Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Don’t Do Oatmeal

This past week included a visit to the cardiology office for a follow-up visit to my short hospital stay six weeks ago. The results were not unexpected.

My blood pressure is now under control; I’ve gotten used to the medications and I’m taking them faithfully. Now, however, I need to work on getting my cholesterol numbers down. The cardiologist told me that if the numbers don’t come down within three months, he’d want me on medication to bring it down.

That said, he did admit that, though my LDL (bad cholesterol) levels were high, the HDL (good cholesterol) levels were, in his words, very high. That is the only reason he hasn’t yet prescribed medication. That, in itself, is a little frustrating. My cholesterol levels have been that way since I was first put on medication for high blood pressure.

However, I have decided I will do what I can to bring that LDL number down. One of those things has to do with diet. I’m going to incorporate oatmeal into my breakfast.

If you don’t know me well, you have no idea how amazing that statement is. I don’t do oatmeal!

Now, when I think of having oatmeal for breakfast, I have memories of oats boiled in water or milk, until it is a sticky mass of off white, gluey “glop”, sprinkled with a bit of sugar, a drizzle of milk. I used to make oatmeal for my kids every morning during the school year; generally speaking, it went down well most of the time. I made the quick cooking variety, cooked in milk, but never until it was a gloppy, gluey mass of sticky.

When I say that oatmeal, or porridge, does not go down my throat, I am not exaggerating. I actually gag on the stuff. I do not do oatmeal!

So, when someone on a Ravelry thread suggested baked oatmeal, I was intrigued. No more glop? I went hunting. (Punchfork is an amazing resource!) I found recipes. I decided to try it.

I assembled the ingredients for this recipe (Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas). I do have blueberries, but they’re buried somewhere deep down in the freezer and I wasn’t willing to face this…

… just to find a bag of blueberries. And the result?

Well, I think I can eat oatmeal this way. The smell while it was baking was amazing. Cinnamon and honey, mixed with the bananas and the pecans gave this baked oatmeal a lovely flavour and texture. I had a dish of this for breakfast this morning, warmed in the microwave, with a bit of milk to give it a bit of moisture.

Oh, let me add one more thing. Not only did I eat oatmeal, but I also ate banana. That’s an event, too, because I can’t eat raw bananas. They make my mouth burn and itch, as do a lot of other fresh fruits and vegetables.

I think I can do this.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

I Love a Deal!

I do. Everyone loves a good deal. That said, a good deal is only a good deal if it’s a deal on something I’ll use. If it’s something I’ll never use, and I pay for it, it isn’t a good deal.

Here are a few of the good deals John and I have scored over the last few years.

(The TV tray that you see behind the shelf unit is part of a set of three that were also a good deal… $5.00 for the three TV tables. Yes, they’re not the prettiest or most fashionable, but when you want to eat dinner while watching a movie, they work!)

I found this Black & Decker coffee maker at the thrift store in the strip mall where I work. The marked price on it was $8.00 but it was half price day so… $4.00. That was about 4 years ago. Not bad!

And that’s just a sampling!

Well, this week I came home with another thrift store score. It wasn’t free; for a thrift store find, it was fairly expensive. I have to tell you, though, it was a pretty sweet deal.

This is a cast iron braising pan. Believe me, this sucker is heavy! It’s about 12” across and about 2” deep and I love it! For dinner last night, I made Pork Medallions in a Mushroom Marsala  Sauce, served with Buttermilk Mashed potatoes and Lemon Garlic Broccoli. I think I can honestly say I’ve never had a dish come together so beautifully, so quickly and have the pan clean so easily. What a treat! I think we’ll be using this pan a lot!

Oh yeah.. the cost? $25.00

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Just Checking In

Ok, time’s going way too quickly. It’s already well into November and I haven’t been paying attention to the blog. Life just seems to be getting in the way of a lot of the things I enjoy. Weekends are the only time I have for the “fun” stuff and they seem to be getting shorter all the time. Thankfully, this is a long weekend.

Knitting has been next to non-existent lately, partly due to a lack of interest (my knitting mojo’s gone) and partly due to my wrist. That’s okay, there’s nothing wrong with taking a break. Other things have been going on.

Things like cooking and sewing. Yup, I do know how to do both. Recently, my mother sent me a small package with a really cute little bag in it. I’m not allowed to keep it as she sent it as a sample but she also included the instructions to make that bag myself.

As the caption says, it’s called a Snap Bag. The thing that makes it “snap” is two pieces of metal measuring tape sewn into casings at the top. It’s very clever and, really, quite simple to make. So simple in fact, that…

I haven’t gotten into quilting; I’ve been avoiding it on purpose. The last thing I need is another time-sucking hobby. Besides, we really don’t need any more quilts or blankets around here. These little bags, though, provide me with the opportunity to do a bit of machine quilting, which I’m finding enjoyable even though I have nothing more than a very basic sewing machine with no fancy stitches (just a couple of stretch stitches).

The unfortunate part of all this is that I now have an excuse to go out and buy fat quarters. Time and money sucker, but I’m having a lot of fun! Plus, these bags will make great little gifts, don’t you think?

You all know how much I enjoy cooking and baking, right? One thing I’ve always maintained is that if you’re going to do something, you should have good tools to work with so you can do the job right. Well, some of my tools are no longer the best tools for the job.

We have two stand mixers. One belonged to John’s mother, an old Sunbeam Mixmaster; it no longer has the power to do the job I want it to and doesn’t have bread hooks. I have a newer Sunbeam Mixmaster, bought about 12 years ago. It works but one of the beaters has had to be welded to repair it and, though it has bread hooks, one of the two beaters keeps falling out. It kind of puts a crimp in my baking adventures.

Well, it did until two weeks ago. That’s when I became the very proud owner of the best piece of kitchen equipment I’ve owned in a very long time.

I can’t wait for weekends just so I can use my new Kitchenaid Stand Mixer! (It’s the Professional 550 Plus.)

Though I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use it yet, I have made a few things.

I could go on and on about how much I love this mixer but I think you get the picture.

Incidentally, at the same time, I also picked up a waffle iron. I used to have one years and years ago and hated it. Every time I made waffles, it didn’t matter how well I greased it, the waffles would stick. I’d open the iron after the steaming stopped and one half the waffle would be stuck to the top of the iron, the other half would be stuck to the bottom. Now, I’m not talking about 2 of the quarters on the top and 2 of the quarters on the bottom; I’m talking about the waffle splitting completely in half, as if it’s been cut open like a dinner roll.

This iron is great! I’ve already made two big batches of waffles and froze whatever we couldn’t eat. One recipe was just very basic waffles, and the second batch was Belgian waffles, made with yeast. Oh my! That recipe made a huge batch of waffles! We’re talking a grocery bag full of waffles! Now, if I want waffles for breakfast during the week, I just grab one out of the freezer, pop it into the toaster and enjoy. And they’re a lot better than the frozen waffles from the grocery store!

My only dilemma now is that both the fridge freezer and the deep freeze are completely full and I am in the mood to bake.