Archive for August, 2009

Tomato Bisque Maggot Glop

August 29, 2009

Okay, so I’m no gourmet cook. I do cook. I figure during our 28 1/2 years of marriage I have made dinner about 6000 times, or on average, at least four nights a week for 1482 consecutive weeks. My husband, David, has cooked maybe thirty times, or, on average, about once a year. He doesn’t cook, although he loves to repair things, like lawn mowers.

David, on the other hand, will eat just about anything. He usually thanks me effusively over the arrival of dinner as if its’ coming to fruition is some kind of miracle. Which, it usually is. I don’t much like to cook, unless it’s TV dinners in the microwave. Maybe my body language gives it away, with me yakking on the phone or out dead-heading the flower beds while the timer is blasting, the liquid is boiling over and foaming on the stove, and/or the oven has caught fire. “Ooops!”

I usually make one of about ten different dinners. I have likely made each one of them at least 500 times. These include meat loaf, chili, spaghetti, beef tacos, chicken enchiladas, baked or fried chicken, or something grilled. Pork once in a blue moon, and some fish. Well I’m pretty tired of it all.

So the other day I spotted this recipe for Tomato Chicken Bisque. Hey, it looked … refreshing? I was thinking, you know, for a change, something light and appropriate for a warm summer’s evening … How about this tomato chicken bisque soup with bread and sliced cheese? And a glass of milk! Simply Delicious!

Let me say right off the bat that I wasn’t told to start growing the basil in my garden at least six weeks prior to making the soup (nor had I bought fresh basil at the grocery store, but maybe this detail doesn’t matter) … photo(4)

(If that is indeed fresh basil they are using as a garnish, an ingredient they list in the recipe, and not water cress or something NOT listed as an ingredient.) Let me also say that I was following the recipe pretty much the way I do most soup recipes: Look at all the ingredients you need, lay them all out, and throw them in the pot to cook! Hey! It’s a friggin’ soup, right? I was a little curious for a half-second at some point as to where the ‘whole’ tomatoes went to in the photo – why weren’t there, like, tomato globs floating around in it? I also really didn’t think about what ‘bisque’ exactly means either, although, I have since looked the word up to freshen my memory and noticed descriptions like ‘thick’, ‘strained’, and ‘creamed’ in the definition.

To be honest, with this tomato chicken bisque I did pretty well with the ‘thick’ part of it but the other two factors were … um… lost in translation, you might say. At some point the recipe says, “Working in small batches puree the soup in a blender and transfer back to pot”… which I realized was the process by which the ‘soup’ became a ‘bisque’. No problem! Oh crap! I’m supposed to add the chicken AFTER I puree the soup into a bisque – except that I’ve already diced and added the chicken! Oh well! I picked out a few chicken pieces and, that proving tedious beyond my ability to cope, I just puree-d the whole thing, chicken and all.

Another thing the recipe should have stated up front is, ‘Be sure to puree the soup before adding the chicken.’ Because the chicken chunks get pulverized into what looks like … an implanted maggot colony. And when I saw all those maggots in my tomato bisque I thought, no, all those little white bits just look like maggots, but I know they are chicken. But then when I spooned a taste of it into my mouth, all I could think about was how cooked maggots probably taste like chicken.

“Dinner’s ready!” I called out to my husband and daughter, Megan.
“HMMMMM … smells good!” David gushed approvingly, as he entered the kitchen, relieved, I’m sure, that his wife had pulled off yet another dinner ‘miracle’. (As he was beginning to wonder when his own starving stomach might commence eating itself.) Dinner was finally ready and steaming on the stove top!

“Well, honey, it’s a new recipe! See, here’s the picture!” I said, flashing the above recipe in front of his face. “Except I didn’t have fresh leaves (whatever they are) for garnish!” … “And uh … well, you go first, dear! There’s plenty of it, a whole pan full!”

photo

“I’ll have a TV dinner!” declared Megan. Smart girl. I suspect maggots do taste a lot like chicken. If you hadn’t made the soup, how could you really be sure … well, you know.

I won’t tolerate anyone around here complaining of hunger. We still have a hearty portion of that leftover tomato bisque maggot glop stowed tightly in a container in the way back of the fridge. And I even stuck a sprig of fresh rosemary on it as a garnish.

Yeah, well, tonight we ordered pizza.

