What I did today…and Spaghetti with Sausage

Every Saturday we try to go to the Durham Farmer’s Market.  And every Saturday morning as we are getting ready, I say something and Stuart thinks I’m being mean to him.  We end up being snappy to one another, and it starts that way….I hate it.  Finally, I realized today that I get very anxious about getting up and going anywhere, and it’s not just when we are going to the Farmer’s Market it’s anywhere.  It’s just very noticeable on Saturdays because we do this every Saturday.

I was being a bitch.  I snap, and I’m snarky, and I am simply not the nicest of people.  But it really has nothing to do with Stuart.  First, I’ve gained so much weight, I find it hard for me to get ready and feel comfortable (read *pretty* here).  What woman does not get bitchy when she’s feeling like that?

Then I start to get more and more anxious about being out and about and what if something happens.  When we are home an attack is much easier to stop, or at least make it much easier.  But when we are out and about, it’s much harder.  What if I collapse?  What if we have to leave some place in a hurry?  There have been a few times we’ve had to leave a restaurant, just leave, the food hadn’t arrived, I was getting sick, and we had to leave NOW.  It’s so hard to explain, no we don’t have time for you to put the food in a to go box, here, we will pay you for it, but we have to leave now.  (besides I would not be able to stand smelling the food in the car all the way home.)  People look at you so funny, because all of a sudden I’m walking like I’m drunk and I can’t stand up by myself, and I wasn’t drunk a few minutes ago.  I can’t imagine what they must think after we leave.  We try to say, “She has vertigo, she’s getting very sick, very fast, we have to leave.  But how can they understand?

So now I understand.  I’m anxious about leaving the house, and it comes across as me being grumpy.  Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I’m hoping he will get mad and say, “Well we just won’t go then.”  But instead he told me that I could go by myself.  Oh my, the terror that went through me.  But you know what?  I was going to do it.  Just because I got so mad that he said that to me.  And how dangerous would that have been?  Dumb, Dumb, Dumb.  (well, today, I’ve had a pretty good day, so I would probably have been fine, but still, it wouldn’t have been smart….what if…)

Deep Breath Here!  I calmed down and talked with Stuart.  I apologized.   He apologized.  And I realized what was really going on with me.  It was a very nice talk, and I hope we can deal with it better in the future now that we know what was (or may be) causing it.

So, off to the Farmer’s Market we went.  We got there, walked in, hit 3 vendors and said, “It is too dang cold out here!”  And we left.  We came away with a bag of Sun Chokes (also known as Jerusalem Artichokes), some green onions, a bag of mixed winter greens, and some baby turnips.  Not enough veggies for the week, but it was in the 20’s this morning and we all know I’m not a cold natured person…well, neither is my husband.  I’ve never tried Sun Chokes before, but I like trying new things.  I’ll let you know what I decide to do with them.

We then tried to go get breakfast but the breakfast places were way too busy, so we decided to have lunch at the steak house.  Yes, steak for breakfast.  It wasn’t what I wanted, but it wasn’t bad.

We left there and decided to drop by the mall to walk off some of that meal.  I was so bloated and miserable.  After our walk we came home and I realized my keys were missing. (I keep them attached to my purse with a carabiner type hook.) The hook was there, but the keys were gone.  I felt like such a fool.  Stuart called the mall, nope, no one had turned in any keys.  I knew I had them at the steak place because I opened the car door with them.  Stuart still called them, and yep, they were there.  How lucky was that.  Guess I’ll figure out a different way to carry my keys.  Perhaps a carabiner hook that screw locks, I’ll have to go look at them.  All I know is, I’m lucky today.

We also took a trip to the huge thrift store!  We bought a pretty blue bowl, 2 small sushi plates with small sauce bowls and 2 place mats.  All for $3.25!  How cool is that?  I decided I wanted some cuter dishes take pictures of my food for my cooking blog, so it doesn’t matter if I have a set that matches or anything.

We made Spaghetti Sauce tonight.  (see my pretty new bowl and place mat?)

