Lime and passion fruit cake

Girl in Brogues / Lime and passion fruit cake

Girl in Brogues / Lime and passion fruit cake

Girl in Brogues / Lime and passion fruit cake

Who loves that Great British Bake Off is back? *waves both arms frantically* I noticed someone tweeting yesterday that they didn’t understand the national obsession with GBBO. I came up with lots of reasons why it’s such a loveable show, but even I can’t verbalise why I’m obsessed either. All I know is GBBO is like a warm cuddle at the end of summer or a big mug of tea when you come home from a long day at work. It just gives me all the gooey feelings. The first week of GBBO is always cake week, and since I wasn’t sure what type of cakes were going to be made, I decided to go with inventing my own creation – lime and passion fruit cake.

The first thing I did when I made the passion fruit icing for this cake is text my friend Aarani “I think I have made the best icing known to man.” I’m not one to boast on the regular, but I’m pretty sure I could drink this icing, it’s that good. I’ve been having a thing for passion fruit all summer, even since I started buying passion fruit bubble teas and smoothies from T4 at Westfields (I love that I live so close to this). I had never used it myself unless for an Eton Mess type dessert. So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I successfully made an icing and sauce that actually tasted like passion fruit and paired well with the lime sponge.

Well done me. I think I should reward myself with another slice of cake right now.

Lime and passion fruit cake

Ingredients

For lime sponge:
200g butter
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
210g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 limes – zest and juice

For passionfruit icing:
225g icing sugar
pulp of 2 passion fruits
50g butter
250g mascarpone

For passionfruit sauce:
125mls caster sugar
125mls water
pulp of 4 passion fruits

Recipe
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and prepare two 20cm cake tins.
2. To make the sponge, beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy. Slowly beat in the eggs whilst mixing in the self-raising flour and baking powder. Add the zest and juice of the limes and mix well. If the batter is too liquid, add a bit more flour until it reaches the right consistency. Pour into the two tins and bake for 15-20 mins.
3. To make the icing, beat the butter, mascarpone and icing sugar together. Scoop out the pulp from the passionfruits and fold in. Refrigerate whilst waiting for the sponge to cool.
4. In a pan, put the sugar, water and passion fruit pulps for the passion fruit sauce. Simmer for 20 minutes, making sure you mix regularly and let it cool down completely.
5. When the sponge is completely cool, slather or pour the icing in between the layers and on top. Drip the passionfruit sauce on the top.

Surviving the night shift

Girl in Brogues / Surviving the night shift

One hour ago, I finished three 13 hour night shifts in a row. This is the perfect moment in time for me to write a little bit about how to survive working nights, never mind that I’m sleep deprived and a bit delusional.

This might be also the perfect moment for you to read this post as well. You might be new to doing night shifts or you might be a brand spanking new junior doctor. Either way, you’re in good company. Having been a doctor for 3 years, I am a veteran in the battlefield that is the night shift and I am here to help. (Note: this will be leaning to the medical, but it’s applicable to whatever industry you’re in).

I’m going to let you into a little secret. On my first set of nights as a doctor, I cried. I was on the third night in a row. I was so so tired and shell-shocked from clerking in patients all night from A&E into the acute medical ward. I made it to the ward round on my 13th hour and one of my patients happened to have an asthma attack when I walked round with the consultant. I burst into tears in panic, thinking “oh my god I did this to her I’m such a rubbish doctor how could I let this happen?!” Thinking back, I was new, I hadn’t eaten all night or taken a break and I was emotionally and physically exhausted. If you’re a new doctor, this will probably happen to you. It’s OK. We’ve all been there.

The night shift is a marathon, not a sprint. You might be all buzzed at the beginning of nights, listening to Eye of the Tiger and throwing punches in the air, but pace yourself. You have four more nights to go. If you spend your first few night shifts expending all your energy, you will be suffering by night 3 and your work will be affected.

Take a break. Yes, there are 40 patients to review across the hospital and 20 patients to be clerked in A&E, 30 drug charts to re-write and 15 blood tests in the space of 13 hours. But give yourself a break for at least 10 minutes halfway through a shift. Sit down, eat that chocolate bar that’s been slowly melting in your pocket. I’m not suggesting that if you get called with “Doctor, there’s a hypotensive, tachycardic patient on the ward who’s just vomited blood!” that that’s when you should decide you need a Bounty bar. But if you’re facing just a pile of drug charts to be rewritten, it can wait for you to have a break.

