Easter at the ankle fixing facility

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This is a bunny I made from random stuff in my room. Easter is kinda like this bunny in that I am trying to make something out of nothing.

I slept all day, almost literally, if it weren’t for the meal interludes. The best meal today was the one I scraped together from gifts from the Girlfriend: canned ravioli, special vegan protein drink, and some fancy chocolate with fruit in it. I feel like Easter started with that meal.

I hid from the world and slept, which, if you are reasonably healthy here, aside from broken things, you can occasionally get away with. No one came to visit me on Easter, which sucks so much. There were visitors everywhere and just hearing them from behind my closed door was already too much to handle. I have this great neighbor who kept knocking, for what it’s worth, but I couldnt make it to the door in time and didnt want to try. As cool as dormmates can be, sometimes you just need to be alone, to contemplate your aloneness. What can I say, I’m a complicated being.

Girlfriend is away this Easter, as is often the case, so the gifts were from previous visits. The whatnow family was busy doing things that did not involve me, and to be fair, most were away as well. So, it’s not personal. It just feel that way sometimes, which makes weekends here the hardest for me. Then Sunday, I remember my ankle homework and take the time to complete it, or not, but usually I do.

I have a nearly completed Easter egg that needs finishing too. It actually looks pretty good half finished, so thats nice.

I have also watched so many food shows its unbelieveable. I cant wait until this thing is fixed.

More This & That

1 You’re gonna do WHAT with that?

I need a colonoscopy… and it’s coming up soon. I am mostly ok with it- not looking forward to it, but it will be nice to have the results.

 

2 MMM cookies!

I got “fat”. Please, let me call it what it is. Everyone irl has been sparing my feelings, which is nice, but a weight gain of about 15 lbs makes me feel fat. After everything I’ve been through, I’ve earned the right to just blurt it out, I think.

And why did I get fat? Well, I can now eat things I couldn’t eat before, and that is awesome. At least, that *may* be part of it. The other part is me trying to figure out the ins and outs of surgical menopause, which isn’t easy.

3

One of many exasperating, but not painful, symptoms.

But on the bright side, there’s this:

4

Yes, I am referencing actual dairy-based ice cream! I can eat it now! It turns out, the problems I experienced were due to my malfunctioning gallbladder! That’s pretty much all I’ve tried, but I’m looking forward to trying other former problem foods.

 

5

Yay! No more periods!

Boo! Surgical menopause is almost exactly like PMS (for me), but without the pain.

I’ve been cooking and eating, so there will be more of those types of posts on the way. But, I might not get to it until after the exam, for obvious reasons.

 

Take care! 🙂

Blueberry Muffins: First Try!

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I’m slowly getting back into my groove. This is the first baking I’ve done in a while, excluding the boxed cake I mentioned a while back.

I’d never actually made blueberry muffins from scratch before. This recipe was quick and easy. I liked that. The muffin tops were flat because I’d tried a commenter’s suggestion to add sugar to the top mid-bake. Um, no. Don’t bother. I much rather would have tall muffins instead of the little bit of extra sugar. Live and learn.

Otherwise, the muffins are moist and chewy, and are now half-gone. So, it was a success. Next time, I’m thinking of trying a different recipe to see how they compare.

Enjoy! 🙂

Stuff and Nonsense

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It’s Week 17 since the surgery, and a few weeks out from the surprise stay. I’ve been trying to think of inspirational and/or funny posts, but the truth is, I’m not always all that inspired or funny.

Things are going fine in the grand scheme of things. I’ve been able to eat things I really shouldn’t be eating. I’ve been drinking soda again since about a month after the surgery. I’m not proud of this, but there are far worse habits out there. My plan is to get back on the water train, but I will finish what’s already around first.

I’ve been able to do a little somethin’-somethin’ with my beauty regimen. I no longer have to stick to unscented, un-anything types of products. So, since the incision healed, I’ve been using a lavender body wash/shampoo combo, which has been appropriate for the chill mood I’ve been trying to work.

Truth be told, I’ve been getting some flack for not getting my act together faster, and it’s affected my mood. Some people get motivated by that sort of criticism. I don’t. Especially when I was just starting to get back on my feet and feel good again. This isn’t a rant blog, but this has been a part of my life since I wrote last, and if you want the facts, I feel like I must include it. I’m sure everyone has their own versions of this on the road to surgery recovery- that well-meaning friend or relative who thinks you can leap large buildings in a single bound, while you would just be happy to walk to one.

I kayaked with Girlfriend, which confused everyone but her. I should say: “She helped me into the boat, pushed me off, then pulled me back in when I was finished”, but that takes too long. She also found delightful little spots for us to take breaks and sat there and played floaty with her boat so I’d stop and rest. So, um, technically, I kayaked, but mostly I took pictures of nature and put my feet and hands in the water.