‘Liver Spot Love’

August 20, 2009

Warning! This blog contains material that may be offensive to the eye! That’s right, you are advised to read further with caution.

What you will see here is not life-threatening nor harmful, nor toxic or contagious. I promise you will be okay if you choose to continue reading.

photo(7)Hark and behold!! It’s a middle-aged hand sporting a gigantic liver spot! Well, age spot. I’m not sure where the term ‘liver spot’ came from except that liver is about the grossest thing one could think of to eat and so “liver spot’ (being the color of liver and seemingly as gross) perfectly describes this thing on the back of my hand. Yes, that is my hand you are looking at here. A harmless ‘genetic skin disorder’ is what a dermatologist diagnosed me with about 10 years ago, when I went in to see him wondering if I might be stricken with melanoma.

Last week I took our daughter to her dermatologist. He’s been treating her for a couple of years with antibiotics and topical solutions to clear up her skin and he declared her “much improved” with “keep up the good work” and “keep out of the sun!” Then he turned to me, gestured toward my hand, and declared, “Maybe I should have a look at that!” He leaned in with his magnifying glass to peer at that spot on my hand. I was a bit startled. He was giving me his time and attention at my daughter’s appointment? He must be genuinely concerned. “Good, that spot on your hand is okay,” he concluded.

Gross, ugly, unlovable liver spots!

Gross, ugly, unlovable liver spots!

“What about these on my leg?” I inquired, propelling my outstretched left leg in his direction, granting him clear access with his eye instrument to three more sizeable liver spots. (I was wearing a short ‘skort’ and white v-neck t-shirt, the outfit I’ve worn about 50 times this summer. It’s twin outfit is in the dirty clothes.)

He peered at several spots on my leg through his instrument, and declared them ‘okay.’ Then he engaged me in a lengthy discourse about the dangers of sun exposure, like, any sun exposure. No sun!! I argued about vitamin D, that, the way you mostly get it naturally is through sun exposure to the skin, and I make sure to get plenty of sun exposure in the summer, especially because I live in a northern climate. “Food sources contain scant amounts and otherwise you’re stuck with taking supplements,” I argued.

“That’s right!” he exclaimed. Then he shared his personal pro-health regimen: He applies 15 SPF sunscreen on his face every morning and wears at least 30 SPF sunscreen plus a hat to protect himself if he spends any time outdoors in the sun. 15 SPF sunscreen on his face every morning to wear to … his office job? What, is he worried about sun exposure in his 10-minute car ride to work? This doctor is all of 35 years old and I admit he has nary a freckle on his lily white face. What about his vitamin D? Not to worry. He takes a 2000 IU supplement every day, available over-the-counter.

“Come on!” I argued. “Surely some sun is good for you!”

“It causes cancer!” he retorted. He handed me a couple of pamphlets to ‘read over carefully’ when I got home. Concerning cancer, I already knew that excessive sun has been linked to both basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which are both highly treatable. It says right in the pamphlet (published by the American Academy of Dermatology) that when found early and treated properly, the cure rate for both cancers is over 95 per cent. Melanoma is the scary one. And probably my biggest fear with age spots (other than being viewed as some kind of leper by paranoid anti-sun freaks) is that they may mask the appearance of melanoma. Plus, to quote from the article above, “Some people wish to have these spots removed as they consider them unsightly; this can be done by cryotherapy or laser treatment.” Cryotherapy? Really?

Well anyway, I’m a die-hard sun-worshipper, come liver spots or not. I have an older sister egging me on here. She has been doing extensive research to support her theories on health involving Vitamin D and the sun, low vs. high fat diets, statins use … and challenging many of our society’s current hard-held beliefs on these subjects. Check out her blog post about sunscreen. She is my sister, but she also happens to be a Graduate of MIT- with her B.S. in Biology and her PhD in Electrical Engineering. She is very passionately trying to get the message out that sun is GOOD for you. Albeit, sun in moderation – 15 minutes a day will do.

And if you are the least bit concerned about the swine flu you might check out this link and give it some thoughtful consideration. Even if you are a dermatologist or doctor spilling out to your patients what you learned in medical school. By the way, my daughter’s dermatologist did say that if you get a blistering sunburn then it increases your melanoma risk by 17 per cent. I’ll have to do some research on this, but nevertheless, I am not advocating blistering sunburns. Hey, I got a sunburn on my back when I was 17 that peeled three times and resulted in sun poisoning. I can’t change that. My body is getting older every day that I am alive. I am alive! – those are the operative words here. And I’m trying to muddle my way though the murky medical corridors of our health system which seems to be seething with misinformed advice. Somehow I will make good healthy choices for myself.

