Friday, July 17, 2015

How to become a drug addict - Simka's Latkas

I actively practiced law for 24 years, and 23 of them were in the juvenile dependency system.  Most people have never heard of dependency, so I usually just say that I do child abuse law.  While this gives most people a better idea of my professional focus, it doesn't begin to describe the full breadth of my specialty.

In court with Judge Dawson, some of my best years

By the way, I still don't feel like cooking today.  There is a ridiculous amount of cooked food in the house already.  It will be sometime next month before anyone goes hungry in this household, so I can afford to take a break. I am just a bit concerned that my resolve may slip and I will start hand-grating a couple of potatoes.  If that happens, you will be the first to know.

(15) “Child who is found to be dependent” means a child who, pursuant to this chapter, is found by the court:
(a) To have been abandoned, abused, or neglected by the child’s parent or parents or legal custodians;
(e) To have no parent or legal custodians capable of providing supervision and care;
(f) To be at substantial risk of imminent abuse, abandonment, or neglect by the parent or parents or legal custodians; or
(g) To have been sexually exploited and to have no parent, legal custodian, or responsible adult relative currently known and capable of providing the necessary and appropriate supervision and care.

This is not a very happy area of law, or social work for that matter.  We burn out like a bunch of crispy critters, and that's no lie. The fact that our devotion to the kids doesn't easily permit us to get out while the getting is good just makes it worse.  As far back as 1998, my therapist suggested that I find another area of law in which to practice.  Oh well, that is water under the proverbial bridge.  Now he's just relieved that I am retiring.

I could spend hours writing on the topic of child abuse and neglect, but I really want to focus on drugs. Drugs are bad.  I should know; my mother Joyce died of a heroin overdose when I was very young, and that, my friends, fucked up her family for life. It is a simple truth that when a parent abuses drugs, their ability to care for their child is deeply impaired.

Oh jeez, I started grating potatoes for a recipe I am going to call "Simka's Latkes".  If you don't get the joke, hire a taxi and come on over to my house for coffee and an explanation.  Or you can use google.   Let's go back to drugs.

Because of my mother, and because of what I've seen in my 23 years in dependency court, I have a "thing" about drugs.  It is bad enough when an individual chooses to engage in drug use; it's worse when the person causing the addiction is your doctor.

Just because a doctor prescribes it doesn't make it right.  I've seen some medical records which shocked the hand-knitted socks right off my feet.  Types of medications, huge amounts, bad combinations.  Result - one addicted patient who is going to be waiting in the pill-pusher's parking lot every Monday morning.  He or she has time to wait for you because their child is in foster care, or if lucky, at Grandma's house. Because the drugs that Dad or Mom insist on taking have impaired them to the extent that their child is at risk of harm, of being abused, abandoned, or neglected.  And that, dear friends, is the definition of a dependent child.

Everybody goes to a judicial review every six months to see how Dad or Mom is doing. At the second judicial review, the DCF attorney announces that the case plan goal has been changed to termination of parental rights.  And all because of "legal" prescriptions and a dishonest doctor.

What drives me crazy - and it doesn't take much - are these 23 year old parents who claim to be in excruciating pain from a minor fender bender or a slip and fall in Walmart.  An honest doctor would steer them away from the oxycodone, or limit its use, or at very least, not combine its administration with Xanax and Dilaudid.  A dishonest doctor would take their money and write those prescriptions, which they would then fill in the pharmacy the doctor happens to own.

(The doctor was finally arrested for manslaughter and trafficking and a couple of other bad things.  I hope he likes it in jail.  It's where a lot of his patients ended up for a variety of reasons related to their addiction.)

The moral of the story?  Find an honest doctor who will avoid turning you into a freakazoid drug zombie. If you do have pain, create a blog and complain about the pain every day.  Don't ever accept a prescription for oxycodone.  Learn to just say no.  Also learn to put pain in perspective.  If you are a parent, think about how awful you're going to feel when my able successor files a shelter petition against you. Don't hide behind the apparent legality of your choice of drugs. We figured that one out a long time ago. You get the idea.

Since I started this rant, the day has gone south and I am (surprise!) really angry with the President and his whole administration about the tragedy in Chattanooga. Maybe tomorrow, if my head won't explode, I'll be politically incorrect (no, really?)

This is an easy recipe, with a slightly different flavor from a "real" potato latke, a subtle sweetness that does not overwhelm.  Forget the whole sour cream-applesauce debate, and serve both as accompaniments.  Gives new meaning to "double dipping."

Simka's Latkes

(Simchah is Yiddish for a happy occasion, or celebration.  Latka is her husband.)

2 Russet potatoes
1 sweet potato
1/2 medium sweet onion, chopped finely
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup Goya rice flour

Peel and grate the Russet potatoes.

Cut the ends off of the sweet potato.  Place it in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat.  Lower the heat, cover the pan, and parboil the sweet potato for just 5 minutes.  Immediately remove from the heat and discard the hot water.  Cover the sweet potato with ice and cold water.  When it is cooled enough to handle, peel with a small sharp knife.  Grate the peeled and parboiled sweet potato into the same bowl with the Russets.

Place the shredded potatoes into a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.

Stir the onion and dill into the grated potatoes.  Add the beaten eggs and stir well to combine.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Heat an inch or two of canola oil over medium-high heat.  Test the flavor by frying one small latke so it can be tasted.  Adjust the seasonings.  Start frying the latkes, four at a time, using an ice cream scoop to measure them out.  Fry on both sides until GBD (golden brown and delicious).  Drain on paper towels, and serve hot.

This is a test of the Emergency Latke System ...

Both my boys liked them.  Booyah!  Sour cream and applesauce for everybody!  By the way, it is permissible to have latkes when it is not Hanukkah.  So carpe latke and have a good day.

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