A few years ago I wrote a Thanksgiving post which listed the ten things that I was thankful for at the time. Reading back over it, it is comforting to see that most of the things I was thankful for back then ate still the things for which I am most profoundly thankful. But reading the first point sent a little shiver down my spine:
“Every morning I open my eyes, swing my legs out of bed, stand up and walk to the bathroom without having to think about or doubt the possibility of any part of that process. And every morning I am thankful, because thousands of people can’t do this.”
Because you see, for a large chunk of this year, I was not able to swing my legs carelessly out of bed and walk anywhere, because broken femurs do not take kindly to being casually swung out of bed at all.
In the wake of my skiing accident, I have had a lot of time alone to think, reflect and acknowledge the ways in which I count myself as extremely lucky, illogical as that may sound. I have also had a lot of time to marvel at the sheer number of people, most of whom had never met me, whose actions made it possible for me to be rescued, treated, returned to England and to recover as fully as I have.
On the day when many of my readers are celebrating Thanksgiving, I am going to take a moment to express my deep thankfulness for…
… the speed with which the French paramedics got to me, and the care they took despite a massive language barrier to make sure I was as comfortable and as reassured as I could be. One paramedic skiied down beside my stretcher so that I could see her face all the way and catch her attention if anything went wrong.
… for the fact that I was not skiing alone, as I often do, and that Nick was by my side within seconds of my fall and stayed with me while I lay on the snow for an hour, cradling my head and trying to keep me warm; and for my friend Caro who had known me for barely 48 hours and skiied down to the first aid centre to be with me while Nick drove the car there.
… for my unplanned ketamine trip, which allowed the doctor to get my ski boots off and get me into the helicopter; and for the pilots who flew the rescue helicopter to Avoriaz to pick me up in cloudy, windy mountain weather
… for the fact that the accident happened in a country with an incredible first-world emergency and hospital system, and that I had proper travel insurance that covered all my medical costs. A word of advice: helicopter evacuations do not come cheap!
… for the experience and skill of the orthopaedic surgeon who happened to be on duty and who operated on me that night, leaving me with amazingly little scarring and a leg that is neither longer/shorter than the other, nor rotated inwards of outwards
… for the skill and compassion of the exhausted anaesthetist (she later told me she had worked a 16 hour shift) who elected to give me a femoral nerve block to minimise my pain during and after surgery
… for the fact that I was not allergic to any of the drugs that I was given – it was my first anaesthetic ever and as they put me under I was convinced that I was going to die on the table.
… for the nurses who cared for me for a week, especially the one who would massage my lower legs at night before bed, and the one who washed my hair for me on the 3rd day after the operation.
… for the friends in France and Switzerland who respectively lent me their kid’s laptop and a stack of DVDs; spent their day off driving for over an hour to come and see me; took time off from their own ski trip to come and visit me in hospital; or kept visiting with food parcels of bone-friendly food and bought me a dress to go home in. You all know who you are AND YOU ROCK.
… for the secretary at a London private hospital who, when my private medical insurance baulked at admitting me back in the UK, made me a promise that she would check her e-mail at the weekend to make sure I was not left on a limb – and she did.
… for the surgeon in the UK who had himself been injured abroad and understood my panic at the uncertainty of my return, and wrote a letter persuasive enough to get the medical insurers to admit me when I got back to the UK, just so I could get mobile on crutches and Nick could make our house disabled-friendly
… for the kind but firm physio who taught me, through floods of tears (mine, not hers!), how to walk up stairs on crutches – an essential post-operative life-skill.
… for the NHS staff who came to my house once a week to walk up and down the road with me, so I would not end up scared of going outside.
… for Nick who shopped and cooked and cleaned (mostly!) without complaint while I could not.
… for my employer and colleagues who ensured that I could take off all the time from work that I needed to focus on complete recovery.
… for my amazing friends and family in London and around the globe who visited, called, e-mailed, sent gifts, cooked meals and generally lifted my spirits. I would be lost without you.
I am also grateful for the fact that after 4 years on the waiting list, Nick finally got the allotment he always wanted last year, and for all the amazing produce that he has been growing within a 5 minute walk from my kitchen. Apart from things just tasting better when eaten a matter of hours after harvest, it has also meant that we get to eat the stuff that the supermarkets usually discard – witness my braised radishes on their greens; or my radish greens pesto. The other greens that we have been overdosing on are beet greens – packed with the same health benefits as the beets themselves (hello, Vitamin K powerhouse!), tasting similar to earthy spinach, and of course sporting those spectacularly coloured stems. I often use them as an alternative to rainbow chard, but a couple of weekends ago I decided to try them out in a frittata. Beet and feta (or goat’s cheese if you prefer) is a classic flavour combination and the crunchy shards of Prosciutto add textural interest as well as a staccato notes of umami. Served with a mixed salad, this frittata will give you all kinds of reasons to be thankful.
- about 20 beet leaves with stems
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- olive oil
- 4 large (or 5 medium) eggs
- 50ml milk or single cream
- salt, pepper and dried herbs to taste
- 150g feta cheese, crumbled
- 50 g Prosciutto, torn into bite-sized chunks
- Rinse the beet greens thoroughly and chop the stems and leaves into 0.5cm strips.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan (preferably cast iron and non-stick - it will go under the grill later!) and add the onion, garlic and beet stems. Sautée the onions, beet stems and garlic till the onions and beet stems are softened, then add the beet leaves and sautée till wilted.
- In the meantime, beat the eggs together with the milk, salt, pepper and dried herbs of your choice. Pre-heat the grill to 200C.
- Melt a knob of butter in the pan with the greens, then carefully pour the egg mix into the pan on top of the beet greens and stir if necessary to make sure the greens are equally distributed. Scatter the feta evenly over the top of the egg. Continue to cook until the frittata is bubbling, the base is set and the edges browning, but the top is still a little runny.
- Scatter the Prosciutto over the top of the frittata and place the pan under the grill until the top is just set and the Prosciutto is crisp.
- Serve immediately with a mixed salad.
If you are in the mood for some further frittata action, check out these frittata recipes from other bloggers:
- Kavey’s chorizo, spinach and potato frittata
- Sarah’s frittata in a sandwich maker (yes, really!)
- Kellie’s kale and sausage frittata
- Nazima’s hybrid soufflé frittata with asparagus and cheese
- Michelle’s truly impressive bacon, cheese, potato & ostrich egg (!) frittata
- Ren’s smoked mackerel frittata
- Jo’s spicy Sunday brunch frittata