Post #680 Happy Feast of the Bird!

November 28, 2019 at 11:02 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Day traditions in our house are probably different to what goes on in your house.  We get up whenever we feel like it, and have a leisurely breakfast of whatever is on hand.  We spend the day relaxing, watching movies, listening to music, reading and whatever else catches our fancy.  In years past, we’ve taken drives to see the scenery, and when we’re close enough we’ve visited friends and family.  We’ve been planning our feast for weeks now, and modified it for current requirements and health changes.

We slept in, for us, and got up at 6:30 am!  There was a very light snow falling and the sun was just starting to light up the sky.  Breakfast was on me, so I put the skillet on to heat while Partner/Spouse walked the dog and fed him.  I mixed up some pancakes from scratch, so fun.  I used the same recipe I wrote about last time, but increased the sugar and left out the butter since I can’t have that right now.  No fats at all.  I let the batter sit while I fried up the bacon.  Before anyone says “Wait a minute!  Bacon has tons of fat in it!  You can’t eat that!” let it be known that I did not eat any.  The pancakes turned out great and I spread raspberry preserves on mine.

While all this was going on, the snow got heavier and the puppy in the back connecting yard spent several minutes chasing snowflakes, jumping to catch them, and scratching and pooping.

Once breakfast was over, we “watched”  a series of movies with loads of music.  We recently signed up for the Disney+ channel and have been working out way through all the Disney classics.  Today, so far, we’ve seen Tangled, and something else I can’t remember.  We’ve seen a ton of them, mostly the ones that were popular when we were kids.

So, the turkey is brining as we speak, and Partner/Spouse is in the kitchen making tartlets.  We opted not to have whole great big pies since they’d get tossed before they were eaten.  We have a turkey breast since it’s lower in fat and healthier.  We’re going to roast some root veggies, and I’m going to attempt a no-fat gravy with turkey drippings, chicken stock, and corn starch.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.  Dessert is the tartlets.  He made a bunch of pecan pie tartlets, and some organic cherry.  Can’t wait until feasting is.

So now, the snow has stopped, the music is on, I’m finishing this post and picking up one of my favorite reading books – a COOKBOOK!!  It’s one I’ve read before, but it’s fun to go back and browse through it and just enjoy.

Hope everyone has a great feast day.  Share your favorite traditions and what your plans were for this day.  Take care.

And as always,

 

Post #679 A Revelation in Blueberries

November 22, 2019 at 11:17 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So, I’m going to start this post with a health update because that directly affects the foods and stuff I’m writing about today.  Things have progressed to the point where everyone believes I need to have my gall bladder yanked out as soon as it can be managed safely.  Before that can happen, I have to have my heart tested again because my GP wants to verify the findings from two years ago.  Right now the surgery is scheduled for the 12 of Dec. but it depends on whether I can get the cardio tests scheduled before the surgery.  Right now, they’re scheduled for Dec 30, but that might change.  So, it’s a hurry up and wait situation.  In the meantime, the antibiotics took care of the problem for a short time, but the symptoms are starting to return.  The surgeon’s advice right now is “EAT NO FAT OF ANY KIND!”  That really sucks cuz I revel in the fats – not.  There are some fatty foods I love that I’ve stopped eating – bacon, butter, peanut butter, well-marbled beef, hamburgers, etc.  And of course, since I don’t like dairy, I’ve never drunk milk or cooked with cream.  The really difficult one to give up is cheese.  I love the full fat flavor of sharp cheddar, mild gouda, provolone, brie, cream cheese on a bagel, and on the list goes.  So I’m still at home, cooling my heels, and waiting until the surgery is set.  Whee.

So what’s all this got to do with blueberries?

Last weekend, before I saw my GP and the surgeon, I found a recipe for a blueberry butter cake (shared down below) and wanted to try it.  So we got two small containers of fresh blueberries to make it.  In essence, it’s a blueberry cafloutis with a ton of extra butter in it.  And there’s a reason I wanted to try it.

