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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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.


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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Moroccan Experiment

This doesn’t look like much, but I assure you that it was a delightful taste treat whose deliciousness is bringing memories of just yesterday flooding back into my brain!

The bun was a delightful experiment that went altogether RIGHT, and produced delicious, hearty buns.  Also in place is a slab of roasted chicken breast and the cheese is Muenster.

But, clearly, the star of the show is the Shakshuka relish.  According to the net, I was supposed to empty the whole jar into a pan and cook some eggs in it, but that didn’t happen.  I think this was the perfect use for it.

At least until I try it on pizza!

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Egg Bites – Not Starbucks

I guess I’m the last person in the world to discover that Starbucks serves a breakfast-on-the-way-to-work dish that is taking the country by storm.  From what I read, they are prepared sous vide and then reheated at the time of sale, and, to accommodate all of that, the price is very high.

Naturally there was no shortage of articles and videos on the net on how to make these in one’s own kitchen at a fraction of the cost of the ones from Starbucks.

I saw a recipe today that caught my fancy, so I trotted out the insert that goes in my Cuisinart Oven Central and used that to make two batches (five each) of my own.

These ten “bites” are made from four eggs, scallions, very thin deli ham, roasted red pepper, and a mixture of shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

There is an accessory set that came with the Instant Pot that has an insert to make these egg bites, but I had never really tried it. This method looks good, too, but a lot more complicated and time consuming.

The recipes that I found on the net called for adding in a pretty good chunk of cream cheese, which I didn’t have, and beating it in with an immersion blender.  Presumably this would have made a mixture that would stabilize more as it baked, rather than puffing up and then falling like mine did.

I filled the indents about three quarters full, and they raised up way past the top of the cup, but they fell down as they cooled – within minutes, actually.  I’m wondering if there is some part of a profiterole recipe that might improve these treats.

The sour cream and fresh salsa were lovely additions, and added greatly to the overall enjoyment of these tasty morsels.

We were happy with the result, and managed to make seven of them disappear, along with the strawberries.


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Glaring Omission

There was so much going on with getting this piece of equipment onto our deck in the 100° heat yesterday, that I am mortified that THE MOST IMPORTANT fact was overlooked when I hastily announced how thrilled we are with this new aspect to our lives.

This most wondrous piece of equipment was the generous gift of NOLA Boy’s brother, and we are beyond grateful for this fabulous opportunity for NOLA Boy to exercise in situ to his heart’s content.  Excellent coordination was handled most expeditiously by our sister-in-law, who directed the operation from their end.  What seemed like an easy thing in the beginning, turned out, like so many aspects of life, to be a lot more complicated than first imagined.

Thanks to the incredible hard work of four fabulous people, I’m happy to report that everything works perfectly, and there were three “Maiden Voyages” yesterday.  Luckily there is sufficient lighting on the deck that a “Midnight Ride” may be possible in future.

As my hip replacement continues to improve, I hope to be able to spend some time on it myself – a bonus!

Now the hunt is on for a cover for it.  Does anyone have any experience with a Colorado company called Equip, Inc.?  They are a small company, and I would love to be able to support them in this difficult time for small businesses.  They seem to have the most promising cover style, and they are made in Colorado Springs, which is a definite plus.

You can see their website here.  Would love to have any feedback on the subject that you care to offer.

And, again, a big shout out to NOLA Boy’s brother and his wife for generously having made of all this happiness possible!  ;->   We will take good care of it.

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NOLA Boy Rides Again

For most of his life, NOLA Boy rode his bicycle at least an hour every day.  When we travelled full time, he found many adventurous paths to follow.

But in 2006, things changed and this is the first time he has been able to recreate that joy!  You can’t see his broad smile because of the mask, but I guarantee that it is there!  ;->

He had had access to a full gym just steps away from our house, but COVID-19 took care of that perk.  Too dangerous for a guy with not much of an immune system.

Many happy rides coming up thanks to our long suffering friend, Chris, who has done more for us over the years than I could ever adequately thank him  for!

Good times ahead!  ;->

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Pets Can’t Be Too Careful

A couple with a sense of humor had this “pen” for their masked “pets” in front of their rig for a couple of weeks.  Even the insects at the front of the slab are safe!  There was also a toucan, but I couldn’t get him to hold still!  ;->

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Royal Corona Bean Soup

If you like beans, and I mean REALLY like beans, you will REALLY like Royal Corona Beans.  Probably not the best name to have just now, but I think these beans came before the virus.

They are sooooo big that you can practically BBQ them!

We had this lovely soup for dinner last night, and were so taken with it that lunchtime today found us slurping up more bowls of it.  Happily there are about five cups of it left for future meals.

The above picture was last night; next blog post will show today’s lunch spread that included the soup.

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The Lace Tree

This pretty tree is in the parking lot of the Cancer Clinic where NOLA Boy gets his weekly chemo infusions.  For some reason the parking space that is in front of it is almost always open for me to slide into and enjoy the tree’s beauty through the windshield.

When it first blossoms, it is covered with those lovely flowers, but most of them are gone now that the summer heat is upon us.

Its beauty and simplicity never fails to bring a smile to my heart.

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