21 August 2014

Be careful making the bed...

...if you are in France, anyway. Here's some text about the injury called "mallet finger" that our American friend Ellen, a longtime Paris resident, alerted me to. If you have mallet finger:
Vous remarquez que vous ne pouvez plus étendre complètement l'extrémité du doigt. La dernière phalange reste fléchie, elle "ne repond plus". Ces constatations suffisent pour faire le diagnostic de "mallet-finger" ou « doigt en maillet » par analogie avec le maillet du piano. Cet accident est très fréquent au cours d'activités sportives (ballon, sports de combat) ou professionnelles. Mais le plus souvent, c'est en faisant le lit, au moment où l'on glisse les draps sous le matelas.

La perte de l'extension de la dernière phalange est due à la rupture du tendon extenseur. Lors d'un mouvement de flexion forçée du doigt (choc d'un ballon ou accrochage du doigt à la face inférieure du matelas) l'étirement brutale du tendon entraîne sa rupture. Le plus souvent, cette rupture fermée ne s'accompagne ni de douleur ni d'ecchymose, et c'est la constatation de la déformation du doigt qui fait le diagnostic.
The finger splint — an elegant design. What does it look like to you?

I used Google Translate and then cleaned up the English a little bit — that let me avoid a lot of typing:
You will notice that you can not fully extend the finger tip. The last joint remains bent down; you have no control over it. This fact alone is sufficient to validate the diagnosis of "mallet finger" (by analogy with the mallets in a piano). This kind of injury is very common during sports activities (ball games, combat sports) or in the performance of work tasks. But more often, it happens to someone who is making up a bed and tucking the sheets around and under the mattress.

Loss of extension of the distal phalanx is due to rupture of the extensor tendon. During a forced flexion movement of the finger (a ball impact, for example, or jamming your finger on the side of the mattress), abrupt stretching causes the finger tendon tendon to rupture. Most often, this internal rupture entails neither pain nor bruising, and it's the deformed finger that confirms the diagnosis...
So as Ellen told me, maybe the details of my accident are an indication that I am truly becoming integrated into French society.

20 August 2014

A Zucchini and Sausage Tart

Preface: This is a post I put together last week, before I injured my finger and got the splint...

Here's another idea for zucchini season: une tarte aux courgettes avec saucisson et oignons. All the ingredients go in pre-cooked (or at least blanched) so it doesn't have to stay in the oven very long. You can make it ahead of time and then put it in the oven half an hour or less before you're ready to serve it.

The first step is to sauté some onions slowly in a frying pan on top of the stove. They need to cook for 30 to 45 minutes at low temperature. To help them along, add half a cup of white wine or water after the onions have browned slightly. I also added a tablespoonful of honey and a couple of bay leaves to the pan for flavor.

The second step is to blind-bake the pie shell. Put the pan with the pastry in it into a medium oven for 20 minutes or so, or until the pastry is lightly browned.

While all that is going on, slice a zucchini squash thinly and blanch the slices in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes to soften them. Scoop them out of the boiling water into a big bowl to cold water to stop the cooking, and then transfer to a colander to drain.

Finally, cut a pre-cooked sausage into thin slices. Here in France, I bought a saucisson à l'ail or garlic sausage that is sold cuit, or completely cooked. It is made by a company in Fleury-les-Aubrais, just outside the city of Orléans. The label says the sausage is 97% pork, with the garlic for flavor and some egg white as a binding agent. It's very firm and it's easy to slice thinly with a sharp knife.

Now everything is cooked, at least partially. To put the tart together, spread the cooked onions on the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the sausage slices on top of the onion, and the zucchini slices on top of the sausage. One other ingredient is some grated cheese on top — parmesan or comté or cheddar — whatever you like. Bake the tart for about 20 minutes or until it is hot all the way through and the cheese on top has melted and browned.

19 August 2014

The splint, or “finger sandal”

Here is the thing I have to wear on the ring finger of my right hand for the next 6 to 8 weeks — yes, six to eight weeks! I can't really type, so I might not be writing much before the first of October. Enjoy the silence.

The splint or brace — une attelle [ah-TEHL] in French — looks a little like a sandal for my finger, seen from the side. I'm glad I don't have to wear a pair of them, one on each hand. Then I really would be out of commission.