Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One last post for 2013

  Looking for a simple elegant dessert for the holidays (or any time) ?  My all time favorite is Creme Brulee.  The very first time I had it was 22 years ago in a lovely restaurant in Northern California called Larrupins. A magnificent little place out in the middle of nowhere on the coast, north of Eureka on Humboldt Bay. Their menu  changed daily with entrees from whatever was available and fresh that day. They had an appetizer board you could get that had several cheeses and roasted garlic and homemade whole grain baguettes, toasted just right. And some kind of fruit...pears maybe or apples.  Ahhhhh...even thinking about that place gives me the goosebumps.  My friend Craig was playing jazz there a few evenings a week, and I went along and we had some dessert there, and he suggested the Brulee, and I had never tasted it before. 

 OH. MY. GOD.  I thought I had died and gone to food heaven. Every bite nearly made me cry with joy. And for a long time, I was sure that the only way you could reproduce that experience was to go to Larrupins and order it from their menu.  lol  That only a true culinary genius could produce that marvel of cream and sugar and whatever other magic was in there.

Not so. I started nosing around when I had bought too much heavy whipping cream one year at Christmas, and to to my delight found tons of recipes.  And they were varying degrees of simple.  The very easiest and one I use mostly came out of a low carb cookbook. They made it with splenda, which I would never do, but it is a really good easy recipe.

 I made it for our little Christmas Eve supper this year, because I knew it would WOW! my guest, but mostly because I wanted some.  lol  We don't eat a lot of dairy, but this is the exception. So--let's go!

 You'll need (for this size recipe) 4  oven safe custard dishes.  I use a Corning 7 oz dish, some recipes call for a smaller shallow ramekin, but we don't mess around when we eat Creme Brulee.  lol  I bought them in a set of 4 and they work great.

 You'll also need:

 2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
Brown sugar to taste

First, put the cream and vanilla in a heavy saucepan and heat until warm. Watch it and don't overheat.

Next, put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and mix well. I use a whisk or a fork.

Then pour this into the saucepan and mix together thoroughly, Use a whisk.  Divide the mixture into the 4 ramekins. Take a 9x13 pan and put about 1 inch of hot water in it, place the filled ramekins in it and put in a preheated 300 degree oven and cook until set.  This will take about 45-50 minutes.

When they're done, you have 2 options.  Personally, I like mine cooled completely, chilled and then topped at the last minute before serving. But you can serve them, right out of the oven too...sprinkle a little brown sugar on top and put under the broiler until the sugar crystallizes. Unless you're me.  Of course, for Christmas one year, Santa brought me a lovely little Brulee torch that runs on butane and I have a ball torching the tops of it, just like Julia Child.

 You could also top it with raspberries or caramel, but I like the purist version of it with just the smidgen of caramelized sugar on top.  And every time I have ever served this, people thought I walked on water...and you KNOW I always like that.  lol  It is incredibly rich and silky and an absolutely beautifully elegant dessert to serve to anyone who is NOT lactose intolerant. 

  Bon Apetit !

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Home Grown, Home Made Tomato Soup

 Mmmmmm...I love tomato soup.  Since I was a little girl it was my favorite, summer winter spring or fall. Tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  When I was a kid (circa 1950's) that meant Campbell's Tomato Soup out of a can, with a grilled Wonder Bread and American cheese sandwich.  Things have changed some since then (my palate, for one) but I still love those two paired up.

 Since I grow and can all manner of tomatoes,  and I love making soup, it stands to reason that I would make my own tomato soup, just like every other soup I eat.  A friend asked me recently if I had a recipe for tomato soup and I said "Sure" without even thinking.  The truth is, I make soup by the seat of my pants (doesn't everyone?)  and don't really have a recipe per se... but like any good con artist, I can come up with a plausible story in the blink of a eye.  LOL

Any soup worth it's salt starts the same way: chopped onions and celery and garlic.  This is the secret of a solid soup base, in my book. I usually "sweat" the onions in the heavy bottomed pan first by themselves.  Then add in a little butter or olive oil and the celery and garlic. Stir them about and let them cook a little while you finely chop a couple of nice carrots. Cook the carrots with the onions and stuff for a dose of magic.  That taste and smell is out of this world. PLUS--carrots tone down the acidity of tomatoes and make them a little easier on your gut.

