NOLA Boy Goes for a “Hike”

The beautiful Arizona blue sky made going for a walk practically mandatory, so off we toddled.

First half was downhill, but then . . . getting home required going uphill.  This bench was in just the right place to rest before starting up the final grade!

Next time it will be more easily accomplished!

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Down by the River

It was in the mid-70’s here today, and the sunshine was glorious – AND – the moon was coming up.  Time to grab the cameras and trundle down to the river to do some shutter snapping in that gorgeous late-afternoon light.

A fun outing – to be repeated – hopefully at a venue a bit further away next time.

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NOLA Boy is Eating Us Out of House and Home

Just a quick update to celebrate NOLA Boy’s gain of two pounds in only ten days.

Here we have a typical lunch these days.  He actually consumed this bowl of home made soup sprinkled with pizza topping cheese, a salad with gorgonzola cheese, two small open-faced Swiss and Salami on cheese bread sandwiches, peperoncini, a plate of sliced tomatoes, and (out of the picture) a bowl of avocado puree that was dipped into liberally.

I wish the doctors in the hospital who were ready to give up on him could see him now!  They wanted to put him in hospice so he could “pass peacefully”.

Didn’t happen, did it, guys?

He says that he still has a lot more things to learn about physics and astronomy, and intends to stick around for quite a long while yet!

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NOLA Boy Meets Ciabatta Bread

French Toast is always welcomed by NOLA Boy.  It’s in his DNA, I think.

 

To that end, when we went up to Tucson last week for a medical appointment, we got a take-out lunch from Beyond Bread, our favorite restaurant in the world.

NOLA Boy had a bowl of green chile soup, but then was too full to eat his lunch sandwich, Frida’s Flight (roast beef, turkey, chiles, cheese), so it came home with us intact.

I had my usual Gobble Me Up Turkey Salad, which is an enormous amount of greenery, a huge pile of white meat turkey, Gorgonzola cheese, cranberries, hot cinnamon sugared walnuts, a plethora of red onion rings, and Ranch Dressing.  Even with some assistance, I barely made a dent in it.  So that came home, too.

As it turned out, we had three more two-portion meals from the remainder of the take-out order!

And as for that ciabatta . . . the small loaf shown is Ancho Chipotle Cheddar, and is a more normal size for an artisan loaf.  The ciabatta, however, is a giant among breads.  There were 28 slices!

Although there is no sourdough flavor in this loaf of ciabatta, there is a delightful chewy texture and those lovely big holes; it is thoroughly delightful.

In only moments, that cheesy bread, aided by a cheeseburger (Swiss), tomatoes, and lettuce, is about to become an integral part of a Saturday lunch repast.

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NOLA Boy Gets a Day Job

His job?  To stay alive and to thrive!!!

And he’s doing an admirable job of both!

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NOLA Boy and the Owl

Just before Christmas the helicopter was flying NOLA Boy to the hospital in Tucson.  In two weeks, I got him back.  Another two and a half weeks, and the miracle boy is fresh out of the shower that he managed all on his own.

From being bedridden and basically incoherent – to walking on his own and using his computer a little – the progress has been more than amazing.

And, yes, we are going to address the need for a haircut!  I’m sharpening my scissors as we speak.

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NOLA Boy Eats Everything in Sight

Can you believe this guy?  Where does he get the inner strength?

This is some Green Chile Stew that I had frozen a while ago.  I made a supplemental sauce with sour cream, half and half and some  Red Thai Coconut Curry from a jar.  And then I made it again because he ate all of the first (admittedly small) batch!  See that little pitcher at the bottom left?  That times two, in addition to the original gravy in the stew itself!

His hand is covering a big pile of carrot coins and a cut-up scallion.  Almost everything on that plate disappeared, except for one of the pieces of meat.  With the leftovers still on the stove, I was able to package up a nice lunch for him tomorrow or the next day.

At his place at the kitchen island there is one of those old Tupperware two-ounce containers full of mixed nuts.  He routinely empties that every day – sometimes twice.  He’s back with his taste for coffee, with his morning waffle, bacon, orange juice starter, with a Pirouette cookie often finding its way to join the afternoon coffee break.

And, yes, he eats a bowl of cooked cereal, yogurt, fruit for breakfast and a substantial lunch.  Last night, about four hours after dinner, he woke up with the desire for a poached egg and English muffin.  And down that went, lickety split!

He is walking short distances unaided, and his mentation is much, much improved.

