This post is probably going to take twice as long as it normally would for me to write. Why? Because I am consciously using the space bar with my left thumb. You would be surprised at how much using the space bar hour after hour aggravates my shoulder. Of course, now I’m sitting in a kind of awkward position, holding my hands differently because I’m using my non-dominant hand to do a dominant-hand action, but the more I practice, the better I’ll get. I know this because years ago, I switched to using the mouse with my left hand and now I am equally comfortable on either hand with mousing. Even after typing just this paragraph, my speed has increased. Not as fast as space-barring with my right hand, but definitely faster.
Earlier today, I made a big pot of mashed potatoes. About halfway through peeling them, I realized that I should probably switch hands and use the peeler with my left hand and hold the potato with my right. So I did. Wow, that was awkward! But I kept at it and the potatoes were peeled. Then I took a big step and cut the potatoes with my left hand. Guess what? I still have all my fingers. Then, I used the potato masher with my left hand. It’s been an interesting day, to say the least.
I first got interested in using my non-dominant hand for more things a few years ago after I read an article about how doing that engages new synapses in your brain. The more synapses you engage, the more flexible your brain, and the more flexible your brain, the less likely you have of developing some kinds of dementia. I’m all for that. I also have really good body memory. Once I have a set of movements programmed into my body, they’re pretty much there forever. When I was taking private t’ai chi lessons, I made my teacher go over certain motions, like transitions from one pose to another, again and again in a row so that they became automatic very quickly. Even though I haven’t been to t’ai chi class in a couple of years, I can still do that part of the routine quite easily. The same body memory is part of the reason I never really learned how to read music–my body learned which piano keys to play before my brain could memorize the notes.
One of the best books about this kind of thing I’ve ever read was “I Will Fear No Evil” by the great Robert A. Heinlein. It’s the story of a fabulously wealthy man who has everything but health. His body is betraying him and he’s dying. He sets up a trust for reasearch, etc. so that when he dies, his brain will be transplanted into a donor body. I’m simplifying this, of course. So, the inevitable happens, his body gives out, and then he wakes up again, reborn into a new body–which just happens to be that of his young, very fit and very female, secretary, who was killed in a mugging at the same time. Of course, at first he isn’t told he’s in a woman’s body, but he comes to realize it anyway. Then after rehab, he/she goes out into the world. When he goes back to his house, he sees his piano, and sits down to play. He can hear the music in his head and knows WHAT to do, but the body he’s occupying never learned how to play the piano, so “his” fingers have no idea how to execute the commands his brain is giving them. Conversely, he goes to the secretary’s desk and is clueless about how to operate the equpiment, etc., the body sits down and manages to run everything on autopilot. And, apparently, his secretary was quite the yoga student, so the new occupant is completely startled at his new level of physical fitness. Although it’s quite dated (written in 1970, set in 2015), it’s a fascinating read. In fact, most of the dystopian future predictions he talks about in that book are now routine daily events.
All this from a sore shoulder. So, tonight, when you get ready for bed, do something simple. Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand. I dare you. You never know where it could lead.
…decided I would get ahead of myself for the weekend. Last week sort of went by in a blur with G’s sister’s visit. We had fun, and I got back to my chiro who put my shoulder back in order, but still dealing with lots of muscle inflammation and pain. It hurts enough to make me gasp when I try to do something simple like take a glass out of the cupboard. Gym is out for now, and I’ve been staying away from the computer except for work, but I have been getting up every morning and hand-watering the garden with our collected rain water. We have several hundred gallons, and it’s a treat to use. I’m also trying to become as ambitextrous as possible. If anyone knows if they make a left-handed keyboard with the number pad on the left, I would really appreciate hearing about it.
After eating out way too much last week, we decided to hit the store today. It’s getting warmer now, and that means I’m not going to want to cook much, so I decided to get a lot done today.
