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Archive for July, 2008

Wonderful morning again today, cool with a little breeze. I’m really glad I’m a morning person, because I believe I get to experience the best time of the day. Well, I’m glad I’m a morning person until 8:00pm when I decide I’d like to walk down to Aggieville to see waz happnin’. But I figure the university would not be happy with me when I get arrested for walking through Aggieville in my jammies. And the person who takes my mug shot would be most unhappy with me for being without my makeup. So, for me it is either morning or the joint that’s jumpin’. To be honest, nothing starts up in Aggieville until way after 8:00pm anyway. Oh, what’s the use in dwelling on something that I don’t see happening anytime soon.

Last night I made a dish using a recipe I got from a librarian in North Carolina. Very simple, just steamed cauliflower and onions, smashed with butter, salt and pepper. Then sent to the oven for a few minutes with cheese melting on top. Last night I used Swiss cheese, and it was just SO delish! Next time I will try cheddar. Woman of variety, that’s me. To that entrée I added sides of pickled beets, fried okra, and one small new potato. I love okra just tossed in a pan with a little vegetable oil. Not much oil, coz I like it a little blackened. When I make the pickled beets I only use half the amount of raw sugar. Then I add Splenda. So it really was a healthier dinner than it sounds. Dessert?
sigh . . .corn. Straight out of the frig again.

One thing that is good about being an adult is the ability to make my own choices, most of the time. This morning my tummy is a little on the queezy side, and the only thing I wanted was a bowl of cooked tomatoes. So I opened a can of my organic, no-salt tomatoes, added a little sweetner, and Mmmmmmm. . . they hit the spot! I have one of those huge Cherokee tomatoes on my counter, but I wanted to save that for sliced tonight or tomorrow for supper. When I didn’t have to travel so much by plane I use to keep some of my mom-in-law’s home-canned tomatoes on hand. Now THOSE were just absolutely the best! “Cept when my grandmama from NC was still alive, she canned the best in the world, too. It’s all about me, folks. and food.

Well, back to finish up the planning I need to do for a short session with a group of students tomorrow. Then later today it is back to my article.

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Last night I prepared a small pizza for my supper. Our son, the chef, told me that extra salt is the reason my favorite pizza with lots of cheese from the restaurant in my Virginia hometown tastes so much better than my homemade pizza with all lots of cheese. Is that sentence long enough for ya?!? So last night I made one of my favorite homemade pizzas, purchased crust, pizza sauce, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, lots of mozzarella, and salt. Mmmmm. . . . .yes!! He was right!! I knew he would be. It was SO much better than usual. It is not the healthiest pizza around, because I use a crust made with white flour. And the cheese is full-fat. But it was a small one and I only ate half of it. I added a salad of tomato, onion, and cucumber with a little salt and pepper. And then I cooked fresh squash I purchased at the farmers’ market this past Saturday and ate some of that on the side, too. For dessert? One ear of corn straight out of the refrigerator, no butter, no salt. Hmmm. . . .maybe since I eat it cold I can consider it ice cream? Corn ice cream. I’d probably like that. I like hot corn, corn pudding and creamed corn. I like hot coffee and coffee ice cream. Yep! I’m a candidate for corn ice cream.

Yesterday walking home from work was absolutely lovely. Overcast sky, soft wind blowing. You know, more than a breeze but not a strong wind. Almost cool. I didn’t check the temperature reading, I just know it was grand. Then to set my day off just right, in the Holiday Inn parking lot, was the trailer that carries the Carl Edward’s “show” car! Now, for me to follow a race car driver and his stats, it is so out of character for me. Because I try to walk everywhere I can and save on fossil fuels. I conserve my electricity. For me, that is part of my duty as a human being, American or not. But our daughter lives in Concord, NC and is about to finish her two-year community college motorsports program as she starts another in accounting. And to be a part of her life I want to keep up with what is important to her. And my hubby likes it, too, so I find I really enjoy the business end, keeping up with who sponsors whom and who drives for which owner. Hubby and daughter both really simply enjoy racing, from the pavement to the dirt track. Motors going fast – they get a kick out of it. Not so much for me. Hey! But I do enjoy turning left. [For those of you who don’t understand the Southern roots of NASCAR, that is pronounced “turnin’ lay-uft”. You know, two syllables. That’s important]

