigned the task of shoveling the deck, which he was eager to take as he wanted to venture out to play with the neighbors' boys.  Teamwork, as we learn, can conquer most difficult tasks!

The storm is quite ferocious, but we need to be grateful while in safety.  I am also fortunate not to be the doctor on call this weekend.  The youngest physician in our group, who lives in Washington,D.C., had to rent a motel room nearby the hospital last night, in case we have patients in labor.  I hope our patients can find their way to the hospital, as most spouses would not like to act as unlicensed obstetricians.  It would be so stressful to act like untrained mid-husbands.  The employees and physicians in the hospital last night will have to stay over, until the storm is gone and streets are safe to go home, or until more personel show up to relieve them.  We should be grateful to those who continue to work on our behalf while we are home with our families, whether they are healthcare providers, security officers, or teams of people cleaning the streets.

While shoveling snow, make sure you use the right posture, or you will befriend a physical therapist and an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon for a long time.  Read a blog from Dr. Marsha Seidelman, posted two years ago on our website, when the winter storm was quite mild compared to this blizzard.

http://www.ladydocscornercafe.com/article/safe-shoveling--and-other-options-for-those-who-opt-out/#sthash.vyr9vXya.dpbs

Below is a recipe of Julia Child’s Soupe au Pistou, or Pesto Soup.  It’s a simple vegetarian soup with the divine taste because of the “Pistou,” not exactly like the Italian “Pesto,” because of parmesan cheese as an ingredient.  I used Thai Basil instead of Italian basil, as the mild bitterness of Thai basil gave it a stronger taste.  I also added more salt, knowing Julia Child’s recipe was more healthy with less salt, and once substituted beef broth for water.  You can vary the taste of this soup depending on which vegetables you like, but try this original recipe first to compare. 

I quadrupled the amount of pesto the recipe asked for, so I could store it in the freezer in four freezer zip lock bags.  Whenever you are ready to make a pot of soup for 6-8 people, you know the pesto is already prepared.  It takes more time to prepare the pesto than the soup itself! You can use a food processor to make the pesto rather than the traditional mortar and pestle method.  I also put the entire contents of pesto into my pot of soup before serving, not slowly adding the hot soup into a tureen containing pesto.  You will see how you can facilitate the multiple steps asked for in this recipe, to save time.  Julia Child was a meticulous, famous chef of the chefs, not like most of us who are chefs for our families!

 

Soup Ingredients:

3 quarts water

2 cups diced waxy potatoes

2 cups diced carrots

2 cups diced onion or white of leek

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups canned white navy or kidney beans, drained

1/3 cup broken spaghetti

1 slice stale white bread, crumbled

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Optional : pinch of saffron

 

Pistou

4 cloves crushed garlic

4 tablespoons tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 to 1/2 cup fruity olive oil

 

Directions:

1) To make soup: Bring water, potatoes, carrots and onions or leeks, and salt to a boil in a 6-quart soup pot. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 40 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. About 20 minutes before serving add white beans, broken spaghetti, bread, pepper and saffron to the soup and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the green beans and simmer 5 to 10 minutes more, until they are cooked through but still crunchy. Again adjust salt and pepper to taste.

2 ) To make pistou: While the soup is simmering, place the garlic, tomato puree or paste, basil and cheese in a soup tureen or another pot. Pound to a paste with a wooden spoon, then beat in olive oil, drop by drop.

3)To finish and serve: Whisk a cup of hot soup into tureen containing pistou. When smooth add rest of soup and stir well to combine. Serve hot with French bread or croutons. Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

 

Enjoy this easy to make soup, after hours of shoveling, sledding, or watching movie after movie with your families.   

If you live in our area, stay safe while enjoying the beauty of snow storms.  Look out for neigbbors who might need your help.  Be safe, be happy, and always be grateful.


Tags: blizzard 2016, snow shoveling, Pistou Soup

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