We Found Something

Monday arrived. Back to work. Ugh, right? Well, actually I was looking forward to it. I am pretty busy at work and was relishing the business to keep my mind off of my previous appointments.

I woke up early that morning and since I did not have Zoe to rush off to school, I decided to treat myself at my local bakery: Seven Stars579

Around this time of year, they make a delightful, gingerbread muffin. It is studded with bits of candied ginger, moist and fluffy with a hint of spice. Paired with a medium black coffee; I was good to go. (I wish I could say I gobbled it up and downed the coffee, ready to go! It took me all day to eat it and I barely touched my coffee. Clearly preoccupied.)

I work in an open type environment in a cubby sort of area. Since I am on the phone all day, helping customers with quilting fabric choices; I put my cell phone in front of my face so as not to miss a call from my doctor. Wouldn’t you know it….I did! I noticed a call 30minutes after, of course I called back and of course she was with a patient. You can imagine my nervousness at this point. She is only calling because they must have found something on one of my tests. UGH….  After about 2 different misses we reached each other. I ran downstairs to an empty private space in our old mill building.

“So, one test revealed you have Hip Displaysia”, Amy(my Nurse Practitioner) says. “Wow, really?!” I say. My oldest daughter Emma was born with Hip Displaysia and had to wear this funky Pavlic Brace for the first month of her life. How odd I thought to myself. I have not been doing anything crazy with my body that would warrant that condition.

“Your hip condition is the least of our concerns right now. We found a mass on your kidney and need to send you to see a specialist.” I have been frantically taking notes and leaning over in a corner of the hall. I’m pretty sure I am shaking now but trying to stay calm. Amy could not reveal much about the mass but to say it was about 8.4cm. Now I am not very good at math but that sounded kinda large…….Deep breaths I thought. Get all of the info down. This is IMPORTANT. “Ok, she says, the Docs and I are sending you to a Nephrologist. We will help make the appointment and get back to you.” “Ok.” I said. I promptly went back upstairs to my desk and looked up Nephrologist while staring at my phone so as not to miss the call. By the time I found out that a Nephrologist deals with Hypertension and Diabetes; they called back to say, “No, you actually need to see a Urologist. Dr. Harry Ianotti is one of the best in the area and they will call you with the appointment.” Now mind you, I am still having to answer customer calls while processing this all in my head. “Could I please order 5 yards of Minion fabric?” “I’m sorry, we are out right now but it will be back in for delivery in February.” This Minion fabric has been all the rage with sewers and quilters since it hit the market. I cannot tell you how crazy people are about it and how upset they get when we tell them we are out. Today though, I was happy for the distraction and found a a fabric to appease the customer.

I took a moment and went in to tell my boss what had happened and that I may need to go to an appointment at some point this week. She gave me the most reassuring smile and said, “Try not to worry, I am sure it will be fine.” My how I wanted to believe her. As I sat at my desk trying not to worry while waiting for the call, I went to talk to my co-worker Justina. She is a fellow Mom so I knew she could relate to some of my concerns. I told her what they had found and that I needed to see a specialist. I felt scared and hated the fact that I had to deal with this right now. “You know what it’s like?” I said. “It’s like when Zoe had lice, (TWICE in 6 months!) I wanted SOOOOOOO much to will it away. I wanted to wake up and have those damn bugs be gone. But shit, NO. You have to jump in and wash with a special shampoo and with calm and focus you must comb out each and every one of those MF bugs. Not just once, but every day for days!!!!” Now listen, I am not trying to minimize my serious situation. I am simply stating that I would like to will this all away. I really don’t appreciate having to F-ing deal with this right now. But G-damnit, I HAVE TO. SHIT.

Dr. I’s office called and scheduled me for Wednesday. Seriously??? I have to wait? Sigh. I focused on work and called my Mom who promptly invited me over for dinner that night.

“I want you to try this fabulous Shepard’s Pie I made.” She said when I arrived. “Shepard’s Pie? Mom, you know how I feel about Shepard’s Pie!” “What are you talking about?” She says. “I abhorr Shepard’s Pie thanks to the cafeteria at Oak Grove Elementary.” I explain. “We’d all get in line with our plastic cafeteria trays, hungry and ready for lunch. We’d get midway down the line and the smell, oh the smell…grey ground beef sauteeing in some ugly brown gravy with sour sweet corn. This large (of course I was 8 at the time: everything is LARGE) steel machine scoops in potatoes and out plops a ball of mashed potatoes onto my pale pink plastic plate upon which the lunch lady ladles the beef and corn mixture. “UGH!” I thought. “I have to eat this?!!!!” “I don’t think so.” “Mom, pretty much due to the memories of that gross smell and texture alone, I can never eat Shepard’s Pie!” She sort of laughs and says, “How is it I have never heard that story before?” “Mom, I am sure I ran home that day and told you.” (Funny, to look back on this memory now. How lucky were we as kids in Brattleboro, VT to have the lunch ladies actually cook hot food for us. Not sure if it was from scratch or not, but cafeteria’s are a far cry from what they used to be. And not for the better.) She ignored my worried face and served this:

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I have to admit, it looked pretty scrumptious. I asked her how she made it.

