Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

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52 Ancestors #4 – Favorite Family Recipe

I can’t remember when I first had this or who made it. The recipe was my godmother’s and long ago became our traditional food for family gatherings, either for a holiday, a funeral, or just a visit. I’ve made it so many times I don’t even need to use the recipe card, though I treasure it in my mother’s handwriting. Much to my shock, I recently learned that my godmother’s daughter has never even made this cake! How can this be possible when it’s so essential to my own family??

Peg Myers Jewish Coffee Cake Recipe

I’m not sure why this is Jewish Coffee Cake and not just Sour Cream Coffee Cake or some other title. A quick Google search for “Jewish Coffee Cake” yielded recipes and descriptions that sound very much like mine, so maybe this was a common recipe, and maybe it originated in the Jewish community. I did find an interesting article about the history of sour cream coffeecake, but am still not sure of the Jewish connection.

Even though I used my mom’s recipe, we made it differently and our cakes tasted different, too. Mom used 8 oz. of sour cream and I generously filled a measuring cup instead, making mine moister. I also have a passion for cranberry so make mine with dried cranberries instead of raisins – and also pecans from our yard instead of walnuts.

We grew up eating this cake for Christmas breakfast and on other holidays. It was what we ate coming home from college, when we flew in for Thanksgiving, when my nephew came for a visit. It’s tradition that we’ve shared for over fifty years. Knowing that the next generation sought out the recipe and also makes it for these special occasions makes me really happy and connects us all to my mom and to my godmother, who gave it to us.

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Real Food Tastes Wonderful

funny-pictures-kitten-and-stuffed-animal-make-a-punNot that I’m eating a lot of it.  But still, it’s way more tasty than endless ounces of water, Crystal Light, and my small portions of ensure.   No, I’ve graduated to 8 oz of soft food per day.  This week that includes eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, mashed potatoes, thin oatmeal, and canned or cooked fruit and veggies.

After seeing the doctor yesterday for my follow up, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things to make sure I had the right stuff since my shelves were pretty bare of almost everything except at least a dozen little tubes of Crystal Light tubs.  I was almost overwhelmed by the amount and colors and aromas of food in the store and was glad I had a very small list and could spend not too much time.  I’m not ready to be around accessible food like that.

My first meal was 2 oz of 0% Fage with 1 canned peach slice.  It took me 30 min. to eat and tasted divine.  Dinner was 2 scrambled eggs, except I couldn’t eat both – it was too much food – so I gave the last part to the kitty, who gobbled it up.  She’s thrilled that mommy is back to having food she eats on plates for her to investigate.

My incisions are healing nicely, especially now that the bandaids are off (somehow everyone forgot to mention that I only needed them for 2 days post-op – I think they need to rewrite some of their documentation).  I go back to the surgeon in 2 weeks for my first saline fill.

For those who don’t know, the lapband system has the actual band part itself, which separates out a small pouch at the top of the stomach.  It holds about 1 oz at a time.  The band fits around the pouch and is connected with very tiny tubing under the skin to a port that’s sutured under the skin in the middle of the abdominal area.   Nothing is visible to the naked eye except the surgery scars.

Inside the little band is a tiny balloon that is filled with saline solution injected into the port, going down the tubing and filling the balloon, thus tightening the band to make it more restricted.  Except of course they only fill a tiny bit at a time, and sometimes fluid can be removed if the band is too tight.  My whole band only holds 10 cc of fluid, which is not much.   It’s a dance of sorts to find the “sweet spot” of fullness that allows me to eat/drink what I need but restricts me from overdoing it and eating everything in sight.  Not that that’s likely now, since I get full on an ounce of yogurt!

I’m feeling good, except for my continuing knee pain, and as of this morning, and down 59.2 lbs since April.  I don’t really know my surgery day weight, since I gained about 7 lbs of fluids while I was in the hospital and lost all of those plus another 10 lbs.  The doctor told me to expect only about 5-6 lbs more in the next two weeks, which still sounds pretty good to me.