I actually did walk around with a sports bra and shorts while we were at the cabin. She’d gotten me these scar patch things that I used to protect my scars from the sun. But, while we were out boating, I felt a little too shy and a little too worried about exposing them like that. It just felt better to have a bathing suit on over them.

The scar itself is still huge, long, and purple. I don’t think I have average feelings about it, compared to what I see elsewhere. Mostly, I feel proud that I survived. I never had the courage to get a tattoo, and this is kind of like one. Though, at the same time, I also hope it fades. It will take at least a year before I will know for sure. I am lucky that Girlfriend is not squeamish- she has seen the scar since I started taking pictures of it, and heard me talking about it since Day 1. So, I don’t feel like I have to hide it from her, which is very nice. I can’t imagine what those feelings must be like, on top of actually experiencing surgery.

…Just a little of this and that.

Mac and Cheese 3

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In preparation for the big snow, I decided to have another go at macaroni and cheese. As I’ve said before, I have odd intolerances that result in a hybrid of dairy/not-dairy whenever I recreate this classic dish.

Here are my previous attempts: 1) is a crockpot version that was my first serious attempt at homemade mac. 2) is a baked version that came straight from a book, and provided some very loose inspiration for this third attempt, which is my original baked creation.

 

Mac & Cheese 3:

Ingredients

1 stick Aged Cheddar

1 ball Mozzarella

3 slices American cheese

1 handful pre-shredded “Mexican blend” cheese

1 slice Pecorino Romano from the block, about 2″ x 3″ x 1/2″

Table Parmesan from the shaker (about a teaspoon)

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt

A splash of rice milk

A box of pasta, I used tiny shells

2 3/4 stick of butter

Bread crumbs-about a tablespoon

Fancy Cracker crumbs- about a teaspoon

Dijon Mustard

 

Tools:

Casserole dish large enough to fit everything

Large metal bowl (conducts heat)

Large spoon

Small measuring spoons

Mini-chopper

Knife & cutting board

Spatula to serve

Lid or plastic wrap to store

Butter spray

Microwave & microwave-safe small bowl

 

Method:

For the mac base, I…

Set the oven to 350F

Sprayed the casserole dish & set it aside

Boiled the pasta water & added pasta when ready (followed box instructions)

Cut the cheddar into blocks, then pulsed them in the mini-chopper

Dropped the cheddar into the bowl

Diced the mozzarella & added to bowl

Tore the American cheese & added to bowl

Diced the Pecorino & added to bowl

Melted butter in micro-safe bowl in microwave, about 35 seconds

Added a tablespoon of mustard (was a bit too much for me, fyi)

Poured butter into bowl with cheeses

Added yogurt, then a splash of rice milk

Drained pasta

Poured pasta into bowl

Stirred

Filled casserole dish & packed down

 

For the crust, I…

Sprinkled the fancy cracker crumbs over the top of the cheesy pasta

Then sprinkled the bread crumbs on top of the mixture

Then added a layer of “Mexican shredded cheese”

Then sprinkled Parmesan on top of that

 

Baking:

I baked it for about 45 minutes, checking after the first 30

 

Serving:

Obviously, it’s best if you can wait a little bit for it to set, but I ate the first portion almost immediately. I use a flat spatula to portion it out into card-deck shaped pieces… although the depth is about 2 packs!

 

Storing:

Then, I just put plastic wrap over the casserole dish, wait for it to cool down, and keep it in the fridge. I usually finish in about a week. I wouldn’t recommend keeping it past that.

 

Enjoy! 🙂

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds- First Try!

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There are a thousand ways to roast pumpkin seeds, and pretty much every way is the right way, as long as you like them when you’re finished. The recipe I used was published years ago by a friend of a friend, so I would feel bad violating the copyright, if only in spirit, by reproducing it exactly as written. But, the basic ingredients are worcestershire sauce, butter, salt, pepper, and a lot of patience.

This was a new experience for me. I have these seeds every year, but in the past, my only part in their creation was designing the jack-o-lanterns and de-gooing them. Although I don’t have it down to a science just yet, I still had a nice time working on them.

Once the seeds are de-gooed/separated, they are soaked in water. (I soaked mine overnight in Tupperware). Then, they need to be dried. I sandwiched them in between paper towels for about 3 hours. (You don’t really need to wait that long. I set them up after lunch & de-toweled them after dinner, because, you know, life…)

Once they are somewhat dry, they go into a bowl with the seasonings & sauce, while the oven preheats on low. I lined two lasagna pans with aluminum foil, spread out the seeds in one even layer & topped them with pats of butter. Once they are in, they are supposed to be checked and stirred every 15 minutes. I checked & stirred them every 30 and they were fine. They are done when they are completely crispy- not chewy.