She sauteed ground beef, onions, carrots. After getting rid of some fat, added a squirt of tomato paste. Added some flour and broth to make a gravy. Added parsley, rosemary and a cup of frozen peas. In the meantime, she preheated the oven to 350 degrees, made some mashed potatoes. Put the ground beef mixture in an oven-proof skillet. Topped the mixture with mashed potatoes, sprinkled on some grated cheese and baked till hot and slightly crunchy on top (about 30-40min).

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I must say is was delicious and I’m pretty sure I had seconds. She even packed me up a serving to have for lunch at work the next day. Much nicer than the lunch ladies!!!

I went home, called the rest of the family and tried to sleep. Just have to try and focus elsewhere till my appointment.

Easier said than done.

 

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Feeling Thankful?

Around Thanksgiving time I was getting super pumped. I was hired by the company I was temping at since July, Zoë was an enthusiastic social 5th grader and Emma was away in Philly finishing up her first semester of college. I had it all planned out: this Holiday season I was going to bake a wide assortment of cookies to pass out to family and friends.


I had my vintage family cookie cutters at the ready. A sharp contrast to last year when I was laid off and struggling to pay rent. I was ready to buy ribbons and boxes, make my list and check it twice.

But it was not to be. I had been walking around with a nagging pain in my right leg/hip/groin area since July. At first I chalked it up to  a shitty mattress causing me to be out of alignment. Or maybe I’m slouching at my desk, or maybe I’m old and out of shape. I could waste plenty more time “presuming” what the cause of my pain was or I could go and find out.

Work sent us home early the day before Thanksgiving so I headed to my Doctor’s office.  With visions of sugarplums dancing in my head, or at least sugar cookies…I stepped into the exam room and told the Nurse Practitioner(my Doc was on vacation) my problem. After a brief exam and a check for a hernia, she proceeded to order up: an X-Ray of my hip, an Ultrasound of my leg and a Cat Scan of my hip/abdomen. “Are you available today?” She asked. “Um, sure. I actually have a Mammogram scheduled for later. Might as well take a pic of everything!” I was trying to be funny but I must admit I was in shock. I thought she was going to send me to a chiropractor.

Off I went to have pics taken and my Nurse explaining that if they find anything they’ll call. As I went through each procedure I was hoping for some insight, a clue perhaps. If the technicians saw anything, they never let on so I finished up and headed home.

All I could do now was wait. Luckily I had a task to preoccupy my mind!


I was headed to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving with my Dad & Step-Mom and I was in charge of cranberry sauce. Mine is super simple: cranberries simmered with ginger, orange zest, sugar & splash of orange juice till the berries start to pop and the mixture starts to gel a bit. Delicious.


A trip to NH was just what I needed to keep myself from worrying about my leg/hip. My Step-Mom is part of a large, close-knit family. Holiday dinners are filled with 20 plus relatives and friends. My cousin’s Debby and Ken hosted Thanksgiving on an unseasonably warm day. We arrived, and I promptly poured some champagne.


With bubbly in hand I went outside to find Kenny grilling a Turkey in his shorts!

  
In addition to this smoky delicious turkey, we also enjoyed a more traditional roasted one along with the usual sides like Green Bean Casserole and my Aunt Mary’s fave:black olives(one bowl is for her!).

  

Of course wine is a must at this table. These were my cousin Claire’s choices:

  
Seeing as it was so nice out, a nice pic of my Parents had to be taken.


Desserts at these family gatherings are a serious affair. We will always have room for something new, but we expect certain desserts from certain people. My Dad’s Pumpkin Cheesecake for example. Or Deb’s Pumpkin Log.

With bellies full and my mind off of my medical mystery, my Dad and I went over to his studio to his latest paintings.

Still abstract and full of texture and dimension, but filled with more vibrant color than I had seen in a while.

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Feeling very inspired to see this new direction my Dad is headed with his paintings. I love that he goes to his studio and paints every day and fills his passion.

After a good night’s sleep my Parents cooked up a yummy breakfast and we talked about what the test results might reveal. 510

Could not dwell too much on the unkown, Emma was home for a quick visit. I drove back to RI, picked her up and we headed off to some of her favorite Providence places. 511

White Electric Coffee for a cup of joe and a selfie.