Spaghetti Sauce with Al Fresco Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage over Noodles

Spaghetti Sauce with Al Fresco Roasted Garlic Sausage

  • 1 medium to large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons Italian Seasoning (I didn’t really measure, I just sprinkled it in there until it looked right.  I’ve been making this for a long time.)
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic minced or chopped what ever is easier for you.  (about 2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1  28oz can Tomato Puree or chopped tomatoes
  • 1 package Al Fresco Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage

heat olive oil in sauce pan over medium high heat.  Sautee onions until translucent.  Add Italian Seasoning stir for just a second(this will release the oils in the dried herbs.  Add garlic and tomato puree, heat thoroughly.

Cut up sausage in slices that look like round discs.  Brown sausage in a separate pan.  (I guess you could do it in the sauce pan before you add the onion, but I didn’t think about it.)  Add the sausage to the sauce, and heat thoroughly.  Simmer for as long as you want, the longer it simmers the more the flavors will meld together.

*hint, to quickly clean the pan you cooked the sausage in, immediately add water to the hot pan and scrape the brown bits off.  Then pour this out (the chicken sausage doesn’t have much oil, so there is no oil to pour out), add soap to the pan and swish with a cloth, and rinse.  Voila, it’s clean.  (If it doesn’t come clean just add a little baking soda and the last of the brown stuff should come out.)

Serve sauce over noodles of choice (we used Tinkyada Gluten-Free Noodles) with shaved Parmesan cheese on top if desired.

That was most of my Saturday.

Do you get anxious about going places?  Especially if you’ve been having a lot of attacks recently?  Do you find yourself not being so very nice sometimes, and not really knowing why?

small update and Sauerkraut recipe

I have an appointment with Dr. Gray on January 28th at noon.

I don’t know why all of a sudden they were able to get me in sooner, but I’m glad.

We’ll find out what’s going on with the Cerebral Spinal Fluid Pressure.  Hopefully, she will be able to get something straight.  Even leveling things out a little would help a lot.  3-4 attacks a week are driving me crazy.  (as you all know.)

On a side note.  I made Sauerkraut today….well I started the making of Sauerkraut today.  I thought I had pictures of it from the last time I made it but I can’t find them.  : (  So I didn’t take any today.  But I will tell you what I did.  It is so easy!!  (especially if you have a food processor) *this recipe was inspired by the recipe for Raw Sauerkraut in the Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook.

Sauerkraut

  • 1 head of Cabbage
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons of Sea Salt (I use 1, but the original recipe called for 2)

Peel off a few of the out leaves of the cabbage head.  Save these you will use them later.  Chop the head into small enough pieces to fit in your food processor. (be sure to remove and discard the stalk. I really like the center of the stalk, I always just gobble it up.)

Slice up the cabbage in your food processor with your slicing blade. (if you don’t have a food processor you can do this by hand, but it will take a while, you have to cut it up really small.)  Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and toss with the salt.

Here’s the really hard part if you don’t have a food processor.  Remove the slicing blade from the food processor and put in your little plastic blade.  Return cabbage to food processor in small batches just smashing it up and making it all juicy.  (if you don’t have a food processor you need to just keep smashing he cabbage with a mallet until you get a lot of the juice out.  Of course, this is a great way to get your frustrations out.)

Just spoon your juicy cabbage into a clean jar, and cover with those outer leaves you saved from the beginning.  Press the mixture down so the is some juice covering the leaves.  This won’t be hard.  Keep in a dark dry place for 3-7 days, I like to keep mine in my pantry.  (I do put the lid on the jar, but I don’t tighten it.)  Every day you need to press it down some more so even more juice will cover those leaves.  (eventually the leaves will start to just fall apart, don’t worry about it.)  The original recipe says to start tasting it after about 3 days, mine tastes nasty that soon.  Just smell it, if it smell like sauerkraut, then taste it.  If it taste like you like, then put it in the refrigerator the slow/stop the fermentation process.  If you get a funky scum on the top of your sauerkraut, just spoon it off.

I use a wooden pestle from a mortar and pestle that I have to press my mixture down every day.  Since I don’t use this mortar and pestle any more, I use it exclusively for this, now it smells like pickles.  : )  If you used a pestle made from a different material, or perhaps a mallet, you probably wouldn’t have this problem.

