Monday, March 6, 2017

Tashi - what a scare!

Wherever I go, Tashi goes. I trip over her a hundred times a day! She seems to sense where I am going next and moves to a spot where I will run into her. When I go to the bathroom, she always comes along. No sense in shutting the door - she will scratch at it, and I like my woodwork almost as much as I like my pets.

I got up at 4 am yesterday and Tashi didn't follow me to the loo. When I went back to bed, she was in exactly the same spot. She was stretched out, not in her usual sleeping position. I called to her, and she didn't move. Her eyes were open and not moving. I couldn't see her chest rise and fall in a breathing pattern. I knelt on the floor beside her, ruffled her hair, called her name. There was no response. I felt for a heartbeat and felt nothing, but then, I don't really know exactly where to look for it. No evidence of breathing when I laid my hand on her side. Two phrases that ALWAYS get a response are, "Do you want to go for a walk?" and "Treats!" Nothing. Eyes open, motionless.

With a heavy heart, I went downstairs to email my family and close friends that Tashi had passed. Right before I hit the send button, I heard a noise upstairs. When I went around the corner, there she was, standing at the top of the stairs. She came down two flights of stairs to get outside and do her morning thing. I saw no evidence of limping. She was perfectly fine. She ate a good breakfast, minimal coaxing.

We had a big event at church, and I had to be there early. I was there by 8:30, and didn't get home until after 2:00. I was very nervous about what I would find when I got home. There she was at the door, greeting me with tail wagging and big grin on her face.

What was it? All I know is that I still have my girl. She is on the floor beside me, snoring gently. I rewarded her with the full mile walk yesterday, and she was still going strong when we got back. I am wondering if she had a small stroke. If that was it, there is certainly no lasting evidence that anything serious happened. I love that girl! Each dog I have, especially as they reach their end time, I think, "This is the best. This one is the very, very best." Yes, Tashi is the very, very best!

Tashi taking her morning nap



Sunday, February 26, 2017

RECIPE - Deviled eggs

I cannot take credit for this recipe. I use it with one teeny tiny change (which certainly doesn't make it my recipe) from a recipe on allrecipes.com. I only include it here because I know I have some regular followers of my blog who do not follow me on Facebook. So use the link and be prepared to make this a favorite of yours as well.

There are a gazillion recipes for deviled eggs out there, and I have made a million of them (yes, I do exaggerate!); however, this is hands down my go-to recipe now. If I want to get really fancy, I use my stick blender to get the filling nice and smooth, then put in a plastic bag and cut a corner off to fill the whites, but it's not necessary when I'm making a batch for myself. And as a low carber, I make them often. A few lumps in the filling make them no less tasty!

Here is the link. Thanks, Jeff Sikes, for a wonderful recipe! Oh, I do make one small change - I use zero carb Pompeian white wine vinegar in place of the rice vinegar called for in the recipe, because that's what I have in my pantry.

Classic Savory Deviled Eggs, by Jeff Sikes

Bon app├ętit.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

RECIPE - Hard boiled eggs

I hate it when it is nearly impossible to neatly peel a hard boiled egg. So every time I read an article with someone's magic recipe for how to have perfect hard boiled eggs that peel easily, I try it. I am always disappointed. That is because they don't tell you the most important thing - a very fresh egg will NOT peel easily no matter what method you use.

Eggs are one of nature's most perfect foods. And they are encased in great natural packaging. If an egg is not washed, you can safely leave it sit on your counter for a month. There is a natural film on the shell that creates a barrier to keep your eggs safe.

A commercial egg is washed, and that film / barrier has been removed. So you might want to refrigerate them. Mine are on the counter in this great little red ceramic egg carton that I bought. (Just for fun I keep my chicken salt and pepper shakers next to it - a gift from my daughter-in-law Julie, who always seemed to know what I would like.)

Eggs ready for action!
I know, they have been washed, and even if fresh from the farmer at the South Bend Farmers Market, by law they must be washed. But they are gone from my countertop quickly, and I'm still alive. They are never out there more than two weeks. And when the recipe calls for an "egg brought to room temperature," I'm good to go immediately. (One caveat -- if you need to separate whites from yolks, a cold egg separates more easily.)

So back to that egg's natural packaging. In spite of it, an egg begins to shrink inside that shell from day #1. And that shrinkage will be the difference between an egg that gets mutilated when trying to peel it and one from which the shell is easily removed. After just one week of aging on the counter, eggs will peel better because the albumin is shrinking away from the interior of the shell. When refrigerating, give them two weeks. When I was bringing in fresh eggs from the chickens on the farm, I would set a bowl of eggs into the back of the fridge for at least two weeks just for hard boiling. Once your eggs are at least two weeks old, some of those egg peeling pointers may actually make a difference. And three weeks should be guaranteed success, no matter what method you use.