It was a pretty successful first try. Apparently, I went a little light on the seasonings. Mine were also slightly chewy, but I still enjoyed them by the handful. I think this would probably make a nice Thanksgiving/Autumnal snack, before the Winter season is upon us.

Happy Harvest! 🙂

 

BFF Vegan Chili

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One of my BFFs threw a party a few weeks back & served this amazing chili. The recipe itself is vegan, though there was a cheese option for those who wanted it.

She found the recipe here. For my milk allergic friends, vegans, and/or those who want to cut back on milk, it looks like it could be a good resource. I can tell you from firsthand experience that this chili was amazing. Yum!

Enjoy! 🙂

Ravioli and Peppers

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…That thing where someone brings over something yummy (in this case, peppers), but you don’t eat all of it, and it’s not really a meal all by itself.

As far as I can tell, the mixture was originally sliced bell peppers and white onions that were sauteed in a lot of olive oil. I was looking for something that would absorb the oil, while providing a little balance to the dish. I had frozen ravioli- large or small to choose from. I went with the smaller ones, based on my desire for balance. This is not all that complicated, but here goes…

 

I…

…Removed the container with the leftovers. Btw, olive oil coagulates like woah in the fridge. Some say it hurts the taste, some say it doesn’t… but so far, no one has said it can hurt you. I will tell you it looks very funky, but don’t let that deter you.

…Started up the pot of water to boil.

…Put the peppers & oil into a metal mixing bowl. (Metal conducts heat. Science!)

Once the water was boiling, I dropped in the ravioli. They took another 5 mins or so to cook.

…Strained the ravioli & then placed them on top of the peppers.

…Let them sit like that a minute while I rinsed off the pots & pans…

Which made the oil melt- more science! Then, I stirred them,

…and that was it! It didn’t require any seasoning (but feel free to jazz it up if you like, you know I skew bland!)

 

You can’t beat leftovers that turn into 4 more meals. Yum!

Enjoy! 🙂

 

Air-Fryer: First Try!

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Please note, this is not a sponsored post. But, if Phillips wants to send me some attachments or ingredients to try more recipes, I wouldn’t stop them, and of course, I’d tell you all about it!

I was delighted to receive a used air fryer as a gift recently. I like fried foods, but don’t eat fried food all that much anymore.  However, some things just taste better fried. I’ve been interested in air-frying for about a year or so, but hadn’t had a chance to try it out.

As I understand it, Air-Frying seems to mostly operate on convection, though it can produce a crisp as well. To test it out, I tried a recipe straight from the source: Crispy Potato Skin Wedges, from pg.4 of the Avance Recipes book.

To make a long story short, I wasn’t entirely enamoured with how this particular recipe turned out, but I am going to give the fryer a few more trials. I had made some modifications to the recipe, which may have contributed to the less-than-desireable results. In the process of taste-testing the results, I also discovered that there is also one ingredient that I needed to modify, but didn’t.

 

Picture Key:

  1. After boiling, cooling, & dicing: coating the wedges with oil and seasonings
  2. After air frying

 

Modifications:

I used olive oil because I don’t have any canola oil & I thought olive would taste better.

I used Eastern potatoes because they were on sale, and the Russet potatoes were regular price: In retrospect, I think the Russets would have been better for producing a crisp, since they have thicker skins.

 

Ingredient note:

This recipe uses 1 1/2 teaspoons of paprika: I like paprika, I’ve had it before. But 1 1/2 teaspoons is just too much for my system. The fries tasted good, but paprika is a laxative. It can cause nausea and heartburn as well… not things I need in my life.

Next time, I will either cut back on the paprika, have them plain, or give Mrs. Dash a try.

 

Thoughts on using the fryer:

It was very easy to use. Most of the work is in the prep. The oil went on the food, not in the fryer. All I had to do after pre-heating was drop the potatoes into the basket & set the temp & timer.

Pre-heating only takes 3 minutes. The prep time was longer, so I ended up setting & re-setting the timer several times. Next time, I will set the pre-heat timer for longer.

On the analog model, you basically have to wait the pre-heat timer out if you finish prep beforehand. You can’t force the dial like you can with tabletop analog timers.

You should know the machine gets very hot. It heated up my kitchen, which was fine on a cool day, but important to note for warmer days.

I used an extra large trivet to sit the machine on to protect the counter-top.

 

Thoughts on the results:

The fries did taste good, but they seemed under-done in the center, and not crispy enough on the outside. Since it is the crispyness that I am interested in, I plan to try different approaches to see if this is my error, or the limitations of the machine.

 

Enjoy! 🙂