My mom used to make a berry cobbler that she sort of just threw together.  I’m working on 40 year old memories here, but she would fill a baking pan with fresh or frozen berries, usually a mixture.  She would dot it with butter.  Then she’d sift together equal amounts of flour and sugar with a teaspoon of nutmeg.  I think the flour and sugar were 1 cup each.  She’d sprinkle this evenly over the top of the berries, not minding if the juices came up because she would melt a half cup of butter and drizzle this over the top of the whole thing.  She’d bake this at 375 or 400 until it was hot and bubbly and the top was golden brown.  You couldn’t eat it right away unless you wanted third degree burns in your mouth and throat and stomach.  Once it was cooled to room temp, the crust that formed on the top was like candy.  And it would melt in your mouth leaving a sweet butter flavor to mingle with the berries.  It was marvelous.  I’ve never been able to recreate it, so if anyone knows this recipe, let me know.

However, the blueberry butter cake looked remarkably similar to what my mom used to make and I wanted to make it to see if it was a passable substitute.

It’s certainly more cakey than what my mom made, but it looks like it has the crunchy sugary top that I’m looking for.  And it’s blueberries.  This is not my recipe or picture, and if they owner doesn’t want me to share, please let me know.  Here’s the web address to the recipe, which I’m copying below: https://myincrediblerecipes.com/blueberrybuttercake/

  • 2 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 3/4 cups Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Cold Butter
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 Eggs, separated
  • 2 cups Fresh or Frozen Blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar.
  3. Cut in butter until crumbly, and set aside 3/4 cup for topping.
  4. Add the baking powder, milk,extract and egg yolks and mix well.
  5. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and fold into batter.
  6. Sprinkle on blueberries and the reserved crumb mix.
  7. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Delicious for breakfast or dessert!
  9. ENJOY!

Easy peasy, right?  However, a lot of butter, and milk.  Can’t eat it right now.  So, didn’t make the cake, and had two cartons of fresh blueberries in the fridge.  Gotta use ’em.  I immediately thought of freezing them, but wanted to use them instead.  I first thought of smoothies, but I’d eaten my bananas and blueberries and ice don’t make a great smoothie.  I tossed ideas out almost the moment they came to me because there was one thing I’ve been wanting to try but have been reluctant to do so.  So I sighed and said to myself, what the heck,  Pancakes it is!

I have not eaten pancakes since I was a small child.  I have nothing against pancakes, but I firmly believe that anything with the word “cake” in its name should taste like cake.  I’ve made pancakes years and years ago and liked doing it.  I think my main problem with them is I don’t like maple syrup and pancakes are inevitably and irretrievably linked with maple syrup in my mind.

However, as a dish, pancakes are extraordinarily versatile.  So, I found a basic recipe and doctored it up to my tastes.

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (I used two)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla (my own addition)

Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  Next time I do this, I’m going to add some fresh grated nutmeg cuz it tastes good.  Beat the egg and vanilla into the milk and pour into the dry ingredients.  Stir until just mixed, then add melted butter.  Stir until smooth.  Fold in berries.  Set bowl aside and heat a non-stick skillet.  When a drop of water sizzles, spray the skillet lightly with vegetable spray, and place a quarter cup of the batter on the skillet spreading gently into a circle.  When the edges are dry and bubbles start form in the center, flip the pancake and cook for a couple of minutes until the entire thing is set and cooked through.  Remove to plate and eat warm with butter, syrup, or other favorite topping.  These are good enough to eat without any additions.

Now, you’ll note that the recipe has things I can’t eat right now.  So, instead of milk, I used water.  It makes the batter a little thinner than milk, so I eliminated a couple of tablespoons of water.  Water will steam when it gets heated so the pancakes will be a little lighter.  I also can’t eat butter right now, so I just left it out entirely.  It’s only there for flavor really, so leaving it out doesn’t impact the pancake at all.  And with the additions I’d made, it was a pretty good pancake.  They look more brown than “normal” pancakes due to the addition of the extra sugar.  I’ve also learned that pancakes can be a good snack when they’re cold, too.  And, since they’re basically bread, they can be used in place of bread for sandwiches.  Play around with them and see what you think.

So, that’s my blueberry revelation, pancakes.  I’m likely to keep these around for a while.

Please feel free to comment, suggest, ask, or whatever else.  And share freely if you like.

As always,

 

Post #678 So Where’s He Been This Time?