  For this batch of soup I used a pint jar of tomato sauce, a quart jar of diced tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste (because I wanted to).  I also used a quart of my own canned vegetable stock.  I can stock (chicken, turkey, vegetable) every year.

4 Tbsp butter**2 onions, thinly sliced ** 1 carrot, peeled and chopped** 2 stalks celery, chopped** 6 cloves of garlic (or less) coarsely chopped** 2 -3 quarts canned tomatoes** fresh or dried basil, about 2 tsp.** pinch of sugar** salt and pepper to taste** 4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock** 1/2 tsp Allspice ** 2 cups heavy cream or half and half.
Melt the butter in large pot. Saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic--about 10-15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Add basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the stock and allspice and simmer for about an hour.
I use my stick blender to then puree everything. Sometimes I add a can of tomato paste. Taste it and see. Then add the cream and adjust seasonings (salt mostly, because I never know how much I put in the canned tomatoes. lol) Heat it through, but do not boil.
That's about it. Oh...and sometimes, instead of half and half or heavy cream, I will melt a half a box of cream cheese into the soup. It makes it so rich your head will spin.


 When I make grilled cheese sandwiches, I use homemade whole grain bread.  2 or 3 kinds of sliced cheeses (my favorites are Havarti and Muenster) .  Butter the bread on one side, lay butter side down. Arrange the cheese on both slices of bread. Thinly slice an onion, a tomato, black olives--put on top of cheese. Close up sandwich and grill to golden brown on both sides.

  Eat with a lovely bowl of that tomato soup and you will be thinking you've died and gone to heaven.

 You'll never buy canned soup again.

Bon Apetit !

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ah...December !!

 The big bad storm that was supposed to be coming through here was a big bad Zero.  This was about the extent of our snow.  lol

 After loosing the chickens this morning and slowly and carefully climbing up the back steps to come in, I noticed this old metal folding chair sitting up against the wall of the house and thought it looked so pretty I had to get a picture of it. I got this set from someone who got them at a yard sale. I admired them so much, she sold them to me for what she paid for them. They are old and painted in bright primary colors--orange, yellow, blue and red. Holes punched in the seat and back in a diamond design--simple, but pretty.

  No snow, but great cold. It has climbed up to 20 degrees finally  (1 PM now) but the WCF still has it at 9 degrees.  I've been out to check the chooks twice since early morning and can testify that it is cold out there. lol

  So, here we are. The frantic rush of planting and harvest is over. The canning/dehydrating/freezing is all finished.  Time to sit back and relax...get some odds and ends done that don't seem to get done if there's ANYTHING else to do. lol   It's not like things come to a standstill, they just change form. I've redone one bathroom, complete with doing a decoupage thing to all the light switch and electrical outlet plates to match the wallpaper border that goes along the ceiling.  Installed a new (to me--c'mon, you know I'm the queen of scrapping and recycling!)  porcelain sink in there too. Painted the walls a nice golden beige color. Bought a new shower curtain and liner.  Scrubbed the bejeezus out of that handicapped shower stall--looks better than new.  That was project number one.
As you can see, the wallpaper border is of sailboats and sky. This was my first attempt at this--it was fun and I learned a lot.  I had looked at decorative switchplates and they want a fortune for them. I had a thought...and googled decoupage projects for the home or something. Voila !  I had leftover border and it was perfect. All it cost me was about 7 dollars for the big bottle of decoupage glue, called ModPodge. I put 3 coats on it, to keep it shiny and waterproof.   

  The next project is the other bathroom.  I had my handyman son come in and tear out the old ookey brown cabinet and sink and replace it with one my neighbors gave me when they remodeled their bathroom. It was a sweet little oak cabinet with a big sink and beautiful hardware.(It's been sitting in the garage for 2 years. lol  But I KNEW I'd use it one day).  Because it was smaller, the boy had to tear out and replace some of the ceramic floor tile, which he did, and the re-grouted the entire floor.  (It needed it...8 years after he originally did that floor).  It's ready for me to paint now, so that's that part of it. I might get to it today...maybe.   :)  I have the paint, all I need is the motivation and time to do it.