First, I had a little bit of our home-canned marinara sauce left that I had cooked down for dipping a few days ago. I decided to make a caponata-type sauce without the eggplant. I had some large green olives, so I sliced up a few of those, added a couple Tbls of pesto and about 1/4 C of cottage cheese and a little half and half to tone down the strong tomato flavor, again, thinking about the acid factor. I bought some radiatore pasta at the store, thinking it would hold the sauce really well, and decided to follow Scott Conant’s instructions about cooking pasta only part way in the water and finishing it in the sauce. Just before I drained the pasta, I added a couple of ladles of pasta water, then the al dente pasta and let it simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Yes, it does make a big difference. I’ll be doing that from now on. Sorry, no photos, but I was just getting started and hadn’t thought to grab the camera.
I also had the last of a bag of onions, starting to look a bit scraggly, so I decided to make a batch of caramelized onions to add to sandwiches, use as bruschetta topping, etc. So easy and a great way to make something simple look really elegant. Slice the onions and put ‘em in a skillet with some butter:
Add a little salt and let them cook down for about 10 minutes. Then add about 2 Tbl of sugar and about a cup of water or chicken stock and keep cooking and stirring. I also added a little bit of basil that I dried from last year’s garden. Once the stock is mostly absorbed, drizzle over about 1 Tbl of good balsamic vinegar and keep cooking until everything is absorbed yet again. Put in a fridge container and use at will:
You can warm them or just take out what you want to use and let come to room temp. They make a wonderful addition to lots of dishes. I bought some French bread and I’m looking forward to bruschetta as a light supper.
I also had a couple of zucchini in the fridge, and I bought two small calabacita squash to make calabacitas–or my version of it. Usually it contains some form of chile pepper but since we’re trying to keep away from that for the acid, I just used half of one of the above onions, the squash and my next-to-last bag of corn we froze last year from the local farms. This is a really simple dish to make. I diced up the half of the onion, a couple of cloves of garlic, and put them in some olive oil to sautee. Then I diced all the squash to about the same size pieces, and added them along with some chicken stock, garlic powder, onion powder, a little bit of ground chile pequin that I buy locally and some ground coriander. Then I added the corn, since it was blanched and wouldn’t take long to cook. Cover and let cook maybe 10-15 minutes. After that, I grated on some manchego cheese and this makes a great side dish.
I also bought a bunch of beets to roast, but in the mean time, I noticed their greens looked pretty good, and since I had a large container of spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, I forged ahead. I chopped up a couple slices of bacon:
I let that brown on medium heat to render all the fat, then scooped out the crispy pieces. Then I added a couple of chopped scallions, the chiffonaded beet greens and let them cook for a few minutes, then aded most of the spinach (saved a little for a couple of omelets). Of course, the huge pot of greens cooked down in nearly no time:
I guess it’s coming out of winter, but I’ve just been craving green things lately and this dish certainly fit the bill. After everything was nicely wilted, I drizzed them with some pear balsamic vinegar that I found at this most wonderful store in town, and added back the bacon bits. This only made enough for dinner tonight, but boy was it good–and so simple to make.
But I wasn’t done yet, oh no! Remember the beets:
I trimmed them, washed them, then coated them in olive oil, wrapped them in foil and popped them in the oven to roast along with 2 large chicken breasts I got at the store (in separate dishes). I’ll take the chicken off the bone to use for sandwiches or salad, and cut the beets in chunks for a salad with red onion, raw-milk bleu cheese and dressed with some lemon white balsamic vinegar. Perfect for hot summer days.
Tomorrow, I’m going to make an orzo pasta salad with asparagus and peas, egg salad with our wonderful local eggs (the chickens live less than 5 miles from us), and maybe some salmon spread. So, if G can’t find something to eat while I’m working this weekend, there’s just no hope for her.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and G’s sister is here visiting. We’ve been really busy, took a 4-day road trip to visit some hot springs, I messed up my shoulder again (yes, in a hot spring!), and then today while I worked, THEY went and took a helicopter ride AND went rafting. No fair. Yes, I’m pouting. But, instead of rambling on, I’ll just share a few of the things I encounter in my daily ramblings through the insanity we call “health care” in this country:
“Found resting comfortably in hospital bed, eating Syed.”
“Robotic crust ductectomy.”
