Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving survey 2013

Another unscientific survey conducted by the Common Household Mom.

Name an inanimate object for which you are grateful which you have never seen.

Our answers:

Answers from those of us younger than 21
Nova Scotia
My future car
The electric plant
My brain (strictly speaking, not an inanimate object – I hope)

Answers from those of us older than 30
Cardiac stents
My Grandmother’s first ticket for the steamer from Ireland to Philadelphia
The scalpel that cut into me
My sewer pipes
Dark matter

My brother pointed out that the survey question went against what every child has browbeaten into them in church Sunday School – that spiritual things are the things that really matter.  I guess the question comes more from the ancient Hebrew understanding of the world, in which the physical world and the spiritual world are intertwined. 

I wish you all a physical and a spiritual Happy Hanukkah and Advent!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Turkey Pillow ready for Thanksgivukkah

Youngest Daughter and I decided that our one Thanksgiving decoration, my turkey pillow, needed a kippah (yarmulke) for the upcoming holiday.

Regular kippah too big.  Hmm.  What to do?
Cut smaller circle.  This is why we have a cajillion
 kippahs leftover from Youngest Daughter's bat mitzvah.
So that we can cut them up.

Attempt to sew a nice edge on tiny kippah.
Results not so great.

Try # 2 - looking better with gold trim.

Turkey pillow with kippah and prayer shawl

This is just to prove that occasionally I can do craft-type things.
I made this felt hanukkiah!  With my hot glue gun!  19 years ago!
It has felt candles that can be inserted in the candle holders,
 and felt flames with velcro to stick to the candles.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Turkey Dinner #1

It's likely you will be bored by this discussion of my low-fat turkey dinner recipes.  If so, try these more entertaining posts here or here instead. 

Sorry. I can’t help but record this major change in my life.

Here’s the good, the bad, the ugly, and the absent from my first 2013 turkey dinner last Sunday.  I made a lot of new recipes and severely revised some time-honored ones, in order to have a lower-fat dinner. 

Good:  turkey, gravy, green beans with onions, homemade cranberry sauce, bread from the grocery bakery, 'lower fat' pumpkin pie. 

Despite having NO butter in it, the bread stuffing was pretty good.  My research revealed that one main way to reduce the fat in your stuffing is to not cook it in the bird.

Bad:  quinoa stuffing, low-fat mashed potatoes.

Ugly (but tasted good):  honey-glazed yams.  Some of them turned black after baking.

Absent:  the much-loved green bean casserole.  Instead I made fresh green beans – par-cooked in the microwave, then thrown in the frying pan with some slightly caramelized onions, garlic, fresh ginger root slices, and soy sauce.  Next time I would add some hot peppers.

Quinoa stuffing: This could have been good, but it was pretending to be something it wasn’t.  It just can’t be bread stuffing, no matter how much it tries.  I’ve included the recipe below, with my suggested modifications, because I think this could be really good if it’s made right.  But I won’t be making it next Thursday, because the lower fat bread stuffing I made was quite good, and traditional stuffing is what people want on Thanksgiving.

Mashed potatoes:  There seems to be no point in making low-fat mashed potatoes.  My husband told me afterwards he just didn’t have any potatoes at all.  They weren’t appealing to the rest of the company.  Bring on the butter, lads!

Pumpkin Pie:  I made a low-cholesterol crust using canola oil.  The filling was non-fat.  My husband was quite pleased.

Recipe: Wild rice (or quinoa) stuffing

This stuffing recipe uses wild rice instead of bread. If you're feeling more adventurous, substitute quinoa for the rice. The nutrition information listed is for wild rice but would be similar for quinoa.

By Mayo Clinic staff                                                             Serves 12

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice (or equal amount of uncooked quinoa*)
2 1/2 cups water*
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped apple (including peel)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups diced celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning*
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth*
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Rinse wild rice two to three times — until water runs clear.

