Well, you know what they say. . . the best laid plans sometimes go AWOL (or something like that). In my case, plans for the Labor Day weekend–well, Sunday, actually–were waylaid by an impromptu visit. . . to the emergency room.
No, not for me. The HH, however, is still recovering (and he’ll be fine, thankfully). We had planned to have our friends Nutritionista and her hubby over for appetizers and drinks in the evening, so the HH was conscientiously outside in the early afternoon (I was prepping for back to school), pulling weeds and mowing the lawn. About midway through the task, he walked slowly into the house and stood, immobile, in the hallway.
“Are you done already?” I asked. (The HH hates lawn work and I figured he’d done a haphazard job just to get it over with.)
“Um, no,” he replied. “But I think maybe we need to go to the hospital.”
Not exactly the words you want to hear emanating from your honey’s lips as you’re peeling potatoes.
While pushing the (non-electric) mower, he’d been arrested by a sudden shower of brownish “floaters” (cloudy specs, strands or cobweb-like images that float across the field of vision, originating from within the eye). He said it looked as if someone had poured balsamic vinegar over oil, or splattered mud all over a windshield–and he couldn’t see clearly through the mess.
And so, emergency room it was.
I mean, really–the lengths that HH will go to, just to get out of doing his chores!
Most floaters are a normal outcome of cells in the vitreous layer (the jelly-like fluid inside the eye) drying out and separating from the vitreous as people get older. Normally, they are no more than a mild nuisance, most visible when you look at light backgrounds such as white paper or a clear blue sky. As someone who’s nearsighted, I have floaters undulating across my field of vision on a regular basis–but mine are fairly unobtrusive, mostly resembling tiny jelllyfish-like creatures that swoosh and sway benignly.
After five hours in emerg, the HH was finally examined by a doctor, only to be told that they didn’t have an ophthalmologist on call at that particular hospital. With so few ophthalmologists to go around, they rotated their on-call sites each weekend (Americans, are you sure you want Canadian-style health care? Really??).
So off we drove to the second hospital, 20 minutes away. There, we were met by a young doctor whom we’d obviously wrenched from a family Labor Day event, still in his polo T and stonewashed jeans. He led the HH to an examining room in an otherwise deserted part of the hospital (the place was already closed for the weekend), then into an anteroom for laser surgery, to repair two large tears in the HH’s retina. The brown floaters were signs of bleeding behind the eye!
It’s times like those that I wonder, what did we do before modern technology? Within 15 minutes, the rips had been repaired, the bleeding stopped, and the HH released with a bottle of anti-inflammatory eye drops and no exterior signs of trauma. While there is always a chance that the tear will progress to a detached retina (a big-deal emergency in which major surgery would be invoked), the kind doc reassured us that things looked pretty good in the HH’s vitreous, and set up a follow up appointment this week. Whew!
Needless to say, our friends didn’t come over that evening. I had, however, planned to serve some really ingenious appetizers. I thought I’d serve them to all of you instead–well, virtually, anyway.
You may recall my love affair with cashew goat cheese a while back.** I’ve been eating the stuff every which way you can imagine, including spread on raw collard leaves for wraps, on plain coconut flour biscuits for breakfast, in blobs on salads, and straight from the container. Another favorite is in jalapeno poppers.
My poppers are an ACD-friendly version of a bar snack I shared with a friend years ago in a pub in Welland. The originals involved cream cheese filling, a breaded coating and some heavy duty deep frying. This version is much more civilized, simply roasted jalapenos filled with a hefty spoonful of “goat cheese”–no recipe required!
I must warn you, however, that if you don’t have asbestos lips as I do (these were far too hot for the HH’s palate–after a tiny taste, he threw the pepper back on the plate, spat out the morsel that had made it inside his mouth, and drank half a beer in one gulp), you might want to try these with Cubanelles, poblanos or another slightly milder, yet still relatively small, pepper. Part of the appeal of poppers, I think, is that they can be consumed in two or three bites.
The other appetizer I’d planned to serve was a twist on bruschetta, made with thick rounds of roasted potato instead of the bread. I topped these with homemade pesto using basil from our garden, chopped tomatoes (also from the garden, thereby depleting our entire harvest of FOUR tomatoes this year), a drizzle of olive oil and a few more shreds of basil. The final result was a little miracle of synergy.
With a slightly crisp exterior and creamy, still warm interior, the potatoes offered a perfect base for the bruschetta. Each bite presented a medley of temperatures and textures, the firm rounds highlighted with smooth, fragrant pesto and slurpy, ripe tomato. The HH and I actually consumed the entire batch (about 15 pieces) in one sitting as our late-night dinner, before toppling into bed.
To those of you who read about the HH’s ordeal on twitter or Facebook, thanks for all the good wishes. His eyes will be fine–though, after that bite of Jalapeno Popper, I think his lips may need a little more recovery time.
Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond
Try this simple appetizer next time you’re entertaining guests. The potatoes hold up remarkably well, and won’t absorb the moisture from the topping the way toast rounds would.
3-4 large round (rather than oval) redskinned potatoes, washed and cut into disks about 1/2″ (1 cm) thick
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
Fine sea salt, to taste
Basil-pine nut pesto, as desired (I used about 3/4 cup or 180 ml)–you can use homemade or store bought
2-3 large ripe tomatoes, diced
More extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic, for drizzling
2-3 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Put potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle with the olive oil and sea salt to taste. Toss with your (clean) hands until potatoes are evenly coated. Place the rounds on the cookie sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown on the edges. It’s nice if you can turn the disks over about halfway through, but not essential.
Once the potatoes are cooked, remove them from the oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes until they are cool enough to handle, but still warm. Top each disk with 1-2 tsp (5-10 ml) of pesto, a good mound of tomato, a slice or two of basil, and a thin drizzle of olive oil. Serve while still warm or at room temperature. These are best eaten the day they’re made. Makes 15-18 appetizers.
** By now, I’ve made this goat cheese recipe so many times that I’ve worked out my own shortcut without compromising the texture or flavor. If I don’t have time for overnight soaking, I find that 6 hours will do. The original recipe also asks you to drain the mixture through cheesecloth for 12 hours. I’ve found that my cheese never releases any more liquid this way, so I simply mix up my cheese and bake it straightaway. I know it’s supposed to “age” during the overnight draining, but I’ve never noticed a difference in taste or texture when I took that extra step. The end result doesn’t seem to be harmed in any way by the alterations.
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