They do make crocks just for making sauerkraut, and I’ve seen much more complicated recipes, but I’ve never tasted better sauerkraut.

I may make it a different way some time, I may even get a fermenting crock so I can make more than one head of cabbage at a time.  But for now, this method does well for me, I just start a new jar before the one in the fridge gets empty.

(If I find those pictures, I’ll post one.  Maybe I will take a picture of the jar I have started at least so you can see what it looks like.)

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken

 

This is part of the meal I made for the Dark Days Challenge put out my the (not so) Urban Hennery to produce one meal a week during the winter made from primarily from S.O.L.E. (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical) ingredients.
For the rest of the meal I made Baked Blue Sweet Potato Fries, and Stir Fried Collard Greens.  (you can find these recipes on my Gluten-Free Greenie Blog)
Roasted Chicken in a Slow Cooker

(this is my take on Shirley’s Crock Pot Rotisserie Style Chickenrecipe from A Year of Slow Cooking)
1 chicken (I used a local, all Natural Chicken) that will fit in your slow cooker easily.  Mine was about 3 lbs.
4-6 whole cloves of garlic
Seasoning of your choice.  (I used McCormick’s Montreal Chicken Seasoning this time.  I often use a Garlic Herb seasoning blend, but I’ve used a Jerk Seasoning blend and a lemon pepper seasoning with sliced lemons too.  It just depends on the flavor you want.)
Remove the Chicken from the wrapper, remove any giblets if there are any in the cavity, and rinse the bird inside and out.
Sprinkle the whole bird with your seasoning mixture.  You can even rub it in if you want.
Place the Chicken in your slow cooker breast side down.
Toss in a few peeled garlic cloves.
Cook for 4-5 hours on high, or about 8 hours on low.
It took my bird about 4 hours on high, cooked in a 3.5 quart oval cooker.
This is the easiest, and one of the tastiest ways I’ve found to cook a whole chicken.

 

 

S.O.L.E. Foods Menu this Week

As I posted on my Gluten Free Greenie Blog I’ve unofficially taken on the 4th Annual Dark Days Challenge from the(not so) Urban Hennery.
The challenge is to make a meal a week during the winter using SOLE food ingredients. (Sustainable, Organic, Local, and Ethical).

This week I made Field Peas in my Slow Cooker, Sauteed Broccoli Raab, and Mashed White Sweet Potatoes.

If you are interested in the recipes please see my post on Gluten-Free Greenie.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing is better when you are sick than Chicken Noodle Soup.  My husband loves it, and it makes me feel good when I can pamper him a little when he is sick.  Unfortunately, I also got sick, but at least I home made Chicken Noodle Soup to make me feel a little better.

First I made Homemade Chicken Stock, but you can use purchased stock.  I like stock much more than broth because it much more flavorful.  Broth is usually watered down too much.  If I use a purchased stock I prefer Kitchen Basics Unsalted Stock.  Most purchased soups, broths, and stocks have way too much sodium, Kitchen Basics makes an unsalted version that is very flavorful.

Homemade Chicken Stock

  • You can use a whole Chicken, but I save up all the bones that have little bits of meat left on them from when I buy chicken on the bone and then need boneless chicken for a recipe.  (I hardly ever buy boneless, skinless chicken breast.  I buy split chicken breast and de-bone and skin it.  It usually cost much less that way.)
  • 3-4 medium carrots with tops cleaned and cut into big chunks.
  • 3-4 stalks of celery with tops (if they have them on there, a lot of celery I buy lately doesn’t have the leaves) chopped in big pieces
  • 1 medium onion, chopped in big pieces.
  • Enough water to cover everything

Place the chicken, veggies, and water in a stock pot that is big enough to hold everything without boiling over.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, and cook for at least 45 mins, until the chicken is tender and the veggies are pretty much falling apart.    You can remove the Chicken and Veggies by straining them through a colander and let the liquid run into another pot.  Return the liquid to the stove and cook until the stock is as strong as you would like.

