blog break

It’s time for a short blog hiatus. I am having surgery on Wednesday for an object on my intestinal tract that should not be there and needs to be removed. I expect to be back blogging in a couple of weeks, the Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, along with your prayers and good thoughts, of course.

laptopThat may well be all you care to know, and that makes perfect sense. If you choose to keep reading, however, I can fill you in with a little more background, but I will endeavor to avoid the slippery slope of TMI.

It’s been quite a journey, going back nearly a year. After my annual physical last year my primary care physician ordered a blood cell count, presumably because I told the medical student who saw me before he came into the exam room that I had lost weight for no apparent reason. My white count came back high, which resulted in an ultrasound and a referral to urology as the issue appeared to be kidney-related. A CT scan followed, with the urologist saying, “You don’t need me” and referring me to gastroenterology. Those folks told me that I had a GIST, a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. The medical team ordered two different endoscopic procedures to confirm that it was only that. The gastrointestinal surgeon partnered with the oncologist (head of oncology at Kaiser Riverside, by the way!) who prescribed a medication to shrink the GIST. No effect, the second CT scan revealed. Bad news: larger rather than smaller is harder to remove. Good news: the medication not shrinking it means it’s probably not cancerous.

So here we are. Think of me (as the song from Phantom of the Opera says), and my intent is to be back with you soon. I have cleared out my queue of backlogged blog entries and will be starting fresh when I return. Once restarted, this blog may take a slightly different approach or focus but I do plan to keep blogging. Writing is central to who I am, and I have much to write about.

Stay tuned.


grilled chicken kebabs with pineapple salsa

I was looking for something different for a Saturday dinner and for something that I could grill on our new stove-top grill pan. I found this recipe for grilled chicken kebabs with pineapple salsa in my database, which originally appeared in Shape magazine in September 2010.

pineapple chicken kebabsThe marinade called for pineapple, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper pureed in a blender. The salsa consisted of diced pineapple, tomato, spinach, garlic, cilantro, and salt. I omitted the cilantro and salt in the salsa. I cooked the chicken on the grill pan along with pineapple pieces, forgoing the skewers. I also cooked rice as a side, which turned out to be completely unnecessary.

It made for a very tasty Saturday evening dinner.


Sacred Music Friday: O Lord, You are My God and King

The University of Nebraska at Lincoln Singers, Pete Eklund, conductor at the First Plymouth Church in Lincoln Nebraska. Some great, soaring music!

 


grocery shopping habits

Our grocery shopping options around here are limited. We have Sprouts for our deli meats and specialty items. Stater Bros. is our go-to store, where they have a full-service meat department and quality produce. Then there is WinCo with its warehouse environment and low prices where you bag your own groceries. (As far as we’re concerned, Walmart does not exist, even though we have two full-sized stores and one Neighborhood Market in the valley.)

Winco storefrontThere are a number of Staters stores in the San Jacinto valley, but the one near us is the newest and the nicest. It’s only three years old, but even so they just did a mini-remodel, adding faux-wood floors. It makes for a very pleasant shopping environment and is a much more enjoyable shopping experience than the other Staters stores in the valley. Not that they’re bad, it’s just that ours is a lot nicer.

When I compare prices, however, WinCo is much cheaper. So we’ve been adjusting our routine. We go to Staters for produce and fresh meat. We tackle WinCo for the grocery aisles, as well as the refrigerated section and frozen foods.

It takes a little more time, but the cost savings make it worthwhile.


Manhattan clam chowder

Manhattan clam chowderTerry recently said that she wanted to have Manhattan clam chowder, so I pulled up this recipe from my database, which originally appeared in the Cooking Light issue of May 1999.

It’s really quite straightforward, calling for garlic, a chopped and peeled baking potato, oregano, black pepper, diced tomatoes, and clam juice along with the clams. Terry added cumin and chili powder and a couple of slices of microwaved bacon.

I took care of the garlic bread. It made for a really nice dinner on a cold evening.


changing tastes in reading

It’s interesting how one’s tastes in reading (and other things) change over time.

When I was in my twenties and thirties one of my favorite books was Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins. I can’t tell you how many times I read it. It was a favorite of many of my generation. But when I tried to get interested in books that Robbins wrote in later decades I simply couldn’t become engaged. If fact, when I downloaded a Kindle sample of Another Roadside Attraction a couple of years ago I discovered that I just wasn’t into it.

On the other hand, back in the 1980’s I tried to get going with Gore Vidal’s then-new book Creation. It is a novel narrated by a fictional grandson of Zoroaster, and is presented as a rebuttal to the Histories of Herodotus from a Persian perspective. I remember having a hardcover copy and trying to read it on my first honeymoon. Yes, I know you’re supposed to have other things on your mind on a honeymoon, but it was a Hawaii cruise, it was raining, and my first wife would take afternoon naps. So I was out there on an enclosed deck reading Vidal. I just couldn’t get excited about it.

Creation coverRecently, however, I had been reading some nonfiction and I wanted a change. I downloaded the Kindle sample of Creation and found the book quite book quite interesting. It turns out that this is an expanded version published in 2002. It seems that an overzealous editor underestimated the interest of the average Vidal reader (or perhaps the average fiction reader) in the details of life and ritual in the ancient world, and cut a good deal of what he considered to be minutia. That’s all restored in the 2002 edition.

I’m currently reading and enjoying the book and not getting bogged down in anything that looks like minutia. (Fun fact (at least I assume it’s a fact): A eunuch who is castrated after achieving sexual maturity can still have an erection. Therefore the ladies of the harem, many of whom probably did not have a great deal of fondness for their husbands (who had most likely been chosen for them), and in fact most likely rarely even saw them, were perfectly happy to have the attention of the better-looking eunuchs, who were, after all, there to look after them. And besides, sexual faithfulness was not the issue. What was really at stake was that any children born to the wife were actually the king’s offspring. But I digress.)

So yes, our tastes do change over the decades.


chocolate chip cookies

I originally had this chocolate chip cookie recipe in my bulky three-ring binder, and it got transferred to my Living Cookbook database when I made the conversion. It’s from the old Yahoo Vegetarian Group and was written by the group owner, the incomparable Donna.

I followed Donna’s ingredients, but went my own way with the instructions.

The ingredients:

¾ cup sugar
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

chocolate chip cookiesThis time around I doubled the batch. I was making the cookies for Terry’s physical therapy team after she completed treatment.

I mixed all of the dry ingredients in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and then threw in the wet ingredients. I next added the chocolate chips and then walnuts which I chopped using the chopping attachment for my immersion blender.

I used a soup spoon to place the dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper and baked at 375° for twelve minutes.

They turned out great!