  Little winter chores that need doing but are not  an emergency:  Taking things out of the cabinets and wiping down the shelves.  Cleaning the outsides of my cabinet doors thoroughly--after canning season they are a mess.  Cleaning under the sink.  Rearranging the shelves up over my laundry area...things tend to get flung up there a lot.  And then there's the mother of all projects.  One I shudder to think about, but am going to have to get done. One that is on my list every year for the past 4 winters and still remains undone.

ORGANIZING AND PRINTING/REWRITING ALL THE SCRAPS OF PAPER, FOLDED PIECES, HANDWRITTEN OLD...RECIPES.  I have a huge box of recipes and can barely find things any more. I scribble things down and tweak them and try new ones and print them off the internet and have old recipe cards from 45 years ago that are faded and barely readable...

  I contemplate the magnitude of this project and I nearly pass out from the thought of it. 

  I'm not sure how to even start. I think a 3 ring binder and a 3 hole punch is the basic starting point. And I have those.  It will be data entry from there.  lol 

  You might find this funny. I really don't want to lose these recipes, even though I am notorious for not following recipes.  I have hauled some of these things around the country with me since I was about 15 years old.  Many are recipes from women who have died, including a couple that were my mom's...her biscuit recipe, her cheesecake recipe...  When I got married, one of the requirements for the wedding shower was that everyone bring their favorite recipe and at least one of the ingredients to make it. To help the newlywed cook for her husband.  I thought it was hysterical at the time. I remember it fondly now.  And as I look through some of those cards, it makes me a little teary for that young girl perched on the brink of life...so full of high hopes and a sense of adventure.

  Here's a snapshot view of part of what I'm up against:

 (Click to biggify)

  It's not like I have a daughter or anything that might be interested in having my stuff. Or about passing these down.  But I would like to be able to find recipes in my golden years (cough,cough) easily and clearly.  lol

 So, here's to the winter of 2013-14. I have a bit of an agenda as to what needs doing, and we'll see if I can  get any of it done. (Now that it's in writing, it's more of a commitment).

 SO that's that.  In between here, I have vacuumed the carpets and furniture during that little window when the dogs were outside,  used the bread machine to bake a loaf of honey flax oat bread, and dusted the tables. Things are clean enough that the health department won't shut us down (lol) and the house smells like fresh baked bread.  I'm almost in the mood to start my Christmas decorating, if only the stuff was easier to get to. I could still put out some festive scarves and candles, I suppose.  I warned the boy today that it would be soon, lol, as all that stuff is in the storage closet in his bathroom.

  Going to make a simple supper of salmon croquettes with parsleyed potatoes and green beans with garlic and onion.  I made a pumpkin crunch yesterday, so there's dessert.   Yesterdays supper was pinto beans and ham hocks, with cornbread and fresh chopped onion. Hearty simple food for a cold night. There's just something about it being dark so early that makes one dish suppers so good....

Bon Apetit !

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Build your own granola bars...

  I need to make a batch of granola bars.  And coincidentally, my pal texted me today, asking if I had a recipe. I do, and they're awesome. This is a copy and paste from my other blog...so don't be confused by it.  lol  The italicized parts are copied...just so you know.  

  I started making granola back in the early 70's. I have always made it over the years, and the recipe is rarely the same twice.  That's because I tend to make it with whatever I happen to have in the pantry.  My pantry is pretty well stocked most of the time...with things that I grow and can or dehydrate and with some things that I am forced to buy.  When my husband started wanting granola bars for his lunch, and I started reading the ingredients and seeing what the cost was, I thought, "Hey!--I could do this better!"  I tried several different recipes and settled on the one that I liked the best.

  So, here's the ingredient list. Sort of. The honey mixture is the important recipe to follow, as it has to hold the whole shebang together. 