I used part of the stock immediately in my soup, but to save the rest I dipped it in muffin tins and froze it (don’t fill it all the way to the top).  When the stock is frozen remove it from the pan and put the cubes in a zip loc bag for future use.  (each muffin tin holds about 1/2 cup, this is a good way to know how much stock you have, you can even measure out 1/2 cup muffin tin to be certain.)

Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Chicken Stock from above.  (about 4 cups)
  • The chicken that you pulled off the bones from making the chicken stock.  (if you used left over bones and pieces like I did you may need to add a little more chicken.  I added a breast cut into very small pieces.)
  • 3-4 medium carrots cut in small rounds
  • 2-3 stalks of celery sliced in small pieces
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2-3 teaspoons Italian seasoning.
  • Gluten Free Noodles (I had Tinkyada Elbows on hand so that’s what I used.)

Add all ingredients to soup pot. Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until veggies are tender.  Remove Rosemary, (if some leaves fall off it’s ok, I just like to take most of it out because the soup starts to taste more like Rosemary than anything else.)  Return soup to a boil and add pasta, reduce heat to simmer and let cook for about 15 mins (depending on the pasta you use.)  When pasta is ready the soup is ready to eat!


A Gluten-Free, Low-Sodium Thanksgiving in Slow Cookers

As I’m sure you all know, I will be recuperating from my spinal cord patch on Thanksgiving day, so I’m making plans to cook almost everything in Slow Cookers.

I’m borrowing 3 cookers from my friends, and I have one 3.5 quart and a 1.5 quart of my own.

Everything on our Thanksgiving Menu will be made in Slow Cookers except, the Mashed Potatoes and Gravy will be store-bought, and the Cheese Biscuits are from Whole Foods Bake House.

This is how I plan on cooking everything….well, actually I’ll just get it all ready and my husband will cook everything.
**Turkey in the Slow Cooker**

  • Bone In Turkey Breast – about 6 pounds.  (Ours will be from a free range, organic Turkey)
  • Olive Oil, or Butter
  • Seasonings (this is completely your choice.  You can use Poultry Seasoning, or a mixture of herbs and spices, such as Rosemary, Sage, Thyme…)
  • Onion sliced
  • Apple or Lemon sliced

We will be using a 4qt slow cooker for this, because I think that’s the biggest one I’ll have. I may use my 3.5 qt. crock, since it is oval, if the breast will fit in it.

I will cut any excess skin from the turkey . Pat the breast dry.  Oil the breast with olive oil, or coat with butter. Season the breast with Poultry Seasoning.  (or your desired seasoning, like thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic and herb…)  I may mix the seasoning with the butter before rubbing the turkey down.

I’ll put some onion on the bottom of the crock….and…. I was going to add some lemon zest, or even put some lemon rind or slices on the bottom, because I’ve put a lemon in a chicken and a turkey before when roasting and it make it so juicy, but not too lemony.  However, since the breast doesn’t have a cavity, I don’t think I’ll use lemon…..maybe some apple.  The apple should give it a nice smooth flavor and give it a little more moisture.

Add the Breast to the crock Breast side Down.  Put some more onion and apple (or lemon) around the sides and in the rib cavity.

I won’t add any liquid because the vegetables and the bone and skin of the breast will add a lot of liquid to this dish, and I want a roasted Turkey breast, not Turkey Stew.

Cook on high for 3 hours and check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.  It should be over 140F to be out of the danger zone.  Cover, and probably cook for 1 or 2 more hours, you need to have an internal temp of at least 170F in a few places to make sure it’s done.  You can cook it longer if you want, or if you need to keep it warm.

Carefully remove the turkey from the crock, wait about 15 minutes before carving.  If the turkey doesn’t look as browned on the outside as you would like, simply transfer it to a baking pan and broil it for a few minutes.  **now I haven’t done this before, but from what I’ve read on the Butterball site and on Stephanie’s A Year of Slow Cooking site, this should work.