His brother, Bruce, and a good friend (waving to Chris!) have been helping out with running errands for us, and for those helping hands we are eternally grateful!

I read all the comments to him, so if you have some words of encouragement, please don’t be shy about sharing them.  He truly basks in those happy thoughts and words.  ;->

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NOLA Boy Defies All Odds

They took him away unconscious to the hospital next door.  They helicoptered him to UMC in Tucson.  Kidney failure.  They told me to be prepared for the worst.  Then, almost two weeks in the hospital, mostly in altered mentation, with THE most wonderful nurses in the world.

He wouldn’t eat; he couldn’t move under his own power, and was terribly frightened.  He had no idea where he was, or how he had arrived there.  He had no clothes and no belongings!  Downright scary!  Where was Judie?

On about Day Four, a kindly nurse – no, make that two “angel nurses” – used their personal cell phones to set up FaceTime calls for us on their shifts, staying late to do this on their own time.

They were never too busy to take the time to inform me of the progress he was making – which, admittedly, wasn’t much.  Fast forward to the day he could use the phone in his room to call out!  He could spout out our phone number without difficulty, but putting a “9” and a “1” in front of those numbers stumped him until Angel #2 wrote them down for him.

Having no sense of time, as it is in hospitals, I got lots of telephone calls that might better have waited a few hours – or at least until the sun had made an appearance.

On the plus side, food is starting to nuzzle its way back into his heart now that he’s home!

This was just the beginning.

To be continued . . .

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Hitting the Wall

 

This is NOLA Boy in 2006 in Washington State.  It is one of my favorite pictures of him because it captures the incredible sweetness of this wonderful man.

As many of you know, he has hit a wall of his own that started, unbeknownst to us, probably about the same time this picture was taken.  He was having a hard time walking, although that didn’t stop his daily beloved bicycle ride.

Fast forward all these years, and he is still bravely fighting the Multiple Myeloma that has invaded his body.

On Tuesday night, he hit a wall of his own, and by Wednesday morning, he was worse, so I called the paramedics, and they whisked him off to the hospital that is within sight of our home.  They stabilized him, and packed him into a helicopter for the ride of his life up to the hospital in Tucson.

No one held out any hope, and it has been an incredibly long four days, but miraculously, once again he has rallied.  His kidneys had apparently failed, and his condition was dire, with his mental state exceedingly altered as well.

But today – TODAY – I talked to him for a full half hour around noon, and he was completely himself for the entire time.

I don’t know how long he will be in the hospital, but with COVID-19, I cannot go visit.  In the beginning he was so confused about everything, and could not understand why I was not there with him 24/7 like I have been through all these same sorts of hospitalizations.

But that terror for him as passed, and now we talk about his getting back home to at least sit on our deck during the warm part of the day, and watch for animals to come to the water pond.

That is our goal.  Please think good thoughts for him!  ;->

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Peek-A-Boo

This is just a silly post to show you a picture that always makes me giggle.  It was taken in February of 2014 over in Tombstone.  There are a million captions that could go with it.  I’ve thought of dozens over the years.

What’s yours?

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Store Bought Pizza

The aisles, especially the frozen food ones, in the grocery store are becoming more and more saturated with boxed meals.  I am aghast at the prices and the small weight of the actual food that is in those enormous packages.

Maybe this is the wave of the future, but the prices seem stratospheric to me considering the other food that would likely be needed to make a satisfyingly sufficient amount of food for a real meal.

Apart from this rant . . . while trundling down the aisle to the frozen canned orange juice area, I ran across what appeared to be an enticing price ($3.00) on a pizza that was almost two pounds in weight (see above).  There were gyrations to go through with the iPhone and the Safeway app, but the $5.69 price did actually end up being $2.99.  So if the product enclosed was anything like the photo on the box (always an unknown!), it would be worthwhile to give it a try.

I was happily surprised when I unboxed the pie and found it to look very much like the cover photo.  So I whisked it into the pre-heated oven and waited.  When we heard the “ding”, I sprinkled on some shredded Parmesan and let it melt.  That was the only thing I added.

I cut it into eighths, and we each devoured two slices, leaving enough for another lunch.  It really was very good, and we enjoyed every morsel.

Just to be on the safe side, I had grabbed another one at the same time – this one was just five different cheeses, so would need some personalization.  Earlier in my sojourn around the store, I had picked up some pepperoni and salami, so a pepperoni pizza at a later time is in the bag.