Place wild rice and water in a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, stirring frequently. Do not burn. Cook wild rice for about 30 minutes. (If you're using quinoa, cook it for about 15 minutes.)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add onion, mushrooms, apple, cranberries and celery. Stir and heat through until tender. Add the salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Continue to stir and cook slowly until fragrant, about 10 minutes total.

Combine the rice, the fruit/vegetable mixture and chicken broth in a large bowl. Use to stuff turkey. Or bake in a dish coated with nonstick spray. Cover and keep warm in oven until serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of toasted almonds.

Nutritional analysis per serving                     Serving size: Approximately 1/2 cup
Calories     78                                Sodium      136 mg      Total fat    2 g             Total carbohydrate     13 g
Saturated fat Trace                      Dietary fiber 2 g         Monounsaturated fat  1.5 g          Protein       2 g

*I suggest the following revisions:
- If using quinoa, cook according to the quinoa package.  The Mayo Clinic’s recipe has too much water for the quinoa.  Mine was watery.
- I thought 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning would be way too much.  Instead, I put in ½ tsp ground thyme, and ½ tsp Herbes de Provence.  It still had far too much thyme.
- It didn’t really need any broth at all.
It would have been better if I had done what I usually do with quinoa – cook it plain, then sauté the other stuff (onion, apple, etc) and then mix it into the quinoa and serve.  Leave out the thyme/poultry seasoning altogether.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

I am clueless

We are doing fine, but we’re all a bit more tired than usual. My husband has returned to work.  I am ramping up my low-fat cooking skillz.  I am also gearing up to host two Thanksgiving dinners, one on this Sunday, and one on Thanksgiving Day.  You might not hear from me for awhile, until I emerge from the kitchen.

On top of all that Hanukkah is coming up, even before Thanksgiving.  Instead of racking my addled brain to come up with gift ideas, I did what I always do – I asked the kids what they would like.  Once I have their list, then I get them the most educational item on it. 

Yesterday, I was driving Youngest Daughter somewhere, and that is when she responded to my request for a gift list.

YD:  Mom, I thought of something I would like for Hanukkah.  It’s “Full Metal Alchemist.”

Me:  Is that a rock band?  No.  Is it related to chemistry?  Because I can tell you that alchemy has long been discredited as….

YD:    Mom.  It’s not science!  It’s a manga.

Me: What is that?   Is it a small woodland creature that lives in Madagascar?

YD:    Mom.  That would be a lemur.

Me:  You say that as if lemurs are the only small woodland creatures that live in Madagascar.   Did you say ‘manga’?  Is that a kind of fruit?  Maybe you meant mango?

YD:    MOM!  Manga!  It’s a Japanese art form.  Full Metal Alchemist is a book written with some words and mostly pictures and you read it from right to left.

Me: So you have regressed to reading comic books. 

YD:  It’s not a comic book!  It’s manga!

She proceeded to tell me a bit of the premise of this Japanese graphic novel, which involved partially dismembered people being awesome.  I guess it will be a better gift than socks.  Except she needs socks.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Bagel Nazi

After he came out of the O.R. following his heart cath procedure, the nurses instructed the Common Household Husband to lie flat and not move his leg for several hours.  He was very hungry, since he hadn’t had anything to eat for 20 hours.  That was because someone else had come into the cardiac O.R. with a more urgent case, so his procedure got delayed.  His was not the only life saved that day.

When he got back to his hospital room, he phoned the hospital kitchen to order some food.  He wanted to get finger foods – something not too messy, that he could pick up and eat while lying down.  He thought with longing of the tiny bagel the hospital had served him the day before the procedure.  He further thought that since he had skipped several meals that day, he could have two of those tiny bagels.

After those thoughts, there followed this surreal conversation with the hospital kitchen staff. 

Husband:  “I’d like to have two bagels with cream cheese, please.”
Hospital Kitchen Lady: “You can’t have that.”
Husband: “Why not?”
Kitchen Lady:  “It has too much salt in it.  You have to follow the heart-healthy diet.”