“He lives in a nursing home sponge by the Virginia.”
“The patient was given some trauma dog.”
“This is a 52-year-old female infant…”
“Toes are mute.” (This is a real finding, but it makes me giggle every time I hear it.)
“prior history of cell phone inhalation…”
“HISTORY: The patient is a block.”
And my favorite:
“A detailed list medications will be sent along with the patient to the outback.”
Happy Mothers’ Day to all the moms and happy birthday to me!
The above photo was taken about an hour ago. It’s currently 29 degrees and still spitting snow/sleet. Welcome to springtime in the Rockies! Seriously, though, I’m thrilled. We need this moisture so badly after our high and dry winter. No one wants to see a fire season like we did last summer. A year ago it was already in the high 90s and head to nearly a month of over 100 degree temps with NO moisture. I’ll take this every time. I just hope the cherry tree makes it through to give me enough cherries for a cobbler this year.
In other news, this morning, before the snow started, we had a REAL gift:
A mountain bluebird! Honestly, I’ve lived in CO for 20 years, and have seen the bluebirds on my drives out into the open country, but even with all our feeding and encouraging, this is the first time I’ve seen a bluebird in the yard. I was thrilled! He hung around all day with the female, so I HOPE they’ll be tempted to stay a while. We were so excited.
Completely changing the subject, I’ve been doing a lot of reading on simplicity, happiness, etc. lately. I’ve always considered myself a pretty happy person, even at times when the circumstances were anything but. It’s a feeling that lies within, a kind of connectedness to the flow of life, a realization that there is more than whatever it is you might be experiencing at the moment that could be quite unpleasant. But you realize that circumstances aren’t permanent, and if you can handle it with any aplomb at all, then you’ll probably gain some skills to get you over the next bump in the road. Plus, I can always find a reason to laugh, even in the darkest times. I keep Monty Python and Damn You, Autocorrect handy!
I’m also considering taking this challenge. Yes. I know. Me, the foodie, the happy carnivore, considering vegan. Even for a week. It’s something, isn’t it? But I’ve also been thinking about waste, leftovers, cooking smaller, trying to prep stuff to be ready to cook, so that I can just toss something in a pan for the two of us very quickly and vegan definitely lends itsefl to that. For instance the other night, dinner was a spinach-mushroom omelet and homemade hashbrown. Yes, I know eggs aren’t vegan, but it’s an example. I’m trying to cook for G and her acid problem, especially on weekends when I’m not really inclined too cook, but I’ve been making stuff and then she forgets to eat it. Yes, she forgets. Go figure. I have forgotten lots of things in my life, but never to eat. Anyway, I mentioned it to her, and we’re considering it. Thing is, she’s found that a piece of cheese at night helps her with hunger and doesn’t get her acid going. Whatever, we’re not going to be militant about it. If I can do a week of 98% vegan, I’ll consider it a success. Thank goodness for my experience with Battle Tofu last year! I’m already starting to think of veggie stock, modifying favorite recipes, etc. I really think the most difficult thing for me will be giving up the half-and-half for my coffee. Almond milk just isn’t the same, even though I like it in just about anything else. If I decide to take the plunge, I’ll let you know how it goes.
In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a fabulous May Day. Get a little sun for me, willya?
I couldn’t let the month leave without posting the obligatory baby photos. Can’t believe I haven’t posted them before. Well, yes I can, but anyway, here are a few of the new little one: Just escaped! You’ll have to take my word for it, but she REALLY looks like her dad.
And with mom, pretty tired from all the work:
Things were much more relaxed a week later:
Even Gramma couldn’t make her cry:
And this week, she was down visiting her other gramma. She looks pretty happy about that:
And, there’s your baby fix for probably the next few months. I didn’t get my post a day, but I’m working on being a better blogger. Baby steps, right, Ms. Latte?
A few weeks ago, when GS1 stayed with us for spring break, we discovered that his uncle and cousins had moved in just down the street. This uncle is brother to the bio father of GS2, who also raised GS1 until the shooting mess happpened. He was the one who stayed with GS1 and comforted him while his “dad” hightailed it off and away. I liked him before that and afterwards, I liked him even more. This hasn’t changed.
