Saturday, January 2, 2010

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

After all that has transpired over the last couple of years, hubby's and my new mantra is "simplify." We have decided that quality of life outweighs quantity of things. There really is nothing we need (well, a cancer cure would be appreciated), and the wants don't count. I have 4 pair of shoes I wear and one purse that I carry. I've never been much of a clothes horse. I've been trying to convince my future daughter-in-law to let me wear jeans to the wedding, but she's having none of that. Anyway, in keeping with this new philosophy, we are getting ready to put our house on the market and divest ourselves of all the expenses and work that go with homeownership. We have decided that the less complicated, less expensive, less stress of apartment living far outweighs the benefits(?) of owning a home.. We already have really noisy neighbors, so we will be ready for that. So, a new journey begins.

Today also ended up being one of those simple days. A couple of days ago we celebrated 37 years together with leftovers. So we thought we would go see a movie this afternoon and then treat ourselves to dinner. Well, as they say about the best laid plans. The movie was sold out, and because I am working on controlling the old blood sugar, we nixed the dinner. Instead we took the money and hit a couple of grocery stores to purchase some healthy food to add to our pantry. In my opinion, a much better choice was made.

Once home I made a simple but yummy fairly low carb dinner. Saturday should really be all about simple. For dinner we had a simple tossed salad and individual pizzas made on low carb whole wheat tortillas. And I must say this about the pizzas...mmmmmm. I brushed a little olive oil on the tortilla, topped with homemade pizza sauce, fresh grated mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, olives, and fresh mushrooms. The sauce I made by sauteing 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 2 grated cloves of garlic in a little olive oil then adding a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce, about a tsp. of Italian seasoning, some salt and pepper, and some red pepper flakes. Then I let it simmer for about 15 minutes. When the pizzas were assembled I baked them at 425 degrees for about 7 minutes. It will totally depend on your oven and how done you want them. I just know they were good and simple...and something I could eat!

Now, I have to show off a few of the Christmas goodies I received that will me aid in my quest towards health.

My mom gave me this awesome blender. Yea for soups and smoothies and salsa!


I have discovered that caffeine raises my blood sugar. Talk about cutting my legs out from under me! Son to the rescue with this lovely teapot and a supply of herbal teas.


And this last gift, hmmm. I'm not sure what my daughter was trying to tell me. She says these chefs remind of all the joy I take in cooking. But, could subconsciously she be telling me something else? Hmmm.....


To end this post on simplifying, here's my hubby simply taking it easy with the girls as he waits for his pizza tonight.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010...What Lies Ahead

2009...Good-bye and good riddance. You were sucky and crappy and no friend of ours. Thank heavens you're gone. 2010...We are welcoming you with open arms. Please be kind to us.

I have to say that out of all the years of my life, I definitely would not ever want to repeat 2008 or 2009. Initially, my older son was diagnosed with oral cancer, and just as he completed treatment, my hubby was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Whew! Talk about your stressed filled couple of years. But fortune smiled on us. My son is in remission and doing out standing. You can actually read about his experience here. And hubby is still alive and kicking...maybe not as hard as he used to, but, hey, at least now I can keep up with him.

Now, all of this care-giving I did during this time took somewhat of a toll on me. It's like this. Cancer patients have a tendency to lose a bit of weight, which is not a good thing. So, my mission became feeding them, and feeding them well. It was particularly important for my son who had lost part of his tongue. Eating was an all day process for him. Making rich creamy, fattening soups became my purpose in life. And I became very good at it. Then as my hubby became sick, I added more home cooking to the mix. I wanted to eliminate as much processed food as possible. Cooking became an enormous part of my life.

But...and herein lies the problem...I am diabetic. With all this cooking for the guys, I wasn't taking care of me. So, 2010 is going to be for me. I going to get back on that horse and get healthy. It is going to be a journey, and I am going to drag you along with me. Hopefully you won't be kicking and screaming along the way. I kinda figured that if I committed to healthy living here in front of God and everyone, I would stick to it. I need this to keep me honest.

Here's the plan.

1)I will eat healthy. Some diabetics follow the AmericanDiabetes Association diet. Some eliminate all carbs. I am going to basically marry the two. The ADA diet really has too many carbs to be able to control blood sugar without a heck of a lot of insulin. And "low/no carb" really leaves out some essential nutrients. So I will be eating carbs, not many, but some healthy ones.