There is still about half a slice in the refrigerator, so in just moments, I am going to ring the lunch bell and we will have an assortment of soups, sandwiches, and that delicious little morsel of leftover pizza!

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Less Meat, More Protein

Not sure if it is true with all ladies, but I have found for myself, and from speaking with others, that even modest portions of animal flesh protein are becoming less and less appealing.

There are so many options with nearly unlimited supplies of nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and the many dairy products (milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, sour cream, milk puddings, gravies and sauces, etc.) available as supplements or substitutions for meat on a regular basis.  This sunflower butter shown above is very handy to squeeze into or onto things.  I use it in my cooked cereal for a bit of a smoothness and flavor.  I also put in regular sunflower seeds, so get a double sunflower whammy.  At afternoon snack time, it goes well on Triscuits, apples, or pears.

That’s not to disparage or banish SMALL amounts of meat in dishes – a hamburger-sized portion is sufficient for incorporation into about a quart of a nice, vegetable-rich, mushroom replete, well-herbed tomato marinara sauce for a fab pasta dish.  If you favor Italian sausage, then this amount is more than plenty; I usually use a bit of both.

Topped with a generous portion of mozzarella and some Parmesan, Romano, or my favorite – Asiago . . . well, you’ve probably guessed that this is a mainstay around here!

If you want to go whole hog (pardon?), then you can pair this delicious sauce with any number of things, like regular or whole-grain pastas of any shape, or whole-grain hard rolls, regular leftover hot dog/hamburger rolls or a homemade, refrigerated, or purchased pizza crust.  It can even liven up a frozen pizza, which can be skimpily topped from what I’ve seen.

If you keep a supply of this sauce on hand in the refrigerator or freezer, it is there for quick use in so many ways.  Once straight up “Italian”-type dishes are grown tired of, you can so very easily switch to a nice, hearty bowl of chili by adding a can of (or freshly made in the InstantPot) beans.  Add some garlic and cumin and whatever level of pepper heat might appeal to you, and serve it forth with rice and saltines.  Cole slaw or cooked cabbage as an accompaniment is a favorite here.

This “chili” can also be spread down the middle of a tortilla with some shredded cheese if a binder is desired, wrapped up and heated a bit in a lightly greased (avocado oil works well) frying pan (watch it carefully) to brown a bit and seal the edges.

A small portion can be spread down the middle of a tortilla with cheese as above, or with additional veggies, and then rolled, sauced, and topped with a simple enchilada sauce and some additional cheese.  After having been baked, it brings forth a wonderfully hearty Mexican casserole that is hard to resist and the amounts of ingredients can be adjusted to feed any number of people.

Another alternative is to quickly heat up a tostada and toss in the meat and bean mixture, along with the usual Mexican cheeses, avocado, scallions, sour cream, and mild or hot peppers.  Still a couple of black olives lurking in the refrigerator?  Bring ’em on!

I haven’t ever had a drive-thru version of this sort of thing, but from the photographs I’ve seen . . . well, a homemade version seems far superior, and can be eaten easily in the comfort of your own home instead of balanced on your lap under a steering wheel, or need to be reheated when you get home.

To get back to my original photo above . . . although I have been squeezing a dollop of this sunflower butter into my cooked, whole grain cereal on many mornings, it is very obvious by the above outpouring of my own very off-topic words, that I’m easily distracted by my taste buds and brain, which often conspire against me.  Italian and Mexican dishes catch my attention pretty quickly – albeit they’re really not meant for breakfast – or are they?  ;->

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Das Ist So Gut – Stroopwafel

I guess I am just giddy with the success of being able to retro myself back into Classic Mode (with the expert assistance from Ronit Penso)!  Be sure to go see her Cranberry and Blueberry Crisp today!  Exquisite !!

So here is another post to show a food that we have recently acquired in our never-ending quest to enjoy life to the fullest.

And . . . since we have tried this out with morning coffee, I can share that they are really unique.  The waffle part isn’t as crunchy as I would have liked, but it was fun.  One “wafel” split between us was plenty, as the not-terribly-sweet caramel inside provided enough brain energy to run us for another few hours!

Today is Sunday – so Special Breakfast Sunday is on tap in about another hour.  Truth be known, the siren of poached eggs sounds louder than anything sweet to me!

Clearly the beautifully-decorated can will become part of our collection of “Cookie Cans” currently dominated by Pirouettes – both chocolate and hazelnut varieties.

