Wednesday, October 1, 2014

a longstanding reality

Currently, I can’t lie on my right side; doggedly, habitually, I try every single night. Pain ousts me off it even in my sleep. A decades-old volleyball injury seems to have flared up, maybe due to repetitive stress in barre class; somehow, my shoulder became injured or re-injured. I can use it, mostly without discomfort, but I can’t lie on it. I also can’t run for more than a few minutes. I develop a burning sensation in the inner aspect of my right ankle when I do, and sometimes, running also makes my right knee hurt.

A longstanding reality has become glaringly apparent to me over the past few months with these escalating minor medical problems: I fastidiously avoid doctors whenever I can; I guess I have, since my diagnosis with a BRCA1 gene mutation and the series of surgeries that followed (except for my husband, of course, and Henry, but they don’t count). Enough is enough.

My shoulder will get better or it won’t; maybe I’ll get used to sleeping on my left side. I’ll run for exercise when I can, and otherwise, I’ll walk Nelly instead. I am done being a patient. The metallic taste of saline floods the back of my mouth the instant I enter the medical center to take the kids to an appointment or pick up Alexi. You go along living your life, and then something happens, and something corresponding snaps inside.

Or maybe I’ll see about physical therapy. And maybe I’ll even look through the seed catalog that came in today’s mail and order bulbs to plant, for the first time ever, when I’m through tending the last of our tomatoes. Their smell, residual from dinner, reaches me still; sweet and familiar, it tugs at some ancient longing.

cherry tomato-goat cheese cobbler
slightly adapted from Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan

For the biscuit topping:
3 tablespoons whole wheat flour
¾ cup (100g) all-purpose flour
3 ½ tablespoons cornmeal
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (130 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed
3 ½ tablespoons cold buttermilk (preferably Bulgarian)

For the tomato filling:
5 cups (900g) cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
6 ounces (170 grams) soft goat cheese, crumbled

To make the biscuit topping:
Combine the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter, working it into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the pieces are pea-and-lima bean sized. Add the buttermilk and stir gently; just until the flour mixture is evenly moistened.

Place the dough on a clean work surface. Firmly press down on the entire surface of the dough with the heel of your hand. Toss and squeeze the dough to re-distribute the wet and dry patches until it begins to hold together, being careful not to overwork the dough. It should stay together, but you should still see pea-sized bits of butter running through the dough.

Press the dough into a disc about 3/4 inch (2 centimeters) thick. Using a biscuit cutter or a small glass, cut it into 9 or 10 biscuits. Transfer the biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet and then freeze for 1 to 2 hours.

Make the tomato filling:
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, thyme, and kosher salt in an ovenproof skillet. Cover the skillet and cook the tomato mixture over high heat until the tomatoes begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until all of the tomatoes have burst slightly.

Remove the biscuits from the freezer and generously brush their tops with the egg wash (egg/water mixture). Arrange them on top of the tomato mixture in the skillet. Bake the cobbler for 25 minutes. Briefly remove the skillet from the oven and quickly dollop the goat cheese between the biscuits, covering any exposed tomato mixture. Return to the oven, turn up the heat to 475°F (240°C), and continue baking until the top is nicely browned, about 10 minutes more.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 4 servings


house on hill road said...

i hope you find relief from your injuries, lecia. from my own experience, i know that it is hard to stop exercising to let the body rest. here's to a speedy recovery.

Lecia Phinney said...

Thank you, Erin. xoxox

Carol Saha said...

I'm not a doctor but this is what I would do and have done for similar "I'm getting old now" type problems. I would put essential oils on the point of pain, if it's tendons and cartilage I would use lemongrass, if it's bone issues I would use a blend called Balance, or wintergreen, I would probably add some marjoram, which is for muscles, and some cypress which is for circulation, and some geranium, which is healing. Just a drop or two of each, maybe a bit more of the oil that fits the specific problem. And a little messenger oil, like sesame seed oil, or coconut oil, if it gets warm. Some aromatherapists say always dilute the oils with a messenger oil before using but I never do. Get well, good luck.

Heather said...

Just wanted to say that a couple years ago I went through a period where I couldn't run without my right ankle, then my knee, and then my back hip hurting (it was such miserable pain). I tried to just rest and 'get over it' before biting the bullet and going to see a physical therapist for runnners. He was a miracle worker - all of my issues were of course linked and due to missing some muscles in key areas. They give you these exercises that target your issues and I haven't had a problem since. I'm so thankful to be able to run again.

If you wanted to avoid the doctor all together I bet you could look up some of the specific pains you're having and find the exercise plans and just do them at home!

Clarice said...

I just made this cobbler for dinner with tomatoes from my garden and farmer's market. We really enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe!

Lecia Phinney said...

Carol and Heather: thanks so much for your concern and your thoughts!

Clarice: SO glad to hear it. I looove this!

Allison said...

A good physical therapist will change your life. Doctors really can't do much for stuff like this, a PT can make it better.

Lecia Phinney said...

Thanks, Allison. xo