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Tallulah’s Taqueria for Emma’s fave Lengua Tacos and mine Barbacoa and the most scrumptious fish tacos on the East Coast.514

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Ready for music, we drove over to What Cheer Records and Vintage, to say hi to the awesome owners Jen and Chris Daltry, pick up some new/old vinyl and soak in some local tunes by Dylan Sevey.

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A fun filled day with my oldest and the weekend was not close to being over. The next day was Zoe’s 11th Birthday! Certainly not a time to worry.

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Yes folks, that is a Carvel Ice Cream cake. It was requested and I obliged. The Birthday girl was happy and oh my goodness looking wise beyond her years. 567

Still more fun to be had……..watching my Ohio State Buckeyes play with my good luck charm Buckeye Bear by my side. 540

My children were with me, but tended to ignore me as I screamed in excitement watching Ezekial Elliot carry the ball gracefully over the goal line. To cap off the fun filled four day weekend, we went over to The Columbus Theatre to help celebrate the big (50th!) birthday of local music supporter and our pal; Brett Davey. He had an Elvis themed party. He asked local musicians to get up and sing either an Elvis Presley or Elvis Costello tune. The results were awesome and the girls and I had a blast.

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My favorite act of the night was a duo: Bob Mac of The Red Pennys playing the Upright Bass and singer/songwriter, Brian McKenzie. Bringing some foot-stomping lively rockabilly to the night.543

Wow, I went to bed that Sunday night exhausted but happy. Too busy and tired to be worried. Afterall, I had to head to work the next day and hope for the best.

THANKFUL? Indeed…….full of love, full of food, full of friends and full of hope.

 

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TGIF!

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Friday could not have come fast enough this past week. It felt so good to get out at lunch and breathe in the crisp Fall air. Actually it was pleasantly warm. It had just rained as I walked through the park behind the building where I work. The leaves already turning, even the resident swan had tucked his head in his feathers preparing for a fall afternoon snooze. 570

Most Fridays find me picking up Zoe after work and heading home to make pizza. This week I was on my own and happily headed to the Providence Athenaeum for their weekly Salons. This week featured, Providence College Associate Professor, Cedric de Leon. He was speaking on topics featured in his new book: “The Origins of Right to Work: Antilabor Democracy in Nineteenth-Century Chicago”.

While I was very interested in what Mr. de Leon had to say (he is an excellent public speaker and I bet a very popular teacher/lecturer), I was a bit preoccupied by the always fabulous snacks offered at the Salons. Most especially the teeny tiny, crustless Quiche squares, perfectly dainty delectable chocolate chip cookies and superb chocolate shortbread. Yes, you can have a glass of wine…..but what I really love is the sherry they serve. Sherry! Not a beverage I have on a regular basis. When in Rome…..

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Oh, but which glass to choose?? No really, I actually stood there for a while trying to decide which glass to choose. I love them all, but I was most taken with the lovely red.574Isn’t this gorgeous? I brought my goodies into the main room and tried very hard to pay attention to the talk, but the glass just drew me in. 575

Is that a lighthouse on it? No, a tower? Why? What is the history, and boy does this sherry taste lovely!

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My Mother thought I was pretty crazy for taking pics during the talk, but that IS her hand holding up the glass so that I could take a pic of the bunny on the glass. :)

The talk ended and I reluctantly delivered my empty glass back to the table. My Mom works at the RISD Museum, and said there was a big celebration going on that we should check out. Rhode Island School of Design had just finished inaugurating its new President and there were food trucks and stands all around the outside of the museum. Seeing as it was Alumni and Family Weekend, it was a pretty bustling event with folks visiting from all over. RISD laid out the treats in style. Featuring New England specialties that I thought were downright delicious.

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Against a backdrop that looked like a cool frame of fabric,

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Last Good Tooth rocked the crowd. 579

What a fabulous Friday. I was intellectually stimulated, sustained with spectacular nibbles and entertained with some fabulous local music and surrounded with cool people and awesome art. Thanks Providence(and Mom!), what a great night! Bring on the weekend.

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Eat your Greens!

We’re always told that aren’t we? Popeye had the right idea. Green veggies like spinach, kale, parsley have a ton of great nutrients. Luckily I’ve never had a problem eating my greens. Love them all cooked in a miriad of ways. 

This morning I needed some green to brighten my day. Inspired by a recipe in Bon Appetite magazine, I whirred in a blender; 

  
1/2 packed flat leaf parsley(leaves and stems), 4 kale leaves(center ribs removed), 1cup frozen strawberries, 1 banana(cut into pieces), 1tsp ground flaxseed and 1cup of water. Serves 2. 

  
It’s a very refreshing smoothie and not super sweet. I love it.

