A Good Day for Beans

Today is Thunder over Louisville (or elsewhere, Saturday, April 21st).  This event kicks off the Kentucky Derby festival – the air show is spectacular, couldn’t care less about the fireworks although I appreciate what it takes to put on the biggest pyrotechnics exhibition in the country.  When the weather’s good, which it’s not this year (overcast & cold), the crowds are immense and no matter how you plan it, it will take 3 hours for you to get home to your house less than a mile away.  Louisville has considered  installing a light rail system for decades (along with other forward-thinking municipal projects) but so far no progress.  We did get the new arena built which is pretty impressive, I’ve heard; looks good from the outside.  Although I don’t have a problem navigating the downtown area with its labyrinth of one-way streets and roadways that end abruptly for an expressway ramp or random building, there’s just no way to get out in a reasonable amount of time when there’s a major event.  I speak from experience and now enjoy most of these functions from home – the TV stations do a fabulous job. Apparently this year there are shuttle buses to get one in and out.  Stunning weather the early part of the week – made it a point to walk  on lunch break a couple of times with my partner in crime.  Our facility is close to Cave Hill Cemetary  – we head there where we get a brisk couple of miles in while appreciating the beauty and  spirituality of the grounds;  free therapy with health benefits!

Last Sunday we had veg lasagne with a simple salad of baby greens & spinach and a nice dense artisan bread.  Tomorrow will probably be salmon & vegetables in the clay pot with wild rice and slaw – not quite ready for grill time.  So…good to use up the ham bone (still have 2 more in the freezer – I don’t care much for ham but the menfolk do so I oblige on the holidays) and I love anything on cornbread + cheese.  I usually make a killer pea soup  but this time I wanted squishy great northerns.  Also added some frozen mixed beans – Aldi had some lovely mixed bagged beans – bought a couple of pounds and as I was loading my overly packed bags into the car one of the straps broke and the bag fell to the ground.  Also inside the bag was a jar of pickles that of course, broke; the juice leaked into the beans;  damned if I would throw them away as I’m tighter than bark on a tree.  Soaked them all and ended up with 3 large bags o’beans.  The attached bean recipe was modified for the crocker..used dried beans + frozen beans + hambone, no cumin or tomato paste.  Wow. Fireworks audio choreography leaving me speechless.

Such an interesting melange of music.  Fireworks photo at top was sent to my phone by daughter watching from The Quonset Hut on Phoenix Hill w/family & friends.  Son playing music gig in the Starks Building downtown sent this one…   I took the cemetery shot from my phone while on the aforementioned walk – can’t believe it came out as I didn’t have my glasses on and I totally can’t see squat w/o them.

Vegetable Lasagne

Freezing Pre-soaked Beans

Herbed White Bean and Sausage Stew

Cornbread

Such a Day

Such a day…TJC in the house, day 3; couple of departmental hiccups – my OCD is closer to the surface than I’d like.  All of the great accomplishments just get tossed to the side of my mind when faced with these minor issues that of course, I’m already rectifying.  The team outdid themselves today.

According to the panel of family, Easter dinner was good…I can’t vouch much for the flavors since my taste buds were fried after last year’s ‘adventure’ as I like to call it.

Might as well write of this now as it’s part of the journey of this blog.  A year ago in the fall I accidentally felt a lump under my jaw; I say accidentally as I don’t normally poke around my body I search of lumps (except for random checks of the girls).  Since I work in Radiology I sought some free advice and was steered towards an ENT who recommended biopsy, CT to seal the deal and the resultant minor surgery to remove the little fella.  We always read/hear about the complications of any kind of surgery no matter how minor but don’t give them much credence as they are rare.   I awoke to feel my airway closing and was quickly shuttled back to the surgical suite.  Again I awoke but this time to feel a trach in my neck.  I had experienced a bleeding event that compromised my airway.  Story short, spent a few days in the ICU experiencing all the things the patients in my hospital do i.e. no having means of communication (asked for a white board, was given a few sheets of paper and the remnants of a pencil); no drink or food and no idea what the next minute would bring.  The staff was great but they knew I was in the biz so I was sort of left to my own devices.  I was getting IV fluids so had to TT a lot – experienced a lot of anxiety  about pressing the call button.  Also, the whole time, I was freezing.  Day two after the deal I had to text my team as I had planned on returning to work straight away.  Briefly mentioned my situation and immediately was blasted with much electronic angst, concern and e-visitors.  Laughing was a challenge.  I will say that I never needed anything for pain. Some surgeries are like that. On the third day (get the irony?) my doc came in and popped out the trach, told me what kind of cancer I had, how it would be treated, and released me.  My husband drove me home on a bright, shiny snowy day.  I looked like shit on a stick…face swollen, green/yellow, Frankenstein stitches down my neck and a hole in the middle of it and hair that needed a cut two weeks prior and had been washed with that waterless stuff (along with the rest of me). As soon as I got home I got my squirrely hair washed and figured out a bathing system.  When all was said and done the most/best/important thing besides being alive was regaining the ability to bathe.  No shower till the trach hole closed which took a bit of time since I talk too much.  You’re supposed to put your finger over the opening when you speak which I didn’t do often enough. My voice gets croaky by the end of the day as I think they first tried to insert a breathing tube and scritched up my vocal cords.  I received thirty-three radiation treatments at a wonderful facility where I was lucky enough to know the staff.  I drove there before work each day, in and out in a half hour unless I had to see the doc.  I resumed the practice of yoga each morning as after the first week of treatment I felt my neck begin to tighten up; I also found a great product, Bio Oil, to massage into my scars.  It also seemed to keep my skin from looking burned.  I still use it every day as everything continues to tighten up overnight.  I have to be diligent with my dental care as I won’t heal properly in the radiated area of my jaw.  I return to the ENT every three months for what I hope will continue to be good news.

