Spanish-inspired chorizo and white bean stew with homemade ciabatta
Posted by me on 8th February 2013
It's my paediatrics week. Actually it's my obstetrics, gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency week, but there is absolutely no way I could possibly squeeze three specialties into one week. So, I have focussed on kids. I never thought I would say it, but I find children's medicine really interesting. At least in the country, it is like all of the adult medicine specialties squished into one specialty, and (mostly) the kids are lovely to work with. I'm not clucky, nor has this really predisposed me to wanting kids (almost on the contrary; there are so many things that can go wrong with children, how could you possibly spin that fateful wheel to bring someone into the world and not be crazily concerned?).
Anyway, my days consist of 3-4hours of following around the senior doctors on their ward rounds, where they go and visit each child and then grill me and the resident about the diseases that the kid has, and the differential diagnoses and why. The consultant paediatricians here are beautiful, and love to teach and love to interact with children so it is a joy. I never feel stupid when I can't answer a question; on the contrary, it is certainly a great motivator to study!
Being in womens and children's medicine is not without its challenges though. The other day, I met a woman whose waters broke on monday and she refused antibiotics. Generally we give antibiotics when a woman's waters break and she isn't in labour as there are so many bugs in the genitalia that it's easy for them to travel up and infect the child. The child can get really really ill, and even die, so we give the mum antibiotics to kill any bugs and protect the baby.
But, this lady refused treatment, knowing the inherent risks to her child. She gave birth two days later, as a "lotus birth". This is where you do not cut the cord, but you keep the placenta with the child until it dries up and falls off; the arguments are that it gives the child more nutrients from the placenta, and that when the child is psychologically ready to enter the world, the placenta will fall off. No other animal does this; they all chew the umbilical cord, or in the case of girraffes, as they are so tall, the cord just snaps. So it's not something that is found 'in nature'. There are also quite a few problems inherent with lotus births; a baby can get too many cells from the placenta and can become quite severely jaundiced, and the placenta is also dead (it's not joined to the mum any more) and hence bugs can live on the piece of dead meat which aren't killed off by the mum's immune system. They may travel up the umbillical cord and infect the baby. Finally, it's summer here and 39degrees celcius. That piece of meat gets hot, then starts rotting....... so, as in the old days, women salt and herb their placenta to stop the rotting meat from stinking.
Anyway, it was hard not to be judgemental of this woman who wanted a 'natural birth' without antibiotics, and with a lotus birth that could really hurt her child (and isn't found in nature anyway). Childbirth is natural, but it's the most dangerous thing a woman can do without medical help - you only have to look at developing world maternal/child mortality rates to realize this. And at some point, refusing antibiotics and insisting on the child being connected to a dead piece of meat may actually harm your child. Death is natural too, but that's not what we want.
Rant over. More to come on 'orthopsychiatric medicine' and the bollucks of 'pyroluria' but that's for another time.
Anyway, along with study comes procrastination. Below find my first food creation from scratch. I dreamed it up the other night when I was craving something easy to cook and healthy (ish), with chilli and chorizo and beans. Beware though; boys and little puppies fart like troopers when they eat too many beans...
Spanish-inspired autumn chorizo and cannelini bean stew
2 chorizo, sliced
2 slices pancetta, chopped roughly
3 cloves garlic, diced
half a red onion, diced
half brown onion, diced
2 red chillis, diced
2 tins cannelini beans
2 tins of tomatos
handful of fresh thyme, chopped
handful of parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp black lemon powder (omissible, if you can't find it)
1 tsp paprika
1/2 L chicken stock
salt and peper
Heat some oil in a heavy based pot. Add onion, chilli and chorizo and cook for 3-4minutes until onions are transparent and chorizo browned. Add garlic and pancetta and cook for a further 2 mintues. Add chilli, herbs, spices, tomatoes, beans and stock and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat, and simmer for an hour, until it's thick and yummy. It may need longer, and make sure you keep an eye out so it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Serve with homemade ciabatta (recipe to follow...)