Of course, Carl Edwards is not from the South, he is from Missouri. So his speech is more articulate, which is one reason he makes pretty effective commercials. But I forgive him for that, and he is my absolute favorite driver! In his first race in the Nextel Cup series he came in 10th, and that is when I decided he was the driver to follow and for whom I would yell “whoo hoo!” Later that same racing year, my daughter saw him outside a friend’s apartment while she was talking with me on her cell phone. I convinced her to ask him if he would speak to me, and (under protest) she gave in. So I spoke with him on the phone and I was absolutely thrilled! And . . .sigh. . . .I acted so silly. Of course for him it was like talking to his mother (bummer), but for me it was just exciting. And let me be honest here, I didn’t just sound silly, I acted like an idiot. Embarrassing, but still thrilling for me. Good news is that should the chance ever come that I am able to help him with a reference question, or find some government information for him, or help him find just the right geographical resource, he won’t remember that I was the idiot on the other end of the phone that day. Whew! And I’m sure he will be calling me any day now so that I can help him with such a question. I’m a-ready!

It is important to mention here that I also like a few other drivers, Jeff Burton, Jr., Kevin Harvick, good ol’ Ward Burton, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer (from Kansas, ya know), and Mark Martin. Martin has signed a new contract, just when I thought he was retiring. yippee!

One more racing tidbit before I sign off this morning. If you are not a vegetarian of any type, you must one day travel to South Boston, Virginia and take in a race at the Speedway. You can carry in your own water and colas and beer, but you absolutely must bring money to purchase a baloney burger. They are delicious!! Stay long enough so you can eat two. Really, in the NASCAR world we are famous for our baloney burgers. (yes, I know the proper spelling is “bologna”, but who on a race track would bother to do that? Not even me! And I can be quite the “word” snob.) Side note – Vegetarians may also enjoy the track, just keep your dietary habits a secret. I went there during the time I was a pescetarian in the past – just took carrots in my cooler instead of beer. I felt like such a rebel!

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Yippee!! Today is farmers’ market day! Tomatoes, more corn, tiny cucumbers, and that delicious kale from the KSU student garden. Oh my goodness my day is off to a good start! I have decided, though, to only purchase 6 ears of corn. That way I will not be tempted to have more than one ear a day. For me, corn really increases the glucose levels.

Last night I tried out the new pizzeria on Poyntz, and it was delicious! It’s not the cheapest pizza around, but it wasn’t TOO pricey for such a huge slice. They offer one size (large) Sicilian pizza, the deep-crusted square pizza. They also offer the traditional round, hand-tossed large pizza. Variety of tasty toppings for each, of course. In addition to those large pizzas they have the traditional pizza by the slice – large slice. I must say it is the best pizza I’ve eaten here in the Little Apple. Last night for supper I ate a slice of the vegetarian pizza, which comes with green pepper, onion, mushrooms, and black olives. I purchased an extra slice which I will eat for supper tonight – another slice of the vegetarian, and I also had them add a little broccoli and pineapple. FYI – you can purchase any slice of their “specialty” pizzas (such as the vege), and add more toppings at no extra cost.

And they have Coca Cola products!!! Out here almost all restaurants serve Pepsi products. Ooooh yuk. I’m a Coca Cola girl!! And they have a wide variety of tossed vege salads with cheeses and fruits and nuts. And garlic knots! Haven’t had those since I left Chapel Hill. OK OK, enough of my commercial.

I learned something new this morning. The term pesco-vegetarian is not really correct. Well, it is, but since it is a confusing term it has been replaced with pescetarian. (“pesce” is the Italian term, coming from the Latin “piscis” meaning = fish. Etymology lesson of the day!). Well, I guess that term is confusing, too. But since I am not technically a vegetarian, I think it could make more sense to use that word. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary it is pronounced PES-ke-tarian. Which also sounds like peskytarian. Which for most cooks who have to deal with us – they probably prefer the second term!

I got the results back earlier this week for my recent lab work. Wonderful news! The best Hemoglobin A1c I’ve had in over 13 years. Honestly! I was so excited. And since I quit making the tomato bisque I prepared so often this past winter, using way more heavy whipping cream than necessary, my LDL cholesterol level went back down to the normal range. Everything was great except the anemia factor. But I can fix that, I think. Been reading about it today and I should be able to get the blood levels in range without adding mammals to the diet. I don’t think the lack of meat has been the issue, because I was eating some meat every week up until a few weeks ago. I read that this type of anemia is a side effect of one of my meds, as well as. . . .ahem. . . .it shows up more often in the more mature woman. What? Who said that??!??!