It’s interesting how patterns play out and repeat over generations. My mother and my Uncle Jim were the same age and classmates. She often said they “tried” to date, but had similar crazy personalities and found out they were better off as buddies. My father, Jim’s brother, was 5 years older and much more quiet and reserved. Truly, a case of opposites attracting. My daughter and Mitch, the uncle, are almost exactly 1 year apart, his BD on January 1, hers on January 2 of consecutive years. That’s how she met Clint, older by five years. They met when she was 13, then he got hauled off on some charge, probably drug related. He showed up later, they re-met, and the rest is history. Somehow our two families, which couldn’t be more different, have become inextricably intertwined. For good or ill, Clint is the only “dad” that GS1 has really known. His bio dad took off when he was barely 4 months old and hasn’t been seen since. His family will occasionally be in contact, but they live in Colorado Springs and Denver, so it’s all from a distance. One thing I will say about Clint, is that despite his various troubles, he never once differentiated between the two boys. He accepted GS1 as his son from the get go. This has definitely not been true of my daughter’s other liaisons, and regardless of his other pretty bad behaviors, I’ll always give him credit for this. The whole family, in fact, considers him one of theirs, and Mitch and all the kids were so happy to see him the day the stopped by to let G and me know they were living just a block away.
Mitch has five kids. Yes, five. They range from Aaron, at 13 and down in step-wise fashion. Their mother is either incarcerated or nowhere to be found. Mitch, unlike Clint and their father, never got sucked into the drug culture. He has always struck me as a kinder, gentler soul. His family is part Commanche, and he is very involved in that culture, doing Sun Dance in the summer, and sweat lodges, etc. He has somehow managed to keep all those kids together, with him, in school with good grades. I hadn’t seen them in years, and when they showed up at the house, I was surprised at how well behaved they all were.
Yesterday, I was watching the afternoon news, when I heard the side gate open and who should be running in but GS1, GS2 and cousin Aaron! Apparently, my daughter and Sammy (boyfriend, husband, whatever) had come down to visit his mother, who also lives here, and dropped the boys off with Mitch–of course no food, no help. They wanted to go skating, so G and I sprang for that last night. Walking behind them as we got in line at the skate place, it was interesting to see–GS1 towering over both his brother and his cousin, GS2 looking just like his dad, but all three of them very close and chatting about, “Remember when we did this?” “Remember when you did that?” I was never close to any of my few cousins, being raised in different states, so it was a poignant moment for me. Family isn’t just about blood, it’s where you’re put, and what you make of it, too.
Today was Aaron’s birthday. He came over and invited us to his BD party this afternoon. G and I flaked out after I came upstairs from my first work session, and got up just in time to walk down to the house. The kids were out playing with a basketball, the older boys sharing a couple of bikes between them. The pit bull puppy (of course, there’s always a pit bull puppy. At least this one is fixed.) kept getting out of the gate because no one could remember to close it behind them. G and I came in, and Mitch brought chairs for us. It was obvious that there was probably not going to be enough food for everyone. Just hot dogs and chips, and Mitch said Aaron wouldn’t have candles because he forgot to get them (or couldn’t afford them). Then his daughter piped up and said there were some candles in the house, and yes, there were at least 13. G and I felt bad that we had fallen asleep and didn’t have time to run out and at least get some potato salad or something to add, but we accepted our hot dogs, and chatted with Mitch’s dad who is living with him, but is still probably a huge druggie whenever he gets a chance. I hope the good of it will be that he’s a living example of how NOT to live your life. Pretty soon, it was time for me to leave in order to get back to work. I hugged the BD boy and told mine to be good. I wanted to take them some eggs or pancake mix or something for breakfast tomorrow. I wanted to weep that these kids probably only get one meal a day on the weekends. I thought about trying to bring something over anonymously, because I don’t want to put myself in the role of the gramma with money. It took 2 weeks, but Ariana (daughter) showed up at our door the other day, sent by her dad to ask for $10.00 for gas money. We don’t keep cash in the house for just that reason, so we weren’t lying when we said we didn’t have any money. I learned that hard lesson from my daughter (no, she never stole, but if you don’t have it on hand, you’re not lying when you say you’re out of cash). I don’t want to be in that position. On the other hand, I’d like to be able to offer something. I’m sitting here now just aching for those kids. There’s no doubt that their dad loves them more than anything. They seem to be pretty happy, they’re clean and dressed well enough, but five kids, my god, that just takes an endless supply of cash, even if you’re only covering the basics.
