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I hurt myself ice dancing with Javier Bardem. Sort of.

I’m not winning any awards for having the best health insurance right now.  It only kicks in to cover true catastrophes, which are defined to include things like getting hit by a helicopter while being bitten by a dragon.  But it’s a short term thing and I can always go to the $40 urgent care clinic if I have to.

I just really don’t want to.  They have a boombox in the waiting room that blasts Cyndi Lauper and Annie Lennox at decibels high enough to kill bacteria. 

But about a month ago, my sternum started hurting.  Sometimes it felt better (red wine), but other times it felt like Attila the Hun was camped under there, whacking at my bones with a dull machete.  So this week I went to the clinic and the doctor told me I was fine; I had just sprained my chest.

It was something fancier than that but it’s hard to memorize your diagnosis when the chorus to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” is coming at you from a subwoofer.

The doctor asked me how the chest sprain had happened, and honestly I had no idea.

Doctor:   Tell me about your physical activity lately.

Me:   Um. . . minimal. 

Doctor:   How minimal?

Me:   Well, recently I’ve had a couple dreams where I’m ice dancing with Javier Bardem to an instrumental version of “Fields of Gold”. . .  so it’s possible I’ve been flailing around in my sleep. 

Doctor:   Okay.  Well, people who get this tend to be athletes–professional rowers, that sort of thing.

Me:   Rowers. . .you mean ladies who get up at 4 in the morning so they can haul a boat 30 miles down the Charles River before breakfast?

Doctor:   Yes.

Me:  Yeah, at 4 a.m., if I’m lucky, I’m having my hair braided and my skates laced by Javier before it’s time for our number, and then– 

Doctor:   So. . . not from rowing, then.

Me:   Not from rowing.

She gave me medicines that totally work, though.  And then another great thing happened:  I was cleaning out the refrigerator and I found this bowl.  Scott says it was, at one time, “sausage gravy.”

Look away, friends. Look away.

We agree it’s probably growing penicillin now.  This is good news.  Making my own antibiotics could save me a trip to the clinic in the future, and that’s very important to me.

Almost as important as what you can bake if/when you find Javier in your kitchen poking around for some breakfast.

Biscuits with chocolate chunks and dried cherries.

They’re quick and easy to prepare.  That’s less time in the kitchen and more time for you two to discuss Spain’s parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy, or what have you.

These biscuits aren’t sweet, despite the chocolate.  They still have that savory biscuit bite to them because you’re using bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, and the cherries are a little tart.

Do not eat them with sausage gravy unless you’re. . . really sure about it.

Chocolate & Cherry Biscuits


2 c. flour

4 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. shortening

3/4 c. whole milk

1/4 c. bittersweet (I used 60%) or semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1/2 c. dried cherries

1 egg (optional: for brushing on the top of the biscuits)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt).  Mix in the shortening (use your hands to combine the dough) until the dough looks like coarse crumbs.

Add the milk and stir or mix the dough with your hands until it sticks together.  Add the chocolate and cherries and mix until evenly distributed.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 10-12 strokes.  Do not over-knead.

Roll or pat to a 1/2 inch thickness.  Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter (which you can dip into flour in between cuts, if it begins to stick) or slice into squares with a sharp knife.

Place biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet.  If desired, beat the egg with a little (1-2 tbsp.) water or milk, and brush onto the top of each biscuit with a pastry brush or your fingers.  (This will give the biscuits a shiny rather than a matte finish.)

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm, optionally with butter and honey.

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46 Comments Post a comment
  1. I had a friend who once cracked a rib by coughing. That’s way worse than spraining your chest dancing with Javier Bardem. Way worse.

    January 19, 2012
    • Woah. See, this whole thing makes me think I should probably just lie on the couch and watch Downton Abbey for the next month, lest my chest cavity crumple. (I just started that show. On season 1, episode 4. In love.)

      I think in retrospect I might have gotten competitive at yoga class a few months ago, or I might have thrown the ball for Thunder too hard. (What am I, NINETY?!?)

      January 19, 2012
      • Dude, Downton Abbey rocks my socks. My wife is big on those period pieces but normally they’re just two hours of people sitting around looking prim and saying “Quite,” so they leave me rather cold. But Downton Abbey is fantastic.

        January 20, 2012
      • Tina #

        I think time on the couch with Downton Abbey is totally called for.

        January 24, 2012
  2. I once sprained a tendon in my sternum sleeping on a sofabed in a B&B on the shore of Loch Ness. Took freaking *months* to heal. I should have thought to lessen the pain by dreaming about an aquatic dragon, or at least a warm, kindly ice dancer. At any rate, I hope the effects of your sprain, and the boombox, are mercifully temporary.