How about, for starters, I learn to love my liver spots?

photo(8)Here we have a kinder, gentler image of my liver-spotted hand which, you see, is still able to play ‘punky monkey” with ‘Rudy’ our miniature poodle.

Kind hand.

Gentle, sun-loving, liver spot. 😉

Trippin’ – II

August 5, 2009

Thought it would be cool to post some pictures to accompany my previous (rather verbose, I see in retrospect) blog about our trip to Coeur D’Alene. Caraher's At WeddingSo here we are at the wedding reception on Saturday July 25. There’s the family patriarch back center in blue, my darling husband, David, a.k.a. ‘Father Time,’ who has since shaved his beard and gained about 15 yrs. life-expectancy. You will see the mindful matriarch, me, the short one, front-middle. That is Ben on the left, then Megan, and Aaron on the right.

I’m a little more hesitant to post photos of my family on my blog since hearing on the news yesterday about a Massachusetts mother who found her 7-month-old baby up ‘for sale’ on Craigslist. Her baby’s picture had been lifted from her family blog and advertised as a ‘cute baby baby boy up for adoption.’ She had been alerted by someone who recognized this baby as her son. The mother carried on elaborate correspondence with the website where she learned that her son was supposedly in an orphanage in Camaroon, a republic next to Nigeria. Ultimately the scammer wanted $300.00 to ‘start up the application process.’ Bingo! It was at this point that the mother alerted authorities of the scam.

It might be nice to know as a parent that if you have reached your wits’ end with your kid then you could put the little rascal up for adoption on Craigslist. Or at least threaten him or her with it as a stress buster/behavior management strategy.

I’d like to list our not-so-cute hollyhocks up for adoption on Craigslist. As you can see, they didn’t fare well while we were on vacation. Hollyhocks Hollyhocks Albeit, they must not have been faring too well before vacation. But here is what they looked like when we got back. Blame it on the ‘s-s-s-s-s-s-slugs’ (Jamie Foxx voice here) and f-f-f-f-f-ing-fungus.

I saturated both sides of every hollyhock leaf with an anti-fungal/insecticide guaranteed to kill about everything. The fungus is called ‘rust,’ I found out, when I took a leaf in to a local greenhouse for a diagnosis. I called a good friend of mine who has had hollyhocks for years and asked her about rust, “Have you seen it on your hollyhocks?” “No.” she replied. NEVER? “Hey, slugs and snails, come git’ yer’ slug bait I’ve laid out for yer’ big dinner party pig out…”

Backing up to our trip, the Coeur D’Alene Resort has had some more ‘after-midnight-we’re-gonna-let-it-all-hang-out’ drama since our infamous vacation ‘fire drill.’ I didn’t take any photos of the resort but in searching for a link on the internet to give you an idea of how large this place is, I came across news of another drama that happened after midnight a few days after we were there. All I can say is, I would advise anyone planning to stay at the Coeur D’Alene Resort that in addition to packing sleepwear that can be donned quickly and worn in a crowded public setting, you might also want to curb your drinking on the balcony, particularly if you are the manic or depressive type or if you anticipate partying with anyone inclined toward over-zealous histrionics. You might consider reserving a balcony room exclusive to the first story or perhaps spring for a room without a balcony. Just a thought …

Last but not least, I must post some photos I took with my i-phone on our 480-mile trek back home through Montana from Coeur D’Alene to Idaho Falls.

This one was taken in Montana, south of Butte:
photo(4)
“Big Sky” Country!

Big Idaho Sky
Big ‘Idaho’ Sky! – above

Who took this?
Uhhhh…?

“Big Coeur D’Alene Lake Bottom?” I honestly haven’t a clue.

Where did this picture come from? It appeared on my i-phone amongst all the other ‘trip’ photos. Where were we here and what in God’s name were we doing? Those rocks just don’t look like mountains illuminated in the sunset to me. Did something go awry with this trip that I am not remembering? Did I … swim? How grateful should I be that I (and all the rest of us) am … alive?

Life is good … I’m bent on living the ‘next 24’ a little more gratefully. “More consciously aware” might be prudent too, although I wouldn’t want to get too over-zealous about it.