From an early point in my life, I have had two overriding passions: pharmacy and cooking. Pharmacy became my chosen career and intellectual outlet. Cooking is my hobby and ultimate stress-reliever. Recently, I’ve been able to blend my two loves together. Let me tell you how.
First, you should know a little about my jobs. I am currently a full-time pharmacist at Loyola University’s oncology/hematology clinic in Chicago. I also work part-time as a retail pharmacist for CVS Pharmacy & BioScrip. As a pharmacist, I regularly measure, compound, pour, and check a variety of drugs. In my positions, I am able to talk to and help people from all walks of life. The ability to help people with their medical needs is an immense responsibility and continually provides me with honor and satisfaction in my job.
But, like with most jobs, I was still hungry for excitement. Something outside my box of comfort. Then, I realized that the professional skills I had honed as a pharmacist could be applied to my love of food! Indeed, as you’ll see, a delicious combination.
My love of cooking started at an early age. I acquired my cooking gene from my Mom and Grandma, who are both great cooks. As the demands of school mounted, however, I found myself drifting away from the kitchen. Committed to getting my hobby back, I began collecting new cookbooks from my favorite chefs—anything that made me salivate. I also updated my cooking utensils, buying as many that would fit in my kitchen and help me whip up tasty dish after tasty dish. I also dusted off family recipes from the “old” country.
Then, I began to blend my two loves together. I applied the same skills I utilize behind the counter to the stovetop and oven. I like to call my culinary methods “compounding in the kitchen.” During the day, I measure, grind and pour chemicals for the benefit of my patients. After hours, I use those same skills to dazzle in the kitchen. The same patience and care necessary for pharmacy also is necessary for precision (and taste) in the kitchen.
Cooking has become a natural outlet and extension of my job. What’s more, cooking brings co-workers closer together and helps create a better working environment. Making mistakes, sharing successes, and tasting the results is rewarding. As much as I love my pharmacy career, I would like to take my cooking hobby to another level. Catering to my patients in and out of the pharmacy. Ideally, I could take my dual skill-set and embark on a career behind both the counter and the apron!
Jill’s Banana Pudding:
1 box Nilla Wafers (reduced fat, optional)
7 bananas, sliced
2 cups milk (skim milk, optional)
1 (5-ounce) box instant French vanilla pudding (sugar-free, optional)
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened (fat free, optional)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (fat free, optional)
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping thawed (fat free, optional)
Line the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2-inch dish with cookies and layer bananas on top. In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas and cover with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.