I’ve fixed a healthy lunch to take to work with me today. I had only about 1/4 cup of black beans left, so I’ve added raw onion, shredded pepper jack, and a little tomato salsa to that and taking a few corn chips (did someone say corn?) to eat with that. Then I made a salad of cucumber, onion, Stilton blue cheese, and balsamic vinegar. I will add avocado to that when I get ready to eat – no need to peel that sucker ahead of time. Of course I am taking a little celery with my natural peanut butter purchased from my co-op for a snack. I keep a Luna Bar in my desk in case I need a “pick-me-up”. I only need to eat 1/4 of a bar to hold me a couple of hours to my next meal.

Yeah, I gotta go. Don’t you hear it? That’s the farmers’ market calling me!

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This morning I skipped my coffee at home and scurried to the coffee shop to read the news from various sources on the web – New York Times, CNN, Al Jazeera (English version, naturally), BBC, and of course Topeka. I bought a slice of banana nut loaf for breakfast – I think it is important to start the day with some fruit, and banana is a fav of mine. So this fruit had a few more calories and fat and sugar than normal, but this laptop is heavy and I lugged it TO the coffee shop this morning and then BACK home from work this afternoon. Surely I burned an extra eleventy gazillion calories. Don’t ya think?

When I wasn’t reading at the coffee shop, I talked to a few friends, and one (a professor on campus) spoke with me about research and writing, and I think I got a few good tips to get me through (or over) this large bump in my work right now. One wonderful aspect of this city is just about everywhere I turn there is a friend ready to help.

Lunch was cheap but boring. I fixed a cheese sandwich and took a can of not-so-tasty soup to heat up in the staff lounge. Dinner consisted of corn chips heated in the oven with shredded Pepper Jack cheese and some of those yummy black beans with raw onion and a little organic tomato salsa I bought from my little co-op grocery. Even though the salsa was great, I also sliced a fresh tomato from Saturday’s farmer’s market. Heaven! For dessert I had my favorite – an ear of corn. More heaven!

Boy I’m pooped! I’m sitting in the bed trying to stay awake ten more minutes, and the kitty is settled and staring at me with that “look”. She gets very disgusted when I don’t do things the way is wants. Someone tell her I’m shutting up now!!

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This weekend I spent most of my time working on an article I hope to submit to a journal in a few weeks. That is just “submit”, I can only hope after submission that it will be accepted. I am expanding on a paper I wrote as an undergrad about a group of Welsh that migrated to Virginia in the 1800s to work in a slate quarry, comparing their lives in Wales and the quarries there with their new lives in Virginia. It has been fascinating to study, but rather difficult to write.

The Cymric language (Welsh Celtic) was the language of the land until the late 15th century when the English language spread more rapidly into the country. But in the last 20 to 30 years, Cymric usage has become more widespread as it has been added back into the Welsh educational system. So place names change a lot as I go from older books and maps, to more recent, and then to even more recent! But it has been like a big puzzle, and you can be sure I keep two atlases nearby so I can compare! I hope I have written this paragraph correctly. I had to look in a detailed dictionary to understand the difference between the words Gaelic and Celtic. And don’t ask me to tell you the difference now! I’m afraid I’ll have to check it out again!

My problem is that I should have taken four months to research and another four to write. I figured a week or so would be enough for the writing. Wrong! As I dig deeper into my resources to make sure I get each word and thought correct, it takes longer and longer. It’s fascinating and I’m loving it, but now the time constraints are driving me nuts!

So, you ask, why am I not writing on it now? Because I am taking a lunch break, and I want to tell you about the meals I have prepared this week! Oh my oh my. . . .another trip to the farmer’s market this past Saturday. I always get kale from the KSU student group. Absolutely scrumptious! And finally some wonderful, fresh, juicy, summer tomatoes. Not always perfect in size or shape, but surely the most tasty. I’ve fallen in love with small onions, tiny new cucumbers, tomatoes, salt and black pepper with a little balsamic vinegar. I must have that combo at least once a day! And squash. More squash that I cook in just a little water with more onions. Cook it until the water is just about gone and then I add a little butter to sorta fry it. I don’t fry it long because it is already done, so I don’t need too much grease. But I love the flavor when the water has cooked out of it. Oh my goodness!