On the note of re-fueling, don’t eat crap. I went from having just a chocolate bar or a piece of toast on a night shift in my first year as a doctor to having salads and fruit on my night shifts now. Here’s why – you are going to feel so shaky and weak if you’re surviving on a Bounty bar (although I do love Bounty) each night shift. Similarly, if you don’t drink any water the whole night, your lips will dry and crusty and you will probably have acute kidney injury by the end of your nights (no kidding, there have been studies showing this in on-call doctors!).  You’re not doing yourself or your patients any favours. Call your seniors up if you’re feeling weak or hungry in the middle of the night and tell them you’re going off for 15 minutes to eat. You might be one of those lucky ones that have a really good stock of food in your mess at your hospital; they’re there for a reason (speaking as an ex-Mess President). Don’t eat ready meals too if you can. You’re going to be doing a lot of night shifts and that is a lot of saturated fats. Cook up a big batch of food before your nights start and eat heartily before each shift. Snack on lots of fruit when you can during the shift. Obviously, this all depends on your workload, but I’ve felt the world of difference from changing my night shift diet – I’m less lethargic and grumpy.

Prioritise your jobs. I didn’t fully realise this until probably this year, but sometimes you can’t do everything you want to on a night shift. There is less staff on and a whole lot of patients. You’ll learn with time what needs to be done tonight and what can wait until day time.

Invest in some good curtains. There’s nothing worse than being woken up by the light shining into your room when you’ve only slept 4 hours. Blackout curtains are the way to go. And make sure your housemates know when you’re on nights so you don’t have to send an aggressive “shut the hell up” text to them when they’re making their favourite mixed berry smoothie in the middle of the afternoon.

Finally, be a team player! Woop! Yehhh! Awesome! No but seriously, make friends with the people you’re working with. Help each other out if one person’s busier than the other. Cover for each other if you want to have a break. Debrief if you’re stressed out. You’re all in this together. In the end, the night shift is a battlefield and everyone, nurse, doctor, HCA, porter, needs to be on the same side.

Good luck night owls! May the odds be ever in your favour.

Love and Friendship

Girl in Brogues / Love and Friendship

I woke up at 07:39am today, bleary-eyed and tense. Clearly my body still hasn’t caught up on the fact that I finished my exams yesterday and therefore shouldn’t be waking me up on my day off with adrenaline, or cortisol, or whatever other hormones coursing through my body telling me “SHIT SHIT SHIT, REVISE REVISE REVISE“.

I have come to a few realisations the last few months. Firstly, even though being on one of the worst rotas known to medicine (aka. the dreaded neonatal SHO rota), I have managed to just about revise a reasonable amount for my exams yesterday. I don’t know if it’s enough to pass, but it’s proven I can juggle quite a lot. Yes, there have been a few tears and episodes of furiously rubbing my temples thinking ‘WTF am I doing?!‘, but I have managed to save babies, revise for exams and still see my friends. I wish I could go back in time and give med-school-self a kick up the arse for thinking waking up at 10am to go revise in the library for 8 hours was horrendous.

Secondly, I don’t take care of myself at all. I feel unhealthy, unexercised and unfit. A few months ago, I would have thought eating those abominable ready meals with 56% saturated fats every night shift was absolutely fine. But then I realised this month I do night shifts literally every other week. Which means I spend a quarter of my dinner times eating ready meals. So the ready meals have gone, replaced by bringing loads of fruit to nibble on through the night.

I’m also going to slowly introduce my body to the concept of exercise. I’m not saying, hey, this is the NEW ME – I am EXERCISE MAD NOW. That will not happen… for a long while. I just want to become a bit more familiar with the experience of endorphins and seeing my thighs tone up a bit. Not too much to ask of my slightly flabby, worn-out body.

The last realisation came last night when I watched Love & Friendship (which is amazing by the way, add to your movie list now). I know I watch a lot of period dramas and I watch a lot of fine, genteel ladies and gentlemen taking leisurely walks around stately homes and gardens. But how relaxing it must have been to just walk with your friends talking; not rushing around, with your iPhone in your pocket thinking “Ooh, that doorstep would be a nice pic for Instagram”. Point is, I’m going to try and detach myself from a bit more from the modern world. I long to just walk around with no checklist in my head. To read a book on my balcony. To bake cakes and not stress about it slightly burning.

The point of all this is that I need to care for myself better. Be a bit more zen in life; my body is a temple etc etc. Life is way too short and before I know it, I’ll be one of those grumpy haggard consultants wandering around the hospital thinking “What else have I done in this life I had? Have I actually been happy?”. Let’s hope I will be.

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