    I LOVE poor Thunder’s “wistful” face. Looks like she knows she’s not supposed to have dark chocolate.

    January 19, 2012
    • Jennifer, yikes! Wait, YOUR INJURY MIGHT HAVE BEEN COVERED BY MY HEALTH INSURANCE. I mean, a monster was kind of involved, in a way, right? That’s the same thing as a dragon. Gah. I’m strangely jealous. Also, that trip must have been amazing–until the sprain, at least.

      I THINK the effects of the boombox are temporary, but I am going to throw an absolute fit if I have to go back to the clinic because the clinic’s sound system sprained my inner ear drum. Not cool.

      January 19, 2012
  3. Lady Sisyphus #

    From sprained sternum to yummy biscuits! I can’t wait to try the recipe and hope you are ice dancing injury-free in your dreams soon. I love your writing!

    January 19, 2012
  4. mallory #

    Thunder with bokeh background? Be still my heart.

    Wait, you were talking about food. And wine. I honestly don’t know why you veered beyond the wine? Meantime, this is what I’m *really* interested in (because you are in Alabama where people apparently do things like step on Civil War era nails in their backyard): what did the other people at Urgent Care have for maladies?!

    This is the least dictatorial-sounding biscuit recipe I have ever heard, even with the very direct suggestion to be careful about the sausage gravy. For that, you are to be commended.

    January 19, 2012
    • Oh Mallory– as for the other people’s injuries, I don’t know what they were. It was very loud in there, you see. But I was horrified that people were hobbling out with much assistance, in NO CONDITION to drive, and then getting in their cars and trucking it home. Horrified. It’s a miracle there wasn’t a 20-car pile-up in the urgent care parking lot.

      I agree on the biscuit recipe being easy– some of them are indeed crazy, and what if you don’t have cream of tartar or buttermilk lying around? Here, no problem! I mean to experiment with throwing some cocoa powder and a little more sugar in these too.

      January 19, 2012
  5. I love how it looks like Rocket is watching you and Javier ice dance! He’s very concerned that you’re going to get dropped, and then who will help him find big sticks?

    January 19, 2012
    • Woops! Thunder. Not Rocket. Sorry!

      January 19, 2012
      • Rocket is a great name, though!

        We’ve been having a lot of storms here recently, and they knock new sticks and branches down every day. She goes outside all wild-eyed like OH LOOK WHAT SANTA SENT ME.

        January 19, 2012
  6. Great post! I’ll never forget the time I went to an urgent care clinic for a growing bruise on my arm that I was concerned could be a spider bite. The “doctor” walks in, looks at my arm and says “what you have is…a bruise.” I’m sorry, did I just pay you to tell me I have a bruise? Thank goodness it wasn’t a spider bite, I probably would’ve lost an arm thanks to Dr. Quack.

    January 19, 2012
    • I mean, buises don’t GROW like that, right? Usually my bruises are just there, like BAM, and they don’t creep around morphing as they go. Yeesh. I got a spider bite on my neck in Laos once and I was FREAKED OUT because the nearest hospital was literally a day away and the spider was red (which I took to be a bad sign). In the end, it was fine, but the thought of a spider bite is scary, I agree!

      January 20, 2012
  7. um, YUM. these look amazing. i could actually taste them in my mouth while reading the recipe, which is always a good sign. of course, it took me a moment to get over laughing at the conversation with the doctor. lovely post.

    January 19, 2012
    • Hi there, I am so glad The Boy Who Lived is getting along great. Sounds like you could all use a relaxing brunch with biscuits one of these days!

      January 20, 2012
  8. I must admit I have been checking daily for an update. I love your stories and pictures and someday when cooking in my kitchen doesn’t involve removing drawers so I can open my oven I may try this recipe.

    I sprained my chest once too by coughing. It was the winter I practically lived at the urgent care with the biggest asthma flair up since elementary and the “worst sinus infection” the doctor had seen ever. In fact it was so bad she sent me to the ER for IV antibiotics. Terrible winter that was.

    January 20, 2012
    • Hi Kira, YIKES. Lord knows I do not know what I am talking about, but IV antibiotics sounds like it was a dire situation.

      I have a drawer situation in my kitchen, too. Two of them jam up against each other. Once of those contains the knives, and I am convinced that I’m going to open it with such force one day that a knife is going to spring off a can opener and the fun and games will end. But until then. . . have a good weekend, and thanks for the kind words!

      January 20, 2012
  9. I was once rushed to the emergency room because I had chest pain all day and was aching and sweaty and felt like crap. I was only 24 at the time, but they rushed me in, hooked me up to a bunch of stuff, took x-rays, gave me nitrogen pills that gave me a HUGE headache and got a lecture from the nurse on being a smoker and taking birth control pills at the same time because that can cause blood clots and that’s probably why I was there.
    Anyway, they ended up not finding anything and sent me home with pain pills and told me to follow up with my regular doctor.