I pulled some clothes out and realized I can wear things I haven’t worn in at least 4 years – and some things are too silly looking to keep wearing.  It helped that I saw Stacy & Clinton yesterday on a WNTW rerun, and their makeover victim candidate’s before clothes looked a lot like mine.  Major incentive to weed!


Overdoing Cooking

Vegetable PeopleI got a bee in my bonnet this weekend to cook.  I haven’t really done this in a while, not like this.  And I have to admit that while it’s good for stocking the fridge with healthy stuff, it wasn’t the smartest thing for my shoulder, even though I tried to pace myself.  My knees aren’t too happy with extensive kitchen standing, either,  so pacing worked all the way around.

We were supposed to get a huge snowstorm on Saturday into Sunday, so the house was stocked with groceries delivered by Peapod (thank heavens for them – lots of wear and tear saved on the shoulder there by having food delivered right to the kitchen).   I had no plans other than trying to figure out how to get my car shoveled out after the snow.

On Saturday I chopped and roasted a big pile of green peppers and sweet onions, lightly tossing in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings.  They’re great for adding to almost everything – in soup, mixed with couscous, added to salads, as a side to scrambled eggs.  I also made a batch of sweet and sour red cabbage, using shredded cabbage, red onion, apples, vinegar and sugar.  I totally adore this dish, which we actually eat at Thanksgiving and Christmas, though I like it better cold the next day when the flavors have melded more.

A friend stopped by just before the snow to bring me starter for Amish Friendship Bread, so I made that, too.  Don’t ask me why I thought this was a good idea, but it wasn’t hard and I put one loaf in the freezer and will slice the second to have with breakfast this week.   I have a few batches of starter doing their thing in baggies on the counter, just part of the general clutter.

Today’s big project (which isn’t that big, really) was roasting a chicken in the crockpot.  It’s incredibly easy, uses minimal ingredients, yields a ton of clean protein to eat in sandwiches or for dinner.  I especially like chopped chicken mixed with roasted veggies and couscous.  The drawback is that it makes a big mess, since the chicken basically falls off the bone.  It’s worth it, though. I also made a new recipe with sweet potatoes, crushed pineapple, and some brown sugar.  It’s yummy and I suspect I’ll make it again.

In the middle of all this, I went outside to check out the snow situation.  We didn’t get nearly as much as anticipated, which means we won’t believe the weather people the next time they predict a big storm.  It also meant I didn’t have to worry about much snow removal.  My car is in a carport so it doesn’t actually have to be shoveled out, but the plow does sometimes leave a pile behind it that can be a problem if left unattended.

So, um, I went out with a shovel and, using my LEFT ARM ONLY, pushed it out of the way.  Even that I could feel on the right side, and trust me, I’m not going to do it again soon.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have big storms on the horizon – not that I’ll believe the weather people anyway.

For now, I have clean clothes, a well stocked fridge, a content kitty, and a bag of frozen peas on my right shoulder.  I’m optimistic that it will be a good week, which will be improved considerably if our online system comes back online.  We lost almost 3 days last week, plus work done on Tuesday was lost completely when the system crashed before nightly backup.  Nothing we can do about it.  At least I have a tidy office!


Spicing Things Up

The Food Network’s other name is Food Porn, and it’s addictive.  I like to watch chefs do all kinds of interesting things that I know I’ll never make but find fascinating when prepared from start to finish in nice neat 30-minute segments.   Sandra Lee is one I think is slightly insane with her insistance on using seasoning packets instead of real, yanno, spices.   None of the other FN chefs would dream of that.  But they also have kitchens stocked with every kind of spices and herbs that you could want for any recipe.  It’s miraculous.

spicesMy kitchen is somewhat different.  I tend to use the same basic things over and over, completely forgetting about the curry powder or alspice or some such thing.  Before I moved I tossed out a ton of things that didn’t look familiar and my current spice/herb supply is skimpy.