I love Ina Garten's show, the Barefoot Contessa. And I love her method of hard boiling eggs. It is a little different from any I have seen, and I do recommend it. Most supermarket eggs will be well over a week or two old by the time you get them home. If you want guaranteed success, try keeping them for at least another week before hard boiling. If they are straight from the farm, don't use them for hard boiling until they have aged at least two weeks. So here goes, this is Ina's recipe with a couple of small tweaks:
  1. Put your eggs into a deep pan and cover completely with cold water.
  2. Bring to a full rolling boil. Immediately turn off heat. (If electric stove, remove from burner. On my gas stove, I just let them sit there in the pan of hot water on the turned-off burner.)
  3. Here's where Ina's recipe is different. Leave them sit in the water for only FIVE MINUTES!
  4. Remove the eggs from the water. Don't rinse with cold water. Just let the warm eggs sit on the counter on a paper towel.
  5. Here's where Ina and I differ. She says to wait only two minutes before peeling. I recommend waiting about five minutes. The first egg I tried to peel at two minutes didn't do too well. At five minutes, they peeled beautifully.
  6. Now roll the eggs on the counter top with the palm of your hand. The shells will crack into a myriad of small bits.
  7. CAREFULLY peel. They should come off pretty well.
  8. If you are still having trouble, hold the egg under running water while you peel, my second tweak to Ina's wonderful method.
Great thing about this is that the yolks are still a beautiful yellow color, no green around the edges. They are on the very edge of still being soft in the middle, but they aren't.  They are just perfect!

Thanks, Ina.

Now I'm going to have another deviled egg for breakfast. Recipe for my favorite deviled eggs coming soon.


Friday, February 3, 2017

NEW RECIPE - Chicken soup that's low carb, easy and delicious!

I came down with the flu on New Year's Eve - fever for four days, joints and muscles hurt, couldn't stand to have my skin touched. That was the worst of it, but it was another week or 10 days before I felt well again.

There was no gastro-intestinal distress, but nevertheless, I lost 10 pounds in eight days. I think it is because the only thing that tasted good was turkey broth from the freezer. I managed to wipe out my whole store of it. Darn!

Anyway, even though I'm feeling almost 100% again, I got in the habit of having broth. Canned broth - not so good. So last night I devised this quick soup with lots of broth, lots of flavor and some big chunks of chicken.

QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN BROTH

I started with Swanson's chicken stock, rated best by American Test Kitchen. But let's face it, it's not like that turkey broth I was enjoying. I "souped up" my soup this way.

Mise en place:
Dice the onion and celery and set aside.
In your spice prep dish, put your bay leaves, salt, pepper of choice and star anise (if using).
Wipe and slice the mushrooms. I like them in pretty thin slices. Put in bowl and set aside.

1 - 2 lb. box of Swanson's chicken stock
3 - chicken legs with skin and bone (you need both for flavor and for gelatin)
1 - slice of onion from a medium onion, chopped fine
2 - stalks of celery, chopped fine
2 whole bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes
If you have them on hand, one whole star anise
7 or 8  white button or cremini mushrooms

Put stock and chicken legs into a medium pot over high heat just until the stock begins to boil. Then add spices turn heat to lowest setting, put lid on pot and set timer for 35 minutes. Don't overcook. An occasional bubble should rise to the top as it simmers. If you let it continue to boil or leave it over heat too long, the chicken will be dry.

At 35 minutes, add the prepared mushrooms to the pot. Put the lid back on and set timer for 10 minutes. No need to bring back to boil. There should be plenty of residual heat to cook the mushrooms.

Remove the star anise and the bay leaves. Remove chicken legs with tongs and put on plate to cool slightly. Throw away skin and bone and put large chunks of meat back into the pot. Serve immediately.

That's about three meals for me. If you reheat, don't boil, just bring to eating temperature. It is a common mistake to overcook chicken. What makes this so good is that the chicken still remains very juicy, even when reheated.

Enjoy!

Oh, for low carbers, a third of the recipe is 3 carbs. :)

This was in the fridge - see the jelled stock. Good stuff!



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why do we do it??

I'm watching a show, an Amazon show called Goliath, in which all of the women are wearing high heels - VERY high heels. Why? I had my share of them and I ask myself the same question - why? My feet hurt when I wore them. I definitely couldn't run while wearing them. I remember reading about Japanese girls having their feet bound so that they wouldn't grow, and I thought, why? And then years later, I could hardly wait to buy my first pair of spike heels. Do they even call them that anymore?

