Friday, January 10, 2014

When In Doubt, Bake

So, we are still in a holding pattern.  As of right now we really don't know much more than we did a week ago.  And that was that dad was admitted to the hospital with jaundice, off color "output".  A CAT scan showed nothing.  An ERCP scope to stent the valve between his liver and pancreas and take a scraping of cells from the valve showed no signs of cancer  after biopsy.  However a blood test showed his C19 levels (a mark for pancreatic cancer) increased.  Not off the charts but with all presenting together Dad's gastric Dr is fairly convinced it's pancreatic cancer.  He has been recommended to a surgeon in Albany to help diagnose and treat.  We head down Sunday for a Monday morning CAT scan and a meeting with the surgeon to discuss our options.

In an attempt to pave the way, as it may be, we have hit every Dr to get him cleared for any possible surgery so that we can hopefully get him on the schedule as quickly as possible.  We've seen his pulmonary Dr (check), his gastric Dr (check), his cardiologist (check) and his family practice Dr (check).  The only Dr left to see is his nephrologist and we'll hit him when we get back.  But the major ones have signed off on any surgery.

So, this week has been a lot of appointments and in between a lot of waiting.  I don't do well waiting.  Instead I have chosen to make myself useful by taking over pretty much all the cooking.  We've had steak and shrimp (per Dad's request), beef vegetable soup (in the midst of that bitter cold) with beer bread, chicken marsala, spaghetti (the way Dad makes it so he walked me through it),  stuffed pork chops and tonight was chicken pot pie.  All of which takes up my afternoon, but leaves me at a loss during the day if we're not hitting appointments.  In an attempt to stay busy during the morning, I decided to make a Walnut-Pear Sour Cream coffee cake.

I've made this before and now I remember why I don't typically make it very often.  As I told dad I believe I deserve congratulations are in order because I managed to do what I don't think HE has ever been able to do:  in the making of one cake, I managed to use an entire set of 5 graduated bowls.  And use them CORRECTLY.  

Because I've been requested for the recipe and since, if my thighs have to be big, yours should be too, I'm willing to share:

Walnut-Pear Sour Cream Cake

1 cup broken walnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1-8oz carton dairy sour cream
½ cup broken walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a 9 inch spring form pan or a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.  Combine  1 cup nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon (bowl 1).  For topping cut the 1/4  cup butter with 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs.  Stir in ¾ cup of the nut mixture(bowl 2).  Set nut mixture and the topping aside.

Toss pears with lemon juice(bowl 3).  Set aside.  In a medium bowl combine 1 ¾ cups flour, baking powder, soda, salt(bowl 4).  Set aside.  In a large bowl, beat ½ cup butter with electric mixer for 30 seconds.  Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each(bowl 5).  Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter.  Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.

Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture (without the butter).  Layer pears over the top.  Gently spread remaining batter over the pears.  Sprinkle with topping (with butter).  Bake 10 minutes.(  For a chunky top, sprinkle with ½ cup more nuts (I bypassed this and just baked it for 40 minutes then checked the doneness of the cake every 10 minutes ~50 minutes).  Bake for 45-50 minutes more or until wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove sides of spring form pan if using.  Cool at least 1 hour (yeah, right).  Serve warm with whipped cream if desired.  Serves 12.

In the end, it should look like this:
And yes.  It does taste as good as it works.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Five Year Circle

I started this blog almost 5 years ago as a way of keeping track of my thoughts regarding my dad's health and its impact on me as I headed back to NY for his heart bypass.  I never expected less than five years later, I would be back.  I'm just gonna say, a mid afternoon phone call on New Year's Day saying your dad has pancreatic cancer, isn't anywhere on my list of top 100 ways to start a new year.

So, a quick phone call (and a big shout out to Delta for getting me back to NY within 24 hours in the midst of one of the biggest storms to hit the east coast), a fairly "easy" trip with no surprises (for me) aside from a really ugly ferry ride from VT to NY and I'm at my dad's.  And the current news is that the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, might...MIGHT have been premature.  He had a scope procedure to place a stent in his liver/pancreas and a scraping was taken for biopsy as well as a cat scan and the biopsy and cat scan came back with no indication of cancer. HOWEVER, the Dr has said that he WON'T say that there is no cancer. He is sure there is something there, he's just not sure what it is.  Unfortunately, the internet isn't very optimistic with regards to pancreatic abnormalities.

Next step, consultation with a surgeon in Albany to see what they can do.  I don't THINK that they're looking at a Whipple Procedure (which involves removing a whole bunch of organs) but if they get in and find that which isn't there, then we might just be looking at that.  We talk to the surgeon on Monday.

What I am most concerned about at this point is the lack of urgency.  No rush on the biopsy report. No rush on chatting up a surgeon.  The only rushing going on has been me and my siblings hauling ass to NY.  My poor sister is on day 2 of traveling and we still don't expect her until tomorrow.  She had reservations from Seattle to Burlington via Detroit, thinking Detroit is more capable of dealing with snow.  She made it to Detroit to find her Burlington leg cancelled and ended up at LaGuardia via Cleveland, expected to leave LaGuardia at midnight only to find her plane to Burlington was sitting in Raleigh.  Put into a hotel at midnight, back in the morning to find her 330pm flight was again cancelled.  So, maybe tomorrow.  Fun huh?

Hurry up and wait.  Not one of my strong points.