           2 cups oats
           3/4 cup sunflower seeds
           1 cup crushed peanuts
           1/2 cup brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)
           1/2 cup honey
           4 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
           2 tsp. vanilla
           1/2 tsp. salt
           1 cup + dried fruit --your choice
           1/2 almonds or walnuts,chopped or whole

  Heat your oven to 400 degrees. These granola bars are not cooked, but you do want to toast the oats, to get rid of that raw taste.  Put 2 cups of old fashioned rolled oats on a baking sheet and toast for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

  In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, butter,vanilla and salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. While it's coming to a simmer, take a 9x13 baking pan and line it with parchment paper (or waxed paper that you've sprayed with nonstick spray). Tear your paper long enough that it will lap over the middle of the pan from the ends after you've poured your mix in it (about a foot and a half long). 

  You want to simmer that honey mixture a while, so that when it cools, it will make a crispy granola bar., maybe 15-20 minutes. 

  Take your toasted oats, and mix in all the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. Mix it up good.  Then pour the hot honey mixture all over it. Use a big  spatula to mix it up real good. You want everything well covered. Then dump it into your paper lined 9x13 pan and use the spatula to spread it out evenly in the pan. Push it into the corners too. Then fold those side pieces of paper over the top of the mixture and press down firmly. You want to compact this mixture as much as you can. Keep pressing until you're sure it's pretty solid.

  Then set it aside and let it cool. Once it's good and cool, you want to lift it out by the paper and set it on a cutting board.

 Then  (or, first, actually) I made 2 batches of granola bars, one for my son and one for here.  They are really good too, and chock full of 3 kinds of fruit that I dried (apples, blueberries and cranberries) plus raisins, walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, raw sunflower seeds, coconut,  flax seeds,and oatmeal and honey, barley malt syrup and butter.  Thinking I might try using coconut oil next time. They look like this:

 And then get cut into this:

  And wrapped.  Each batch makes 16-18 bars.  I roughly figured it out that it costs about 3 dollars to make a batch. And that's a very rough estimate, since I'm always buying things on sale and stashing them in my pantry and never know from one time to the next what I might have paid...lol

  I cut the thing in half lengthwise first, then I cut it into 9 rectangles.  This picture looks a little dark, but that's the lighting, not the bars. They are a beautiful golden color.  I wrap them in (GUILTY!) small squares of saran wrap, put them in a container with a lid and store them in the fridge.  I know exactly what's in them, no hidden ingredients and no excesses of processed sugar. I bought barley malt syrup once when I was making homemade bagels, and I really like to use that in these bars instead of brown sugar. My husband loves them, and so do I !  They're a great healthy snack.

   Give them a try and let me know.  I often add cinnamon to the oats and nuts mixture too...sometimes I put my roasted pumpkin seeds in there.  Sometimes raw sunflower seeds, sometimes roasted. Sometimes chia seeds or flax seeds.  Experiment--have a ball !!!

Bon Apetit !

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The weather is changing, thank God for soup !

  The past few days have been chilly to cold here, depending on the time of day.  Today there was the added bonus of rain and wind. Sigh...at times, it was like a monsoon out there.  It may have actually hit 50, but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.  lol  Tonight we have a frost warning until 8 AM, so the covers are back on the cold frame, where my little plot of lettuces, kale, chard and spinach are looking good.  The furnace is turned on, and even though it's set at 68 it's comfortable enough I guess.  Time to get the big flannel blankets out for the couch.

  This soup I made today is an approximation (aren't they all?) of a recipe that I saw somewhere, or maybe a friend sent it to me on Facebook, or--who knows?  I remember being taken with the original recipe, because all the ingredients are things that I have grown., and that I love.  And you get to roast veggies for it. And it is vegan, which is just a good thing to do now and then.  And it's very tasty while also being really nutritious. Are you interested yet?

 It is very beautiful, isn't it ?  It 's a Roasted Cauliflower and  Sweet Potato soup. In fact, it's a roasted almost everything soup. It started out like this:

 I washed and drained a head of cauliflower and then broke  it into florets.  I diced several sweet potatoes from the box that  had cuts from the spade or broken ends that all need using first.I thick sliced a large onion and peeled 7 cloves of garlic. After arranging these all on 2 small baking sheets, I drizzled them with EVOO and then sprinkled Garam Masala on the. Popped them into a 400 degree oven to roast for about 30 minutes.  The house smelled divine...