I love getting past all of that, and I'm so happy that I didn't mess up my feet by wearing them too often. I must have had a shred of common sense.

Now I almost always wear Finn Comfort shoes. And they are - comfortable, that is. When I was on the farm and money was very tight indeed, I even bought a used pair on eBay, only $65 for a pair of $275 shoes. When they arrived, they didn't have insoles in them, a fact left out of the listing, but no problem. I had a pair of old sandals, and the thing about Finn Comfort shoes is that the insoles are removable - and interchangeable. And they never wear out. So I took the old sandals and pitched them (they were long overdue for the bin), and used the insoles out of them in the $65 shoes. Perfect fit! I'm still wearing them. (They are top right in the picture below.)

My daughter laughs at my shoes, especially the red sandals, bottom right in the picture. Okay they are not stylish. However, who cares? My feet never hurt. At 75 years of age, a podiatrist is not on my list of doctors.

Hail to flat shoes, good arch supports and feet that never hurt!

My shoe wardrobe


Saturday, January 7, 2017

NEW RECIPE - Steak and blue cheese

Need to kick-start your ketogenic diet? I know I need to, after one too many cheats during the holidays.

Someone gave me a gift certificate to DC meats, and I bought a beautiful New York strip steak. Any good steak will do, or even good quality hamburger. The topping is where it's at. And by the way, it's ZERO carbs.

Take a 4 oz. container of crumbled blue cheese. There is an Amish brand that is very reasonable. Turn it out into a bowl. Add 3 tbsp. soft butter and a rounded tbsp. of fresh grated horseradish. A couple of vendors at the South Bend farmers market have good horseradish. Mix them together with a spoon - should still be a bit lumpy. Then sprinkle a tsp. of good Italian seasoning mix over it. (Ceres & Co. at the farmers market has a really good one, reasonably priced,  and it's organic.)

Liberally salt and pepper your meat. I like to use smoked salt and smoked pepper, especially in the wintertime. Fry your steak or hamburger in a screaming hot cast iron grill pan or skillet - or if the weather is good, on your grill. I like it 5 minutes per side. Meat should still feel springy when you press your finger into the meat. Then put on heated plate to rest for five minutes. While it is resting, spread a fourth to a third of a cup of the blue cheese / horseradish / butter topping evenly over the meat.

Now this is a "get back on track" meal, so tuck in! Only side should be a shot of good bourbon or whiskey. You will definitely be full, and you will be back on track!

Happy New Year! And bon apetit.

Blue cheese topped steak





Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Out with the old, in with the new.

So another year has bit the dust. Lots of stress for me. I am like the proverbial ostrich with head in sand. I refuse to think about where this country might be going. I can only hope the shakeup works, and not in the way the far Right thinks it will. It has been a wake-up call for everyone, I think.

Some things are going right for me. Finally got rid of the tenant from hell who was basically squatting in my rental unit in Illinois. She is gone - house is empty, keys are back in my hands. Thanks to an improving housing market (and rising interest rates that will push some people into the decision to buy now, before they get any higher), I am going to do a little to the outside of the house to make it more attractive from the street and put it on the market.

My VW diesel Jetta, which is being bought back by VW, has been sitting in storage for a couple of months. Two weeks from today at 9 am, it will go to the VW dealer, I will get a nice deposit in my checking account, and that knotty problem will be behind me.

Tashi is doing great! She has had two bad days since I put her on a strictly grain free diet - one because I foolishly gave her some ends of sweet rolls from the market (Susan, there is grain in a sweet roll!), and another bad day after I fed her a can of Science Diet, which was supposed to be grain free. But either they are using a filler that is not listed on the ingredient list, or there is cross contamination in their factory, because it was a reminder of how bad she was. She is past it. All is good.

I fell on the ice, jammed my thumb and bruised a rib. All pain gone, and I can do Crossfit once again!

Came down with the flu on New Year's Eve. As of today, except for a lingering cough, all is well Temperature back down to normal, body aches gone, sneezing done. I found some prescription cough syrup that keeps the cough at bay for a couple of hours, so I am going to hit the Crossfit box this afternoon. I'll take a slug of cough syrup and go for it!

It's a beautiful winter day! Cold, lake effect snow floating down. The Yule tree is coming down today, all of the decorations too. My house looked really nice this year. But it will be good to clear the deck for the New Year.

I hope that you have a Happy New Year.