Semester 1 of my degree is now behind me. Just another five to go! It ended with five exams then three weeks of clinical experience. I finished my final exam at 4pm on a Friday and 6.45am Monday morning I was in the lock-up dementia unit of an aged care facility where I spent the next three weeks.
Dementia is sobering and heartbreaking and you certainly wouldn’t wish the condition on anyone. As well, caring for people you can’t communicate or make a connection with is challenging. I did try. I knew they wouldn’t remember me but on my last day I brought in a box of chocolates for them to share. It was lovely to see a few faces light up when offered a sparkly-wrapped chocolate.
Finishing my clinical experience completed Semester 1 and what a relief – it seemed to have gone on for forever. It started in January and ended just a few days short of July. Towards the end I felt like I was dragging my heels.
And then came the wait for the exam results. And I waited and waited and waited. It took about five weeks! One day I was sent an email advising the results would be posted online at 2am. I was away on a family holiday (16 of us – we travel in a pack) and was so keyed up I woke at 3am. I logged on and found I had five distinctions. What a relief.
The next morning at the hotel’s breakfast buffet I couldn’t wait to share my results with my family. I told my Asian brother-in-law who jokingly said, ‘Five distinctions? That’s a Chinese fail’. Mental note – cancel all plans to study in Beijing. Then I turned to my other brother-in-law who was so excited for me he crushed me in a bear hug. When he left school he lived in at St Paul’s College at Sydney Uni while ‘studying’. Five years later and still no sign of a degree his father said to him, ‘I could have trained a monkey to get a degree in less time’.
All good things come to an end and so that’s it for the holidays. Tomorrow I start Semester 2 which finishes just before Christmas. I’ve looked through all the unit outlines to prepare myself for what’s ahead. There’s another maths test! I thought I had that behind me but no, for good measure there’s another one.
Anyway, onward and upward.
On the days I go to uni I’m often out the door at 6.30am and not back in the door before about six or seven. On those days I need something quick and easy for dinner that everyone will like. There are never any complaints about pasta.
Recently Barilla sent me some of its new range of high egg content pastas to try. This is dried pasta and as close as you will get to fresh pasta. The pasta has a 28% egg content and the eggs used are ethically produced free-range eggs. I understand the egg content of other available pastas is around 10%.
The pasta performs very well. It holds it’s shape, it has great texture and there is definitely a flavour similar to freshly made pasta. It’s available in a few varieties including tagliatelle but today I used the pappardelle.
Normally with pappardelle I make a hearty ragu but that can be time consuming so this is a recipe for those times when you can only spare a few minutes in the kitchen. From start to finish and with a lot of interruptions and others ‘invading my space’, I made this in less than half an hour.
With pasta that tastes this good, it’s great to let the flavour shine and not overpower the pasta by drowning it in sauce. There’s plenty of taste in this mushroom vegetarian dish yet the flavour of the pasta still shines.
- 250g packet Barilla pappardelle
- 30g (half a cup) dried porcini mushrooms, washed and rinsed
- 1 tbspn olive oil
- 400g (14oz) mixed mushrooms (I used Swiss Brown and button), halved
- 4 shallots, sliced finely
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed
- 300ml (1¼ cups) pouring cream
- 2 heaped tbspns grated parmesan
- 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil and cook pasta in accordance with directions on packet. Drain pasta reserving a little of the cooking water.
- Place porcini mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 1 cup of boiling water. Allow to seep for 10 minutes then drain, reserving ¼ cup liquid. Chop mushrooms.
- Heat a large frying pan. Pour in oil then mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Stir for 5 minutes or until softened.
- Pour in cream and parmesan and season. Stir. Bring to the boil then remove from heat.
- Pour sauce over pasta. Add half the chives. Stir.
- Serve pasta topped with remaining chives. Sprinkle with extra parmesan cheese if desired.
Off to uni I go…