This is going to test me. I’ve been working very hard not to let my brain go to worst case scenarios over, well, just about everything. I am trying to ward off distractions. I am trying to learn what it is that *I* want versus just doing what has to be done because that precedence. I am working, working, WORKING those MBOs because if there was ever a case that needed a benevolent outcome, this is it. I keep coming back to the mantra I discovered when my daughter was giving me fits: Time passes, kids get older, things get better, or at least different. It will all work out. It will.
It was bound to happen. We reached our quota at work tonight, and they called us off, so I have a couple of hours until it’s midnight on the East Coast (10 pm here) and I can go back to work. I’m definitely falling behind on my post-a-day goal, and I thought about doing another quick “look at what I’m cooking now” post which would be easy, but I it’s been a while since I tackled a controversial subject. Except I’m not going to be controversial. The title above might seem so. If you phrase it right, put emphasis in different places, perhaps you might think I’m being radically liberal, trying to tell gun owners what to do, things like that. Not the case. The truth is, I really don’t want a gun. I don’t say that with fear or loathing or judgment that guns are evil and I wouldn’t have one in my house. I don’t think that. I don’t want a gun in the way that I don’t want high-heeled shoes, mirrored closet doors, or glass-topped tables. I just don’t want one. I have no interest in them. They cost way too much money and after thinking about it from six ways to Sunday, I can’t think of any way a gun would make me feel safer in my own home than I do right now.
I suppose that stricter gun control laws are a good thing, I don’t know. For the most part, the whole issue really doesn’t affect me. I don’t want a gun, so I’m not going to buy a gun, so I won’t have to have a background check. I don’t want a gun, so I’m not going to have a gun, so I don’t need a carry permit or a gun cabinet (unless I turned it into a fabric storage cabinet). The thing is, I’m about 100% sure that if anyone were to hurt me with a gun, it would be a person who set out to do so, i.e. a criminal. Chances are they wouldn’t have gone through a background check or even bought the gun (probably stole it), so even the most carefully crafted law in the land would be useless. People who are going to break one law aren’t going to pay attention to other laws. I would prefer not to see or be around guns strapped on in every public place I go to, but I suppose it’s only a matter of time until that happens. That, however, will never be one of my fashion accessories. I would probably wear high heels before I would wear a gun. What, you say, high heels aren’t a weapon? Single White Female, anyone?
I’m really not being flip about this. I’ve had a closer encounter with gun violence and gun irresponsibility than many people, so been there, done that. I can’t control much in my life, but I can control what goes on in my house, and here there will never be guns. To be fair, G and I talked about buying a gun if we really decided to get into back country hiking/camping. I’d vote for a shotgun, like our Vice President, but G made good points about having a hand gun handy in that kind of a situation. I would consider carrying a gun in that scenario, but then we’d have to figure out where to put it in the house, where to store the ammo, etc. It hasn’t gotten to that yet, but I’m saying this just in case some 2nd Amendment kook Googles me and decides to rant. To be clear, I’m not trying to “take away” anyone’s right to have a gun. Me not wanting one in no way affects anyone else’s desire/ability to acquire all the firearms they can.
In any event, not having a gun is what I’m comfortable with and so that’s my decision. For those who feel like the world is out to get them, then I suppose having a gun might make them feel safer and more comfortable. I don’t know. I just wish people would do what made them comfortable and leave others’ behavior to them. We don’t trust each other to behave. We say we pass laws to make us safe, but in reality, what we’re doing is saying, “You have to do (or not do) thus and so, in order for ME to be more comfortable.” That’s what laws are really about, for the most part. If we started thinking more about what we wanted, as individuals, and started focusing on that, and not letting other people’s behavior get in our way, I think we would all be a lot more comfortable AND safer in the long run. With or without a gun.