 Then (for good measure)  I peeled 3 more sweet potatoes and boiled them in about 2-3 cups spring water. When they were soft, and the roasted vegetables were done, the fun started.  I pureed the boiled sweet potatoes and the water in my blender. I poured most of that into the saucepan the 'taters came out of. I left some in the blender and  put all of the roasted garlic, and about half of the onions and cauliflower and sweet potatoes in  with it. Then I pureed all that together.  Just for fun (and extra B vitamins!) I added about 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Whirred it a little more, to mix it in. Poured that and all the rest of the roasted chunky vegetables into the saucepan, stirred well and brought it back to a simmer.  Added salt and pepper, tasted. Added more salt, tasted. Hmmm...still needed something, but what ? 

I scoured the spice cabinet and finally found the gomasio I made last month. I went to the back porch and snipped some fresh parsley.  Put them both on top and VOILA !

Isn't that color glorious ?  And it tasted pretty darn good too.

(And that reminds me--we have a frost warning tonight--I better go cover those herb pots on the back deck !!)

Bon Apetit !!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Harvest Mondays and other exciting stuff...

  It's been a week of lots of odds and ends late harvesting.  Can't believe I am still harvesting cucumbers in late September !!  The bell peppers aren't real big, but there are lots of them. I froze about 6 quarts of pepper slices, and ate those cukes with gusto ! lol

Dried most of the apples, and left a dozen in the bowl for eating for now.  Yum !

Finished up the sweet potato harvest yesterday for a grand total of about 5 bushel of them yummers. They are really good this year...

 We harvested butternuts (about 2.5 dozen nice ones)  and about 50 # of potatoes.  I picked anise hyssop to dry for tea.  Dried and froze about 20 pounds of wild persimmons. Dried a peck of peaches and some plums.  Busy busy !!

  We are still eating kale and chard, tomatoes and carrots out of the garden. Gonna leave those carrots in for a little while longer. It's cooling down in these parts, but mostly staying pleasant. This morning was a chilly 45 degrees though and the leaves are starting to fall.  I might pick green tomatoes and pickle some...we'll see. I didn't think I would like them, but ate some last night that a friend made and they were pretty good.

  Just to show off, here's a picture of my brand new shelving in the big pantry that my son put up for me. Blessings galore !!  These make it lots easier to see what I've got in that pantry than those big deep dark shelves did.  I'm using those shelves now for things like gallons of vinegar, etc. 

The bottom shelf is full of gallon jars of dried stuff...herbs, fruits and veggies, rice, beans, flours...you know. Those sturdy vinegar jug boxes made the perfect repurposed stacking system for some of them.

  And there you have it...stop by Daphne's Blog and check out Harvest Mondays and go visit lots of nice folks....   http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/

  Have a bountiful day !!!!!!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

I'm a gonna EAT that cockatiel if he doesn't shut up.

 He insists on screeching when no one (ME) is paying attention to him and he knows I'm in the next room. This morning it is driving me crazy. CRAZY.

  Wednesday and Thursday are Phase 2 of the Fast Metabolism Diet.  They are the very worst 2 days of the week. These 2 days, you are allowed No fats, NO grains,NO fruits,  NO nuts, ....arrrgghhhhh.  I feel really lousy both of these days.  I'm suspecting that it's because it shocks my blood sugar after all the fruit on the other days of the week.   I.  DON'T.  LIKE.  IT.   I felt bad enough yesterday, but it was tolerable. This morning, I woke up Cranky. And now I'm moving into mean.   My head hurts.  I have no energy. I am always slightly constipated on these days.  I want to go back to bed.  YUCK !!  I just broke the rule and ate a bowl of watermelon cubes with salt.  I feel better already  (for a minute).  Everyone on this diet complains about these 2 days, except the old Atkins diehards. It's too much protein for my system, I think. I have heard all kinds of reasons (detox stage,, blood sugar) for the change in how you feel.  This is the phase that unlocks the fat and builds muscle.  But I feel like crying. This is the worst day since I started this thing back in July.

  The good news :  We are eating much better and both of us are feeling better.  We are both eating less. I have lost 18 pounds in 2 months. We are eating lots of good  food, are never hungry and I am getting into the swing of the food rules. I'm not giving up, although next week I may adjust my Wed-Thurs food to maybe include some grains or something.  Oatmeal for breakfast, or quinoa. Something that is not meat. 

