who's in the kitchen

Nutella-filled donut, a salve for my pain


In February, on the way to pick up my husband from the station at night, I was rear-ended by a Jeep. Although I was wearing a seatbelt, my car was sent flying about three car lengths, and my whole body was rattled. It felt as if my trunk was right behind me in the back seat. Thankfully the young girl who hit me, and I weren’t seriously injured; my car, not so lucky, but it was repairable. 

When I got home, I was already a bit achy, and by the next morning, my neck was really bothering me. After a visit to an orthopedic surgeon, I learned that all of the discs in my neck were bulging and I had pinched nerves. The doctor explained that when your spine is in danger, all the muscles around the area spasm and knot up to protect the spine. That was really cool, I thought, but my muscles apparently hadn’t gotten the word that the danger was now over; they refused to unknot.

I started physical therapy and attended three times a week. I did all the exercises there, then received a massage to my neck and back and heat and stimulation. The therapist would marvel at how hard it was to get the muscles to relax, even a bit. And when they were relaxed, they would knot up a few hours later. When asked to describe the pain, I said that “I feel, as if I want to lift my head off my neck, rearrange all the kinks in my neck, and put my head back on.”

It was decided, after months of therapy, that I might benefit from an epidural injection into my neck. My friend drove, as you can’t drive after the anesthesia. She reassured me, that I would be fine, and that if I saw a bright light, just don’t follow it. Once I was up, I had no recollections of anything. I felt ok but no relief.

A few weeks later in the doctor’s office I received trigger point injections straight into the muscles. Unfortunately, that didn’t work, so I was scheduled for a facet block injection in the left side of my neck. I knew the drill by then. I was in the surgical gear (which is oh so attractive) and was asked the usual questions, repeatedly, by three people. When the anesthesiologist confirmed I was receiving ablation (when they burn the endings of the nerve to relieve the pain), I said, “You’re kidding right?” He said “No, that’s what written on your chart.” I explained I was there for a facet block injection, and that if I woke up with any procedure other than that, it had better be a facelift or body sculpting, otherwise they would have a lawsuit on their hands!

The doctor came by and assured me it was just an error and that everything would be fine.

And it was, there was some relief, but still not much. The doctor scheduled another facet block injection, to the right side.

So two week later, I was back at the office, an old pro already. This time I actually read what I was signing and noticed that it stated the injection was for the left side, not the right.

“Are you kidding me, you have the wrong side of my neck listed,” I said. The receptionist responded that it wasn’t her fault, the surgeon wrote it. “Oh, that makes me feel so better — the surgeon, slated to do the procedure, made the error.” I was assured that it would all be corrected and that it was just a typo. I got the royal treatment after that. Hopefully I will get some relief from this last injection, as I’m not looking forward to the next step — which is ablation.

Thanks to all my friends who drove me to and from the procedures — Bev, Ilyce, Renee, Joe, Karen and Rise, I owe you!

For those of you who doubt that I could find a recipe to go with this article, I bring you doughnuts INJECTED with Nutella, just in time for all of you making Chanukah parties this Saturday night.

Nutella Filled Mini Doughnuts

Adapted from Basic Berliner, Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped, by Stephen Collucci. Clarkson Potter, 2013.


3-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1-1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature

3 cups bread flour

3/4 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

zest of 1 orange

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Nutella for filling


In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, stir together the yeast and milk on low speed for about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon and orange zest, and add it to the milk with yeast. Mix until it is just combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix for a few seconds, then add the butter, mixing thoroughly. Increase the mixer speed to medium and let it mix for 4 to 6 minutes until it become a ball. The dough will be smooth and tacky.

Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and work it into a ball. Place in a large greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise in warm spot until it is nearly triple in size. How long it takes to rise will depend on the environment (I found that it took me about 1 hour, but it may be less or more for you, so plan accordingly!). The dough should still be springy when you press it with your finger. If not, give it more time. And if it collapses then you may have proofed too long.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to about 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough using 2-inch rounds.

Heat oil in a deep fryer or skillet to 350 degrees F. Stir together cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Drop in the doughnuts, working in batches. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts onto a tray lined with paper towels, then drop them while still hot into cinnamon sugar. Poke a hole into the doughnut and continue until all doughnuts are cooked.

Before serving, pipe in a bit of Nutella into the doughnuts using a pastry bag and tip. Serve immediately.