    After two minutes with my doc the next day, she looks at me and goes, “Um, did they ask you if you happened to lift anything recently?”
    “Well…did you?”
    “Not really, I….I did buy some shelves from Wal-Mart the other day, you know that big long ones that — well, crap.”
    Turns out I strained a muscle in my chest and had a cold. And the shelves lasted a month before they did a slow leeeeaaannnn to the left and then eventually cracked under the strain.

    Moral of the story: Don’t go to Wal-Mart.

    And do ALL urgent care centers play that music? Mine always played the local station and it’s tough to take a nurse seriously when she has to speak over the commercial for “ROCKAFELLA’S! ONLY SEXY LADIES ALLOWED, DRINK SPECIALS ALL NIGHT!”

    January 20, 2012
    • Alyssa,

      What a terrible day/night you must have had at the ER! That sounds awful. I am so glad it hasn’t happened again. Thanks for posting about it, though, because it’s actually weirdly helpful to know I’m not crazy, and this sort of thing has happened to others (not that I am glad other people suffered–you know what I mean.)

      I could not agree with you more about going to WalMart. Whenever we go, I park myself in the romance novel aisle and I read the last page of every book because I don’t read romance novels but I think they’re HILARIOUS. And when Scott is done shopping, he comes to get me. By that time, I am usually in shock about how graphic my shopping experience was–as if I had spent the afternoon at the Rockafellas near you, I suppose!

      January 20, 2012
  10. Camille #

    Hey – now wait just a dadgum minute here Missy…Javier has been hanging around ice skating and braiding hair with you? But he’s been spending a whole lot of time over here with me massaging my feet and whispering sweet nothings in my ear. That TWO TIMER!

    Honestly woman – you absolutely crack me up. The biscuits look delicious so I’m going to give them a crack later today too.

    January 20, 2012
    • I KNEW IT. He dropped me the other day after I nailed my triple axle sow cow combo, and I just knew he was distracted by something.

      But in the interest of universal sisterhood, maybe we could work out an arrangement. Monday-Wednesday, and Thursday-Saturday? We can give him Sunday off, so he has time to work out at the gym.

      January 20, 2012
      • Camille #

        Done. You go ahead, give him a call, and fill him in on the new schedule. I’m up to my elbows making bisquits over here. 🙂

        January 20, 2012
  11. I enjoyed reading this from the title down to the last word. I always find conversations I have with doctors hilarious because they never have even a smigeon of humor. So you can really mess with their minds and then write about it in your blog later.

    January 20, 2012
    • Linda- it’s funny you say that, because I have doctor friends who are hysterical, but come to think of it, I’ve never joked with a doctor inside a hospital. Then again, if I worked in a hospital, I’d be positively *freaking out* the entire time. I don’t know how they do it. (Except for the one at urgent care– I KNOW she gets through it with a lot of Phil Collins and Lionel Richie. 🙂

      January 21, 2012
  12. April was in CT now CA #

    Ok, what I can’t seem to get past is that there may have been neglected SAUSAGE GRAVY. What the WHAT?! What kind of two-bit operation are you running over there that SAUSAGE GRAVY may or may not have been left to die a lonely, slow, furry mold growing death?

    I’m not sure I can recover from this and I’m unsure my insurance will cover my affliction!

    (Ouch to the chest sprain…I would have been freaking out “I’ve been having a heart attack for WEEKS!!!” *faint* and even Thunder looks dismayed about the gravy, but is thinking those biscuits make up for it if he could just have chocolate….)

    January 20, 2012
    • April,

      Scott saw your comment and wants me to make it VERY CLEAR TO YOU that he takes his sausage gravy responsibilities very seriously, and lest you think less of him, he wants you to know that he went out of town last week. That is the only reason the sausage gravy languished in the back of the fridge.

      But let me tell you something else: it wasn’t sausage gravy. It was gravy he made from SALAMI.

      I don’t even want to talk about it. I live with a crazy person.

      January 21, 2012
      • April was in CT now CA #

        After reading the news of your loss I was preparing to have a memorial service for breakfast tomorrow of sausage gravy and biscuits, just like any decent GA girl would do. I’m glad to hear that the loss was not from a tragic accident, but neglect. (Glad to hear of neglect? I should think of a better way to put that…) Hearing that it was made of something really strange like salami helps soften the blow and lessen my mourning, but we’ll still be showing our respects tomorrow morning.

        And yes, you definitely live with a crazy person. I do too, so you have my sympathies.

        January 21, 2012
  13. Don’t feel bad. I once sprained my foot while watching ballet.