This is a 3 bean turkey chili that I've made several times. Very yummy and satisfying, especially with the weather doing flip flops into autumn and back again.

 This is a typical lunch salad--yum !!  

 This is a batch of the home made jerky I've made several times now. Turkey the first time--a LOT of work, because I just couldn't bring myself to pay 7 dollars for a pound of turkey breast fillet.. Instead, I found whole turkey breast for 1.59/lb and cut it off the bone and sliced it up and marinated it. The next time I made it, I decided to try chicken breast. I can often find that for about 1.89/lb and I stock up my freezer then. It was DELICIOUS!!!  I made some beef jerky at the same time, but wasn't crazy about that, so the dogs got most of it for treats. lol  THEY loved it.   Might have been the cut I used...might have just been my imagination.  Anyway, I have another 4 pounds of chicken breast slices marinating in the jerky sauce right now. In about 4 hours it will go into the dehydrator. I make it myself because of the cost and because I can't find any that isn't loaded with chemicals, including sodium nitrate.  Anyway, jerky is a great snack. So I make it.

  I made a batch of oat flour blueberry muffins last week that were exceptionally good.  Tomorrow I am making a recipe for pumpkin/almond flour muffins that sound really good and give me something to do with all my pumpkin.  It really hasn't been hard at all to stay away from the wheat...

  We are eating lots of our old favorites--faijtas (sprouted Ezekiel grain tortillas), fish (salmon, sole and halibut) with lots of veggies and rice (brown or wild rice),  Vegetable stir fry with shrimp over quinoa,  pork chops or tenderloin, with apples and onions  or sauerkraut.  Spaghetti with brown rice pastas.  Lentil soups.  Hamburgers now and then, with sweet potato fries (oven baked). Big salads with grilled chicken breast, asparagus spears, beets, and loads of other phase appropriate vegetables.  Egg and a slice of Sprouted grain bread, with fresh sliced tomato and red onion on it.  Oatmeal with nuts and berries. All kinds of juicing going on too.

  So.   That's my update and whining session for today. I finally covered up the bird, so it's quieted him down some. I'm ready to let him have his freedom.  lol  It would be different if he was singing--but he just screeches. And I have a splitting headache...Maybe I'll lay down for a short nap in a bit...that would probably help. I just took my anti-inflammatory for my foot, so maybe that will help alleviate the headache too.  

  I am going back to the gym. Called yesterday to check on my membership and to see if they still have the water arthritis class.   I was going to go today, but I feel too crappy. I still may go later in the afternoon and sit in the jacuzzi... I am excited to get back into an exercise routine, no matter how slow I may go or how little I can do at first.  It's taken me long enough...

  Later, taters !

Monday, July 22, 2013

Food, food and more food

    (This is me at 11 years old.)

I am going to go off on a bit of a tangent here.  Sort of.    I was thinking about this last night and thought about how much I love blogging about food and healthy stuff and how much I hate talking about things like my health and my weight and my body. And I know the realities behind all these things...age, physical disabilities, lack of motivation to make a change...

  I spent the first half of my life clearly underweight. At 18 years old, I finally hit 100 pounds because I was pregnant. I had always been a skinny kid with the metabolism of a hummingbird. I could eat anybody under the table (the same way I drank them under it in later years). lol  In school, I went through the lunch line twice every day. I ate everything in sight. I was the kid the other kids hated because I LOVED vegetables of any kind, ate them all.  There was nothing I didn't like when it came to food. And because I ate so much other good stuff, I probably ate a little less of the not-so-good stuff, but it didn't matter really what I ate. My body burned it all like rocket fuel.

(Here I am at 27 years old.)

 After having a baby I wasn't really skinny anymore, but more of a decent weight. I weighed generally between 115 and 125 most all the time. This is a good weight for a  5' 1/2 inch young woman. I was healthy and active and life was good.  8 years later, I had surgery for cancerous in situ tumors in my uterus. They did a complete hysterectomy and took ovaries and all.  I was down for a while, and had to learn to live in a new body that had important parts missing.  I took HRT for a while, but stopped it as the side effects were too much.  I went the more holistic route, used wild yam cream for hot flashes, took extra vitamin E , etc. I survived.  But my body really took a hit. I started gaining weight and settled around 145-155. Which of course was huge, for me, but it was also something new and different. lol It was too much weight, but I somehow carried it off. I didn't look like a model, but I didn't look like a slob either.

