Saturday, April 24, 2010

Atomic Gingerbread

This is a modification of a recipe from The Joy of Cooking - Applesauce Gingerbread. I like more ginger in my gingerbread. Also, since it doesn't have any butter and has only a little oil, it's better for you than most baked goods.
Recipe to print
Preheat oven to 325.

1 cup of applesauce

Remove from heat and stir in:
1/2 cup molasses
1 tsp baking soda

The mixture will foam and bubble vigorously. Cool slightly.

Sift together:
1 1/2 cup flour
4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat on high speed until
thick and pale yellow, 3-4 minutes:
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar

Gradually beat in
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbl ginger paste

Fold in flour mixture in three parts,
alternating with the applesauce/molasses
mixture in two parts.

Fold in
1/3 cup raisins

Scrape the batter into a 9" x 9" pan. Bake until
a toothpick inserted into the center comes
out clean, 40-45 minutes. Let cool in the
pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin
knife around the cake to detach it from the
pan. Invert the cake, let cool right side
up on the rack.

Decorate with some crystal ginger.

You can add any kind of ginger in any amount to this recipe, though sushi-style ginger doesn't work, due to the vinegar.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Honor of a New Polio Documentary ("The Shot Felt 'Round the World") - Short Notes on Dr. Jessie Wright

Two years ago, I took a documentary course at the University of Pittsburgh. Back in 2005, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the release of the polio vaccine, some folks at Pitt led by Carl Kurlander started to collect a video record about the cure for polio.

When I took the course in early 2008, Carl suggested someone in the class might want to research Jessie Wright. I volunteered, and I'm glad I did. Jessie Wright was the unsung hero of polio treatment in the Pittsburgh area. I hope a little of my research made the cut, but I know they wound up with a shorter documentary than they were planning two years ago.

Here's a short look at Dr. Jessie Wright:

Born in England, Jessie Wright immigrated to the Pittsburgh area with her parents in 1906. Jessie was interested in medicine, partially due to having a friend handicapped by polio. Jessie learned about physiotherapy by observing the patients and helping with their therapy at the D. T. Watson home. She spent the next few years learning and practicing physiotherapy, while saving the money to attend college.

Even before attending college, Jessie studied skeletons and observed a dissection. She started taking premedical courses part time at the University of Pittsburgh in about 1921, and took several special courses in physiotherapy at the Harvard Medical School. Since Jessie was working, it took her many years to earn her Bachelor of Science (awarded in 1932) and her Doctor of Medicine (awarded in 1934).

Dr. Wright was later named the director of the D. T. Watson Home and taught orthopedics at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to her medical, administrative and teaching duties, Dr. Wright developed several orthopedic devices and refined several others. While she worked on braces and splints, and she also adapted an existing device for especially for polio patients―the “fast-rocking” bed. This bed helped many polio patients to breathe on their own and freed them from the iron lung.

By 1947, she was the Chairman of the Joint Orthopedic Nursing Advisory Council and was active in the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. She worked with leaders in the polio field, including Jonas Salk and Basil O’Connor and built a reputation for herself and the D. T. Watson Home that went far beyond Pittsburgh. When he needed to test the vaccine on people who had already had polio, he tested patients at D. T. Watson.

But even while the vaccine was being tested and appeared to be working, Dr. Wright had to return her focus to rehabilitating polio patients. “The year 1952 was the worst polio year on record, with more than 57,000 cases nationwide.” Hundreds of children from across Pennsylvania arrived at the D. T. Watson Home for therapy. The therapy was surprisingly creative and patient-led. The important thing was to get the patient to the highest-level of self-sufficiency possible.

After forty-five years of near tireless work in the cause of improving the lives of people with orthopedic diseases, Dr. Wright suffered a coronary in 1966 that required her to retire from her professional activities, including running the D. T. Watson Home. She retired to seaside Maryland, where she enjoyed swimming, fishing and boating. Dr. Jessie Wright died September 6, 1970. A tree was planted in her honor at the D. T. Watson Home, and an annual award for Physical Therapy was named for her at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School. Both were extremely appropriate honors for a woman who worked so hard to professionalize physical therapy and loved the outdoors.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Rewriting History and Science, Texas Style

Texas has always had a strong, centralized system for buying textbooks. Unfortunately, the Texans are continuing to dumb down and rewrite history and science. Next, we'll probably learn that Pi=3, because the Bible says it does.

Roger Ebert wrote an excellent piece on how bad this siutation has gotten:
Texas School Book Repository.

So I guess the question many of us have is - how can we convince publishers to publish fact-based science and history books? If Texans want to rewrite science and history based on the ravings of the lunatic fringe, shouldn't these books be self-published rather most lunatic fringe books are?