I have taste ‘memory’ and an acute sense of smell; texture has become more important.  Some foods are more and some now less palatable.  What is truly miraculous is that my very favorite things (dark chocolate, my favorite beer – Keystone Light and chili spices) still taste great!

My taste buds and I have come to a meeting of the minds.

It’s so ironic that at this juncture I finally have all the food prep gadgets and cookware, wonderful herbs and spices, and decades of collected recipes all beautifully catalogued and ready to share; every day I snare another one to try and so appreciate all the food blog pioneers and those who have posted their faves and above-all, the reviewers.

I’ve always been just a web crawler but now I would like to share the fruits of my labor, as it were.  I credit those from whom I’ve copied snippets or more in my BLOGROLL.

I’ve been sharing the recipes with family and co-workers since I began this project and they are well received for their ease-of-use, ingredient combinations or novelty.

Photos will appear at a later date – not of the prep steps but of random minutia that defines me.

I work in a 6 x 10 galley kitchen retrofitted with wonderful SS appliances and a non-granite Formica countertop befitting the space.

Whew.

If you happen to still be reading this I applaud your endurance.

Here’s the Easter dinner rundown – my next step will be to catalog the recipes as I do in my personal folder – still have much to learn about wordpress.

Spicy Deviled Eggs

Green Beans & Cranberries

Broccoli Salad with Toasted Pecans

Maple Ham in the crockpot

Garlic Smashed Potatoes in the crockpot

Pineapple Trifle

April Fools Day?

Roundup: April Fool’s Day jokes from around the Web.  I always enjoy what Google dishes up.  I’m not a fan of practical jokes (maybe because I’m so gullible?) and so far, no pranks.  Kids are on the way for our Sunday dinner ritual.  I’m glad to be able to continue this tradition each week.  Recently our son returned to us from Arizona, having spent the last 6 years there learning the art of luthiery and restructuring his goals.  In the short time he has been back he’s seen many doors open and friendships rekindled.  I’ll be plugging his talents later.  Our daughter and son-in-law are successful Realtors who seem to have  weathered the recession.  They are the proud parents of our wonderful granddaughter.  Easter next weekend, the foliage is beautiful.

Impossible Salmon or Tuna Pie

Pickled Cucumbers

Coleslaws

Jello Jigglers

Pizza Wednesdays

Wednesday nights we usually make our own pizzas but I had thawed some frozen salmon the night before so this week it will be Pizza Thursday.   One of my weeknight standbys is salmon with pesto, Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries and  a steamer bag of vegetables.  The salmon recipe calls for fresh tomato slices which, at this time of year, don’t exist in my part of the world so I tried a different simple recipe using mustard, brown sugar and dill.  Once you manage to free the products from  their packaging, this meal comes together quickly and is baked in about 25 minutes.  Both recipes are attached.

Pesto Salmon

Mustard-Topped Salmon

The pizza recipes in my main file are for reference only..I seriously doubt I’ll ever make my own dough (easy as it sounds) as the whole point of this project is to share my methods and prepare creative, healthy meals with a minimal amount of prep and ingredients I have on hand.  Although I occasionally experiment, I tend to recycle  the tried and true favorites.  The recipes in the following Pizzas attachment reference products and their sources.  My dietary choices are based on a combination of research and experience;  we eliminated trans-fats, fast and most processed foods years ago.  Although we now have a more convenient array of organic products available, I still rely on frozen items when things are not in season.  Luckily none of us are gluten/wheat-sensitive as I do use a lot of wheat and grains in an effort to up the fiber ante.  Frozen dark berries and bean dishes add to the count.  I need to make a batch of cookies – dark chocolate chip oatmeal with flax seed. It’s been stormy all morning, I was glad to not feel obligated to work in the yard but the sun suddenly appeared.  Too soggy for yard work but not for a walk.

Pizzas

Oatmeal Flax Chocolate Chip Cookies

Meant to edit the cookie recipe – use white whole wheat flour, Hodgson Mill Multi Grain Flaxseed & Soy Hot Cereal (also used in my morning smoothie) for the 1/4 cup flaxseed and Country Choice Organic Multi Grain Hot Cereal for the oatmeal – serious fiber!!