Chilly (31°), cloudy and drizzly this morning. The streets were wet and I’d forgotten what that looked like. So, it’s April 17? Coulda fooled me. Woke up at 4 am, wide-eyed and ready. G was sacked out in the other room. I finished the book I was reading and I was hungry. A pot of coffee later, and it was done. Yeah, it’s a heart attack on a plate, but I don’t eat it every day, and sometimes only a real breakfast will do:
A few months ago, in our search to help G with her acid reflux, I came upon this cookbook in the library. I checked it out, and we read it and liked it so much that we bought a copy. If you suffer from reflux and want to get a handle on it, this is definitely a book to get. It’s written by two doctors and a chef, so you get the science and the food creativity. You really can’t go wrong, and if she follows it pretty closely, the reflux is kept at bay with minimal medication.
We had both fallen off the good eating wagon a bit recently, but I don’t pay for it like she does. She really wanted to do the 2-week induction program, so Friday we went to the store, picked up a lot of greens and other veggies, and I put my thinking cap on. In the first 2 weeks, you are only supposed to eat chicken, fish or turkey breast with lots of low-acide veggies, no dairy, etc. Chicken is a no-brainer for me, but I wanted to put in some variety. G doesn’t really like fish, but she loves salmon patties. She’s also not supposed to have onions on this part of the plan, which is tough for me, since I put onions in everything. So, a challenge. I rummaged around in the cupboard, and found a can of salmon. So, off I went.
Okay, I cheated, I did use a little onion, but only about half of the piece in the photo and diced up tiny. I wanted the patties to feel robust for lack of a better word, and also to sneak some veggies in there. Just as I do with my meat loaf, I chopped the celery fine and grated the others.
Then I popped them into a saute pan with a little olive oil. Since any kind of pattie cooks quickly, if you don’t want raw veggies, you need to cook them down a little first.
While those were working, I got a piece of the bread we’ve been buying. You can have bread on this 2-week plan, but it has to be whole grain and not much of it. This is really good stuff and our local store recently started carrying it–it sells out fast.
Then, I got out my trusty 1/4 cup and decided to be scientific about this. Using the cup as a level scoop, this amount above makes 8 patties, just perfectly, without a smidge left over.
Then, I heated a little canola oil (didn’t want the olive oil flavor on these) in a nonstick, and browned the patties in two batches of four.
While they were cooking, I chopped up a few mushrooms, tossed them into my straight-sided sauce pan with a little butter/olive oil mix and when they were soft, tossed in some fresh spinach, added a little nutmeg and black pepper and then just turned off the heat and put a cover on. The residual heat did the rest.
Finally, I wanted some kind of sauce for the patties and I didn’t have any tartar sauce handy, so I reached in the fridge and pulled out what looked good. This is what I ended up with:
First I put a little mayo in a bowl and added the Mae Ploy, which was good, but a bit too sweet for me. Then I hit it with some of the horseradish sauce and perfect! I only mixed up enough for the meal, and now I have another sauce I can use on lots of dishes. Oh, and I just now realized looking at the photo that I bought reduced fat mayo. I don’t usually, but it’s pretty good. So, with everything coming together, and hungry folks in the next room, I put it all on the plate:
I have to say, my few little additions/changes, different bread (I usually use club crackers), less onion (adding five-spice) and using a standard measure for the pattied made a big difference. More consistency and they were GOOD. No spinach left and only a couple of the patties, which would be good on a salad or even in a sandwich later in the week. And the best part? No acid! All boxes ticked.
If your interest has been aroused by something, then it has been piqued, which means “to stimulate.”
Not “peeked,” which means to sneak a quick look at, nor even “peaked” which means pointed, or, if you make it two syllables, peak-ed, is a colloquial term for looking a little sickly.
PIQUED. Learn it, love it. USE it.
Thank you. Carry on.