When I buy a new one, I’ve learned to write the month and date on the container using a sharpie.  That way I can see that my jar of ground ginger is five years old.  Oops, that’s about four years too long.  I just hate the idea of throwing away things I spent good money to buy.  On the other hand, old spices don’t have the punch and flavor of fresh jars and food tastes better when things are fresh.

Quality ingredients matter.  Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, always says to buy the best vanilla you can find, that it makes a difference in the flavor of the dish.  And she’s right.  Last month I bought some really good vanilla and the smell alone is hugely different, not to mention the taste.  It’s making me wonder about some of the other things I could have on hand to perk up my meals.

Needing some direction and inspiration, I did some searching and found two really good starting points for ideas:

I think it’s time to weed through the cabinet again – and pick up some new spice, looking for small containers of things I don’t use often and bigger ones of things I go through fast such as bay leaves.   A visit to Edge of the Woods or Trader Joe’s seems to be in order.


Day One Again

Went to WW this morning and am up 1.6 lbs over the last two weeks.  Since I was eating pretty much everything not nailed down, it’s not at all a surprise.  I confess that I stopped at Dunkin Donuts on the way home and had breakast of a coffee roll and a small bottle of OJ — but I accounted for that and still managed to only use 1 flex point for the day.

My big accomplishment was not going into the grocery store.  I didn’t need to go, having made two different runs (at different stores, for different things) and a trip to the farm stand for fresh local veggies.  But this morning I wanted more more more of something snacky.  I drove to the store and parked in the lot, but sat there for a few minutes before getting out of the car.  From somewhere I found the wherewithall to just decide not to go in today. If I entered the store, I knew I would not be able to not buy something I would regret later.  So instead I just started the car, turned around and went home.

I did not starve.  I ate a big healthy salad with edamame, vegetables, and protein, plus cherries for lunch.  Dinner was a pork chop, corn on the cob, big fat Canadian tomatoes, and a bowl of fresh strawberries with pudding yogurt for dessert.  A rich fudgy low-fat fudge bar made a satisfying snack.  I’m floating away in water and Crystal Light but am full and ready to stop eating.  Food for tomorrow is planned out.

I’m just taking this one day at a time, remembering my goal of 10% of my current weight off by Christmas.  It’s doable.  Today was Day One.


So let’s see, how’s it going?

I joined WW again weekend before last, finding a new meeting on Sunday morning that I really liked. The leader is supportive but not insanely perky and the meeting members were welcoming and participated a lot. I came home inspired to do well but of course that didn’t last all that long.

I’ve been eating lunch out a lot lately, getting together with colleagues from other libraries on campus. I managed okay for the first few but by Pad Thai day, I was losing it. I don’t care what the WW book says, a portion of Pad Thai is what they bring you on the plate. I wasn’t going to leave any behind – and didn’t. Of course that didn’t stop me from eating dinner anyway, albeit less than I might have otherwise.

I didn’t go to my meeting last Sunday because I’d forgotten that it was WW day. After not going on Sunday for a year, I just grabbed breakfast and a Diet Pepsi on autopilot No way i was going to get on a scale after that. Have I gone this week to make up for it? Nope. But I am tracking my points, as awful as they are. It’s part of the accountability thing that I’ve not paid enough attention to lately. No matter what, I’ll be at my meeting on Sunday morning.

Saturday I went to a local farm and bought tons of fresh veggies and fruit. There’s a big bowl of gazpacho in the fridge that I’ve been eating on for days. Tonight I roasted peppers, onions, and beets and they taste amazing. I always forget how wonderful they are and grouse about the time to chop, even though it’s not really that much work when I just do it.

It’s clear that I need to allocate more points for lunch than for dinner. That’s when I’m more likely to eat out, and it gives me more time when I’m vertical and moving to get it digested. Dinners will be salad with a protein or veggies with a frozen dinner – portion controlled and not so tasty that I want to keep eating it. No ice cream allowed in the house; pudding yogurt with fruit is a better idea and works in another dairy.

Meanwhile I’m sitting here and watching Top Chef reruns right up until the reunion show. There’s nothing like looking at people standing up for hours cooking exotic things to make me grab another bottle of water and put my feet up.