Thursday, March 31, 2011

Patient Updates

Moose Chillin

Life has been a wee bit hectic these past few weeks.

It was like we were all on this fast train and we couldn’t get off.

There were trips back and forth to two different hospitals, trips back and forth to our vet who is on the other end of the state, endless phone calls and updates, new meds for Moose and even an unexpected blood transfusion for him last Friday (Moose, not Dad). Not fun!

It’s amazing how stress can affect your life. My body was a bundle of nerves. There was no desire to cook or clean, never mind thinking about making something from scratch. It was just about making it through the day.

By Sunday we knew Dad was going to have the defibrillator put in and the doc assured us that his heart was strong and that he should do well with the surgery, and he did. I’m happy to report that he’s now home, happily sitting in his lazy boy watching all his taped shows. Here’s a pic I took the day of his surgery. That’s about 10 hrs after the operation. He was checking out the TV guide in the paper.

Ri Hosp Dad

To say that we all feel a big sigh of relief is an understatement. I’m so happy that my Dad will be here for many more years and that life as we all know it will return to a sense of normalcy. Again, thanks to all of you who sent prayers, well wishes, emails, words of encouragement. My friends and family, and you guys, are always there when I need you. I am so thankful for you all.

I actually spent a quiet hour in the kitchen cooking on Sunday. It was nice. It was my normal. That’s what we are all craving right now…normal…mundane…the every day routine.

Moose had his blood transfusion, is on new meds and is slowly getting back to his old self. We’ll be going to the vet every few weeks to monitor his blood, but we can deal with that.

I have a few posts ready to roll, you’ll be seeing them soon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Things are looking up!

Birdfeeder 11jpg

Dad was moved to Rhode Island Hospital, which is right where he needs to be.

He is under the care of a wonderful cardiac specialist.

No blockages were found, it seems to be strictly a problem with the electrical system in his heart.

Right now, he’s having lots more tests and they are treating him with medication.

We know he is in the best of hands and feel optimistic that they will find out what’s happening with Dad’s ticker and fix him right up.

He’s in a private room in the new wing of the hospital which has a big flat screen TV. He is in great spirits and very happy about the TV. Just like a man huh?

A million thanks you’s for your thoughts, emails, messages, prayers and kind words. They have helped so very much.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Not so Wordless Wednesday~ Signs of Life

Signs of Life

This is my not so wordless Wednesday.

I almost lost my Dad yesterday.

Long story short, he wasn't feeling so well yesterday morning but insisted on going to a dentist appointment anyway. Luckily my mom went with him. By the time he got into the office he was pale and clammy and shaking. Again, luckily, the dentist's office is in the same building as his doctors office, so they call the doc and he comes and takes Dad's blood pressure and it's so low they can't read it. Off he goes in the ambulance. My Mom calls me a half hour later and tearfully tells me that they can't get his heart rate down and I need to come NOW.

I can't begin to tell you how terrifying that call was. One of my co-workers drove me to the hospital. I was shaking all over. I was calling my brothers. I was praying. I was petrified.

I walked through the hospital like a shaking zombie, just going from desk to desk asking which way to go. I was alone on the elevator, praying. "Please don't take my father from me now, please".

He was stabilized by the time I got there. He looked bad. There were tubes all over and beeping noises and nurses and doctors all around him, but he was alive. They had to use those paddles on him, you know like the ones you see in the movies. They needed to get his heart back to the right rhythm. I was still shaking so bad that the nurses asked me if I was ok. I really didn't know.

The doctor, who was Italian (that made my Dad happy, lol) came out and told us that we dodged a bullet. If he had stayed at home and perhaps gone to lay down, he might not have made it. Ask me how happy I am that he was stubborn enough on insisting on going to the dentist?

So today is a catheterization to see what's going on. We are not out of the woods, but he's fixable and for that I am so thankful.

This is how crazy my day was yesterday...I had my Dad and my sister-in-law in the hospital (she was in out patient) and my dog was in the doggy hospital. Moose was supposed to have a blood transfusion, but they decided against it because his blood counts were looking better. Happy news all around. I couldn't have asked for more.