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French Thyme Pork Loin

Thanks to Ronit Penso at Tasty Eats for providing the explicit directions for my tired old brain to get back to the Classic Mode format.

 

Can’t you just imagine the flavor in this gravy?  It was positively heavenly!  I should have put more of it on the carrots, but didn’t think of it until just now – way too late for such action!

The mash is done with a hand masher – so much more delicious than beating them to death with a mixer.  I haven’t ever tried a ricer to get the potatoes small, but that is on my Kitchen Hit List.

Has anyone used a ricer for mash?  How did it come out?  Better than just a hand tool?

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Windshield View of TMC Hospital Parking Lot

With so many rules in place for COVID safety, I seem to be spending a fair amount of time these days waiting in my car outside of doctors’ offices and hospitals.

Happily there are frequently lovely things to look at and/or places to stroll about, and usually opportunities to fill up my iPhone with photos to play with.

Fortunately the car is a mini-van, so there is room to have a solo picnic, read, peruse the news via my trusty iPhone, take a nap, or just people watch. I’m chronically short on sleep, so “nap” is frequently my first option.

I still have not been able to figure out what has happened to WordPress. My worksite is completely different, and the final post is also peculiar. I am investigating, but not finding much. Probably something simple that I am overlooking.

If anyone has a clue, please feel free to point me in the right direction! ;->

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Morocco, Marzetti, and Beyond Bread

Probably not the first combination I would have thought of, but by golly – this really did turn out great!

Back story: NOLA Boy had a cardiac procedure in Tucson on Thursday, and while he was kept overnight for observation after procedure, I was lucky enough to be taken in by a great friend to spend the night in her magnificent home. Can’t thank her enough; it was a great respite from the many pressures of the last couple of months.

Friday morning we went to Beyond Bread for brunch, and I was thrilled to see that my favorite salad – Gobble Me Up – is still on their menu. It is a turkey salad like no other, and is such a great annual treat for me.

Ingredients:

Gobble Me Up! Turkey, spiced cinnamon walnuts, dried cranberries, crumbled gorgonzola, cucumber, tomato, red onion, Ranch dressing on mixed greens. Southwest turkey salad, avocado, cucumber, tomato, red onion, Ranch dressing on mixed greens.

It is huge in size, and usually provides at least three feasting occasions. First attack was at the restaurant in their sheltered outdoor seating area. The second was on the way home at a truck stop, and the third, and more personalized, right now for lunch on Saturday.

Just now, I added some leftover fancy bell pepper/mushroom/onion fried rice, and some feta cheese, and then made a dressing of the tagine sauce and ranch dressing shown above. The ranch dressing on its own on the original salad is really good, but I spied the tagine sauce in the refrigerator and decided to experiment. And I’m here to tell you that it was a major success!

I’m sneaking up slowly into the “curry”-type dishes using prepared sauces in small quantities, and learning as I go along. I am finding that I don’t care for the direct hit that seems to accompany traditional curry dishes, but adding a bit of this or that to my regular-types of foods is working out quite well.

Experimenting with foods is always such a pleasure! ;->

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Pork Tenderloin in the Instant Pot

Yikes! Everything is different here at WordPress today. Among other anomalies, the picture does not line up, and I see no way to fix that. I have no idea what I am doing, so bear with me. I’ll catch on sooner or later.

This is my first attempt at a pork tenderloin. Have had them prepared by others, and they were delicious, so I gave it a whirl.

I did a 1.5# pork tenderloin according to a random recipe I found on the net. Bottom line: It was DEE-licious!

That recipe suggested some herbs and seasonings to be rubbed on the tenderloin and then browned in the Instant Pot for a bit on the SAUTE setting. For my choice of seasonings, I used whatever looked good at the moment. The best I can recall (I should write this stuff down!) it was Vege-Sal, Trinidad, Lemon Pepper, Garlic powder, and Adobo.

I added a cup of water to the pot, scraped up everything off the bottom of the pot lest it complain about possible burning, and tossed in the browned chunks of meat. The actual cooking time is three to four minutes, with 15 minutes of natural release.

I made gravy with the accumulated fluids (almost no fat in it at all) using half flour and half cornstarch mixed with water, which I like better than all of one or the other.

The grain is quinoa and the veggie is Brussels Sprouts. We buttered up the Brussels sprouts, and then NOLA Boy had the brainstorm to add Feta Cheese. Excellent choice! NOLA Boy is a big meat eater, and he said that the pork was such high quality that it felt more than adequate to eat only a small portion.