    January 20, 2012
    • This made me laugh so hard, Virginia. I hope you don’t mind that, and that the sprain wasn’t traumatic on an emotional level. Were you. . . doing the steps in your seat? Do tell.

      January 21, 2012
      • “Make ‘Em Laugh” might as well be my theme song. 🙂

        I was watching ballet on TV in my living room. Feet were sprained. The record of the incident has been sealed by court order. (*snerk*)

        The equally hilarious sequel to this story was that my mother took me to the doctor, who said “I can’t do anything for your sprained foot other than wrap it, but that toe of yours! I could do a lot for that off-kilter toe! Major surgery, yadda yadda blah blah blah.”

        To which I responded “If it gave me that much trouble, I’d just ask you to thwack it off.”

        And then my mother fainted.

        To this day, >20 years later, just hearing the word “thwack” makes her a little green. Poor Mama! Ha ha.

        January 23, 2012
  14. MrsH #

    I check your blog daily because I LOVE your stories and the recipes and the pictures of Thunder. Sadly, I’ve had so many snow days this week but still I didn’t see this post until I’m back at work and can’t head straight to my kitchen to bake those beauties up… figures. I love bittersweet chocolate with cherries though – such a great combination. I guess I’ll have to make them this weekend and when my husband sees the mess (I conned the poor fool into a “I’ll cook, you clean” deal with me), I can just explain that you are contributing to my pregnancy cravings again. Or maybe offer to make some not-to-be neglected sausage gravy for him…

    January 20, 2012
    • Mrs. H, hello! Nicely done on the cooking/cleaning arrangement. 🙂 I really like bittersweet chocolate, too– I even prefer it to semisweet chocolate in chocolate chip cookies, most of the time. Have you had the Taza brand? They sell chocolate discs that look like this, below. Goes amazingly on a cheese plate with blue cheese.

      Delicious! Thanks again for reading. I try to post as frequently as possible because it’s so much fun for me, but most of the time the hold-up is thinking of what to write about! Take care.

      January 21, 2012
      • MrsH #

        Oh man, I was wondering if anyone had feedback on Taza and now I know it’s worth a try. I see it in some of the natural stores that I like so well around here (Seattle) but I am picky about my chocolate so I had not tried it yet because I do not like to be disappointed when it comes to chocolate. Now I know though and I must get some! I have modified an oatmeal cookie recipe that I love to use bittersweet chocolate alongside dried cherries and dried blueberries – best oatmeal cookies ever, no kidding.

        January 23, 2012
  15. PattyAD #

    Would dried cranberries work as a sub for the cherries, or would they be too sweet? Don’t really care much for cherries, in any form.

    January 23, 2012
  16. Patty, I should think dried cranberries would be excellent in this (as would dried currants or bluberries). You could add more chocolate (I’d say up to 1/2 c.) if you’re a big fan. If you wind up trying cranberries, let me know how it works out!

    January 23, 2012
  17. zkv #

    Hahaha! Have been chuckling while reading your blog posts. Love the way you write. And will definitely be trying out this recipe. Yummo!

    January 25, 2012
    • Why thank you! I’m so glad you found the site, and I hope you like the biscuits, my friend.

      February 21, 2012
  18. I dislocated my index finger squeezing a lime. A month later the same finger stretched a tendon putting on socks. Who says a sedentary life is safe? Not me. Not you. Not our doctors.

    January 31, 2012
    • Tricia, I am just now seeing this for some reason! My apologies for delayed response, which is “WHAT?!” Is it cursed? Have you considered cutting the finger off a glove, attaching it to a tongue depressor, and making a make-shift splint to be worn at all times?

      Alternatively, you could wear a HUGE ring on your index finger– I’m talking lots of bling–so that it’s impossible to bend it. That’s probably the coolest way to prevent further injury.

      February 21, 2012
  19. So I’m a little late in responding but…….when I was 18, my speed loving, thrill seeking motorcycle boyfriend rushed me to the hospital at 2am because I had chest pains starting in… well my chest… and they were moving up my left arm. I thought for sure I was having a heart attack.
    It was from clenching said boyfriend’s waist on the back of his motorcycle at about 120miles an hour.
    Hope my teenage daughter never finds out.

    February 3, 2012
    • Wendy, This is even MORE AMAZING than getting chest pains from ice dancing with Javier Bardem. Of all the killer ways to injure your chest, this has to be one of the coolest– second maybe to being Jennifer Grey’s stand-in in Dirty Dancing and spraining your chest while getting lifted by Patrick Swayze during rehearsal? I don’t know. I’m having trouble coming up with anything more awesome.

      Man, our teenage years must have been different. I would like to switch, fyi.

      February 6, 2012
  20. I really didn’t need one more blog to follow, but here I go — couldn’t resist the face on that dog.

    March 5, 2012

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