  
Work was hectic as usual. Straight from work I needed to pick up Zoë, and head to my book club meeting. After my meeting Zoë and I went to a RISD Graphic Design Dept. opening. We happily nibbled on assorted cheeses, crackers, fruit and  chips while looking at fonts and typefaces. 

By the time we got home, I was beat. The last thing I wanted to do was cook. However, I had ground beef in the fridge needing to be cooked up and 3 peppers bigger than my head, waiting to be stuffed. I couldn’t let any of it go to waste. Cook I must! 

 
I read over the excellent Stuffed Pepper recipe in my Whole 30 cookbook. I tweaked it based on what I had in the fridge. 

I sautéed 1/2 onion; chopped, 2cloves of garlic; minced, 1/2 zucchini diced, 1/2 lb ground beef, small tomato; chopped, 4 leaves of kale, middle rib removed, leaves chopped. While sautéing, I sprinkled in some cumin, chili powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper. I lastly squeezed in some fab tomato paste.  

 
My phone is being futsy so the pics I took of stuffing my big peppers have vanished. Oh well, you will have to use your imagination! 

After preheating the oven to 350deg. I cored my peppers & cooked them for about 10 min to soften up. Once my meat and veg mixture was cooked I pulled the peppers out and stuffed away. I baked them for about 20min.  

 
I have to say, I don’t miss bread crumbs and cheese. Ingredients you might expect in this dish. It was quite scrumptious without!  

 
Comfort food with shades of green. 

Happy cooking friends!

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TGIF

its been quite a week for me. Needed to start my day off right. 

  
Classical music, eggs & a steaming cup of coffee. 

Have a scrumptious day my foodie friends!

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Farmer’s Market Bounty

Lately I’ve been trying to make it to my local Farmer’s Market every Saturday. It’s not too far away, located on Hope Street at Lippet Park in Providence, RI. It’s a fun bustling market where I’m always bound to run into someone I know.

Most of the time I go in not knowing what to get. Well actually just not having a particular recipe in mind. I tend to get the basics(cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, onions) and add to that based on inspiration.


Dinner one market night was simply grilled veggies, sausage and a side salad.

One Saturday I was side tracked by a yard sale and scored some beautiful mixing bowls and a cake stand all for $7.00!


In one of those bags are some spicy Asian greens. I lightly sautéed them and top with some baked cod.

There is always music playing at the market and just so many good things to choose from!

  
Apples are starting to arrive. Hill Orchards had some Molly apples. Similar to Red Delicious.


If I had a dog I would definitely buy him some tasty treats from Jack’s Snacks.

 Anchors away!


I’m looking forward to digging into this week’s bounty. Zoe and I will enjoy some tasty salads this week.


What do like to cook up with your market bounty?

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Crockpot Chicken

I love the idea of roasting a chicken and eating it for days. It is so versatile. Enjoy the same day with steamed green beans, roasted potatoes and perhaps some gravy. Then use the remaining meat in various dishes for lunch and dinner throughout the week. The only problem is, it takes time to cook and you must turn on your oven! A welcome task when there is a chill to the air. However, this week it was quite hot. I don’t need to add anymore heat to my apartment. 

So…..what to do? I roasted a chicken in my crockpot.  

 
Could not have been easier. Take a 3-5lb chicken. Remove the “bag of innards”, rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season the chicken liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. Sprinkle oregano and thyme all over. I had fresh herbs so I stuck some thyme sprigs inside the cavity, and stuffed thyme and oregano under the skin. Quarter 1 lemon, cut one garlic bulb in half. Place both in the cavity as well. Nestle the chicken in the crockpot.  

 No need to add ANY fats or liquids! Trust me. Set the time for 6-8 hours on LOW. When it is done, this is what it looks like.  

 Gorgeous right?! And those juices, oh my! The aroma is divine. The meat falls off the bone. I dig in right away. I removed the rest of the meat the next day. I wanted to make a Thai Red Curry dish using some local veggies I bought at the farmer’s market, but realized at the last minute that I had no coconut milk. A crucial ingredient. No biggie, I peeked in my pantry and fridge and whipped up Chicken Tacos. 

  
I sautéed onion, green pepper and zucchini. I seasoned the mixture with salt, pepper, cumin and chili powder. I would have added some of the chipotle sauce but it had been in my fridge a little too long and had to be discarded. No biggie. Didn’t need it.  

 While the chicken and veggies were sautéing, I made a quick guacamole. Really easy. Just smashed avocado with salt, pepper, squeeze of lime and a couple dashes of hot sauce.  

 I warmed up some corn tortillas and assembled my tacos.  

 Scrumptious. 

I added the chicken bones, juices, carrot, onion and celery to a pot, added some water and now have it simmering on the stove. Soup for Sunday supper!  

 

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