Last week my black beans and rice tasted like I was sitting at a very expensive restaurant. All I needed was the white table cloth! A little cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Serve over brown rice and I’m a-smilin’! I like to use dried beans, and I always cook them the day before with olive oil, salt and pepper, dried minced onion, and a little molasses or turbinado sugar. I soaked some last night, cooked them this morning before I came to work, and tonight all I have to do is prepare my favorite cornbread recipe I got from Val. I use canned creamed corn in that. Oh my I am drooling right now! Wait, I need to go wipe off my keyboard. . . . . And I still have brown rice left from last week.

And my brother taught me how to make his killer tarter sauce. Made it last night, and I made enough to last awhile. And corn. Last night, like many nights I just ate it plain, no butter, no salt. But when I have more than one ear at a time (sigh. . . .that’s right often I’m afraid), I’m sure not to check my glucose reading the next morning. Why bother? It’s always high after I over-do carbs. Even if they are healthy high-fiber carbs, glucose level just goes up.

No okra this week. Bummer. I bought frozen instead and plain to make a tasty gumbo later this week using a recipe I brought with me from North Carolina.

Well back to my paper and writing about places like Gwynedd and Caernarfonshire (sometimes Caernarvonshire) and Portmadoc and Llanbedr. I cannot pronounce them, but I bet they are all really beautiful.

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Out of town

I had so many wonderful meals on my trip to Virginia that I hardly know where to begin! I met my girlfriend for dinner at the mall in Durham, and I had a really good salad from the salad bar. I splurged on shrimp and pasta with an Alfredo sauce, but ugh. The shrimp were like rubber and the sauce must have come from a jar. It was a chain restaurant, but a nice one so I was surprised. However, the conversation was delightful and the salad delicious!

Thursday morning I got up early to go take care of my grandson – ooh what a cutie! So I took coffee in a thermos, a few peanut butter crackers, and half of an apple for my breakfast. I had asked the hubby to please have natural peanut butter on hand for my visit. He tried. He bought Skippy and it said “natural” and “no need to stir”. He was duped, I’m afraid. Read the label and see it has palm oil. And sugar. So yes, it may have been natural palm oil, and it may have been creamy, but the company knew that people would think they were just getting peanuts and maybe a little salt. Ooh gross! Felt like solid shortening as I tried to eat. But I ate it anyway so I could start the day with some protein.

Lunch I splurged on a Greek salad from my favorite pizza place in the world. ‘Cept I forgot to ask for anchovies. They have anchovies, but you have to ask if you want them. shoot! But I ate almost all of it that day. Kevin was also with me, and I bought him his favorite steak sandwich. For supper I prepared corn, cucumbers, onions, and little taters from our neighbors’ world-class garden. We had squash I bought at the store and frozen fish. Then our neighbor invited us up for homemade ice cream. Well, chocolate is not my favorite, but it was so good I had two bowls!

Friday while Brent was at work I met another dear friend for lunch. We ate at an exquisite restaurant. Really, I can think of no better word. And the special that day was fried catfish. So I ate all of that plus French fries and slaw. It was just wonderful! We talked public policy and the way our news media has wasted the past few months focusing on just about everything that is NOT important with the upcoming election instead of how the candidates plan to handle most of the pressing issues. We talked about recent books we have read and the problems still facing the Middle East area of our world. Good food and stimulating conversation. One of my favorite activities on this earth.

Friday night my mother-in-law invited us to her little “green house” for a picnic. I fixed a tossed salad with just the normal vegetables and brought more corn from the grand garden. Hubby cooked steaks (no I did not eat any) on the grill and we also had tiny taters from my mother-in-laws garden. By that time of day the sun was not so hot, a nice breeze blowing under the trees where we sat, and I could have stayed there all night.

Saturday Kevin and two of his friends helped us move some furniture and other items we have had in storage. I treated them to lunch at my favorite pizza place. Hey! I was paying! But it is one of their favorite restaurants, too. Jamie ordered a sandwich and shared her French fries with our grandson. [OK, so it is their son. But my grandson. And my blog!] The rest of us shared two pizzas – one with meat and one without. Gooey cheese all over! Sadly I could not bring the leftovers back to Kansas.

Now Saturday night was special! We went to the restaurant where my brother cooks. I ordered one of his crab cakes. Now, let me tell you, I’ve eaten a lot of crab cakes at different restaurants, some of them rather expensive. Johnny makes the absolute best! Really, the best. It is almost (if not all) crab meat. Even many gourmet crab cakes have too much seasoning. All you can taste is Old Bay. Not with Johnny’s! I know Oprah loves crab cakes, and I betcha she would like Johnny’s better than anyone else’s. I didn’t get dessert, but I did have a delicious cup of decaf coffee while Brent drank his coffee and ate his pecan pie. Nope! I didn’t have even a tiny bite of that pie! Remember how I wanted to stay below 150? Well, I got down to 146 for two days, and now I’m back up to 150. So I’m trying to be careful.

