Once upon a time, I was placed in charge of the internship program at the publishing house where I worked. Our interns did a lot: they read through piles of manuscripts, giving us early feedback on the work and whether it might fit onto our list of titles. They pitched in with the process of transmitting paper manuscripts to production, which at the time was somewhat painstaking (I wonder if it’s all done electronically now?). They handled correspondence and made phone calls and were eager to help out in any way they could.
In spite of how capable and energetic our interns were, I remember that hosting them was a lot of work. By the time I’d trained them to do what they needed to do, we were often a good many weeks into the semester. It was my first experience of being in a teacher/mentor role. And it showed me how demanding that role can be.
In the last 15 weeks, I have been mentored and taught—precepted, it’s called in the world of dietetics—by 6 incredible RDNs. They answered my many questions, only some of which, I know, were intelligent. They humored me when it took me a while to catch onto procedures. They worked with me to formulate and edit countless PES statements (that’s problem, etiology, and signs/symptoms), carefully showing me the difference between etiology and evidence. They checked my math on tube feeding calculations and pushed me to keep practicing.
Each one of these dietitians went above and beyond overseeing my work. They all took the time not only to delegate tasks, but also to teach me, sharing knowledge and insight into clinical practice that will stick with me always. And they did so uniquely, each according to his or her own style and clinical interests.
I haven’t had a chance to do any holiday baking until the last few days, the DI being what it is. But I did make a pretty delicious snack cake on Saturday, and if I could, I’d bring a slice to each of my preceptors as a way of showing my appreciation for the time they’ve given me.
To be honest, I made this cake because it’s something I’ve wanted to make for a while now and for the following reasons:
But there are some reasons why it feels appropriate as a virtual token of appreciation for my preceptors, too. It’s just sweet and rich enough to be very much a dessert, but there are some nutrient bonuses, including whole wheat pastry flour and healthful fats from the nut butter. So far, my impression of clinical dietitians is that they understand the importance of snacks (they spend lots of hours on their feet, rounding and seeing patients) and snack often. And, while I’m sure they’re out there, I have yet to meet an RDN who doesn’t love peanut butter.
The whole “swirl” thing sounds complex, but the cake is actually really easy. The base batter is dense, and once you pop it into a baking dish, you cover it with some raspberry jam (or any flavor you like) and simply use a spatula to swirl the jam around. That’s all there is to it.
Once the cake bakes, it has a rich texture, an amber color, and a beautiful top that’s covered in deep red swirls. The slices, which also resemble snack bars, taste like the sweetest and most indulgent PB & J ever, and eating it all weekend has convinced me that there is no cake frosting better than some tasty fruit jam. The cake is a treat to look at and a treat to eat—especially with a cup of afternoon tea. Here’s the recipe.
Among other things I’m feeling grateful for on this quiet Christmas, I’m so lucky to have had wonderful teachers this semester: empathic, intelligent, insightful, food- and body-positive teachers. My future work will be so much stronger for their guidance and training, and I can’t thank them enough. If they were reading, though, I’d try:
And thank you, everyone who’s tuning in on this Christmas Eve of 2018. I wish you all peace, joy, and cake.