Thank you to all my facebook friends, my cousins and my family for all the words of encouragement and all the prayers that were said for my Dad. They worked!

There must have been some angels looking over me yesterday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Baked Salami & Mozzarella Eggrolls

Baked Egg Rolls 2

I found a great appetizer for your next party or cookout.

You can thank me later.

Who doesn't like egg rolls? I love egg rolls. Love them. If you don't like egg rolls, well let me tell you, you might like these egg rolls cause they are not your typical egg roll. Get my drift? No, hang in there with me, you will.

As much as I like them, I never make egg rolls cause I hate frying them. I'm not really into frying much of anything. I don't like the mess of frying or the time I have to stand in front of a pan filled with hot oil. Then there's the paranoia. When I'm frying, I'm always overly cautious. No one can come near the stove, the dog has to leave the kitchen, don't distract me or talk to me...I'M FRYING WITH DEADLY OIL HERE! It really does scare me a bit.

When I made the fish tacos a few weeks ago, I think that was about the first time I've fried anything in a year or more.

So, these are not your typical egg rolls, in fact, except for the wrapper, they probably don't qualify as an egg roll at all, but that's what they are called, so who am I to argue?

What they are is easy and delicious and baked not fried.

I found this recipe on my friend Jenny's site Jenny Mac's Lip Smack. Thanks Jenny!

My mind is already coming up with all kinds of other filling for these. You could do all veggies, or ham and cheese or Southwestern egg rolls, or maybe a cream cheese and crab filling, kinda crab rangoonish? The possibilities are endless really.

Baked Egg Rolls 3

With just a few simple ingredients you have a really delicious crunchy bite. I wondered if baking them would be as good as frying them, and it is! They are so crispy that you won't even think about them not being fried.

Baked Egg Rolls 1

Baked Salami and Mozzarella Egg Rolls
1 Egg, lightly beaten
12 oz. mozzarella cheese sticks. (Jenny used jalapeño sticks, we are wimps here so no jalapeño for us!)
24 Slices Thin Salami
24 Egg Roll Wrappers
vegetable oil for coating

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the egg in a small bowl. Unwrap your string cheese and cut each one in half. Lay a egg roll wrapper down on a flat surface like a diamond. So that that one of the points is facing you.

Brush each side with the egg wash using a pastry brush. Place a piece of salami in the middle of the wrapper, and then 1 piece of the string cheese at the bottom of the piece of salami. Roll the wrapper up from the bottom until piece of cheese is covered, then stop and fold in each side, then continue rolling it and make sure it's sealed well. To see an example of how to wrap these correctly click here. The recipe is a bit different, but the wrapping is the same. Repeat until you are done or run out of an ingredient. I had a pound of salami and 2 packages of wrappers so I just made as many as I thought we would eat.

Place each egg roll on a baking sheet lined with parchment and lightly brush the tops with vegetable oil. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden. *DON"T OVERBAKE!* Your cheese will ooze and that's not a good thing! Cool slightly and then dig in!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creamy Coconut Cake

Coconute Cake
Let me introduce you to my friend Amy.

Wife, mother, cook, baker, hysterical video maker, and all around spectacular human being, oh and she is also blogger extraordinaire. She has a little blog that you might have heard's called Very Culinary.

Recently Amy made a recipe I posted and said some really kind words about me. I was flattered and as I was reading I thought "I can say the very same thing about her". When Amy says “You have to make this!”…well…I make it! See that was me quoting Amy about me and now I'm using the same quote about her. Did you follow that?

So I see this cake that Amy made for her daughter Haley's birthday and I immediately thinking I'm totally making this cake. Coconut and I have this special relationship. It exists for my pleasure and I eagerly and happily enjoy it in any recipe that I can get my hands on. Oh yes, I have big love for coconut.

If you are a coconut lover, and you need some gooey coconutty goodness, you need to make this cake, and devour it to pieces and then thank Amy, oh and you can also thank Kim, another one of my very favorite people on the planet (She was the one who turned us all on to this recipe). Thanks Kim!