November 7, 2019 at 9:02 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting old sucks.  Things I used to shake off in a day or two just a few years ago suddenly become more virulent and body altering.  So, the weather up here has turned towards winter – damned axial tilt! – and I just didn’t want to admit it.  I picked up a slight cold that eventually turned into pneumonia.  About two weeks ago, I woke up with a fever and a hacking cough and waited a few days before going to see a doctor.  By that time, I felt like I was on the mend, and the doctor agreed but told me to rest for the rest of the week before heading back to work.  Before that happened, the fever came back in full force and I went back to my own doctor, this time with Partner/Spouse in tow.  Between the two of us, we managed to give her a fully detailed accounting of the illness and most of the pertinent points of my medical history.

So I’m on a strong course of antibiotics and rest.  Several tubes of blood have been drawn and xrays and ultrasound are scheduled for Monday.  It looks as if all the symptoms could also be indicative of my gall bladder turning sour.  It may not be bad enough to have to remove it, but in all likelihood, it will mean that I’m going to have to adjust my diet to keep my potassium levels up, and keep my internal organs happy.  I miss being a teenager and eating two quarter pounders with cheese and a large order of fries before dinner.  After three days of the antibio, I’m starting to feel human again.  I’m still getting what I call fever flashes, but I’ll talk to the doctor about that next week.  The biggest difficulty is it all leaves me feeling weak and lethargic.

So the two tasks in front of me are to learn how to adjust my diet for 1) added potassium, and 2) gall bladder health.

Potassium is actually pretty easy to control with diet.  Everyone knows about bananas, right?  But there are a ton of other foods that are even higher in potassium, and it turns out I like most of them.  Cooked spinach, for instance has nearly twice as much potassium.  Potatoes of every kind are a great source, as long as you leave the skins intact.  Tomatoes and tomato sauce are also good, as well as oranges and orange juice.  The list goes on, so it’s a wonder that I have low potassium at all.  But there it is, so I will eat with an eye to the K.

But I also have to pay close attention to that pesky gall bladder.  I mean, what the heck is it and what does it do, anyway?  Well, first, it’s located under the liver because it works with the liver very closely.  The liver produces bile which is stored and released into the small intestine by the gall bladder.  Bile helps break down dietary fats into digestible material.  Fun thought, huh?

However, gall stones and gall sludge can inhibit the release of bile which causes back up and pain and fevers and other nastiness.  I had an infection in gall bladder when I was 19 which I didn’t get treated for quite a while because I didn’t know what was going on.  That was way before the internet, and other than the occasional stomach pains wherein it felt like a kitten was trying to claw its way out, I felt perfectly fine.  So for the last half century I’ve largely ignored it and attributed the symptoms to other things.

So then the question now becomes, what to eat and what to avoid?

Let’s start with what to avoid.  Fats.  There, I said it, and I hate it.  Now having said that, there are good fats and bad fats.  So, the bad fats are the fats we avoid in a hundred other diets for other issues.  So, the rib eye steak with the wonderful marbling and layer of sizzling fat?  Not the best.  The sirloin steak with the all the iron rich muscle fiber and next to no marbling and fat strips?  Perfect.  Hamburger with 20% fat should not be eaten.  Hamburger with 10% fat is fine.  White meat from birds is good; dark meat from birds is less so.  Some parts of the pig are great; other parts are poison (but bacon is SO tasty!)

What should be eaten?  Fresh fruits and veggies.  Legumes (beans, lentils, peas) are good.  High fiber grains, and flours are good.

Essentially, everything they’ve been telling us all along is the right thing to do.  Major adjustment in my diet?  I’m no longer eating any fried foods.  We don’t eat a lot of fried foods in our house anyway, but now they’ll be gone.  Tater Tots and fries can just as easily be baked to crispness as fried.  Corn tortillas can be dry cooked, and the meat filling can be roasted rather than fried.  You get the drift.

It’s mostly about being sensible with what we’ve known and followed/ignored since the 70s.  And if that doesn’t work, the little organ will get yanked and I’ll be forced to follow the guidelines or suffer the consequences.

One bad thing, no chocolate.  One good thing, wine is okay.  So I gotta take the bad with the good.

I’m not sure how I’ll be feeling on Sunday so there may or may not be a post.  I will certainly update as soon as I hear from the doctor about the tests on Monday and what course we’re going to take.

And now I’ll leave you with a laugh:

And as always,

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