 At  48,  I was in a catastrophic industrial accident that almost killed me.  I got hit by an 80,000 pound side lift fork truck and crushed into a wall. It fractured my hip, crushed my pelvis, ripped all the muscle away from my bones around my hips and pelvis, it miraculously  did not damage my kidneys.  I almost bled to death before they could get the bleeding stopped. I had 3 blood transfusions in 2 days. My blood pressure was 30/40  and they couldn't get it back up. I couldn't move my legs for a while and was scared I was paralyzed.

  I couldn't walk without a walker, crutches, cane for over a year. I slept in a hospital bed with an inflating and deflating mattress.   I was in physical therapy for 2 years.  I have saddle paralysis across my pelvis and I have joint problems and lumbar weakness and sacral root nerve damage, which means that I have little control over my bowels and bladder.  My hips and pelvic area are not straight or aligned like they should be, so there's all the implications of that.  (TMI ???)  lol

 Here's a head shot of me at about 52.  In 4 years, I had gained about 40 pounds.  I started, for the first time in my life, to try to lose weight.  Some of it would work for a little while (Atkins, Weight Watchers) but I would get discouraged or get sick from the weird eating habits or something. I would stop and just give up. I hated the way I felt a lot of the time, but not enough to really do anything  about it. I'm not sure what I thought  (think) I should do.  The one main thing is this: I cannot get enough exercise due to the physical disabilities.  I am not a big eater. I can eat or not eat, and the weight stays the same.  I am a healthy eater. Mostly. Doesn't make a difference.  My metabolism has stopped dead in it's tracks.

This is me now.  With my newest great nephew, Aiden Micheal.  As you can see, I'm big as a house. I stopped coloring my hair. I am an old woman.

 My joints are painful, I have osteoarthritis in them.  The extra weight I'm carrying makes it even worse. I have painful areas of bursitis as well.  These 2 things make it hard to get around. So, all the problems I already have are exacerbated by the fact that I can't move even more. It's a catch-22.

 A friend of mine in Florida (who doesn't really need to lose weight) started talking to me about a food plan she was doing called the Fast Metabolism Diet.  She says if you  follow it religiously, you can lose up to 20 pounds in 28 days.  It's all whole foods, organic whenever possible. That hooked me, because I am so tired of stupid eating plans like all bacon and no apples.  lol  This one is 3 phases, M-T, W-TH, and FRI-SAT-SUN. You eat certain foods on each phase and it is designed to jump start your metabolism. My friend says she feels like a million bucks since starting it.  Part of that is because she has to eat vegetables and fruits, something she rarely did. (Yeah..I don't get that either)  lol  Well, today is Friday, and I have been doing it since Monday, and I have lost 5 pounds.  Considering the fact that I have been on 7 days of  prednisone, I consider this nothing short of a miracle.  I am drinking lots of water, and abstaining from all wheat, corn, soy, dairy and sugar.  And caffeine.  I am eating lots of organic vegetables and fruits, lots of healthy lean meats and  went through a very minor detox from the sugar and caffeine. I am eating at least 5 times  a day.  I am doing some kind of exercise every other day. And I haven't been real diligent about that. (oops).

   Today is day 8.  I feel better. I haven't lost any more weight this weekend, but I didn't gain any either. I woke up this morning, promising myself that I will do a better job of the exercising, because my heel and knee are actually feeling better. I am on a new anti-inflammatory that is helping a LOT. The weekend eating in phase 3 of this diet is a lot more liberal and maybe that is why I didn't lose any more pounds. Others in the forum I joined say the same thing, and the old-timers  tell me that it's typical and not to worry, just stay on the plan.  And for today, I've decided to believe them.