**GF Stuffing** (or I guess I should say dressing since it’s not going to be in the turkey)

  • I love using the Sundried Tomato with Roasted Garlic Bread from Whole Foods Bake House.  However, you can use any dense bread you may have. 1 large sweet onion chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1 small bunch celery with leaves chopped
  • 3 TBS of Fresh Sage minced  (or 3 teaspoons dry)
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1 TBS Fresh thyme minced (or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • Poultry seasoning
  • 1 Cup gluten-free low sodium chicken broth (I use Kitchen Basics Unsalted)

I’ll probably be using a 4 quart crock pot for this one, because that’s the biggest one I think I’ll have around.  I may make a smaller batch of stuffing than I usually do, I want to make sure it can be stirred while it’s cooking so it won’t be all soggy in the middle.

First, you have to toast the bread, just put the slices on a cookie sheet and broil until dry, but not too brown.  (or you can bake it at 300F)  Then turn over and do it again.  I won’t say how long this takes, because it varies depending on what type of bread you use, and what your cookie sheet is like.

Cut the toast into about 1/2 inch cubes.  You can do this early and put in a zip lock bag if you want.  (I plan to have this done before hand, and store in the fridge because it is GF bread after all, my husband may have to spread the cubes on a cookie sheet and heat for just a little bit to make sure it’s nice and dry.)

I plan to have all my veggies cut up and ready before Thanksgiving day,  If you are doing this on the day, just cut everything up while the bread is toasting, but if you do that, I suggest you bake the bread instead of broil…broiling always seems to sneak up on you and will burn in just a second if you aren’t watching.  (remember non-GF bread toast faster than GF bread)

Add the vegetables, seasoning and melted butter to the slow cooker. Stir well. Add toasted bread cubes to crock and mix well.  When the bread is coated nicely add Chicken Stock a little at a time while mixing with bread mixture. Cook on High for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

If the mixture is dryer than you like add a more stock a Tablespoon at a time.  You don’t want it soggy. The edges and top will be drier than the center, it make it more uniform make sure to stir it while it is cooking.  This should keep warm for about 2 more hours.  Or you can warm it up later if needed.
**Cranberry Sauce**
Last year I made home-made cranberry sauce for the first time, I used Elana’s recipe from Elana’s Pantry.  I plan to use the same recipe this year, but I might substitute of orange juice for some of the water, and as I did last year I will add more Agave than she calls for.  I don’t know how much I added, I had a squirt bottle and just kept adding until I thought it was sweet enough to satisfy my guests.  : ) I plan to make this the day before my procedure since it needs to be chilled.  Last time I just made it the night before we ate it and it was delicious.  I’m sure one more day won’t hurt.

I plan on making a smaller batch than the original recipe calls for, and I’ll be cooking it in the 2qt. crock.
**Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Red Onion**

  • 2-3 Cups Brussels Sprouts (preferably organic)
  • 3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Red Onion – thinly sliced Cut the Brussels Sprouts in half.

Cut the Brussels Sprouts in half.   Add to slow cooker.  Mix with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar.  Add the thinly sliced red onion.  Mix well. Cook on High for about 2 hours.  Stirring occasionally, so they will cook evenly.  Cook longer if necessary.

I will use either a 3qt or 4qt crock for this.

**Roasted Green Beans and Garlic**

  • 1 lb Fresh Green Beans  (preferably organic)
  • Roasted or Raw Minced Garlic – I didn’t put an amount because people really like different amounts of garlic in things.  We like a lot of garlic, so I’ll probably add 3-4 Tablespoons.  I am roasting some garlic, and I may simply add some cloves of roasted garlic to the beans instead of using minced garlic.  (when I made a small batch of this today I used the minced garlic and it was very good, but the garlic was still crunchy when the beans were done)
  • Olive Oil – just enough to coat the beans.  (a couple of tablespoons should do.)

Cut the end off of the green beans.  I try to make the all about the same size so they cook at an even rate.  Add the Green Beans, Olive Oil, and Garlic to the crock.  Mix well.  Cook on High. The small batch I did today in the 1.5 quart crock took less than an hour.  You want the beans to still have a little crunch.  I’m sure since I’ll be cooking a larger amount in a larger crock they will probably still take only about an hour.  I did stir these about every 15 – 20 minutes.  They turned out very good.
**Crock Pot Cheesecake**
This recipe will come straight from Stephanie’s A Year of Slow Cooking.  Crock Pot Cheese Cake Recipe.