Wanna hear about my mid-recipe freak out? Ok, so I was making this cake for a few friends that I was having over for dinner that night. I was preparing it in the morning and as I was pouring the mixture over the cake, I didn't think it was absorbing into the cake correctly. So what do I do? I run to ask Amy on Facebook, hoping she's on, and sure enough, a few minutes later, Amy responds and tells me not to worry, the cake will suck up all the coconutty goodness, and it did. So don't panic and think that your going to end up with a gooey mess. It really will suck up all the goodness.!

Creamy Coconut Cake
Serves 15
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

• 1 package of white cake or butter cake
• 3 eggs
• 1/3 cup vegetable oil
• 1 can (15 ounce) Cream of Coconut
• 1 can (14 ounce) Sweetened Condensed Milk
• 1 1/2 cups Shredded Coconut
• 1/2 cup toasted coconut
• 1 (12 ounce) container Cool Whip

Make cake mix as directed on box and bake in a 9 x 13 inch pan.

While the cake is cooking, whisk together cream of coconut and condensed milk in a medium bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, fold together 1 1/2 cups coconut into the Cool Whip. Set aside.

Let cake cool for 10 minutes. Poke holes all over the top of cake with a fork. Spoon condensed milk mixture over the cake. Let sit for another 15 minutes. Spread Cool Whip mixture over cake. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup toasted coconut. Cut to desired size pieces and serve.

Coconut Cake

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who Am I?

Who I am

My friend Jen at Under the Big Blue Sky inspires me all the time.

If you haven't checked out her blog, you are truly missing out. Jen's photography is breathtaking and her writing will touch your soul and make you think. I'm always so in awe at the way her writing just seems to flow so naturally and easy. I find myself nodding my head in agreement at her words, or laughing out loud at her wittiness.

She is inspirational.

Over the past year or so we have discovered we have lots in common and that was confirmed even more so when I read her blog post
Who Am I?

Jen's 9 year old daughter wrote an essay in school. Jen took that essay and applied it to her life. Brilliant. I took and ran with it. If you read Jen's essay you'll notice that some of the lines are exactly the same.

I told you we have a lot in common.

I am the mother of two teenage boys. I am a wife to a remarkable husband. I am a true friend. To my brothers I am the older sister. I am the only daughter-in-law my in-laws have. My mother would call me a daughter who is "Mother Earth", something she's called me for a long time. My Dad would say I am predictable and sensible. My kids would say I'm always in the kitchen. I was a good student. Art was my favorite subject. I am a granddaughter and for over 30 years a great-granddaughter. I am very serious about the photography part of my life.

My friends would tell me I am creative and centered and throw a heck of a party. My mother would say I am crafty and speak my mind. My boss would say I am a multi-tasker and have a sympathetic ear. My husband would tell me I am the love of his life. Hung the moon and painted the stars. To me I am a mother, baker, cook, crafter, gardener and photographer. Also, I think I’m pretty empathetic.

Here are some things I like. I love warm bread with butter and hot homemade soup. I love getting lost in a really good book. Some people know my favorite colors are green and deep purple, good solid colors. I like being outside. I love to garden. I love the feel of dirt in my fingernails. In spring I like to watch the birds at the feeder. In summer I like to be in front of the fire pit, surrounded by family and friends. I like long flowing skirts and flip-flops. I like to paint my toenails bright red. In fall I like to make pies and fill the kitchen up with delicious things from the oven. October is my favorite month. In winter I like staying inside wrapped up in blankets with hot tea and my dog curled up at my toes. I wear very little to no makeup. My hair could have its own zip code. The Beatles are the soundtrack of my life. I love beautiful photographs that make you feel just by looking. I love deep red strawberries and fresh figs, I always have.

by Lisa, 11 days short of turning 47.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pears and Blue Cheese

Foc with onion, pears, blue cheese 5

Hello friends.