So, I had a wonderful visit and mostly all very wonderful food. But I left my phone in Virginia! Brent put it in the mail Monday, so maybe I’ll see it tomorrow. I feel so very separated from everyone else! Thank goodness for email.

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Following is the blog I wrote a few days ago but could not get to a stable Internet hookup until today:

Sitting at the airport in Kansas City, waiting for my connecting flight to Raleigh, NC, where I will visit with a friend (while I wait for my main squeeze to pick me up). Then it will be several days in Virginia visiting family and friends before returning to K-State on Sunday. Delays in flights this morning due to early morning fog. Right now it doesn’t look too bad, I guess maybe we are waiting for the other flights that have been delayed and now we wait in line? I’m never sure exactly how that works!

Sigh. . . I’m having troubles with the pesco-vegetarian thing. I think I need to purchase more fish when I go to the grocery store? I’m not sure it’s meat or protein I’m missing, but I sure am craving more of that than usual. Maybe it’s the fat? I have daily 2 or 3 Tbls. of peanuts, but I’m craving them in the Payday candy bar. Not good, coz I’m giving in to the cravings. I’m including olive oil in my veges and dried beans, but in the end I’m not really getting but a smidgen of fat in each serving. I’m hoping to visit a nutritionist in the next few months. While in Chapel Hill I met with several that were very familiar with vegetarianism. Now, I’m sure that the ones recommended through “my” diabetes clinic in Topeka will be familiar as well. After all, they have to be certified! But in the Chapel Hill area being a vegetarian or vegan is much more common. Support is everywhere, and it’s easy to go to just about any restaurant and eat a full and varied vegan meal. Not to criticize Kansas at all! Since restaurants must offer what their customers want the most, and Kansas being such a “meat” state, a larger percentage of the people here want meat. I can eat a vegetarian meal at many of the restaurants, it’s just the selection is usually smaller. And I run out of ideas for home. Green beans and squash and pintos have been great this week, but I’m not sure that is enough variety. I just need to think a little harder about good fats, like olive oil. And avocados. I’m already eating about 2 Tbls. of natural organic peanut butter daily – love it on celery. One of my vegetarian friends and co-workers has given me two small cookbooks for tofu. I am trying to eat more of that as well, I just need more marinades in which to saturate the little cubes! Any suggestions, folks? For tofu or any other way to get oil and/or healthy fats in my diet?

Ooh! Let me tell you about my meal last night. Wanted to clean out some in the refrigerator, so I finished up okra, fresh fruit, and green beans. I froze the rest of the pintos so they will be good when I return home. Anyway, cooked some shrimp and made this delicious shrimp salad made with celery, salt, black pepper, a little mayonnaise, and a secret ingredient. (My brother and his ex-wife use to make one very similar when they owned a restaurant years ago.) Oh my oh my it was good. And seemed to satisfy me. But I can’t be eating shrimp all the time! And my line-caught, wild, frozen salmon I purchased this past January directly from a small family fishing company in Alaska is all gone. bummer.

As you can guess, it is not easy purchasing fish here in Kansas. At the grocery stores it’s either farm raised (and my shrimp is farm-raised in Honduras) or processed in China. I have no problem with the citizens of China processing my fish, it is the polluted waters that deter me. And if I can get fish flown over from China cheaper than I can get it from the Gulf of Mexico, or the coast of California, or the coast of North Carolina, then some fisherman is not getting paid enough! With being overweight and etc. etc., I have been reading the labels of food for many years, so a lot of the nutrition info I have stored in my head forever! Now I spend way to much extra time at the grocery deciding, as best I can, which products have not be presented to me on the “backs” of workers who are being exploited to make obscene amounts of money for the corporation’s bottom line and stockholders. And sometimes I give in, like the shrimp. However, as a person of faith and someone who believes strongly in not taking advantage of others, how can I not spend the time to ensure, as best I can, that the food that is being prepared for me to sustain my life is not being prepared at the mistreatment of God’s children? Or using poor eco principles to the detriment of future generations?

Well, time to toss the coffee (and the paper cup, sigh….no room for my reusable cup when traveling by air) and make my way through security to the gate and wait a little bit longer for the flight to Raleigh. Carolina here I come!

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