I’m really looking forward to trying this!

So there’s my menu, and how we plan to have a real Thanksgiving Dinner, the day after I have a spinal patch.

Our dear friend Vincent will be joining us on Thanksgiving, and helping Stuart pull everything off.  (You are one of the things I’m most Thankful for this year, I love you my friend.)

Shopping, Sleeping, and Heartburn

Yesterday my husband had the day off because he has to work this Saturday.  It’s neat to have him all to myself on a day during the week, but it’s sad we won’t have Saturday.  So we decided to do some shopping!

Streets at Southpoint Mall, Durham, NC

 

The Christmas shopping sales started a little early this year.  We got a flyer from Macy’s and they had a Cuisinart Immersible Blender on sale for $18.99, I was excited because I really needed to replace mine.  I was also looking for a mini-slow cooker. One that’s only about 1.5 quarts, I found one at J.C. Penney for only $9.99!  What a great find.

We walked the huge halls of The Streets at Southpoint Mall for a couple of hours, checking prices, deciding on if we really needed something, and finally having lunch.  I was so tired.  But we had 2 more stops to make.  One at Target to see if they had a couple of things we needed, that trip proved fruitless.  And a stop at the hardware store to pick up a timer for my crock pot, so I can now leave it on when I leave the house and don’t have to worry about getting home to turn it off, and a couple of other things we needed around the house.   We got a call while we were in the hardware store and found out it would be a good time to go and pick up one of the Crock Pots I’m borrowing for Thanksgiving.

So off to pick up the Crock Pot….and a nice visit with our friends.  Including seeing their new baby.

By the time we got home I was exhausted.  My whole body hurt.  Especially my hip.  When I tried to sleep last night my hip hurt so much I just couldn’t sleep, even after taking Trazadone.  I also had to take a pain pill.  I hate taking all that medication.  Finally, I got to sleep, and it wasn’t really that late.

Just like me asleep with the dog and cat.

This morning I got up and ate some breakfast, but I felt so droggy.  I felt like I was still feeling the effects of the drugs I took the night before.  So I put some beans, BBQ sauce, and Chicken hot dogs in the new small cooker and I went back to bed, I did not want a repeat of the way I felt on Sunday.  I slept until about 3pm.

When I woke up, I felt much better, and the house smelled like someone was cooking. Of course, it was my slow cooker telling me I could eat any time I wanted.  I was surprised that it was pretty good.  There was a lot more liquid in the mixture than I put in, so I would have liked it more if it was thicker, but it was still good.  I ate my Beans and Dogs with my home-made Sauerkraut.  It was very good.  However, before I was even finished I was running to the bathroom, again.  Every day, it’s crazy.  I keep having to run to the bathroom from 1-5 times a day.  (3 today)

So later, I wanted something else to eat but I was afraid of eating anything too heavy.  Unfortunately, I’m out of bread and haven’t made any, and I’m also out of any plain crackers.  So my darling husband make me a few pancakes.  After eating I’ve had the worst heartburn.  I took Maalox, something I don’t like to do, I stretched, my husband patted me on the back, I burped a lot, but nothing seemed to help.  Finally, I ate a little apple sauce, and everything is calming down.

I read about an Acid/Alkaline diet a while back and the main part of it I didn’t really pay attention to, but I did decide to try some eating some of the foods that they have on the highest Alkaline list when my stomach starts to scream with too much acid, and acid reflux.  During the summer, this is easy because Watermelon is a very alkaline food, but now that it’s fall, I didn’t know what to eat.  So of course, I searched the handy-dandy internet (how did we ever get along without it?), and found that apples are also a highly alkaline food.  Not as alkaline as watermelon, but still pretty high.  And the pectin in applesauce is supposed to help with GI problems.  Maybe I should eat more applesauce, or perhaps I should make another apple crisp?  Ummmm, apples.