It's been a few days since I've posted, cause well, that little thing called life sometimes gets in the way. I've been trying to slow it down a bit and catch up on some reading and craft projects, but somehow between cleaning the house and cooking for 4 or more people everyday those little luxuries never seem to happen. So I've been cooking and experimenting and I've even decided to do some more back to basics recipes, like how to make the perfect hard boiled egg and how to do the same for soft boiled eggs, egg salad, ya know the basic kind of stuff that I realized so many people just don't know to make. So we'll start with eggs and move on from there. Sound good?

Until then, one easy recipe that I think often intimidates people is focaccia. So let's start with that. Here we go.

I made this focaccia last weekend.

I loved every ingredient in the title.

Caramelized onions - check.

Pears - check.

Blue cheese - yes please.

So what's not to like about this? Apparently the smell.

My 14 year old son bounded down the stairs when this was coming out of the oven and loudly yelled:

"Ewww what smells like diarrhea in here?"

Well isn't that nice.

I think it was the blue cheese. You know blue cheese can smell kinda....old sockish.

It may have smelled bad, but it tasted heavenly. I loved this combination, but if blue cheese is not your thing, I'd imagine that gorgonzola would taste just fine too.

Foc with onion, pears, blue cheese 4

If you've always wanted to make bread but haven't got there yet, focaccia is a great way to start. It's really very easy to make and only takes and hour for the first rise.

Make sure you dimple it well, so the olive oil can settle into every nook and cranny.

Focaccia with Caramelized Onions, Pears and Blue Cheese
1 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast
½ teaspoon honey
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 large Bosc pear, cored and sliced
½ cup crumbled blue cheese

In a large bowl combine the water, yeast and honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and ¼ cup of the oil, let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and salt and knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, cover and cook stirring occasionally until browned, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450. Oil a 9x13 inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and press it down to fit. Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the dough rise until puffed, about 20 minutes.

Scatter the onions over the dough. Arrange the pears over the onions and sprinkle with the blue cheese. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the focaccia and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Herbal Oats Energy Bars

Herbal Oats

First this post starts with an apology.

I was contacted by Steven at Herbal Oats back in August to try some of his energy bars. I enthusiastically said "YES, sent me some, I'll review them!" So they arrived in the mail, and I photographed them, and we ate them, and I typed up a post and there the post stayed until Steven contacted me again and asked (very nicely) if I had tried them yet and I said "OMG, yes, I will get that post out and then guess what happened? I did it again! The post kinda got lost and I felt so bad. So fast forward to January and I feel like a fool now, cause sweet Steven contacts me again and I confess that I didn't get around to posting and now the pics looks kinda strange cause when I took them it was summer and there was actually a big glowing ball in the sky and green grass in the background.

I really felt bad.

So he offers to send me more, cause now they have new packaging so I say yes again, only this time I actually do photograph them and sample them and whadda ya about them!

I love everything about this company. The fact that Steve started the company on his college campus, that his girlfriend Sarah joined him and they teamed up and began making the bars in a commercial kitchen and selling them at the local Farmer’s Market. Just click here and look at these two cuties. After looking at those two faces you'll wanna buy a case of bars!

From the site:

Steven began making granola bars in his own kitchen and giving them to his roommates, friends and people on campus. He made the bars from simple ingredients, eliminating preservatives. Interested in herbs and their properties he had the idea of blending them into each bar, giving them an extra benefit unlike any bar he had ever had. The herbs included Echinacea, Black Tea and Ginkgo Biloba. Along with these he created a bar with extra protein. Everyone loved them, especially the concept of their functionalities. When friends half jokingly suggested selling the bars and starting a business, Steven started thinking. Before he knew it his combination of herbs and oats had a name, Herbal Oats.

You can tell these bars are made with love. I especially like the the fact that the wrapping is compostable! Love that!

There are 4 variates to choose from:

Blueberry Almond with Echinacea for Immunity

Raspberry with Ginko Biloba for Focus

Chocolate Peanut with extra protein for strength (my fave!)

Apple Walnut Spice with guarana for Energy.

They made me this cute post it (personalized even!)

Herbal Oats 2

If you're looking for a homemade energy bar, made by the cutest couple in Columbia, MO, look no further!

Thank you again Steven & Sarah @ Herbal Oats.