This confused my husband.  He had been picking the 'heart-healthy' items on the menus since he arrived at the hospital.  

Husband:  “But I had a bagel yesterday.”
Kitchen Dragon Lady:  “You can’t have a bagel. But you could have a sandwich.”
Husband:  “Okay.  I’ll take a turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato.”
Dragon Lady:  “What kind of bread would you like?”
Husband:  “Well…could I get that on a bagel?”
Dragon Lady:  “Okay.  Is there anything else you want on that?”

My husband was a bit shocked.  Didn’t she just say he couldn’t have a bagel?  But he thought he saw his chance, and pressed his luck.

Husband: “How about some cream cheese?”
Dragon Lady:  “No, you can’t have that.”

My starving husband sighed.  

Husband:  Well, what can I have?
DL:  How about some mandarin oranges?
H:  No. I’m lying flat.  Mandarin oranges are too messy. I have to have finger food.
DL:    How about a banana?
H, breathing a sigh of relief:  Yes, I’ll have a banana.  Is there anything else you can give me?
DL:   I can give you sweet potato chips.
H:    Are you telling me you can’t give me cream cheese, but you can give me potato chips?!
DL:  Yes.
H:    Fine.  I’ll take the chips.

The sandwich was on wheat bread.  No bagel for you!  No cream cheese for you!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Questions and Answers

Saturday morning, 3 a.m.

Common Household Husband, in the emergency room, asking me:
“How high is my blood pressure?”
My answer, looking at the vital signs monitor:  “It’s too high for me to tell you how high it is.”

I’m still not saying.

* * * * *
Saturday morning, 5 a.m.

Husband, asking the Emergency Room doctor: “I’m feeling better now.  Can I go home?”
ER doctor’s answer:  “I have a premonition about you.  I am strongly recommending that you stay at least overnight for observation.”

(I love that doctor.  She was absolutely right.)

* * * * *
Sunday afternoon

Youngest Daughter, asking her Dad: “If they pump you full of nitroglycerin and then you fall on the ground, will you explode?”
Her Dad’s answer:  “I don’t think so.”

* * * * *

Monday morning

Husband, while waiting for heart catheterization procedure, asking me:  “Did you get the salt pellets for the water softener yet?”
My answer: “No, not yet.”  (It was hardly the most important thing on my list.)
His reply:  “It has to be done.  There are no salt pellets left in there!”  (This was followed by detailed instructions on how to do this task.  I went and did it.)

* * * * *
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday

Me, asking God: 
Well, I don’t know how to describe my prayers, other than to say I was continually grateful about a whole slew of things, and I was also bold to ask God for a favorable outcome, and I also felt God was with us no matter the outcome, and I don’t know how I remained calm but I did.  It must have been because there were whole armies of people praying for us.

* * * * *

Monday afternoon

Dr. Afghanistan, asking me while showing me a photo: “Do you see this?  That’s where the blockage was.  So we put the stents in here, to open up the artery.”
My slack-jawed answer:  “Thank you for saving my husband’s life!”
Dr. Afghanistan’s reply:  “It was nothing.”

I turned away because I was not able to get out the words:  It is everything.”

(Side note:  both of the cardiologists, Dr. Afghanistan and Dr. Poland, had names of cities in these countries. Dr. Afghanistan seemed to be only about 18 years old; Dr Poland provided some maturity for the medical team.)

* * * * *

My husband, as the nurses wheel him out of the O.R.: “When can I get some lunch?”

He hadn’t had anything to eat for about 20 hours.

* * * * *

That’s my recap of our miracle.

The situation is that the Common Household Husband had a mild heart attack on Friday.  The miracle is that by Tuesday he was home, tired but recovering nicely.  By the mercy of God he did not need bypass surgery.  God’s answer today to my bold prayer is Yes.   Thanks be to God.