Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pan-Seared Brussels Sprouts

 I’m sure no one needs another recipe for brussels sprouts – they’ve been roasted, fried, stir-fried, baked, and even ended up in curries.  But, I didn’t know that enthusiastic bakers had made Brussels Sprouts Cakes……here and here.  If carrots can be baked into cakes, why not brussels sprouts I guess.  Folks either love the sprouts or hate them, I hated them not too long ago but now find them delicious when roasted or pan-seared.  I don’t know about baking cakes with the sprouts, however, if I do get so adventurous, I’ll post some pictures and let you know how it tasted.

I made these pan-seared brussels sprouts for dinner tonight and they were incredibly delicious and almost crunchy.  I first trimmed the sprouts and cut them in half.  Then, blanched the sprouts in salted boiling water for about 4-5 minutes and drained the water.  While the sprouts were simmering away, I sliced some onions and began caramelizing them in a tablespoon of oil.  When the onions were golden brown, I added the blanched brussels sprouts and continued to cook on medium heat until the sprouts were well seared, brown, and almost crunchy.  In went some red pepper flakes, stirred it all around until well mixed.  It needed a pinch more salt, and that’s it.  I know this is how I like my brussels sprouts, I hope you do like it too.


Posted by on November 23, 2011 in Recipes, Vegetarian


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11.11.11 – Apophenia in Healthcare

Apophenia is the urge to find meaning or a pattern in a sequence of numbers, a meaning that is non-existent.  News reports say today is an auspicious day for weddings, lottery, etc.  I didn’t get married today nor did I buy a lottery ticket, but I found some interesting news about Apophenia in Healthcare that was compiled by The Advisory Board Company, and here it is:

  • 1/1/01: Holy Cross Hospital: Dissatisfied nurses petition to remove union
  • 2/2/02: HHS releases first installment of bioterrorism preparedness funding
  • 3/3/03: After decade of heavy spending, N.Y. looks to slash Medicaid budget
  • 4/4/04: Catholic hospitals: Pope’s stance on feeding tubes may impact care
  • 5/5/05: Specialty hospital files suit against 11 insurers and hospitals
  • 6/6/06: FDA considers test to help determine when to induce labor
  • 7/7/07: Hospital aims to reduce noise levels, improve patient satisfaction
  • 8/8/08: Most Americans want health care system overhaul, survey finds
  • 9/9/09: Five things to watch for in Obama’s address to Congress
  • 10/10/10: More marketing campaigns center on ED wait times

The Advisory Board asks if we see a pattern? Do you see any pattern, if not, they think it is this:

“The more the health industry changes, the more its issues remain the same.”

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Posted by on November 12, 2011 in General, Healthcare


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“Zuccotti Lung” Affecting Occupy Wall Street Protesters

Whether the Occupy Wall Street protesters have a common cause for their protest or not, one thing most protesters will have in common very soon is “Zuccotti Lung.”  Little sleep in cold weather, sharing cigarettes, drinks, utensils, and not washing hands often is beginning to have ill effects on the protestors.  Free flu shots have been turned down because the protesters think they are a ‘government conspiracy,” according to a news report

Damp clothing and wet tents have provided a perfect breeding ground for mold. Leftover food and trash is abundantly strewn around the place, which definitely will attract the NY rodents out of their hiding very soon. 

Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr., the director of clinical microbiology and immunology at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the conditions in the park could leave protesters susceptible to respiratory viruses; norovirus, the so-called winter vomiting virus, that is known to cause vomiting and diarrhea.  This could quickly overwhelm the scarce bathroom facilities in the area; and tuberculosis, which is more common in developing nations can spread by coughing. 

The constant drumming could also cause hearing damage among nearby residents and protesters. Noise expert Alan Fierstein used a decibel reader and recorded an ear-splitting reading of more than 121 decibels — compared to only 79 before the drums started up.  “It will reduce your threshold of hearing. In other words, it gives you temporary hearing loss. Continued long enough, it becomes permanent hearing loss,” Fierstein said.


Posted by on November 11, 2011 in General, Healthcare


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Unhappy Patients = Lower Reimbursement for Hospitals

The Value-based Purchasing Program was mandated in the 2010 Healthcare Reform Law. Medicare’s transition to this program will alter reimbursements to hospitals based on the quality of care provided to patients and patient satisfaction scores.  Medicare will cut 1 percent payments to hospitals and set that money aside in a bonus pool. Hospitals performing better than average on a variety of measurements, or improve their scores from the previous year, would earn bonus payments, totaling $850 million in the first year. The bonus pool would increase to 2 percent of Medicare payments in October 2016. 

Seventy percent of the bonuses will be based on how often hospitals follow guidelines on 12 clinical care measures. These include giving anti-clotting medication to heart attack patients within 30 minutes of arrival in the hospital; providing antibiotics to surgery patients just before an operation; and taking steps to avoid blood clots in patients who undergo surgery.  Thirty percent of the bonus will be determined by how patients rate hospitals on their hospitalization experiences. Medicare will use hospital-conducted surveys that ask patients about how nurses and doctors communicated, how clean their rooms and bathrooms were and how well their pain was controlled, were they given proper discharge instructions, etc. 

An analysis provided by Kaiser Health News shows that the unhappiest patients are in the Northeast and California compared to patients in the South and Midwest.  The reason why patients in the Northeast are unhappy….they have high expectations, they are less polite, and grumpy, according to analysts.  Hospitals are scrambling to provide amenities to patients and get good satisfaction scores to maximize their reimbursement.  Patients do not appreciate long waits in the emergency rooms, crowded elevators, and expect prompt attention when they arrive in their doctors’ offices.  I personally know a patient who had a fairly good stay in the hospital and was ready to give good satisfaction scores until the day of her discharge when her nursing attendant wasn’t very polite!  So, unhappy patients will directly affect hospital reimbursement in the future and hospitals are doing everything they can to boost those scores.  Renovations, additions to existing buildings, and new buildings definitely boost patient satisfaction even if the care provided is the same. 

Ratings can affect hospitals that cater to high-risk cases.  The longer the patient is hospitalized, the lower the satisfaction score the hospital gets, and depressed patients tend to give poor satisfaction scores.  Some hospitals have emergency room representatives talking to patients to inform them of their wait period, and others have a fast-track for patients arriving with routine problems like fever, minor injuries, etc.  In the children’s wards parents are provided food and snacks so that they can stay with their children (and also in the hope they will give a high satisfaction score on discharge!).

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Posted by on November 11, 2011 in General, Healthcare


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Cherry Tomatoes and Red Pearl Onions

The title of the post is rather vague, isn’t it?  That’s because I’m not sure what to call these cute little baked treats….cherry tomatoes and pearl onions with a topping of gooey melting cheese.  All I know is that it vanished too quickly, long before they were cooled enough to handle.  This is not out of any recipe book or website, but the result of a handful of cherry tomatoes and red pearl onions that almost made it into a pasta salad but were saved just in time to snuggle into a 3-inch pastry shell and get a topping of cheese and dried thyme.  I had very little pepper jack cheese in the fridge, so in it went, although I wish I hadn’t munched on the rest of the cheese yesterday.

Since there wasn’t any particular recipe I was following, it was a little of this, and little of that, and instead of folding the pastry, how about piling on the tomatoes and onions and baking a kind of mini pizza….but without tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.  After a little bit of this and that, I ended up with four little tarts or something like tarts…..  What would you call these?

These went into a 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown and the cheese was gooey.

These pictures tell the rest of the story…….


Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Baking, Recipes, Vegetarian


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