2) I will monitor my blood sugar, record the numbers and keep a food diary.












3) I will exercise...a big yuck! I hate exercising. Thus probably the diabetes. Anyway, my sis and I are going to do this together. She has a Wii Fit, which might make this palatable.



So this blog is going to basically evolve into a journal of my new healthy journey, the steps forward, the steps backwards, the highs, the lows, the ups, the downs. And along the way, I will still be cooking and posting recipes. I hope you will join this little trip of mine!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Melissa's Heart and Home

I just found this lovely blog by a Marine pilot's wife. She has a passion and a flare for decorating. Go check out her beautiful blog and enter her grand giveaway!

Squash Harvest Soup

Right up front I am going to let you know that I am not a fan of winter squash. It doesn't cause my gag reflex to kick in or anything like that. It's just if given a choice I choose no thank you. But I was reading through my favorite foodie blogs and ran across this recipe. [In Praise of Leftovers (you will find the link on the right side of this blog) is a really lovely blog, so go check it out.] When I started reading through the recipe, it actually sounded appetizing. So, I thought, what the heck. I'll give it a whirl. Even if I didn't care for it, I knew my hubby would like it. He loves squash and it's always been a big disappointment to him that I rarely prepared it.

This is not exactly the same version as hers. As we all do with recipes, we tweak them to fit our needs, tastes and personality. This has been tweaked to fit me. You can check out both recipes, and add your own tweaks. So, here we go.

Ingredients

olive oil
1 kabocha squash
2 small butternut squash
2 small delicata squash
1 large apple cut into wedges
1 onion coarsely chopped
2 large whole carrots cut into sticks
6 large cloves garlic peeled
2 tsp. curry
1 tsp. garam masala
1 TBS. sugar
salt
5 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cream

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Halve squashes, remove seeds, brush with oil, place cut side down on old cookie sheets. Place the apple, onion, carrots, and garlic in a bowl. Toss with a little olive oil, the spices, sugar and salt. Place this mixture around the squash.

This is a kabocha, and I will explain how I handle it in a sec.

Place baking sheets in oven and roast until veggies are tender and slightly charred, about 1 1/2 hours.

OK, I couldn't halve the kabocha...too tough and big. after I did the first roasting, I threw the whole kabocha in the oven and roasted it until it was extremely soft.

Note. put something under it to catch the juice. I didn't and now have to clean the oven. Silly me.

Once everything has cooled, scrape the meat from the squash, and place it and all of the other roasted fruit and veggies in a large bowl. The kabocha will still have the seeds, so you will have to work around that. You won't need all of the meat from it, about 3-4 cups, so it's pretty easy to scoop around.

In batches puree the mixture in a blender adding part of the 5 cups of water as you go. As I finished pureeing each batch, I pushed it through a sieve to make it even smoother. If you have a chinois, you certainly want to use that.

Once everything is pureed and sieved (is that even a word?) and in a large pot, add the oj and cream, more salt to taste and water to thin to the desired consistency. Heat through, stirring occasionally so it doesn't scorch.

When you serve it you could lightly stir in some more cream.

Notes: This turned out better than I expected. It's a rich hearty soup that just smacks of fall. Be warned, though, this is a fairly labor intensive soup. But is makes a lovely starter for a dinner party, or just a nice supper soup served with biscuits. This made about 10 cups so I was able to share with my daughter's family. Nice way to say I love you. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Treat for My Family

It's 3 in the morning (before the clocks were set back) and the neighbor dog has been going non-stop. The people next door just got home and have finally taken him in...but, of course, now I am wide awake. Argh!

So, I thought I would take the time and post pictures from Ronan's (our grandson) first Halloween.



video

Ronan started copying us laughing and it was such great fun I had to capture it. This is the first video I have posted, so bare with the placement. I'll get it figured out eventually.

