This place. I look at this place with the most intense mixed emotions. Love, fear, nostalga, trepidation. My daughter arrived here, at four days old, whisked away in a tiny isolette, placed in a special nicu ambulance. We were prepared for surgery. This place, and these people gave my baby a chance. A chance to avoid surgery. A chance for her tiny little heart to grow strong enough to function without the aide of chemicals and machines. I barely knew the tiny girl who arrived here at four days old. I’d yet to hold her. She proved in the coming weeks that she was the strongest, most willful little thing.
And then there are the people. The doctors and nurses that inhabit these walls. That walk through these doors on a daily basis, to save children’s lives. Numerous times I found myself wondering if they had any idea what they do. The impact they have. My baby girls nurses taught me how to be a mom, showed me how to swaddle, how to check her fontanelles, and her capillary refill. Her doctors taught me to use a stethoscope, and read her heart rate on the EKG. Specialists helped me learn how to get her to eat, and eventually to breastfeed. Her primary nurses were the two most wonderful women, they became my friends, and my daughters favorites. They showed me different ways to soothe her, and made it all feel less overwhelming, and somehow normal.
These people saved my daughters life. I owe them everything. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to them. So I bring them food. I proudly walk back in, with my beautiful thriving baby and bring them snacks to attempt to show them how grateful I am. Food is my language and I hope that it translates.
Note: American Family Children’s Hospital is working on a much needed expansion, most of which my babe will use. If you are so inclined, it is a wonderful place to donate. You can learn more about the expansion here.
Sea Salt Caramels
While making these caramels I realized I left out the butter in the original recipe. I was afraid they would be rock hard when they set, but they are surprisingly soft and lush. I think I actually prefer the recipe without the butter, as having made numerous caramels over the years, the butter can separate and sit on top of the candy. This is a deceptively easy candy to make, one just needs a candy thermometer and patience while cutting and wrapping the candies.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes approximately 120 caramels
Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
2 cups heavy cream
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Large grain sea salt, such as fleur de sel for sprinkling
1. Lightly brush bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch rimmed baking sheet with oil. Line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on long sides; lightly brush parchment with oil.
2, Bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-high; cook, stirring occasionally, until caramel reaches 248 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes.
3. Immediately remove caramel from heat, and stir in salt and vanilla. Pour caramel onto baking sheet, and let cool. Once cooled, but still pliable(about an hour or two) sprinkle with sea salt. Let stand at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
4. Lifting by parchment overhang, transfer caramel to a large cutting board. Using a lightly oiled knife, cut into 3/4-by-1 1/4-inch pieces; wrap each piece in waxed paper or cellophane.