Let’s see what happens when I ask this to publish! ;->

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Can I Fit in There?

Probably . . . although the stationary whiskers might prove to be a problem.

But cats can usually find a way to get into tight spaces.  We’ll need to wait to see how this one plays out!

The auto repair place that we have used for many years (Desert Automotive) not only does first-class work, but provides me with a plethora of photographic opportunities.

Who could resist capturing this amusing tableau?

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Colorful Peppers in an Omelette

Dinnertime had come and gone, but lunch had been very late, so an omelette and home fries seemed the best choice for a quick, yet appealing and filling supper.  Tri-colored mini-peppers and bits of pasilla peppers, along with mushrooms, scallions, Cheddar cheese, and four eggs conspired to make this deliciousness.  The potatoes had cheese, bacon, scallions, and more pasillas.

There were NO leftovers!

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Three Equals Twelve (3=12)

NOLA Boy is a mathematician, so my title here caused a bit of a stir.  I’m sure with the addition of enough little squigglies in my equation, he could make three into twelve, but I did it the easy way.

Here are my tools . . .

The “twelve” are above on the cooling rack, and the “three” consist of a cup of flour, a cup of milk, and an egg.

The incidental ingredients were 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil.

These few ingredients make up a surprisingly large amount of pancake batter.  I let it sit for about half an hour, which gives a decent amount of time for the flour to fully hydrate from the liquid ingredients.  This makes a really nice, thick batter that will do your bidding without complaint.

Other “extras” were a homemade hamburger bun, two extra eggs, half a chopped nectarine, and a handful of blueberries.  The fruit was leftover from our cooked cereal breakfast this morning.

So to start the marathon, I just heated up the four new mini appliances that I got from Dash and started making things with the batter as inspiration came flooding over me.

Left to right above, we have:

5 waffles, 2 muffins, 2 filled pancakes, a small Moroccan “pizza”, a poached egg, and last, but certainly not least . . . A good old fashioned Toad in a Hole.

The Toad in a Hole was the first to disappear into my gullet.  This was built on the top half of a homemade hamburger bun with the center having been removed for use on top of one of the muffins.  Happily the yolk was still runny.

The egg cooked on the bottom where it contacted the heat directly, and from the top heat source, yet the yolk remained at the perfect consistency.  The rim of bread held the egg in check.

A couple of hours later, I made short work of the plain muffin with the chopped fruit.

Time passed – and another test was in order, so the Moroccan “pizza” was “evaluated” and deemed quite delicious.  I had used the regular toaster to crisp up the bottom half of the hamburger bun mentioned above, but got a bit rambunctious on the amount of “char”.

A couple of tablespoons of the Moroccan Shakshuka had been spread onto the toasted bun, and a generous sprinkle of shredded Colby/Cheddar cheese went on top of the spread.  A quick few minutes back in the original appliance to melt the cheese provided the handheld “pizza”, which disappeared all too quickly.

The remaining muffin is a scoop of the pancake batter, topped with the chopped nectarine, and then the “hole” that I cut out from the hamburger roll over the top.

The filled pancakes were interesting.  I made a square one in the appliance that is meant to make egg bites.  I just left out the egg forms, put a scoop of the pancake batter into the bottom of the appliance, added a layer of blueberries, and poured another layer over the top.

This took a long time to bake, but looks really tasty.  The other filled pancake is the round one.  It has a small scoop of leftover whole-grain cooked cereal from breakfast.

That leaves the poached egg, which still has the runny yolk, but I’m not clear if I will be able to heat that back up without solidifying the yolk.  Any suggestions?

So . . . three main ingredients provided this veritable feast.  The addition of some fruits and veggies here and there, maybe a cream of something sauce to go over a waffle or two, a bit of peanut or cashew butter on the waffle(s), and some beverages, and it would seem that there is enough food here for one person for a whole day, including snacks.

As for cost, quick calculation in my head tells me that the pancake batter, the fruit used, and the extra two eggs would come in at just about a dollar at today’s prices in Southeast Arizona.  Seems incredibly reasonable for that much food to use as a base for several meals.

NOLA Boy is awake now, and is helping out by fixing himself a cup of coffee, and taking on one of the waffles with butter, maple syrup, and cinnamon.  He is eyeing the blueberry jam as well for a possible repeat “evaluation”.

Pardon me while I ransack the waffle container!  ;->  The blueberry jam is calling me.

 

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