And I think we get to have him Sunday, overnight, and Monday. So that is really a sweet treat for us. We love that little monkey...and are spoiling him rotten. So...much...fun! The reward for parenthood!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Caldo Verde (Porteguese Soup)

Last Tuesday I had planned on making this wonderful soup. It was a drizzly, dreary day...perfect for soup. But the fates conspired against me. First, as I reviewed the recipes and began to check my ingredients, I found that I was out of chicken stock. OK, fine, I'll make some and blog how to cut up a chicken and make the stock. I prep the chicken, grab my camera, and...dead battery. At that point I decided to just make the stock Tuesday and the soup on Wednesday and call it good. And that's what I did. And I am just now getting around to posting the recipe. If you don't like it, reduce my pay. But first make the soup.

For this soup, I combined a couple of recipes from the two new soup cookbooks that I recently acquired, and added a few touches of my own. This is a spicy hearty soup that is guaranteed to stick to your ribs. And be sure to have a good crusty bread to soup up the broth with.

Ingredients

1 lb. chorizo
2-3 TBS. oil, butter or mix of the two
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
1 large carrot chopped
3-4 cloves garlic minced or grated
6 cups chicken stock
4 medium red potatoes peeled and diced
1 14 1/2 oz. canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 TBS. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground sage
1/2 half small head cabbage shredded
salt/pepper to taste
1/4 cup parsley chopped

If you purchase already cooked chorizo, sliced it and brown it. If you have uncooked, cook according to package directions and slice. I found Johnsonville chorizo, and it worked great. Remove from pan and set aside.


In a large pot heat the oil and add the onion. Cook for a few minutes and add the celery, carrots and garlic. Cook on medium low for about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and heat for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the next 5 ingredients. Heat to boiling, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour. Add cabbage and salt and pepper. Simmer another 1/2 hour. Add the parsley just before serving. Yum, yum, and yum. Remember what I said about crusty bread.

Notes: This really is a perfect soup for a cold nasty day. It will certainly warm you up. I know this is a soup I am going to make frequently. I hope you will, too. Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Best-Ever Lemon Meringue Pie

This weekend we celebrated my eldest's son's 35 birthday. Whew! That makes me old. And, yes, Maureen, you and Matt are considered family. We really had a wonderful time with a burrito bar that my second son and his finance put together, a pub type trivia game (that was so fun!), and my hubby's famous pies. He is such a talented piemaker that he really puts me to shame. He made a traditional pumpkin pie and a lemon meringue. I offered to make the pumpkin. I mean, how hard is it to mix the ingredients in a bowl? But, no, he wanted to do both. Do you think he might have a trust issue there? So Saturday morning he was up at the crack of dawn making pies. Do you have any idea how soothing it is to wake up to those aromas? It was as if I had died and gone to heaven.

The recipe that we have used for lemon meringue pie for over 25 years comes from my favorite of the Farm Journal cookbooks, Farm Journal's Best-Ever Recipes. This is the cookbook that started the whole obsession with this series. It was given to us when we were living in a little hamlet in Colorado by my hubby's boss. And it has been one of my go to cookbooks ever since. I have found very few recipes that haven't been absolutely wonderful. So, ta-da, the pie.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
4 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 TBS. butter
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 baked 9-inch pie shell

Combine 1 1/2 cup, sugar, 1 1/2 cup water and 1/2 tsp. salt in saucepan; heat to boiling. Mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup water to make smooth paste. Gradually add to boiling mixture, stirring constantly. Cook until thick and clear. Remove from heat.

Beat together egg yolks and lemon juice; stir into mixture. Return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles again. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon rind. Cover; cool to lukewarm.

Combine egg white and 1/4 tsp. salt in bowl; beat until frothy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until glossy peaks form. Stir 2 rounded tablespoons of meringue into lukewarm filling. Pour into pie shell. Top with remaining meringue, spreading evenly.

Bake in 325 degree oven 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Notes: What makes my hubby's pies so scrumptious are his crusts. The secret is not to overwork the dough (which I always do). Hubby works at turbo speed in everything he does, and though this can be a bit irritating at times, it serves him well when making pie crust. And something we stumbled on to by accident, is using whole wheat flour for 1/4 of the flour required for the crust. We really like the results. Enjoy!



This is kind of a P.S. After he had finished the pies a recipe showed up on one of the blogs that I follow for Pumpkin Oat Scones. So I made a batch last night. They are yummy and healthy.
Go check out the recipe! Pumpkin Oat Scones.