A Labor Of Love

Happy Labor Day! Hope you’re all enjoying the last summer days before the school starts and a whole line of other responsibilities somehow related to the colder season. We’ve had some gorgeous weather here in New York these past several days. This summer is definitely going out with a bang of great outdoor activities.

And while we’re all enjoying family BBQ or last beach outings, let’s just talk for a second about something we’re hopefully NOT doing today – the actual work. And if you are working today, kudos to you, I understand, thus is life. I myself have worked many weekends and holidays, this past Independence Day including. And even though our weekend rotation is voluntary, somebody has to do it, right?

In my private practice I call all the shots, how many clients I take on and what kind of clients, and that makes for more productive but also more professionally satisfying relationships, I strive for quality rather than quantity. My hospital job is entirely different story. I don’t know what you feel about your job responsibilities, but I’ve been struggling between doing “just work” and bringing personal care and concern into everyday interactions. Maybe it comes from the fact that I’m in a “caring” field, but also the one where burnout is among the highest, especially working in such a high-paced place like a hospital. Naturally, after so many years there, I know how to separate personal from the professional, but it is often such a fine line. And the decision which way to swing is mostly made right there on a spot.  Do I answer some personal (though mostly innocent) questions of a chatty elderly patient? Can I convey to an overly anxious young female that I really DO understand how it feels to constantly worry about the next health concern without actually revealing that I’ve been a patient myself for the most of my adult life? Do I tell a very difficult family who are demanding more and more hospital care for their father that they’re really just scared of him coming back home as, honestly, the guy is an A-hole and probably terrorized and beat them up when they were little? Because, really, I don’t want to open up that whole “can of worms” without also offering a family therapy, which, unfortunately, I don’t have time to do anyway. But mostly I struggle with how to divide my time and attention between all the multiple things that need to be done every day fully knowing that those are not just the numbers, there are real people behind every case who deserve my utmost care and concern about their well-being.

So, how do you satisfy both, the institution that, unfortunately, only cares how to quickly get you out (hopefully alive and well though) the second you’ve stepped over the hospital threshold, and an individual who is there to get better (physically and emotionally) and who deserves all the time in a world for hand-holding, tears wiping and questions answered over and over again. Thus the burden to bear the gripe of a system’s inevitable faults is laid upon a clinician who is also struggling to hold the scale in a precarious balance between just “doing the work” and performing up to the most professional and personal standards.

So, in most cases it’s just that, a constant dance under the circus top, jumping through hoops and gliding over a stretched rope balancing between the shining lights above you and a gloomy darkness below your feet. And sometimes the only thing to hold on to is a magic wand full of pixie dust and hope that everything at the end will work out the way it’s supposed to. 🙂

What’s Cooking This Week

Not everything we do at our jobs is easy or even pleasant, chances are you also have some things you’re not too crazy about, yet they need to be done anyway. Hopefully the good things out-weigh the bad ones to make your job more meaningful. And as far as other activities go, for a food blogger, cooking is never “just a chore” bur rather a big “labor of love”. 🙂

Since fall is around the corner, it may be nice to take “inventory” of some recipes that could be a great addition to your staples during the cold season. The recipe that continues our Italian series could be just that, full of warm colors and taste, a satisfying meal to share with your family.

Recipe # 7

Risotto di Zucca

(Butternut Squash Risotto)


3 cups of butternut, cut into small pieces

1 medium onion

2-3 carrots

1 celery stalk

2 Tbspoons of butter (I used Earth Balance oil spread)

3 Tbspoons of olive oil

2 cups of rice (I used brown rice)

5 cups of hot water (plus more if needed)

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella daiya (or regular dairy mozzarella)

1 tsp of Italian seasoning

salt, pepper


Using a food processor, mince together onion, carrots and celery until they finely chopped. In a pot, heat up olive oil and butter/oil spread, add the veggies, some salt and cook for about 5 minutes.


Then add small chunks of butternut, rice, hot water, cover, reduce the heat and let it all cook, stirring occasionally, until both the rice and butternut are done, add more water in the process if necessary.

When the butternut is done, while it’s all still cooking in the pot, break the chunks with a potato masher and stir to make a smooth risotto.


Add salt/pepper (but not too much as the butternut brings in a sweet undertone), stir in mozzarella shreds to make a creamy risotto. Garnish with chopped fresh herbs or chives if desired.

A delicious meal any time of the year.