 So...I don't know if I'll keep posting about this as it goes along, but it all goes according to plan, I'm sure I'll be so stoked I won't be able to contain myself.  lol  It is a 28 day plan, and then if you have more weight to lose, you just turn around and start it again. So I'll be on it for about 3 years.  LOL  (kidding).  I know that it takes 21 days to change a habit.  The habits I am having to change are not eating regularly, sugar and caffeine,  and more lean meats than fatty meats.  And more fruit. I didn't realize how little fruit I eat until I started this. We always have fruit...I just rarely eat it. Now I am eating healthy fruit 5 days out of the week.  Wow.

  Thanks for listening. It makes me feel better to put all this out there so I can look at it. 

  Bon Apetit !

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday's harvest...July 1st

 How crazy are things?  It's the first of July and the Blackeyed Susans are just now showing their pretty little faces !

  And it's Monday, and time for Monday harvest at Daphne's Dandelions. Every Monday, pretty much.  A day to show off what you're harvesting in your zone, or putting up or whatever. Eating, I suppose.  lol Anyway, it's fun and you get to visit bloggers you might never have come across otherwise, so that's double fun !

 Okay--the biggest producer in my gardens right now are the greens.  We have had such crazy weather and sooooo much rain here we couldn't even get the gardens IN until Memorial Day.  That makes for a late spring. It's been raining the past 3 days again, and although we did finally have a few days of nice hot weather, it went form 96 one day to 80 the next and is now hovering down in the low 70's and high 60's again.  Last year we had blistering heat and not nearly enough rain. Things burned up.  It's the Roulette Wheel of gardening, isn't it ?

Went out this morning and picked a nice large bowl of kale.  Will probably saute it with EVOO and garlic.

Here are a few really young green beans and some small radishes.  Stir fry ?  Salad ?

I picked off quite a few large leaves from the sage plant. I have another plant that's much smaller, and probably still have some sage hanging in the back drying closet that I haven't put away yet. (oops).

A big bowl of the 2 lettuces--this will make a nice salad for supper. Bronze Mignonette and Red Romaine.

 A nice little batch of spinach and chard. I am having more bug problems with these this year than I have EVER had. The bug problem in general out here is ghastly because of all the rain and flucuating weather, I think.

And finally, though this is not a harvest, I am excited because the flowers are starting to show on the edamame.  WooHoo !!!!

  Thanks for coming by and make sure to go visit Daphne if you get a chance, and all the other great bloggers that take part in this !

Bon Apetit !

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June's gardens and other fun stuff

 This is a view of the bush beans, the bean trellises and the wild  landscaping that is my back yard.  (Ha. I say landscaping like it was planned like this)  The beans have been flowering, and now have little tiny 1.5 inch beans growing on them.  The weather has been so crazy this year, it's a miracle anything is growing period.  2 days ago, it was 95.  Yesterday it was 86. Today might have gotten up to 74. And tonight it is about 65 right now. They're forecasting rain the next 3 days.  But the hot days in between have been good for the garden, so we won't complain.  

The cucumbers are growing like crazy, over in the salad bed. And the lettuces are amazing.

 This is the edamame in the forefront, and the potatoes behind them. 2 separate garden beds, but so big and growing that they're starting to kinda melt together, lol. Looks like a sea of green. The edamame still have a ways to go, but the potatoes are flowering like crazy.

Isn't my bee balm delightful ? I love the bright colors.

Beautiful, fragrant elderflowers.  I'm going to harvest some this week and make elderflower cordial, which you can make a soda type drink with.  I may also make a few jars of elderflower and vanilla jam, if I can find the recipe. 

 I have a lot of lilies in my yard, and these are one of my favorites. They're big and thick and sunshine yellow. I have them planted i the front yard, around the bird bath and around the post of a bird feeder too.

 Lots of joyful daylilies around. Beautiful colors...

 And then this guy--all by its lonesome. An almost salmon colored lily.

 Cheery pink geraniums on the back deck.

 And Miss Junko Taibei, my right hand cat, resting after a hard morning of gardening.

  I made a pan of cranberry almond granola bars today. I over cooked them a little. (Ok, a lot compared to the ones I made last week that were undercooked).  I took them to the Solstice Celebration last Saturday and they were all gobbled up.  I wanted to cook them a little more than that batch, but I went overboard. They are still very good, just crunchier and less chewy, so more crumbly. I'll come back tomorrow and post pictures and recipes for them--they are really good.

  Bon Apetit and happy gardens...