Saturday, January 13, 2007

Parting Gifts

Health care workers often receive gifts from grateful patients and families, usually in the form of chocolate or some other sweet treat. Over the years, I have received my share of candy, knitted slippers, and other homemade foods and crafts. We are allowed to accept gifts up to a value of $25.00. Some gifts cannot be valued in a monetary sense, as they impart a piece of the giver and their life.

Doing home visits, I get an intimate view of people, their families and their past. Old photographs show the vigour and beauty of youth. Gardens, books, houseplants, hobby rooms and kitchens display the personality and interests that occupied a previously healthy person.

I visited one lady over a period of three years as she suffered several fractures due to severe osteoporosis. Sitting down too hard would fracture her pelvis and she broke both her hips and shoulders in succession from falls. She was as fragile as Humpty Dumpty. One day she took me into her kitchen and showed me her recipe file and some of her cooking tools. She loved to cook and it was important to her that I knew she once was a capable and productive woman. Of German heritage, she was an expert at making stews, soups and homemade noodles.

Shortly before she died, she presented me with her well used spaetzle press. Fresh spaetzle noodles are delicious and our family is delighted when they are served for dinner. I serve them with goulash soup or rouladin. They would be very good with vegetable stew or soup as well. The Pennsylvania Dutch use eggs, milk and flour to make a number of styles of noodles and dumplings. I have included recipes for the dishes mentioned here in my cooking blog.

Every time I use the press, I remember my patient, not frail and broken, but as a strong, healthy wife and mother, providing home made meals for her family.


  1. That's a great gift! I love spaetzle, but never tried making it. My brother is the cook in the family - he makes the best sauerbraten! I'll have to pass along your recipes to him - thanks!

  2. What a very special gift Ruth.

  3. Two things,

    1. I admire the way you talk about your senior patients with so much compassion. I have never heard of osteosporsis to that degree...

    2. I printed out the recipe for goulash soup. If it ever gets COLD around here, I'll try it! I love garlic, tomatoes, beef. Now I'm very hungry.

  4. How wonderful that you've given your patient ongoing life by taking her specialty into your family!

    And it looks delicious, by the way...

  5. SPAETZLE!!! ( it spatzen or spaetzle?...or is it spelled "spaetzle" but pronounced "spatzen"??? I'm always confused by this.)

  6. Laura- I have never seen spaetzle sold in the stores,even in this German city. It must be sold dried, perhaps at a specialty shop.

    Jayne- I thought so too!

    Mary- Thanks,I hope someone is compassionate with me when I am old. This lady had been on Prednisone for years for arthritis so her bones were extra brittle. Even so, many older women were not screened for osteoporosis in their 50's and 60's and were not offered some of the drug options now available to treat it. I have had many patients who had their hips break causing them to fall, rather than falling and breaking a hip.
    The goulash soup is great for a cold day, the type of thing taken in a thermos when skating.

    Ginger- I never looked at it that way, but you are right. We live on by what life lessons we pass on.

    Becka- Some people have called it spaetzen, but spaetzen means "sparrow" and spaetzenhirn means "feather brained" It is really spaetzle.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.